I correctly predicted the Hokies would go 2-1 last week, but that was before losing the opener to usc-upstate (who has lost their two games since). I think we can all agree 2-1 was a major victory considering the embarrassing loss to open the season and then being down 17 in the first half to wvu. Since trailing 40-24 to wvu with 2:40 left in the first half, VT outscored their opponents 101-60 over the next 42:40 on their way to capturing those two wins. And the Baby Birds really fueled the way — Emelogu had 38 points combined in the two wins and is 7/14 on 3-pointers on the season. Trevor Thompson got his first career double-double (15/11) in the wcu win. And Devin Wilson is proving to be a deadly slasher (that came out wrong), taking advantage of the tight hand-check calls, going for 9.3 ppg and 3.7 assists. Add in 23 blocks from the Hokies on the season and it was a better than expected start (the games have become more interesting).
Oh, and I just realized wcu was playing us Friday less than 48 hours after playing AT #18 oregon. They had to fly across the country and suit up against us less than two days later. AND they played at liberty on Saturday (and won). No wonder wcu looked so sluggish in the first half but give credit to the Hokies for taking advantage of it.
My only gripe is that Coach Johnson totally bailed on his defensive strategy. Since being hired he has said he wanted to pressure the opponent. Whether that be full or half court trapping, he wanted to force the issue. But all we’ve done so far is half court man. Out of fear of the hand-check calls, he’s backed off his philosophy and is only playing man, yet every one of our three opponents so far has used some sort of full court press and/or trap (even Huggy Bear). My advice to him would be: Be the coach you want to be. If you are going to fail, fail your way. Has Shaka stopped pressing at vcu because of the new rules? Nope. Is Pitino just playing half court D? Nope. Greenberg was a master at knowing when to switch the defense up to confuse the opponent, like going to a half court trap. You can’t go man the whole game and just let the opponent get into a groove offensively. JJ – Be who you want to be.
Moving on, here’s the week ahead:
- Monday: Home vs vmi at 7 PM (Military Appreciation Night!)
- Friday: vs #1* michigan state at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on TruTV – Coaches vs Cancer Classic semi-finals
- Saturday: consolation/championship game vs oklahoma or seton hall at 7 or 9:30 on TruTV (Go ahead and set your DVR for 7 PM)
* Note that michigan state is #2 at the time I’m writing this, but they beat #1 kentucky 78-74 this past week and are 3-0, so I’m moving them up to the top spot.
Stat of the Week: VT is 4-7 all time vs #1 teams but have won 3 of their last 5 games vs a #1 (2006 – unc, 2009 – wake, and 2011 – duke). And their last three losses to a #1 have been by a combined 7 points, so VT has played #1s really tough. But those were different teams, we’ll see how the Baby Birds respond.
Hokie Leaders (through Nov. 17):
- PPG: Eddie – 15.0 (Emelogu 14.7)
- Rebounds: Thompson – 8.0
- Assists: Wilson – 3.7
- Blocks: van Zegeren – 2.7
- Steals: Raines – 1.3
Hokie Team Stats (through 11/17):
- PPG: 76.3
- Opp PPG: 69.0
- FG%: 44%
- Opp FG%: 35%
- 3-Pt%: 38%
- Opp FG%: 29%
- FT%: 64%
VT vs the opponents:
- vs vmi: VT 87-43 (VT has won 2 in a row with a 95-80 win last year at the Cassell)
- vs michigan state: First ever meeting
- vs seton hall: seton hall 4-2 but VT won the last meeting in Cancun by a 103-94 score (OT) in 2010
opponents’ Records This Season:
- vmi: 3-1 (lost by 27 at wake but beat air force to win the Military Classic – they love to run and gun; could be an exciting, high scoring game)
- #1 michigan state: 3-0 (beat #1 kentucky 78-74 then struggled with columbia – they are a veteran team)
- oklahoma: 3-0 (beat alabama 82-73)
- or seton hall: 2-1 (lost at mercer in 2 OT)
opponents’ Best Player:
- vmi: Q.J. Peterson (21.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 3.5 spg – gets to the line a lot, almost 10 times per game)
- #1 michigan state: Adreian Payne (17 ppg and 8 rbg – 56% FG%) or Gary Harris (17 ppg, 5 rpg, 2.7 apg)
- oklahoma: Buddy Hield (18.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 2.0 spg – 7/14 on 3s)
- or seton hall: Fuquan Edwin (19.3 ppg) or Sterling Gibbs (17.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, and 4.7 apg)
The two games in Brooklyn at the Nets home will be good tests for the Hokies — michigan state is obviously way stronger than VT and it would take a miracle for VT to win… if VT gets seton hall in the Consolation Game they could beat them (they are picked to finish near the bottom of the Big East) — seton hall is similar to wvu in talent. So, I could see us going anywhere from 0-3 to 2-1 but 1-2 is my prediction for the week.