Georgia Tech had just won its first game ever at Virginia Tech, and guard Brandon Reed had played a contributing role. He gave the Yellow Jackets a jolt off the bench with nine points, four rebounds and four assists as Tech rolled over the Hokies 64-54 last Saturday.
“It’s always a good thing when you feel like you gave everything you had and you win,” Reed said.
After starting 28 games last season and the first 15 this season, Reed has had to adjust to subbing in for starting guards Mfon Udofia and Chris Bolden. The more he can hone in on his role, the better Tech’s chances heading into the final eight games of the regular season, starting with Thursday night’s game against Clemson at McCamish Pavilion.
“That makes us a different team when we have him and (forward Kammeon Holsey) coming off the bench and giving us a big lift,” coach Brian Gregory said. “We’re a much different team, a much better team. As the season gets into the second half of the league (schedule), you need that for sure.”
The reasons for the importance of Reed and other bench players are a few. The Jackets have had issues with foul trouble and inconsistent play from the starters. Tech will play two games in less than 48 hours this week, following up the Clemson game with a road game at Wake Forest Saturday at 2 p.m. Gregory has squeezed the starters fairly hard for minutes, in part because the bench production aside from Holsey has been uneven. Going into Wednesday’s games, Tech’s five starters, including three freshmen, were in the top 43 in the ACC in minutes played in conference games, all at 27.4 minutes or more.
Further, Gregory said that freshmen often hit a wall around the end of January where they become mentally fatigued, though he said he hasn’t seen it with his freshmen, forwards Robert Carter and Marcus Georges-Hunt and guards Solomon Poole and Bolden.
When Reed shines as he did against the Hokies, “it’s really important and we need that,” center Daniel Miller said.
Reed has had strong games back-to-back, against the Hokies last Saturday and Florida State last Tuesday.
After the game in Blacksburg, Va., Reed said that “I just wanted to come in and bring energy and do things that I felt like the team needed, just trying to do everything I can to help the team win.”
Holsey, who started every game in the 2011-12 season, has thrived using a similar strategy coming off the bench for the Jackets this season. Prior to Wednesday’s games, he was tied for ninth in the ACC in points per 40 minutes in league games, at 19.3 points.
To Holsey, there are advantages in coming off the bench, like being able to get a feel for the game before going in, and then entering the game with fresh legs when others are tired.
Said Holsey, “The only thing about coming off the bench is I’ve got to provide more energy than I even did last year.”
Gregory has given brothers Solomon and Stacey Poole assorted amounts of minutes off the bench, as their effectiveness has varied. Guard Jason Morris, who was the most consistent guard off the bench before his plantar fasciitis injury, could be returning in the next few games. Point guard Pierre Jordan has contributed in spots. Reed, who can give scoring punch, is an improving defender and is a willing rebounder, is the one who could be a crucial piece of Tech’s closing stretch.
“He’s got his mindset right,” Holsey said. “He’s being mentally focused coming and knowing he’s coming off the bench.”
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