Categorized | 2008-09 Season, Game Recaps, Games

Hokies Struggle to Douse the phoenix, 76-67

Box Score  |  Niemo’s Notes are below

Blacksburg, VA – It took much longer than fans and even Coach Seth Greenberg probably would have liked, but the Hokies were money from the free throw line down the stretch to finally put away the visiting elon phoenix, 76-67.

In what many considered a “tune up” before the Hokies’ prime-time Dec. 1 match-up with three-time defending big ten champs wisconsin, Virginia Tech struggled mightily against the phoenix, even trailing midway through the second half.

The good news is that true-freshman Victor Davila had his best game of the season with 16 points, which tied senior A.D. Vassallo for the team high. Even more impressive, Davila was 7 of 9 from the field. The rookie from North Carolina (by way of Puerto Rico) played like a veteran tonight, dominating inside and displaying some very strong moves to the rim, including a pair of impressive dunks.

Four Hokies scored in double figures; Davila and Vassallo with 16, Malcolm Delaney with 15, and Jeff Allen with 12. Interestingly enough, as Niemo pointed out in the preview, last season when the Hokies played elon, Allen (then a freshman) scored 19 points and was named ACC rookie of the week. I would imagine that Davila will get strong consideration for the same honor this season following tonight’s game.

The game was a snoozer from the tip with the Cassell barely at half capacity. Minus the students, band, cheerleaders, and High Techs, there was little to no atmosphere to this game. But the Hokies on the court soldiered on and actually played respectably, even getting quality offensive play early from Lewis Witcher — 6 points. And, unlike the previous game in which only six players scored, all nine Hokies who saw playing time scored.

The game was a back-and-forth battle and was tied at 50 with 6:37 left, until the Hokies used a 16-6 run late in the second half to take 10-point lead that they would nurse until elon ran out of time. Malcolm Delaney was once again held scoreless for the most of the game, notching a single three-pointer before hitting a perfect 12 for 12 from the free throw line to keep the game out of reach for the phoenix.

A couple of closing notes: No. 0 for elon, josh bonney, looked like he stepped right off the set of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, sporting the 6-inch high top fade. We’re talking Kid ‘N Play folks. Don’t believe me, check it out.

During Greenberg’s post-game interview with Bill Roth, Coach was asked if he was “OK” since he sat for most of the game, rather than pacing the sidelines as he usually does. Coach responded that he was “disappointed” with some of his players who needed to learn to be better teammates. He also made a comment that led us to believe that some players were complaining about playing time. He did say that some of his players “need to grow up.”

Not exactly what we want to see or hear going into the wisconsin game, but Coach did say that he fully expects his team to play at a very high level against the three-time defending Big Ten champs.

Niemo’s Notes:

  • Hallelujah!  Victor Davila stepped up and put his big boy pants on for the Hokies.  Tech had been looking for a fourth option on offense all season, but tonight the freshman was one of their top options.  Davila scored 12 points in the second half to really keep Tech even until they could ultimately pull away behind Delaney’s free throws.  Lewis Witcher also helped in the first half.  Witcher and Davila combined for 10 of the Hokies 34 first half points Jeff Allen and Cheick Diakite battled foul trouble.
  • Coming into this game, VT was only averaging 16.0 ppg from players not part of the law firm of Allen, Delaney, & Vassallo.  Tonight Davila had 16 all by himself.  The Hokies were getting 76% of their points from the 3 Amigos before this game, but The Others had 33 points (43%) against elon.  This is good news.
  • The bad news is the guards not named Delaney (Dorenzo Hudson, Terrell Bell, and Hank Thorns) had just 7 points in 54 minutes (2/8 shooting).  At least the bigs stepped up.
  • Malcolm Delaney must lead the nation in points in the last few minutes of games.  He had 12 of his 15 points, all from the free throw line, in the final 2:12.  Malcolm had 10 free throws in the final 67 seconds to seal the win, similar to the mount st. mary’s game.  Delaney needs to find ways to get more involved in the offense, especially with how the other guards are struggling.
  • A win is a win is a win.  Let’s get ready for the cheese-eaters!  Have a Happy Hokie Day, y’all!

This post was written by:

- who has written 235 posts on Tech Hoops.

Cope is a Virginia Tech graduate and veteran sports journalist with a career spanning television, radio, and newspapers. He's the recipient of three Virginia Press Association awards for his writing and design, as well as a CASE Gold Award for his feature writing. Cope has covered the Hokies since 1993 for various local and national news organizations. He's been with TechHoops.com since 2007.

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  • vatechhokies50

    I want Delaney to drive to the basket more often… I want to see some clearouts for him… he can take people off the dribble… we need to be flat out more aggressive and less passive.

  • vatechhokies50

    I will say, though, that we have won the games we are supposed to win… we beat Gardner-Webb, Mt. Saint Mary’s, Fairfield, and Elon… we played close games with Xavier and Seton Hall… we need that signature non-conference win… I think we will see Davilla in the line-up against the physical Badgers. The game is going to be a war.

  • goodraisin

    I listened to that game on the radio and I still don’t know how we managed to get the win. The Hokies are still struggling to cause turnovers, which is really strange for a Seth Greenberg defense. I didn’t think the team would miss JT Thompson as much as they do, but we could really use his rebounding, tip-ins, and mid-range jumper. Hurry home JT, and good luck to the Hokies against the Badgers.

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