You won’t hear me be overly critical of yesterday because, quite frankly, I expected us to lose by a decided margin. 30? Well, no. I thought somewhere in the teens, maybe 20. Still, I didn’t like our match-up with vcu and that played out yesterday. Young guards (with no depth) are going to struggle with pressure like that. You’ve seen it all season from our back court – when teams crank up the pressure, we struggle. And vcu plays defense all game like a team that is down with a few minutes to go.
You won’t hear me be overly critical of yesterday because I expected lots of ups and downs this season from such a young, inexperienced team (that didn’t bring in a very highly rated class). And to be honest, we’ve had more ups than I expected so far (especially the miami game). So while yesterday was embarrassing, it is going to happen at times this season. You just hope it doesn’t become a trend and this team shakes it off.
OK, so yesterday? Embarrassing. 10 minutes without a point. A 31-0 run. This game reminded me of when VT played at #12 georgetown back in 2001 and lost 96-68. The hoyas had a similar press and during an entire 5-minute stretch (between two media timeouts), the Hokies never made it past half court with the ball. It was awful. And like yesterday, VT trailed by 20+ at the half in that game. Yesterday Tech trailed by as many as 29 in the first half. The low might have been when VT missed 4 shots on one possession.
I guess there’s a few ways to look at it:
- Positive: We were just rusty after 13 days off
- Negative: We had 2 weeks to prepare for vcu (they had just 4 days for us), and that’s the best we could do against their press? 27 turnovers and 22 steals?
- Positive: They do lead the nation in steals.
- Negative: They are playing the defense JJ claimed he wanted to play, but we’ve seen no signs of in 2 years.
- Positive: We shot 45% (9/20) from 3-point range!
- Negative: We were 8/28 (29%) on 2-point shots and 50% on free throws. And they shot 48% on 3s.
But like I said, things like this are going to happen. For every step forward (miami), you are going to take a step back. This year is about these guys gaining experience for the future. Whatever happens this season in terms of wins and losses is just gravy. It is all about getting better for future years, and progressing this year. I remember watching us get kicked in the teeth on 12/19/2004 by 34 points at home vs unc (in our first ACC game). Things looked bleak. We were picked to finish dead last in the ACC and seemed destined for that. But that team grew all year, going 8-8 in the ACC, shocking everyone, beating #5 duke, and making the NIT. That might be a stretch for this team, considering most of our players in 2004/05 were in their 2nd season and we have a lot of freshmen this year, but maybe this team could surprise us, too.
The one thing I do have a problem with is how often we seem to have guys getting benched. I don’t get it. Last year it was Barksdale, this year it is Raines. Plus, we have a guy that just doesn’t want to play for whatever reason. I just don’t see this on other teams. Are our guys that bad? Or is JJ going overboard trying to prove he can be the sheriff? Trying to prove he can wear the big boy pants. I could argue “these aren’t his guys” since they were Greenberg recruits, but JJ was on the staff! So I don’t buy that. Personally, I think JJ needs to play our best guys. Make your point in practice, make your point after hours running stairs, make him come off the bench, but to basically sit Raines for 4 games? And to bench a senior in a game just miles from where he grew up (Petersburg) with no doubt lots of family and friends there I just don’t agree with. That tells me JJ doesn’t have control of the guys if they won’t fall in line. Maybe I’m way off, I certainly don’t know the whole story, but that’s my interpretation.
Oh, and by the way – we are still tied for first in the ACC :-) Merry Christmas, everybody!