Posted: 5:38 am Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

What Tech’s win over Syracuse means 

By Ken Sugiura

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Syracuse Orange, college basketball, NCAA

Georgia Tech players celebrate after upsetting No. 7 Syracuse, 67-62, Tuesday in Syracuse, N.Y. (Kevin Rivoli / AP)

Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory ventured nowhere near the term “signature win” or declare any problems solved Tuesday night.

He is smart enough and experienced enough to know that the picture is much bigger than a stunning upset of the No. 7 team in the country.

“I try not to get too high or too low, because the process that we’re in right now, you’d have trouble if you did that,” he said following the Yellow Jackets’ 67-62 win over the Orange.

Photos: Georgia Tech upsets Syracuse

In continuing his answer, Gregory allowed that he has been pleased with every aspect of the team except for the record, as the Jackets, now 14-16, appear bound to finish right around .500 for the second season in a row.

“Our guys are developing,” he said. “We are creating an identity. We’re playing with greater toughness. Not as much as I would like, but you see guys getting better. The wins and losses haven’t necessarily come. A lot of different reasons for that, and some that we’ve got to take care of. But when you get a win like tonight, you can see it adds a little juice to our guys.”

It was interesting to hear the perspective shared by both center Daniel Miller and forward Robert Carter.

Miller said that beating the Orange felt good, “but just knowing at the same time we can always play this good (is) a little disappointing. But hopefully we can capitalize on this win and keep going.”

Carter practically repeated his teammate, saying the win felt good, but “it just makes me think about the games that we lost.”

Tech has been hit unusually hard with injuries, but its own play has been a determining factor in many of its losses. The Jackets were a play away from beating both N.C. State and Notre Dame on the road, and were about as close to beating Clemson in Littlejohn Coliseum, as well. With a marginally greater level of execution or luck, Tech might be 17-13 and closing in on an NIT berth. The Jackets, of course, are not, and instead have a win that offers demonstration of progress and potential while at the same time providing a reminder of what might have been. (That said, the Jackets could have just as easily been swept by Boston College as they did, in fact, sweep them. Perhaps luck and bounces even out.)

It is, regardless, Gregory’s biggest win at Tech. Miami was ranked No. 6 last year when the Jackets upended them on the night the Hurricanes intended to clinch the ACC regular-season title, a spot ahead of Syracuse’s ranking Tuesday night. Still, consider that Tuesday night was just the fifth loss for Syracuse in the Carrier Dome in the past three seasons. If Gregory could change anything about Tuesday, it would likely be that the game be carried by ESPN and not regionally.

“I have all the respect for (Miami coach) Jim (Larranaga) and what they did last year, but Syracuse’s brand is so much bigger, nationally,” Gregory said. “But, you know me, I want to make sure we’re ready to play on Saturday and build this momentum heading into the tournament.”

And that is part of the answer of the meaning of the win over Syracuse. A loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday on senior day for Miller, Trae Golden, Kammeon Holsey and Jason Morris would not remove all of the momentum of Tuesday night, but it would take out a good chunk. The win over Miami last year is memorable, but the Jackets followed it up with the loss at Boston College to end the regular season followed by the ACC tournament blowout loss to the same Eagles five days later, a game that defines the 2012-13 Jackets perhaps more than the Miami win.

A win over Virginia Tech would improve the Jackets’ record to 15-16 and 6-12 in the ACC, their same ACC record as last season against better competition. There is a thicket of possibilities for where that would leave them in the standings, but it would likely be somewhere between 10th and 12th. Possible first-round opponents include Wake Forest, Boston College and Virginia Tech.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say Tech draws Wake Forest in a 12-13 game. A win over the Demon Deacons would advance the Jackets – if the standings were to hold – to play No. 5 seed Pittsburgh. Could Tech beat the Panthers? Possibly.

A season that ended with two wins at the ACC tournament and a road win over Syracuse would feel a bit differently than one that, say, ended with back-to-back losses to Virginia Tech.

For now, it’s a feel-good moment, one richly deserved for seniors Miller, Holsey and Golden and their teammates, just as the Miami win was for Mfon Udofia and Pierre Jordan. It is affirmation of work that has been invested. And it could mean just that, a win by a team that has not achieved all of its goals and pulled a big upset over a team with a high ranking but that is clearly struggling. But it could mean so much more.

After the game, “everybody was excited, which everybody should be,” Carter said. “We did the same thing last year at Miami. We didn’t finish the job to make it into a tournament, so this year we’ve got to keep pushing to win the next game, get some good tournament wins and hopefully we can get in some postseason (tournament), make it a good season.”


36 comments
BobEdwards
BobEdwards

What Tech’s win over Syracuse means


Quite simply folks, and I would think you would know this it you attended BB games in the past.  IT MEANS TECH SCORED MORE POINTS THAN THE ORANGES.  Nothing more, nothing less......one team has to win and one team has to lose.  Try to remember this for future years.  And you don't need to thank me, I do this as a service for all of you University of Georgia DAWG Fans.

Jim70
Jim70

Drydirtroad - this one game, yes - they played under control for most of it, but if it wasn't for Golden's free throws, we seemed to 'want' to throw it away that last three or four minutes.  something about Tech's ability to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory, be it in football (still remember us scoring years ago at the end of the game against uga only to have them run the kickoff back) or basketball.


Not sure how to explain our breakdowns in the second half of many games.  either coaching or conditioning.  has happened too often this year to be blamed on the other teams halftime pep talks.

GTQBdefender
GTQBdefender

We cannot fire Gregory so u might as well start hoping he is a decent coach.

I think he is.

But I will be a lot more convinced should we add three more wins to this one.

Four would be better.

Cremins has three ACC tourney titles but his teams mostly underachieved in the Big Dance.

He seldom had any bench strength.

Maybe that was his recruiting strategy; get top players by telling then they would start from their freshman year and play 35 minutes a game while at Duke they might have to sit on the bench a year or two.

Cremins was mainly undone though by the change where players like Stephon Marbury could leave after a year.

That started the one and done era.

Caliperi's strategy of one and dones does not work but one out of three or four years.

He does not have enough time with them to develop the team chemistry needed to get to the Final 4, much less win it.

Another thing:  We like to think players like Mark Price and John Salley (one of the few times he got two very good players instead of just one) would not leave after two or three years but we do not really know that they would with today's bigger money.

We need to get Golden's family to future games.

Can't hurt.

Robert30
Robert30

Gregory was a cheap hire due to the Hewitt contract. He was about to be let go at Dayton for having the team there like he is doing at Tech. Not getting anywhere. I can remember the days at Tech when this time of the year we were worrying about where Tech would be going in the NCAA's. Its not happening with Gregory. The team is getting worse every year he's been here. We have an RPI of 171. That's bad. We are hurting the overall ranking of the ACC. I can't believe the AD gave Gregory a 2 yr extension at the start of the season. Maybe the AD was afraid the season was gonna turn out like this one has and he didn't want to look bad giving Gregory the extension now. I was not very happy when I saw our AD get all excited over our victory over BC. The ACC will be even stronger next year with the addition of Louisville. It's time for a coaching change. Tech has great facilities and great tradition in bball. We should be doing better than this. 

GTBee
GTBee

OMG. How selective everyone's memeory. Lol. We are horrid. PS: Wake just beat #4 Duke so our win has already been surpassed.

JM64
JM64

congratulations! great win Jackets.

Jim70
Jim70

I'd be happy with wins at VT, then two in the tourney to get to .500 (after a loss in the third game). That could get us into the NIT and give the players a little more practice time and experience.


Does anybody agree that either the team is not in physical condition or not mentally tough?  They have been in a number of games at halftime only to self destruct. I don't think halftime strategy by the opposing coach is the answer.


Ken, is Cremins helping at all with recruiting?  Not looking for a one and done player, but he should be able to assist getting a very good point guard and shooting guard.

crackbaby
crackbaby

Nice win for a team that needed something to fall its way.  I hope Miller, Holsey and Golden lift the team to play even better this weekend on Senior day against Va Tech. 


Make no mistake that Syracuse was seriously undermanned last night.

juvenal
juvenal

this team was unbeaten  #1 for months! Carter Jr. has come on in a way that shows how bad we missed him when he was out! this can be a turning point  in a way that blowing a 20 pt. FB lead missed the op to be.......

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

There is the potential for the light bulb to come on.  Theory became reality in that GT beat a top 10 program in their house.  There is sufficient talent on this squad, but they need mental toughness so that they do not go into one of those dreaded scoring droughts combined with a rash of turnovers.  They must play with focus the entire game and CBG needs to play 10 or 11 players----even guys with just 3 or 4 minutes of playing time must know that they are to go out there with intensity and focus and let our starters get a break to regroup physically and keep their mental edge sharp. Concentrate on every free throw, every inbounds pass, execute called plays with precision.....if we can do this for 40 minutes then we can beat anyone in the ACC. Seriously---there's nobody in the ACC that we just say---oh we can't beat them. None.  But we have to play our best to compete and we cannot panic when a few shots don't go down.  Our threshold melting point is too low and we fly apart.  With some very consistent play, this team could make a run in the tournament.

jacketbacker
jacketbacker

Great win for CBG and the Jackets! I'm sure pulling hard for BG but he simply has to start stringing some wins together and build some momentum. We get a win and seem to follow it up with 2 or 3 straight losses. Ultimately, he will be evaluated on wins and losses and the wins have been too few and far between. I think he'll get a couple of more years to get it done. For the most part, the team is now competitive and let's face it, he has beaten the mutts three years in a row. None of our other coaches can say that. Hewitt was not that successful against them. Let's get a win against VT and make a run in the ACC tourney!    


Go Jackets!!  

AseLeslie
AseLeslie

@Techmate are you serious dude? this guy has not made it to a post season tournament yet? and hasn't come close, its clearly he doesn't know how to manage talent the kid from Norcross High (  Chris Bolden) he's one the best perimeter shooters on the team but Gregory's holding the kid back!!! Time for a New Look for that Beautiful  New Arena  

GMAB
GMAB

Liked their toughness. Good smart game. Win a few in the ACC tournament.

AseLeslie
AseLeslie

This win just bought Coach Gregory a couple more years! Unfortunately that sucks for us Tech Fans, we still don't have enough talent to compete in this conference. This win  was simply Syracuse overlooking this team just as they did against BC , don't get too excited!! We need a New Coach and Better recruiting!! Bottom Line!!!

forexbomb
forexbomb

This win means nothing, without consistent play every time they hit the court... 

Techmate
Techmate

I still think Coach Gregory has this team on the right path. After inheriting a program that was in shambles, after having to play away from their home court for a year, he has made no excuses and has them headed in the right direction. They play hard and smart. With a bit more consistency from his players, I believe he can have a solid program for years to come. Focus now on beating Va.Tech and then win a few ACC Tournament games. I think it's doable.

CrazyRobert
CrazyRobert

That was a fun game to watch, the first one for a while.  Sure hope this is the begining of a good season ending run.  Win the ACC and go to the the NCAA.  Not likely but it sure would be fun to see.  GO TECH!!!

drydirtroad
drydirtroad

@Jim70  maybe it's the BD years yellow jacket icon like mine in my user icon for the first halves, such as when we had a 20 to 0 lead against Georgia last Fall, and then it's "Buzz" for the second halves 

drydirtroad
drydirtroad

@Robert30  You must have missed the game. I saw the second half in HD and Tech played very good. I don't see where any criticism is applicable toward BG after watching that half. It couldn't possibly be his fault that Tech is around .500. I kept thinking that BG was on David Robinson's team at Navy. I recall The Admiral was in the NBA. BG is a clean cut fella and Tech has a good coach in him. My basketball coach for that course in the Winter quarter of 1971 was Whack Hyder, and he was a good guy too, and gave me an A in the course.

drydirtroad
drydirtroad

@Jim70  I don't agree. The way they broke the press and not get choked off like they did when Hewitt was coach is indicative of good physical condition and mental toughness. They found open guys and made the passes, indicating those two attributes. Their use of Miller and his ability when passed to was fulfillment of the two attributes. The only one who was still totally lost was Bolden when he gunned it at the baseline attempting treys without anybody under the basket for an offensive rebound. He tried three of them in a selfish, gun it manner, and of course got punished for missing by Syracuse then scoring and catching up. That happens every time with any team. If you are gonna miss, you better have a chance for a rebound, or else catch up city.

drydirtroad
drydirtroad

@crackbaby  excuses, excuses, the grass is greener over there, they had a guy who was a one man team, the guy with the white headband, and still lost

BleedingGold
BleedingGold

@crackbaby They were missing one guy.  Would he have mad a difference? Yes.  But you play with the cards you're dealt.  We'd love to have a healthy Jorgenson, Morris, Golden, and Carter Jr. the whole season.

MarineJacket
MarineJacket

I have never seen so many people so upset over a team that they claim to support wins a game.  If you are a Tech fan/supporter why don't you actually try supporting the team and being happy when they achieve something good. 

Go Jackets!!!

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@AseLeslie  We don't have the talent to compete, but we just beat the #7 team in the nation.    Mmmmmkay.

BleedingGold
BleedingGold

Must be really disappoint you "real Tech fans" that we won such a big game.  I'm sure Syracuse just rolled into the Carrie Dome thinking "we're not going to even try to win this game," right?  Man, you're clueless.  Who exactly were they overlooking us for?  FSU?  LOL.

khd713
khd713

@Techmate  I agreed with that assessment at the beginning of the season, but this season has been a huge disappointment. Gregory has to be accountable for that, which means that next year he's going to be under some serious scrutiny. Mark Bradley's column yesterday was just the first shot. And if you are serious about Gregory not making excuses, then why are you making excuses for him? Basketball is a sport where you can take a team in shambles and in one year turn it into an NCAA tourney team. Georgia Tech sits in a major city and plays in the top basketball conference in the nation. It should be a hugely attractive school for recruits, not to mention this state has some of the top high school basketball programs in the nation to draw from. At least you didn't mention injuries, which Suguira drops into every article and blog post he writes about this team. The injury excuse is weak. Even with the injuries, this team easily had enough talent to win more than it did, and that's on Gregory. They lost four out of five after Carter Jr. was back in the lineup. So who are they missing now? Jorgenson and Morris? As if those two are the answers to all our woes? Hardly. North Carolina had injuries, too, and kicked its best player off the team. Look where they are now. Plain and simple, they are better-coached. Nice win last night, but Gregory needs to get cracking or very soon he'll be taking a long walk on a short plank.

OriginalATLien
OriginalATLien

Robert, you are crazy if you think Tech is going to win the ACC tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament.

drydirtroad
drydirtroad

@MarineJacket  I support and am happy, but I still do not support the "Buzz" logos on the unis and the long, baggy "gym shorts"; how I dealt with that approach-avoidance conflict watching the game is to watch it for the skill Tech used and the basic dark blue color of the unis, the uni art is not there 100% in my opinion since I saw those Buzzes on the unis, I'm from the old days when real gym shorts were worn, and the old yellow jacket like in my user icon was used; however, I realize I'm not getting my way, and might not get my way at times in life as a mature person should realize, so I have to watch anyway, unless the teams go way, way off on tangents with unis, so much off that they are unwatchable, as when they wear pink, or black 

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@BleedingGold

Yep - it's not as if this was the final game in the Carrier Dome for CJ Fair

BearCasey
BearCasey

@khd713 @Techmate The injury excuse is not weak.  GT had several games in which it had to go with its 4th and 5th string point guards and it's obvious that Golden's not 100% even now.  Your UNC comparison is spurious.  Take Paige and McAdoo out of their lineup and they wouldn't be winning nearly so often.  CBG should be lauded for keeping his team competitive under adversity. 

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@khd713

Yep - it's amazing how ole Roy manages to win games when he only has 4 McDAA's on his roster.

juvenal
juvenal

took 2 quick misses that put SU back in it under 3'-still wonder what the story with Pooole is............

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

@PaulinNH @khd713  We have a top recruit coming in next year that will help, Tadric Jackson, scored 39 in the 6A state semi-final win.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@khd713

Roy is one of the top 5 or 10 coaches in CFB and UNC is one of the top 5 programs period. No shame in not measuring up to that standard in your 3rd year at GT.

CBG does need to recruit some better players - a point guard like Jarrett Jack would be nice - but his first priority was to establish his style, focus on toughness an D, improve the APR,  etc.

Hewitt brought in 6 McDAA's

Bosh, Crittenton, Young, Lawal, Shumpert and Favors

Every single one left early - 4 of them were 1 and done  I doubt GT fans (or the administration) want to revisit those kind of numbers.

khd713
khd713

@PaulinNH @khd713  Valid point, but also confirms mine. Gregory needs to get cracking. Who was the last McDonald's AA at Tech? Favors? Not coincidentally, also the last Tech team to go to the NCAA tourney. Also, UNC really struggled early, and they could have taken the Tech route and flatlined the whole season. But they didn't, and that's partly attributable to the fact that they are more talented, and partly to the fact that Roy is a better coach.