Coach Brian Gregory has said repeatedly that the Jackets must win the rebounding battle to win games.
Left unsaid: If the Jackets don’t outwork their opponents, their inferior talent will result in lots of losses.
Gregory was proven correct in Tech’s 72-66 loss at Fordham on Dec. 29, which dropped the Jackets to 7-6. The Rams out-rebounded the Jackets 40-26. They hurt Tech by getting 17 offensive boards.
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Losing to the team picked to finish last in the Atlantic 10 does not bode well for the ACC season, which starts Jan. 7 against Duke. Before that, Tech will tangle with Alabama on Jan. 3. The Crimson Tide likely will get star F JaMychal Green back for the game, suggesting another uphill battle.
Tech’s most talented player, Glen Rice Jr., continues to vex Gregory. The coach suspended Rice for the first three games of the season for undisclosed reasons.
Then it appeared Rice had bought in, as he strung together several outstanding games.
But in 19 minutes against Fordham, Rice took just three shots and went scoreless.
Unless Rice gets back on track and the Jackets crash the boards hard, fans are in for an extremely long season.
Scoring doesn’t come easy to the Jackets, who rank 239th in points (65.0) and 258th in assists (11.7). Only two players average double figures in points, Glen Rice Jr. (13.2) and Mfon Udofia (10.4).
The Jackets will play their remaining home games at Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta. Tech went 4-1 at Gwinnett Arena in suburban Atlanta and was 0-1 at Philips heading into the Jan. 3 game vs. Alabama. The team lacks a true home court this season as construction continues on the on-campus arena.
Nine of the 13 players on Tech’s roster are from Georgia. With Tech graduating two Texans and three Georgians signed to letters of intent, there will be 12 Georgians on next season’s roster, an all-time high.
The Jan. 3 home game against Alabama is the completion of a two-year contract. The Crimson Tide beat Tech 88-77 in January 2009 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama is facing Tech in Atlanta for the first time since 1975.
BY THE NUMBERS: -3 — That’s the Jackets’ ACC-worst turnover margin. Tech committed 27 turnovers in losses to Mercer (Dec. 22) and Fordham (Dec. 29). Junior Mfon Udofia is more of a scoring point guard than a pure distributor. He averages 10.4 points, second-most on the team, but has more turnovers (39) than assists (32).
QUOTE TO NOTE
“We’re still trying to teach them how to play the game the right way and respect how the game is supposed to be played.” — Coach Brian Gregory.