Category Archives: GT Basketball

Georgia Tech, ACC Champions

Today was an interesting day for me. It’s not every day I hike what winds up being 9 miles and then I watch the ACC title game from a rooftop deck in Oakland.

But Saturday, March 13 was like that.

I feel like getting a bit introspective, so you’re just going to have to bear with me here.

Likely the only reason I care about college basketball at all goes back to my freshman year at Georgia Tech, 2003-2004. I didn’t attend a single basketball game that year, so yeah, it’s sufficient to say that I didn’t take much notice. But I did know about the NCAA Tournament, and we were a three seed.

Suddenly, the basketball team became a thing to me. Jarret Jack was definitely the best player, but everyone’s favorite player was probably Will Bynum (whom I know for a fact is shorter than me, we’ll get to that in a bit), plenty of folks liked BJ Elder, and, of course, Luke Schenscher Has a Posse. (And boy howdy could Ish Mohamed dunk a basketball.) That team got through the bracket, with some scrapes closer than other, but the team reached the final four. The RA’s in my freshman dorm put together a watch party in the basement of my dorm.

We entered the semi-final against Oklahoma State as underdogs to one of the last Eddie Johnson Oklahoma State teams, at least according to Jim Nantz and Billy Packer. (And boy howdy, nobody misses Billy Packer, eh?) The game was tight, and tense, with Tech gradually giving up a lead in the second half. Here’s the end of the game:

(Yeah, definitely pumped my first again after Bynum’s layup goes in.)

After the horn sounds we all cleared out of the basement and began wandering out West Campus thinking that we should all be doing something but having absolutely not idea what to do. Which, yeah, it was Georgia Tech, that makes a certain amount of sense.

We don’t need to talk about the national title game.

The next season was equally exciting, but the high point for me was the 2005 game against Wake Forest in a regular season ACC contest. You see, Wake was good then, as they had a guy named Chris Paul manning the point for them. I had joined the Swarm for both football and basketball, with basketball tickets back then being pretty hard to get, even in the Swarm. (I’m pretty sure I camped out for Duke tickets at least once.) The main benefit is what we got to stand on risers right behind the court. It’s hard to describe how much fun that was and how much I miss it.

Anyway, the 2005 Wake game went into overtime. 7 points were scored. 4 points by Jarret Jack, 3 by Chris Paul, and we won. It was the first and only time I had stormed a court. In the milieu of standing on the court with basically everyone else, I found myself standing right next to Will Bynum. Georgia Tech’s media guide had him listed at 5’11”, and I’m here to tell y’all that he was not taller than me, and I’m 5’10”.

The other thing I remember is that the next day was kinda rainy and I was taking the shuttle bus back to my dorm, and I saw Jarret Jack just sitting on the bus just like everyone else. He wound up being an NBA lottery pick after that season and richer than I’ll ever be. At a lot of schools now, at least in football, athletes are fully remote, even in the absence of a global pandemic. But I can report in 2005 he went to at least one class.

The years since then turned to underachieving and Tech trying to make the most of the terrible contract we’d given Paul Hewitt after the final four run. We haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 2010.

That will change now.

The past four years have been rough for Georgia Tech basketball. Starting over under Josh Pastner, he almost immediately got in trouble with the NCAA for poor decision making on his part, that ultimately resulted in the team taking a postseason ban last year. There’s been a player that I’ve liked almost as much as Will Bynum, and he’s unquestionably the heart and soul of this team: Jose Alvarado.

It was extremely appropriate that the ACC title game essentially ended with Alvarado stealing the ball from FSU and passing off for the game sealing assist. I have just known that this dude does not like to lose for the past four years. He’s definitely a guy that most people would describe as “scrappy”. But he guys his way through injuries, and unlike a lot of guys who do, he still makes the team better around him.

Tech suffered two awful losses to begin the year, losses that hurt their shot for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The team acknowledged after the game last night that it was extremely low moment for then. Alvarado admitted that he wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told him they’d be ACC Champions after the loss to Mercer.

But here we are. I know that there will be those that say that Tech only played two games in the tournament because UVA had to bow out. That the ACC is down this year. Sure. Fine. But a conference record above .500 – a rare thing indeed. Eight straight wins.


Go Jackets!

Thoughts on the Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball Team (and more!)

In no particular order:

  • So how about that Thad Young? On his way to a career high 25 points against UNC on Thursday, he hit 10-18 from the field and 5-6 from beyond the arc. He decided to grab some rebounds (2 offensive, 4 defensive) and two steals while he was it. Easily his most dominant performance of the year, it’s something of a double-edged sword – if he keeps playing like that, it’s increasingly likely that he’ll be one-and-done (although in my opinion this was likely even when he wasn’t do so well).
  • Speaking of dominant performances, as a team this was easily Tech’s best of the year. Good things tend to happen when you’re shooing over 60% from the field in the first half, of course. Tech shot 10-22 from beyond the arc, which Anthony Morrow rediscovering the stroke in the first half that led him to lead the ACC in 3-point percentage last year. (He ended up 4 of 10, though, but still had a season high 18 points). Perhaps more importantly, Javaris Crittenton had a season high 11-assists and low (for him) 5 turnovers. 3 guys had 6 rebounds each, and Ra’sean Dickey actually acted like a center for most of the game.
  • Tech has probably done enough to get into the tournament, but I think everyone would feel better if they beat Boston College today. Winning on Thursday in the ACC tournament would help as well.
  • Thanks to unbalanced schedules and the fact no one can win on the road, mad crazy tiebreakers are coming into effect for the ACC Tournament. Tech, with a victory against Boston College, will be a 6 seed if Duke loses to UNC on Sunday. If Tech loses, they’ll end up at 7-9. It’s easy if Clemson loses @Virginia Tech – Tech would be tied with FSU at 7-9, and Tech’s season sweep of FSU would give them the 7 seed. If Clemson wins, it gets complicated and I don’t remember who wins. The top of the ACC is even more confusing since Virginia managed to lose to Wake Forest yesterday. It’s possible for Virginia, UNC, VT, and Boston College to end up at 11-5. They all get byes, sure, but still. Even if BC loses, (and since they’re playing, I hope they do) they’ll still not have to play on Thursday due to a victory over 10-6 Maryland.
  • Speaking of unbalanced schedules, I’m glad that Virginia Tech and Boston College are competing in the ACC. I really am. But I still think back to the salad days of my youth (read: my freshman year 4 years ago) when the ACC had a full round-robin schedule. You have a pretty good idea where you stand after playing everyone twice, and it was one of the things that made ACC basketball really special. Of course, the ACC is still the best conference, but yeah.
  • What on Earth happened to Conference USA? They had pretty much established themselves as a multi-bid league even after Louisville and Cincinnati left, but Memphis has a ridiculous 5 game lead.
  • On Mid-Majors: it appears the only multi-bid mid-major leagues this year will be the A10 (which, at 14 teams, is a much more egregious violation of good naming than the Big Ten), MVC (though only 2 this time, since Missouri St. and Bradly failed to knock off Southern Illinois and Creighton), and probably the Mountain West. In other words, it’s a good year to be a middling major conference team.
  • Speaking of the Missouri Valley, why on Earth do they have their own TV station? Several of those games have had margins of less than 7, and they have an absolutely packed house of 16,000 in St. Louis in what is probably the most well-attended mid-major tournament. But thanks to their TV channel, I’ve only been able to see the highlights. Not even the title game will be on ESPN. C’mon guys, let the rest of us see what’s up with MVC basketball and perhaps people will understand it better.
  • On the ACC bubble situation: I think FSU and Clemson are pretty screwed unless they make some noise in the ACC Tournament. Hopefully that won’t be at our expense.
  • One last thing: being on the west coast and having a job is going to really hamper my enjoyment of the first 3 rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Thank goodness for March Madness On Demand, which will hopefully not get me fired. Sign up soon to make sure you have access to the “VIP” queue when waiting for games.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. It’s nice to be doing this again. Hopefully I’ll have something positive to post about after the game (3:00 EST, FSN).

Basketball update

GT has looked decidedly less lost lately, winning 5 of the last 6 games. Today we go on the road to UVA, and winning the game would dramatically enhance our NCAA tournament prospects. A loss means we would have to beat UNC AND BC next week at home – which is possible since we play really well at home, but pretty unlikely.

The game today is at 3:30 EST on ABC if anyone actually reads this.