This summer, the Jackets took an 8 day trip to Barcelona to brush up on their skills and stay in shape during the offseason. Tech played four exhibition games against teams put together by the Spanish Basketball Federation. By the end of the trip, the Jackets won every game and held a 4-0 record.
The Jackets have made great strides in their offense since the end of last season. Last year, Tech ranked last in the ACC in adjusted offensive efficiency and 331st in three point shooting in NCAA DI. However, the team played a much faster game against the Spanish players and shot better from beyond the arc, despite the fact that the international three-point line is further than the current DI line, shooting 34.2% from the farther distance as opposed to the 30.7% they shot last season.
Working with an expanded roster — as transfer Jordan Usher will not likely be available til the beginning of next year — head coach Josh Pastner opted to experiment with his lineups a bit, to much success. Sophomore Michael Devoe shot much better from behind the arc, picking up 12 points from beyond the arc in Tech’s opener.
Pastner had junior Evan Cole practicing in the center, as the player seems to be the likely backup for senior James Banks III going into the season. However, being almost 25 pounds lighter than Banks, Cole will have to use his quickness to beat opponents into position rather than push his weight around as Banks does in the paint.
The Jackets have a lot to look forward to this season. When Usher becomes eligible, the USC transfer will help bolster their offense with his shooting abilities in the later part of the season, and fellow transfer Bubba Parham seeks to give the Jackets additional threats from beyond the arc.
Perhaps Pastner took some cues from women’s basketball in scheduling the trip — in previous years, the women’s team has made multiple exhibition tours of Europe, and heavily recruited European talent such as Finish sophomore Lotta-Maj Lahtinen and Italian players Lorela Cubaj and Francesca Pan, core parts of the program today. While Tech has done an excellent job adding local talent, Tech has already made strides in adding foreign players to the roster, such as Norwegian talent Kristian Sjolund, and further developing Tech as a landing spot for European amateurs can reap huge benefits for the program.
The ability to play competitive games with the expanded three-point-arc also provided obvious appeal for the trip. Ensuring that players are comfortable with playing in a further arc can give Tech an edge at the start of next season, where other teams may be less comfortable. Tech appears confident and ready to shoot with the extended line, and their success on their trip should hopefully bode well for the coming season. Tech basketball opens up the season on Oct. 19 in an exhibition match against Georgia College before the season kicks off in earnest on the road against NC State, Nov. 5.