As expected, it was far from a Picasso, and the Hokies nearly blew a 51-37 lead. But Hokies 3G.1 got things rolling on the 2011-12 season with a 64-53 win over a pesky east tennessee state buc bunch.
Erick Green, arguably Tech’s best player, did not play while nursing an Achilles injury. That forced Tyrone Garland to start at the point, with Dorenzo Hudson moving from shooting guard to provide relief. And believe me, Green’s presence was missed as the Hokies committed 15 turnovers against the buccaneers 2-2-1 full court press and 2-3 half court defense. The Hokies will have to clean things up to beat a team like george mason, likely their opponent on Tuesday night in the NIT Preseason Quarterfinals.
The good news was Hokie fans got their first taste of star recruit Dorian Finney-Smith. And that first taste was as delicious as a McRib. Dorian tallied… now get this… 10 points (6/8 FTs), 16 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocked shots. Yeah, he’s good. Doe Doe still needs to find his game on offense (he’s very unselfish and doesn’t yet seem able to create his own shots), but the Bird works very hard on defense. He held etsu’s second leading returning scorer to just 2 first half points, and then shut down their best shooter in the last 10 minutes of the game.
Tech started the game colder than the Atlanta weather Thursday night. The Hokies were 2/12 from the field to start the contest, and finished the first half 8/24 (33%). Tech also had 3 turnovers in the first 4 minutes, all by Garland. Luckily, the bucs were even worse at 6/30 (20%) in the first half. And 3-point shooting? VT was 1/10 in the first half while etsu finished 0/11. The Hokies led 24-21 at the break despite the fact they committed 7 turnovers (Garland had 5 of them) and the bucs had a 10-4 advantage in offensive rebounds.
In the second half, the Hokies finally got things going and attacked the etsu press. Freshman Robert Brown showed why he is considered Tech’s best 3-point shooter already, hitting 3 straight 3-pointers to help VT jump to a 51-37 lead with 7:44 to play. To make matters worse, etsu’s best player, Isiah Brown, fouled out with 10 points. But the bucs battled back, going on a 10-2 run to cut the VT lead to 53-47. etsu would get within 4 at 55-51 with 1:49 to play, but the Hokies hit 9/10 free throws after that and pulled away to the 64-53 win.
On the game Tech would nail 21/30 FTs (70%). And after shooting just 33% in the first half, VT hit 11/24 in the second half to shoot 40% for the game. etsu hit just under 30% of their shots, and finished 2/17 (12%) on 3s. Tech was 4/8 from behind the arc in the second half, including 3/4 by Brown, to finish 5/18 (28%). Expect that to be the norm this season.
Seth Greenberg’s Third Generation was well represented today. At one point in the first half, Tech had 4 true freshmen on the court with Dorian Finney-Smith, Robert Brown, C.J. Barksdale, and Joey van Zegeren… and the fifth player was sophomore Tyrone Garland.
Garland led all scorers with 13 points, though he also produced 7 turnovers. Adam Sollazzo had 13 for etsu, 11 of which were in the second half. Robert Brown had 12 (all in the second half) and DFS had 10. Dorenzo Hudson scored 9 in the first half but did not score in the second half. Jarell Eddie also chipped in 8. The Hokies got just 12 points from their low post players (Davila – 7, Barksdale – 5, Raines – 0). But Barksdale did snag 7 rebounds and Davila added 6.