Point guard Jarrett Jack may run Georgia Tech's offense, but he
doesn't run the team's locker room, which is why the TV was tuned
to Black Entertainment Television as the Yellow Jackets prepared
for practice last Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee. Jack prefers
NCAA to BET, at least when the tournament is in session, so he
went searching for a television on which he could watch hoops.
"You might pick up something that could help you if you face that
team later on," he said. "I'm just a basketball fan, and you
never know when you're going to see somebody make some great play
to win a game."
Given that attitude, it's a shame that Jack, a 6'3" sophomore,
couldn't have been in front of a TV on Sunday to watch himself
make a pair of game-changing plays against Boston College that
propelled the Yellow Jackets to a 57-54 victory and into their
first Sweet 16 since 1996. With 10 seconds on the shot clock and
Georgia Tech trailing 54-53, Jack penetrated the lane and drew a
fifth foul on BC's best player, forward Craig Smith, earning
himself the two free throws that gave the Jackets a one-point
lead with 30 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, he picked
off a pass and went in for a dunk, giving Tech a three-point lead
with 5.5 seconds remaining. "You can X and O all you want,"
Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said afterward, "but the bottom
line is Jarrett Jack made two huge plays that won this game."
Jack's appetite for watching basketball is never satisfied. Even
as he was giving interviews about his heroics against Boston
College, he had one eye on the Vanderbilt-North Carolina State
telecast in the corner of the locker room. "I got a high screen
from [center] Luke [Schenscher] and they switched it and ... ooh,
Freije got 'em," he said, as he watched Vandy's Matt Freije hit a
late-game jumper. "Anyway, I got the screen.... "
And the rest is Georgia Tech basketball history, a subject on
which Jack is his team's leading expert. He is one of the few,
for instance, who has a clear memory of James Forrest's
three-pointer at the buzzer that beat Southern Cal 79-78 in the
second round of the 1992 tournament, also in Milwaukee. Jack has
seen the shot replayed dozens of times in television promos for
the tournament. "I never get tired of seeing it," he says. "Maybe
someday I'll have a commercial of my own like that." And just
maybe his teammates will let him watch it in the locker room.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER FEEL THE STING The heroics of Jack carried the Yellow Jacketspast BC and into their first Sweet 16 in eight years.