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Niemo’s Notes | Time to Clean Out the Lockers

Ugh, still hasn’t set in that the season is over.  Perhaps because I’m so hyped up on caffeine to help me make the drive home last night and because I barely slept last night.  Anyway, here are my thoughts on last night.

  • I really question the decision not to foul when uri got the ball back with 45 seconds left, up two.  After JT got mugged (but no call) and the rams got the ball, Seth decided to play defense instead of putting the rams on the line.  I know Seth loves it when Jane or John Q. Public questions his calls, but I thought this was the wrong choice – and I first questioned it as it was happening.  By playing defense you allow the opponent to milk the clock down to about 10 seconds.  Best case scenario is they miss and you get the ball back, but then have to rush just to try and tie (or win) the game.  But if the opponent scores, as the rams did thanks to yet another second chance basket, the game is basically over as they go up two scores (4 points).  Foul and extend the game, hoping they miss some free throws and you can chip away.  I wonder if this is something Seth decided to do before the game or was a split second decision.  I rarely question him and hey, it happens.  The only thing I can think of is Delaney was near the ball and he had 4 fouls, so maybe Seth was trying to avoid him fouling out.
  • None of the NIT #1 seeds made it to NYC for the semifinals.  arizona state lost in the first round, mississippi state in the 2nd, and illinois and VT in the quarters.  The semis feature two #2 seeds, a #3, and a #4; two A-10 teams, an ACC team, and a SEC team.  Is it any surprise that unc and duke are the only two ACC teams still playing basketball?
  • Congrats to Erick Green!  He ended his string of 17 consecutive misses by hitting a long jumper in the first half.  Someone in my section yelled, “Stop the game!  Ask for the ball! [a baseball reference]”  Kind of mean, but funny.
  • In my preview I praised JT Thompson and Terrell Bell for really being a great supporting cast on offensive of late.  But they looked lost last night.  Both were very hesitant to shoot the ball.  Bell had just three shot attempts (one was a tip-in) and JT had just five, but I think they were all on drives.  It was great to see Allen, Hudson, and Delaney all have good games, but that seemed to take JT and Bell out of theirs.
  • Speaking of Allen, the Inner Tube was money again.  He secured his fourth double-double in seven games with 15/11.  Allen hit 7/10 from the floor and was destroying uri in the low post.  Jeff’s post moves are extremely polished right now.  He did only get to the line for one free throw, though, which is somewhat surprising, and the six turnovers were a killer.  But all in all he really was great down the stretch.  VT should have been feeding him the ball at least every other possession.
  • Last night is the first time I’ve seen the Hokies struggle against the press since these juniors were freshman.  They seemed to want to force the deep ball, which nevada had burned the rams with a few days ago.  But you had to expect uri would adjust, and they did.  Long passes were a disaster last night.  I have to assume the short turnaround and lack of time to prepare was a factor.
  • Dorenzo seemed tired in the latter part of the second half.  I wonder if he started to lose his legs due to their full court press.  His jumper seemed off for the first time in a while.  He has a fantastic runner though, which is what turned Zabian Dowdell from a good guard to a great, All-ACC player.
  • Give the rams credit for the Hokies’ struggles shooting down the stretch (two FGs in the last 16 minutes as Cope pointed out).  Their bigs were flashing out on the Hokie guards when they either penetrated and pulled up, or curled off screens and shot jumpers in the final 15 minutes.  This forced the guards to shoot the ball high over them, and they missed pretty much every one.  The way around that is to dump it low with the ram big men out of position, but when VT did, they couldn’t convert.
  • 5-hour Energy should be called 3-hour energy, because I really hit the wall with an hour to go on my four hour drive last night (figuratively, not literally).
  • It was great meeting Chris H., Rick T., and seeing Charlie again last night.
  • ROUND OF APPLAUSE for LEWWWWWWWWW-is Witcher!  The senior really stepped up big down the stretch when Cadarian Raines went out hurt.  Lew has a solid final six games, and chipped in three rebounds (two offensive) last night.  Witcher finished his career with 87 wins!  That ties the record for most wins by any class/player.  The ’86 Class (Dell Curry’s senior year) also had 87 wins. Hopefully this record will be broken next year.

Historical Notes:

  • VT All-Time Leaders
  • Scoring: Malcolm Delaney is just 78 points away from making the top 10 in career scoring at VT.   Assuming he returns for his senior season, he should definitely move into at least 4th place by the end of the year and could make it to 3rd place.
  • Rebounding: Jeff Allen moved into 9th place on the career rebounding list last night.  He’ll definitely make the top 5 next year and should make it to #4.  No way he’s catching our buddy, Chris Smith (he has almost double the total rebounds of Jeff).
  • Assists: Delaney sits in 5th place all time at VT.  He’s one assist behind Dell Curry and has a real shot at reaching 2nd place all time next year.
  • Steals: Jeff Allen sits in 8th place all time at VT.  Jeff will make the top 4 and should finish in 3rd place after next year.
  • Blocks: Allen is tied for 5th with former teammate Cheick Diakite.  He should move into 3rd place all time next season.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1215 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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  • Danram

    I think we lost the game in the first half when we committed all those silly turnovers. We were shooting lights out (way over 60%) in the first half while holding URI in the 40s and we were killing them on the glass. But instead of having a nice 10-12 point cushion at halftime, we only led by 2 because of all the extra possessions we kept giving them.

    Like you, Niemo, I wondered why we didn’t keep feeding the ball to Allen down low. URI simply had no answer for him. But this is where having Allan Chaney to compliment Jeff down on the low block would really have helped. This is a prime example of the kind of game that we’ll win next year with Chaney available to us.

    Hate like hell to see the season end. It was a terrific ride. I’m already looking forward to next year’s team!

  • Les

    Tech stopped hitting their 3s and URI collapsed on Allen. Most of the backcourt scores were made attacking the basket. He began his moves farther away from the basket.

    I noticed they used Bell more to set up the offense. Quite a few bad entry passes by Tech in the second half, especially during URI’s comeback.

  • chicagomaroon

    Thanks for the shout out Niemo. This is Chris Hatcher and it was a pleasure meeting you too. About the game…I had this eerie feeling it was about to slip away when we were up 12 just because of how loose we were playing. Usually loose is good, but I sensed a sort of care-free mentality as in “we’ve already won…let’s save our bodies for the Big Apple.” When JT missed that fast break jam off of his steal I sensed momentum shifting, and it was all downhill from there. Also, it was hard for me to believe that Jeff committed 6 turnovers, but having said that, those two bogus offensive foul/traveling calls in the post added 2 to that number. You’re right Niemo, Jeff is SOOOO polished in the post right now. I mean seriously, how many times has this guy missed a shot inside of 5 feet in the last couple of games? I can’t think of any. That turnaround hook, the drive and reverse lay-in, the drive, pump and then up and in…he’s money. I was blaming him for his less productive season, and yes, foul trouble was a big part of it, but you’re right, we absolutely have to post him more. We’ve gone away from the post too much.

  • Eric

    It’s hard to question Seth’s strategy too much, because it worked in the UConn game. IIRC, we decided to play defense against UConn in a very similar situation (only difference was down 1 instead of 2) and got a huge defensive stop, and took the lead with Zo’s jumper at the other end. I think Seth trusts the defense to come up with a stop in that situation, and truth be told it was pretty good defense, just with an unlucky result.

    The turning point of the game for me was about 6-7 minutes into the second half when JTT got the steal at halfcourt, completely botched the breakaway, got blocked by James, and then James cruises down the court for an easy layup and foul. That was a 5 point swing, and after that the game was never the same.

    • Niemo

      Eric – Yes, I should have clarified the differences between 1 and 2 points down – to me 1 point down and 2 points down are the divider – 1 down you can play D, 2 down you foul. Because down 1 even if they score (assuming it is a 2-point shot), it is still a 1 possession game. Just my 2 cents and Seth has a few more wins than I do (at least in basketball). Just didn’t work out last night.

  • chicagomaroon

    Exactly right Eric, I agree. That was the turning point. And I do understand the fouling idea that Niemo suggested. It was really risky in both games because both teams seemed to be unconscious from the field, good defense or no. That was especially the case last night, like the times JT played great D and that driving guy, #21 hit a ridiculous shot. So I DO think in the situation where they are pretty much hitting everything from the field dictates a foul.

    Also, DID WE SET THE NCAA RECORD FOR MOST FAST BREAK OPPORTUNITIES BOTCHED IN THE LAST TWO GAMES!!!? If not then we were close. Especially against UConn, we had more 2-on-1′s than I could count, usually with Delaney and Hudson and we overpassed. I’m certainly not going to complain about the team passing too much, because that’s one of our problems (not passing enough), but on that one fast break in particular when Delaney overthrew Hudson into the second row…that really sucked! At some point somebody has to want to take that shot!

  • Danram

    We do seem to botch a fair amount of fast break opportunities (3-on-2, 2-on-1 situations) and I think it’s because we simply aren’t a very accomplished passing team. Even Malcolm Delaney, 1st team All-ACC player that he is, isn’t any better than an average passer. (IMHO, that’s the single weakest part of his game) That probably has a lot to do with our FG shooting % for the season being dead last in the ACC. We don’t get as many easy scoring chances in close as other teams do because we don’t feed the post well, and that hurts our shooting % a bit (although we simply miss too many open looks from outside too)

    But there are a lot of other things we do well. We play excellent team defense, we shoot FTs pretty well (71.7% for the season, probably closer to 75% in ACC play), we force a lot of turnovers, we generally take pretty good care of the ball, we hustle, and we never quit. As for rebounding, when we can remember to clear out properly, we do that pretty well too, and adding Allan Chaney next year should really help.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Goodraisin

    That was a tough battle and the winner was the team who forced their pace. URI wanted a fast-paced, up-and-down game. That’s exactly what they got. I agree that the key to this loss was all the turnovers in the first half. We should have been killing the Rams at halftime, but dumb turnovers by Allen and missed passes by others while trying to throw over the top of the press are what hurt us the most. I am definitely ready to see what the Hokies can do next season with Allen Chaney, Jarell Eddie, and our top 6/7 players returning to the lineup (I am including Malcolm Delaney… like I’ve said before, nobody outside of Blacksburg thinks that he has a shot at leaving early for the NBA). Is it November yet?

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