Mackey and Yunkus – that’s pretty rare company.
“The thing is, he just obviously has a big body. He’s much quicker off his feet than he was,” coach Brian Gregory said. “We’ve taken care of the ball this year – our offensive execution is better, so guys know where shots are coming from, too. He’s done a good job of reading that and knowing when the shots are going up and getting into the correct position.”
Struggling in transition
A few weeks ago, Gregory mentioned that the team needed to be more efficient in the transition, that too often fast-break opportunities resulted in no points. It’s something that has seemed evident, and I can present you with data that would support this. According to hoop-math.com, Tech is No. 12 in the ACC in effective field-goal percentage (field-goal percentage that proportionately weights the value of 3-point field goals) in transition opportunities. (The site takes its data from all publicly available Division I play-by-play reports, so it’s not quite ironclad. A transition attempt is a field-goal attempt that takes place within the first 10 seconds of a possession following a steak, defensive rebound or made basket by the opponent.)
Tech is shooting 54.8 percent in those situations, in which the offense typically has the advantage of trying to score against a defense that is not yet set up and often doesn’t have all of its defenders in place. It's 4.4 percentage points better than Tech's overall effective field-goal percentage, about average among the bumps that ACC teams enjoy compare to their overall rates.
Tech often takes pull-up and spot-up jumpers in transition, which is fine if you’re going to make them, but the Jackets miss more than you’d want. The numbers don’t include shots that result in fouls, and the Jackets often crash the glass hard and score on putbacks in these situations, but it’s not a strategy to live by.
Not giving up
The team’s goal going into the season was to win the ACC championship and make a run in the NCAA tournament. While odds are climbing – the Jackets will have to win the ACC championship to get into the tournament, which will likely require them to win five games in five days – they’re not letting it go.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” forward James White said. “We know our main vision is to still get to the (NCAA) tournament and do great things, but at the same time, we’ve got to take care of the game against Florida State before we look towards the future, so take it game by game.”
The Jackets have a bit of history to overcome. Tech has lost the past 10 games to Florida State, dating back to a Feb. 2007 win over the Seminoles.
Curiously, as noted by Tech publicist Mike Stamus, the Jackets have not had a home-and-home with FSU since 2010. Since that point, Tech has had at least one home-and-home with every ACC team but Syracuse, including newcomers Pittsburgh, Louisville and Notre Dame (one of Tech’s permanent partners, along with Clemson). The Jackets have had four with Wake Forest (which was one of Tech’s permanent partners until the 2013-14 season) and three with N.C. State.
And in the next two years, the Jackets still won’t play a home-and-home, according to the scheduling matchups released last week, but will play home-and-homes with N.C. State and Wake Forest, as well as their first with Syracuse.
I’m not sure that not being able to play a home-and-home with Florida State represents some sort of conspiracy, although I imagine the Seminoles probably wouldn’t turn down more cracks at Tech. Regardless, it would appear to be a flaw in the scheduling model.
If you’re wondering, the 18-game schedule allows for four home-and-homes each season, with two going annually to Clemson and Notre Dame. (In the two-plus years the arrangement has been in existence, Tech is 2-8 in those games, with seven of the losses by single digits.) Next year, Tech will add N.C. State and Syracuse and then Wake Forest and Virginia in 2017-18.
Off from the perimeter
Tech has gone cold from 3-point range in the past four games. The Jackets are 12-for-54 (22 percent) against Duke, Miami, Wake Forest and Clemson. Tech was at 36.5 percent before the past four games. By percentage, the efforts against Duke (10.5 percent), Wake Forest (20.0 percent) and Clemson (9.1 percent) were three of the five poorest of the season.