It might not pass the eyeball test to many, but the numbers show that Georgia Tech has played significantly better offense in the past seven games of ACC play than the first seven. Mike Stamus in Tech’s sports information office put the following numbers together:
From the perspective of a Tech fan, the good news is that the offensive numbers are significantly better. It’s hard to argue that the Jackets aren’t playing more efficiently on the offensive end than they were in the first seven games, which included the disasters against Syracuse (15 for 57 from the field, 3 for 17 from 3-point range) and Virginia (12 for 49 from the field, 0-for-12 from 3-point range).
Forward Marcus Georges-Hunt’s shooting percentage is up considerably, guard Chris Bolden (at least until his suspension) was scoring more consistently and the Jackets seem to be pushing the pace more, which is where they’re clearly better. These are only two data points, but the Jackets played 59 possessions in the loss to Syracuse, well below both teams’ average, but played 66 in the win over Clemson on Monday. The Jackets shot 46.3 percent against Clemson, seven percentage points better than the Tigers’ average.
The flipside is that the numbers, while improved, aren’t quite crackling. If Tech’s points per possession numbers from the past seven games were measured against the rest of the ACC’s full league schedules, it would still only be tied for 11th with Wake Forest. The assist/turnover ratio would be 13th. Field-goal percentage would be eighth and three-point field-goal percentage would be ninth. (It should be recognized that shooting 34 percent from 3-point range is a considerable improvement. You may remember that the Jackets were last in Division I in 3-point shooting percentage as late as early January. Being an average 3-point shooting team isn’t exactly something to put on a banner, but it’s a considerable jump up from being worst in the country.)
That said, Tech is playing commendable defense in the league. Its defensive assist/turnover ratio is fourth. The Jackets are third in points per defensive possession. They’re seventh in field-goal percentage defense, fourth in 3-point field-goal percentage defense and third in turnover percentage (percentage of possessions in turnover percentage). Tech’s floor percentage (percentage of possessions that result in a score of some sort) is third. All the numbers are from statsheet.com.
It does seem like things are ticking up, if slightly. Point guards Travis Jorgenson and Josh Heath are playing better and stand to continue to improve. Forward Charles Mitchell is handling double teams more effectively and finishing better. Guard Tadric Jackson’s strong game against Clemson was intriguing. And, as deserves mention, too, it’s to coach Brian Gregory and his team’s credit that they’re showing this improvement and giving strong effort each game out despite the 0-7 start and series of brutal defeats.
In league play, at least, you could make a solid case that Tech’s defense is third or fourth best in the league, behind Virginia, Clemson and possibly Louisville. But, you could also make the case that the offense is still in the bottom third. (You could then mention that it bears mention that Tech is doing this with a roster that’s half new. But then you could counter with the question of why that’s the case, but that’s a rabbit hole for another day.)
The problem, one of them, at least, is that this improvement netted three wins in seven tries, and the final four opportunities to demonstrate it include two games against North Carolina and one each against Louisville and Clemson. If Tech continues to play better, beats Clemson again and upsets the Tar Heels or Cardinals once (a tall order), it’s hard to say what that would mean in the bigger picture. The Jackets would be 14-16 overall and 5-13 in the ACC. The improvement may be there, but it’s obviously obscured by the record. Whether that ultimately constitutes improvement is a matter of debate.