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Niemo’s Notes | I’m For Zo (and VD); and ACC Power Poll

First off, my thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the shootings today, and especially the slain officer, Deriek Crouse.  

A hot topic of late has been the play of our lone scholarship seniors, Dorenzo Hudson and Victor Davila. Zo was a Third Team All-ACC player two years ago as a junior, but struggled through the first 10 games and missed the last 2/3 of last season with injuries. He looked good early this season, scoring 9, 18, 31, and 13 through the first 4 games. But he’s averaged just 6 ppg in the last 5, including a goose egg in the loss at minnesota.

Davila, meanwhile, is pretty much the same player he was last year. He’s averaging 6.2 ppg and 4 rebounds, that’s down 1 point and 1 rebounds on averaged from a year ago. But after scoring 6 or more points in 6 of the first 7 games, he’s scored just 1 total point in the last 2 (and grabbed just 2 total rebounds).

A lot of people I’ve read, not just on here but elsewhere, have called for them to be benched and their minutes stripped way down. Seth seems to disagree, as he stated this on the post-game interview with Roth last night, “Loyalty is a 2 way street. If we want loyalty we have to give loyalty Vic and Zo will win us games.” I’ll go on the record as saying I’m firmly against benching the seniors, and/or severely limiting their minutes. Here’s why:

  1. Gellin’ like Magellan: People always talk about freshmen learning to play on this level, and learning to play as a team. What they forget is even veterans go through the same thing. While Zo and Victor are seniors, they also had a comfort level playing with Hokies 2G (Allen, Bell, Delaney, and Thompson). When you play with guys that long, you get used to their style, their mannerisms, where they’ll be on the break, in the half court, etc. Yes, Green is playing fantastically, but he’s also the point guard. Zo and Victor are dependent on getting the ball. And Green wasn’t playing much until Zo was being shut down for the season last year, so the two aren’t familiar playing together in games much. Victor is dependent on being fed the ball in the post, something Tech doesn’t do much. He’s shown a nice lefty hook this year, but his righty hook has been off. That needs to be fixed but I expect he will.
  2. Don’t Put Zo in the Corner: If you watch VT’s offense, Dorenzo spends a lot of time in the corner this year. Part of that appears to be Zo playing the 3 while Brown plays the 2. That worked for Terrell Bell, who was a fantastic 3-point shooter from the corner, but that’s not Zo’s game. He needs to be on the wing, similar to where Brown is, to be able to shot-fake, shoot a mid-range jumper, or attack the hoop. We know Zo’s a career <30% 3-point shooter, so sticking him in the corner is not to his strengths. Hudson is also good in transition, so the more VT runs (I won’t hold my breath), the better he is.
  3. Hypocrite: People call for Zo and Victor to sit, but not Dorian Finney-Smith. Why? Doe Doe has been as mercurial as them. He’s averaging 9.5 ppg and 10 rebounds per game in VT’s 6 wins, but just under 4 ppg and 7 rebounds in their 3 losses. People give him a pass because he’s young and needs to learn. That’s not how you coach. You coach to win every game (or else someone else will be coaching when your young guys are vets). So Seth can’t play the younger guys just to let them learn. And he knows Zo is better than what he’s shown of late. And he knows Victor can do more. They have earned the right to work their way out of this slump as they learn to play together with Hokies 3G.

That said, I do agree you go with the hot hand. Brown played over Hudson at the end of the minnesota game and Raines/Barksdale say a lot more minutes than normal at rhode island. But like I said, I support keeping the seniors in the starting lineup. Give them the first chance at being ‘hot’ that night. And show them you believe in them for all the hard work they’ve put in.


  1. #4 unc (7-2): Yes, they’ve lost 2 games already. But that was in a ‘neutral’ site game in Vegas against unlv, and at #1 kentucky by 1-point. They have 5 potential 1st round draft picks in THIS coming draft. Nuff said.
  2. #7 duke (8-1): I still don’t think they are that good. They have a bunch of really good role players, and some young stars like Austin Rivers. But Rivers is no Irving, and they really miss Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. So I don’t think they are even close to unc, but I also think they are the clear cut #2 in the ACC.
  3. florida state (6-3): They have not looked like the third best team in the league at times, but they still play that suffocating defense. And their 3 losses are to an undefeated harvard team (they didn’t score for the first 12 minutes of the game!), uconn, and at michigan state. No shame in that. They, as usual, need to find offense though.
  4. virginia (8-1): They beat michigan at home. But their lone loss is to Hank Thorns’s tcu team. I could easily make a case for them at #3, but they are uva, so I’ll give fsu the tiebreaker.
  5. VIRGINIA TECH (6-3): It hasn’t been pretty to date, but Tech’s played a tough schedule and did OK. Green looks like a real star.
  6. nc state (5-3): Shocker that they start playing better with Sidney Lowe gone. They beat texas and played vandy, indiana, and stanford tough. They’d have lost those games by 20-30 last year.
  7. miami (5-3): They had a chance to move up, but got waxed at home by memphis in the second half. They can really shoot the 3, but with tubby Reggie Johnson out hurt, they are lacking an inside game.
  8. maryland (5-3): They are overachieving to this point (and that has to credit their coach). maryland is awful this year, but they are 5-3 with wins over notre dame and colorado. But I think they are closer to the team that beat mount st. mary’s but just 3 on Wednesday. Expect them to drop.
  9. clemson (4-3): If this were the South Carolina state tournament, they’d be long since triple eliminated. They lost at home to college of charleston, coastal carolina, and the gamecocks. They did beat iowa on the road, but I thought they way overachieved last year and that is tough to repeat when you lose a few key players and add next to nothing in recruiting.
  10. georgia tech (5-4) won at georgia for the first time in 35 years on Wednesday. That’s impressive until you consider a couple of things… 1) they played at neutral sites from ’81 to ’95. 2) Paul Hewitt was the georgia tech coach for the last 10 years. And we know he couldn’t win on the road anywhere (look how george mason is starting to slide now). That said, the jackets are a far better team this year with Coach Brian Gregory than they would be with Hewitt, who couldn’t coach defense to save his life.
  11. wake forest (6-3): They look drastically better than last year and have moved out of the cellar! They’d have lost to high point last year, but edged them by 4 on the road this year. They beat nebraska. But I want to see some more body of work before I get too excited (they lost to richmond).
  12. boston college (2-6): They may be the worst team in ACC history ever. wake is the reigning worst ever champ, after their 1-15 season last year. But bc gets no fan support, which willed wake to their lone win over uva last year. bc returned just 2 scholarship players from a year ago, and those guys averaged just 6.6 ppg. Gone are over 90% of their points and assists, and 80% of their rebounds. They could lose all 16 ACC games.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1284 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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6 Responses to “Niemo’s Notes | I’m For Zo (and VD); and ACC Power Poll”

  1. vtgoad says:

    I guess I could be fine with Davilla be the starter in name, with Raines/Barksdale taking minutes if he proves ineffective that night. Added plus, Raines/Barksdale won’t be getting in foul trouble early in games.

    Agree completely about Dorian. Is it just me, or does he seem to be getting the sour end of sizing matchups in the early season? I’d like to see him play the pure 3 (or 2 spot if we have Eddie on the floor as well) spot role more with his passing skills.

    My starting lineup at this point in the season would have to be (subs in parenthesis):

    Green (Rankin/Garland – only in foul trouble…hate those TOs…)
    Hudson (Brown/Dorian)
    Eddie (Dorian)
    Raines (Barkdale/Dorian – only in foul trouble or matchup)
    Davilla (Raines/Barksdale)

  2. Martin says:

    Hypocrite? ppl aren’t asking to bench Davila bc of his inconsistency or his “mercurial” nature; they are asking to bench him BECAUSE of his consistency. He consistently doesn’t get rebounds.. Victor would love to average just under 7 rebounds.

  3. Chrishokie says:

    I have seen upperclassmen lose starting roles to incoming freshmen at Duke and UNC. The only reason I would want to keep Davilla and Zo’s minutes is if they are playing defense at a higher level than folks who are beating their offensive stats. I am not that good a judge of team defensive contributions because they don’t always show up in stats. I am fine with starting them and if they can’t get their games going against a particular opponent, then lets subs play more, which is kidn of what Seth is doing. But, I would not protect their minutes because they are seniors.

  4. Martin says:

    I’m fine with keeping him as a starter then, if he is playing poorly, subbing in Raines/ CJ. Just wanted to point out that the most common criticism of Davila I’ve seen/heard doesn’t seem to make DFS supporters hypocritical. You make a good point though, and I completely agree with this sentiment: “Give them the first chance at being ‘hot’ that night. And show them you believe in them for all the hard work they’ve put in.”

  5. hokiegrad says:

    I agree with most of this post, but I think the biggest reason Doe-Doe hasn’t been included in the benching discussion is his rebounding. I’m pretty sure that “only” 7 rebounds in those three losses is still better than anyone else is averaging. Can we afford to lose that?

    On the other hand, I like goad’s starting lineup, which doesn’t include Doe-Doe. Or change that and start him there. Either way, I think both he and Eddie are much better suited to the 3 than any other position, and bring different things to the table. I don’t want to see Doe-Doe at the 2, even as a sub, at this point. I don’t think his defense is ready for that. I’d add Brown as a possible sub at the 3, mostly for foul-trouble situations. I think he might be better there than Hudson if you want them both on the court at the same time. And I’d be a little more willing to play Doe-Doe at the 4 than goad, depending on matchups and how Raines and Barksdale are playing.

    I would also add more about the things that you don’t see in a stat line. E.g. are they in the right position more than the freshmen are (or other things that keep the offense flowing better around them)? Playing better defense? Leading in the huddle and on the court? Etc. Better stats does not always equal better option.

    • Niemo says:

      H-Grad – the thing I’d add to your add is, “Are players getting to play where they can be successful?” My believe is that sticking Zo into the corner neutralizes his strengths – decent penetrator, very good mid-range jumper, ability to draw fouls on opposing bigs. I guess I already said that in the article, but to your point, that doesn’t show up in stat lines and it may look like he’s in the ‘right’ position, but not effective, as opposed to being in the right position for his skill set.


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