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My Thoughts after vcu

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!

This post was written by:

- who has written 1235 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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  • Rich Roberts

    I expected to lose by a wide margin as well. While 30 is pretty disappointing, I was not overall disappointed by being blown out either due to the match-up.
    What did disappoint me was the effort and intensity, especially in the first half. VCU out hustled us, the out fought us, out willed us, and got all the 50-50 balls. The clearly wanted is more. VCU players were clearly more willing to give the extra effort to fight for each extra possession. I felt like our guys got shell-shocked and quit during the VCU run in the first half. They did decide to battle some in the second half, although the closed the effort gap some they still did not even match VCU. To beat a team which is better than you, you have to out-effort them.

    • Niemo

      Rich – you are spot on about effort lacking. However, I’d say it has been really good to date this year, largely due to us having young guys trying to prove themselves. So I’ll give them a pass for yesterday. I think we just got shellshocked and weren’t prepared for the Havoc. And that falls on coaching.

  • Les

    I don’t think he can coach the defense that can bring about the W’s. I thought so before the game. We know the recurring problems with the perimeter defense leaving 3-point shooters to help and allowing too much dribble penetration. The low score in the Miami win was a fluke in playing a bad Hurricanes team that wanted to keep to a deliberate pace.

    The only thing that surprised me is that the 3pt FG percentage still stayed high in this game (since the turnovers helped in a perverse manner to keep shot attempts low). I thought the high 44% figure indicated the schedule’s been weak so far.

    From what I’ve read on the other board, they’re saying no redshirt is allowed for Rankin. If he stays in Blacksburg, he loses eligibility and has one remaining year. You can read the obvious conclusion from that.

    • Niemo

      Les – don’t forget miami has almost no shooters, either. That helped keep their score down.

  • King

    Tech looked completely unprepared to handle the press. Way too much dribbling instead of passing over top. Ball handling is definitely our biggest weakness this year. It’ s not a knock on Wilson as much as an observation about the team. We really could’ve used Rankin this game, although I don’t think it would’ve made a difference in the outcome. VCU looks like an elite squad poised to make a deep post-season run. I’ll have to remember this game when it comes time to fill out my bracket in March. Tech looked timid and slow in the first half. Glad that they at least played marginally better in the second half. This team needs a lot more toughness. What in the world is going on with Raines? He’s a senior and he’s not playing. There’s a lot of weird stuff going on with this program this year.

  • Drew

    Yeah, I can’t seem to find any insight onto why Raines is in the doghouse this year. I’m just chalking it up to JJ trying to act like he’s a tough guy coach. What’s that? You gave 80% on wind sprints instead of 100%? NO PLAYING TIME FOR YOU! If there’s not a legit insubordination, I wish JJ would get over it and play him. Just another reason why JJ wasn’t the right hire. Experienced coaches have that stuff sorted out. He’s learning on the fly. You shouldn’t be doing that at the ACC level. Totally not fair to the program or JJ but its what we got. Thanks Jim!

    • Niemo

      Drew – you hit the nail on the head – you don’t learn on the job in the ACC. No other head coach is. It’s just too overwhelming at this level. But. I think Weaver did it so the new AD wouldn’t have a huge contract to deal with and could clean house and bring in his own coach, which I think will happen in 1-2 years.

  • Ryan

    yo? why aint the rain man playin?

    • Niemo

      Spat with the head coach.

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2014-2015 Schedule/Results

November

11/14 - Hokies 71, md. eastern shore 46
11/19 - Hokies 73, liberty 63
11/22 - appalachian state 65, Hokies 63
**********
Cancun Classic
11/25 - n. iowa 73, Hokies 54
11/26 - Hokies 78, miami ohio 63
**********
11/30 - morgan state | 3pm, ESPN3

December

12/03 - @ penn state | 7:15pm, ESPNU
12/07 - vs. radford | 3pm, ESPN3
12/14 - vs. alabama a&m | 3pm, ESPN3
12/20 - vs. the citadel | 1pm, ESPN3
12/22 - vs. vmi | 7pm, ESPN3
12/27 - vs. presbyterian | 7pm, ESPN3
12/30 - @ west virginia | 2pm, ESPNU

January

01/03 - vs. syracuse | Noon, RSN
01/06 - @ fsu | 7pm, RSN
01/13 - @ louisville | 7pm, RSN
01/18 - @ unc | 6:30pm, ESPNU
01/22 - vs. notre dame | 7pm, RSN
01/25 - vs. uva | 1pm, ACCN
01/27 - vs. pittsburgh | 7pm, ESPNU
01/31 - @ wake forest | 2pm, RSN

February

02/03 - @ syracuse | 9pm, ESPNU
02/07 - vs. fsu | 3pm, ACCN
02/09 - vs. georgia tech | 9pm, ESPNU
02/14 - @ clemson | Noon, RSN
02/18 - @ miami | 7pm, RSN
02/21 - @ nc state | 6pm, ESPN2
02/25 - vs. duke | 9pm, ESPN2
02/28 - @ uva | 4pm, ACCN

March

03/02 - vs. boston college | 9pm, ESPNU
03/07 - vs. miami | Noon, RSN
**********
ACC Tournament
03/10 - 1st rd.
03/11 - 2nd rd.
03/12 - quarterfinals
03/13 - semifinals
03/14 - championship

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