1. It was astonishing how easily Boston College erased a six-point deficit with 90 seconds remaining (which became four points after Olivier Hanlan made both free throws at the 1:30 mark). It would have been a considerable triumph for the Jackets to pull this one out, winning an ACC tournament game without the player they had relied on heavily for the entire season.
All it probably would have taken was holding onto the ball and forcing Boston College to foul. At the least, take care of the ball, get a good shot and get one more stop. Further, Tech had played one of its best ball-security games of the season. The Jackets had turned the ball over seven times in their first 60 possessions, by my count. They had turned it over just once in the second half, in fact.
But, after Hanlan’s free throws cut the lead to 63-59, he poked the ball away from guard Travis Jorgenson, giving the Eagles the ball with 1:24 to play. Hanlan’s missed layup in transition was nearly rebounded by forward Robert Sampson, but it went off his hands. With the extra chance, Boston College Patrick Heckmann got guard Josh Heath to bite on a pump fake on a 3-pointer, getting a three-shot trip to the foul line with 1:10 to go.
Heckmann made all three, cutting the lead to 63-62. Tech now had the ball and the lead with 70 seconds. However, Jorgenson was tripped or stumbled as he drove to the basket, and, heading out of bounds, he flipped up a wild shot at the basket with 48 seconds left. Center Demarco Cox rebounded the ball, giving Tech a fresh shot clock. However, Cox, on the baseline, tried to pass to guard Corey Heyward, and Dimitri Batten intercepted, leading to a layup by Hanlan, giving Boston College the lead for the first time since the 9:29 mark of the second half.
The particularly trying aspect of it (one of them, at any rate) was that Tech actually made plays down the stretch to win the game, notably Sampson’s 3-pointer from the corner to give the Jackets their 63-57 lead with 1:51 left, and guard Tadric Jackson’s jumper in the lane to regain the lead with 28 seconds remaining.
In terms of the size of the lead with the time remaining, this might have taken the cake.
Said forward Charles Mitchell, “It’s hard to believe we lost the game.”
2. Tech was 10-for-15 from the free-throw line, which is actually better than the season average (64.8 percent, which is tied for 313th in the country), but not enough when one point could have made the difference. Tech was 3-for-15 from 3-point range, including a rough 0-for-9 from forward Quinton Stephens.
I think it’s easy to conclude he should have stopped shooting, but to me, it’s debatable. Stephens had a decent average (32.7 percent) from 3-point range going into the game. He had clean looks at the basket on most if not all of the shots. It was not unreasonable to keep thinking the next one was going to go in.
That said, what was working best for Tech (and what was the game plan) was feeding the post. Regardless, it’s a tough way go into the offseason.
The Jackets outrebounded Boston College 43-26 and had 19 offensive rebounds compared to 21 defensive rebounds for the Eagles. That’s pretty astounding. Tech took 63 field-goal attempts compared to 47 for Boston College.
And the result was the painful same. According to sports-reference.com, prior to Tuesday, there were 93 games this season in which a Division I team outrebounded its opponent by exactly 17 rebounds. The outrebounding team won 85 of those games. There were eight instances between power-conference teams. The team with fewer rebounds won only one of those.
3. The Jackets obliterated the school single-season record for rebound margin, finishing with plus 7.3, which is tied for 11th in the country. The previous record was held by the 2006-07 season (5.8). Gregory-coached teams take three of the top 12 spots.
Of the top 30 teams in rebounding, 22 have 20 wins or more. Only three, including Tech, have losing records.
They’ll also finish in the top 40, likely, in defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com.
Consider this: There are 18 other teams that are in the top 50 in the country in rebounding margin and defensive efficiency:
Arizona, Baylor, Butler, Cincinnati, Georgia, Gonzaga, Kentucky, North Carolina, Old Dominion, Sam Houston State, SMU, Texas, Texas A&M, Valparaiso, Utah, Virginia, Wichita State, Wisconsin.
That is a pretty strong list. Old Dominion and Texas A&M are on the bubble, and Sam Houston State presumably needs to win its conference tournament to get in. The rest are locks, and, beyond that, are some of the best teams in the country led by some of the best coaches in the country.
Granted, it’s kind of cherry-picking. If you took two top-50 lists of any statistical category, you’d likely end up with a lot of really good teams. That said, Gregory’s identity is defense and rebounding, and this would indicate that the Jackets executed those parts of the game at a level comparable with many of the best teams in the country.
The big difference between Tech and the other 18 is, obviously, offensive play. Tech’s offensive efficiency ranking on kenpom.com is 222. Nine of the 18 are in the top 25, 16 of the 18 are in the top 100 and the other is Sam Houston State (227).
Clearly, Tech does two things that great teams do (defend and rebound). But, obviously, the Jackets were lost offensively. With even an average offense, you wonder what this team would have accomplished.