In the ACC, if you donâ€™t come ready to play when you hit the road, then you can usually expect to head home with a loss. Teams in this league are just too good to just show up and beat, whether they be teams at the bottom of the standings or a middle of the pack team like the maryland terrapins. Look no further than yesterday in College Park. With the exception of reserve Lewis Witcher (8 points), no member of the Hokies showed up at the Comcast Center with anything remotely resembling their â€œAâ€ game. The terps, on the other hand, were clearly inspired by the presence of the old Lefthander and the rest of the 1984 ACC championship maryland team, who were honored at halftime. The result was an 83-73 loss to the turtles.
The Hokies continue to struggle on the boards and are giving up way too many second and third opportunities. The terrapins came into yesterdayâ€™s game last in the league in rebounding margin (getting out-rebounded by an average of 3.9 a game), but kept alive several key possessions yesterday when the Hokies missed blocking out assignments or simply couldnâ€™t secure the rebound. Tech is having a particularly difficult time keeping opposing guards off the offensive boards. 6-4 guard Sean Mosley had 3 offensive rebounds alone for the terps. In other recent games, stateâ€™s Courtney Fells, and clemsonâ€™s three-guard trio of K.C. Rivers, Demontez Stitt, and David Potter killed the Hokies on the offensive glass, and I donâ€™t have to mention b.c. guard Rakim Sanders.
This trend has got to be corrected fast. There is nothing more frustrating in basketball than playing 35 seconds of good, tough defense only to give the opponent a mulligan because the rebound could not be secured. Granted, sometimes the ball is just going to bounce the wrong way, but if you do a good job of blocking out, getting a body on a body, then the odds of the ball bouncing your way is greatly increased.
The Hokies did manage to battle their way back into yesterdayâ€™s game by mixing up their defenses. About five minutes into the second half, Tech switched from their usual man to man to a 2-3 and then a 1-3-1 zone. The Hokies may have to rely on more zones down the stretch because they continue to struggle to get through opponentsâ€™ high ball screens. That was evident again yesterday as Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes had way too many wide open looks most of which they converted on.
Memo to Jeff Allen. Please remember that when you play in the ACC, most games are on television and there are cameras everywhere. So, next time you get the urge to flip off the maryland student section (not to say it wasnâ€™t deserved) please keep this in mind.
Big Jeff also needs to distinguish, when he has the ball posted up down low, whether he has a pathway to drive to the basket or if he is just dribbling into traffic inviting either a turnover or offensive foul. Allen is a much greater weapon when he stays under control with his post up moves.
The Hokies get another chance to get back into the win column with a very important matchup with the uva cavaliers Wednesday night in Charlottesville. Tech can ill afford a loss if they want to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. The wahoos are struggling, at 2-8 in conference, but will be coming into this game with great confidence following an overtime win over #12 clemson earlier today. This figures to be another tightly contested game despite the records.
This is a key week for the Hokies, in addition to Wednesdayâ€™s rivalry game with the hoos, Tech returns to the Cassell Saturday night with a pivotal game with the fsu seminoles who are currently sitting just out of the top 20 in the all important RPI. Tech needs to stay out of the â€œbad lossâ€ category against uva and needs to get another â€œkey winâ€ against the noles. The Hokies have some things to work on in practice leading up to these games. Hopefully the Hokies come focused and ready to take care of business.