Posted on 02 December 2014.
Note: JvZ’s Plus/Minus for last night was +6 (so VT was -9 when he wasn’t in). I’d have thought it would be much higher given he scored more than half the team’s points in the first half and they fell apart after he left with his 4th foul midway through the 2nd half.
The formula was pretty simple: when Joey van Zegeren was in the game for the Hokies on Wednesday night, Tech was able to go on some runs, score some points, and build a couple of small leads. When he wasn’t, they were abysmal. Unfortunately, he was in foul trouble most of the final 24 minutes and the result was a 61-58 loss to penn state in the ACC/Big(14)Ten Challenge, despite getting a desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer to tie.
A couple of critical shooting flaws did in the Hokies tonight:
- Tech was 4/14 on free throws, including 0/8 in the first half with 2 missed front ends of one-and-ones (JvZ was 0/7 from the line).
- The Hokies were just 4/13 on 3-pointers tonight. In their 3 losses they’ve shot poorly (under 40%) each time. In their 4 wins they’ve shot close to, or better than 50%.
And if you are keeping track, the Hoopin’ Hokies are following the football team to a T (win 2, lose 2, win 2, lose 1).
The Hokies dominated the first 16 minutes of the first half, but after JvZ went to the bench with his 2nd foul, Tech was outscored 9-0 and trailed 30-27 at the break. JvZ had 14 at the half and they held penn state’s top scorer, D.J. Newbill (25 PPG — 3rd in the nation) to just 5 halftime points (all were in the final 4 minutes).
Tech responded with a 15-4 run to start the 2nd half and took a 42-34 lead. But a few plays later, JvZ picked up his 4th foul and had to go to the bench. penn state responded with a 19-2 run. Yes, 19-2. Tech did not make a field goal for over 7-1/2 minutes. The result was a 42-34 lead turned into a 51-44 deficit that the Hokies could not overcome.
Tech did battle down the stretch (after van Zegeren fouled out), but with Tech down 3 a prayer of a layup and a BS foul call put psu up 5 with 18 seconds to go. Tech continued to chip away and had a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie from Ahmed Hill that bounced softly on the rim… and out.
Joey van Zegeren fouled out with 18 points, 14 of which were in the first half. He had 10 rebounds… and was 0/7 from the ‘charity stripe’.
Justin Bibbs continued his great start to his college career with 16 before fouling out with 10 seconds to go. He was 3/5 from deep and has now hit 12/15 from deep over his last 3 games.
Adam Smith, who had 24 PPG in 2 games last week, had just 4 points tonight and was 0/4 from 3-point range.
Newbill finished with 18 points, 7 below his average but he was the star of the 2nd half.
There are a few ways to look at this game:
- Glass Half Full: Tech shot horrible from deep and the line, yet lost by just 3.
- Glass Half Empty: psu shot horribly from deep, the field, and the line but won.
- Glass Half Full: Tech won the turnover margin by 9!
- Glass Half Empty: See points #2 and #3 yet VT lost.
- Glass Half Full: The ACC team picked to finish dead last battled a tough 6-1 team in their first road game of the season.
- Glass Half Empty: Tech lost to a bottom feeder in the Big(14)Ten, and if they can’t beat psu on a night like this, who are they going to beat in the ACC?
The Hokies are now 3-6 all-time in the ACC/Big(14)Ten Challenge with all 3 wins against iowa.
The Hokies return to the ACC/Big(14)Ten Challenge after a year hiatus to face the nittany lions of penn state in State College, PA on Wednesday night. Tech is 3-5 all time in the Challenge, but keep in mind all 3 wins were against iowa. Tech is 0-5 against the field, including a 66-61 loss at penn state on 11/28/2007.
This is Tech’s first true road game of the season (they only play two out of conference with the other in Morganhole on December 30th). We’ll see how the Hokies respond to a
hostile, eh, let’s call it mildly excitable crowd.
penn state entered this season as a team some considered ready to make the leap and be a NCAA Tournament team (they’ve made it just once since 2001, that was in 2011 — so similar futility to the Hokies). They haven’t disappointed record-wise, starting 6-1 with their lone loss a 106-97 Double OT outcome against charlotte in the Charleston (SC, not WV — though that would be cool — Hollywood Casino!). It should be noted though that they trailed by as many as 17 in the second half, so they were fortunate to get the game to OT. And the nittanies haven’t exactly impressed since. They’ve won 4 straight but by a combined 17 points against cornell (1 point win), southern cal (2), akron (6), and bucknell (8). usc is pretty average this year, though obviously psu will take that win, but psu’s strength of schedule has been just 228th so far (VT’s is in the 300s).
The lone common opponent between the teams is morgan state. psu beat them by 13 in their opener while the Hokies just Bear Fought them 83-63. Can’t judge too much from that.
penn state has shown an ability to score this year and their 76 PPG is 61st in the nation (aided, obviously, by the 97 in 2 OTs). But it shows they do have more talent than the teams VT faces a few years ago, especially with their star player…
- #2 D.J. Newbill – 6’4″ senior guard – 25 PPG (#3 nationally), 5.6 RPG, 3.1 APG. 50% on 3s (over 2 makes per game), gets to the line a lot and hits 82%
- #33 Shep Garner – 6’1″ freshman guard – 10.9 PPG, 46% on 3s (over 2 makes per game)
- #10 Brandon Taylor – 6’6″ junior forward – 10.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.6 Blocks PG, chucks 3s but shoots under 30%
- #13 Geno Thorpe – 6’3″ soph guard – 9 PPG
- #1 John Johnson – 6’1″ senior guard – 7.4 PPG
- #43 Ross Travis – 6’7″ senior forward – 6.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG
- #5 Donovon Jack – 6’9″ junior forward – 3.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG
- #32 Jordan Dickerson – 7′ junior center – 11.4 minutes but doesn’t do much (space eater)
- #44 Julian Moore – 6’10” freshman forward – no relation to the actress of almost the same name
This team, like VT, is heavily guard oriented. Their “bigs” are mostly just space eaters inside. Brandon Taylor is a very athletic forward, but he’s just 6’6″ so Tech can put one of their wings on him.
But the conversation and who to focus on for psu starts and ends with D.J. Newbill. In his 3 years at State College he’s averaged 16.3, 17.8, and 25 PPG and has almost 1,300 points (top 17 all time at psu). His 25 PPG are 3rd best in the nation this year out of ~3,500 D1 players. The biggest difference this year for D.J. is he’s gone from a 33% 3-point shooter to 50% (16/32). Since scoring 17 and 18 respectively in two blowout wins to start the season, he’s gone for for 22 or more in each of the last five games, including 35 in that 2 OT loss to charlotte, but he was just 4/11 from deep in that game (he’s 12/21 on 3s in their 6 wins).
If you extend out to guard him on the perimeter (which VT will do as always), you better have good help defense. D.J. can penetrate with the best and attempts more than 7 free throws per game. He’s not a great passer (3.1 APG compared to 2.4 turnovers) so stopping him is the first priority. Force the other cogs to beat you. He will play almost the entire game so multiple Hokies will have to handle this assignment.
Shep Garner has provided psu with another long range bomber. The 6’1″ freshman is 16/35 from deep on the year, but he, too, can drive and score (i.e. he’s not a Will Johnston). Garner and Newbill are the main deep threats, no one else shoots over 33% and makes that many (they hit about 7 per game as a team with more than half from Garner/Newbill).
For the Hokies, it will be interesting to see if they can stay hot. In their two straight wins, they’ve hit 22/37 three-pointers (an insane 59%). Adam Smith has scored 48 points in those two games and hit 11/17 3s. Justin Bibbs scored 30 combined points and drained 7/8 threes! But do the math, and you see those two have hit 18 of the Hokies’ 22 made three-pointers, and have accounted for 78 of Tech’s 161 points (48%).
If either, or both, of those guys are off or taken out of the offense, where will VT find points? Three-pointers have been to the key in Tech’s wins and losses. In the loss to appalachian state, VT was just 3/17 from deep (17%). Against northern iowa Tech was a solid 39%, but lost by 19. In Tech’s four wins they’ve shot 43% or better each time, and better than 52% three times!
Tech also lost to appy state because of the glass — asu was able to collect 50% of their misses (19 offensive rebounds). Luckily, psu isn’t great in this area (normally). They get between 30-40% of their misses. And usc was able to dominate them on the boards, gathering 29 offensive rebounds compared to just 23 defensive rebounds for psu. While I don’t expect Tech to exploit that, at least they may be able to avoid getting dominated in that area.
Inside, Joey van Zegeren has been solid on offense in every other game (4, 17, 8, 15, 8, 13). He could do well given the relative lack of talent psu has in the post. His hook and dunks have helped him to a 64% FG%.
Tech has been much better from the line in their two latest wins. After shooting under 60% in each of their first 4 games, they’ve hit 75% and 68% since. One thing they will need to clean up is turnovers — they’ve had 39 combined in their last two games. You can’t win long term with that many giveaways.
Spread: penn state -10