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Georgia Tech Takes Four-Game Win Streak into December Games

When you need sympathy someone is there to tell you that the darkest hour is just before the dawn.  The darkest hour - so to speak - for Georgia Tech came in the Paradise Jam in the US Virgin Islands.

With the Yellow Jackets struggling against the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, the electrical power grid in the islands sputtered.  Power went out in the gym several times with frequent game interruptions.  The advantage is that as people undoubtedly left early few people saw the conclusion of Yellow Jackets horrible 66-42 showing where Georgia Tech struggling to hit one out of every three shots.

The Yellow Jackets were 3-4 after the loss to Tennessee.  Out of their three tournament games, they had lost two.  They had been drubbed by Connecticut earlier in the year.  Senior guard/forward Alex Montgomery had yet to give Georgia Tech a real statement game and aside from the play of freshman guard Tyaunna Marshall there wasn't much to cheer about.  Tech's three wins were against also-ran teams.  Could the Yellow Jackets beat anyone…good?

The next day, Georgia Tech avoided a tournament sweep with a win over Missouri.  Up next - Northwestern, Middle Tennessee State and Georgia.  Three 2010 post-season teams.  The first team had a WNBA prospect playing for them, the second was one of the best mid-majors in the country and the third was Tech's major in-state rival. 

Getting two wins out of three would have been confidence building, but when all was said and done the Yellow Jackets capped a four-game win streak.  With Northwestern up 63-62 after a 6-0 run late in the game, Montgomery hit a 3-pointer with 12.6 seconds left to give the lead back to the Yellow Jackets who hung on for a 67-63 win.  The Blue Raiders were never quite in it and the Yellow Jackets sent MTSU packing with a 68-48 Tech win.

So what about Georgia vs. Georgia Tech?

* Tech beat the Lady Bulldogs 69-53, the biggest margin of victory ever against Georgia in women's basketball.

* There were 5,015 fans in attendance for Tech's fifth biggest home crowd ever - the 2010-11 season has seen both the #1 home crowd (Connecticut) and the #5 home crowd (Georgia) for women's basketball attendance.

* It is only the fourth time that the Yellow Jackets have beaten the Lady Bulldogs in 33 tries.  MaChelle Joseph has three of the program's four wins against Andy Landers.

* It was the program's first win over a ranked opponent in almost two years, with the last such win coming on March 1, 2009 against #22/23 Virginia.

Suddenly, the Jackets are 7-4 and looking sweet.  Joseph stated that the Connecticut and Tennessee losses would help the Jackets win a game that they might ordinarily lose; hopefully Tech's graduation from the School of Hard Knocks will pave the way to success against their ACC opponents.

The boxscore values metric has been used before to attempt to measure the relative contributions in percentages of each player on a team based on their game statistics.  It then partitions the team wins among the individual players.  

 

Player

Boxscore

Percent

Attributed

 

Value

Contribution

Wins

 

 

 

 

Alex Montgomery

228.54

25.20%

1.76

Tyaunna Marshall

128.24

14.14%

0.99

Metra Walthour

117.59

12.97%

0.91

Deja Foster

110.65

12.20%

0.85

Chelsea Regins

91.58

10.10%

0.71

Sasha Goodlett

55.07

6.07%

0.43

LaQuananisha Adams

52.31

5.77%

0.40

Mo Bennett

47.25

5.21%

0.36

Dawwn Maye

24.11

2.66%

0.19

Jasmine Blain

14.72

1.62%

0.11

Sharina Taylor

12.71

1.40%

0.10

Sandra Ngoie-Hasahya

10.99

1.21%

0.08

Shaya Bivins

7.37

0.81%

0.06

Frida Fogdemark

6.63

0.73%

0.05

Danielle Hamilton-Carter

-0.99

-0.11%

-0.01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.00

 

Alex Montgomery has finally taken up the slack left by the graduation of forward Brigitte Ardossi.  Like it or not the success of Georgia Tech depends on her ability to have big games, and Montgomery has scored 14 points or more in every game since the Tennessee loss.  She had the biggest game of her career against Northwestern, scoring a career high 28 points and taking only 15 shots.  Against Missouri, Northwestern and MTSU Montgomery scored three straight double-doubles during the Jackets' four-game winning streak.

Tyaunna Marshall has been a huge surprise, playing very well for a freshman and provided the offense punch where Montgomery faltered.  However, the return of senior guard Deja Foster has provided the punch that Georgia Tech had been lacking.  Foster has contributed almost a full team win in the boxscore metric and has only been playing for half the season due to recovery from an injury.

There's another metric that I'll use to illustrate Tech's turnaround.  This is the correlation between box score value and team wins.  After all, it's no good to have a great game if your team loses.  The metric reveals which players have the best games during team wins.  The weakness in the metric is that it docks consistent players  - if a player has the same stats every game regardless of a win or loss, correlation falls to zero.

 

Player

 

W/L Correlation

 

 

 

Walthour

 

0.877

Montgomery

0.816

Goodlett

 

0.690

Marshall

 

0.607

Foster

 

0.578

Bennett

 

0.557

Adams

 

0.431

Ngoie-Hashaya

0.192

Blain

 

0.105

Taylor

 

0.047

Fogdemark

-0.020

Maye

 

-0.290

Hamilton-Carter

-0.344

Bivins

 

-0.461

 

The surprise is that senior point guard Metra Walthour is at the top of this list.  The importance of point guard play in basketball cannot be understated, but when Walthour performs well she adds an entirely new dimension to Georgia Tech's offense.  

 Waltour explains in a writeup from RamblinWreck.com after the Georgia game:

"Coach always says that we're a better team when we have more scoring from the outside," Walthour said. "There are a lot of teams that want to double down on Alex. I just came into the year knowing that I needed to step up and hit shots, and help my team in scoring. It's proven when we [guards] score better, we're a better team. We're just trying to step up and help Alex out."

The problem when one player handles the bulk of the offense - Montgomery this year, Ardossi last year - is that if you can stop the hot player you can stop the team.  With Marshall a drive-to-the-basket kind of player (she had her first career 3-pointer against Georgia)  it's important for Georgia Tech to both spread out its offense and move it away from Montgomery.  When Walthour is having a good game, the Yellow Jackets can accomplish both goals.

All is not perfect yet.  As Joseph said in the video below (the press conference after the Georgia game), the inside game still needs to be worked out.  The three Swedish imports haven't contributed much and sophomore forward Hamilton-Carter has only played one game, her NCAA debut against Georgia.  Hamilton-Carter was forced to sit out for over 40 games due to eligibility issues; freshman guard/forward Frida Fogdemark and freshman forward Sandra Ngoie-Hashaya are just learning what it takes to adjust to American ball.

In late December, Georgia Tech will travel to Portland State and then Washington, neither of which should be a challenge for the Yellow Jackets.  Mercer, Tennessee State and Jacksonville State even less so.  The next big test for the Yellow Jackets?  January 6, 2011 - when North Carolina comes to Atlanta for Georgia Tech's first ACC game.  As the spring semester starts, we'll find out exactly how much the Yellow Jackets have learned.