Tech loss to Mount was dip in roller-coaster schedule

THE BALTIMORE SUN

When Georgia Tech lost by 16 points to Georgia, the Yellow Jackets called a team meeting to clear the air.

When they lost by two to little Mount St. Mary's on Monday,

coach Bobby Cremins gave them the day off -- and dismissed the loss as the price of three games in six days.

"We played against a very good team [in the Mount] and they caught us at a perfect time," Cremins said later. "I watched tape of the game and it was like slow motion for us sometimes. In hindsight, I wish we could've had another day, and not play three games in six days.

"Because the Georgia game and the Louisville game were such emotional games, we were on such an emotional roller coaster. It's a shame we couldn't carry the momentum over, but we didn't have it."

The Jackets are 6-4 in a tough nonconference schedule designed to help get them back into the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence. They missed the NCAAs last year with an 18-14 record and fifth-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"We made this commitment," Cremins said. "A lot of people said we were going over our heads with this schedule."

The schedule gets tougher tonight when Tech plays No. 2 UMass (6-0) in the second game of a Meadowlands doubleheader. Temple plays No. 1 Kansas in the first game.

Perhaps it is not as much scheduling as poor ball-handling and the lack of an inside game that have Tech reeling, though. In losing three of their past four games, the Jackets have averaged 21 turnovers, including 24 in a win over Louisville.

There have been other problems, as well. Among the topics discussed in a team meeting after the loss to Georgia was what Cremins called "senioritis."

"It started with Drew Barry [Tech's only senior]," Cremins said. "He apologized to the team for not being himself. He got away from his game. It happens. To his credit he came back. It's called senioritis, the pressure to play at the next level. Every time you walk out on the court you see scouts under the basket. We can't be playing for the NBA. We've got to be playing for each other."

Against Louisville, Barry responded with 17 points and eight assists.

Aye, aye, Captain

Outspoken Temple coach John Chaney loads up his schedule with heavyweights and is quick to defend the habit. The critics came out after Temple followed an up set of then-No. 2 Villanova with a 70-49 loss to No. 9 Cincinnati. The loss was a four-point game until the final six minutes and dropped the Owls to 2-4.

"People are jumping off the bandwagon," Chaney told a Philadelphia writer this week. "After we beat Villanova, everybody was calling my house and wanting to be my friend. Now everybody is calling the house and they want me fired.

"They want to know why the hell am I doing this to our kids, to the university. And I'm saying to them . . . . 'Remember Admiral Farragut? When one of his sailors hollered, 'Captain, captain -- torpedoes,' Farragut said 'Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.'

"Somebody said we've got to go back and get the team's confidence back. - the team's confidence. What about my confidence? Didn't they know when they came to Temple that I was going to schedule these teams? I tell everybody we schedule the best teams, so when you come to Temple, expect to get your [butt] whipped."

Still ahead for the Owls are Kansas, Memphis and Duke, plus UMass in the Atlantic 10 season. Indeed, full speed ahead.

the numbers

* In back-to-back wins over Delaware and Western Carolina, Duke's 6-foot-10 Greg Newton hit 20 of 22 shots and scored 46 points. Newton averaged 2.7 points in his previous two seasons.

* Ugliest shooting line in a season filled with ugly ones: Morehead State hit nine of 65 shots (13.8 percent) in a blowout loss to Kentucky. Morehead was only 10-for-20 at the foul line.

* USC's 118-97 romp over George Mason represented the most points for the Trojans in 25 years. The two teams combined for 175 shots, including 44 three-pointers.

* More Chaney: The Temple coach is 56-16 against the rest of Philadelphia's Big Five. Villanova's Steve Lappas has won 46 of his past 58 games, but is only 2-5 in the city series.

* When Cincinnati outlasted Cal, 77-70, the two teams combined to miss 21 free throws (35-for-56). Cal hit just 16 of 28 for 57 percent.

* No. 15 Missouri is 7-2, but lost its only game against a ranked opponent, 96-85 in overtime to Illinois.

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