The Yellow Jackets cruised past the Clayton State Lakers this Monday (93-63), marking their first win of the season. With Georgia Tech facing a Division II school, one might expect them to win in commanding fashion. This was not the case. Looking at the 30 point win, it seems as if they did dominate – but that doesn’t tell the whole story. They went to the locker room shooting 36% from the field with a lot of unnecessary turnovers. Clayton State kept it tied at the half 34-34, shocking the fans. The stat sheet looks relatively decent, but it doesn’t account for a lot of the mistakes that were made during the game.
Rodney Howard played solid bully ball, getting 13 rebounds, 10 being offensive and 3 being defensive. Although he had 15 points, a block and 2 steals. He put up his 4th career double-double but had one key flaw in his game; he couldn’t finish at the rim. Several times after a rebound, he missed the put back layup. He still refuses to shoot from anywhere outside the paint, leading to a lack of spacing while he’s on the floor. Things are going to have to improve with him before ACC play begins – especially with head coach Josh Pastner has him playing the role of facilitator of the offense.
Coach Josh Pastner stated in the preseason, “The star of the team is the team”. Restated in basketball terms, no one on Georgia Tech has taken a stand as the overall best player. Lance Terry scored the most points, 16, coupled with an assist. Following him was Howard with 15, Moore with 11, Sturdivant, Kelly, and Smith all with 10, and Coleman with 9. Even though they had 6 scorers in the double digits, none of their players established any star status. It’s possible that Pastner will use this to his advantage, where teams defending the Jackets will have to plan to stop multiple quality players instead of just the star player.
Another huge issue is perhaps the worst one. The team seems reliant more on the less experienced players than the veterans. Granted, players like Jalon Moore and Miles Kelly did well, being only sophomores with minimal game experience. But none of the returning veterans played like they were confident in the Pastner offense and plan. Sturdivant hasn’t much improved and still plays low scoring ball with a more pass first play style. Deivon Smith still lacks the composure to run an offense, making hasty decisions when driving up the court.
This is only the first game of the season, so the the Yellow Jacket Basketball Program is rusty. Though if this is the state of Georgia Tech for the rest of the season you can expect an absolutely abysmal ACC record and a low win season with not much noise in McCamish Pavilion.