Following an expected NIT run last season, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets had high hopes for this season.
Currently sitting at 4-4 eight games into the season, nobody really knows the identity of this team. NCAA investigations have halted the progress of the program for the time being. Tadric Jackson, Josh Okogie, Just Moore, and assistant coach Darryl Labarrie all have missed time due to suspensions. Labrarrie still remains suspended but Okogie has yet to return due to a finger injury he suffered in the exhibition vs Georgia State. All of that aside, this team beat Northwestern, battled UCLA and Tennessee to the buzzer. Yet, they also have lost to Grambling State and Wofford. So the question remains: How can Georgia Tech figure things out?
1. Get Healthy
There has been no way around it, the injury bug has bitten the Jackets this season. As stated earlier, Okogie has been sidelined since October with a finger injury. While he hasn’t missed any games, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Ben Lammers, has been missing practice and battling through an ankle injury. Two injuries don’t seem like much, but when the injuries are to two of your All ACC players, they are significant.
2. Defense and Hustle
Ask any coach that faced GT last year and they all would brag about GT’s defense and hustle. When your margin for error is so small, every loose ball needs to be yours. This season, while the team’s top two defenders have been injured, the defense and hustle hasn’t been the same. The defense truly hasn’t been bad but not what it can be. Obviously a healthy Okogie and Lammers will drastically improve that. However, the inconsistent hustle has been infuriating to watch. Too many loose balls and offensive rebounds going to other teams. Coaching can’t fix this issue, the players need to take this upon themselves and turn it up a notch.
The team’s assist to turnover ratio is almost 1:1. That is just not good. The team is also averaging one more turnover then their opponent. For a team with still such little margin for error, the turnovers need to be cut down.
GT is back in action tonight against Florida A&M before making the short trip to Athens on Tuesday. With Okogie not expected to return until late December, the stretch of games leading up to then are crucial. Fixing these issues will help, but also not overlooking anymore opponents will also help.
UPDATE: Josh Okogie WILL play tonight vs FAMU per Jon Rothstein.