In the Coaches vs Cancer “these games don’t really matter because VT is advancing to the semis anyway” Classic, the Hokies lost to usc-upstate by a 64-63 score at the Cassell. It is going to be a loooooooooong season, Hokie fans.
The announcer said it best, “These are two evenly matched teams.” And they were. usc-upstate was above VT in the KenPom rankings (#130 vs #155). Tech, picked to finish dead last out of 15 teams in the ACC, and usc-upstate, picked to finish 3rd in the Atlantic Sun, were similarly talented teams. That in itself tells you all you need to know about the Hokies. There were 6 ties and 14 lead changes. VT and usc-u shot 39% and 37.5% from the field respectively, had 12 and 14 offensive rebounds each, and had 10 and 9 turnovers. Like I said, even steven. Tech was a little better from 3-point range (8/22 36% vs 5/16 31%) while VT was just 9/18 from the foul line (usc-u was 11/16).
Both teams stunk down the stretch – the game was tied 62-62 with 4 minutes to go. usc-u made just one basket while VT could muster just one free throw (Eddie had a critical miss from the line with 90 seconds to go).
The Hokies got 18 points from Jarell Eddie but 15 were in the first half, he was just 6/21 from the field, and 2/9 from 3-point range.
Cadarian Raines added a career high 17 points, all in the 2nd half (in fact, he had just one field goal attempt in the first half). Tech made a point of going to him in the 2nd stanza, but it wasn’t enough.
Transfer Adam Smith added 7 points on 3/10 shooting (he’s a chucker). Freshman Ben Emelogu came in and hit two quick 3s but foul trouble forced him to play just 12 minutes and scored just those 6 points.
Both C.J. Barksdale (suspension) and Marquis Rankin (what now?) did not play for VT, but I’m not sure it would have mattered.
Coach JJ swore VT would push the ball this year but Tech had just 5 fastbreak points. And we saw no press or trapping. The refs are supposed to call hand-checks much tighter this year, but why not try and force the tempo? The result – this was a half court game like every other VT game and Coach JJ has already backed off of his supposed system he wants to run. At the risk of being brash, in my opinion, we are just playing out the games until we get a new AD who will bring in an ACC-caliber coach who knows what he is doing and isn’t learning on the job. Until then, expect to lose to schools you’ve never heard of. Welcome to ricky stokes, the sequel.
Tech plays wvu on Tuesday at 1 PM (not a typo) on ESPN at the Cassell.