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nc state 71 (7-7), HOKIES 64 (2-12)

Boxscore

It was the T.J. Warren Show at Saturday at Cassell Coliseum as the nc state wolfpack evened their record in ACC play at 7-7 behind 31 points from the ACC’s leading scorer.  state was simply too athletic for the short-handed Hokies.

With the loss in front of 5,268 at the Cassell (VT’s 2nd largest crowd in ACC play), Tech is now 8-9 at home on the season with one game to go next Saturday versus the red hot unc tar heels.  The Hokies have now clinched not having a winning record at home for just the 3rd time in the 53 year history of the Cassell.  One other time they finished .500, which they could do with an upset next Saturday, or they’ll produce their 2nd ever losing season at home with a loss, matching the 2000-01 Hokies.

KEY STATS:

ncsu VT
FGs 26/64 (41%) 18/42 (43%)
3-Ptrs 4/24 (17%) 6/18 (33%)
FTs 15/25 (60%) 22/37 (60%)
Leading Scorer Warren – 31 Wilson/Eddie – 14
Longest FG Drought 8:08
Pts Per Possession 1.02 0.99

T.J. Warren, a sophomore and former 5-star recruit that was a bit of a disappointment last year, came in leading the ACC in PPG at 23 per contest (almost 4 points ahead of #2) and he was too much for Tech to guard.  After hitting two early 3-pointers, he shredded the Tech 2-3 zone with runner after runner from 6-12′ on his way to 31 points on 12/21 shooting, 3 short of his career high 34 he had at home vs (shocker) wake forest.

Warren was the recipient of many of Tyler Lewis’s 11 assists (he had 9 assists just in the first half).  Lewis looks like he belongs on The Big Bang Theory more than an ACC basketball court, but beat the defensively challenged Hokies off the dribble easily today.

The Hokies came in having playing three great games in a row, but winning just one.  Today was not a fourth straight great effort.  We should note that Tech was without Adam Smith as usual, but also Ben Emelogu and Cadarian Raines were out with ankle issues.  That left Tech with just one scholarship guard available today.  Will Johnston had to play the off-guard and logged 33 minutes (he’d sit whenever he got as red as the state uniforms).  Jarell Eddie ran point for the 1 minute Devin Wilson sat today.

Don’t let the final score fool you — nc state was in control of this game for the entire 25 minutes, usually leading by 8 to 12 points.  The Hokies never got closer than 6 after the 5-minute mark of the first half until the final minute of the game, with state leading by as many as 15 with 7:23 to go.  Tech simply didn’t have the energy they had on Tuesday versus uva and played pretty lethargic basketball (JJ included who on at least two occasions should have either gotten a T or let the refs know they made a bad call).  While the final margin was just 7, nc state simply is not a good team outside of T.J. Warren.  They have some athletes but they are not very skilled.  They have almost no shooters — after Warren hit his first two 3-pointers, state went 2/22 from deep the rest of the game and were just 4/24 (17%) overall from deep).  Tech simply had no one who could guard the 6’8″ Warren (who is basically a ’3/wing’).

Tech did scrap until the end, though, but just couldn’t take advantage of late chances.  They missed a layup under the basket down 7 with 2:30 to go, then after getting an offensive rebound the next possession, missed a 3 that would have cut the lead to 3 with 1:40 to go.  Barksdale had an open look at a 3 with Tech down 5 and 30 seconds to go, but again, the Hokies couldn’t hit and state put the game away from the line.

Tech lost for a few key reasons:

  • No one athletic enough to guard T.J. Warren.  Devin Wilson was on him a lot when Tech wasn’t in the zone, but Devin gives up several inches and just is not a good on-ball defender (no one is on VT).
  • Tech was just 22/37 (59.5%) from the foul line.  Even worst, their bigs were a combined 7/17 including 3/9 by van Zegeren.  Eddie and Wilson were 14/17 while everyone else was 8/20.
  • The Hokies committed 17 turnovers.  It marked just the 2nd time they’ve had more than 14 in their last 8 games.
  • Tech shot very poorly outside the charge circle in the paint for the first 29 minutes…

Tech did not shoot well early today.  Here are a few (not so) fun facts:

  • With 11 minutes to go in the game, Tech had just 3 made FGs outside of the paint for 8 total points.
  • Tech went more than 8 minutes without a field from the final 6 minutes of the first half through the first 2 minutes of the 2nd half.
  • The Hokies went more than 11-and-a-half minutes without a field goal that wasn’t a dunk in that same span.

Here is the scoring breakdown for VT:

  • Free Throws: 22
  • 3-pointers: 6 for 18 points
  • Dunks: 4
  • Tip-ins/layups: 5
  • Other shots in the paint: 2
  • (Total points in the paint: 11 FGs for 22)
  • Midrange shots: 1 for 2 points

Some bright spots for Tech:

  • Devin Wilson had 14 points and 9 assists.  For the 3 game home stand he had 39 points and 23 assists (13/8 per game — pretty darn good).  He already owns the VT freshmen record for assists in a season.  He did have 5 turnovers though.
  • Trevor Thompson had 9 points and 9 rebounds, including a couple of monster dunks over nc state defenders (one 2-handed, one 1-handed).  Unfortunately, he added 4 turnovers.
  • Jarell Eddie hit 3/6 three-pointers and 5/6 FTs and had 6 rebounds for 14 points.
  • Tech actually got what they wanted on defense from the 2-3 zone.  nc state shot 24 three-pointers, well above their season average, and made just 4.
  • Also, Tech barely missed averaging a point per possession.  In fact, with just one more made free throw, they’ve have surpassed it.  According to Cvillehoops13 on TSL, they’ve surpassed 1 point per possession in ACC play just once this season.
  • From Cvillehoops13: “The Hokies have only reached 1 point per possession in 1 ACC game this year. If that holds the remainder of the schedule they will be the first ACC team in the shot clock era to not get to 1 ppp in at least two conference games – that despite playing more conf games than many of those teams and in a year when points per possession is at an all time high since the shot clock.”

Tech trailed 35-25 at the half.

The Hokies return to action on Tuesday at duke at 7 PM on ESPNU.

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Recaps, Home7 Comments

New Poll Question

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Home2 Comments

Bruce Pearl Ain’t Coming to Blacksburg

I’ve seen a lot of posts on the various message boards (including this one) hoping the Hokies hire Bruce Pearl as their next coach after this season when Bruce comes off his [cough] NCAA punishment.  Well, I’ll bet you a steak dinner he won’t be coming to Blacksburg, at least not as the Head Coach of the Hokies.  It’s more likely he’ll be in the ’Burg for Gameday to feature the Hokies vs boston college than to coach Virginia Tech.  I could recite reasons like “we can’t afford him” or “he’ll get a better offer from a more stable program” or “our current coach is still under contract for another 3 years,” but the biggest one is this…

He works with Seth Greenberg at ESPN.

Now, I’m sure 95% of Seth’s time as the head man of Virginia Tech was positive.  But Seth has always been the type of guy to focus on the negative.  That’s just his nature and that’s how he kept his teams motivated for many years — keep that chip on their shoulder.

And Seth’s time in the ‘Burg did not end well.  The orchestrator of that fiasco was one Jim Weaver.  Yes, Whit Babcock is now officially the AD.  But Weaver is still on the payroll for another 2 years as a “consultant”.  He’s spoken out about our coaching situation.  And while Whit may or may not lean on Jim’s input, you better believe Seth (in my opinion) will be warning Bruce about it and making Bruce feel this isn’t a pearl of a job.

So dream on.  Personally, I’d love to have him.  But with JJ’s guys playing better of late and Whit still wet behind the ears, at least here in Blacksburg, I think a move is less and less likely, and Bruce won’t be around a year from now, I bet.  And even if JJ is relieved of his duties after this season, the successor will not be Mr. Pearl.  Seth will see to that, in my opinion.

Posted in Home4 Comments

uva at VT Mini Preview

I posted the regular preview late last week but here are a few things to know for the Tuesday night 9 pm game between the Hokies and hoos at the Cassell:

  • uva is favored by 11.5 (they won by 20 at uva a few weeks ago)
  • This is the first basketball game under Whit’s watch. While it is a long shot VT wins, he certainly has to know Tech has to change their recent trend versus the hoos. The Hokies have lost 4 in a row to uva and 3 straight at home. Want to get in the good graces of the fan base? Beat uva.
  • A loss to the hoos would give Tech their 2nd longest losing streak ever at home vs uva (4). Tech lost 6 straight from 1939-47 in Blacksburg to uva.
  • These are 2 programs moving in polar opposite directions. uva has lost just 1 game in 2014, VT has won just 1
  • Devin Wilson needs just 5 assists to set the VT freshman record
  • uva is ranked #14 in the nation and are 12-1 in the league. They are 2.5 games ahead of duke for 2nd and just a half game behind 12-0 syracuse. They clinch a bye to the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament (that is now Day 3 of the tourney and the Hokies will likely have been home for 48 hours by that point). Keep in mind uva hasn’t made it to Semi-Final Saturday in almost 20 years, so this is a great opportunity to end that incredible run of futility. But they were the #1 seed a few years ago and still lost in the quarters, so we’ll see what happens.
  • Tech clinches not having a losing record at the Cassell with a win. (8-7 right now with 3 games to go including this game)
  • Posted in Home4 Comments

    Bet You a Bear Fight?

    The Hokies are 19.5 point underdogs at pitt on Saturday. Could there be a more perfect spread? If VT covers, they end their streak of 4 straight 20+ point losses (aka a Bear Fight loss). And if pitt covers it will set a record for Tech futility, marking the first time ever VT will have lost 5 in a row by 20+. Oh, the drama!

    Posted in Home0 Comments

    Announcement: VT NOVA Hokie Club Football Recruit Night: Wed., Feb. 12

    All you NOVA Hokies – Take advantage of our basketball bye week and come check out all our new football recruits next Wednesday.  (Loudoun Hokies – there is no Loudoun recruiting event this year so head in to Arlington!)

    • When: Wednesday, February 12th at 6:45 PM (Doors open at 6 PM)
    • Where: Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse — 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA
    • Who: Bryan Stinespring — Recruiting Coordinator and TE Coach

    Coach Stinespring will discuss the 2014 recruits and share with us the recruit highlights video and answer your questions on VT football.

    The Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse features a state-of-the-art audio/video system, with theater-style seating and tableside service. A full menu will be available along with their full bar.

    Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Seating is on a first-come basis. Raffle items, including two tickets to each home game for 2014, and door prizes will be awarded at the end of the evening.

    Contact Steve Upton at gohokies1@comcast.net and/or 703-919-5530 for more information.

    Posted in Home2 Comments

    maryland 80 (5-4, 13-5), HOKIES 60 (1-8, 8-13) – Welcome to the Quarry!

    Boxscore

    The Hokies (1-8, 8-13) dropped their 8th straight game and fell to 0-5 at home (Quarry Coliseum) in ACC play in front of 5,110 fans by a 80-60 score to maryland (5-4, 13-5) in the final meeting in Blacksburg between the teams as ACC foes.  Just when you think VT has hit rock bottom, they get out their shovels and dig some more Hokiestone to make the quarry a little deeper.  Whit – you aren’t in the Queen City anymore, enjoy your Skyline chili while you can because these turkey legs are tasting rotten.

    The Hokies actually came out and played with some life in the first half for the first time in five games and it looked like Tech might have a chance at their 2nd ACC win, perhaps inspired by the fact AD-to-be Whit Babcock was seeing the team in person for the first time.  But any thoughts of a Hokie ‘W’ quickly faded after the break.

    The Hokies trailed by 8 at the half (43-35) and cut the lead to 47-40 in the first couple of minutes.  After that, the terps went on a 15-1 run over the next 6:40 and closed the book on this game, going ahead 62-41.  The Baby Jakes (Wilson, Emelogu, and Thompson) spurred a brief run to cut the lead to 16.  Hopefully you stopped watching then because  maryland used another 13-4 run to make it 79-54.  The Hokies went more than 8 minutes with just 1 field goal in the latter part of the game until Ben Emelogu hit a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left, allowing maryland to get up by as many as 25.

    What is Rock Bottom?  It is this…

    • The Hokies went 6:40 without a FG early in the 2nd half and then made just 1 FG from the 8:40 mark to go until 27 seconds to go.  That’s against the ACC’s 14th ranked defense.
    • This game marked the 4th straight game VT has trailed by 20+ points
    • This was the 3rd straight game VT has lost in Reverse Bear Fight fashion (20+).
    • Tech has lost 5 of 11 games by 20+
    • Tech has shot 60% or worse from the free throw line in 8 of 9 ACC games (JvZ was 2/7 today which actually raised his FT% in ACC play)
    • VT has shot under 38% from the field in 4 straight games and in 7 of 9 ACC games
    • The Hokies were 12/46 (26%) combined on FGs in the 2nd half of their two games this week… against the two worst defenses in the ACC

    The lone bright spot today for Tech was Ben Emelogu.  He had 21 points (just short of the 22 he had vs wvu) on 7/12 FGs, 3/6 three-pointers, and 4/4 FTs.  And his points weren’t all in garbage time, he had 12 in the first half when the game was close.

    The flip side of Emelogu was Mr. Eddie.  Some days Jarell Eddie is good, and some days he isn’t.  Today was Bad Eddie: he went 0/9 from the field and 0/5 from 3-point range (and just 2/4 on FTs), finishing with 2 points.  Apparently his 23 point outburst at boston college was a one-time thing.

    Devin Wilson also had a second straight rough game.  He was just 2/6 from the floor for 6 points.  After averaging 18 ppg in the 4 games before this week, Devin scored just 11 total points this week and had just 5 total assists.  Hopefully he gets back on track this week.

    After playing the ACC’s two worst ranked defenses this week (bc and maryland), I think the Hokies left no doubt who actually has the most abysmal defense.  The Hokies allowed the terps to shoot 52% from the field for the game and 53% from behind the arc (8/15).

    Meanwhile, maryland came in ranked last in the ACC in FG% allowed (47%) and 3-point % allowed (40%).  Tech shot just 37% from the field and 4/16 (25%) from 3-point range.  And to boot, VT hit just 16/27 free throws (59%).

    The first half did have some excitement on offense for Tech.  The Hokies used 3 steals and 5 maryland turnovers to get 8 fast break points in the first 8 minutes of the game.  To put this in perspective, VT only had 13 combined fast break points in their four home games in all of January.  But, then the Hokies returned to form.  They scored one more fast break bucket an acrobatic Will Johnston layup late in the first half, but scored 0 fast break points in the 2nd half (maryland had 15 for the game).

    Devin Wilson finished an and-1 with 9:30 to go, putting Tech up 21-15, tying their largest lead in an ACC game all season and you saw life in the team and crowd.  But maryland responded with 12 points in a span of 2:17 to take a 27-21 lead.  Yep, another 12-0 run, and on just five possessions by the terps.

    The Hokies had a chance to tie the game at 37 with a minute to go before the break, but Joey van Zegeren missed two free throws (making him 1/5 from the line in the first half… plus he missed the front end of a 1-and-1 so really 1/6).  The terps drained two 3-pointers in the final minute and took an 8 point lead to the locker room.

    The Hokies have now been outscored by 69 points in the first half of their last five games.

    At least the Hokies won’t lose at home this week, Tech is on the road for both games, at fsu Wednesday (where VT has never won in ACC play) and at pitt Saturday.

    Tip for JJ: People often think a press forces the game to be up-tempo, but that isn’t always true and depends on the type of press.  I know we don’t have much depth, but with a semi-soft three-quarters court press, you don’t expend a ton of energy.  Plus it would take advantage of our length on defense.  That’s why it is frustrating to never see Tech pressure despite JJ’s claims VT would be a pressing team when he got the job.  maryland used their three-quarters court trap to slow down the Hokies offense.  On 4 of Tech’s first 8 possessions the Hokies took the shot clock under 10 seconds before getting into their offense and getting the ball inside the 3-point line.  Don’t you think that would help the defensively challenged Hokies on that end?  TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT!  If we are getting blown out giving up wide open 3s every game, maybe try a press, even if it isn’t an aggressive full court press.  Just give the opponent a different look and slow them down.  And even if they shred the press, at least they’ll only get a 2-point dunk and not an easy 3.  I mean, how much more could we lose by?

    JJ in over his head moment of the game: With 9:30 left and VT down 16 (and the game decided), Evan Smotrycz swung an elbow and then tried to girl-push Trevor Thompson (after Trevor accidentally put Evan in a headlock… trust me).  It wasn’t that bad but it still looked unsportsmanlike.  Tech had just made a mini-run, and needed to know their coach had their back.  It was time for JJ to make a scene.  I’m not talking stomp around a child and throw a temper tantrum, especially in front of your new boss.  But at least get a ways out on the court and tell the refs point blank we won’t take that crap.  Maybe you get T’d up, maybe you don’t.  Either way, we were going to lose.  But at least it would have sent a message, like Seth did when he got ejected at Cameron Indoor in our first season in the ACC (and our team took off in the following games).  JJ did talk with the refs and plead his case, but he’s too passive.  If you want your guys to play with fire in their bellies, you have to show some at times, too, and this was the chance to do it (and for them, not at their expense).  He just isn’t a head coach.  Period.

    Random Thought: Can we go a week without having an announcer crew that features an alum of our opponent?  Corey Alexander last week and tim brant this week.  brant actually said “10,000 people bought tickets for this game” at one point and “it’s a late arriving crowd” earlier.  Um, yeah, we know.

    Also, I’m now 0-for-TechHoops.com on guarantees (I guaranteed Tech would win a game this week).  I clearly overestimated this bunch.

    Favorite maryland @ VT Memories from the ACC:

    I actually have two, and neither were today.  I’ve always hated maryland and their obnoxious fans who are often just plain dumb when it comes to talking trash.  It stinks to think we lost to them at home in football and basketball in their final ACC season, but at least these two memories were awesome:

    1. HOKIES 86, maryland 76 – 3/5/2005.  In the regular season finale of Tech’s inaugural ACC season, Tech defeated the more talented terps and evened their ACC record at 8-8 to clinch the #4 seed and a bye in the ACC Tournament.  What a shocking season it had been, and this was the capper.
    2. The Ice Bowl: HOKIES 67, maryland 64 (OT) – An ice storm crippled SW VA but the game went on – on Sunday Night Hoops.  The Tech Administration let students flood the arena and it ended up being closed to capacity and loud as can be (imagine that — having students in the best seats).  The Hokies took this game in overtime on their way to a NCAA Tournament invite.
    3. Honorable Mention: maryland 104, VT 100 (2 OT) — a beer truck hit a fire hydrant and this game was delayed about 4 hours.  And with overtime, it went well into the night.  There was no water in the building so I had to pee outside at halftime… on a TV truck… next to a current VT football assistant coach.  I also drank a whole bottle of salad dressing before the game on a bet (I won, but I paid).

    Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Recaps, Home18 Comments

    Bobby Stevens Named VT’s ACC Legend for 2014

    Bobby Stevens’s name may not be familiar to every Hokie fan, but it should be.  Stevens hit arguably the biggest shot in Virginia Tech basketball history.  His putback floater of his own miss in overtime at the buzzer gave the Hokies a 1-point win over notre dame and the 1973 NIT Championship (which was a big deal back then since the NCAA Tournament had a much smaller field of just 24 teams). 

    Here’s a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED ARTICLE about Tech’s NIT Championship run (from their archives).

    Stevens will be honored at this year’s ACC Tournament along with a member from each other ACC school, including Terry Holland, Tree Rollins, Julius Hodge, Eric Montross, John Lucas, and Dave Bing.

    Stevens was a 5’10″ guard who started his college career at ferrum.  He played just two years at Virginia Tech, so you won’t see him on any top 10 lists in terms of his production, but his winning basket will forever be cherished in Hokie basketball lore. 

    I had the opportunity to watch the tape of the NBC broadcast in the VT library while doing research on Hokie basketball.  And even though it was 25 years after the fact and I wasn’t even born when it originally happened, my hair stood up watching the final seconds and the buzzer-beating win. 

    The win capped an improbable run for Tech in the NIT tournament.  Back then all the games were playing in Madison Square Garden.  Tech defeated new mexico, fairfield, alabama, and notre dame by a combined 5 points to win the title.  Tech truly was the cardiac kids for those four games.

    Congrats to Bobby!

    Posted in Home0 Comments

    Earth is Safe for Another Year: clemson Loses at unc for the 57th Straight Time

    Would wake’s Bzdelik win a conference road game in the same week that clemson finally won at Chapel Hill? No, at least on the latter. If that had happened, I’m pretty sure a black hole would have opened up and swallowed us all.

    In what has to be the most amazing streak in sports, the clemson basketball team is now 0-57 all time at unc. That’s a big donut for Dwight Stephenson (famous Miami Dolphin OL who wore #57). And keep in mind, this isn’t canisius at syracuse or Navy at notre dame, this is two teams that have been in the same conference for the entire duration of the streak.

    On Sunday night, the heels made sure early that clemson knew tonight was not their night. The 1-4 heels (in the ACC) jumped to a 16-point halftime lead and a 31-point lead 7 minutes into the 2nd half on their way to a 80-61 win.

    Another improbable aspect of the streak is clemson has kept the final margin in single digits just 8 times, so they usually aren’t even close on most occasions, and weren’t Sunday.

    So sleep safe tonight, we are all safe for another year!

    Posted in Home0 Comments

    Gambler’s Corner: hoos Favored by 18 over VT

    Ouch. The opening line for Saturday’s VT @ uva game (3 pm) is the Hokies +18. So a bet on the hoos is a bet on a Reverse Bear Fight. Tech hasn’t been very good against the spread of late, going just 1-6 in their last 7 games with spreads (their lone cover was the loss at notre dame). But believe it or not, I’m actually picking the Hokies to cover. Not to win, not to even lose by single digits, but to cover. That’s a lot of points for uva to pick up and they are due for a letdown (which sadly a 10-17 point win would be).

    Posted in Home4 Comments

    James Johnson is edging closer to the hot seat

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

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

    Here is the remaining schedule:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted in 2013-14 Season, Home25 Comments

    wake forest 83 (3-3, 13-6), HOKIES 77 (1-5, 8-10)

    Dear Hokie Hoops Fan,

    You have officially been admitted to Rock Bottom.  Population: Us

    Sincerely,

    JJ

    Boxscore

    To say the first half was an embarrassment would be an understatement.  The Hokies were absolutely run off their own floor in the opening minutes by an inspired wake forest team led by Coach Bzdelik.  Tech did put forth a noble effort in the second half led by Devin Wilson’s 25 2nd half points and got within 9 with 4:30 to go, but ultimately fell by an 83-77 score at the Cassell (the 6-point final margin marked the closest Tech was since the 14:40 mark of the first half — in other words, the game really wasn’t that close.

    For those of you that aren’t familiar with Bzdelik and his road woes, here’s some interesting numbers coming into tonight:

    • wake had lost 17 straight ACC road games (19 if you count the ACC Tourney)
    • The deacs hadn’t won an ACC road game in more than 2 full calendar years
    • wake is 1-27 in ACC road games in Bzdelik’s 4 years (1-30 if you count the ACC-T)
    • Bzdelik was 1-23 at colorado in Big 12 road games (including 23 in a row), for a grand total of 2-50 in conference road games over the last 7 years.

    Give wake credit, because they got Bzdelik ACC road win #2 tonight with their inspired play.  The deacons just flat destroyed the Hokies early, who granted were without their 2nd and 3rd leading scorers (Ben Emelogu – ankle and Adam Smith – calf).  But excuses are like @ss holes — everyone has one and they both stink.  And the “injury” excuse doesn’t hold water.  We have injuries year after year after year.  What are we doing in practice?  Fight Club?  And wake didn’t go 1-27 without finding ways to lose to teams dealing with adversity.  Instead, we can safely say we are the worst of the worst now.

    This game was a train wreck from the start for the Hokies.  Here are a few telling details:

    • So much for Tech’s 52% shooting on FGs at notre dame, Tech started 0/11 from the field, putting them in a 10-2 hole
    • Travis McKie, who had just 15 points combined in his previous 4 games, had 15 points in the first 12 minutes, and put wake up 30-11 with 8:45 to go on his 4th three-pointer of the first half.  (Note: McKie has owned the Hokies in his career.  The senior from Richmond has averaged over 15 ppg against Tech in his time at wake.  McKie finished with 24 points to lead wake.)
    • McKie, who was just 16/58 (28%) on 3s on the season, was 4/4 from long range in the first half (and 5/6 for the game).
    • Tech trailed by 20 (yep, Reverse Bear Fight) with 7:45 still to go… in the first half (34-14)
    • wake scored on 15 of their first 19 possessions (and that includes their first 2 possessions, which they didn’t score on)
    • Tech missed 2 dunks on the same possession at one point.
    • wake only made 2 FGs and scored just 6 points in the final 7 minutes of the first half… yet Tech only 10 themselves, chipping just 3 points off the lead.
    • wake, who came in shooting just 32% on 3s on the season (11th in the ACC), hit 7/10 (70%) in the first half.
    • The Hokies trailed by 16, 43-27, to Bz-eff’n-delik on the road.

    But this is Bzdelik and you knew he’d find a way to make it interesting.  Tech opened the 2nd half on a 7-1 and cut the lead to 10 with 18 minutes to go.  After the teams traded baskets, wake then went on a 9-0 run to push the lead back to 19 with just under 15 minutes to go.

    Once again Tech battled and chipped away, getting the deficit down to 10 with 5 minutes to go and finally single digits (9) with 4:40 to go.  But the Hokies just couldn’t get stops all night when then needed them, and Codi Miller-McIntyre put the game away with some driving layups and horrible help defense (the VT post players clearly didn’t find the ball).

    Kudos to the Hokies for giving it their all in the second half.  Joey van Zegeren laying out for a loose ball down 16 with 8 minutes to go was awesome effort.  And the team did battle.  But you cannot keep digging yourself into ridiculous first half holes and expect to win any games.  Tech has trailed by 15 and 16 points at the half in their last 2 games respectively.  Note to JJ: Whatever you are telling the team at halftime, TELL THEM BEFORE THE GAME!

    While wake played with effort, with inspiration, with a gameplan, Tech played with nothing in the first half.  JJ had to know he wasn’t going to have Emelogu or Smith, yet the guys that did play looked totally unprepared.  And to boot, they were uninspired and gave almost no effort on defense.  If a coach can’t prepare you to win, can’t inspire you to play hard, what good is he?  Not much, in my opinion.

    Positives:

    • There are none when you lose at home to a team that had lost 17 straight ACC road games.  I’m surprised they didn’t cut down our nets afterwards.

    Things that didn’t stink:

    • Wilson’s 2nd halves: Wilson had 25 points in the 2nd half tonight (26 for the game), giving him 43 points in the 2nd half of our last 2 games.  The problem is he’s only scored 3 combined points in the first half of those games.  He also missed both FTs with VT down 9 and 3:30 to go and Tech having all the momentum.
    • Jarell Eddie had 20 points tonight and was 4/10 on 3s.  The problem is he was just 1/6 on 2-point shots and was just 5/16 from the floor overall (31%).
    • Tech, who came in shooting just 50% on FTs in ACC play, hit 24/33 (73%) tonight.
    • The Hokies had 22 offensive rebounds tonight (47% offensive rebound %).  The problem is they allowed wake a 43% offensive rebound % themselves.
    • Trevor Thompson had 10 points and 12 rebounds, his 2nd double-double of the year.  But have you ever seen a 6’11″ guy miss so many dunks?
    • Just 6 turnovers.
    • The students were back (and into the game pretty much the whole way), helping our attendance to 5,156, our best ACC game crowd yet.

    Things that had a moderate to severe odor:

    • JJ’s preparation of the team.
    • Cadarian Raines — whatever magic in a bottle he found Sunday night, well, he must have drank it all.  He was just 2/10 from the floor tonight for 5 points.
    • Tech’s shooting — 0/11 to start and 22/65 (34%) for the game.  Even taking away the 0/11 start that’s just 22/54 (41%) after that, which is slightly below average.
    • 0 fastbreak points.  We have a complete inability to push the ball.  Guys get a steal and hold it until Wilson comes and gets it.  And at one point Wilson passed it to Johnston who threw up a 3-pointer on the run that clanked off the rim.
    • Any semblance of an offense — once again the ball would stay beyond the 3-point line until seconds were left on the shot clock, even when down 11 with a little over a minute to go.
    • The fact we didn’t run a full court press until 1 minute to go (and promptly got a turnover — maybe should have thought of using it earlier — I know we were down several players, but still, what did you have to lose in the 2nd half?)
    • Trailing by 21 in the first half.
    • Trailing by double digits for 27 consecutive minutes until 4:40 to go.
    • Staying in the zone until they had hit 6 three-pointers in the first half and were up 30-11… and our perimeter defense in general that let a 32% 3-point team hit 56% (9/16).
    • Our defense period — they shot 54% from the field and over 50% in both halves.  Horrible help and perimeter defense all night.
    • Me being on anti-biotics and therefore unable to have some consolation Scotch.

    Tech returns to action on Saturday at 3 PM against the red hot uva team (5-1 in the ACC) at uva.  Let’s hope we show up at 3, not at 4.

    Final Thoughts:

    I’m officially in the ‘we need to fire JJ after the season’ camp.  I’m just not sure we will given that we still don’t yet have an A.D. and the season ends for us in less than 2 months.

    And if you want me to rub your back and tell you everything is going to be OK, I can’t.  We are about as bad as I’ve seen since the final days of the ricky stokes tenure.  And even in his last year he pulled off a win over a ranked uconn team and uva at home, which this team is a far cry from doing.  It’s time to blow up the operation and take some risks, and to me that means spending some money.  I’m tired of worrying about living in the black on the Balance Sheet, I want to be naughty and push the red.  Because it is going to take some money to get this thing turned around.

    Also, I encourage people to donate more than ever.  The truth is we have a very small Hokie Club population, and stopping donations will only make it that much harder to rationalize spending money on a new coach.  Make your voice heard that you want change, just don’t close those wallets, please.

    Posted in 2013-14, Game Recaps, Home13 Comments

    “Throwing a party tonight,” Cadarian Raines (from May 1, 2012)

    The above Twitter quote was in reference to Virginia Tech hiring James Johnson as its head basketball coach back on May 1, 2012.  I found it while researching Head Coach James Johnson’s salary recently in this article (LINK) from ESPN.  The now infamous Cadarian Twitter quote was mentioned in other articles, too.

    “Throwing a party tonight.”  I hope it was a good one, Cadarian, because it didn’t last.

    The next party Cadarian likely will be throwing is when this season is finally done and he can move out of the JJ doghouse.  Raines hasn’t played in the last two games, and hasn’t left the bench in 4 of the last 9 games.  He’s tallied double digit minutes in just one of the last 6 games.

    Posted in Home5 Comments

    Plus-Minus Stats from the bc Game

    Here are the plus-minus numbers from Tech’s 62-59 loss to boston college (Minutes played are in parenthesis):

    • Jarell Eddie:  +7 (30)
    • Trevor Thompson:  +1 (13)
    • Marshall Wood:  +1 (1)
    • Will Johnston:  0 (10)
    • Ben Emelogu:  -1 (24)
    • Christian Beyer:  -1 (9)
    • C.J. Barksdale:  -2 (30)
    • Devin Wilson:  -2 (30)
    • Joey van Zegeren:  -4 (27)
    • Adam Smith:  -14 (26)
    • TOTAL:  -3

    Couple of things stand out:

    • Adam Smith: He did seem to really struggle on defense in the first half guarding Lonnie Jackson who had 2 inches on him and, let’s be honest, Adam wasn’t working as hard as I thought he could be to get over or around screens and get in Lonnie’s face.  That’s typical for “shooters” (i.e. A.D. Vassallo).  The result was 14 first half points for Jackson.  That contributed to his poor plus-minus.  Like I say, this stat accounts for guys that can light it up but give the other team a power play on defense.
    • Marshall Wood has played just 9 total minutes in the last 2 games combined and hasn’t scored.  That’s after starting the 4 previous games and averaging 9 points and 5 rebounds per contest.  While everyone focuses on Raines’s benching, you also have to wonder if something isn’t up with Marshall and JJ, too.
    • Walk-Ons: Our two walk-ons, Beyer and Johnston, posted a -1 in 19 minutes of play.  That’s really solid.  While I’m not advocating we play them more, it does show that they are giving us quality minutes when in there, at least against a team like bc that isn’t very athletic.
    • Jarell Eddie posted a +7 despite shooting just 3/14 from the field.  That’s one of those one game plus-minus anomalies that you can’t explain.  Was Tech really that much better with him on the floor despite his shooting woes?  Maybe… in part because he had 8 rebounds, 7 of which were on the defensive end.

    I’ll add these to the overall Plus-Minus page (LINK) early this week.

    Posted in 2013-14 Season, Home2 Comments

    Hokie Plus-Minus Stats Page is Up

    Click on THIS LINK to go to our Plus-Minus page.  It is also off of the top menu bar under “More”.

    The page will be updated throughout the season to show players’ plus-minus statistics for each ACC game, as well as their cumulative plus-minus numbers.

    Don’t know what plus-minus means?  That’s explained on the page, too.

    Here are the plus-minus stats from the first two ACC games…

    Game-by-Game Plus-Minus (sorted by the cuse game):

    Game VT 61, @miami 60 cuse 72, @VT 52
    Player +/- Mins +/- Mins
    Johnston 1 3 1 3
    Thompson -1 4 -1 10
    Wilson -6 40 -5 27
    Wood 12 30 -8 8
    van Zegeren -4 35 -9 28
    Barksdale  DNP  DNP -9 20
    Raines 5 11 -13 14
    Eddie 2 43 -13 29
    Smith 0 21 -19 30
    Emelogu 1 34 -24 31
    Beyer -5 4 DNP  DNP 
    TOTALS 1 45 -20 40

    ————————————————————————

    Observations:

    • Last year, C.J. Barksdale regularly posted the best plus-minus for VT.  We shall see who becomes that guy this year.  Marshall Wood had great numbers against miami, but played sparingly against syracuse.
    • When you lose by 20, no one is going to have good plus-minus numbers.  But Ben Emelogu’s was the worst at -24 in 31 minutes of play.  Raines also had shaky numbers with a -13 in 14 minutes.
    • Devin Wilson actually had the best numbers, considering he had just a -5 in 27 minutes of action.  That shows how vital good point guard play is, especially against a great defense like syracuse’s zone.  And how Tech’s lack of depth at the point could really cripple them throughout the rest of the season.

    Posted in 2013-14 Season, Home0 Comments

    Niemo’s Notes* on the syracuse Loss

    Apologies if I repeat some stuff Cope said in his recap but I’ve got a sleeping infant and just need to pump these thoughts out so I can go to sleep…

    The Hokies played well for 25 minutes (VT was down by just 4, 44-40 at that point).  Unfortunately, Boeheim insisted we play the final 15 minutes and that’s when the wheels came off, with the orange  outscoring the Hokies 28-12 in the final 14:20.

    Before I get to the bad stuff, let me say hats off to Adam Smith, CJ Barksdale, and Marshall Wood. Smith fought through his calf injury to play 30 minutes and scored 9 points (all in the first half on shots from the moon). CJ and Marshall were battling the flu. CJ let Tech with 12 points in 20 minutes. Kudos for them for answering the bell.

    Changing gears, what were some of the factors that cost Tech to lose?  It wasn’t turnovers as you’d expect.  syracuse was #1 in the ACC and #5 nationally in creating turnovers (especially steals) coming in, but the Hokies turned the ball over just 8 times, tying their season low (which they set in their last game — a very good trend).  So what did kill us?  Well, here you go.  It was mostly 2 things:

    1. Midrange jumpers
    2. Offensive rebounds

    First, let’s look at how both teams created their points:

      VT cuse
    Pts via 3-ptrs 21 27
    Pts via FTs 9 7
    Pts in the Paint 18 18
    Pts via Jumpers 4 20
    Total 52 72

    As you can see, the Hokies had absolutely nothing inside the arc, but outside the paint tonight.  Actually, nothing isn’t fair, we did make 2 jumpers.   The funny thing is that both of VT’s made jumpshots inside the arc were banked in!  Yeesh.  And this isn’t a one-game anomaly, the Hokies simply don’t have good jump-shooters (inside the arc, that is).  Barksdale and Eddie are their best guys in the 15-18 foot range, but syracuse took them away to their credit. Meanwhile, syracuse, especially C.J. Fair via the shot fake, lit up the scoreboard from this range to the tune of 10 make midrange jumpers.  Note to the Hokies: teams know you are good 3-point shooters!  Try a pump fake every now and then, draw the defender past you, step in and take an easier shot!

    The Hokies have to get better with their midrange game this offseason.  Devin Wilson really needs to work on his shooting for hours every day.  And guys like Emelogu and Smith need to be able to pull up and shoot as opposed to either shooting 3s, or going into the paint and tussling with the big boys.  It was the midrange game that really launched Dowdell’s and Green’s scoring numbers.

    Second, Tech got abused on the defensive glass.  Most teams grab about 30-35% of their misses.  The orange actually had more offensive rebounds than VT had defensive rebounds (17 vs 14, or 55% of their misses).  Conversely, Tech grabbed just 31% of their misses (11 vs 24).  That led to 15 syracuse 2nd chance points compared to 9 for the Hokies.

    Other factors:

    • Jarell Eddie had a bad night.  He hit a 3-pointer 2 minutes into the game (his 1,000th point, making him the 44th Hokie to reach that milestone)… then didn’t score for 22 minutes… then hit another 3… then didn’t score in the final 15+ minutes.  That’s 3 points in the final 38 minutes, and just 6 for the game on 2/9 shooting (meanwhile, C.J. Fair had 17 points).  Granted, Fair was the Preseason POTY, so that’s what you get.
    • Devin Wilson didn’t score until less than 3 minutes were left in the game.  Tech really needed him to find ways to penetrate.  He also had just 2 assists.
    • 3-Pointers: VT was just 2/12 from deep in the 2nd half.  You live by the three (down 6 at the half), and you die by the 3 (outscored by 14 in the 2nd half).
    • Free Throws: Tech started 1/6 from the line, putting them in an early hole.  They finished 8/11 after that point, but 9/17 just doesn’t cut it.

    Attendance: Less than 4,400 tickets were sold for this contest, our ACC opener, against the #2 team in the country that is new to the ACC (I actually thought the middle of the arena was pretty full all considering, but the attendance numbers don’t lie — 4,367 was it).  Yes, students are on break.  Yes, it was 10-degrees out (or the average high in syracuse).  Yes, the game was at 9 PM.  But this is really becoming an epidemic.  Remember in 2007 when SW VA was covered in ice?  Tech still drew a near capacity crowd to watch the Hokies beat maryland in OT in mid-January.

    Do we think it will get better when the students return?  Maybe there will be a small bump in attendance, but we shall see.  And continued reverse Bear Fight losses won’t help.

    Please, people, let’s support the Hokies on Saturday.  This is a very winnable game against a bad (4-11) bc team.

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

    I’m going to start a new column called “JJ’s Head-Scratchers”.  I don’t want this to be perceived as me saying JJ is a bad coach.  Rather, I’d hope he reference these as Coachable Moments since he had as much college basketball head coaching experience as me when he took the job — we are in this together!

    JJ’s Head-Scratchers:

    1. Putting Joey van Zegeren in the high post in the 1st half was not a good idea.  He has a limited offensive repertoire that is not suited for the high post at all (i.e. not a good midrange jumpshooter like Barksdale and a terrible passer).  Most teams flash the opposite postplayer to the high post as the ball swings around the perimeter.  Instead, JvZ was just standing stagnant in the high post.  They did fix this for a few possessions in the 2nd half, though (that’s when CJ started going nuts and got VT within 4).
    2. Going to a 2-3 zone against a team that practices against a zone every day in practice… syracuse proceeded to score on all 4 possessions against our 2-3 zone for a total of 9 points.
    3. Not doing a 2-for-1 at the end of the first half.  Tech had the ball with 58 seconds to go in the first half.  All they had to do was put up a decent shot in the first 15 seconds of the shot clock, and they’d have gotten the ball back (in all likelihood) for one more possession.  Instead, they bled the clock and Adam Smith heaved a 3-pointer from Rustburg with 33 seconds left and syracuse was able to hold for the last shot.
    4. [My Favorite] With 3 seconds on the shot clock in the 2nd half and Tech inbounding the ball under their own basket, Adam Smith chucked the ball into the back court to Ben Emelogu.  The result, of course, was Ben having to launch a half court shot, not for free tuition mind you, but to beat the shot clock.  A good team has the shot clock status communicated to them (since our bench was on that end of the floor) and doesn’t send someone to the back court, let alone throw it to them.

    Positives from JJ:

    • The one time syracuse pressed we shredded it for a dunk.  That’s a big improvement over how we’ve looked against presses in the past, although this was a small sample size.
    • We did seem to adjust the high post rotation after the half, but why was it so bad in the first half?  We had a week to prepare for the zone.
    • Turnovers are way down of late (8 in each of the last 2 games).

    * Please note: Niemo is not an expert.  Any suggestion he is an expert is strictly prohibited in the lower 48 states.  Cash value of these notes are 1/100 of a penny for every fan at this game.

    Posted in Home9 Comments

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