Note to TechHoops.com Readers: Don’t worry, I’ve doubled my meds and I’m calming down about last night’s win.Â Apologies if I came across very negatively.Â It is a good sign when people are upset about “wins” from our basketball team, and as a friend pointed out, these are the types of games VT used to find a way to lose.Â Maybe the guys’ minds were on the beach last night, considering they are now already on their way to Puerto Rico (left at 6 AM this morning).
The Good News: VT won.
The Bad News: Maybe it is time to throttle back the expectations for this season.Â Why?Â Because this team has struggled to score for the last 60 minutes of play against two nubbins schools.Â Tech shot just 33.3% from the field on the night against the #22 ranked Mid-Major team on their way to a come from behind victory.Â VT scored just 23 first half points.Â The only reason the Hokies won was an amazing 27/32 (84%) effort from the line.
If you watched this game, you may have thought ricky stokes (or Bryan Stinespring) was a guest coach.Â Tech looked absolutely inept on the offensive end and only won this game thanks to a spirited effort down the stretch.Â Virginia Tech trailed the entire second half (including by as many as 8 with 9 minutes to go) until taking the lead with 1:34 to play on a 2nd-chance three point by A.D. Vassallo.Â Following two free throws by the mount, VT took the lead for good when Malcolm Delaney was fouled on a three with 0:52 to play and sank all three free throws.Â After falling behind 52-46 with 2:22 to play, Malcolm Delaney led a 16-5 run to close the game with 13 points on 10/11 shooting from the line.
Player of the Game: Malcolm Delaney – He led VT with 18 points.Â But he wasn’t so much the player of the game as he was the player of the final 2:20.Â He only had 5 points for the first 37 minutes and then took complete control of the game and hit clutch free throw after clutch free throw down the stretch.Â He’s the reason the Hokies pulled this game out of their hat.
Tech was out-hustled by a much smaller team.Â VT won the rebounding margin 36-33, but the mount had a 13-11 advantage on offensive rebounds and that led to many easy buckets on second chances.Â The mount finished with a 28-16 advantage on points in the paint.Â Not a good sign against a team with no one over 6’7″. Once again Jeff Allen led VT in rebounding with 9. This is the second straight game he has missed a double-double by just one rebound.
The Hokies did not get out and run at all.Â At one point late in the 2nd half, they only had 1 point off turnovers and completed the game with just 6.Â This is an athletic team that has shown they are not good yet in the half court set.Â They must run more, even if it means forcing the tempo.Â VT finished the game with just 3 fast break points.
The Hokies also committed 20 turnovers.Â If VT wants to improve their offense, they need to cut this total in about half.
Tech’s leading scorer on the night was Malcolm Delaney, mostly because he did his job and hit free throws down the stretch.Â Delaney had 18 points on 13 FTs.Â But 13 of his 18 points were scored in the final 2:12 of the game.Â He hit 10/11 FTs in clutch time and also nailed a key three after the Hokies fell behind by 6 with 2:22 to go.
The Hokies will have plenty to work on as they head south and east.Â They have now looked awful for the last 3 halves of play.Â No one is playing well.Â The amazing thing is they are 2-0 despite all this.
Tech trailed 24-23 at the half and only had 23 points in the first 17+ minutes of the second half until their late run.
Let’s review tonight’s game:
- The Big 3 is still the Big 3: Allen (13), Delaney (15), and Vassallo (18)Â combined for 46 of Tech’s 62 points (74%).Â All three are averaging over 16 points through VT’s first two games, but no one else is over 4 per game.Â No one has stepped up to compliment them yet.
- Davila on the move: Victor Davila, Tech’s only freshman that is playing this year, had the first 8 points of his career in this game.Â He actually played the most minutes of him, Lewis Witcher, and Cheick Diakite.Â Â Victor was aggressive on the offensive end but also missed some easy shots.Â He may be working his way up in the rotation though.
- The bench is still struggling: Tech’s bench combined for just 11 points tonight, and 8 of that was from Davila.Â Thorns and Bell continue to be worthless on the offensive end and Witcher may have seen his playing time dwindle thanks to Mr. Davila.Â At least Bell is showing he is a solid defender, and Thorns did a good job on the mount’s best player, Jeremy Goode, who had just 11 points.
- Shooting guards who can’t shoot…: Don’t know what to say here.Â After a 1/7 shooting performance in Game 1, Dorenzo scored 2 points to start the game tonight.Â He didn’t score the rest of the game and had 3 turnovers.Â Terrell Bell only has 2 points on the season.Â That’s 6 points total on 2/18 shooting (11%) and 9 turnovers (8 from Hudson) from the two main shooting guards.
- Protect the ball: The Hokies committed 20 turnovers in this game, several of which where “unforced errors” in the backcourt where either a careless pass was made or two Hokies were fighting over the ball and just walked out of bounds with it.
- Zone: Tech employed a 1-3-1 zone some tonight and it looked good.Â It really injected some life into the team’s defense pressure and forced the mount into some mistakes.Â As a whole VT’s defense looked good tonight, Seth’s bread-and-butter.Â The only concern was not boxing out and seemingly being outworked for rebounds.
- FTs: Tech hit 27/32 from the line.Â Through two games VT is 37/45 (82%). Â Everyone seems to be better from the line this year so far.Â This is encouraging.Â
Summary: Long story short is VT is a 3 person team right now.Â I didn’t predict they would miss Deron Washington this much, but they do.Â Missing J.T. Thompson seems to really be hurting the team, too.Â They have no offensive flow right now and are not finding ways to push the tempo.Â Two wins in Puerto Rico will be a blessing.Â
Or maybe I’m being melodramatic.Â It is just two games and Seth Greenberg teams are notorious for starting slow.Â It is just the offense, which was supposed to be improved this year, has not looked good yet.Â And VT found a way to win these two games.Â They don’t give style points in March when they pick the tournament teams.