Updated to include my thoughts on JJ’s future below…
The Hokies finished their out of conference schedule with a 7-5 record (8-5 overall with the win at miami). But before we get to our assessment of the first half of the season, let’s take a bigger look at this program as a whole.
- Record: It’s all about wins and losses and Tech is just 9-26 in the ACC in the last two-plus seasons. That’s the fewest wins over that span (gt and wake have 10, bc has 11).
- Attendance: Virginia Tech is averaging less than 4,700 fans per home game (through 9 home games), 2nd-worst in the ACC and more than 500 below 3rd-worst, miami. (bc is averaging just over 2,400 fans per home game to easily set the low bar). With just 3,400 season ticket holders, an empty seat is now more common that a filled seat in the 9,847 seat Cassell Coliseum. Two of our games sold fewer than 4,000 seats and the maryland-eastern shore had an “announced” attendance of 4,100 with about 3,000 of them dressed as empty seats. More on this below…
- Coaching: The Hokies have the most inexperienced coach and lowest paid coach in the league, so at least we are getting what we paid for! JJ is the only ACC head coach that didn’t have head coaching experience before coming to the ACC. And since his 7-0 start a year ago that had all of us wondering if he could be the right man for the job, he’s since gone 14-24, including 9-9 in out of conference games. When hired, he spoke of playing up-tempo, pressing basketball. We never press and points per game in out of conference games dropped from 77 ppg to 74 ppg this year. And with VT averaging just 66 ppg in ACC games last year, we are not getting the exciting basketball we longed for after the Greenberg defensively-focused years.
- Recruiting: JJ has had two recruiting classes of his own now with 9 total players signed. Of those 9, none were 4-star or above, or top 100 players. Only two were rated top 150 by any service – both by Rivals.com (Justin Bibbs at #146 in this year’s class and Donte Clark last year who we couldn’t admit and has since gone to umass). While I definitely think the 2013 class was better than advertised (especially Ben Emelogu), I’d have to rank our recruiting 2nd-worst in the ACC over the last three years (ahead of just bc).
Attendance and the Impact on Revenue:
- 2010-11: 9,840
- 2011-12: 7,443
- 2012-13: 6,378
- 2013-14: 4,639
- In the 2012-13 season, by my calculations of ticket revenue + concession revenue, VT made approximately $1 million less than during the 2011-12 season.
- This year, even with an extra home game out of conference, the Hokies made approximately $315,000 less than last season just on their out of conference games.
We still have 9 ACC home games to go, but if you think that is going to salvage the budget, guess again. Tech’s average attendance actually fell during ACC play last year compared to out of conference (6,045 for ACC games compared to 6,379 for the out of conference games). I certainly would expect some spike in attendance over the 4,700 we are averaging now, but how much? Our weekend games stink except for unc on March 1st. The other weekend home games are bc, maryland, miami, and nc state. uva, as seemingly always, is on a Tuesday night, which will hurt attendance. syracuse is on a Tuesday. And we don’t play duke or newcomer notre dame at home.
MIDSEASON REPORT CARD:
The Hokies, as mentioned, went 7-5 out of conference. Add in the miami game VT won, and that leaves us with 17 ACC games to go in this season in which Tech was predicted to finish last in the ACC for the third straight season. So this is a good “halfway” point (13 games into a 30 game regular season) to look at the team.
7-5 is a major disappointment to me for our out of conference record. So is 150th in the RPI, our current ranking. The Hokies went 0-2 against top 100 teams, but that was expected. What disappoints me is Tech went just 3-2 against 101-200, and lost to a team ranked #245 (unc-g-spot). The win over #113 wvu was sweet for many reasons, but losing to #161 usc-upstate really took the wind out of fans’ sails right off the bat. And just when there was some excitement after beating defending ACC champ miami (even though almost none of those guys are left), VT followed that up with a 30-point loss to vcu and that loss at home to unc-g.
The game that stings the most to me was losing to seton hall on a neutral floor. They were picked to finish last in the Big East and have a similar RPI to VT (#121 now). Tech had every opportunity to win but couldn’t. So instead of 8-4 out of conference, which still would have been a disappointment given the two bad losses at home, we are barely above .500. But this is who we seem to be now, where we can lose any game, but will occasionally surprise you with a decent (but not great) win.
Let me rank the guys:
- Coaches: D… still figuring out who he (JJ) wants to be and how to handle it. Pulling in below average ACC classes and managing the players very poorly (someone always seems to be in the doghouse and getting benched).
- Upperclassmen: D…
- Eddie is still Eddie – hot as a pistol at times and just plain awful at others. But 17.4 ppg and 47% on 3s is pretty darn good, along with 6.3 rebounds.
- Cadarian has lived in the doghouse this year and has been riding pine since his career high in the opener.
- C.J. Barksdale seems to be the straw that stirs the drink for VT – when he plays VT does much better, but he’s missed 3 games for suspension, 1 for injury, and missed parts of other games with injury. Tech must have him healthy the rest of the way in order to not finish at the bottom of the ACC.
- Johnston and Beyer have done their best when called upon, and done well considering they are walk-ons. But you can’t live with walk-ons in ACC play.
- Rankin left the team, best wishes to him.
- Young Jakes: B/C… They are a C in terms of how they are producing but considering none of them were rated higher than 3-stars coming in, they are better than I expected and hence the B…
- JvZ keeps getting better and has become a real shot-blocking force inside. Needs to improve his low post moves but at least is forcing teams to think about driving. Needs to improve rebounding, too (4.9 per game) which I think entails him needing to get stronger.
- Marshall Wood has really improved his 3-point shooting from his awful % last year (he’s at 42% this year). But he’s still too soft on defense and hasn’t shown flashes of the amazing dunker we saw in high school — I’d love to see him attack the tin more but he seems timid. Softness is a common problem with this VT team, especially with Raines on the bench.
- Adam Smith has looked solid with 13.1 ppg, but he’s missed 3 games with injury now and seems to put up his biggest numbers in garbage time. I don’t see him as a consistent scorer in ACC play, if he gets healthy. He’ll go from 3-23 points I bet.
- Ben Emelogu – love him. He’s got an ACC body already and while his 3-point shooting has tailed off, he’s still at 40% on the year and with 12.2 ppg. Could be an ACC Third Teamer by his junior year.
- Devin Wilson is a great passer (5.3 assists per game – he will shatter the VT assists record if he keeps that pace over 4 years) and is a good penetrator/finisher, but he has to improve at beating pressure (tries to dribble out of too much) and must learn how to shoot this offseason (just 2/8 on 3s… which is the same as Barksdale). Watch for teams to back off him since he cannot shoot from the outside.
- Trevor Thompson should be a good player if he bulks up this offseason. He has the height but is too skinny to battle inside against the ACC bigs right now.
- Maurice Kirby and Malik Mueller are not playing this season, so TBD.
- Overall: D… A realistic goal for this team is just to not finish in last place in the ACC. That seems like a real possibility with the win at miami (though they come to the Cassell later) and bc at 4-10. Anything other than last place is a win for this team and a baby step in the right direction. Yes, there will be bad losses like the one to unc-g, but this team has a shot to win some games, too, and be decent in a year or two if recruiting can pick up. Just don’t expect the postseason this year.