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Titanic, Part 2: Starring the VT Class of 2011 (and Comparing it to 2007)

They’re all gone.  That’s the easiest way to sum up the Hokies’ basketball Class of 2011 with the news that Joey van Zegeren has left the team (and he’s already been pulled off the official roster).  What was heralded as the pillars of future success, the foundation of another solid Hokie run, and ranked as the 12th best class in ESPN’s rankings.  But it has ended like a Greek tragedy.  Five signees.  Five departures, all before the end of their 4th season.

Let’s look at the cast:

  • Dorian Finney-Smith (rated a 5-star and #18 overall by ESPN) — gone to florida after one season but did make the ACC All Freshman Team
  • Robert Brown (rated a 4-star and #81 by ESPN) — gone to uab after two seasons, starting one of the seasons
  • Marquis Rankin (a 3-star, though once high 4-star before his stock dropped) — quit playing after two season (never started more than 7 games in a season) and eventually transferred to queens university in Charlotte
  • C.J. Barksdale (4-star, #100 by ESPN) — quit the team after three seasons (one year as a starter and another partial year as a starter)
  • Johan “Joey” van Zegeren (off the radar international recruit) — ended up staying the longest but left the team this week after playing two-and-a-half seasons for VT (one year as a starter)
  • TOTALS:
    • 10.5 seasons of play out of 5 recruits (a possible 20 seasons).  That’s a bust, folks.
    • 4 seasons as ‘starters’
    • 1 All ACC honor (Doo-Doo All Freshman)

None of the two signees are left from the 2012 class, either (Harrell was let out of his scholarship and Wood transferred to richmond after two seasons), but that pales in comparison to the 2011 class which was supposed to push VT over the top and back to the NCAA Tournament.

While the 2007 class failed to ever reach the NCAA Tournament, they did win a LOT of games and produce a lot of fantastic memories.  So let’s stack up the ’07 class against the ’11 class.

First let’s look at the players: (note: somehow this class didn’t make ESPN’s top 25)

  • Malcolm Delaney (4-star and #54 overall by ESPN) — 3.5 year starter (initially Hank Thorns started over him); was twice All-ACC First Team, also once Third Team; Honorable Mention All-American as a senior; 3rd on the all-time scoring list at VT with 2,255 points and 2nd in assists with 543.  Played all 4 years.
  • Dorenzo Hudson (4-star and #58 by ESPN) — 4.5 year contributor/starter for VT.  Eclipsed 1,000 points; All-ACC Third Team in 2010.  Played 4.5 years since he played 9 games in 2011 then got a medical hardship to return for 2011-12 (but I’ll just say 4 for the sake of argument and he was a 3 year starter).
  • Jeff Allen (was in the 2006 and 2007 classes but was a top 100 player nationally and 4-star) — All-ACC Freshman Team in 2007, All-ACC Second Team in 2011; Eclipsed 1,000 points AND rebounds; 4th all time in rebounding, 4th all time in steals, and 5th in blocks!  Played all 4 seasons.
  • Terrell Bell (solid 3-star recruit) — played all 4 seasons and was a starter his final 2 seasons.
  • JT Thompson (reclassified to 2007 and was a 3-star recruit) — played 3 seasons for VT, mostly as a back-up, before knee injuries wiped out two seasons.  Eventually transferred to charlotte and played there before (I believe, if memory serves correct) another injury ended his college career.
  • Hank Thorns (3-star) — Initially started at the point before Delaney took his job.  Played two seasons at VT before transferring to tcu.  0.5 year starter
  • TOTALS:
    • 21 seasons played out of a possible 24 from these 6 guys
    • 13 seasons in the starting lineup
    • 6 different All ACC honors
    • 3 guys eclipsed 1,000 points and another 500

Now let’s look at the teams:

  • 2007: 87 wins in the next 4 years, 35-29 in ACC regular season play plus went 4-4 in the ACC Tournament
  • 2011: 46 total wins in the last 4 years, 10-47 in ACC regular season games; 1-3 in the ACC-Tourney

And, there you have it.  I’m going to go wash my hands.

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Game Log: #8 notre dame (6-1, 18-2) 85, Hokies (0-5, 8-10) 60

Recap:

Boxscore

  • 188 minutes: average length of a Major League Baseball game
  • 192 minutes: average length of a NFL game
  • 197 minutes and 39 seconds: time of actual game action passed since Virginia Tech has had a lead

The Hokies missed 4 shots to start the game with the chance to take a lead (including 2 free throws by Shane Henry) and fell into a 17-6 hole less than 7 minutes into the game on their way to losing 85-60 in Bear Fight fashion to #8 notre dame.  The Hokies are now 0-5 in ACC play for just the 2nd time since joining the league (Tech started 0-6 in during the 2005-06 season).

Justin Bibbs was out with a concussion for the 2nd straight game (though it sounds like he’s doing better) and it was announced before the game that Joey van Zegeren has permanently left the team, meaning things aren’t going to get any better in the post this season (just Henry, Pierce, and Beyer) and only moderately better next year (add LeDay plus Blackshear and another year of experience on Henry/Pierce).

The game could pretty much be summed up by the sequence at the 13:19 mark of the first half.  Down 14-6, 7-foot Satchel Pierce missed an uncontested 2-handed dunk, leading to a fast break for notre dame and a 3-point play for Jerian Grant to put the irish up 17-6.  In Tech’s 5 ACC games, they have fallen behind by double digits in the first 15 minutes of every game:

  • syracuse: 9:41 to go in the 1st half
  • fsu: 5:51 left (1st)
  • louisville: 14:14 left (1st)
  • unc: 5:53 left (1st)
  • notre dame: 13:13 left (1st)

Tech simply doesn’t have the manpower to overcome these huge deficits, but they also don’t have the talent to stay close early.  The Hokies had a positive scoring margin in ACC play in the 2nd half prior to tonight (notre dame throttled them after being up 10 at the break, 38-28).

The Hokies never got closer than 7 after falling behind 17-6 to start, but they also kept it respectable in the first half.  That changed.  The irish used a 13-3 run early in the 2nd half to go up by 21, 55-34, and the rout was on.

Tech got 13 points from Ahmed Hill, 12 from Jalen Hudson, and 11 from Devin Wilson.  But it isn’t a good sign when Christian Beyer (7 points despite just playing the 2nd half) outscores Adam Smith (4 points on 2/11 shooting).

The irish, the best shooting team in the ACC, hit 49% from the field (actually below their 52% average) and 12/26 from deep (46% — above their average).  Tech, the 2nd best 3-point shooting team in the league, managed just 7/24 (29%) from deep and just 5/11 from the foul line (46%).

Tech was not dominated on the glass by the also undersized irish (they got just 33% of their misses), and VT committed just 9 turnovers, but it didn’t matter.  They were outshot from the floor (49% vs 39%), deep (46% vs 29%) and line (71% vs 45%).  Can’t win like that.

notre dame was led by Jerian Grant’s 18, Pat Connaughton’s 17, Zach Auguste’s 16, and Demetrius Jackson’s 12.

Attendance was a respectable 7,451.

The Hokies are now 1-5 against the irish, losers of 5 straight since beating them in the 1973 NIT Championship.

Tech has now lost 24 straight ACC games to teams not named miami (2-1 vs them), dating back to a 69-61 win over clemson on March 2, 2013 on Erick Green’s senior night.

Tech wraps up the stretch from hell with a home tilt against #2 (and undefeated) uva on Sunday at 1 PM at the Cassell.

Preview:

Spread: notre dame by 9 (and now bet up to 10).

Update: According to Mark Berman of the Roanoke Times, Justin Bibbs (and JvZ) won’t be playing Thursday — LINK to TWITTER.

Are you ready to ‘ring the bell’ yet?  Time to tap out?  Not for the Hokies.  Their brutal stretch continues on Thursday when #8 notre dame comes to the Cassell.  Tech is in a stretch of games against #10 louisville, #15 unc, #8 notre dame, and #2 uva (Sunday at 1 PM at the Cassell).

Luckily, Tech should be pretty well rested.  They’ve played just two games in the last 15 days heading into the contest with the fighting irish.  Hopefully that means Justin Bibbs will be cleared after sitting Sunday against unc with a concussion, though that hasn’t been confirmed that I’ve seen.

This is notre dame’s 3rd ever trip to the Cassell.  The previous two were Big East Conference games with the last one back in 2004.  Tech is just 1-4 all time against the irish, including a 70-63 loss at notre dame last year.  Of course, the one win was probably the most exciting moment in school history in the 1973 NIT Championship Game at MSG when Bobby Stevens grabbed an offensive rebound and made a short jumper to give VT the 92-91 win in overtime and the schools first of 2 NIT titles.  (Tech won their 4 NIT games by a combined 5 points.)

The Hokies will look to snap their current 5-game losing streak that’s seen them have a lead for just 15 seconds total over that stretch and they have not had a lead in their last 157 minutes of play.  Home cooking should help after a 3 game road trip.

A win will be a tall order against the 17-2 irish, though, who have won 13 of 14 since a one-point loss to providence.  That one loss was by 6 to #2 uva.  They’ve also beaten unc at unc and beat michigan state.  They are 5-1 in the ACC and tied with syracuse for 2nd place (behind uva, ugh).

This irish teams shoots the ball well.  Very well, in fact.  Tech’s lone strength on offense is 3-point shooting.  Well, notre dame shoots a better percentage from deep and makes more per game.  So there goes that.  Maybe we can deflate 11 of the 12 balls before the game.

The irish superstar is #22 Jerian Grant (6’5″ senior guard) who missed the final 2/3 of last season after being dismissed for an academic issue.  He’s back and in good graces, and looks like a sure-fire First Team All-ACC player and candidate for Player of the Year.  Plus, if you haven’t seen his dunk against georgia tech back on January 3rd over Josh Heath — you need to YouTube it.  It is insane.

Grant averages 16.7 PPG, 5th best in the ACC, and 6.4 assists, tops in the league and 11th best in the nation.  He also shoots better than 50% from the field… as a guard.  He is an average-to-good 3-point shooter but does shoot a lot, hitting 34%.  And Grant gives notre dame that element they always seem to lack — an elite athlete.

If Grant is their Batman, then #24 Pat Connaughton (6’5″ senior wing) is Robin.  All he does is chip in 13.8 PPG and 8.3 RPG (the latter is 7th best in the ACC).  He’s also an American sniper, knocking down 2.7 three-pointers per game (tops in the ACC) at a 44% clip.  He’s hit 58 on the year and made at least 4 in 7 games, though he’s just 3/12 in his last two games.

The good news for VT is the irish have used a lot of 5 guard lineups lately.  They are not a good rebounding team (and Coach Brey has admitted as much), so he’s playing to his strength using more guards/wings.  Their one star inside is #30 Zach Auguste, a 6’10” 242 lbs. junior who powers in 13.7 PPG and makes 65% of his field goals (he does all his work in the paint).  He missed the georgia tech game recently due to an academic issue (seems to be contagious) and played just 9 minutes against miami, so we’ll see how much they use him on Thursday.

STATS:

  • notre dame (ACC Rank) – stat – VT (ACC Rank)
  • Offense:
    • 81.7 (2) – PPG – 68.1 (11)
    • 52.8% (1) – FG% – 46.3% (5)
    • 40.1% (1) – 3-Pt% – 39.9% (2)
    • 8.8 (1) – 3s Made – 7.0 (4)
    • 72.7% (2) – FT% – 60.8% (15)
    • 9.2 (2) – Turnovers – 12.9 (10)
    • 29% (14) – Off Reb % – 30% (13)
  • Defense:
    • 62.6 (5) – Opp PPG – 67.0 (13)
    • 40.1% (7) – Opp FG% – 41.1% (t-8)
    • 33.8% (15) – Opp 3-Pt% – 33.1% (13)
    • 70% (8) – Def Reb % – 62% (15)
    • 3.7 (11) – Blocks – 3.8 (9)
    • 6.9 (6) – Steals – 4.9 (13)

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Erick Green Assigned to the NBA D-League

Unfortunately, there are no Hokies in the NBA again.  Erick Green was assigned to the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Mad Ants of the NBA Development League by the Denver Nuggets.

Green’s days were numbered when Denver acquired Jameer Nelson from the Dallas Mavericks recently.  Nelson has played over 20 minutes per game backing up Ty Lawson since being acquired.

Green played in just 14 of Denver’s 42 games, averaging 7.3 minutes and 3.3 PPG, mostly in mop-up duty.  He shot 50% on 2s but just 27% from 3-point range, and he averaged just 0.98 points per shot (by comparison, Kyle Korver of the Hawks averages 1.6 but he’s in a different stratosphere this year — 1.2 is very good).

Erick will now face former teammate Jarell Eddie of the Austin Spurs (assigned by the Celtics) and the two will meet on March 3rd if both players are still there.

Article Link

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Quick Hitters: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Note: The bad and the ugly were pretty easy to write (and were what I wrote first).  But it was healthy to try and find, and write about, some positives, so I’ll lead with them (and just walk away if you are tired of the ugly).

THE GOOD:

  • PLAYERS:
    • Justin Bibbs is 20th in the ACC in PPG at 13.6 and #2 of freshmen (behind Mr. Okafor of duke, who will not be back next year in all likelihood).  Only 3 sophomores are ahead of him, too, so he’s #5 in the ACC of underclassmen.
    • Adam Smith is 2nd in the ACC in 3-Point-% at 46.4% and 6th in makes at 2.4 per game (and top 100 nationally)
    • Devin Wilson is 4th in the ACC (and #78 nationally) in assists per game at 4.6 and 6th in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.9
    • NOBODY on VT is in the top 10 in minutes per game (that’s a good thing by my estimation — save their legs and not burn them out — this is certainly a stat we have dominated in past years overplaying guys and potentially leading to injuries due to lack of depth)
  • TEAM:
    • VT is 18th in the nation in 3-point-% at 39.9%
    • The Hokies are 57th in the nation in FG% at 46.3%
    • Tech is #97 in the nation in turnover margin (not bad given how young we are) at +1.2
    • And… soon this season will be over and the 2015-16 season will be here.  Tech will return pretty much everyone (if all 3 recruits make it to VT then there will have to be at least 1 player leave to stay at 13 scholarships).  The young guys will have another year of experience, we’ll add the top recruit in the state, a big man, and a point guard, and two solid transfers (Seth Allen — 13.4 PPG, 38% 3-point shooter, 3.0 APG and Zach LeDay — 3.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG) will be available!

THE BAD:

  • Tech does not rank in the top 100 nationally in any other stat other than the 3 mentioned above.
  • The Hokies are 201st in the nation in Defensive Efficiency, averaging 102.5 points per 100 possessions (they 164th in Offensive Efficiency at 101.2 per 100 possessions)
  • In ACC Conference Only Stats (so 4 or 5 games per team):
    • Tech is in the lower half of statistical category except for:
      • 3-point-% (#4)
      • 3s made (#1)
      • Assists (#6)
      • Turnover margin (#6)
      • Assist-to-turnover ratio (#6)
    • Tech is at the bottom of the ACC in:
      • Every defensive rebounding statistic
      • Steals
      • Blocks
  • VT is #233 in the RPI, worst in the ACC by 70 spots (but, RealTimeRPI.com still predicts us to win FOUR (4) ACC games!  pitt, fsu, ga tech, and bc (all at home))
THE UGLY:
  • In Tech’s last 5 games (wvu plus the 4 ACC games):
    • The Hokies have led for a grand total of 15 seconds. That was in the first 3 minutes of the syracuse game.  Tech has never led after the first media timeout of the game in the last 5 games.
    • Tech has been tied just 5 times (other than 0-0) for a total of 5 minutes and 13 seconds.
    • All 5 occurrences were in the first 8 minutes of the game, meaning Tech has trailed for the final 32 minutes of each of the last 5 games.
    • Add it up, and Tech has been tied or led for 5:28 and trailed for about 191 minutes (accounting for the time the game was 0-0 to start). The Hokies have not had a lead in their last 157 minutes of game action.
  • Tech is 338th out of 355 teams in FT% at 60.8%
  • VT is 330th in Rebounding Margin at -5.4

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Game Log: #15 unc (4-1, 14-4) 68, Hokies (0-4, 8-9) 53

Recap:

Box Score – The spread for this game was 22 points and that was before the odds makers knew that Virginia Tech’s leading scorer, Justin Bibbs, would sit out the game after suffering a concussion during Friday’s practice. So, considering the Hokies were without their leading scorer and their most experienced big man (JvZ is still suspended indefinitely), and playing a top 15 team on the road, a 15-point loss (and covering the spread) isn’t all bad.

The Hokies fell 68-53 to the unc tar heels in Chapel Hill. Senior Adam Smith led Tech with 11 points, while true freshman Shane Henry nearly notched his first collegiate double-double with a career-high 10 points and 9 rebounds.

Tech went down 0-7 right out of the gate (shocking, we know), but answered with a 9-2 run to tie the game up. The Hokies never looked solid in this game, but neither did the tar heels. How much of that was old Roy taking the Hokies too lightly and how much was Buzz’s guys playing hard on defense, we’ll never know for sure, but Buzz had his team as ready as they could be and they showed NO quit.

The tar heels looked to have blown the game open with a 11-0 that began mid-first quarter and powered unc to a 34-21 halftime lead. A second half blowout looked imminent. All Tech had to do was fold. But they didn’t. Tech dug in their heels (ha!) and refused to let the home team run away with a win. They were going to make them earn it. What made the outcome of this game even more surprising was that Buzz essentially played only 8 guys. Christian Beyer played just 5 minutes. Everyone else was at least 20.

Poor shooting doomed the Hokies. They shot an abysmal 45% from the free throw line including 1-7 in the first half. That’s just unacceptable. The last time I wrote a recap (syracuse), the orange had made nearly as many FTs as the Hokies attempted. Tonight, that was exactly the case. Tech attempted 11 FTs, while the tar heels made 11 FTs. From the field, VT shot 35.8% (19/53) and that’s not going to win you very many games.

Tech fought hard and eventually cut the lead down to 8 points with about 2 minutes to play. It wouldn’t be enough in the end, but all things considered, this was a gutsy effort by Buzz Williams’ inaugural Hokie squad. The Hokies may be down this year, but opponents are going to have to earn a W against this VT team.

And now for a new segment I like to call, “Stats that Niemo texted me!”

  • Our 13 steals tonight were a season high by far (previous was 9)
  • We made more 3s (10) than 2s (9). Also a first this year.

Preview:

Spread: unc by 22 (Ouch. Merited, but still hard to stomach game after game)

The Hokies continue their murderous stretch on Sunday night, heading to Chapel Hill to face the #15 unc tar heels.  After facing #6 louisville on the road, Tech has this game at unc, then #12 notre dame and #2 uva at home this coming week.

unc has won two in a row a row since losing by 1 point at home to notre dame.  unc beat louisville at home last weekend 72-71, overcoming a 13-point deficit with 9 minutes to go, winning on a Marcus Paige shot with 8.5 seconds to go (and two subsequent misses by the cards).  Then, the heels held on for a 81-79 win this week across the Triangle at nc state (though unc controlled this game).

The Hokies are 13-64 all time vs unc.  Tech is just 5-29 at unc, but won their first ever ACC game there 81-80 back in 2007 to complete a season sweep of the heels.  Tech has won just once in their last 10 games against the heels and are just 3-11 against the heels since joining the ACC.

The heels are led by ACC Preseason First Teamer Marcus Paige, who averages 13.9 PPG.  He’s 2nd on the team in assists per game at 3.9 and tied for steals at 1.2.  unc has five guys averaging between 9 and 14 points.

Team Stats: (VT – Stat – unc)

  • 69.0 – PPG – 79.6
  • 66.9 – Opp PPG – 65.6
  • 61% – FT% – 71%
  • 47.0% – FG% – 45.7%
  • 41.0% – Opp FG% – 36.6%
  • 40.5% – 3-Pt% – 32.0%
  • 6.8 – 3s Made – 4.8
  • 33.2% – Opp 3-Pt% – 26.7%
  • 3.9 – Blocks – 4.8
  • 12.1 – Assists – 17.9
  • 4.4 – Steals – 7.3
  • 62% – Def Reb % – 67%
  • 30% – Off Reb % – 44%

The heels dominate the Hokies in every stat except 3-point shooting.  Tech is #2 in 3-Point % and 4th in 3s made per game, but unc in #1 in the league in 3-Point % defense.  Obviously the undersized Hokies need to be hot from deep to stay competitive, so they must find a way to beat the solid unc defense.

Both teams are awful on the defensive glass, with unc 14th in defensive rebound % and Tech last.  But the heels, oddly, are the best offensive rebounding team in the league.  The heels should have no problem getting their misses back.  This could be another game where the only time Tech keeps their opponent from scoring is when they turn the ball over or a miss bounces out of bounds.

Posted in 2014-15 Season, Game Previews, Game Recaps, Games, Home2 Comments

Game Log: #6 louisville (3-1, 15-2) 78, Hokies (0-3, 8-8) 63

Recap:

Boxscore

The first meeting in the ACC between VT and louisville went a lot like the last 9 meeting as Metro Conference enemies — with louisville winning.  On Tuesday #6 louisville boat raced the Hokies 78-63 (it wasn’t anywhere near that close — VT closed the game on a  15-4 run over the final 5 minutes after louisville pulled their regulars).  The Hokies trailed by as many as 29 in the 2nd half before Pitino called off the dogs.  Tech did cover the spread (of 23) and are now 2-1 in ACC play against the odds!

Score Trend at each Media Timeout

Score Trend at each Media Timeout

Say good bye to Tech having a winning record, likely for the rest of the season.  It was louisville’s 3-point shooting that did in the Hokies.  The cards shot 50% from deep (6/12) in the first half, matching their normal number of makes for the game.  They finished 10/25 (40%) and a lot of those misses were at the end with scrubs in, so it doesn’t tell the whole story.

The louisville cardinals used a dominant opening 7 minutes of the game and final 3 minutes of the half to pound the Hokies into submission at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, KY.  But it may have been a Pyrrhic victory for the cards as former Virginia Tech signee and Player of the Year candidate Montrezl Harrell left the game with 10 minutes to go with a leg injury and duke looming on the schedule this weekend.

Harrell had 11 points for the cards (8 after halftime), and he scored his first career points for the Hokies!  Montrezl accidentally tipped in a VT miss with 11 minutes to go in the game.

louisville had a balanced attack with 4 guys in double digits — Rozier with 16, Blackshear with 15, and Harrell and Mathiang with 11.

The Hokies shot just 37% from the field, 10% below their average, and were absolutely intimidated by the bigger/stronger/better cards inside (especially with Joey van Zegeren still suspended).  Tech, after starting out poorly from behind the arc, finished 8/19 from deep (42% — right around their season average).  But VT was just 14/41 inside the 3-point line (34%).  louisville had 8 blocks on the game and exposed Tech’s lack of midrange game (runners, pull-ups, etc.).

The Hokies were led by Adam Smith with 19 (5/7 on 3-pointers), 15 from Justin Bibbs (he’s scored 62 points in 3 ACC games), and 14 from Ahmed Hill.  No other Hokie had more than 6 points.  Smith and Bibbs were 13/24 from the field (54%), the rest of the team was 9/36 (25%).  Although Satchel Pierce did have a decent effort with 6 points (3/5 FGs), 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.

The cards jumped out to a 17-2 lead in the first 7 minutes, hitting 4/6 three-pointers to open the contest.  Keep in mind louisville was 12th in the league in 3-point percentage at under 30%, but this shouldn’t surprise you.  Tech chose to collapse given their extreme lack of size and dared the cards to hit from deep… and they did.

The Hokies held their own over the next 10 minutes, outscoring the cards 22-16 and closing the gap to 33-24.  Adam Smith hit 3 LOOOOONG 3-pointers to fuel the Tech charge, and surprisingly, the Hokies had 9 second chance points in the first 17 minutes (more than the cards).

But, the Hokies closed the half much like they started it — like lambs.  louisville closed the half on a 10-0 run to go up 43-24 at the break and put the game on ice (well, syracuse was up 19 at the half, but this isn’t syracuse).

And that was with Tech handling the ball/pressure well.  They had just 5 turnovers at the break and 8 for the game, an incredible number.  louisville, who average over 10 steals per game to lead the league, had just 2 in the first half and 3 for the game.  But Tech seemed afraid to attack the rim (for good reason) and simply don’t have guys that can hit runners or pull up jumpers as mentioned.  That has to change this offseason.

The 2nd half didn’t start any better — louisville saw their 10-0 run to end the first half and raised it with an 8-0 run to start the 2nd half over the first 3+ minutes, for an 18-0 run over 6 minutes overall and put the cards up 51-24, and the rest of the game was pretty much garbage time.

That said, I liked the Hokies effort.  They kept playing hard the rest of the way, even as the cards went deep in their bench.  Tech needs the experience and needs to continue to build up their endurance in case they ever are close at the end of a game.  Bibbs had a great effort to win a 50/50 ball with 1:45 to go and Hill made a hustle play to get a block with 1:30 to go.  That’s what you want to see — guys not putting their heads down, but instead battling until the end.

Two stunning stats were 1) Tech shot 17 free throws (11/17) compared to just 7 for the cards (6/7).  But that shows: a) Tech wasn’t contesting shots in the paint, and b) the cards were wide open from deep and had no need to attack the rim.  And 2) Tech had 14 offensive rebounds compared to just 13 for louisville, though that is misleading as the cards had a higher offensive rebounding % than VT (41% for louisville to 34% for VT).

The cards came in 4th in the nation in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (points allowed per possession) and they shut down Tech for the most part until late.  Thanks to Tech’s late run, they did average more than 1 point per possession (63 points in 62 possessions), which is slightly below average but great against a cards team that averages just .85 points per possession (though again, the garbage time at the end helped skew that).

The Hokies must figure out a way to start and end halves better.  Game after game they did themselves in a hole, then battle back as the other team relaxes, only to get punched in the face again before the break.

WHO THE HECK IS THAT GUY KILLING US?

This is something you likely mutter (or yell) every Tech game.  Last week at florida state it was Robbie Berwick who went for 13 points after not scoring in his previous 4 games (and having a previous season high of 11).

Tonight, it was 6’10” Mangok Mathiang.  He came in averaging just 2.3 PPG and had scored just 2 total points in his last 92 minutes of play over the last 5 games!!!  So what did he do against the Hokies?  He scored 10 points in the first 12 and a half minutes of the game (already his season high at that point and just 3rd game in double digits of his career) against the vertically challenged Hokies.  Part of the problem was the interesting defense Tech opened up in.  Mangok finished with 11 on 5/7 field goals and with 8 rebounds, matching Harrell’s 11 points and 8 boards.

Satchel Pierce got his first career start and Tech opened in a 1-2-2 zone… with Pierce at the point.  Yes, you read that right.  Our 7-footer, our online big on the court, was at the top of the zone and guys like 6’5″ Ahmed Hill and 6’4″ Will Johnston on the baseline.  Pierce would slide down as the ball was fed inside, but often too late leading to Mathiang’s big start.  The Hokies played a more traditional 2-3 zone when Shane Henry was Tech’s “big”.

I THOUGH [INSERT OPPONENT] STUNK AT 3S?  THEY ARE MAKING EVERYTHING!

fsu, a 26% 3-point shooting team, hit 8/16 from deep (including 7/10 in the first half).

Tonight, louisville, hitting 29.6% of their 3s, hit 6/12 in the first half and 2/3 to start the 2nd half (that’s 8/15 or 53% for you non-math majors).  The cards only averaged 6 makes per game — they had that at the half!  louisville finished 10/25 (40%), but like the fsu game, the % fell at the end after the outcome was settled.

OLD FOES:

This was the first meeting between the former Metro Conference foes since the league transitioned to become Conference USA after the 1995 season (and VT was left behind to go to the A-10 in large part because of louisville).

The Hokies are now 8-29 all time against louisville and have lost 10 in a row to the cards dating back to the 1990-91 season when Tech swept the cards.  Tech has lost 21 of 23 to louisville.

Next up for the Hokies is a trip to Chapel Hill to face #13 unc on Sunday night.

Preview:

Spread: louisville by 23

Note: TheACC.com is asleep at the wheel and hasn’t updated conference stats in a week, so I don’t have the team stats breakdown…

The Hokies embark on a brutal four game stretch starting Tuesday night.  They play at #6 louisville, at #15 unc (Sunday night), home vs #12 notre dame (next Thursday), and home vs #2 uva (Sunday the 25th).

I would have said this could be a letdown game for the #6 cardinals considering they played at unc Saturday and have duke at home this weekend… but that’s probably not going to be the case after Pitino’s team blew a 13-point lead with under 9 minutes to go and lost 72-71 to unc in a match-up of Tech’s next two opponents (louisville’s only other loss was to #1 k-y kentucky).  I’m sure Pitino will have the troops fired up coming off their 2nd loss of the season.

It will be interesting to see how the Hokies respond to the aggressive louisville defense.  After a solid half of basketball at wvu, Tech folded like a lawn chair in the 2nd half, wilting under the pressure.  Expect the cards to follow the ‘neers recipe and press the Hokies as soon as they get off the bus.  The Baby Birds will need to limit turnovers as much as possible to avoid getting embarrassed on Tuesday.  Tech committed 8 back court turnovers versus wvu by my count against the press, leading to several easy points.  Considering louisville leads the ACC in steals at 10.6 per game, that’s not a good omen.

I haven’t heard anything about the return of Joey van Zegeren.  Based on that, it only seems fair that louisville should sit Montrezl Harrell.  The one-time VT signee (yes, signee) was released from his scholarship after Greenberg was fired.  He wasn’t allowed to sign with an ACC school… and since louisville wasn’t accepted to the ACC yet he went there, and here we are.  Dagger.

Harrell’s full skill set will undoubtedly be on display… think we could use a 6’8″, 240 lbs big man who averages 15.5 PPG and 9.0 rebounds?  Nah.

Harrell, who was a Preseason National Player of the Year candidate, isn’t even the cards leading scorer (and he’s only scored 15 total points in louisville’s last 2 games but I fully expect a huge night against Tech’s inexperienced, undersized lineup).  #0 Terry Rozier is pouring in 17.5 PPG for the cards and even gets 5.6 RPG despite being just 6’1″.  Rozier has scored at least 9 points in every game this year, and had 25 at unc Saturday.  [I would say here he’s just a 30% 3-point shooter who is 1/12 from deep the last 2 games, but how many of those have torched VT over the years?  So I’m just going to move on.]

So what does louisville do well?  Hmm.  I guess I’d have to say almost everything.  Check out these numbers:

  • #50 in the nation in offensive efficiency — VT is #169
  • #3 in the defensive efficiency (and #1 in the ACC just ahead of uva) — VT is #209
  • They are 4th in the ACC in PPG and #2 in Opponents’ PPG
  • They are #1 in the ACC in steals
  • #1 in turnover margin

Their only weaknesses are they are not a good 3-point shooting team (30% — 10th in the league while VT is #2 at 40.5%) or a free throw shooting team (obviously Tech can’t throw stones here — the cards hit 66% for 12th in the league, VT is dead last at 61%).  But, missed 3s often create offensive rebound opportunities, and louisville has 90 more offensive rebounds than VT on the year despite playing just one more game.

Outlook:

I fully expect Tech to get beaten… badly.  Will it be a Bear Fight loss?  I would guess it will be given Tech’s trouble with wvu’s aggressive defense (and vcu last year though Tech is a much different team) and the fact louisville gets a lot of steals.

louisville does not play an extremely fast tempo like a vmi or unc (even wvu is 26th in tempo –who’d have thought you’d see that from a Huggins team).  Tech must value possessions, which will in turn slow down the cards and limit their fast break points.  But even if that happens, who do the Hokies have that can stop Harrell inside?  That’s why the outlook looks bleak.

RealTimeRPI.com predicts an 80-55 win for louisville.

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Game Log: florida state (1-1, 9-6) 86, Hokies (0-2, 8-7) 75

Recap:

Boxscore

Once again florida state defeated the Hokies in Tallahassee (and covered the 10-point spread) with an 86-75 win.  The Hokies are now 0-8 at florida state since joining the ACC, the only school Tech hasn’t beaten on the road of the 11 other teams that were in the league as of 2005.  This was also Tech’s first loss when scoring 70 or more points.

Balance was not the story tonight for Virginia Tech.  The Hokies got a career high from Justin Bibbs, leading Tech with 25 points (he’s had 47 in Tech’s last 2 games).  Adam Smith added 24 for Tech (just 6 in the 2nd half).  No other Hokie had more than 6 points.

Freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes led fsu with 22 points, but they had balance with Devon Bookert at 16, Robbie Berwick at 13, and Montay Brandon at 10 (plus Phil Cofer at 9).

Coming into this game it was obvious the undersized Hokies, especially without 6’10” Joey van Zegeren, would have an issue with the size of florida state and their three 7-foot-plus centers.  All it took was about 30 seconds to realize VT was in trouble when 6’8″ Shane Henry stood next to 7’1″ Michael Ojo of fsu and barely came up to his chin.  And that’s before 7’3″ Boris Bojanovsky came in.

But what you didn’t expect was the seminoles to be raining 3-pointers.  The ACC’s 2nd-worst 3-point % team at 26%, and last in 3s made per game at 3.5, hit 7 of 10 from behind the arc in the first half, including 4/5 from Devon Bookert.

Consider this — the Hokies hit 8/13 (62%) of their threes in the first half, 9/11 from the line (82%), had 45 points, and TRAILED by 8 points (they were down by as many as 14 after a 4-point play by fsu)!  Adam Smith had 17 points and Justin Bibbs 14 and neither was the leading scorer at the break!  Smith and Bibbs were a combined 7/9 from deep in the first half.

Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 18 at the half to lead all scorers and fsu shot [f#@*king] 73% in the first 20 minutes.  Their 7 made 3-pointers (in the first half) tied a season high for a game.  florida state scored just 55 points in their last game and had 53 at the half tonight (they were held to 54 and 58 earlier in the year, too)! Their points per possession (around 1.0 is normal) had to be astronomical in the first half.

And that was with the noles’ leading scorer, Montay Brandon, on the bench for most of the half with 2 fouls.

As expected, the noles dominated the glass.  They had a 16-7 rebound advantage at the break, and had 5 offensive rebounds to just 4 defensive rebounds for the Hokies.

For the game, fsu had 42 rebounds to just 22 for the Hokies.  The noles snagged 15 of their misses while Tech got just 14 defensive rebounds.  Anything below 50% on Defensive Rebounding is pathetic, though frankly not unexpected tonight.  By comparison, the Hokies got just 8 offensive rebounds in 35 opportunities (23%).

I don’t know what JvZ did, but let’s hope it wasn’t that bad and he gets forgiven soon.

Both teams came back to Earth in the 2nd half.  After Tech scored the initial basket of the 2nd half to cut the noles lead to 6 at 53-47, fsu scored 8 straight to go back up by 14.  Tech battled but never got closer than 7 the rest of the way.

fsu scored just 15 points in the first 12 minutes after the break… the problem was VT also scored just 15.

The noles were just 1/6 from 3-point range in the 2nd half, which is a lot closer to their season average than what we saw in the first half.  Unfortunately, VT was just 3/15 from deep after the break.  Bibbs and Smith were 2/10 from deep.  Tech also hit just 7/12 from the line.

Despite a cold 2nd half, fsu’s 8/16 (50%) from deep was double their average and more than double their average made 3s.

This was one of those games where you wanted to punch a couch cushion (and might have done).  This was one of those games the dog wanted to be in any room but you as you cursed with every fsu made 3-pointer or offensive rebound.

What was frustrating is the Hokies couldn’t stop the noles inside or outside.  You have to take away something.  They can’t shoot the 3 so pack it in and dare them (and the noles happily took advantage early), but VT still couldn’t defend the post, either.  Their three bigs combined for 14 points, and fsu had more offensive rebounds than Tech had defensive rebounds.

Also, Tech seemed to lose almost every 50/50 ball.  I don’t think it was lack of effort, I think they were intimidated by fsu’s physicality and size.  That can’t happen and I’m sure Buzz will fix that.

Robbie Berwick, who hadn’t scored in any of the previous 4 fsu games, went for 13 for the noles.

The Hokies have their final ‘bye’ this weekend and return to action next Tuesday at louisville and Hokie-signee-traitor, Montrezl Harrell.

Funny Buzz Moment of the Night: Will Johnston tried to call for a timeout while falling out of bounds.  They didn’t give it to him.  Buzz was sort of pleading/mocking the situation and the refs gave him a timeout he didn’t want (he was simply reenacting the situation).  They eventually let him off the hook.

Preview:

0-7

^^You may be wondering what that 0-7 is.  Is it Tech’s record at home in ACC football games?  No, we beat D-IAA uva to close the season to avoid that.  I’ll give you a clue — it involves florida state.  Our head-to-head record against them for top football recruits?  Probably, but that’s not what I’m getting at.

The Hokies are 0-7 at florida state since joining the ACC.  Of the teams that were in the league by 2005 (so including bc), Virginia Tech had beaten every other team on the road by 2007 except for nc state and fsu.  They finally won in Raleigh in 2009, but a victory at the Leon County Tallahassee City Florida State US Civic Center has still alluded the Hokies.

Perhaps they are intimidated by the giant… how do I say this… cock-n-balls of a state capitol building they have.  But whatever the reason, the Hokies have never won at fsu since joining the ACC, and overall have dropped 9 in a row there dating back 25 years to their Metro days (last win was in 1990 when  Bimbo Coles still roamed the courts for VT).

The toughest of all the losses was three years ago when VT blew a 15-point lead with 14 minutes to go, and a 9-point lead with 1:29 to go and lost 48-47 on a 3-pointer by Mr. Clutch, Michael Snaer.   Tech scored just 7 points in the final 14 minutes.

But, this is a different fsu program, although they are still led by Leonard Hamilton.  You could argue they were the 4th, maybe even 3rd best program in the ACC over the last 5+ years.  They still have three 7-footers that play on their roster like in past trips (so the blow of not having JvZ is tough), but they don’t have the deadly back court that is great offensively and defensively (their top scorer, Aaron Thomas at 14.8 PPG, was ruled ineligible for the rest of the season last month).  This is a noles team picked to finish 8th in the league, but I think that was based more on Hamilton’s history than actual expectations.  The noles sit at #179 in the RPI, the 2nd lowest rating in the ACC (VT is last at #251).

fsu actually ranks last in the ACC in PPG allowed at 67.7 and 12th in FG% Defense, a stunning occurrence for a Leonard Hamilton team.  They rank in the bottom half of the ACC in every statistical category except Offensive FG% (they are 5th with VT just ahead of them).  And they make the fewest 3-pointers per game of any ACC team.

It’s too bad VT isn’t from New England — fsu lost to northeastern, providence, and umass earlier in the season.  They also lost to nebraska, notre dame by 20 in their conference opener a month ago, and mississippi state.  Half their wins are against state foes in ucf, unf, usf, and a buzzer beater win over struggling florida last week where a gator player tipped in a fsu miss for the win!!! (A.D. Vassallo probably had an out of body experience when it happened)

The Hokies, meanwhile, have some good mojo working.  After being outscored 91-44 between the 2nd half of the wvu game and the first half of the syracuse game, the Hokies found their stride after the break Saturday.  They fought back from 19 down at the half, only to miss a layup to tie the game with 6 minutes to go, and a 3-pointer from the corner to win the game at the buzzer.

Justin Bibbs tied his career high with 22 points and collected his first ever double-double by snagging 11 rebounds.

The Hokies shot just 39% from the field, their 2nd worst output of the season (psu), but did shoot a solid 40% from deep (10 makes) and 70% from the line (no JvZ).  Most of all, they battled, scrapped, and showed confidence plus excitement at the end.  Ahmed Hill, who had fouled out, was farther out on the court as the 3 to win went up than Dez Bryant was out on the field after that PI/no-PI against the lions (but in Hill’s case out of enthusiasm).  Hopefully Tech can bottle that and bring that from the opening tip on Tuesday night.

Both teams are without a key player — Aaron Thomas (14.8 PPG) for fsu who is ineligible as mentioned, and JvZ for VT, so that’s a wash of sorts.  And both teams come in at 8-6, 0-1 in the league.

So what does this add up to?  Virginia Tech has a shot at finally winning in Tallahassee!!! (and yes, this is the 8th time I’ve said this… hey, I gotta be right eventually!)

FYI: RealTimeRPI.com has us losing to #179 florida state 75-67.  They do have us winning 5 ACC games, though?!

Spread: fsu by 10

Series History:

  • fsu 28-20 vs VT overall
  • fsu 9-5 in ACC games vs VT
  • fsu 7-0 at home vs VT in ACC games
  • Greatest VT win in the series:
    • ACC-wise, it has to be the 52-51 win in the 2011 ACC Tournament Quarterfinals where initially the refs said fsu won on a shot at the buzzer, then overturned it on replay.
    • Historically the ‘Henson Heave’ on 1/21/1980 to beat fsu at the buzzer (at fsu), 79-77.  Henson rebounded a miss and threw it the length of the court from the baseline, which for a time was in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest shot in a game.

Stats:

  • Tech is 6-0 when scoring 70+ points, 2-6 when held under 70.
  • VT is shooting 69% from the line over their last 4 games.  They shot just 57% in the first 10 games.

* indicates the player is the leader of guys expected to play in the game

Note: click the picture to bring it up in a separate window (where it is actually legible)

VTfsu

 

 

 

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Game Log: syracuse (10-4) 68 @ Hokies (8-6) 66

Game Recap: syracuse 68, Hokies 66 – Box Score

Well, that turned out better than expected. Wouldn’t you agree? The Hokies came in 10.5 underdogs to a 9-4 syracuse team, and not only did the Hokies cover the spread, they darn near pulled off the upset.

Upon hearing the news that JvZ had been suspended indefinitely, Cope Tweeted the following:

Upon further review, having JvZ in the lineup could have made a huge difference. Though, would the Hokies have played the same with him? We’ll never know. But, what we do know is that the Hokies cut the cuse lead down to three with about 5 minutes to play in the game, but then lost their only two big men, Satchel Pierce and Shaney Henry, who both fouled out. Had JvZ not been suspended, Buzz would have had more fouls to give.

The Hokies came out ready to play in the first half and went toe-to-toe with the orange and trailed 15-13 with under 14 minutes to play. Then the wheels came off. The cuse reeled off a 20-3 run to take a 19-point lead late in the half. They led by as many as 22, but the Hokies got a late three-point play from Devin Wilson to cut the half-time lead to 42-23.

Whatever Buzz said to his team at the half did something get their minds right. The Hokies opened the second half with a 26-9 run to cut the cuse lead to two, 51-49. Sadly, that’s as close as they would get. Pierce fouled out with 5 minutes to play and Henry picked up his 5th foul with just under three minutes left. Losing those two guys forced the Hokies into a four guard set for the final 2:43.

Freshman Justin Bibbs tied his career-best 22 points while playing a career-high 39 minutes. The rookie is the team’s leading scorer at 12.7 ppg. While we’re talking statistics, Tech actually shot better than the cuse in FG, 3-pointer, and FTs. The difference in this game was rebounding and the number of free throws attempted. The cuse outrebounded VT 42-34, and made nearly as many free throws (17) as the Hokies attempted (16).

A loss is a loss, and Buzz Williams will eschew and talk of “moral victories” but considering how this team has played (and lost to) lesser competition this season, a two-point loss to a team like syracuse is nothing to be ashamed of. The Hokies are a very young team with a new coaching staff and a lot to learn. This is a learning season (sounds better than “lost season”) with little in the way of expectations. So to take the orange to the brink in the conference opener is something to be proud of.

One last note… I was impressed to see how the team responded to Buzz at the break. They came out and took it to the cuse. We didn’t see JJ’s teams do that very much. To come back from 22 down and come within two points late in the game, that leaves room for hope. And as all Hokie fans know, hope is a dangerous thing.

Update: JvZ has been suspended indefinitely, per a press release. This leaves the Hokies with just Pierce and Henry, and Beyer, down low. “Joey failed to meet the expectations we have for our team,” Head Men’s Basketball Coach Buzz Williams said. “He demonstrated a lack of discipline and self-control at practice and as such this suspension was warranted.”

Spread: cuse -10.5

The Hokies tip-off ACC play on Saturday when Jim Boeheim and the syracuse orange get the pleasure of heading to Blacksburg for a noon tilt. Boeheim has now been forced to head to VT for the 2nd year in a row (he allegedly told the Big East he’d never travel to Tech and in VT’s five years in the league syracuse never once played at Tech — VT had to play at the Carrier Dome three times).

The series history is rather limited with the orange 5-2 all time vs the Hokies. Tech hasn’t beaten syracuse since 1978 and lost by 20 last year at home against the orange.

This is not your typical cuse team. They are unranked, and after starting 5-1, they lost 3 of 4 before their current 3 game winning streak. They are just 1-4 vs “name” teams — losses to cal, michigan, st. Johns, and #6 villanova (nova never led in regulation and the orange were up by as many as 15); and a win over iowa.

Tech is looking to wash the stink off their 31-point drubbing from wvu.

Last year, cuse won 72-52 at the Cassell. Current leading scorer Rakeem Christmas had just 2 points, while Wilson, van Zegeren, and Smith combined for 18. The difference was just 6 at the half before the orange pulled away as Tech got frustrated by the famous Boeheim zone.

Christmas leads cuse with over 17 ppg and almost 9 rpg. The 6’9″ senior Xmas hadn’t averaged even 6 ppg in any of his previous 3 seasons but has been thrust into the star role during this rebuilding year. Gone are Tyler Ennis, Jerami Grant, and stud C.J. fair from last year’s squad, hence the struggles.

Tech is led by Adam Smith’s 12 ppg and van Zegeren’s 5 rebounds.

Posted in 2014-15 Season, Game Recaps, Games, Home8 Comments

Attendance Figures for Out of Conference Games

Well, the buzz around Buzz didn’t help at the turnstiles for the Hokies’ out of conference home games.  In fact, for Tech’s 9 home out of conference games, attendance was down by almost 5% from last year when fans seemed completely checked out on James Johnson.  Here are the average attendance numbers for the last 3 years (since attendance dropped dramatically in Seth’s final season of 2011-12).

  • 2014: 9 home games (7-2 home record, 8-5 overall): 4,433 fans per game
  • 2013: 9 home games (7-2 home record, 7-5 overall): 4,639 fans per game
  • 2012: 8 home games (7-1 home record, 9-4 overall): 6,129 fans per game

As you can see, the results on the court have been largely similar, though VT did start out 7-0 in 2012 under JJ and that caused some brief excitement.  What is different?

There are a few ‘excuses’ as to why attendance is down this year — the out of conference schedule was lousy.  Really lousy.  Tech’s strength of schedule so far this year is ranked 338th out of 351 Division 1 teams.  That only includes games against D1 teams (so teams that play D2 or non-NCAA teams don’t have those games show up in the figures).  But it basically tells you Tech played some of the worst teams the NCAA has to offer.  liberty is right there at the bottom at 351 and VT played three other teams in the 300s.  This year, radford (99) was the only home game VT had against a team in the top 100 and maryland-eastern shore (156) was the only other team above 200!  So this wasn’t exactly a sexy schedule to draw fans and this has impacted walk-up tickets, as opposed to last year when VT had wvu at home, or two years ago when they had oklahoma state and iowa at home.

BUT, keep in mind, attendance numbers aren’t about fannies in the seats, it is about tickets sold/given out.  Tech regularly had attendance figures of 9,000+ in their early ACC days when the place was half empty because of season tickets.  So what does this tell us?  It tells us that while Whit proclaimed season ticket sales were up before the season, they may have only been up by 1 person (and I’m not sure they weren’t actually down).  We can guess around where season ticket sales are by the lowest attended game — appalachian state with 2,970 fans (though that would include students and walk-ups/single game tickets).

Don’t take this as an indictment on Buzz.  I’d expect to be 9-4 right now, so 8-5 isn’t far off.  And I do think he’s got things headed in the right direction (or rather I’d say I still have hope that he is).  Things have probably not gone the way Whit hoped given the investment made in Buzz and his staff.  It appears attendance has now settled to what Whit can expect for a team that wins approximately 65% of their out of conference games.  Clearly most fans are still taking a wait-and-see approach before they spend their money and put the effort in to buy season tickets, or even go to a few games.  Attendance is not going to go up, no matter who the coach is, until the W’s, and competitive wins at that, increase.  Playing a team that I didn’t have to look up their nickname, and beating them, wouldn’t hurt, either.

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Game Log: #17 wvu 82, Hokies (8-5) 51

Recap:

Boxscore

The Hokies (8-5) got absolutely manhandled in the second half, getting outscored 49-21 thanks to 15 2nd half turnovers (25 for the game) and fell 82-51 to the #17 west virginia mountaineers (12-1).  This wasn’t the worst loss in series history (VT lost by 54 to wvu back in 1964), but it may have been the worst half I’ve ever seen the Hokies play in 21 years of following Tech basketball.

Note: there will be no highlights but ESPN.com will likely post some.

Tech trailed by just 3 at the break (33-30), but watched wvu explode out of the blocks to a 15-4 run and the rout was on.  With the score 57-41 with 11 minutes to go, wvu strangled the Hokies with their suffocating full court press and went on a 15-0 run to make the score 72-41, and VT would trail by as many as 34 down the stretch.

The Hokies fell behind 7-0 right out of the gate, but stayed competitive the rest of the first 20 minutes.  Tech never trailed by double digits in the first half (they also never led) and cut the score to 31-30 wvu with 1:30 to go before the break.  The Hokies struggled with the wvu press, committing 10 turnovers (4 of which were in the back court and 7 or 8 of which were directly attributable to the press).  But they shot 55% from the field when they could keep possession.

The second half saw the wheels come off, though.  wvu opened with a free throw and then VT immediately turned the ball over in the back court again, leading to a 3-pointer.  The mountaineers, who shoot just 30% from deep, were on fire to open the second stanza.  wvu hit 6/7 three-pointers to fuel that run.  Offensively, the Hokies just looked helpless.  A cornucopia of bad passes ruled the day and shots stopped falling for VT.

Before the game I was worried about Tech’s defensive rebounding, and that was an issue.  wvu grabbed 50% of their misses with 16 offensive rebounds.

But the big issue was the Hokies inability to handle the pressure.  Tech committed an unbelievable 25 turnovers for the game, including 15 in the 2nd half.  That’s a season high and the most VT has committed since having 27 in their blowout loss to vcu and Havoc last year.

The lone bright spot was Satchel Pierce played a lot of minutes and reached double digits for the first time with 10 points (5/7 FGs).  Adam Smith was the only other Hokie with 10 points, and he had all of those in the first half.

Tech, who came in shooting 41.5% from deep, were just 4/14 (29%).  wvu, who shot just 30% from deep, hit 10/24 (42%).  And of course Tech missed both of their front ends of one-and-ones in the first half.

Juwan Staten, the preseason Big(10)12 POTY had 18 points to lead wvu.  He had just 6 made 3-pointers on the season in 20 attempts, but went 3/4 today.

Tech is now done with out of conference play and open the ACC slate on Saturday vs syracuse (8-4) at high noon at the Cassell.

Preview:

Spread: wvu -18

Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in.  If it isn’t our old buddies, the mountaineers of west by-golly virginia university.  And while the Hokies have rolled off four straight wins after a rocky start to the Buzz Era (check out the last paragraph to see what wvu fans think of Buzz), the mountaineers have been killing it all season under Coach Bob Huggins.  Their lone loss was a stunner at home to lsu, 74-73.  But they’ve also beaten defending champ uconn (though who hasn’t this year), bc, and nc state.  They sit at 11-1 and #17 in the latest AP poll and RPI (VT is #259), a year removed from a 17-16 record (9-9 in the Big 12) and a first round exit in the NIT.

wvu features a good blend of experience and youth, and if someone with a low uniform number has the ball, he’s pretty good.  Their top two scores are seniors: #3 Juwan Staten (6’1″) at 15.9 PPG and #1 Jonathan Holton at 11.4.  Their next top scorers are a sophomore — #5 Devin Williams 10.2 PPG — and a frosh — #2 Jevon Carter (6’2″) at 8.3 PPG. (#0 Jaysean Paige and #4 Daxton Miles, Jr. are next up in points  — how crazy is that that their top six scorers all wear #0 to #5?)

The mountaineers are deep, too, going five strong on their bench and that’s without senior forwar Kevin Noreen who hasn’t played this year.  Staten, their unquestioned leader, is the only player that averages 30 minutes per game (he’s right at 30 MPG).  Their other nine players in their rotation average between 13-23 minutes, meaning Huggins can run them in there fresh for max effort.

In additiona to Staten’s 16 PPG, he by far leads the team with 4.3 assists per game.  The offense runs through him.  He is not much of a 3-point shooter but will attack the rim and finish or dish.

wvu doesn’t have a ton of height — no one taller than 6’9″ plays for them (they have three 6’9″ guys that rotate in).  But, if you know a Coach Huggy-Bear team, all their guys will get after ya.  Devin Williams is 255 at 6’9″ and Jonathan Holton is 6’7″ 220.  They have combined for 74 offensive rebounds on their own (just 40 below VT’s season total as a team).

wvu doesn’t shoot the 3 particularly well (30%) and no one averages more than 1.1 made three-pointers per game.  But they do love to crank up the long balls and crash the offensive glass, something that will be a concern for VT.  wvu has made 4 fewer 3s than VT while attempting 56 more than the Hokies.  They make up for that by averaging 18 offensive rebounds per game (VT gets less than 10 per game).  This stat, by far, will be the Litmus test for whether or not the Hokies can stay in this game.  If Tech can limit their 2nd chance opportunities (assuming wvu shoots their usual pedestrian percentage from deep), they could keep it close.

It is a rivalry so expect the Hokies to play hard.  The Hokies did beat wvu last year in the Cassell 87-82 (Boxscore) as part of the 24 hours of basketball, and lost by just 1 point at wvu two years ago in JJ’s first loss of many.  Last year Tech fell behind by 17 before the ice had a chance to melt in your bourbon, and trailed 31-14 with 7 minutes to go in the first half.  Tech got it all the way down to 5 by the break and took control of the game by the first media timeout of the 2nd half (part of a 35-11 run), leading by as many as 10 before wvu came back to tie it.  But VT held on for the win as Adam Smith and Devin Wilson combined for 35 points.  Part of what helped VT is all the foul calls (53 total fouls in the game and 9 players have 4+ fouls), which helped fight wvu’s aggressiveness.  The Hokies have to hope for frequent whistles in Morgantown Tuesday… good luck with that.

Tech’s won four in a row, but there hasn’t been a magic formula.  Free throw shooting has been better, but not great.  Tech only had a positive turnover margin in one of the wins.  3-point shooting was great in the last two games, but lousy the two wins before that.  So why has Tech won four in a row?  They’ve played against teams ranked #257 or worse in the RPI.  They just simply have more talent.  That will not be the case Tuesday.  Hopefully the Hokies will respond better than they did against their other ranked opponent, northern iowa, who drummed VT by 19.

Even though Coach Buzz Williams is new to VT, he is already intensely hated by the wvu faithful for what he did after a 61-60 marquette win at wvu in February 2012 (he started ballroom dancing to John Denver in the middle of the court after the game — definitely worth a YouTube search).   This is Buzz’s first trip back since then.  They haven’t forgotten.  Game on.

Stats (VT | Category | wvu):

  • 49% | FGs | 42%
  • 42% | 3-Pt | 30%
  • 60% | FTs | 67%
  • 71     | PPG | 79
  • 33.5 | RPG | 39.2

We’re Going Streaking!

  • Ahmed Hill has increased his scoring output 5 games in a row, scoring a career 18 on Saturday

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Game Log: Hokies (8-4) 87, presbyterian 65

Recap:

Boxscore

While the Hokies easy win on the gridiron Saturday was unexpected, their blowout win on the hardwood Saturday was all but guaranteed.  Tech broke a 6-6 tie with 15:17 to go in the first half and never trailed the rest of the way on their way to a 87-65 Bear Fight win over the presbyterian blue hose.  This was Tech’s 4th straight win and 3rd Bear Fight victory on the season.

presbyterian fell to 0-9 against Division 1 teams on the season.

For the second game in a row VT had 5 guys in double figures, led by career highs from Ahmed Hill (18) and Jalen Hudson (15 — the second straight game he’s set his career mark).  Adam Smith had 14 while Joey van Zegeren and Justin Bibbs chipped in 13 each.

The game was never in doubt as Tech led the final 27 minutes by 10+ points.  Tech took a 45-32 lead into the break and never looked back.

The Hokies were scorching hot from the field on the night against the undersized and undermanned blue hose, hitting 54% from the field, 53% from behind the arc (8/15), and 70% from the line (19/27).  Tech was 11/12 from the charity stripe in the first half, but came back to reality in the second half and saw that percentage fall.

Smith was 4/4 from behind the arc and even pulled down a career high 7 rebounds.

Tech returns to action on Tuesday afternoon at Morganhole, WV vs wvu.

Preview:

Note: whether or not there will be highlights depends on what kind of shape/mood I’m in after getting back from the Military Bowl.

Merry Christmas, y’all!  The Hokies play their final guaranteed win of the season on Saturday night at home against the presbyterian blue hose (a: I’m not making that nickname up, and b: you know you have a weak schedule when every other game I have to look up the opponent’s nickname).  After this game, which should be the Hokies 4th win in a row, Tech heads to Morganhole for a 2 PM tilt on Tuesday and then opens conference play next Saturday at home vs syracuse.

The blue hose (#338 in the RPI out of 351 teams) are another in a long line of cream puffs that VT has played this out of conference season.  A member of the Big South, they have not beaten a D1 team this season, sitting at 0-8.  They lost to duke in their opener by 69 (113-44), to american by 25, to morehead state by 20, to la tech by 28, to wofford by 21, a heartbreaker to unc-g-spot by 2, to samford by 10, and to tennessee-martin by 17.  So their margins of defeat are getting closer, I guess.

Tech (#261 in the RPI) will now have played 6 teams with a RPI of 293 or higher out of 12 games. FYI: wvu is #19, northern iowa is #10, and psu is #41.

presbyterian’s top scorer is #21 Jordan Downing (6’5″ senior) who averages 16 PPG and hits 40% of his 75 3-point attempts, so he can light it up from deep.  He’s shot two times more shots than anyone else on the team from the field and behind the arc.

Their best post player is #15 William Truss (6’8″ senior) who scores 11.2 PPG and gets 8.1 RPG.  They do have a 7-footer (Jake Campbell) but he plays sparingly.  Other than that, they aren’t big.

About the opponent:

  • Location: Clinton, SC
  • Conference: Big South
  • Mascot: Scotty the Scotsman
  • Nickname: Blue Hose — from the socks worn by the football team in the early 1900s
  • Colors: garnet and blue
  • 2013-14 Record: 6-26 (2-14 in the Big South)

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Game Post: Hokies (7-4) 87, vmi (5-7) 74

Recap:

Boxscore

The Hokies got over the 2-win streak hump for the first time this season, winning their 3rd in a row over the vmi keydets in the 132nd meeting between the two schools (VT leads 89-43).  Tech set a new high mark in points on the season with 87, eclipsing the 83 they had vs morgan state.  Tech also managed to cover the 11.5 point spread!  Breaking the football and basketball jinx of VT not covering, and often losing, double digit spreads in their favor.

Virginia Tech won behind a balanced effort with 5 guys in double figures — Justin Bibbs with 20 (not a career high despite what the AP reported), Devin Wilson with 16 (season high), Jalen Hudson with 12 (career high), and Ahmed Hill and Adam Smith with 10.

Shane Henry got the start tonight and had 6 points and a career high 13 rebounds to lead VT.  I really like the way he jumps towards the ball off the glass and firmly secures it.  He could be a beast on the boards and alters a lot of shots on defense.

The Tech defense limited sophomore QJ Peterson to 14 points, 7 below his season average of 21 which was 12th in the nation coming in. He was 4/18 shooting (0/6 on threes — a real focus of the VT defense).

Tech shot an insane 67% in the first half and finished 53% for game.  They attempted just 7 three-pointers and hit 4, largely down in numbers because of how many layups/dunks VT had in the first half.

The Hokies were also a respectable 17/24 (71%) from the line and 8/10 down the stretch when the game was in control, but somewhat in doubt.

The Hokies, who were bombarded with 3-pointers on Saturday against the citadel, did a much better job defending the 3 tonight against a team that averages 13 made 3s and 35 attempts per game.  Tech did an excellent job of switching on the perimeter to eliminate ball-screens.  Tech did get a bit of tired legs in the second half and that helped vmi open things up.  vmi was just 10/39 from deep (26%), well below their 34% average 3-point shooting mark.

Of all the games for me to not be doing highlights — the Hokies practically put on a dunk contest in the first half.  There were more BRAHHHHs than a Victoria’s Secret catalog.  Oh, well.

After the keydets scored the first 2 points of the game, the Hokies responded with an 18-2 run, shredding the vmi full court press and taking an 18-4 lead.  The run was highlighted by an Ahmed Hill two-handed dunk, a back-and-forth alley oop play from Devin Wilson to Joey van Zegeren, and a full court Justin Bibbs touchdown pass to JvZ for a wide open flush.

The turnover bug bit the Hokies for a stretch and vmi got back within 9.  With the score 29-19, Tech pulled away again.  After two Devin Wilson free throws and a steal, Jalen Hudson scored 5 points in 12 seconds.  He got a breakaway and-1, made the free throw, stole the ball as vmi was bringing it up, and then dunked it to put VT up 17.

The dunk contest rolled from there for Tech.  The Hokies had 7 dunks in the first half — 2 from Hill, Hudson, and van Zegeren, and 1 from Beyer.

Even more exciting, Devin Wilson hit two long 3-point attempts including one at the buzzer to send VT into the break up 51-27 and the rout was on.

The only scary moment of the first 20 minutes was when JvZ got t-boned on an alley-oop attempt and had to go to the bench with an injury, but he stayed on the bench and would return in the second half.

The Hokies shot an insane 67% (20/30) in the first half and 3/6 from deep.  Heck, they were even 8/10 from the line!  VT had 17 points off turnovers in the first half compared to just 4 from vmi, and that’s their bread and butter. (Tech had a 23-14 edge in points off turnovers for the game).

I love the way Jalen Hudson’s confidence is growing.  Buzz basically anointed him their perimeter defensive stopper in the last game, and today he showed a lot of confidence off the dribble on offense.  He had a career high 10 points at the break.  Wilson had 11 of his own and Bibbs, Smith and Hill had 9, 8, and 7 respectively at the break.

On the flip side to Hudson, Malik Muller looks lost the last few games.  He sat a lot the last few games and promptly turned the ball over twice in a row upon entering tonight and went back to the bench.  He could use some steals to get his offense going like he got early in the year.

In the second half, vmi would make things interesting (of course), using a 9-0 run to cut a 59-37 VT lead to 59-46.  vmi limited Tech’s uncontested run-outs and as a result, VT struggled to score.  Also, vmi had 10 blocked shots despite their small stature.  They aggressively went for everything and Tech wasn’t drawing contact.

After Tech pushed the lead back up to 20 at 76-56, vmi went on a second 9-0 run to get within 11.  They’d make it just a 9 point lead at 79-70 with 2:30 to go, but VT made their free throws down the stretch to hold on.

Preview:

(Note: there will be no highlights after this game)

Spread: VT by 11.5

The Hokies will face their oldest active rival on Monday night when the vmi keydets head to the Cassell.  The two teams first met in 1908 with vmi winning a 15-9 barnburner (and you thought the wake/VT football game was boring).  uva and VT didn’t meet for the first time until 1914.  The Hokies hold an 88-43 edge in the series and have won 3 in a row overall vs the keydets and 7 in a row at the Cassell.  Tech has won 22 of 24 and 32 of 35 from the keydets… but this is a different Hokie team.

This game is Tech’s 2nd in a row versus a Southern Conference team, coming off a 64-61 win against the citadel, one of the worst teams in the SoCo, Tech’s former conference of about 50 years ago.  In fact, the two teams played 80 times as SoCo foes, with Tech winning 53.

The good news is the Hokies have won 2 in a row.  The bad news is the previous two times that has happened this season, Tech went on to lose their next two games (2 wins, 2 losses, 2 wins, 2 losses, 2 wins…).

The keydets are 5-6 on the year but just 3-6 vs Division 1 teams.  They beat the citadel by 1 point in their opener.  That’s the only common game the two teams have.

wvu beat the keydets by 31, unc-wilmington beat them by 17, and maryland beat vmi by 18.  vmi also lost to army, mercer, and navy.  Their only D1 wins were over the citadel, samford, and they just beat marist.

vmi still loves to run and gun and average 88.9 PPG (2nd in the nation).  The problem is they give up 80.5 PPG (340th in the NCAA stats out of 345 teams).  By contrast, kentucky allows 47.7 PPG.

QJ Peterson leads the keydets with 21.4 PPG (15th in the nation).  The 6′ sophomore guard averaged 19 as a freshman and already has 899 points in his college career.  He attempts almost 9 threes per game and has made 15 threes in their last 3 games (15/43).  Like Castanza, he’s a chucker, but shoots a respectable 35% and can drive and score, too (he averages 18 shots per game).

This is a guard-heavy lineup as you’d expect given their pressing, shoot-quick and ask questions later style, so size-wise this is a good match-up for VT and their 4 guard lineups.  Tim Marshall (6’3″) and Brian Brown (5’11”) also average in double digits.

vmi attempts than 35 threes per game!  And they hit 34% (142 made threes or about 13 per game).  Given how poorly VT defended the three on Saturday expect either: a) a rough night if vmi is on, or b) a very determined effort to take away the three thanks to Buzz’s game planning over the last 48 hours.

After just 2 games in 13 days, we’ll see how the Hokies’ legs are Monday facing this up-tempo attack just 52 hours after the citadel game ended.

Tech beat the keydets 105-92 last year.  They led by as many as 20 in the second half but vmi cut the lead to 6 with a minute to go before VT put the game away.  Peterson and 22 in that game but their other two big scorers (Covington and Glasgow with 20 and 22 respectively) are gone.  Devin Wilson had 13, Adam Smith 11, and JvZ 3.  Tech was 11/17 from deep while vmi was just 10/36.

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Game Post: Hokies (6-4) 64, the citadel (4-6) 61

RECAP:

Boxscore

It was about as pretty as watching the Miss Cankles Contest but the Hokies found a way to win 64-61 against a horrible, horrible team from the citadel on Saturday at the Cassell.  Tech almost lost their second game of the season as a 14-point favorite (appy state).  It was the first meeting between the schools in almost 50 years, and it looked for most of the game like Tech would set their program back 50 years with a loss to a team that had:

  • lost 17 straight road games
  • went winless on the road in the Southern Conference last year
  • started 0-14 in the SoCo last year
  • had a RPI of 345 (out of 351 D1 teams) this season
  • was 1-5 vs D1 teams this year
  • …ok, ok, you get the idea…

But, Virginia Tech did find a way to pull out a game that was tied with less than 2 minutes to go, unlike in close losses to appy state and radford at home.

The key play was a layup by Devin Wilson that put VT up 60-58 with 1:36 to go.  He missed the and-1 free throw (VT would miss a lot of free throws as usual), but Tech would hold the lead from that point on.  the citadel had a 3-point attempt to take the lead in the final minute, and two chances to tie, but missed them all.

The bulldogs absolutely gave the Hokies rabies from deep all day.  They went 7/12 from deep in the first half while VT was just 1/9.  That allowed the bulldogs to take a 27-22 lead to the break as Tech looked extremely lethargic.  You could blame it on rust with just 2 games in 13 days, but effort shouldn’t be rusty and Tech was not fighting over ball screens allowing the citadel to get open looks.  Justin Bibbs, who has looked great on offense all season, just was not putting forth enough effort on defense.  He was jogging through screens and all of the Hokies were going underneath perimeter screens instead of going over the top.  the citadel was just 2/13 inside the arc in the first half so there was no reason to respect their ability to drive.

the citadel would go just 6/22 from 3-point range in the 2nd half and the Hokies took advantage.  Adam Smith scored Tech’s first 8 points of the 2nd half and the Hokies jumped out to a 14-4 run to take a 36-31 lead.

VT would increase that lead to 9 at 42-33 with 11:30 to go before Ashton Moore took over the game for the bulldogs.  He scored 8 points in the next 3 minutes and the citadel stormed back to a 46-44 lead with 8:47 to go.  The game was nip-and-tuck from that point on.

Ashton Moore finished the game with 27 points to lead all scorers.  He was 7/15 from deep.

Tech was led by Adam Smith’s 16 points (14 after the break but just 5/16 from the field).  A balanced VT attack was complimented by JvZ and Devin Wilson with 10 each, and Ahmed Hill and Justin Bibbs had 9, and Jalen Hudson had a solid effort with 8.

Buzz clearly thinks Jalen is Tech’s best on-ball defender as he put Hudson on Moore down the stretch.

Shane Henry had a great game off the bench with a critical put-back and 2 blocked shots (it seemed like a lot more than that.

Shooting Stats:

  • citadel – Category – VT
  • 21/61 (34%) – FGs – 23/55 (42%)
  • 13/34 (38%) – 3-Ptrs – 3/16 (19%)
  • 6/8 (75%) – FTs – 15/25 (60%)

VT returns to action Monday night vs vmi at the Cassell at 7 PM.  There will be no highlights for that game.

PREVIEW:

Spread: VT by 14.

For the second game in a row the Hokies will battle bulldogs, this time from the citadel at 1 PM on Saturday at the Cassell.  Despite the two schools’ rich military histories, the Hokies and the bulldogs have not faced in nearly 50 years.  Tech won that last meeting back in early 1966.  Tech holds a 16-2 edge all time in the series but did lose to the citadel in the last (and only ever) meeting between the two schools at the Cassell back in 1964.

the citadel comes in with a record of 4-5, though that is deceiving.  Three of their wins are against non-NCAA teams in toccoa falls, bob jones (yep, that’s a real college name), and warren wilson (no idea who that was… Woodrow’s bro?).  Their lone D1 win was against navy, a 67-60 win two weeks ago.

Because of their Charmin-soft schedule and their 1-5 record vs D1 teams, their RPI is 345 out of 351 teams (FYI: liberty is dead last).  VT’s RPI is 264.

The bulldogs have played some teams tough in their losses, though.  They lost to vmi by just 1, air force by 13, fsu by just 11, college of charleston by 4, and chattanooga by 19.  So almost no one has blown them out.

The bulldogs have had a 9 day layoff (the Hokies have been off for 6 days).

the citadel is not a good rebounding team, so this game pits two teams towards the bottom nationally at rebounding.

Ashton Moore (6’1″) paces them with 16 PPG, and P.J. Horgan (6’9″) averages 13.8.  Everyone else is in single digits.  Horgan is their top rebounder and inside presence.  Moore, Jake Wright, and Marshall Harris III are all good 3-point shooters for the bulldogs.

Point blank, VT needs to win this game.  Just like last week, I’ll be happy with any margin of victory.  Even if it is close, it would be good to see this team pull out a close contest instead of what happened vs appy state and radford.  But ideally you’d like to see VT win in the 10-18 point range like they should.

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Game Post: HOKIES (5-4) 65, alabama a&m (1-6) 55

Recap:

Boxscore

Score at each media timeout

Score at each media timeout

It wasn’t as easy as hoped for, but the Hokies managed to hold on and win 65-55 over an alabama a&m team that hasn’t beaten a NCAA team this season in front of fewer than 3,600 fans at the Cassell.

Buzz sent a message in this game, sitting Devin Wilson, Malik Muller, and Jalen Hudson for the first 29 minutes of the game.  In their places, walk-ons Christian Beyer and Will Johnston got the nod, each playing the first 25 minutes of the game (I was wondering if Buzz was waiting for them to ring the bell to say they needed a break).  And Joey van Zegeren played just 2 minutes in the first half and just 10 for the contest.  Bibbs, Hill, Johnston, and Beyer all played the entire first half, with just starter Adam Smith subbing out.  In fact, Tech’s 3 returning players from a season ago totaled just 9 minutes of action in the first half.

Beyer responded in a big way with 13 points (5/7 FGs) and 9 rebounds, just missing a double-double but leading the Hokies in both columns.  Justin Bibbs was the only other Hokie in double digits with 11 and led VT with 4 assists.  Johnston added 8 points of his own.

van Zegeren and Wilson scored just 1 point each, and Smith added 7, meaning Tech’s 3 returnees had just 9 of their 65 points, while walk-ons went for 21.

The game was way too close for anyone’s liking (from a Tech standpoint) for the first 15 minutes.  With Tech trailing 20-19 with 5:49 to go in the first half, the Hokies went on a 17-0 run to close the half and take a 36-20 lead to the break.  The Hokies added a 3 to start the 2nd half and make it a 20-0 run.

The bulldogs fought back with a 9-2 run to close the gap to 43-31.  The game would stay around that margin most of the rest of the way.  alabama a&m was able to cut the lead to 6 at 52-46 with 7 minutes to go, but layups by Muller and Bibbs helped put some distance on the scoreboard.

Again, the bulldogs clawed back within 6 with 1:50 to go, but layups by Muller and Pierce put the game away and closed the scoring.

The Hokies dominated on turnover margin (+10) but were horrible from the line (10/20) and below average from deep (5/17 – 29%).  Luckily the bulldogs had all those turnovers and shot under 40% from the field and just 21% from deep.

Tech returns to action next Saturday at 1 PM vs the citadel from the Cassell.

Preview:

The Hokies are going to win Sunday!  I gare-uhn-tee it!  Hey, that’s exciting.  So expect highlights some time Sunday evening.

No, I’m not going to promise I’ll wear uva gear if we lose, or donate money to an American eagle preservation fund, but I am 99% sure we will win this game.  Bear Fight?  No way I’m predicting that, especially since I don’t drink on Sundays.  But the Hokies will win!

Tech may look rusty early given they haven’t played in a week and have been mired in finals, but expect the Hokies to have some hunger and come out fired up after several slow starts lately.  If this game isn’t over by halftime, that’s not a good sign.

Keys to the Game:

  • Show up (that’s about it for Tech to win)
  • but, we’d also like to see improvement with…
    • Rebounding: Tech has had a positive rebounding margin is just 2 games (both wins).  And VT is near the bottom of the ACC in almost every rebounding stat (14th in Defensive Rebounding % and 15th in Offensive Rebounding %).  If they can’t win the battle of the boards in this game, they’re in big trouble the rest of the season.
    • Turnovers: While Tech has had a positive turnover margin in 3 of their 4 losses and a negative one in 1 of their wins, it has been critical turnovers late in games that have bitten them, even in blowouts.  Since this game will be a blow-out, this likely won’t matter in the outcome but it would be nice to see guys like Jalen Hudson do a good job protecting the ball late in the game while Devin Wilson is sitting.  That will give him confidence as the season goes on.
    • I’m not mentioning free throws as this isn’t going to get much better over the course of the season.  I would like to see more front ends of one-and-ones made, but again, that probably won’t improve much.
    • Malik Muller: since scoring 24 points in his first 2 games, he’s scored just 19 total in the last 6.  He has a good shot and the physicality to attack the tin.  He needs to be more aggressive.  His defense (he’s great at intercepting passes) could help with this.
    • Adam Smith: Averaging 17 PPG in wins, and less than half that (8.25 PPG) in losses.
  • Note:
    • Joey van Zegeren: Has scored in double digits in 3 straight games.
    • Justin Bibbs: Has scored 8+ in all 8 games.  Is #1 in the ACC in 3-Point % at an amazing 64% (16/25)… Smith is 5th at 45% and 2.4 made per game.
    • Tech is #1 in the ACC in 3-Point % (44%) and 3rd in FG% (49%).  They aren’t in the top half of the league in any other stat other than Turnover Margin (6th).

The Opponent:

alabama a&m (I have no idea what their mascot is… oh, the bulldogs!) is a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), made up of historically black colleges much like the MEAC (southern and grambling state are also members).  This conference is, well, not very good at basketball by D1 standards this year.  Of their 10 teams, none have a winning record.  Only one is better than 2-5 (that’s alabama state at 3-3).  And 7 of the 10 teams have exactly 1 win.  Heck, let’s pile on some more… the 10 teams combined are 14-61 (19%).  Hence why I guaranteed a victory.

The bulldogs have not beaten a D1 team this season.  In fact, they haven’t beaten a NCAA team yet.  Their lone win was over the oakwood (AL) ambassadors of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.  In their 5 D1 games, they’ve:

  • Lost at dayton by 24
  • Lost at ga tech by 20
  • lost to jacksonville state by 6
  • lost at southeastern missori state by 34
  • lost at bowling green by 17

So they are coming off one of their better games of the year, only losing by 17!

Last season the bulldogs went 14-16 (10-8 in the SWAC + 1 win in the conference tourney… so 11 of their 14 wins were vs SWAC teams).

Key Players:

  • Ladarius Tabb – 12.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG – 6’5″ junior guard – had 24 vs bgsu and made 5/8 threes
  • Nicholas West – 11.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG – 6’10” junior forward

That’s it.  They average just 56 PPG and everyone else averages fewer 6 PPG and 3.5 RPG.  The bulldogs are two ‘threats’ (one inside, one outside) and a bunch of space fillers.

Tabb is the only bulldog with more than 4 made three-pointers (he’s 10/27 for 37%).

They commit 17 turnovers per game (that’s a high number).

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A Look at Former Hokies

Two weeks ago something very peculiar happened — two former college teammates played against each other in a college game where both players were their team’s leading scorer, but neither played for the school where they were teammates at.  I know, pretty confusing.  I’m referring to when florida (Doo-Doo Finney-Smith) met uab (Robert Brown) in a Thanksgiving tournament game in Atlantis.  Brown outscored Doo-Doo 12 to 6 that day, but flordia won as expected.

That game got me thinking about how all these various graduates, transfers of three head coaches in four years, and signed/un-signed guys are doing.  There were a few surprises for me, too.  Like, can you guess which former Hokie Dutchman is still playing professionally?  And which former Hokie is playing D2 basketball in Charlotte?

Hokies Playing Professionally in the United States:

Let’s start with the guys that are the easiest to track and that we don’t resent (i.e. transfers) — the former Hokie players that are earning dough continuing their basketball careers here in the USA:

  • Erick Green (NBA! Denver Nuggets): Just the 2nd Hokie to play in a NBA regular season game (Dowdell) in quite a while, Green has been towards the end of the bench for the Denver Nuggets but has seen some action… like in mop up duty of a Bear Fight loss to the Wizards here in DC last weekend.
    • 5 games played (out of 21): 3.2 PPG in 6.2 minutes per game and shooting 61.5%
  • Jarell Eddie (NBA D-League: Austin Spurs):  After playing with the Atlanta Hawks in the preseason, the Boston Celtics picked up Eddie off waivers and then assigned him the the D-League.  He started out red hot, hitting 60% of his 3-pointers and averaging 25 PPG.  That has tapered off a bit of late though (he was always Mr November at VT).
    • 19.3 PPG (16th best in the league… in case you are wondering, Brad Heslip (undrafted guard from baylor) leads the league at 33.3 PPG and makes more than 8 threes per game on average at a 55% clip!  Seth Curry is 3rd in the league at 25 PPG.)
    • Making 90% of his FTs and 52% of his 3s (3.7 makes per game)

Hokies Playing Abroad:

There were the guys I could find data on…

  • Malcolm Delaney (Russian league: Lokomotiv Kuban  — Krasnodar, Russia): After playing for Bayern Munich last year, Delaney won the Basketball Bundesliga MVP award (Dirk Nowitzki won this back in 1998-99 for the league’s best player).  Bayern won the German title and Delaney won the Finals MVP award.
    • 13.3 PPG
    • Makes almost 2 three-pointers per game at a 36% clip
    • Gets to the line 5 times per game (84%)
    • 4.8 APG and an almost 3:1 assist to turnover ratio.
    • Hitting almost 2 threes per game at 36%
  • Jeff Allen (Israeli league: Maccabi Haifa):
    • 14.6 PPG through 10 games (2nd on team)
    • 7.2 RPG (leads team)
    • 3 steals per game (leads team)
    • Team is in 10th place out of 12 teams
  • Zabian Dowdell (Belgian league: Belgacom Spirou, Charleroi): Since having a cup of coffee with the Phoenix Suns at the end of the 2011 season (24 games played), the Hokie from Pahokee has bounced around Europe the last four years (Spain, Russia, Lithuania, and now Belgium).  He was a Lithuanian league all-star last season.
    • 12.0 PPG in 6 games (4 starts)
    • 3.8 APG
    • 2 Steals per game
    • Team is in 5th place out of 11 teams (6-4)
  • Jamon Gordon (Turkish league: Darussafaka Dogus, Istanbul): The 2007 ACC Defensive Player of the Year has been a Hokie in Turkey (no pun needed) for a while, last season for Anadolu Efes Istanbul.  I’ve seen him  listed with Darussafaka in the Turkish league as Jamon Lucas (his middle name?) perhaps so as not to confuse him with Jamont Gordon of mississippi state, not Jamon, who is also on the team.
    • Scored 15 points, had 7 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals in his 1 game to date I’ve seen stats for
    • Team is 7-2 and tied for first out of 16 games (Turkey loves basketball)
  • Robert Krabbendam (Dutch league: Challenge Sports Rotterdam): Yes, he’s still playing!  Winner of two Dutch titles and an Estonia title, Robert is still playing in his home Amsterdam.
    • 12.1 PPG in 12 games (7 starts)
    • 7.2 RPG
    • Team is in 6th place out of 9 teams
  • Deron Washington (No current team listed): After getting drafted in the 2008 NBA Draft in the 2nd round and bouncing around the D-League, NBA preseason, and NBA Summer Leagues (but never making it in a NBA regular season game), he headed to Europe to continue his career.  He played for Pistoia in the Italian A League last year
  • Dorenzo Hudson (No current team listed): Played for Science City Jena in the German A League last year, averaging 17.4 PPG in 31 games.

Former/Almost Hokies in College:

  • Montrezl Harrell (louisville, Team Record 7-0, ranked #4): The one time VT signee was granted a release after Seth was fired.  Since then signing with Pitino, he’s become a National Champ and this year, as a junior, was a preseason National Player of the Year top candidate.
    • 16.1 PPG and 9.4 RPG (both lead the team)
    • Shoots higher from the field (61.5%) than the line (60%) — he’d have fit right in at Tech!
    • Has a double-double in 3 straight games
    • Had 30 points in the opener vs minnesota (it was Pitino vs Pitino coaching-wise) on 9/12 FGs and 9/10 FTs (he’s just 7/20 on FTs in his last 3 games)
  • Ben Emelogu (smu, Team Record 6-3): Tech’s captain of a year ago was granted immediate eligibility near his hometown and is playing for legendary Coach Larry Brown:
    • Played in all 9 games and averages 19 minutes
    • Just 3.7 PPG (8th on the team) and shoots under 30% from the field and 3-point line (he averaged 10.5 PPG and shot 40%/37% last year)
  • Robert Brown (uab, 3-6): In his first year being eligible to play for the now football-less blazers
    • 11.7 PPG (leads team)
    • Was 7/9 from deep and scored 27 points in their recent win over illinois state
  • Doo-Doo Finney-Smith (florida, 4-4): It has been a disappointing start to the season for florida who lost two of three in Atlantis and blew a huge first half lead at kansas over the weekend
    • 10.3 PPG — Dorian led the team in scoring early in the year but Frazier has since overtaken him
    • 4.7 RPG and 6/17 on 3s
    • Missed two games with a fracture in his left hand
  • Marquis Rankin (queens university of Charlotte (D2), 2-5 (not counting their 31 point loss to nc state)):
    • 10.3 PPG in 26 minutes, 3rd best scoring average on the team.
    • Just 28% from deep (so that hasn’t gotten any better)
  • Marshall Wood (richmond, 3-4): Sitting out per the transfer rules
  • Trevor Thompson (#12 ohio state, 6-1): Sitting out per the transfer rules and watching the Hokies beat osu in football and wrestling

Posted in Home7 Comments

Game Post: radford (5-3) 68, HOKIES (4-4) 66

Recap:

radford-VT-Trend

Boxscore

The Hokies put together a solid comeback in the 2nd half, only to collapse in the final 2 minutes and blow a 66-60 lead, falling 68-66 to radford at the Cassell.  Buzz now joins ricky stokes as the only Hokie coaches to lose to the highlanders (VT leads the series 6-2).

It would be nice to say VT played horrible and radford out of their minds (they did shoot extremely well in the first half), but quite frankly the veteran radford team that returned all 5 starters from last year’s 22 win team was the better squad for most of the game.  And that’s the state of affairs right now — there are Big South teams that are better than us.  Our goal is to change that in as few years (yes, years) as possible.

The Hokies jumped out to a 5-0 lead but radford responded with a 13-0 run (including three 3-pointers from R.J. Price) to take a 13-5 lead.  radford controlled the rest of the first half and took a 39-30 lead into the break.   The lead was thanks in large part to radford shooting 7/12 on 3-pointers in the first half, with Price going 4/8 and Ya-Ya Anderson hitting all 3 of his attempts.

After the break, Justin Bibbs scored 8 straight points for Tech but radford maintained their lead until Tech finally jumped ahead on an Adam Smith 3-pointer with 6:20 to go, snapping a string of 30 minutes where radford had led.

The game went back and forth for a bit but Tech seemingly iced the game on a Devin Wilson layup with 2:03 to go, putting VT up 66-60.  The run was spurred by Buzz’s switch to a zone in the 2nd half that seemed to befuddle the highlanders.  But the Hokies would not score the rest of the way.

radford got a dunk to cut the lead to 4, then after a missed front end of a 1-and-1 (heard that before), Rashun Davis hit a 3 to make it a 66-65 Hokie lead with 41 seconds to go.

Devin Wilson lost control of the ball near midcourt trying to beat a 10 second backcourt violation, leading to a Price layup to put radford up 67-66 with 27 seconds to go.

Adam Smith rushed the ball up the court and missed a floater, and radford responded with 1/2 from the line.  Tech missed 2 three-point attempts to take the lead in the final 10 seconds and a mad scramble for the rebound ended the game.

The Hokies had a balanced attacke with 6 players scoring 8+ points, led by Smith with 12, Wilson with 11, and van Zegeren/Bibbs with 10.

Tech shot 50% from the field and 47% from deep (7/15), usually their formula for a win.  And they were +3 in turnovers (12 for Tech, 15 for radford).  The Hokies were their usual 5/10 from the line, including that critical one-and-one miss late.

radford was just 2/10 from deep in the 2nd half, but their hot first half shooting and critical turnovers and offensive rebounds late helped radford pull off their Super Bowl victory.  radford shot 52% from the game and 41% from deep.

Price led radford with 25.

Random Note: The Hokies hoops team continues to pattern football (2 wins, 2 losses, 2 wins, 2 losses).

Preview:

The Hokies battle their nearby neighbors on Sunday when the radford highlanders take the short trip up Route 11 and 460 to Cassell Coliseum.  The Hokies are 6-1 all-time vs radford (if you need me to tell you who the coach was when we lost to them, this must be your first time reading this site — welcome!).  Tech throttled the highlanders by 25 last year, 81-56.  Adam Smith had his career high of 28 points in that contest along with 5 assists and 0 turnovers.  We’ll see if the highlanders focus on him Sunday. (JvZ had 1 point and fouled out, Devin Wilson had 8 points but 4 turnovers).

The Hokies are coming off a tough loss at penn state where both teams were horrible shooting the ball.  But the most glaring stats were Tech’s 4/14 numbers (from 3-point range AND the foul line).  When the Hokies shoot over 40% from deep, they win.  When they don’t, they haven’t.  And the dividing line on free throws seems to be 56% (>56% – win, <56% – loss)… and VT has been under 40% in two of their losses.  Hard to win when you can’t hit free throws or 3-pointers.

The good news Wednesday was Tech committed just 8 turnovers after losing 14+ turnovers in 5 straight games.  And JvZ had his 2nd double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but also fouled out for the 2nd time this season.

This is the 2nd of three Big South teams VT will play (beat liberty, play presbyterian later this month).

The Opponent: radford

  • 2014-15 Record: 4-3
    • Wins: howard, catawba college, nc a&t, texas-a&m corpus christi
    • Losses: richmond, jmu, tcu
  • 2013-14 Record: 22-13 (10-6 in the Big South; beat oregon state in the CBI postseason tourney before losing to odu)
  • Best Player: #2 Javonte Green – 6’4″ senior forward –
    • 13.1 PPG and 10 RPG (both lead the team)
    • Had 15 points and 6 boards vs VT last year
    • Scored in double digits in 37 of his last 41 games
    • Has not made a 3-pointer this season (only attempted 2)
  • Other Key Players:
    • #10 R.J. Price – 5’11” senior guard – 11.3 PPG
    • #5 Rashun Davis – 5’11” junior guard – 10 PPG, 3.4 APG
    • #11 Ya Ya Anderson – 6’2″ junior guard 5.3 PPG
    • Everyone else is under 5 PPG — #55 Brandon Holcomb (6’7″ junior center) grabs 6.1 RPG

This is a veteran radford team that made the postseason last year, and returns their top four scorers.  Of their 11 guys that play each game, 10 are juniors or seniors.  Two of their losses were without Ya Ya Anderson, who averaged 11.5 PPG last year (but just 5.3 this year).

radford’s offense has been missing in action this year, though.  They averaged 78 PPG last year and will all their key cogs returning, you’d expect the same.  But they are down 15 points per game to 63 this year despite only playing one Big 5 foe so far (tcu).  They’ve only eclipsed the 65-point mark twice and one of those was against a non-DI opponent.  Their FG% is down from 48% last year to 39% this season, and 3-Pt% from 36% to 29%.  Given Tech’s strong defense so far this year (opponents are shooting 39% from the field and 31.5% from deep), the Hokies could help continue the highlanders’ shooting woes.

Despite Green being only 6’4″, he does his damage inside.  He’s only attempted 2 three-pointers this season.  Green will crash the boards and attack the tin, and gets to the line a lot (43 attempts this year, 229 last season).  Obviously VT has the type of players that can guard him, but we’ll see how they actually do at it.

Overall, this is a short team.  They have just three players over 6’4″ that play, and they are just 6’7″, 6’7″, and 6’8″.  So expect big numbers again for Joey van Zegeren if he can avoid foul trouble.

Forecast: We know the Hokies are inconsistent, and that’s what you expect with so many new faces and youth (2 wins, 2 losses, 2 wins, 1 loss…).  The formula this year has been simple — if Tech is hot from deep and at least respectable from the line, they win.  Keep an eye on those variables.  And Tech has shot well against the lower league opponents for the most part.  Given radford’s lack of size, they should be able to get their shots Sunday, the question is if they’ll hit them.  And JvZ should been able to have his way inside, unless they imploy the hack-a-Dutch method.

The better question Sunday might be which radford team shows up.  The one that won 22 games last year and shot the ball well, or the one that has struggled offensively this year.  Plus, the Hokies blew them out by 25, up 20 at the half.

Most importantly, ricky stokes isn’t coaching this team.  So you have to give Tech the W here… don’t you?  Heck, we’ll see.

Spread: [check back for this — it should be posted on Saturday]

Posted in Home2 Comments

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2014-2015 Schedule/Results

November

11/14 - Hokies 71, md. eastern shore 46
11/19 - Hokies 73, liberty 63
11/22 - appalachian state 65, Hokies 63
**********
Cancun Classic
11/25 - n. iowa 73, Hokies 54
11/26 - Hokies 78, miami ohio 63
**********
11/30 - Hokies 83, morgan state 63

December

12/03 - penn state 61, Hokies 58
12/07 - radford 68, Hokies 66
12/14 - Hokies 65, alabama a&m 55
12/20 - Hokies 64, the citadel 61
12/22 - Hokies 87, vmi 74
12/27 - Hokies 87, presbyterian 65
12/30 - west virginia 82, Hokies 51

January

01/03 - syracuse 68, Hokies 66
01/06 - louisville 78, Hokies 63
01/18 - unc 68, Hokies 53
01/22 - notre dame 85, Hokies 60
01/25 - uva 50, Hokies 47
01/27 - Hokies 70, pittsburgh 67
01/31 - wake forest 73, Hokies 70

February

02/03 - syracuse 72, Hokies 70
02/07 - vs. fsu | 3pm, ACCN
02/09 - vs. georgia tech | 9pm, ESPNU
02/14 - @ clemson | Noon, RSN
02/18 - @ miami | 7pm, RSN
02/21 - @ nc state | 6pm, ESPN2
02/25 - vs. duke | 9pm, ESPN2
02/28 - @ uva | 4pm, ACCN

March

03/02 - vs. boston college | 9pm, ESPNU
03/07 - vs. miami | Noon, RSN
**********
ACC Tournament
03/10 - 1st rd.
03/11 - 2nd rd.
03/12 - quarterfinals
03/13 - semifinals
03/14 - championship

Photos on flickr