Former college coach Denny Kuiper breaks down Georgia Tech’s 66-60 upset of Virginia.
For the first 30 minutes of this game, this looked like it was going to be a typical Virginia victory: a slow, methodical, and grind-it-out event. Then, in the last 10 minutes, the roof fell in for the Cavaliers. They went possession after possession without scoring. It was a tough loss for Virginia, hurting its chances in the ACC and possibly in making the NCAA Tournament as well.
Give Georgia Tech credit. This is a team that started out ACC play with five straight losses, but has regrouped and won two of its next three. What makes the victory special is that the Yellow Jackets came from behind against a Virginia team that usually doesn't give up leads late in the game.
Let's go to the three pointers to take a look at this game.
1. Virginia’s Late-Game Scoring Drought
Some of the credit has to go to Georgia Tech for its defense. Virginia is going to run its offense and force the opposing defense to make decisions that hopefully leave UVa’s shooters with good scoring opportunities. The Yellow Jackets took away the first and second options of the Cavaliers, forcing them to try to score off the dribble.
Virginia does not have good one-on-one players and shot creators. When the Cavaliers cannot effectively run their offense, they get out of sync and have to play out of their comfort zone.
Scouting the opponent is very important in conference play, especially against Virginia. If the Cavaliers can effectively run their offense, they most likely win; if not, they probably lose. Good scouting and execution is crucial against UVa’s offense. Georgia Tech did a good job of that late in the game.
2. Virginia’s Style of Play
While I have a ton of respect for Tony Bennett's coaching style, I also think it is a tough way to win games. The Cavaliers rarely have big spurts and have difficulty getting big leads. Also, it’s hard to come from behind late in the game, because they are not used to pressing and forcing turnovers. Finally, if you cannot put teams away when you’re on the road, the home team - with their crowd support - can sometimes get over the hump and steal a win. That is what happened on Sunday.
On the other hand, Virginia’s solid defense and slow pace of play frustrates teams. And I have noticed a little more pressure defense this year from the Cavaliers and a little more up-tempo early offense.
3. Georgia Tech's Young Team
Before the season started, I predicted Georgia Tech would be better than its current record. I thought that, with their veteran players Kammeon Holsey, Daniel Miller and Mfon Udolla combined with their impressive freshman class, the Yellow Jackets would be solid in the ACC. They may finally be ready to achieve that staus.
The three main freshmen, Robert Carter, Marcus Hunt and Chris Bolden, are very good young players. They each played over 30 minutes and scored a combined 35 points, while snaring 17 rebounds. Carter is an outstanding presence in the paint. Look out ACC in the future!
Also, Brian Gregory is a very good coach who will get some talented players to add to the mix in the future.
And One: Moving Screens
I hate that referees call so many moving screens. They called two on Tech's Miller in the first 10 minutes of the game. Gregory was forced to put his big man on the bench for several minutes to protect him from getting his third foul in the first half and potentially fouling out later in the game. I am not against calling moving screens, but the two calls on Miller did not give any advantage to the Yellow Jackets.
By the way, basketball is the only game I know of in which you are not allowed to play after committing too many fouls. You can jump offsides in football as many times as you want in a game and can continue to play. I think the foul-out rule needs to be examined, and some amendments need to be put in place.