Last week we were riding the gravy train with biscuit wheels. But after a shaky 52 hours between Saturday and Monday night, it makes you start to question if those wins over iowa and oklahoma state were a mirage or did Tech just simply have an off weekend? Or will this team simply be a Jekyll and Hyde team all season? Let’s take a look.
- Thanksgiving Week – The Hokies struggled to beat unc-g-spot and appalachian state. Those two teams are ranked 331st and 336th respectively in the RPI (out of 347 teams) and are a combined 3-12 on the season.
- Last Week – Tech drubbed #69 iowa and #36 oklahoma state by double digits
- This Past Weekend – The Hokies fell respectably on the road to #76 wvu (albeit playing their worst game of the season) and then led 0-6 mvsu by just 6 at the break. This same mvsu team was the worst shooting team in the nation and was at just 28% at the half. (I should note that mvsu’s RPI is #115 largely because they’ve played a tough schedule, just getting hammered in all of them)
Scoring/shooting has been on the decline, too.
- Tech went into the wvu game averaging 86.1 ppg
- In their last two games, VT has averaged 68.5 ppg
- Tech was shooting 40.4% on 3s going into wvu
- The Hokies were 7/30 (23.3%) from deep over the weekend, including a 2/12 stinker against mvsu
- Jarell Eddie scored just 13 points in 47 minutes over the weekend
- Cadarian Raines tallied just 8 points in 44 minutes (both he and Eddie battled foul trouble)
- Robert Brown managed just 4 points against mvsu in 17 minutes on 2/9 shooting
And, then there’s the Winchester Rifle.
- He’s been awesome. Every game. Except that decision to pop out instead of taking the man driving at the end of the wvu game (although I still think that play before went off a wvu guy’s foot).
So, what can we gather from all this? I’ve noticed a few things we can count on.
- Teams don’t shoot very well against Tech… Opponents are shooting just 23% from deep against VT, and less than 40% from the floor (of course wvu hit 10 3-pointers for 43% but that seems to be the exception to the rule and largely because the Hokies left them open and dared them to shoot, flat-footed no less, and they made us pay)
- Tech is a very good free throw shooting team – 78% – in fact, Tech has shot 73% of better in each of the last seven games, and better than 80% in 5 of those last 7 games
- The Hokies are going to turn the ball over a good bit as they figure out their more up-tempo offense – double digit turnovers in 6 of 9 games, and lost the turnover margin in 4 of the last 7 games — but this doesn’t seem to influence the outcome
- Tech’s post defense is going to be poor at times — late with help defense or defending too far from the hoop (VT over-adjusted against wvu, falling too far off the man). The Hokies also don’t have great on-ball perimeter defenders. Rankin is the best but he hasn’t looked as quick this year. Brown gets beaten off the dribble easily, and Green is better defending off the ball intercepting passes.
- Remember that stat from two years ago? The one about in Tech’s last 20-something games the team that shot a higher percentage from 3-point range won? Well, Tech has shot for a higher 3-point % in seven games and are 7-0 in those games, when they don’t they are 1-1 (they beat appy state despite shooting for a lower 3-pt %).
- Tech is not a good rebounding team – the Hokies allowed 41 offensive rebounds over the weekend including 23 to wvu (the mountaineers snagged 48% of their misses — that’s a horrendous ratio for Tech to allow). On the season, Tech’s opponents are getting 31% of their misses (which actually is pretty decent for VT) but VT is collecting just 29% of their misses. Considering the level of competition VT has played, you would hope VT would have a distinct advantage in this area.
- EG is really good.
Executive Summary – The heck if I know. I really don’t know what to think about this team. Having watched every second of every game (usually multiple times), I think we have a solid starting five that matches almost any other starting five in the ACC. I think JvZ and Wood are serviceable and are getting better (especially Joey). I think Marquis Rankin is really struggling and has shown no improvement over his freshman year, although he looked better against mvsu (again, consider the competition). It may be grieving, it may be mental, but it is what it is. I hope he’s OK and gets it figured out.
I think we will struggle on the glass all season, especially when we play byu and into ACC play like nc state. Tech will give up a lot of second chance opportunities because of this, and because we don’t force a lot of turnovers (we’ve committed more than we’ve caused), that’s a problem. It means you have to be very efficient on offense.
That said, I think we are a good shooting team that can nail free throws at the end of games and win games we let slip away last year. Not just because we are good from the line, but we have multiple weapons to go to in the clutch. There are four guys I wouldn’t mind seeing take the last shot for us (well, maybe not Raines since if he gets fouled he’s a liability from the line). Even Barksdale (85%) and Wood (72%) are good from the line, and Raines is better at 64%. Brown (67%) and Rankin (60%) are lower than expected, but getting Green and Eddie the ball at the end and you like our chances.
I still think we can make some noise in the ACC this year. I see no reason why Tech can’t hit the .500 mark in league play at 9-9. Will we? I’m not sure. There are the question marks like rebounding and depth, but I think a lot of other teams in the league would like to have our top level talent and issues. We are good. We just have to find ways to be consistently good.