The duke blue devils used their famous sixth man (seventh and eighth too for that matter) to escape Cassell Coliseum with a 72-65 victory over the Hokies on Saturday. And no, weâ€™re not talking about anyone off the duke bench. This time it was the three man officiating crew of Gary Maxwell, Tony Greene and Bob Donato who decided to buy into this flop fest. Now, anyone who follows ACC basketball knows that duke gets more than their fair share of close calls â€“ pretty much any call that could be perceived to go either way with the exception of maybe when theyâ€™re playing carolina. Sometimes however, this gets down right ridiculous.
Letâ€™s make one thing clear, Iâ€™m not saying the Hokies lost the game because of the referees. No, the Hokies lost the game because they turned the ball over 19 times (while only forcing duke into 9 turnovers). They lost because they forgot that Gerald Henderson canâ€™t go left but he can go right as well as anyone in the league. And they lost because they simply werenâ€™t able to hit the big shots down the stretch when given the opportunity.
But, man, what an advantage it would be to know that any time a quicker, more athletic player drove past you and to the hole you were likely going to be bailed out by a charge call. Makes playing defense a lot easier. Or, itâ€™d be great to have a guy like Kyle Singler be able to use not one but two hands to push off on his defender (like he did on A.D. with 1:23 to go) then cut wide open for an easy layup. And who could forget Jon Scheyerâ€™s lovely pirouette as he was trapped in the back court with 0:14 seconds to go and the devils clinging to a three point lead – in which he lifted his pivot foot three times by my count. Nice to have that get overlooked.
Quick memo to whoever is planning the white outs and black outs in Cassell: Virginia Tech basketball is two hours of heart pounding excitement on its own. The Atlantic Coast Conference is the most competitive conference year in and year out. We donâ€™t really need any other gimmicks. Not to mention they havenâ€™t worked â€“ loss to clemson in the black out and loss to duke in the white out. Our school colors are Chicago maroon and burnt orange. No black, no white. Orange and maroon effects work well in Lane Stadium for football, why not go with those in the Cassell for hoops as well?
Next up for the Hokies are the unc tar heels Wednesday night. If nothing else, the Hokies should at least be used to the questionable officiating mentioned earlier, because theyâ€™re going to see it again against the heels.
Itâ€™s Senior night for A.D. Vassallo and Cheick Diakite. Most considered big Cheick as nothing more than a project coming out of Bamako, Mali by way of prep school in Massachusetts. Diakite has become a valuable contributor with his defense and shot blocking abilities, and has shown the ability to hit a jumper out to about 15 feet.
Vassallo has transformed his game from that of simply a stand still shooter as a freshman to that of an all around, complete player. I used to cringe whenever A.D. would try to put the ball on the floor. Now, not only is A.D. a world class shooter, but heâ€™s an adequate ball handler who can drive to the hoop, heâ€™s got an array of nice floaters and jump hooks in the lane, and heâ€™s become one of the teamâ€™s better rebounders. I think A.D. definitely has a chance to play in the NBA. Letâ€™s hope A.D. can find the â€œzoneâ€ one last time in the Cassell Wednesday night and get that elusive 8th conference win at the hands of the top 5 heels. Plans for mid March could depend on it.