Categorized | 2011-12 Season, Game Recaps

Recap | gophers (7-1) 58, Hokies (5-2) 55

Highlights up by 1 AM  |  Boxscore

This was a resume building opportunity for the Hokies, even if the gophers were without two of their best players in Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III. But Tech couldn’t get it done as the lost in the final seconds, 58-55.

Tech got all it could handle in the first half from 6-11 freshman Elliott Eliason. The towering rookie kept the Hokies out of the paint for much of the half until he picked up his second personal foul.

When Eliason left the game, the gophers were leading. By the end of the half, the Hokies had surged ahead to take a 28-25 halftime lead behind 12 points from junior Eric Green and 8 points from freshman Robert Brown off the bench.

Senior Dorenzo Hudson was held scoreless the entire game, and freshman Dorian Finney-Smith managed only three points.

The second half was a back and forth affair, with the gophers using a 10-4 run to take a lead in the early minutes of the half. The Hokies tied the game at 51 with 3 minutes to play when Doe Doe scored his first and only points of the game — a three from the corner. Green gave the Hokies the lead back, 53-51.

Green scored again after minnesota tied it at 53. The Green Machine, who led the Hokies with 25 points, got a tough layup with :25 to play to give VT a lead. However, Green fell off the elevated court at the other end with 18.9 seconds left and appeared injured.

Meanwhile, minnesota hit two free throws to take a 56-55 lead. The Hokies, with a banged up Green checking back into the game, called a timeout with 9.9 seconds left. On the inbounds pass, however, Robert Brown fumbled the pass into the back court, committing the turnover.

Tech fouled immediately, sending the gophers to the line where they hit both free throws to push their lead to 58-55. Green got a good 3-point shot off at the buzzer that would have tied the game, but it hit the back of the rim and fell away. Game over. And a key resume building opportunity was wasted.

***** NIEMO’S THOUGHTS (Think of it as the Recap, Part Two) *****

Virginia Tech fell off the cliff… literally… in the final 30 seconds and lost a heartbreaker to a short-handed minnesota team 58-55 in the ACC/Big(12)Ten Challenge.  Tech falls to 2-5 all time in the Challenge, with both wins against iowa.

In what was a see-saw game the final 22 minutes, Tech took a 55-54 lead with 26 seconds left on an Erick Green putback.  But the gophers pushed the ball up the court and that’s when the insanity ensued.  For those of you that are not familiar with ‘The Barn’ minnesota plays in, the court is a good two-feet above the stands and benches.  As Julian Welch drove to the hoop for a shot, Green elevated and blocked the shot.  Green then fell awkwardly and literally slid off the court, over the edge, and likely hit the metal stairs (yeah, that makes sense to have them right behind the basket) with his right (shooting) shoulder.  To make matters worse, Welch grabbed the block, got fouled, and promptly sank both free throws to put minnesota up 56-55.  Green laid on the floor (ie: the stand’s floor) for several minutes and went to the bench holding his right shoulder nearly in tears from the pain.

After a ball was deflected out of bounds, Tech called their final timeout and Erick, being the warrior he is, re-entered the game.  VT inbounded the ball to Robert Brown who fumbled the ball into the backcourt.  In what was a questionable call since he never had possession in the frontcourt, the officials ruled it over-and-back and gave the gophers the ball.

After Welch sank two more free throws with 6.5 seconds left, Erick Green rushed the ball up the court and launched a 3-pointer to tie as time expired.  But the ball rolled around and off the rim, sending the Hokies to defeat.

Erick was the star of the game for Tech.  He scored 25 points on 9/19 shooting and 4/8 from deep.  He also added 4 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, a block and 0 turnovers.

The big news was the absence of Dorian Finney-Smith and Dorenzo Hudson.  Both played, according to the scorebook, at least, but not on the court.  Dorenzo Hudson put up a big goose egg, 0 points on 0/4 shooting.  And Doe Doe had just 3 points, although they came on a huge 3-pointer to tie the game at 51 with 3:47 to go.  If I had to guess, I’d say Zo is worn down from how much VT has been playing lately while getting his legs out, while tonight showed again how easy it is to shut down DFS if you play good defense and keep him off the offensive glass.

It was a game of runs in the first half.  minnesota opened to an 8-0 lead, forcing Seth to burn a TO.  But the Hokies battled back and took a 28-25 lead into the break thanks to an 11-3 run to close the half.  Brown had two 3s and Green a 3-point play to fuel the run.  But the second half was similar to the first — a slow start for the Hokies.

minnesota played without their two best post players.  Trevor Mbakwe, their leading scorer, is out for the season with an ACL injury, while Ralph Sampson III, also a senior and 6’11″, was out with an ankle injury.  Yet the gophers absolutely dominated VT in the paint.  6’11″ freshman Elliott Eliason, who looks like a cross between Lurch from Addams Family and a ‘before’ person in a proactive commercial for Sasquatches, had 8 points and 7 rebounds.

Welch led minnesota with 15, while super athlete Rodney Williams had 14 on 6/7 shooting.  For some reason Tech tried fronting him, allowing the gophers to easily feed the ball over the D for layups or dunks.

The gophers were awful from deep, hitting just 2/13.  They are an awful 3-point shooting team.  So I’m not sure why VT didn’t play more 2-3 zone and get guys inside, especially since they were getting burned off the dribble.

Meanwhile, 3s were the only thing keeping Tech in the game.  Tech hit 8/17, including 7 of their final 11. Brown was 3/3 from deep and scored 13 points.  15 of Tech’s 27 points in the second half came from behind the arc.

Victor Davila also had a solid game, at least on the offensive end.  He tallied 10 points, his second straight game in double figures.

Well, here we are.  It is tough winning on the road, and this was Tech’s first road game.  But this is a team that is just now adjusting to losing their best player, and also were without another key.  This is a bad loss, in my opinion.  I don’t foresee minnesota being a top 100 team in the RPI by the end of the season.  And either way, there’s no such thing as good losses in terms of the Tournament.  Tech really needs to beat kansas state in the Cassell Sunday at 5:30 PM… let’s hope Green is OK.

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- who has written 234 posts on Tech Hoops.

Cope is a Virginia Tech graduate and veteran sports journalist with a career spanning television, radio, and newspapers. He's the recipient of three Virginia Press Association awards for his writing and design. He has covered the Hokies since 1993.

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  • Chris

    Horrendous 2nd half. Minnesota got WAY too many easy looks under the basket and if it wasn’t for Green and Brown’s hot shooting, we would have gotten smoked. Why don’t we ever attack the basket? Hard to draw a foul 25 feet away from the hoop.

    And really, Dorenzo? Not even a single point? Jesus…

    These are the types of games you have to win if you want to dance in March. I think we have a good young team on our hands but I don’t see a tourney berth this season. Greenberg desperately needs to get (develop) a post player. Davila got abused by a freshman tonight.

    Sigh…

  • Les

    They needed another ballhandler late in the game. Green would be the second ballhandler and serve as the dual threat. Either Rankin or Green could then kick out to Brown after they draw the defense.

    Brown looks like he’ll pass Hudson. It looks like Hudson regressed in his ballhandling skills.

    They just didn’t have enough strength in the frontcourt to hold off the bigger players on the offensive rebounds tonight. That and giving up a lot of dribble penetration hurt us.

  • chuck

    So…Tubby absolutely worked Seth….their spacing had us flummoxed all night. We didn’t collapse down and force them to shoot from the perimeter, which they can’t do, we allowed them to shorten the game. We didn’t adjust on the defensive glass.

    On offense we didn’t work hard to get shots close to the goal, and we didn’t work to get in the bonus. Luckily we shot so well from deep that it mitigated some of the mistakes.

    We needed to try to get into a faster paced game, and that involves good defensive rebounding, over anything else. We’ve been abysmal at this, despite having Finney-Smith, and a full complement of frontline players for the first time in the Greenberg era really…

    I attribute this loss to Greenberg…no way we should lose to this team that was without 2 of it’s top 4 players….

    I guess Green didn’t break his collarbone as i first feared, otherwise they wouldn’t have let him finish, but this doesn’t mean that he’ll be OK for Sunday, which is our next best chance to prove our NCAA chops. Very poor timing to say the least.

    And what exactly is the purpose of the above floor level court? I was saying today to someone that i’m surprised nobody’s broken their neck yet at Minnesota or Purdue. Just ridiculous and unsafe. And of course, with our propensity for freak injuries you just had to know we’d be damaged by it. Cursed, i say.

    From the looks of things, the ACC is once again going to be undervalued come selection time, with few entries beyond UNC and Duke to offer. I think we once again host games in the Invitational. Which we were happy with after the Delaney/Allen freshman campaign as well, until we weren’t happy 3 years running…

    We play up or down to the competition depending on the circumstance, and that is just in a Greenberg-coached team’s DNA.

    Tonight hurt.

  • Greg

    Mark my words. This game is going to come back and bite us in the ass when we wind up on the bubble again in March. We can’t lose on the road to a bottom tier Big 10 team who is missing 2 of its best players and hope we can make the tournament.

    But the fact that Zo had ZERO points in the whole game is absolutely unacceptable from a kid who has been around D1 basketball for 5 years pretty much. He is our team leader, and puts up a goose egg? That’s crazy. I’m also disappointed in Do-Do’s game but I know that’s to be expected from a freshman. He’s going to have his up games and his down games and tonight happened to be one of those down ones.

    Without Erick Green and Bobby Brown this game was bad. I really didn’t like the effort from anyone except those two guys. I wish Brown could have handled the ball better there at the very end but he made some clutch 3′s down the stretch to keep us in the game at all.

  • JT

    definitely agree that minnesota wont even be close to a top 100 team – they looked HORRIBLE last night and have a hell of a lot of work to do if they are gonna win more than 4-5 games in big 10 play.

    As far as tech goes, playing close games like this is probably the most important thing for the young roster, so the more games like this, the better…. especially on the road. assuming we’re not an ncaa tourney team this year, which is probably very wishful thinking anyways, losing a few close, ugly ones like this game isnt a bad thing.

  • Smitty in Florida

    Where is Hudson? His stats the last 3 games are sinking. I’m sorry but sr leadership this is not! When the team needed his leadership he was pretty much absent. If he doesn’t get back into the games, then VTs season will be bad and all we will do this year is get some “training” for our younger players.

    Green was great! Once he was injured the Seniors need to step it up and “manage” the younger players through the tough times. Like you said the Hokies went away in the last 30 seconds – that is when the Seniors need to lead the most. What??!

    • Niemo

      I laugh at how people want to dump on Hudson right now (I’m not picking on anyone in particular here, I’ve seen stuff on other sites that is much worse). When he scored 31 earlier this year everyone was sniffing his jock. Now some people want Mr. Brown to take his minutes and start. Fact is Hudson missed a lot of time with injuries. And the Hokies have played a lot of games in short timeframes this year. Let’s give Hudson a few more games to see where he’s at and what we can expect for this year. We need him to be 2nd or 3rd best player on this team, so let’s hang in there with him for now.

  • Martin

    This year is certainly a change of pace. I never thought we would be a three point shooting team. Hell, I remember a long stretch where green couldn’t make a lay up his freshmen year. Now he is shooting the lights out. And what a beast Brown is. I knew he could shoot, but now he is starting to get that little tear drop/ one handed shot while driving in the lane. Davila has been a disappointment IMO; I thought he would dominate tonight. Not only does he have an uncanny ability to give up rebounds to whomever he is manned against, but I feel he doesn’t look to pass enough once he has made his first step. I would like to see CJ and Raines more. Overall, it was disappointing, but I’m pretty happy with how well this young team is playing so far.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Goodraisin

    That loss is going to look bad on our resume. I know it looked like Minnesota played really well last night, and give them credit for their defense which was really hard to break into, but this Gopher team is going to lose a lot of games, particularly away from home. They can’t shoot and we didn’t make them shoot. We let them walk right up to the basket and drop the ball in. DFS needs to improve as an on-ball defender. He got worked. Green and Brown were the only players who really looked like they wanted to work hard… everyone else looked like they were giving minimal effort. That loss is still bugging me, especially because it looked to me like Green dislocated his shoulder at the very least, which would keep him out a game or two until the swelling goes down.

  • Greg

    Davila has definitely been a disappointment. Honestly, he has been his whole career here at Tech. I thought he had so much potential and upside when he was young but holy hell, the kid can’t even make a layup! His post moves are pitifully bad and he can’t make free throws. I would love to se Raines mixed in more and I know CJ has a ton of upside, even though he’s only 6’8, and I would love to see him some more. Davila makes me nervous every time he touches the ball.

  • Les

    Davila looked good but he’s obviously playing out of position at center. He had trouble in spots where size is an obvious mismatch. Their freshman center is not quite as physical as Fab Melo but more skilled.

    Overall, the team lost a lot of loose balls and rebounds due to the nature of the body contact (not fouls). Some of it is physique. The freshmen will get stronger. Some of it is aggressiveness and desire. Green was the only guy who acquited himself well when in traffic.

    Hudson was pretty easy to guard. He didn’t really play well without the ball to get himself open near the basket, nor did they set up any plays for him.

  • Martin

    RE: davila looked good… I’m with greg on this one. Davila seemingly hasn’t progressed since his sophomore year. I am not only nervous when he touches the ball, as greg said, but I am nervous when I think they are attempting to go inside to him as it’s a 50/50 chance he will even catch it. I love Seth, but the one thing that kind bugs me is his loyalty. Obviously loyalty is a great virtue to possess, so it’s kind of a catch 22, but his refusal to take Davila and Zo out when they are struggling is somewhat irritating. He loves his upperclassmen. It is for this reason that we probably would not have seen Eric’s true potential last season if not for Zo’s injury.

    • Niemo

      I hear you all that are down on Davila but I’m not buying it. Raines simply has no offensive game other than putback dunks. Davila has a great jumphook, and has even added it from the left side this year. Raines is more aggressive on D and the boards, but Davila has become a decent low post defender (see Nicholson). Plus, Davila’s hands are improved this year, and believe me I’ve been watching that. Barksdale has potential but he’s young. Maybe he could be better, and if he got a shot, we might know. But I’m fine with Davila getting the bulk of the minutes. Maybe I’d like to see Raines and Barksdale get more, but I’m telling you, Davila is still our best option, like it or not.

  • Greg

    Niemo – Davila may have a decent jump hook and have a few post moves every once and a while but it has no way been consistent and that’s what scares me. One game he’ll go crazy and play great then the next game he’ll have 3 fouls in 5 minutes, and the next he will have convex hands that can’t grab a rebound or take a decent shot.

    It’s really a shame we haven’t ever had any true big men here at Tech in the recent past. Jeff Allen was not a true post player, he was undersized and his game was just different, good, but different. I’d like to see Seth go out and try and recruit a 6’10, 6’11, or 7 foot big man to compete with people like Fab Melo, Hinson, and that ugly SOB Zeller (my least favorite basketball player of all times.)

  • Martin

    I agree that Davila seems to have the better offensive skill set, but I think defensive rebounds are more of a necessity right now (I miss JT!). I’d even be ok with Seth going big and putting CJ/ Raines in with Davila. It just seems like we aren’t getting enough boards, and the opposition’s second chances are killing us. As for Hudson, I’m certainly not advocating that he lose his starting job.. yet. I think last night was well managed in that regard. Zo was clearly struggling, and Seth kept brown in there for the majority of the game. But if things continue to trend this way, I certainly wouldn’t lose any sleep over a switch in the starting group. I just can’t remember the last time Zo stepped up when we were playing a tough team.

    • Niemo

      Again, I hear you all on Davila. I still feel he’s our best option. Raines is a foul machine and simply can’t be depended on to play big minutes. He’s averaging a foul every 5.6 minutes (Davila is at 1 every 7 mins). He has 19 points total on the season… and 15 fouls. He is a better rebounder, though. So like I said, maybe Seth needs to spread the minutes of VD, CR, and CJB around more. Problem is without VD in, Tech literally has no offensive option inside.
      I would love to sign a big that can play, but Seth hasn’t done it once in 8 years so don’t hold your breath. Seth hasn’t shown an ability to develop big men, and I think that works against us. Seth is a guards coach, and thus we’ve had more success recruiting guards.

    • Niemo

      Martin – Zo had 27 against uconn in the NIT two years ago. He was a beast down the stretch that year. Keep in mind even when he played last year, he was really, really hurting (those injuries were there all year that led to him shutting things down).

  • Martin

    “Problem is without VD in, Tech literally has no offensive option inside.” Fine. Can we not have VD and one of the other bigs in? Do you disagree with me regarding defensive boards? Or rebounds in general? And yes, Zo did play well two years ago. I just said I couldn’t remember a specific game in which he did step up (other than Seton Hall obviously), and that is the truth. All I’m advocating here is for the best player to get the most minutes, regardless of seniority. As I said above, I’m not sold on RB being that player at the two yet. However it does seem to me that Zo is regressing while Brown is steadily improving. I’m not trying to overreact and be like “START BROWN!” Bc I know Zo has skill and it will likely show again. Plus he has experience and likely possesses other intangibles which the frosh don’t. I just don’t want loyalty to the point of being detrimental to the team’s success/ growth. I don’t think it’s too controversial of an opinion. Also, anyone who was “sniffing his jock” after putting up 31 on FIU is ridiculous.

    • Niemo

      I’m surprised we haven’t gone with more 2 big looks (since I’m not counting DFS as a big for obvious reasons) to help with defensive rebounding. Only reason I can think of is Raines and Davila have had so many issues with fouls, perhaps Seth is worried both will be on the bench too quickly if he does that. Maybe we will Sunday since it has been such a problem and kansas state does have size, though they tend to play 3 guards at a time.
      Brown has been very impressive as a scorer so far, and he works hard on D. He does look like a freshman at times with his decisions on both ends. But I’m with you – play the hot hand. I’m not buying into Zo regressing yet — I really do think playing 3 games in 4 days, then 4 games in 8 days had an effect on him as he gets his sea legs back. But we’ll see, maybe I’m wrong.

  • Les

    There was no offense out of three starters Eddie, Finney-Smith, and Hudson. It was sort of like the Syracuse game. Minnesota made it tough for them to hit their outside shots because they didn’t fear giving up driving layups. Robert Brown is the only option after Green.

  • Martin

    You’re probably right about the fouls being worrisome. That still doesn’t explain last night though; IIRC neither Raines or VD were in foul trouble, and I know CJ wasn’t. Speaking of bigs, I wonder if Joey will see any playing time this year. Someone on TSL said he had a concussion or something, but we could obviously use him if foul troubles were to arise. And off topic, but do you know when Rankin is supposed to return?

    • Niemo

      Rankin was still in sweats last night. I heard he had a minor setback, so maybe a few weeks yet. Tech needs his on-ball defense which I’ve heard is very good. Tech’s perimeter D has been awful of late. Green is great at anticipating and intercepting passes, but he’s not a great on-ball defender. Garland plays all with his hands (not good), Hudson battles but just isn’t as quick as he used to be, and Brown gambles too much.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com goodraisin

    I was surprised Seth stuck with DFS down the stretch to defend Minnesota’s Williams. That guy just abused Doe Doe, who unfortunately is not a good on-ball defender at this point. Barksdale would have been a thicker guy who is harder to post up. I hear everyone getting upset about rebounding, but that’s what we have to work with this season. You can’t put Barksdale, Raines, and Davila on the floor at the same time. All three of those guys are useless trying to score outside of the paint. The lineup Seth ran with last night is our best lineup… they just have to play better.

  • Greg

    Niemo, would the starting line up make sense if you took our Eddie and put in Barksdale? It’d give us a little more push down low with rebounding, physicality and hopefully scoring (if CBJ can perform at this level) but it would take away the threat from 3 that Eddie gives us. Thoughts on how to do something like that?

    • Niemo

      Greg – I like having Eddie starting to try and get us some early points, since our offense is so woeful at times. It really doesn’t matter who we start, it is more about reallocating minutes, in my opinion. The ONLY times I think we have 2 bigs on the floor is when Davila is in. That way we at least have a scoring option down low, as I know Raines doesn’t have good post moves and C.J. I just haven’t seen enough. Then VD is out, we can only have 1 of the other 2 in, otherwise our offense will go even more stagnant. So Eddie could always be in when VD is out, plus whenever we need an offensive lift.

  • Les

    Or bring in Van Zegeren to play Elliason and slide Davila over to power forward. Davila would have had a height advantage on his defender.

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