Author Archives | Cope

TechHoops.com issues press release regarding its future

Blacksburg, VA — Despite three straight cellar-dweller seasons in Blacksburg, dwindling attendance, several marriages, the births of multiple children, the firing of two coaches, and the transfer and de-commitment of countless high profile recruits, we here at TechHoops.com have continued to provide die-hard, although somewhat masochistic, Virginia Tech basketball fans with indepth coverage of the worst team in the ACC. Even our colleagues at TSL noted our dedication:

TSL Tweet from Feb. 6, 2014

@TechHoops is meticulously detailing a very painful season. They have way more of an appetite for it than we here at TSL do.

What most TechHoops fans didn’t know was that coming into the 2013-14 season, there was talk of shutting down TechHoops.com for good. After starting with six writers, all alums, we were down to just two; Niemo and Cope. These guys have families and jobs and other obligations. But they didn’t let spouses, children, and responsibilities get in the way of providing VT basketball fans every horrible detail of every demoralizing loss (and there were 58 of them) for the last three seasons. But they came close.

Now, with the program in a low not seen in near 14 years, there is a new hope dawning in the Cassell. JJ is out, and Buzz Williams is in. Why he left a high profile job at Marquette for the worst team in the ACC is still somewhat of a mystery, but he’s here now. Thus, to avoid any rumors and speculation, we want to announce that senior writer Niemo, formerly the Weekend Warrior, will return for an eighth straight season.

“I’m more committed than ever to righting this ship,” Niemo said via conference call following the ACC tournament. “I take full responsibility for the last three seasons, as well as the seven straight years of declining attendance. I have come to realize that the lack of BRRRRAAAHHHHHH-laden highlight videos is the sole reason for the decline in Virginia Tech’s basketball program.”

Niemo got married in 2013 and has since had his first child, but he doesn’t use those two events as excuses for his decline in productivity. He would only say that the correlation between his lack of effort at TechHoops and the lack of effort and results on the court cannot be easily dismissed.

“Look, I get it. I let this team down. I let the fans down. But I’ve rededicated myself to rebuilding this team, one arm curl and BRRRRAAAHHHHHH highlight at a time,” said Niemo between nap times. “I can’t promise victories, because we all know I’m pretty bad at that… God, remember that time I had to make a donation to some ‘Save the Eagles’ campaign? …anyhow, I can’t promise victories, but I can promise effort.”

It will be an uphill battle for Niemo, TechHoops.com, and of course, Buzz Williams and what’s left of the team. After announcing his hiring, recruit T.J. Lang asked for and received a release from his NLOI. Warren Craft, a 2015 verbal commit, decommitted because he never heard back from Coach Buzz. And then there’s Trevor Thompson, who was one of the few bright spots in a historically bad season. He transferred to Ohio State.

On the plus side, Buzz and the Hokies did pick up two big recruits in Ahmed Hill, a 6-4 shooting guard, and Satchel Pierce, a 6-10, 250-pound center. Both verbally committed to the Hokies.

Despite the odds, Niemo will be back next season. To celebrate, TechHoops.com has hired a graphic designer to redo its logo. T-shirts will be forthcoming. Stay tuned.

In other news…
Cope will be back next season, too, keeping things running smoothly behind the scenes and writing the occasional recap and commentary. “Like anyone cares about the guy behind the scenes,” Cope said. “Whatever. Screw you guys, I’m going to get a drink.”

Posted in Cope's Corner, Featured Columns, Home7 Comments

Hokie Nation a-”Buzz” over hiring of Williams

Buzz Williams leaves marquette and Big East for Virginia Tech and the ACC

Buzz Williams leaves marquette and Big East for Virginia Tech and the ACC

The internet rumors began swirling Friday morning when John Feinstein reported that Virginia Tech was making a big push to hire Buzz Williams away from the golden eagles. At the time, it was just another rumor. And then, at 2:33 p.m., EDT, Yahoo’s Pat Forde Tweeted the following:

Pat Forde's Tweet about Virginia Tech's hiring of Buzz Williams

Pat Forde’s Tweet about Virginia Tech’s hiring of Buzz Williams

Boom. Shaka. Laka.

And just like that, Virginia Tech’s basketball program had a pulse. A strong pulse. Buzz hasn’t even coached a game and already the fan base is in a tizzy. Under the circumstances, this is about the best hire you could hope for considering the Hokies have finished dead last in the ACC three years running.

Williams, 41, has been a head basketball coach for seven seasons; one with new orleans and the last six at marquette, where he compiled an impressive 139-69 overall record, and 69-39 in conference play. He took marquette to the NCAA tournament five straight years and went a combined 8-5, having advanced to the regional finals in 2012-13.

So why come to Virginia Tech given his success at marquette? Well, the ACC is a better, more high profile conference than what’s left of the Big East. And, then there was the unexpected resignation of athletics director Larry Williams back in December that caught Williams off guard. Add to that the equally unexpected resignation of university president Fr. Scott R. Pilarz three month prior, and you have to ask yourself what’s going on in Milwaukee? Both the president and AD unexpectedly resign after only two years on the job? Weird.

Of course, Virginia Tech is getting a new president this summer and its current AD has been on the job for about 35 days. Though, to be fair, the circumstances are much different in Blacksburg.

So, what does Buzz Williams bring to Virginia Tech besides another bald coach (our third straight, by the way)? Well, he brings a big personality, recruiting prowess, name recognition, NCAA tournament appearances (he’s been to five since the Hokies last danced), and… dare we say it… hope? (Hope is a dangerous thing, remember?)

We’ll learn more and have more for you in the days and weeks to come, but in the meantime, go follow Coach Buzz on Twitter and welcome him to the Hokie Nation:

Virginia Tech head basketball coach Buzz Williams on Twitter

Virginia Tech head basketball coach Buzz Williams on Twitter

Lastly, the official “Welcome to Virginia Tech, Buzz!” event is Monday, March 26, at 6 p.m. (subject to change) at the Cassell and it’s open to the public. So, be there!

From HokieSports.com:

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock has announced the hiring of Buzz Williams as the new head men’s basketball coach for the Hokies.

“I am extremely excited about welcoming Buzz Williams to the Hokie Nation,” Babcock said. “Buzz is a proven winner who has earned his way up through the ranks with a strong track record of success. I am confident he will energize our fan base and help make Virginia Tech Basketball competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference. I know he will recruit at the highest level.”

The school will hold a formal press conference on Monday, March 24 at 6 p.m. (potential for slight change), on the arena floor of Cassell Coliseum. The event will be open to the general public and students and admission is free of charge. The press conference will be live streamed on hokiesports.com. For more information on the press conference, please log on to hokiesports.com.

“It’s never easy to leave a great school like Marquette, where I spent seven wonderful years, six as the head coach,” Williams said. “But this is a special situation to work at a place like Virginia Tech. I’ve heard tremendous things about this terrific institution and this is an outstanding opportunity to build a program. My family and I look forward to becoming a part of this great university and community, and taking on the challenges associated in succeeding in the ACC.”

Williams comes to the Hokies following six seasons as the head coach of the Marquette Golden Eagles. At Marquette, Williams had a record of 139-69 and led the team to five NCAA appearances, including a trip to the regional finals in the 2012-13 season, the same season the team won the Big East Conference regular season title. Williams led the Golden Eagles to a 69-39 Big East Conference record during his time in Milwaukee. Six Marquette players have made it to the NBA during William’s tenure.

Williams was an assistant at Marquette in the 2007-08 season. MU concluded the year 25-10 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003.

His coaching career has included stints as an assistant, associate head and head coach. He has been at the NCAA Division I level for 19 seasons, and 2013-14 was his seventh campaign as a head coach. Williams has recruited and coached over 20 players who have earned all-conference accolades, including two league players of the year, two conference freshmen of the year and four Associated Press All-Americans.

Williams arrived in Milwaukee after serving for one season as the head coach at the University of New Orleans. He guided the Privateers to a 14-win campaign in 2006-07 and his roster featured Bo McCalebb, the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. UNO claimed fourth place in the Sun Belt’s Western Division and advanced to the league tournament quarterfinals. The squad claimed as many victories on the road that season as it had in the previous three seasons combined. His recruiting class for the 2007-08 season was ranked in the top-50 nationally by HoopScoopOnline.com.

Prior to UNO, Williams served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas A&M for two seasons (2004-05 and 2005-06) under head coach Billy Gillispie. Both of his recruiting classes with the Aggies were ranked among the best in the nation and featured some of the top-ranked talent at the prep level. The squad made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 25 years in 2005-06 and the previous team posted the top turnaround in the nation, improving its win total in 2004-05 by 14 games compared to 2003-04.

Williams spent four seasons (2000-01 through 2003-04) at Colorado State, serving as an assistant the first three seasons before being promoted to associate head coach in 2003-04. Two of his recruiting classes were ranked among the 40-best in the nation, including the 2003 group, which was tabbed No. 1 in the Mountain West Conference. Colorado State made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 13 years during his tenure and he was named one of the top assistants in the country by HoopScoopOnline.com.

The Van Alstyne, Texas, native was previously an assistant at Northwestern State (1999-2000), Texas A&M- Kingsville (1998-99) and Texas-Arlington (1994-98). He earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Oklahoma City University in 1994 before completing his master’s work in the same field at Texas A&M-Kingsville in 1999.

Williams is married to the former Corey Norman and the couple has two daughters, Zera and Addyson, and two sons, Calvin and Mason.

Williams succeeds James Johnson, who was relieved of his duties on March 17.

For updates on Virginia Tech men’s basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter Follow @VT_MBBall

Posted in Around The ACC8 Comments

Join the TechHoops Bracket Challenge

Sure, our team isn’t in the Big Dance this year. In fact, it’s been seven years since the Hokies last appeared in the NCAA tournament. But that doesn’t mean we stop being college basketball fans, right? So, let’s get to work filling out those brackets, shall we?

First, click here to download a customized TechHoops.com-themed printable bracket, complete with lower-cased team names.

Second, go to http://y.ahoo.it/eB1KIZ7o and join our private group (password is babcock).

Posted in NCAA Tournament0 Comments

Virginia Tech fires James Johnson after two seasons

It’s official. James Johnson has been fired as the men’s head basketball coach at Virginia Tech. His tenure lasted just two seasons and less than two full calendar years. It got off to inauspicious start and never got on track. JJ finishes his VT tenure with a 22-41 (35%) record (6-30 in ACC regular season games and 0-2 in the ACC Tournament). That percentage is third worst of Tech’s 23 basketball coaches, and the worst that any Hokie coach has had in the last 80 years. (For reference, ricky “program bomb” stokes won 40% of his games aided largely by a year in A-10.)

I’m both surprised and not surprised. I’m surprised that Virginia Tech is going to eat three years of a contract, especially after former athletics director Jim Weaver gave JJ his blessing for another year.

Also, Tech has a history of underpaying coaches. In fact, Johnson was the lowest paid men’s basketball coach in the ACC and the Hokies got what they paid for; a team that finished dead last in each of JJ’s two seasons at the helm.

At the same time, I am not surprised that new Athletics Director Whit Babcock, who has been on the job for exactly one month, decided to make a change. His hiring made headlines, especially given his salary. To come in and do nothing with a program that has finished last three straight seasons, and seen declining attendance for seven straight years, likely would not have gone over well with the dwindling fan base.

As most rational fans would agree, JJ was in over his head from the beginning. No one begrudges him for taking the job. If you want to be a head basketball coach and an ACC team offers you a job, you take it. The fault of JJ’s failed tenure lies squarely at the feet of former AD Jim Weaver. Instead of conducting a national search after botching the Seth Greenberg firing, he chose the easy way and hired an assistant coach with no previous head coaching experience. JJ was the only ACC coach who had zero head coaching experience before taking over at an ACC program. And his teams performed about as well as you’d expect.

So, here we are, for the second time in two years, looking for a new head coach. Babcock’s shown he’s not afraid to drop the ax, but what he does next will determine the future success or failure of not only the basketball program, but also his tenure as AD.

Below is the official release from HokieSports.com:

Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock announced today that James Johnson has been relieved of his duties as head men’s basketball coach. In making the announcement, Babcock said a national search for Johnson’s replacement will begin immediately.

“I want to thank Coach Johnson for his dedication and hard work for our university and our basketball program over the past seven years,” Babcock said. “A change of this significance affects many people and is never taken lightly, but I felt a change and a new direction was necessary for the long term, best interest of our department.”

Johnson just completed his second season as head coach of the Hokies. He spent the previous five seasons on the Tech staff, serving as an assistant from 2007-2011 before being promoted to associate head coach prior to the 2012-13 season. He had accepted an assistant coaching position at Clemson on April 13, 2012, but returned to Blacksburg soon thereafter to take the head coaching position previously held by Seth Greenberg.

Babcock will meet with the media at 9:30 am on Tuesday in the Shott Media Center. The media session will be streamed live on hokiesports.com.

This will be Babcock’s only media availability until the announcement of the new coach.

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Around The ACC, Cope's Corner15 Comments

The season that was a trainwreck

Well? How’s everyone feeling this morning? Relieved? Anxious? Ready for a change? Whatever may be going through your minds this morning, we here at TechHoops want to take a moment to thank you, the fans, for supporting this site by reading our articles, sharing them, commenting on them, and spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter.

According to Google Analytics, more than 20,500 of you visited our site this season and racked up more than a quarter million pageviews. In seven years, we have had 250,000 unique visitors to our site. A quarter million people. Just, wow. We’re honestly humbled. So, thank you!

Last season, we ditched paid advertising and went to a simple donation system that appealed directly to the fans. NPR style, if you will, only, we’re not a nonprofit, so any donation to the site is based purely on your love and/or appreciation of TechHoops and our efforts.

Below are the donors who have contributed to this site over the last two seasons. We are so grateful for their support. And we’re brainstorming ideas on how to take this Wild Hokie Club to the next level. If you have any ideas, we’re all ears!

2013-2014

2012-2013

  • Daniel K.
  • Chris D.
  • Patrick L.
  • Matt D.
  • Andrea T.
  • Steven S.
  • Jon K.
  • Patrick C.
  • Jon P.
  • Ryan L.
  • Lucian L.
  • Scott B.
  • Matthew W. (x2)
  • Brandon S.
  • Andrew M.
  • Ryan W.
  • James B.
  • Tushar P.
  • Bryan S.
  • Ben F.
  • Dan R.
  • Timothy B.
  • James S.

This season, we didn’t put the donation form up until late in the season, hence why that list is a bit smaller than the previous year. We weren’t sure how much content we could contribute coming into this season, so we were hesitant to accept donations. Niemo and his lovely bride had their first baby, plus Niemo’s coaching these days. And me, I’m working on another degree in addition to coaching and scout leading, and etc. However, as it turns out, we were able to keep up with the season, and thus decided to put the appeal back up with zero mention of it, and people noticed.

When this site started, there were about six contributors, but, unlike Wick, the other Jay, StreetBallaRob, and davey “I love Stiney” woods, who all bailed, Niemo and I have stuck around. Our hope is to make it to at least 10 years. And we hope you guys will be right there with us.

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Cope's Corner, Featured Columns9 Comments

miami (17-15) 57, Hokies (9-22) 53

Big thanks to Cathy F!

The Hokies put a bow on one of the worst seasons in program history Wednesday afternoon, losing to miami in the first round of the 2014 ACC tournament, 57-53.

Virginia Tech finished 9-22 on the season and just 2-17 in ACC play – the 17 losses are an ACC single-season record. The Hokies’ only two wins were against the hurricanes, so they had a shot today. But beating a team three times in one season proved too difficult for VT. Or rather free throws proved too difficult, as VT made just 9/17 and Joey van Zegeren missed both free throws with VT down 1 with 10 seconds to go.

As if VT’s overall and conference records weren’t depressing enough, here’s a little stat for you: the Hokies finished the season with just one, solitary win in 2014. That’s it. Since Jan. 1, 2014, some 70 days ago, head coach James Johnson and his battered and bruised team are 1-17. That’s it.

Niemo likes to break down the game and go through the key moments, but at this point, I’m done. I’m sure you, the fans, are done, too. The Hokies, despite not committing a turnover for the first 23 minutes of the game, couldn’t get out of their own way. They went through their typical scoreless/field goalless drought. They missed critical, must-have, free throws when the game was on the line. More specifically, Joey van Zegeren missed critical free throws with the game on the line.

You can’t pin the loss on JvZ, though. He’s actually played pretty well down the stretch this season. And the team had more than had its fair share of opportunities to win this game. But, as we’ve seen all season, the Hokies just didn’t have what it took.

After the game, JJ said he feels “optimistic” about being back next year. You think? He can do the math and so can we. The athletics department is one of only a handful in the country that are in the black each year. That’s not by accident.

Coach JJ is the lowest paid men’s basketball coach in the ACC. He still has three years left on his contract, so call me skeptical if I don’t think new AD Whit Babcock is going to shell out Frank Beamer-type money to bring in a Shaka Smart. Remember, Tech is still paying Seth Greenberg and Jim Weaver a hefty sum of money. I don’t see Whit paying two former coaches and going out and getting a big name.

JJ is going to get another year whether you think he deserves it or not. Personally, I don’t think he does, but he’ll get at least one more year. Gone are seniors Cadarian Raines (who was what, a 4-point guy at best?) and Jarell Eddie. Aside from that, everyone else should be back. Unless they transfer.

There’s enough hope (and hope is a dangerous thing don’t forget) that with the guys coming back next year, as well as some rookies coming in, the Hokies can improve next season. Ben Emelogu, Devin Wilson, and Trevor Thompson look like they could turn into solid players. JvZ needs to be more consistent and Adam Smith needs to stay healthy.

I’d say that next season couldn’t get much worse, but it could. The canes should be much better with transfers from texas and kansas state becoming eligible, so don’t chalk up wins against the u just year.

So there’s your nice pretty little bow on one of the most forgettable seasons in Virginia Tech basketball history. Now excuse me while I go get a damn drink.

Niemo’s Notes (I’ll keep it short):
- Tech reached the 30 point mark in the first half for the first time in 10 games, leading 32-31 at the break. They led by as many as 9 in the first half, 19-10.
- miami went on an 8-0 run early after the break to take control, up 39-34. But VT did battle back and led with less than 2 minutes to go in the game.
- The Hokies scored 53 points on 54 possessions. They finished the ACC season reaching 1.0 in points per possession just once. Not good. And the easy culprit today was FT shooting. 9/17 (52%) is not satisfactory. Wilson missed 4/5 at the end of the first half. And of course, with VT down 1 and 10 seconds to go, JvZ missed both free throws. He was a 36% foul shooter on the season.
- Tech’s 3 turnovers were easily a season low, eclipsing the 6 they had against wake.
- miami’s 57 points were the most scored in regulation in this series this season. Needless to say it was not a point friendly 3-pack of games.
- Devin Wilson had 5 assists, ending his season with 148, easily the VT freshmen record. He had 19 assists vs miami this season.

Posted in 2013-14 Season, ACC Tournament, Game Recaps, Games, Home9 Comments

unc (11-4) 60, Hokies (2-14) 56

Hope is a dangerous thing. The Hokies, who fell to 9-19 after today’s 60-56 loss to north carolina, have given fans hope in the last five games by playing tough defense and keeping games close, or at least interesting, for the most part.

However, despite much improved play over the last several games, the Hokies have only one win to show for their efforts. Today’s loss was an even tougher pill to swallow because it means a losing record at home (8-10) for the Hokies for only the second time in the 53 year history of Cassell Coliseum.

Tech started slowly (shocking, we know), but so did the tar heels. After falling behind 11-6, the Hokies used a 10-0 run to take a 16-11 lead. Freshmen Devin Wilson and Trevor Thompson played particularly well against the heels. They didn’t seem intimidated or overwhelmed. They still made some freshmen mistakes, but they’re showing the league’s best that they can compete.

Wilson finished with 15 points and 7 assists, while Thompson had 8 points and 6 rebounds.

Back to the game. After taking that 16-11 lead, unc woke up and closed the half with a 17-5 run that put them up 28-21 lead at the break.

The Hokies, remember, were without Adam Smith, Ben Emelogu, and of course, Cadarian Raines, who did not see a single second of action in his final home game ever as a Hokie. Officially, Raines was out because of an ankle injury, even though he warmed up before both halves and didn’t seem to be favoring either ankle.

In the second half, unc’s James McAdoo finally came to life and started gashing Tech’s defense with a seemingly endless supply of thunderous (and uncontested) dunks. He scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half.

Still, the Hokies didn’t quit. Late in the game, despite trailing by nine thanks to a bad offense charge call against Jarell Eddie that negated a bucket, which then led to a McAdoo dunk, Tech managed to keep it close and even cut the lead to three late.

Eddie, who led all scorers with 18 points, converted a layup with 5.6 seconds left to make it a 59-56 game. Leslie McDonald made one of two free throws to seal the four-point win for the tar heels, who have now won 11 straight games, their longest winning streak since the 2008-09 season.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech has lost 14 of its last 15 games and have only one win in 2014. With two games left, the Hokies are in dead last in the ACC standings. Tech has clinched the 15th seed in the ACC tournament (i.e. last place for the third straight year), and they’ll play on Wednesday, March 12, against the No. 10 seed, which is miami right now.

One other note on this game: As we mentioned earlier, senior Cadarian Raines, who hasn’t played much at all this season, didn’t see one minute of playing time today. It was his last appearance in a Hokie uniform at the Cassell, and he didn’t get in the game. That just seems odd, but then again, this whole season has been odd in terms of players disappearing on the bench for unexplained reasons. Remember that guy Marshall Wood?

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Recaps, Games1 Comment

New Poll Question

With only two home games left, the Hokies are 8-8 at the Cassell. For your non math majors out there, that means the Hokies must win at least one game to assure a non-losing record at home this season.

The last time the Hokies had a losing record at home was the 2000-01 season. The coach? Yep. That guy.

The opponents are nc state on Saturday and north carolina a week later. The wolfpack are probably the best bet for a win. They’re 16-10 overall and 4-6 in ACC play, and have lost two straight.

The tar heels on the other hand, have won seven straight, and are rolling. They’ll be a much tougher opponent, at least on paper.

So, what do you think? Yes, you can easily vote by leaving a comment, but we’d much rather you use the poll on the right. Go rock the vote!

Posted in Home2 Comments

With latest Bear Fight loss, Hokies tie a dubious record

The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only NFL team in history to win a Super Bowl with a perfect record. And each year, when the last undefeated team finally loses, some of the surviving members of the Dolphins crack open bottles of champagne to celebrate their place in history for another year.

And then there’s the 1953-54 Virginia Tech men’s basketball team, which holds the school record for most losses in a single season with 24 (the team finished 3-24 with a 2-13 conference record). That team was beyond bad. In fact, it’s safe to say they were the worst team in program history, although their 15 game losing streak is just the 2nd worst in school history — the following year the 1954-55 team lost 18 straight on their way to a 7-20 season (both under Coach G.F. Laird, who was mercifully re-assigned after the 1954-55 season).  This year’s team could match that record losing streak of 18 if they lose out and lose their ACC Tournament opener.

That being said, we wonder if the surviving members of that team are preparing champagne bottles of their own as this year’s Virginia Tech team is on the verge of breaking a record that has stood for 60 years.

Should the Hokies lose by 20 or more points on the road to No. 25 ranked pittsburgh on Saturday, they would be the first Virginia Tech team to lose five consecutive games in reverse Bear Fight* fashion, breaking the record currently shared by this year’s team and the ’53-’54 team.

We combed the record books looking for four-game losing streaks for the past 70 years and that’s about where we stopped. Why? Because when we got to the 40s and 30s, we started seeing opponents with names like “Kroger Blue Devils,” “Roanoke YMCA,” “Langley AFB,” “House of David,” “NC Preflight School,” and “Woodrow Wilson Hospital.” So, we decided to stick with the last 60 years for the purposes of our research.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we lost to nc preflight school 29-60 in 1944.

Back to business. You see, the ’53-’54 team suffered two four-game losing streaks in which every loss was by 20 or more points (told ya they were terrible):

Jan. 5, 1954 – Lost 62-91 to No. 20 nc state (29 pts)
Jan. 6, 1954 – Lost 45-82 to No. 8 duke (37 pts)
Jan. 9, 1954 – Lost 40-73 to george washington (33 pts)
Jan. 12, 1954 – Lost 73-95 to virginia (22 pts)
(VT lost the next game by 18 points and the one after that by 24 so they narrowly avoided 6 straight Bear Fight losses)

And again…

Feb. 13, 1954 – Lost 53-107 to #15 duke (54 pts)
Feb. 15, 1954 – Lost 61-83 to richmond (22 pts)
Feb. 17, 1954 – Lost 51-96 to nc state (45 pts)
Feb. 20, 1954 – Lost 67-101 to wvu (34 pts)

In the 2013-14 season, the Hokies have lost their last four games by a combined 84 points.

Jan. 25 – 45-65 at virginia (20 pts)
Jan. 29 – 52-76 at boston college (24 pts)
Feb. 1 – 60-80 vs. maryland (20 pts)
Feb. 5 – 50-70 at florida state (20 pts)

The panthers are 19-4 this season with losses to duke, virginia, syracuse, and cincinnati. They’re 12th in the nation in points allowed, giving up just 60 per game, while scoring an average of about 74. However, they did need overtime to beat miami last night, so they are capable of playing down to their competition.

On the other hand, they’ve doled out seven Bear Fights this season, including a massive beatdown of clemson. So, there is potential for the game to get real ugly on Saturday.

Whether this year’s team sets a new record for consecutive Bear Fight losses or not, it’s been a hell of depressing season for fans, coaches, and players alike.

* Note: A “Bear Fight” is a VT victory or loss by 20 or more points. A loss is a “Reverse Bear Fight”. The moniker is named for a brutal sequence of shots: a Car Bomb and Jager Bomb back-to-back. The idea is we either got beat so bad we should do a Bear Fight to forget about it, or we won by so much we should do a Bear Fight to celebrate. However, we don’t actually do these any more for health reasons, nor do we encourage or condone binge drinking. However, the labeling of big wins or losses seems to have stuck.

* Editor’s Note: The original version of this article identified the ’53-’54 team as holding the record for longest losing streak (18), however, it was the ’54-’55 team that actually holds that ugsome record. The ’53-’54 team does hold the record for most losses in a season (24).

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Featured Columns9 Comments

uva 65 (6-1, 15-5), Hokies 45 (1-6, 8-11)

Boxscore — On behalf of all of us here at TechHoops.com, we welcome Virginia Tech’s new athletics director Whit Babcock to Blacksburg. We’re sure he was watching the game today and the only thing we can offer is a heart felt “good luck with that.”

Once again, the Hokies failed to cover the spread (18 points) and once again, they lost to uva. Today, the Hokies fell on the road in reverse bear fight fashion, losing 45-65. The last time the Hokies lost to uva by more than 20 points was 1990, 61-86.

True freshman Devin Wilson was the only Tech player to score in double figures, but they were all in garbage time in the second half.

There’s nothing really to recap. Virginia Tech didn’t have any semblance of a game plan. They didn’t defend. They couldn’t penetrate. They couldn’t shoot. They couldn’t do anything against Tony Bennett’s stingy defense.

The Hokies scored 17 points in the first half and had their usual 10-minute streak without a field goal. From the 14:33 mark to the 4:20, Virginia Tech didn’t hit a single basket. Their only point during that stretch was a single free throw.

The Hokies trailed by 17 at the half, getting double 34-17. Tech has now trailed at the break by 15, 16, and 17 points in their last three games. If that doesn’t tell a story, then I don’t know what does.

After starting 3/3 from the field, Tech went 3/19 the rest of the first half. At the break VT was 27% from the field, 27% on 3s, and 25% from the line (2/8). At least they are consistent! And here are the Hokies’ abysmal stats for the game: field goals 14/42 (33.3%), 3-pointers 3/18 (16.7%), and free throws 14/25 (56%). What else do you need to know?

What’s left to say? No one played well and if there was a game plan, it was abandoned at the opening tip. One good thing was Ben Emelogu returned to action after missing the last two games with an ankle injury and played most of the game.

Here’s a quote from Niemo that pretty much sums up this game and this season:

“If this is the first Virginia Tech basketball game Whit Babcock has watched, he probably just threw up in his mouth a little bit and wonders what he’s gotten himself into.”

Next up, boston college in Chestnut Hill, where we haven’t won in eight years. Road trip?

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Recaps, Games7 Comments

James Johnson is edging closer to the hot seat

In less than 24 months, Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson has gone from a player’s coach and celebrated hire, to a man on the verge of leading a program into a state of forlornness witnessed only once before.

The Hokies are currently 8-10 in Johnson’s second season as head coach. They have lost five straight games and seven of their last eight. There are 12 regular season games remaining and it is quite possible, likely even, that they could lose every single one.

Here is the remaining schedule:

@ virginia
@ boston college
vs. maryland
@ fsu
@ pittsburgh
vs. miami
vs. virginia
vs. n.c. state
@ duke
vs. unc
@ maryland
@ georgia tech

Sure, anything can happen on any given day, and the Hokies have certainly pulled some big upsets in recent years. But they had better players then. Based on what we’ve seen from Virginia Tech this season, it’s hard to see any sure-bet wins on that schedule.

As Niemo pointed out, the Hokies hit rock bottom when they lost at home to wake forest, the worst road team in the ACC. That was as sure a win as the Hokies had left on their schedule.

It’s safe to say that Tech will likely lose both games to virginia. Go ahead and pencil in L’s to No. 18 duke and north carolina. That’s four losses. Having already lost to boston college (the second-worst team in the ACC) at home doesn’t say much for a road game against the eagles in Chestnut Hill, where the Hokies haven’t won since 2006. Five.

The canes have to be scratching their heads and wondering how they lost to the Hokies earlier this season. Don’t expect miami to get swept. Six. The 20th-ranked pitt panthers and florida state seminoles are far superior teams. Eight. That leaves four games; home and away against maryland, at home to the wolfpack, and on the road against georgia tech. Maybe the Hokies eek out a win or two, but unless this team comes together and starts to play at a level we’ve not seen, it’s conceivable that Tech could finish the season on a 17-game losing streak and DFL in the ACC.

If that happens, which I don’t think it will because I have to believe the Hokies can steal a couple of wins in those 12 games, but if it does happen and the Hokies don’t win another game, they’ll finish with an 8-22 record. That level of futility would equal the program’s all-time record for fewest wins in a season.

Only once in the history of Virginia Tech basketball have the Hokies failed to reach double digit victories in a season. The year: 2000-2001. That’s right, ricky “program bomb” stokes. The team went 8-19 that year, which also set a record for most losses in a single season. That season also marks the only time in the 50+ years of Cassell Coliseum that Tech had a losing home record, which this year’s team will equal if it doesn’t win at least two of its five remaining home games, which seems like a stretch given the losses to bc and wake.

Should the Hokies lose out, or even go 2-10, they’ll set a new record for losses in a season. The current record, 19, was set in 2000-2001 and matched last year.

ricky “program bomb” stokes is not a name you want to be associated with if you’re coaching basketball at Virginia Tech.

However, a dismal record alone isn’t enough to get you fired at Virginia Tech. stokes, after all, went on to coach two more seasons after that historically bad year.

And there’s Johnson’s contract to consider. He’s in the second year of a five-year deal that pays him a base salary of $245,000, but with incentives and other deals, his annual salary is about $680,000 per season.

With a new athletics director coming in, will that person want to keep Johnson, who seems to have alienated his players with vague doghouse guidelines? Will the new AD (and donors) be willing to buy out the final three years? Is basketball a priority or an afterthought at Virginia Tech?

With most new coaches you can make the argument that they need a couple of seasons to bring in their recruits, but that argument is invalid with Johnson seeing as how he had a hand in recruiting just about every player on this team. Maybe year three is the year? Who knows. Can the program survive another season like it’s having this year?

Something has to be done. Attendance is way down. Ticket sales are anemic and the team is losing support with each and every game. Say what you will about fair-weather fans, but it is what it is. Play exciting basketball and beat some big boys from time to time and the people will come. Go scoreless for 10 minutes every game, fail to run the offense you promised, and bench your senior (and best) big man for no apparent reason, and you’ll be able to count the fans that show up on fingers and toes.

Seth Greenberg, for all his flaws, put a competitive team on the floor and consequently, butts in the seats and dollar-dollar-bills in the concession stand cash registers. Even in Tech’s 4-12 ACC season two years ago they were competitive in almost every game, including an overtime loss at duke.

Can JJ return the Hokies to respectability if given another season? If I knew that, I’d be the next AD. My gut says “no.” I don’t think JJ is the right coach for this program. And if I were the AD, I think I’d go in a new direction.

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Home25 Comments

No. 2 syracuse (2-0, 15-0) 72, Hokies (1-1, 8-6) 52

As expected, the Hokies fell to No. 2 ranked syracuse at the Cassell before a sparse crowd. The Hokies unexpectedly managed to keep it close and respectable for most of the game. However, the cuse slowly and surely pulled away in the second half to win comfortably 72-52 and remain undefeated.

Tech was within four points six minutes into the second half, 44-40, but the orange went on a 16-0 run to open up a 20-point lead and effectively put the game away. The Hokies, who shot 42 percent in the first half, went ice cold in the second half, and ended up shooting just 36 percent for the game.

Look, moral victories only seem to matter to teams that have low expectations, but if you’re a Hokie fan, you can’t be disappointed in the team’s effort tonight versus a clearly superior team.

Jarell Eddie scored the first points of the game for Virginia Tech when he drilled a three pointer, which gave him 1,000 points for his career. In doing so, the senior becomes the 44th player in Tech history to reach the 1,000 point mark.

Unfortunately, that opening three pointer were the only points in the first half for Eddie, who finished with six points for the game. As has been the case for most of the season, as Eddie goes, so goes the Hokies. And tonight, he wasn’t much of a factor. He struggled defensively and the cuse limited his offensive options and he scored just six points.

The only Virginia Tech player to score in double figures was C.J. Barksdale, who led the team with 12 points. Adam Smith added nine points, all three pointers and all in the first half. True freshman captain Ben Emelogu also had nine points.

The Hokies did an admirable job of defending the orange in the first half and didn’t allow a single fast break bucket in the opening stanza and just two points in the game. Rebounding, however, was a different story.

The Hokies, who led the ACC in defensive rebounding, were outrebounded 41-25 and allowed the cuse to pull down 17 offensive rebounds.

The Hokies, who trailed by 12 points in the first half, held the cuse scoreless for the final 5:50 of the first half and got a three pointer from Adam Smith, his third of the half, to cut the deficit to 35-29 heading into the break.

Smith was playing his first game since injuring his calf against vcu on Dec. 21. Offensively, he certainly contributed, but his calf injury was obviously still an issue defensively.

Notes and Nuggets:

  • Niemo and I were texting during the game and both noticed that when James Johnson switched to the 2-3 zone, syracuse had no trouble with it, scoring nine points on all four possessions until JJ switched back to man.
  • JvZ played at the high post vs. syracuse’s zone and struggled mightily.

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Recaps0 Comments

Hokies (7-4) 52, vcu (10-3) 82 — Reverse Bear Fight!

For the first couple of minutes, there was a glimmer of hope for the underdogs. Virginia Tech jumped out to a 6-0 lead over heavily favored vcu behind a pair of threes from Marshall Wood and Jarell Eddie. But then the wheels came off so fast, it would have impressed a NASCAR pit crew.

The rams went on a 37-2 run. That’s not a typo. The Hokies went scoreless for 10 minutes, 14 seconds in the fist half, and scored just two points during vcu’s run, which lasted nearly 12 minutes, and included 31 straight points by the rams.

This game was never really in doubt for the rams, who pressured the Hokies the entire game. James Johnson’s young guys could not handle the press at all and committed 27 turnovers. TWENTY. SEVEN. TURNOVERS. That’s the only stat you need to know about this game.

But, since you’re here, we’ll throw a few more your way. Eddie, a senior, and freshman co-captain Ben Emelogu each scored 12. Wood was your next leading scorer for Tech with 6 points. After that, the pickins are slim.

What’s that? You want more abysmal stats? Sure! Tech shot 35 percent from the field, connecting on just 17 of 48 shots. And, as you might expect, the free throw shooting was so bad that Victor Davila cringed when he saw the box score. Tech made 9 of 18 free throws.

Look, we saw this coming. vcu is a veteran team with a recent history of success. They were playing in their home town, which essentially meant a home game, and the Hokies, relatively speaking, are just too young and inexperienced to hang with a team the leads the nation in steals (they had 22 tonight).

A lot of it was dumb mistakes by Tech players; poorly timed passed, ill-advised shots, jacking up threes, and the list goes on. You’d like to think these issues will work themselves out as the Young Jakes get some playing time, but these issues aren’t new to the program. It doesn’t seem to matter how veteran or young a Tech team is, they just can’t seem to outgrow it. Maybe this group is different, but only time will tell.

Other notes: C.J. Barksdale left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. Cadarian Raines did not play.

That’s it for now, Hokies.

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Recaps, Games5 Comments

Highlights from Virginia Tech’s 87-72 win over wvu

True freshman Ben Emelogu, who is a team captain, scored 22 points in yesterday’s big win over west virginia at the Cassell. He hit a huge three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half to send the Hokies to the break with all the momentum.

Posted in 2013-14, 2013-14 Season, Games3 Comments

C.J. Barksdale suspended for first three games

And we’re off to an inspiring start to the 2013-14 college basketball seasons! Junior forward and presumed starter C.J. Barksdale has been suspended by head coach James Johnson for three games. The reason? You guessed it: unspecified violation of team rules.

Barksdale will sit Saturday’s season- and home-opener vs. usc upstate, the Tuesday, Nov. 12, home game vs. wvu, and the Friday, Nov. 15, homer vs. western carolina. Barksdale should return for the Nov. 18 game vs. vmi.

Posted in 2013-14 Season1 Comment

One and done, assistant coach leaving after one season

Oh Mark Byington, we hardly knew ye. Virginia Tech assistant basketball coach Mark Byington spent one season in Blacksburg and already, he’s off to greener pastures, which, to be honest, isn’t hard to do.

Byington is leaving the Hokies to take over as the head coach of georgia southern, a team that inexplicably beat the Hokies last season.

The eagles fired their coach, Charlton “C.Y.” Young, after four seasons in which he led them to a 42-84 overall record and 26-46 in Southern Conference play. Last season, the eagles were 14-19 overall and 7-11 in conference play.

Before coming to Blacksburg, Byington spent nine seasons at the college of charleston, six of which were as Bobby Cremins’ top assistant. He also served as charleston’s interim head coach during the final month of the 2011-12 season.

So now the Hokies have lost a player, Robert Brown, and a coach, from a team that by most standards, greatly underachieved.

You can’t fault any coach for taking a head coaching job, but you have to wonder if he didn’t see much of a future for VT hoops.

Posted in 2012-13 Season5 Comments

The Wild Hokie Club!

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