As the men’s basketball team heads into their final home game, they arrive embattled after a long, hard-fought season. Finding a working system has been a storyline throughout the year, with Tech having started eleven different lineups. In fact, there is not a single player on the roster that has started every game, with ten players having started at least three games. With few games left, Tech’s hopes of finding the right mix of players looks slim.
Tech’s recent starting lineup has used a four-out, one-in alignment; that is, the team has placed a big man in the paint and spaced everyone around him, often behind the arc. With James Banks III being the big man, Moses Wright and Kristian Sjolund have been starting at the forward spots. This look is different from the previous lineup, with Sjolund having started just two times before the game against Miami. A consistent element in Tech’s starting lineup has been sophomore point guard Jose Alvarado, who has struggled at times this season in efficiency and offensive production.
In the six games leading up to Pittsburgh, Alvarado struggled shooting, hitting just 16.9 percent from the floor. This level of inefficiency was a huge reason in creating what became a seven-game losing streak for Tech; if Alvarado, who has generally been a good shooter, could not hit his shots, the team was high and dry offensively. The Pittsburgh game was a comeback for Alvarado, with the sophomore point guard dropping 29 points. Playing all 40 minutes, he helped lead the offense with five assists and six rebounds. Another player who had a key impact in this game was Moses Wright. Leading the team in rebounds, he blocked two important shots in the last minutes of the game. Both of these performances were essential to Tech’s win.
An impressive game such as this makes one wonder if the abysmal streak is over for Alvarado. While it is impossible to tell if his struggles over recent games were because of mental fatigue or just terrible luck, his final home game against Boston College will be a test for the sophomore. With a productive game from Alvarado, the Jackets could finish with a conference win.
Coming off the Pittsburgh game, Tech was handed its worst loss of the season by Miami, if not by margin then certainly in terms of disappointment. Jim Larranaga’s squad sat at 3-10 in conference play entering the game, an eminently beatable team. Losing 80-65 made what seemed like the beginning of redemption quickly give way to defeat. Tech was never able to catch up to Miami’s hot start. With a 30-13 lead twelve minutes into the game, Miami’s shooting efficiency helped build a substantial barrier between them and the Jackets. However, the news from this game was not completely negative. Alvarado scored an efficient 20 points.
Tech will face Boston College in their final home game of the season, a team ranked just two spots above them. Both teams sit near the bottom of the ACC. Currently on a two-game losing streak, Boston College has had its own share of struggles this season. This final game offers a chance to salvage the end of a lousy season for Tech. If players like Alvarado, Banks, Sjolund and Wright put together good performances, it bodes well for the Jackets’ 2019-20 campaign.