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Recap | VT (5-1) 70, iowa (2-5) 64

Boxscore

A win is a win is a win.  The Hokies struggled to beat a very bad iowa hawkeye team, but, they did beat them.  The Hokies moved to 5-1 on the season, well on their way to the 12-2 out of conference record I said they must attain to keep any March NCAA Tournament dreams alive.  Malcolm Delaney led the Hokies in points (stop the presses) with 18.  But the big story was the supporting cast tonight: Terrell Bell added a career high 13 points on 6 of 9 shooting, Victor Davila added 10, and Ben Boggs hit two big three-pointers early in the game to help the Hokies secure a 70-64 win. 

Delaney had a typical 2009 evening – scored points but struggled to hit shots.  He hit just 1 of 7 from behind the arc and was 5 of 15 from the field, though hitting 4 of 8 two-point shots is actually an improvement for him.  Delaney is now shooting just 38% from the field on the year and 30% on threes, but that has been good enough to lead Tech to a 5-1 start.  His 86% from the line has certainly helped in key situations at the end.

Jeff Allen, who did not start either half tonight, did add 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.  Greenberg benched him at the beginning of each half.  The upside of this was he didn’t pick up his seemingly mandatory foul in the first two minutes of a half.  J.T. Thompson started in his place and scored 8 points, but grabbed just 1 rebound.

The Hokies fell behind early in this contest.  iowa went up by an 11-3 score but VT used a 10-2 run to tie the game and then a 17-2 run to take a 10 point lead later in the first half.  Tech led by 6 at the half, 34-28.

After Tech took the lead with 6:57 left in the first half they led until the 6:27 mark of the second stanza.  After iowa went ahead 54-53, the Hokies went on a quick 8-0 run to take a 7 point lead and never looked back.  The hawkeyes never made it a one possession game after that point.

The Hokies still have a lot of issues on offense.  They resemble a NBA team (that can’t shoot).  Their possessions involve one of the following: a three-pointer that only goes in 29% of the time, a feed into the post that usually works out pretty well, or a wild jumper that is missed.  Tech has shown no ability to be able to drive and kick – either to an open post player for an easy layup or dunk, or to an open shooter on the perimeter (who probably wouldn’t make the three anyway).  This team is clearly still adjusting to the new motion offense Seth put in.  Sadly, this is the second highest point total VT has put up in regulation this season behind the 71 they scored on campbell.  We keep waiting for someone to break out as the supporting cast to Delaney and Allen but so far no one has consistently done that. 

Dorenzo Hudson continues to hit any jumpers, though he did hit a clutch three-pointer from behind NBA range with the shot clock running down late in the game that put the Hokies up 7 and put the game away.  But he is just 3 of 15 (20%) on threes on the season and 5 of 14 (36%) on free throws.  He has been the biggest disappointment to date.  Perhaps Ben Boggs, who played 15 minutes tonight and was 2 of 3 from the floor, will continue to see more time in Zo’s place.  Both of Boggs’s three-pointers were catch-and-shoots coming off screens and his stroke looked fantastic.  He has really improved his shooting from the outside from when he was in high school.

The only reason iowa, an offensively challenged team that averaged just 59 points per game and 27% on threes, stayed in this game was the long ball.  This is a team that has no ability to push the ball or penetrate and score at all.  But they hit 12 of 27 (44%) threes for the game.  That accounted for 36 of their 64 points.  They didn’t shoot a free throw until 3 and 1/2 minutes into the second half and shot just 10 for the game.  The hawkeyes were led by sophomore Anthony Tucker who scored a season high 24 points, including 6 three-pointers.  He had averaged 8.8 ppg coming in but torched the Hokies from deep.  Leading scorer Matt Gatens did not score in the first half and was held to 6 points, more than 5 below his average. 

The Hokies came out shooting their usual lousy self from the floor but then started pounding the ball inside against the unathletic hawkeyes.  Tech finished the game shooting 47% from the field, their highest output on the young season. 

Another reason for the win was Virginia Tech protected the ball.  The Hokies committed just 5 turnovers in the game, compared to 11 by iowa.  Tech turned that into a 16-2 edge in points off turnovers against the slower hawkeyes, who were unable to get any fastbreak points.  The Hokies now have a 114-40 edge in points off turnovers on the season, the main reason they are 5-1.

Notes: The ACC tied up the ACC/Big(11)Ten Challenge at 3 with VT’s win.  The Big(11)Ten jumped out to a 3-0 start but lost the md/indiana, msu/unc, and VT/iowa games.  The road team is 4-2 in the challenge so far.  The ACC has won in the prior 10 challenges.  There are 5 games left in the challenge, each of which will be played tomorrow.  Tech is now 2-3 in the ACC/Big(11)Ten Challenge with both wins coming against iowa.  iowa is just 2-7 in the challenge.  No Big(11)Ten team has a winning record in the event.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1217 posts on Tech Hoops.

Niemo is a member of the VT Class of '98. While not a professional journalist by any stretch, Niemo analyzes and breaks down every minute of Hokie hoop action. He also researches topics of interest such as Hokie recruits, program revenue, statistical data on the team, previews VT opponents, and discusses his favorite bourbons/Scotches. In addition to his passion for Hokie hoops, Niemo has attended 126 straight VT football home games (every game since '94), eclipsing the 100 mark in September of '09 and recently attended his 20th consecutive VT/uva game. During the final home basketball game of his senior year, he was brought onto the court and was awarded 2 passes to the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament in Philly during a timeout for being a "Super Fan" during his time at VT. The Hokie Bird made the award on behalf of Athletic Director Jim Weaver. Niemo was known to be in the front row of every home game with his familiar red afro hairdo.

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  • Matt S

    I can definitely see Boggs taking a lot of playing time from Zo. Zo’s shooting has been looking pretty dreadful.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Goodraisin

    I thought Boggs would basically be a ‘Zo clone, putting up pretty good stats except for in the shooting categories. So far, I’ve been wrong. I could easily see Boggs taking Zo’s starting spot by mid-season.

  • hokieguru

    Great evaluation, Niemo.. the positive out of this game, though, is that this is the kind we lost last year… and a win is a win no matter how ugly.

    Davila is going to get better… when he is low on the block, it seems like he knows his way down there… he’s got a soft, sweet baby hook… he’s going to get better this year.

    • Niemo

      Seth has apparently given up on Witcher other than just filler minutes, and I’m not sure you can blame him. Might as well let Davila get better since he’s around two more years. Starting to see that with the freshmen getting more minutes, too.

  • Boggsisdaman

    Boggs looks like our best player.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Goodraisin

    I’ll tell you what, Davila did not look bad on defense in that game either. Cougill kept drawing him out to the 3-point line and, for the most part, he did well being away from the basket so much. I was very impressed on one series where Cougill kept running up to make a screen, so Davila showed help on the guard, then he had to bust his but back to front Cougill who went deep under the basket, then he had to jump behind him to guard when Cougill was at the foul line, then another screen was set and Davila had to jump out to help again… I mean, I was just really impressed, there were LOTS of chances on this one possession for Davila to have a mental error, and he got to the right spot every time. He has the ability to be a good defender if he just keeps working at it.

    • Niemo

      I agree on Davila but I’ll say this – Cougill isn’t very athletic/quick. Davila stuck with him but it will be more of a challenge and the athletic bigs of the ACC (Booker, Davis, Thompson, Lawal, Scott, etc.).

  • vttraveler

    You guys want to throw Zo under the bus. You chase around the best player from an opponent every night and see how your legs feel. You don’t think that has any affect on the kid. let’s be real here Seth is a pretty smart guy you think he would play zo the amount of minutes he does if he wasn’t giving him something. The kid is holding the best scoring option for each team under their average. In a lot of cases they don’t even get a shot off. You are looking for glaring stats like steals and blocks but he is not allowing the top scorer to beat us. I guess Boggs can give you that. Another thing I keep saying the same thing Malcolm needs to pass the ball when the player is open initially. That fast break was ridiculous, even the announcer pointed it out. Easy buckets will go a long way for someones confidence. When Delaney sat down and Green was in the game Hudson came off a curl and knocked down a jumper. On Rivals I read where Oklahoma’s struggles are a direct result of Willie Warrens inability or lack of effort in trying to get his teammates involved.
    You guys stay on Hudsons shortcomings but don’t see his contributions. I have a question for you who guarded Tucker initially when he got going offensively? You don’t point that out do you?

    • Niemo

      I don’t mean to hate on Zo, but when you are a SHOOTING guard, you need to shoot better than 38% on FGs, 20% on 3′s, and 36% of FTs. If he’s so tired from chasing guys around on D, then rest him more. It is an easy fix. His lack of offensive production would be more excusable if they had more offensive options like last year. He is good on defense, but he was guarding Jackson when he went for 46 last year and Ellington in the ACC Tourney. But I’ll drop that, I do think he’s a good defender. Regardless, he needs to start hitting more shots or it is time to give other people a try, which Seth seems to be doing with Boggs and even Atkins. And Gordon and Dowdell worked their butts off on defense and they were still able to hit shots.

      To your point, Traveler, I do agree Delaney needs to distribute the ball better though to help his teammates.

  • http://stores.ebay.com/hip-hop-heads-vinyl-crates HipHop_Hokie

    When was Dorenzo EVER good?? Seth likes to say that he plays good defense… and I guess that might be true in spurts… but his offensive game is ridiculous. That prayer that he threw up last night was answered, but it’s almost like those type of shots have more of a chance to go in for him than his normal jumpers. And it’s not like I’m against him or anything, but his game just isn’t there…

    And yeah it’s also been bizarre that Witcher has just been adbandoned… though similarly, when has he ever showed much promise? Hopefully when Cadarian jumps in there (the Georgia game, I hope), he’s going to fill a major void.

    I have ALWAYS been in the camp of playing Terrell Bell more than Hudson, though. Last year when we had a great core and needed that one extra spark plug in there, Bell was always a much better fit than Hudson… but yet Dorenzo kept getting more minutes. It was really dumbfounding to me… oh well, hopefully that has been answered now.

  • Danram

    Very good points, Traveler. Zo does some valuable things for us that don’t show up in the box score. He needs to improve his shooting, obviously. But I think that it’s all mental with him. On that LOOOOONG 3-pointer that he canned late in the game that basically put it out of reach for us, he didn’t have time to think “Oh man, I hope I don’t miss this.” He just grabbed it, squared up, and let fly.

    Niemo, WADR I think the tone of this article is a bit too negative. Granted, Iowa is certainly not a very physically talented team. But any team that is stroking 3-pointers like they were (and a lot of those were NBA-range 3′s with a VT defender contesting the shot) on their home court is gonna be tough to beat. I think that it’s a big step in the right direction to have VT be able to pull out this kind of game despite the fact that neither Allen or Delaney were playing their best. (I agree with you that Delaney isn’t a particularly good passer. That’s the one weak part of his game, IMHO. I really hope Erick Green can improve to the point where we can start playing MD more at the off-guard position. I would expect his shooting to improve as well.)

    The team played with some real zip for the 1st time this year and displayed the kind of “mental toughness” that Seth is always preaching about and didn’t wilt when Iowa got up 11-3 early or when they’d come back from 10 down to take the lead with a few minutes to go. I’m now feeling better about our prospects this year than I was prior to tipoff.

    • Niemo

      Danram – did you mean the tone of my article or comment was too negative? Just wondering. I wrote that recap about the game very late Tuesday night so I might have been in a sarcastic/surly mood.

      I was happy to see us win that game. But when a team has stunk all season and shoot very well, you wonder. Especially when we have seen it many times before. But you may be right, it may have been one of those nights where you just throw your hands up and say, “What can we do?” Sometimes the other team is just hot, especially at home, and that was the case Tuesday. I’d just like to see one blow-out where the guys come out and really take it to a team. Hasn’t happened yet.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Goodraisin

    I’m in the same camp as Niemo… sorry VtTraveler, that comment was a little bit absurd. ‘Zo bricked a wide open 3-pointer before he even got the rubber on his shoes dirty. He HAS to be a better option shooting the ball. He’s our starting shooting guard and he can’t shoot. Now, he started out last year the same way and eventually became more reliable, but if we’re only going to get 5 or 6 good shooting games from starting ‘Zo, then we need to look elsewhere. He’s a solid defender, but from what I’ve seen, so is Boggs and obviously so is Terrell Bell. JT Thompson is not a particularly good on-ball defender, and I think was part of the reason we got torched by Tucker. All-in-all, I just think they shot out of their minds from 3-point land and the Hokies played an excellent game.

    Good point about Davila on Cougill, Niemo. Hopefully he’ll look just as active against the Trevor Booker’s of the world when the time comes.

    I’m going to come right out and say that I think we’re going to roll Georgia. I think the players are feeling more confident and they’ll be fired up to get some revenge from last year.

  • Bryan

    Good article Niemo. I think you give a pretty fair assessment.

    I do agree with some of the other posters that this is a game that we very likely would have/could have lost the last couple of years. Whenever we have lost those close games Seth has said that someone needs to get that one loose rebound, make that one stop, make that one shot. Prayer or not, Hudson made that one shot. Allen went to the floor and got that one loose ball. The guys made the plays when they absolutely had to. Think about those losses to very subpar Seton Hall and Georgia last year. Those really came back to bite. Iowa may not be great but I’ll take this win on the road any day.

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