At first when hearing about Malcolm Delaney’s ankle injury I thought, “There goes the season.” In fact, I texted as much to some buddies. But as time went on and we learned it wasn’t as serious I felt a little better, but I knew he wouldn’t play against seton hall. I figured seton hall would be a sure loss without Malcolm, especially based on what I had seen of the pirates on film, almost beating previously undefeated ‘cuse and wvu teams.
What I got instead last night was classic Greenberg. The Hokies played tough defense and grind it out offense. The result was an early 14 point lead. But in the back of my mind I knew we had also led by 14 last year against the hall before quickly blowing that lead. At one point the Hokies didn’t score for six minutes. When the 14 point lead from last night evaporated in a matter of seven minutes I thought it was deja vu all over again. But the Hokies battled for 40 minutes last night, and when that wasn’t enough to decide things, they took the game back over in overtime. It might have been the hardest I’ve seen the guys play all season for an entire game. We refused to lose and everyone picked up their game to compensate for not having Delaney.
Now, as we look back on Saturday, it may have been a “blessing in disguise” as Danram said earlier in the week. Everyone realized we aren’t just the Malcolm Delaney Show and can win without him. Players got the chance to do more, and that will help Tech later in the season. At some point this year Malcolm Delaney will get in foul trouble and Erick Green will have to step up and lead the Hokies. His experience from last night against a tough Big East team will be invaluable. Manny Atkins had to gain confidence coming off the bench in OT and scoring five quick points, and scoring eight for the game. Cadarian Raines looked like the man-child we saw in Petersburg, going aggressively at the seton hall big men on defense, blocking a shot and deflecting two passes. And Dorenzo Hudson’s confidence will continue to soar. You can tell Zo is believing in himself and his game now. As a result, he hit 3 of 7 three-pointers after being just 7 of 32 coming in. He also became the VT leader last night, waiting for his team and shaking their hands before heading to the locker room at the half. And Jeff Allen looked like Jeff Allen last night, playing like a superstar instead of a sidekick.
Delaney now will likely have more trust in his teammates on offense and be more willing to share the rock, though at the end of the day he is a scorer and has to continue to do that. But when he sits, we can have more confidence in the other guys. That said and blessings in disguise aside, I’d welcome Malcolm back all the same. Tech clearly needs his ballhandling and ability to run the offense, and he is one of the top players in the ACC. But last night sure was fun and should pay dividends the rest of the way.
Final Note: Speaking of taking care of business, can you believe VT has won 8 of their last 9 overtime games? That should be a 50/50 in theory, yet the Hokies are batting .889 in overtimes over the last three seasons. The current juniors lost their first OT game their freshman year in Alaska against butler but have been dominant since, losing just once and that was on a half court shot against xavier. Going back four years, the Hokies have won 11 of their last 13 games that needed an extra frame. Greenberg obviously knows something others don’t.