Apologies if I repeat some stuff Cope said in his recap but I’ve got a sleeping infant and just need to pump these thoughts out so I can go to sleep…
The Hokies played well for 25 minutes (VT was down by just 4, 44-40 at that point). Unfortunately, Boeheim insisted we play the final 15 minutes and that’s when the wheels came off, with the orange outscoring the Hokies 28-12 in the final 14:20.
Before I get to the bad stuff, let me say hats off to Adam Smith, CJ Barksdale, and Marshall Wood. Smith fought through his calf injury to play 30 minutes and scored 9 points (all in the first half on shots from the moon). CJ and Marshall were battling the flu. CJ let Tech with 12 points in 20 minutes. Kudos for them for answering the bell.
Changing gears, what were some of the factors that cost Tech to lose? It wasn’t turnovers as you’d expect. syracuse was #1 in the ACC and #5 nationally in creating turnovers (especially steals) coming in, but the Hokies turned the ball over just 8 times, tying their season low (which they set in their last game — a very good trend). So what did kill us? Well, here you go. It was mostly 2 things:
- Midrange jumpers
- Offensive rebounds
First, let’s look at how both teams created their points:
|Pts via 3-ptrs||21||27|
|Pts via FTs||9||7|
|Pts in the Paint||18||18|
|Pts via Jumpers||4||20|
As you can see, the Hokies had absolutely nothing inside the arc, but outside the paint tonight. Actually, nothing isn’t fair, we did make 2 jumpers. The funny thing is that both of VT’s made jumpshots inside the arc were banked in! Yeesh. And this isn’t a one-game anomaly, the Hokies simply don’t have good jump-shooters (inside the arc, that is). Barksdale and Eddie are their best guys in the 15-18 foot range, but syracuse took them away to their credit. Meanwhile, syracuse, especially C.J. Fair via the shot fake, lit up the scoreboard from this range to the tune of 10 make midrange jumpers. Note to the Hokies: teams know you are good 3-point shooters! Try a pump fake every now and then, draw the defender past you, step in and take an easier shot!
The Hokies have to get better with their midrange game this offseason. Devin Wilson really needs to work on his shooting for hours every day. And guys like Emelogu and Smith need to be able to pull up and shoot as opposed to either shooting 3s, or going into the paint and tussling with the big boys. It was the midrange game that really launched Dowdell’s and Green’s scoring numbers.
Second, Tech got abused on the defensive glass. Most teams grab about 30-35% of their misses. The orange actually had more offensive rebounds than VT had defensive rebounds (17 vs 14, or 55% of their misses). Conversely, Tech grabbed just 31% of their misses (11 vs 24). That led to 15 syracuse 2nd chance points compared to 9 for the Hokies.
- Jarell Eddie had a bad night. He hit a 3-pointer 2 minutes into the game (his 1,000th point, making him the 44th Hokie to reach that milestone)… then didn’t score for 22 minutes… then hit another 3… then didn’t score in the final 15+ minutes. That’s 3 points in the final 38 minutes, and just 6 for the game on 2/9 shooting (meanwhile, C.J. Fair had 17 points). Granted, Fair was the Preseason POTY, so that’s what you get.
- Devin Wilson didn’t score until less than 3 minutes were left in the game. Tech really needed him to find ways to penetrate. He also had just 2 assists.
- 3-Pointers: VT was just 2/12 from deep in the 2nd half. You live by the three (down 6 at the half), and you die by the 3 (outscored by 14 in the 2nd half).
- Free Throws: Tech started 1/6 from the line, putting them in an early hole. They finished 8/11 after that point, but 9/17 just doesn’t cut it.
Attendance: Less than 4,400 tickets were sold for this contest, our ACC opener, against the #2 team in the country that is new to the ACC (I actually thought the middle of the arena was pretty full all considering, but the attendance numbers don’t lie — 4,367 was it). Yes, students are on break. Yes, it was 10-degrees out (or the average high in syracuse). Yes, the game was at 9 PM. But this is really becoming an epidemic. Remember in 2007 when SW VA was covered in ice? Tech still drew a near capacity crowd to watch the Hokies beat maryland in OT in mid-January.
Do we think it will get better when the students return? Maybe there will be a small bump in attendance, but we shall see. And continued reverse Bear Fight losses won’t help.
Please, people, let’s support the Hokies on Saturday. This is a very winnable game against a bad (4-11) bc team.
I’m going to start a new column called “JJ’s Head-Scratchers”. I don’t want this to be perceived as me saying JJ is a bad coach. Rather, I’d hope he reference these as Coachable Moments since he had as much college basketball head coaching experience as me when he took the job — we are in this together!
- Putting Joey van Zegeren in the high post in the 1st half was not a good idea. He has a limited offensive repertoire that is not suited for the high post at all (i.e. not a good midrange jumpshooter like Barksdale and a terrible passer). Most teams flash the opposite postplayer to the high post as the ball swings around the perimeter. Instead, JvZ was just standing stagnant in the high post. They did fix this for a few possessions in the 2nd half, though (that’s when CJ started going nuts and got VT within 4).
- Going to a 2-3 zone against a team that practices against a zone every day in practice… syracuse proceeded to score on all 4 possessions against our 2-3 zone for a total of 9 points.
- Not doing a 2-for-1 at the end of the first half. Tech had the ball with 58 seconds to go in the first half. All they had to do was put up a decent shot in the first 15 seconds of the shot clock, and they’d have gotten the ball back (in all likelihood) for one more possession. Instead, they bled the clock and Adam Smith heaved a 3-pointer from Rustburg with 33 seconds left and syracuse was able to hold for the last shot.
- [My Favorite] With 3 seconds on the shot clock in the 2nd half and Tech inbounding the ball under their own basket, Adam Smith chucked the ball into the back court to Ben Emelogu. The result, of course, was Ben having to launch a half court shot, not for free tuition mind you, but to beat the shot clock. A good team has the shot clock status communicated to them (since our bench was on that end of the floor) and doesn’t send someone to the back court, let alone throw it to them.
Positives from JJ:
- The one time syracuse pressed we shredded it for a dunk. That’s a big improvement over how we’ve looked against presses in the past, although this was a small sample size.
- We did seem to adjust the high post rotation after the half, but why was it so bad in the first half? We had a week to prepare for the zone.
- Turnovers are way down of late (8 in each of the last 2 games).
* Please note: Niemo is not an expert. Any suggestion he is an expert is strictly prohibited in the lower 48 states. Cash value of these notes are 1/100 of a penny for every fan at this game.