The details of a Monday conversation with Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory are available on myajc.com, our premium site, but I offer this summary: Gregory believes his program has improved in the three years since he took over from Paul Hewitt, even if the developments of Year 3, when the Jackets are 13-16 and 4-12 in ACC play, have made progress difficult to spot.
“We’ve done some important things for the program that we really stress,” Gregory said. “There’s no question how hard we play, no question about the intensity and resolve of the guys. In a season like this, things could have splintered and gone really wrong.”
That said, very little has gone right for these Jackets. They’ve lost four in a row and six of seven. They’re tied with Boston College for 13th place in a 15-team conference. (To be fair, Tech has beaten BC twice.) Going by RPI, their two best victories came against Georgia and Illinois, teams not expected to qualify for the Big Dance.
Yes, some of this — probably much of this — has to do with injuries. Robert Carter Jr. and Trae Golden have missed significant time. Travis Jorgenson and Jason Morris have been lost for the duration. Solomon Poole was dismissed from the team in January. Still, there’s no denying that this season has been a reversal: Tech was 16-15 last season, and a March road upset of Miami, which would go on to win the ACC, augured brighter tomorrows.
Said Gregory: “The margin of error when you’re rebuilding (is small). You try to put yourself in the position where you want to be successful, and in so many areas we’ve made unbelievable strides. The one next up is in success on court. I understand that and guys understand that.”
It would be wrong to suggest that Gregory inherited a program poised for greatness. The Jackets were 47-48 in their final three seasons under Hewitt. For the record, they’re 40-51 in nearly three full seasons under the new man. And the ACC, which has seen the additions of Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame and which will welcome Louisville next season, only gets tougher.