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Isaac Chew Hired as an Assistant Coach

Multiple sources are reporting that Isaac Chew has been hired to join Buzz’s staff.  This was expected, as Chew has been on Buzz’s bench for the last few years at marquette.

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We Remember

Now, always – We Remember – LINK

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Isaac Chew and Brad Autry Expected to Follow Buzz to VT

Two of Buzz Williams’s former assistants at marquette are expected to join him at Virginia Tech and take their share of the newly increased assistant coaching pay pie of over $800,000.  Isaac Chew and Brad Autry have both left marquette and should be introduced as part of the Hokie staff soon.

Jerry Wainwright, who has head coaching experience at multiple schools and was an assistant for Buzz, is not expected to come to Blacksburg as far as I’ve heard.

Autry has been an assistant at arkansas-little rock, baylor, tulsa, and marquette.  He was with Buzz for all six of his years at marquette but only served as an assistant the last two years after being a Student-Athlete Development Coordinator the first four years he was there.  And he was the interim head coach when Buzz was suspended for a game in 2013.

Chew has experience as an assistant at murray state (Beamer), missouri, and marquette.  He pulled a James Johnson with illinois on his way from missouri to marquette and was with Buzz the last two years.

 Through the grapevine I’ve heard Ace Custis has asked to be interviewed after serving as an assistant coach at virginia state university this past year.

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Buzz on CBS/TBS/TNT

Our new coach was on CBS, TBS, and TNT Saturday helping with their halftime studio shows. Here’s a clip of Buzz talking about his new gig:

Buzz on CBS

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Trevor Thompson to Transfer (including my thoughts)

Update: I’ve heard from several sources that say Trevor was on his phone during the meeting with Buzz and the team on Saturday and Coach simply told him to put it away, not making a scene.  So more and more (and based on additional info from these sources), it sounds like TT had more than a foot out the door even before Buzz was named the coach and all this stuff from his dad was simply excuses to rationalize it.

This Roanoke Times article pretty well sums things up with inside info from Trevor’s dad.  It says Buzz recruited Trevor in high school but called him “soft” (allegedly).  It says Trevor’s cell phone went off in a meeting between the team and coaches yesterday and that Buzz called Trevor out and would give him a release if he wanted it, and it said Trevor was “50/50″ about staying before the meeting.  After yesterday’s meeting, Trevor decided to move on.

My take:

Since we only have info from one side, and a third party at that, we only understand so much of this situation.  But I read it as either a coach running off a player he wasn’t sold on so that he can bring in his type of guys, or a coach challenging a player and the player taking his ball and going home.

This is the difference between a head coach and an assistant coach in terms of handling things.  A head coach gets the matter resolved quickly and in private.   An assistant coach keeps benching the player and calling him out in postgame press conferences.

Obviously I wish Trevor was staying as he showed great promise, but I’d rather have the matter fixed and move on, instead of dragging out over an entire season and potentially impacting other players.  So I’ll trust Buzz and his experience.  And I trust that he’ll be bringing in enough talent that guys will constantly be challenged and pushed instead of having to kiss their butts just to have 6-7 healthy guys.

I certainly didn’t expect any attrition from the current team or recruits when we got a coach like Buzz, but this just shows that attrition is a part of the game now.  You will lose a player more years than you don’t.  This will make things more challenging next year, but I really look at next with minimal expectations while we start to implement a system and get things running.  I’d like to hope we can hit 6-12 in the ACC next year, but it is really about getting things on track two-three years from now.

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Breaking Down Buzz: The Recruiter

Buzz Williams proved to be a fantastic recruiter at marquette (though it helps that marquette is a storied program in a big city in what was the best conference at that time).  But still, there is lots to get excited about in terms of what Buzz might bring to the ‘Burg from a recruit standpoint given that he’s in the ACC.

Buzz took over the marquette gig in April 2008, so well after the signing periods had opened that year and most classes were set.  So I’m counting 2009 as his first class at marquette.  Here is analysis of his recruits from 2009-2014 at marquette.  [Note: all star rankings below are based on Rivals.com]

There are three main points I’d like to emphasize that excite me:

  1. Buzz recruited his school’s state, Wisconsin, very, very well.
  2. Buzz has pulled a couple of recruits from Virginia before.
  3. Buzz can land star power.

Recruiting Your State:

There were rumors that JJ/his staff had burned bridges with some VA and Carolina programs on the HS/AAU level.  That’s never a good thing, especially when you are at a school with a historically limited recruiting budget.  You have to lock up your own territory, and Buzz did that while at marquette.  Check out what Buzz was able to do in his own state of Wisconsin…

  • 2009: One 4-star
  • 2010: One 5-star
  • 2011: No in-state signees
  • 2012: No in-state signees
  • 2013: Two 4-stars
  • 2014: One 4-star

In six classes, that four 4-stars and a 5-star, almost an average of one per season.  We’d take that from the Commonwealth over the next six years thank you very much.  And considering (and this is just an educated guess on my part) Virginia is more fertile in terms of basketball recruits than Wisconsin, that bodes well for our chances.  marquette also had nearby Chicago, but Tech has nearby DC which is very rich in talent, so that hopefully will be a wash.

Also, for comparison, here’s what the university of wisconsin hauled in from their home state over that six year span:

  • 1 Five-Star
  • 1 Four-Star
  • 2 Three-Stars
  • 1 Unranked

So Buzz clearly beat his in-state rivals on the recruiting front.  Now it is time to eclipse Mr. Bennett (who obviously had ties to wisconsin from his father who was the head coach there in the late 90s, ironically enough).

The Commonwealth:

Buzz has inked two players from the state of Virginia, so our territory won’t be completely foreign to him.

  • 3-star Jamal Ferguson from Maury in Norfolk in 2012
  • 3-star Davante Gardner from Kings Fork in Suffolk in 2010

Star Power:

Buzz was pulling in solid classes practically ever year at marquette.  The most marquee recruit he inked was point guard Vander Blue, a 5-star recruit in the 2010 class (ranked #24 overall in that class).  But it goes well beyond my boy Blue…

  • 2009: Signed three 4-stars (out of 4 signed/6 verbals — other three players were 3-stars)
  • 2010: Signed one 5-star (Vander Blue) and one 4-star (from the same school Justin Bibbs is at) (other three signees were 3-stars)
  • 2011: Signed one 4-star (other two recruits were 3-stars)
  • 2012: All three signees were 3-stars
  • 2013: Signed four 4-stars out of five signees (other was a 3-star)
  • 2014: Signed three 4-stars out of five (other two were 3-stars)

In six seasons, he got John Hancocks from:

  • 1 FIVE-STAR
  • 12 Four-Stars
  • 14 Three-Stars

That’s an average of two 4-stars per year.

Average star ranking per recruit by year:

  • 2009: 3.5
  • 2010: 3.6
  • 2011: 3.3
  • 2012: 3.0
  • 2013: 3.8
  • 2014: 3.6

Like I said earlier, sign me up for those classes, I’ll take that over the next six years.

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A Tribute to the Worst Road Coach Ever: Jeff Bzdelik

Ron Wellman, wake forest’s Athletic Director, finally did on Thursday what any other AD would have done at least one year ago, if not two years ago — he fired Head Basketball Coach Jeff Bzdelik.  Jeff is a great friend of Ron’s and so this was no doubt a painful decision for Ron.  But when you get in bed with a close friend, who also happens to be the worst coach in the ACC and was coming off a horrible stint at colorado that saw him fired after 3 seasons, then this is what you get.

I place this up there with Terry Holland hiring his former player, ricky “program bomb” stokes, as the head coach at ecu after what stokes did to VT (Holland was the AD at ecu at the time).  At least ecu gave up on that failed revival after two seasons, wake fans had to sit through four years.

What makes it even worse for wake is they fired Dino Gaudio after 3 seasons… the final two of which Dino led wake to the NCAA Tournament including a NCAA win.  But he was “just 17-18″ in February and March.  Uh huh.

So in comes his good buddy.  How bad was Jeff Bzdelik as a coach?  For starters, he appears TWICE on the list of worst coaches over the 30 years according to Athlon Sports, honoring his tenure at colorado and wake (the list was made last March): Worst Coaches Since 1984.

In some cases you need to see it to believe how bad someone was.  In this case, the numbers blow you away.

ROAD WRECK-ORD:

  • At wake:
    • 2-32 (5.8% win %) over 4 seasons in ACC road games
    • Lost 17 straight ACC road games before winning at VT this past season (amazingly this was NOT his longest road losing streak in conference play…)
    • Point Differential:
      • 27 of those 32 losses were by 10+ points (that’s 79.4% of ALL the ACC road games they played)
      • 12 losses by 20+ points (35.3% of all ACC road games)
      • 2 by 30+ points (Yes, he lost as many ACC road games by 30+ points as he won!)
      • -524 all told in ACC road games (including the wins)
      • Average margin of defeat was 15.4 points in ACC road games
    • wake scheduled fewer out of conference road games every single season he was the head coach
  • At colorado:
    • 1-23 (4.2%) over 3 seasons in Big 12 road games
    • Lost his first 23 conference road games before winning his final one at colorado
  • Total:
    • 3-55 (5.2%) in conference road games in 7 seasons at colorado/wake
    • Seriously — WHAT THE EFF WAS HE DOING BEFORE ROAD GAMES???!!!
      • Team went to frat parties the night before?
      • 3 AM conditioning
      • Slept on the bus?

Ok, ok, he was bad on the road.  But he must have redeemed himself in the ACC Tournament like Sidney Lowe used to do at nc state, right?

  • ACC Tournament Record: 1-4
    • wake never made it to the quarterfinals (i.e. Friday) in his 4 seasons.
    • wake went 0-4 in Thursday ACC games, losing by a combined 78 points (19.5 margin of defeat)
    • Fittingly, they lost by 29 to pitt last week in what was his final game as wake’s coach.

Was he good at home?  Yes, actually, they were pretty decent, and that’s what makes the road woes all the more mysterious.  Since going 1-15 in 2010-11, wake went 14-12 at home over the last 3 seasons.  So 14-12 at home (54%), 2-22 on the road (8%).

Let’s look at how wake did in the ACC compared to the rest of the league over the last 4 seasons (not including pitt or ‘cuse):

Team Wins Losses Win% Road Ws
duke 53 15 77.9% 22
unc 53 15 77.9% 23
uva 43 25 63.2% 16
fsu 41 27 60.3% 17
miami 37 31 54.4% 16
nc state 34 34 50.0% 13
clemson 32 36 47.1% 9
maryland 30 38 44.1% 8
bc 24 44 35.3% 8
ga tech 21 47 30.9% 8
HOKIES 19 49 27.9% 6
wake 17 51 25.0% 2

Tech fired two coaches during the same span it took wake to get rid of Bzdelik.  Think about that.

I should note that over the last 3 seasons the Hokies have just 3 road wins (1 per year), so they aren’t much better than Buzz.  But like I said, that cost two coaches their jobs.

Also, when you make Sidney Lowe and Paul Hewitt look like great road coaches, you know you are bad.

  • Sidney “Biz Markie” Lowe:
    • 25-55 in ACC play in 5 seasons (31%)
    • 7-33 in ACC road games (17.5%)
    • But Lowe went 5-5 in the ACC Tourney including a run to the title game (they lost) in 2007
    • FYI: Lowe was 3-4 vs Paul Hewitt, 2-0 vs Bzdelik
  • Paul “Blew It” Hewitt
    • 33-63 (34%) in ACC play in his final 6 seasons at georgia tech
    • 7-41 (14.6%) in ACC road games over those final 6 seasons
    • Also 5-5 in ACC Tourney play, including a run to the title game
    • 4-3 vs Lowe, and 2-0 vs Bzdelik
    • I should note Hewitt led the jackets all the way to the NCAA Championship Game the year before VT joined the ACC, but it was a steep drop-off after that.
  • James “Assistant Coach in Waiting” Johnson
    • 6-30 in ACC play (16.7%)
    • 2-16 in ACC road games (11%)
    • 1-2 vs Bzdelik

Tale of the Tape?  There are no winners here, but I’d rank these guys (in order of worst first):

  1. Bzdelik (I mean, look at that road record over 7 years and he took over a wake team that had been to 2 straight NCAAs.  JJ took over a team that had finished last in the ACC.)
  2. JJ (Had no prior HC experience where as Bzdelik had years of it before wake — another reason Bzdelik is the nod as the worst here)
  3. Lowe (Tons of talent, no defense — he was an awful coach in terms of preparing his teams)
  4. Hewitt (by virtue of head to head record vs Lowe and Buzz but his teams were atrocious on defense, too)

Here is where Athlon Sports ranked guys of note on their list of 20 worst coaches of the last 20 years:

1. Dave Bliss – baylor (sadly, murder will do that to you)

6. Bzdelik – wake edition

7. Sidney Lowe – nc state

16. Bzdelik – buffaloed

18. ricky stokes – Va Tech

**************************************************

Data:

Bzdelik Overall ACC Road ACC ACC-T
2010-11 8 24 1 15 0 8 0 1
2011-12 13 17 4 12 1 7 L5 0 1
2012-13 13 18 6 12 0 9 L14 0 1
2013-14 17 16 6 12 1 8 L17 1 1
TOTALS 51 75 17 51 2 32 1 4
Lowe 2-0 vs Bz
2006-07^ 20 16 5 11 2 6 L5 3 1
2007-08 15 16 4 12 1 7 L5 0 1
2008-09 16 14 6 10 1 7 L3 0 1
2009-10 20 16 5 11 2 6 2 1
2010-11 15 16 5 11 1 7 0 1
TOTALS 86 78 25 55 7 33 5 5
Hewitt 2-0 vs Bz
2010-11 13 18 5 11 1 7 L13 0 1
2009-10*^ 23 13 7 9 1 7 L6 3 1
2008-09 12 19 2 14 0 8 L9^ 1 1
2007-08 15 17 7 9 4 4 1 1
2006-07* 20 12 8 8 1 7 L14 0 1
2005-06 11 17 4 12 0 8 0 1
TOTALS 94 96 33 63 7 41 5 5
Johnson 1-2 vs Bz
2012-13 13 19 4 14 1 8 0 1
2013-14 9 21 2 16 1 8 0 1
TOTALS 22 40 6 30 2 16 0 2
* Made NCAA
^ Won 3 ACC-T games to reach Finals

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Coaching Search: Running Post

This will be a living article where we track coaching candidates and rumors.

  • March 21st: On the Junkies radio show in DC today, best-selling author John Feinstein said Buzz Williams is Virginia Tech’s guy.  He talked about Buzz being unhappy with the administration at marquette, which has been mentioned by other sources.  He also talked about how Cronin, the coach at cincinnati, is very close to Whit and while Cronin isn’t going anywhere because he’s a Cincinnati guy, Cronin is friends with Buzz and it was inferred he may be playing up Whit to Buzz.  Feinstein is very well connected in the college basketball world but he is not well connected at VT, so take this (like all rumors on here) with a grain of salt.
    • Buzz would be a “name” hire for VT.  The funny thing is, he looks a bit like Greenberg to me although he may be shorter.  He has that Uncle Fester look working.  But definitely has the bald dome working.  And certainly not a GQ guy like Tony Bennett or Jay Wright.
    • Because of the rumors about Buzz hating the marquette administration, I don’t think this is a power play by Buzz (if true) to get more money.  I think if he interviews he will have genuine interest, but I could be wrong.
    • marquette was 9-9 in the Big East this year and 17-15 overall and didn’t make a postseason tournament. 
    • Buzz was 14-17 at new orleans in his first season as a head coach in 2006-07 and I’m assuming he was fired because he left to be an assistant at marquette the next year.
    • After one year as an assistant under Tom Crean at marquette, Buzz was named the head man for the 2008-09 season when Crean left for indiana.
    • In 6 seasons at marquette, he is 139-65 (68%) and 69-36 (66% — pretty darn impressive in the Big East).
    • marquette tied for the Big East regular season title last year.
    • Buzz led marquette to the NCAA Tournament each of his first 5 years there until this season, including the Elite 8 last year.
    • Buzz is 8-5 in the NCAA Tournament as a coach, including 7-3 in his last 3 appearances.
  • March 20th: I’m hearing Donnie Tyndall is the top candidate and has been for a while.  This is third hand information, so take it for what it is worth, but that’s the name I’m hearing as the front runner at this point.
    • Wikipedia Page
    • Tyndall is currently at southern miss in Conference USA where his teams have gone 55-16 in two seasons.  They are currently playing in the NIT, and will face missouri on Sunday.  They are 28-6 this season and won the C-USA regular season title at 13-3, but lost in the conference semis.  Last season they finished 27-10 and 12-4 (2nd in C-USA), and lost in the NIT Quarterfinals after winning two games.
    • It should be noted that southern miss was 25-9 and a #9-seed in the NCAA Tournament the year before he arrived, so Donnie didn’t exactly inherit a rebuilding effort.  But he was able to keep the machine running.  Tyndall replaced Larry “frat party” Eustachy who left for the colorado state job after the 2011-12 season.
    • Before that, Tyndall was the head coach at morehead state for 6 seasons where he led the eagles to a 114-84 record (won at least 20 games in 3 of his final 4 seasons), 2 conference titles (and NCAA Tourney appearances), and beat #4-seed louisville in the Second Round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
    • His career record as a NCAA head coach is 199-105 (66%).  He’s a winner for sure, the question will be could he recruit on such a big stage as the ACC.
    • Looking at his southern miss recruiting classes:
      • 2014 – Signed 5 (1 HS 2-star, 1 Post-Grad 2-star, and 3 Juco players who weren’t in the top 50 for Juco recruits — can’t depend on the Juco route at VT).  No one was above a 2-star on ESPN Recruiting Nation.
      • 2013 – 1 two-star Post-Grad, 1 Juco, 1 unranked player
      • I.e. Not very impressive on the recruiting front, though I do realize this is at southern miss.
  • March 18th: Bruce Pearl – cross him off.  He’s returning to the SEC as the head coach of auburn.  As I wrote a few weeks ago, I never expected him to take the VT job seriously as Seth (fellow ESPN colleague) has likely scared him off.  Another con to Pearl is he’s still under a NCAA show cause punishment until August of this year.  That means he cannot contact recruits until that is up, so he cannot talk to any recruits during the July evaluation period.  For a program at rock bottom like VT is, that wouldn’t exactly help us rebuild things in a hurry.  That said, I’d have loved to have gotten him and think he has the perfect personality for turning the program around.  I have no doubt he’ll do great things at auburn.

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If You Bring Whit, Will ‘It’ Come?

New Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock took a bold, but necessary move in just his 2nd month in Blacksburg – he fired Head Basketball Coach James Johnson after just two seasons.

So what is ‘it’ for us?  ’It’ right now is hiring a coach that excites the fan base and helps sell some season tickets next year.  And that coach, in my book, will get a pass for next season and maybe even the season after that if I believe in him.  But ultimately, starting with the 2016-17 season, ‘it’ must be wins.  Wins are what will draw Hokies back to the turnstiles and pack the Cassell.

Looking Back:

I think this was the right move for many reasons.  While I hate to pile on the dead, there are a few points I’d like to make as to why I agree with the decision:

  1. JJ had no head coaching experience when he took the job, and you can’t learn on the job in the ACC. Not his fault, but the facts.
  2. In two years, JJ has shown 0.0 of his alleged system (up-tempo with pressing).  Obviously he’d tell you it is because of all the injuries, departures, etc, but that’s still the fact.  And so even if he did start playing up-tempo next year, there would be a learning curve as he figured things out.  I’d rather we go with a coach now has a proven system and will implement it from day 1 without having to figure it out.
  3. JJ never appeared to be a Head Coach to me.  He always seemed a bit like Dennis Hopper in Hoosiers when Gene Hackman gets ejected.  Sure, he had the whistle, but JJ just never seemed in control of the situation (probably largely due to #1 along with personality).  Speaking of getting ejected, how do you go through a 1-17 2014 and not get a single technical called on you?  Believe me, some coaches are babies.  Seth was one.  Coach K is one.  And Boeheim’s tantrum may have cost his team the game at duke, but at some point you have to snap on a bad call and get T’ed up when you lose 17 of 18.  It shows the team you are still fighting and in it.  JJ — nothing.  Also, head coaches shouldn’t throw current players under the bus — twice.
  4. JJ’s recruiting classes seem solid, but they weren’t up to ACC standards.  Not a single 4-star made it to campus and there wasn’t one in next year’s class. So while I’d love to keep all 3 guys in the Class of 2014, I won’t lose any sleep if we lose one or two.  And JJ is rumored to have burned some bridges in VA and the Carolinas in recruiting, which would have only made things tougher for us.
  5. Attendance was going to drop even further next year, and it was already at its lowest since 2002-03 in Tech’s next to last year in the Big East – Attendance Figures
  6. JJ’s ceiling, I fear, wasn’t very high.  In other words, would we have improved next year?  How could we not after going 2-16?  With our current roster and recruits, I think 6 wins is a realistic goal for next year.  Let’s say we get there… then what?  Maybe we get up around 8 wins the year after that but with nothing but 3-star recruits, I never saw us getting over the hump of 8 wins and even making it to .500 in conference play with JJ as our coach/head recruiter.  Is that what we are aspiring to?  I don’t think so.  You saw the same thing with Bzdelik at wake.  1 ACC win his first year, 4 the 2nd, 6 the 3rd (going up, right?!), but then 6 again this year.  His ceiling was clearly 6 wins.  I’d rather pull the plug now than wait 2-3 years to figure out what JJ’s ceiling was given that my guess is, as a first time head coach, it wouldn’t be much if any better than Bzdelik’s.
  7. JJ’s buyout isn’t $2 million (he had 3 years left with $680,000 per year).  It is around $800,000 and could be less if he gets another job.  That’s peanuts.  Yes, we owe Seth money still.  And yes, we owe Weaver $900,000 over the next two years, but the Weaver thing shouldn’t be all on basketball to shoulder.  Like Whit said, you have to spend money to make money, and JJ would not have brought in money next year.

That said, JJ is a good man and I wish him the best.

Looking Forward:

It is time to move forward with our program.  I’d rather take it on the chin next year with a new guy that can build things up quickly (with some growing pains) that has a higher ceiling than JJ.  We won’t get to .500 in ACC play next year, but hopefully we can in our overall record (or at least be close).  Here are the things I’d like to see:

  • Next Year
    • Finish close to .500 overall and 6-12 in the ACC (I’ll take 5-13, though… maybe even 4-14 if we show progress)
    • Have a winning record at home
    • Install a system and stick with it, win or lose
    • Sign at least one 4-star recruit (for the class of 2015)
    • Make me feel he’s a head coach (demonstrative on the sideline, personable with the media, good at in-game adjustments, see basic fundamentals like help defense and an efficient offense)
  • 2015-16
    • Have shown the ability to make inroads in VA and NC in recruiting and sign at least one more 4-star
    • Definitely be at .500 overall and 6-12 in the ACC
    • Have made it to Thursday of the ACC Tournament at least once
    • Attendance be noticeably up at home
    • Have beaten uva at least once (preferably at home)
  • 2016-17
    • Have made the NIT at least once
    • Be close to 8-10 in the ACC or better
    • Sign at least one more 4-star and have 3+ on the roster (accounting for possible attrition)
  • After season 4 or 5:
    • Definitely have made at least one NCAA and finished .500 or above in the ACC at least once
    • Average one 4-star on the roster per year at VT
  • Long Term:
    • I see us as a school that should make the NCAA Tournament every 4th or 5th year.  While I’d like to make the Dance every year, that’s just not realistic for our program.  As long as any coach is making it approximately once per “class”, I’m fine with him (for the most part).  Seth made it in his 4th year, but then missed it the next 5.  So I did feel it was his time to go. 
    • We should make the NIT approximately two of those ‘other’ years, so about 3 postseason bids per 5 years is where I think we should be to allow for some rebuilding years.
    • Maybe this is setting the bar low, but compared to where we’ve been (1 NCAA Tournament appearance in 18 seasons), it’s a heck of a lot better.

I will have a lot more patience with the next guy as long as I trust him and the direction.  I never had that feeling with JJ.  I didn’t want a guy learning on the job.  To Weaver’s credit, he basically got us a rent-a-coach with a low buyout until the new AD came in place (whether that was his intended purpose or not, we’ll never know).

Kudos for Whit for pulling the trigger on dismissing JJ.  He basically showed he wasn’t going to be Weaver’s puppet for the next two years.  Whit may have taken over as AD last month, but he officially became our AD today and showed Weaver isn’t a consultant, he’s a man on a severance package for the next two years, as it should be.

Now Whit’s next task is to find the man that will make Virginia Tech basketball relevant again.  The honeymoon was short lived for Mr. Babcock.  But then again, that’s why we hired an AD with prior AD experience.   He’s now on the clock to make a splash with this hire and get the Teddy Bridgewater (whoops – scratch that after his pro day yesterday)/Khalil Mack/Jadaveon Clowney of available coaches.

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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

Devin Wilson Becomes 4th Hokie to Make ACC All-Freshman Team

Virginia Tech’s Devin Wilson was the only Hokie honored by the ACC on Monday.  Devin made the ACC All-Freshman Team, joining Deron Washington, Jeff Allen, and Doo-Doo Finney-Smith as the four Hokies to achieve this honor.

Devin finished the regular season averaging 9.2 ppg, though he led the Tech freshmen class in PPG in ACC play at 10.1.  But his biggest asset was his assists.  His 143 assists are easily a freshmen record at VT and destroyed the previous mark of 114 by Hank Thorns.  Wilson also led the team in steals, though 24 is not a very high number and shows how poor Tech was in this category.

Hokie Honors and Championships

Posted in Home2 Comments

The Battle to Play VT

Note: gt is favored by 7 on Saturday.

On Saturday, wake forest (fresh off a win against duke) will head to Coral Gables to face the miami hurricanes at 2 PM on Saturday.  The winner will finish in 10th place in the ACC and face the Hokies (locked into the 15th seed) on the Opening Day of the ACC Tournament next Wednesday at 3:30 PM.

It is a battle of weaknesses — wake is 1-7 in ACC road games this season and just 2-31 in Coach Bzdelik’s four seasons at wake.  Meanwhile, miami is just 2-6 in ACC home games this season, but they have won 2 in a row at home after an 0-6 start.

Obviously the Hokies would seem to want miami given that they swept the canes this year for their only two wins, but wake is 0-3 in the ACC Tournament under soon to be fired Coach Bzdelik, so who knows.

Posted in Home0 Comments

Drowning in History

Let’s take a look at what the Hokies are facing as they close out the season in the next week:

  • Sour 16:
    • Tech tied the all time ACC record for regular season league losses on Tuesday night, matching the 2010-11 wake forest deacons.  That deacon team went 1-15 (6% win percentage).  Any time you are in the company of coaching luminaries like Jeff Bzdelik, it isn’t a good thing.
    • Since the ACC expanded to 9 teams in 1991-92 and started playing a 16 game league schedule (they had previously played 14), 5 teams had gone 2-14, including duke in 1994-95 when Coach K was out with health issues.  That matched the loss total of teams like maryland and georgia tech in the 80s that went 0-14, still the low bar in terms of Win %.
    • The Hokies will become the first ACC team ever to lose 16 games in league regular season play with a loss at georgia tech on Saturday, albeit with the expanded 18 game schedule.  The good news is since VT won 2 games, at least there is a possibility that record could be broken… if it happens (and I’m picking the Hokies to win Saturday).
  • Then there are all the team things we’ve already accomplished:
    • 15 is the most losses ever in conference play by any VT team in any conference (and we’ve been in 5)
    • This year was just the 2nd time in 53 years playing in the Cassell VT had a losing home record (8-10)… again, when you are matching lows of stokes and Bzdelik, you are really in trouble
    • 20 losses for the first time since 1955.

The most glaring stat might be how much worse VT is than the rest of the league over the last 3 seasons.  Tech has finished dead last the last two years, and were in a 4-way tie for last in 2011-12.

Team Wins Losses %
duke 39 11 78.0%
unc 39 12 76.5%
uva 36 15 70.6%
fsu 30 21 58.8%
miami 30 21 58.8%
nc state 28 23 54.9%
clemson 23 28 45.1%
maryland 22 29 43.1%
wake 15 35 30.0%
ga tech 15 36 29.4%
bc 15 36 29.4%
HOKIES 10 41 19.6%

It really goes back to the win over #1 duke on 2/26/2011.  Since then the Hokies are 10-43 in ACC regular season games (18.9%).  Before that point, Tech was 57-53 (52%) in nearly 7 full seasons of ACC play.  I believe that was the 4th best mark during that stretch.  And Tech had earned 4 first round byes in the ACC Tournament in their first 6 years in the league (finished 3rd or 4th place in 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2010), the third highest mark during that stretch. 

Let’s hope we can get the ship righted but this vessel is pointed straight down right now.

Posted in Home4 Comments

The Weekend Warrior’s Farewell Tribute to DC-Area Hokie Games

NO MORE NOVA?

Last night was sad for me in many ways.  I’m happy to see maryland, possibly my most hated of all ACC schools due to their ignorant fans, leave the ACC.  But reality also set in that as a NOVA Hokie, after 20 years of having a DC-area league team, I no longer will be able to travel just a few miles up 66 or 495 to see the Hokies play, or “Homecoming” as I called these games.  We had:

  • gwu in the A-10 from 1995-2000 (and developed a pretty good rivalry with them over that span).  Favorite Moments (some of which were at VT, though):
    • The VT Student Section chanting the Smurfs theme song as 5’6″ Shawnte Rogers of gwu would dribble the ball.
    • Chanting “USA” any time their huge Russian center touched the ball.
    • The game at the Smith Center where a VT fan came up to me (I was in my familiar red afro) and said to me, “I thought you were supposed to get a haircut?”  Apparently he had seen me on TV at another game holding up a sign that said, “I’ll get a haircut if I get on SportsCenter”… to be fair, I never got on SC, so the afro stayed.
    • gwu ending our streak of making at least one 3-pointer in every game.  I believe we were one of the final 3 teams to make a 3-pointer in every game since the line was instituted in the late 80s until gwu held us without one at a game at the Smith Center in the mid-90s.
    • Ace’s buzzer-beater to beat gwu 45-43 on Feb. 4, 1997 (apparently we were offensively challenged then, too).
  • georgetown in the Big East from 2000-2004:
    • In our first year in the Big East, I attended our first game at georgetown on January 13th, 2001.  The game started at noon.  I was gone from the arena by 12:50.  It was awful.  This was ricky “program bomb” stokes at his finest.  VT went an entire 4-minute stretch between media timeouts unable to get the ball over half court against the georgetown press of Craig “Higgins” Esherick.  By the half we were down more than 20 (sound familiar?).  And we’d go on to lose 96-68.  It was as bad as the game at vcu this season.
    • My favorite memory though will forever be our win in our final ever Big East regular season game, played at the then MCI Center on March 6th, 2004.  We got hooked up with a fully stocked suite for the game thanks to the Wards and their Wizards connections.  The game was at noon but hey, how many times do you get to be in a suite?  So we arrived at 10 AM (late compared to a football tailgate) and were nice and juiced by tip-off.  The Hokies would go on to win 60-55, but the highlight had to be our horrendous behavior.  We spent most of the 2nd half out in our seating area chanting “the suite on the right, the suite on the right, the suite on the right SUCKS!”  They never responded.  Guess those hoya fans didn’t have any spirit… or at least not enough spirits.  [On another note, the Weekend Warrior would later get banned from the Accenture suite for life after leading similar chants at a WWE house show]
  • maryland in the ACC from 2004-2014:
    • While I always hate terp fans, I do have a lot of great memories of going to see us pound them in their own, mostly empty, stadium in football.  As for basketball games there, why summarize it when you can re-live the whole experience… 
    • @md 73, VT 69 – 1/28/2012 – Had player tickets behind the VT bench (thank you, you know who) and got to meet Bryan Randall.
    • VT 74, @md 57 - 1/20/2011 – HIGHLIGHTS
    • @md 83, VT 73 – 2/14/2009 – The result stunk but we had more than a dozen Hokies tailgating outside the arena in nearly freezing weather for more than 2 hours, taunting the heck out of the terp fans.  We even met Delaney’s cousins, who wanted a picture with 9′ inflatable Hokie Bird.
    • VT 69, @md 65 – 2/20/2008 – Lots happened this night.  It was VT’s first win at md in ACC play.  It was the night Dorenzo Hudson threw up on the court.  And it was the night this happened… ROAD TRIP
    • And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the 2007 Capital Classic in college park where I arm-curled Dorenzo Hudson, Jeff Allen, and Greivis Vasquez (aka Greasy Face-quez)

And now?  uva is the closest conference rival.  RIP, Weekend Warrior.

Posted in Home2 Comments

Final Hokie Attendance Figures Compared with the Previous 15 Years

Virginia Tech’s 53rd season in Cassell Coliseum is complete.  But this season was unique in many negative ways.

  • Tech had a losing record at home for just the 2nd time in the history of the Cassell, joining the 2000-01 Hokies (stokes).
  • The Hokies went 1-8 in conference play, marking the first time since the 1992-93 season that Tech won just a single home conference game.  The Hokies went 1-5 that season at home in the Metro Conference in Bill Foster’s 2nd year.  Obviously this year sets a new mark for conference losses at home since Tech has been in the Cassell (and I believe ever — the horrible teams of the mid-1950s didn’t play enough conference games to lose 8).
  • Tech averaged just 4,812 at the game per game this season:
    • Reflects a 22% drop in average attendance per game from a year ago (6,202 per) and a 43% drop from two years ago, Seth’s final year.
    • This was VT’s lowest mark since averaging 4,211 per game back in 2002-03, ricky “program bomb” stokes’s final season at the helm.
  • The Hokies drew just 4,985 fans per ACC contest this year:
    • Down 18% from a year ago
    • Represents a 47% drop from two years ago, Seth’s swan song
    • This was Tech’s lowest average crowd per conference home game since the 2002-03 season when Tech was still in the Big East (4,259 per Big East game)
Season   Home Games   Avg Attendance   Avg Att Per Conf Home Game   Sellouts   Conference/ Coach
2013-14 18 4,812 4,985 0 ACC – JJ
2012-13 17 6,202 6,046 0 ACC – JJ
2011-12 18 8,395 9,362 4 ACC – Seth
2010-11 16 8,932 9,574 10 ACC – Seth
2009-10 19 9,272 9,844 7 ACC – Seth
2008-09 16 9,414 9,847 14 ACC – Seth
2007-08 17 9,815 9,847 14 ACC – Seth
2006-07 15 9,822 9,800 14 ACC – Seth
2005-06 17 9,763 9,846 13 ACC – Seth
2004-05 16 9,406 9,847 11 ACC – Seth
2003-04 15 6,342 7,044 0 Big East – Seth
2002-03 15 4,211 4,259 0 Big East – stokes
2001-02 15 3,501 3,778 0 Big East – stokes
2000-01 15 4,508 5,244 1 Big East – stokes
1999-00 13 4,042 3,855 0 A10 – stokes
1998-99 14 4,040 4,249 0 A10 – Hussey

—-

Smart money would say that if the Hokies stand pat this offseason, attendance will drop even lower next year in terms of season ticket sales (3,400 this year).  So how can the Hokies turn their fading attendance figures around?  Easy — win.  Going 1-8 at home in the conference does not endear yourself to the local fans.  Who wants to make the effort to go to the game or fork over money when there is an 89% chance you are going to lose?  The die hards will, but that’s about it.

While better weekend conference tilts would help (like not having uva on a Tuesday night at 9 PM), that isn’t everything.  Even unc on a Saturday afternoon could only draw 6,500, and trust me when I say many of them were in sissy powder blue.

Other things that I believe would help (and should happen just because it is the right thing to do) are ringing the students around the sideline on one side, not just sticking them behind one baseline; and finding ways to reward the fans that attend more (i.e. the locals, not just giving the best seats to the biggest donors who hardly ever show).  While both ideas might tick off people that have those good seats now, let’s face facts — we only have 3,400 season ticket holders and that likely will drop again next year.  So why not fix things now when the Cassell is largely empty and build it up from square one?

Ultimately, it is W’s that matter.  If you win with Whit, they will come.

Other Notes:

Things are bad, but it didn’t take long while crunching numbers from the ricky stokes days to see that at least it isn’t that bad (yet).  Here are a few stokies:

  • The Hokies drew just 3,855 fans per game in 1999-2000, their final season in the A10 and stokes’s first season at VT.
  • Tech’s inaugural Big East game drew just 5,600 fans vs villanova.  Note that in the Hokies’ first 6 years in the ACC, they sold all but 400 of their ACC game tickets.
  • After going 2-14 in the Big East in their inaugural season, the Hokies drew just 3,501 fans per game in 2001-02, including just 3,778 per Big East game.
  • Virginia Tech’s home game vs mt. st. mary’s during the 2001-02 season drew just 1,121 fans.
  • stokes’s final home game, a conference game no less, drew just 3,020 vs miami.

Posted in Home17 Comments

3 Years Ago Today: HOKIES 64, #1 duke 60

It’s hard to believe it has been three years since that magical night… well, magical day in Blacksburg.  It all started with ESPN College GameDay being on our campus, featuring our program, our players, our coach.  And it culminated with a thrilling victory over the #1 team in the nation, the hated duke blue devils in front of a primetime national ESPN audience.

But no one wanted it to end there, either.  Seemingly the entire sold-out arena rushed the court afterwards to celebrate with the team, making the post-game celebration seem like a parade that everyone got to share together.  Tech had seemingly punched their ticket to the Big Dance.

For me, I was staffed in Milton Keynes, UK (England).  The game started at 2 AM my time and I had to watch on my 21″ iMac screen via the internet and my dongle.  By the time the game ended around 4:30 AM, I couldn’t sleep.  I ended up staying up and watching the replay on ESPN America at 7 AM and making highlights (linked below).

 


 
 
The freefall since that night has swift and hard to swallow.  The Hokies would drop their final two ACC regular season games, Senior Night they were blown out by bc and then lost at clemson.  Two wins in the ACC Tourney, including a replay-aided win over fsu, wasn’t enough and Tech went to the NIT… again.

In the three seasons since Tech has finished tied for last in the ACC (4-12), all alone in last place (4-14), and currently sit along in the cellar this season (2-13) and will enter the ACC Tourney as the last seed unless they win at least two of their final three games.  Overall Tech is 10-41 in ACC regular season games since the win over duke (19.6%), easily the fewest wins by an ACC team over that span of teams that have been in the league the last four years (next lowest is bc and ga tech with 16 each).  Heck, syracuse already has 3 more wins than that and they’ve only been in the league this year.

But forget the negatives for a day, and let’s reflect back on the day the Cassell was magical.

Posted in Home8 Comments

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The Wild Hokie Club!

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