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Game Log: Hokies (2-9) 65, jackets (2-10) 63

Recap:

Boxscore

Real men wear argyle

Real men wear argyle

The Hokies won the Battle for 13th Place Mega Bowl!!!  Or put another way — Buzz out-buzzed the buzz!  Tech took down the lesser tech, overcoming a 10-point deficit with 4:30 to play and win 65-63 at the Cassell.  The Hokies are now 2-9 in the ACC, good enough to move out of last place and into 13th ahead of gt (2-10) and bc (1-9).  Tech also surpassed their total wins of a year ago (10 this year, 9 last year) and tied their total ACC wins (2).

The heros tonight were Malik Muller and Buzz Williams’s sweater (he switched out of a suit at the half and into a maroon-orange argyle sweater).  History was not on the side of Malik Muller when he shot a corner 3-pointer with 15 seconds to go, having missed late 3-pointers to tie the game or give the Hokies the lead against syracuse (at VT), uva, and pitt.  But instead of shooting from the left corner, this time he calmly drained a 3 from in front of the Hokie bench to give Tech a 64-63 lead.

Score at each media timeout

Score at each media timeout

A Hokie stop on the next possession then sealed the win and assured Tech will not have a losing record at home this season (they are now 9-6 at the Cassell and have had a losing record at home just twice in the history of the Cassell).  And to think ESPN didn’t think enough of this game to even send an announcing crew (the game was called by announcers in the ESPN studio).

With a three game road trip looming, this was a critical win for the Hokies to avoid falling too deep into the cellar.  Virginia Tech responded early jumping out to a 14-2 lead, but blew that quickly and trailed 31-26 at the half.

Tech would not take the lead at all in the 2nd half until that 3-pointer with 15 seconds left, and trailing 58-48 with 4:30 to go.  But this team doesn’t quit.

The Hokies were led by Malik Muller’s 17 points.  Adam Smith also added 15 and Shane Henry scored 10 points before fouling out (again) in 12 minutes.

Justin Bibbs struggled for the 2nd game in a row — had had just 3 points with 5 minutes to go on 1/7 shooting before hitting a 3 and a layup down the stretch to give himself 8 points.  He had just 3 points on 0/6 shooting vs fsu, so he’s 3/15 in the last two games (and 4/9 from the line).  Not sure if he’s hit the freshman wall, or just isn’t all the way back from his concussion.

Devin Wilson also scored just 2 points for the 2nd game in a row and once again was on the bench down the stretch, except for the last second when he was in for defense.

Here’s a crazy stat for you — in Henry’s last 3 games he has 25 points and 11 fouls in 29 minutes (and fouled out twice).  He has to be tops on the team in points and fouls per minute!  Henry is also 7/7 on FGs in the last 2 games.

Muller has been hot of late, averaging just under 13 PPG in his last 5 games.

georgia tech was led by 17 points from Charles Mitchell (a teammate of Seth Allen’s at maryland last year), 11 for Marcus Georges-Hunt, and 10 from Tadric Jackson and Chris Bolden.

The Hokies sold fewer than 5,400 seats, and many of those 5,346 were dressed as empty seats.  It was the 2nd lowest crowd for an ACC home game.  The student turnout continues to be pathetic.

The Hokies are now 11-5 against the lesser tech since joining the ACC (and 15-6 overall).

Keys to the Game:

  • Hold your own on the glass: (have a defensive rebounding % of at least 60%)
    • gt DOMINATED the boards, getting 19 offensive rebounds in 41 opportunities (46%)
    • VT didn’t get a single offensive rebound until 7 minutes into the 2nd half and finished with just 5.
    • How bad was it for VT?  Their best rebounder was ‘Team’ with 6 rebounds — if the ball gets knocked out of bounds on a rebound attempt and you get the ball, it’s a team rebound and VT had 6 of those… no player had more than 5.
    • gt was +13 in the first half on the boards, but VT was actually +1 in the 2nd half, a key to their comeback.
  • Dominate from deep: (make more 3s and shoot a higher % than gt)
    • VT was 5/12 from deep at 42%
    • gt was 4/19 at 21%
    • gt is and was awful from deep (3 airballs), but they also did a fantastic job of preventing the Hokies from launching 3s… until the critical Muller shot
  • So, based on my two keys, gt should have won — why didn’t they?  The Hokies found ways to penetrate and score in the paint — VT shot 48% in the first half and 56% in the 2nd half (52% on FGs for the game)!  That helped compensate for the extra possessions gt had thanks to offensive rebounds.  gt shot just 38% for the game.
    • gt had a 19-3 advantage in 2nd change points, but…
    • VT actually had a 38-36 edge in points in the paint thanks to all those driving layups against the extended jacket defense

Game Flow:

The Hokies jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the first 4:33 of the game on the woeful yellow jackets!  And then they got absolutely taken to the woodshed for the rest of the half.  georgia tech would close the half outscoring VT 29-12, jumpstarted by an 11-0 run to cut the Virginia Tech lead to 14-13.

The run was fueled by Charles Mitchell, a transfer from maryland that was teammates with Seth Allen just last year.  Mitchell, who is 6’8″ and 269 lbs, had 40 pounds on any Hokie other than Satchel Pierce.  Mitchell scored 11 points in an 8 minute span, capped with a tip-in with 7:35 to go in the half that tied the score at 18-18.  Tech would score just 4 points in a 9 minute span as their early lead faded bye-bye.

The Hokies took their final lead of the half with 4:37 to go before the break, but georgia tech closed the stanza with a 9-2 run to take a 31-26 lead to the break (gt scored just 27 points at uva for the entire game).

Both teams looked horrendous on offense, committing a combined 17 turnovers in the first half.  The difference was the jackets grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in 21 opportunities, leading to 11 2nd chance points.  The Hokies didn’t get a single offensive rebound on their 12 misses and were -13 on the boards at the break.

The Hokies made just 1 three-pointer in the first half on 5 shots (gt, one of the worst shooting teams in the league, was 3/13 — a horrible average but they were getting the rebounds).

Mitchell led the jackets with those 11 points (no one else had more than 5) while VT got 8 points and 3 fouls from Shane Henry in 7 minutes, and 7 points from Adam Smith.

Shane Henry has 23 points and 9 fouls in 23 minutes in his last 3 games.

At the break, Buzz Williams ditched the suit for a sweet maroon and orange argyle sweater.  After another low post bucket for a 6’8″ 270 lbs. yellow jacket (this time it was Demarco Cox), Tech responded with a 9-2 run (thanks to 5 points from Malik Muller) to tie the game at 35.

The key for the Hokies to get back in the game was attacking the rim in the half court set.  georgia tech was focused on taking away VT’s best offensive strength, the 3-point shot, and played 4 guys on the perimeter.  So the Hokies started pump-faking and driving the wide open paint for layups (needless to say Cox and Mitchell aren’t exactly spry).  Or VT would run the pick-and-roll to Beyer for a few layups.  And when it didn’t get buckets, it also racked up the fouls on the jackets — VT was in the bonus with 14:30 to go in the game and the double bonus with 9:30 to play.

In a game of runs, georgia tech would push back out to a 7-point lead at 46-39 with 11:34 to go.  VT answered again and cut the lead to 1 at 46-45  After an Adam Smith 3-pointer made it 51-48 gt, the jackets responded with a 7-0 run to make it 58-48 with 5 minutes to go, georgia tech’s biggest lead of the game.  The run was capped by Tadric Jackson’s 2nd 3-pointer of the game (he was 7/58 from deep coming in — that’s 12%!!! — but he was 2/4 from range tonight).

The Hokies once again wouldn’t raise the white flag, and went on a 7-0 run (including 5 points from Justin Bibbs) to cut the lead to 58-55 with 2:45 to go.

The teams alternated points for the next few possessions, but VT finally got a stop thanks to a shot clock violation with 53.1 seconds to go and the Hokies down 62-59 (sound familiar?).  On the ensuing possession, Jalen Hudson went to the line and hit both free throws to make it 62-61 jackets with 34.5 to play.

Shane Henry fouled out with 28 seconds to go while fouling a 68% foul shooter, the mammoth Mitchell, but he was just 2/5 on the night — he made 1 of 2 and the Hokies responded with a corner 3-pointer from Muller to go up 64-63 with 15 seconds to go.

After a gt timeout, Marcus Georges-Hunt went at the rim but 3 Hokies collapsed and forced a miss and a deadball rebound to VT with 2.5 seconds to go.

Smith hit 1 of 2 to put VT up 65-63 with 1.8 to go and gt having to go the length of the court, and a desperation inbounds play led to a shot… but after the buzzer and Buzz beat the buzz 65-63.

Preview:

Spread: jackets by 2.5

It’s the mother lovin’ Battle for 13th Place Mega Bowl!  Despite losing 9 of 10 games to open ACC play, the Hokies can move out of the cellar and into 13th place with a win on Monday night.  That’s because 2-9 georgia tech buzzes into town.

The jackets may be just 2-9 in the ACC, but they are 96th in the RPI (VT is 218).  georgia tech has won 2 of their last 4 ACC games after starting 0-7 in the league.  The first win was a 70-50 stunning blowout of #23 miami in Miami, and they beat wake forest 73-59 on Saturday.  So when they’ve won, they won big.  And 8 of their 9 losses in ACC play were by 7 points or less, 2 of them were in overtime, and 4 were by 3 points or less…  Then there’s the trip to uva… in that game georgia tech lost 57-28 (and despite us not having an editor, that’s not a typo).  The georgia tech football team outscored the basketball team against uva.

georgia tech is not an explosive offensive team.  They shoot just 41.7% from the field on the year (and below 40% in ACC play) and 28% from deep.  Chris Bolden and Quinton Stephens average 1 made 3-pointer per game at 34% and 35% respectively, and they lead the team.  This is good for the Hokies because it will allow them to pack in their defense, dare gt to shoot from deep, and pound the glass.

The jackets aren’t tall, either, which is good news for the Hokies.  But they do have 2 defensive tackles they play in the post — Charles Mitchell (maryland transfer) is 6’8″ 269 lbs and Demarco Cox is 6’8″ 276 lbs!  The jackets are 2nd best in the ACC in Offensive Rebounding %, so Tech must get all 5 guys on the boards.  The thicks for gt will present issues for the Hokies in the post and both shoot over 50% from the field, but like I said, VT can collapse and double them in the post because of the jackets’ lack of 3-point threats.

The jackets are solid on defense and hang their hat there, posting a Defensive Efficiency of 93.9 (44th best in the nation and 8 points per 100 possessions better than Virginia Tech — so expect the Hokies to struggle to score).

Best Player: #3 Marcus Georges-Hunt (6’5″ junior) — he is the only jacket averaging double figures, and he’s just at 13.9 PPG.  He also chips in 5.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, and 1.4 steals (the latter leads the team).  He likes to attack inside.  He’s just a 26% 3-point shooter (so expect him to be hot Monday).  MGH gets to the line more than 5 times per game, doubling anyone else on the team.

The Hokies: For the Hokies, they’ll be looking to get over the florida state loss after just 52 hours.  In that game, Justin Bibbs was held to a season low 3 points on 0/6 shooting.  Both Bibbs and Devin Wilson were on the bench down the stretch (Wilson had just 2 points on 0/3 shooting).

Ahmed Hill had his best game of his young career, though, with 19 points (career high) including 4/7 from deep (mostly in the corner), and Adam Smith chipped in 19 (he had 43 points this season against fsu).

But Tech just couldn’t counter the size, and ability to get to the rim, of the noles.  That shouldn’t be an issue against the thick, but slow, jackets.

Key Stats (ACC games only):

  • georgia tech 74.5% on FTs (2nd in the ACC), VT 67.9% (11th)
  • Both teams are in the bottom of the ACC in FG% at 39.9% (VT) vs 39.1% (gt)
  • VT hits 37.7% of their 3s (4th) vs 29.3% for gt (last)
  • VT makes 9.0 threes per game (1st) vs 4.3 for gt (14th)
  • gt 38.5% offensive rebounding % (2nd) vs VT 60.8% defensive rebounding % (last)
  • gt is 13th in turnover margin (-1.8) and last in assist-to-turnover ratio — hopefully the Hokies can cause live ball turnovers that can lead to easy buckets

Tech must dominate 3-point shooting in terms of % and makes in this game (broken record, I know — but they didn’t do that against fsu with both teams making 8 and fsu shooting a higher percentage.

The Hokies also must rebound at least 60% of the jackets misses (they got 61% vs fsu, which is solid).

Series:

  • All-Time: VT 14-6 (VT’s best record of any ACC rival)
  • In ACC Play: VT 10-5
  • Trend: Since winning 7 of 8 vs gt between 2008 and 2013, the Hokies have lost 2 in a row to gt including a 62-51 loss in the ATL last year
  • At VT in ACC Play: VT 5-1 (the only loss was in the last meeting in Blacksburg in February of 2013)

This is the only meeting of these teams in the regular season.

RealTimeRPI predicts a 68-64 Hokies win! Although they now have us down to 3 total ACC wins (they picked us to beat fsu and now have us losing to miami).  Let’s hope the jackets have the same shooting woes they had in their last trip to the Commonwealth.

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Game Log: florida state (5-6) 73, Hokies (1-9) 65

Recap

It looks like the recent string of gut-wrenching, last-second losses has finally taken its toll on the young Hokies as they dropped their ninth conference loss this afternoon, 73-65, at home to florida state.

Statistically speaking, this game was pretty much a dead heat, save for one, very important category: field goal percentage. The noles shot an eye-popping 54% while the Hokies shot a respectable (especially for such a young team) 40%. That was the difference in the game, folks. Outside of that, they were pretty even.

True freshman Ahmed Hill scored 19 points including 4 3-pointers, both career highs. Redshirt junior Adam Smith extended his double-digit scoring streak to five games, matching Hill’s 19 points. No other Hokie reached double digits today.

They didn’t play horribly, they just ran into a hot-shooting team. Considering how poorly they played early in the season (see loss at home to radford), they have come a long way. I was skeptical after the first 10-12 games, but seeing how they’ve progressed and stepped up against better competition; how they’ve responded to Buzz; and how they gut it out… I’m all in with Buzz and his staff. I’ve never felt so optimistic about a 1-9 team. I see a bright future ahead and each game gets us a bit closer to it.

And now for an in-game observation… Satchel Pierce played just seven minutes. Considering he is the Buzz’s biggest player (at 7-feet tall *cough*) and he was playing a very big fsu team with three 7-footers, I figured Pierce would see some good minutes, but he got off to a bad start and quickly found himself on the bench for much of the game. Christina Beyer, whom Buzz admitted he second-guessed himself about not playing more in the syracuse heartbreaker, played 22 minutes today, scored four points, and had three assists.

In the first three minutes of the game, Pierce missed a jumper, committed two turnovers, and of course, a foul. It wasn’t his day from the get go. On the radio broadcast, Bill Roth said that Pierce averages one foul for every two minutes of action in conference play. In the biz, we call that “not good.” As a result, he played just 7 minutes, his fewest since December. This isn’t a knock on the kid at all. He’s a true freshman who’s getting significant minutes, which will benefit his development. Buzz knows what he’s doing and Pierce has great upside.

Preview:

Spread: Hokies by 2!!

It’s time to wash that stink off from the heartbrokie loss on Tuesday at syracuse and make the seminoles pay when fsu heads to the Cassell in a rematch of the noles 86-75 win over Tech on January 6th.

That was another one of those games were a horrible shooting team can’t miss that we know all too well.  fsu shot 73% in the first half and 7/10 (70%) on 3s!  They scored 53 points in the first half.  To put that in perspective, in 10 ACC games (including that game), they are shooting 44% from the field, 33% from deep (and average just 5 made 3s per game), and score 67 points for a game.  Needless to say the first meeting skewed those stats a wee bit.

Also, fsu had more offensive rebounds (15) than VT had defensive rebounds (14).  That’s… not… good.  The problem is fsu has three 7-footers to throw at us.

Since the VT game, fsu is 3-5 with wins over clemson, wake, and miami (they overcame a 16-point first half deficit), and losses to syracuse, pitt, nc state, unc, and clemson.  They’ve scored more than 65 points in regulation just once in those 8 games and have been held in the 50s (where they were at the half vs VT) 4 times.  Let’s hope last game was a fluke.

Adam Smith and Justin Bibbs combined for 49 points (65% of VT’s points) in the first meeting.  Tech must get better balance and hopefully Malik Muller continues his recent trend (almost 14 PPG in his last 3 games) and Jalen Hudson is coming off a career high 18 points.

The Hokies were 11/28 (39%) from deep in that first meeting.  If the Hokies can repeat that this time, and get at least 60% of fsu’s misses on the defensive glass, VT will win.

RealTimeRPI.com predicts a 73-68 VT win!!!  They had the pitt game for us, FYI.  And I think we will win this game, too (and so does Vegas).  fsu was way too hot last time, and shooting percentages usually drop on the road.  Plus, I think VT is better prepared to battle in the low post then they were a month ago when JvZ had just been suspended.

RPI:

  • fsu: 134 (2nd worst in the ACC)
  • VT: 208

Offensive Efficiency:

  • fsu: 101.6 (171)
  • VT: 101.5 (172)

Defensive Efficiency:

  • fsu: 98.9 (118)
  • VT: 100.9 (155)

Posted in 2014-15 Season, Game Previews, Game Recaps, Games, Home1 Comment

syracuse Self-Imposes 1 Year Postseason Ban (What a Joke)

I don’t write many opinion pieces anymore*, but I couldn’t resist when I heard syracuse had imposed their own one year postseason ban (this year).  The case is in response to an ongoing NCAA investigation into potential past infractions by the team that syracuse initiated due to academic issues dating back to 2007.

Let’s review what they did to themselves:

  • They can’t win the ACC Tournament
  • They won’t play in the NCAA Tournament (see below about that…)

Let’s review why no one cares:

  • They would have been the #6 seed (as of today) in the ACC Tourney and would have had to win 4 games to win the title, the last 3 of which would have been against higher seeds (likely).  And they haven’t gotten to the tougher part of their schedule (i.e. not playing VT anymore… their 6 wins are against teams with 10 combined ACC wins, so even the #6 seed isn’t an assurance.
  • They weren’t going to the NCAA Tournament unless a miracle happened anyway.  They are #72 in the RPI right now, which isn’t even on the NCAA bubble at this point (Lunardi doesn’t have them in the first 8 out).  So it was NIT for them, in all likelihood.

This is a program that has been to the NCAA Tournament 6 straight years and 35 times since 1973.  They were in the Final Four two years ago and the Sweet 16 four of the last six seasons.  Do they care about going to the NIT?  No.

By doing this now, they also protect a really solid recruiting class.  They have signed 4 players from the ESPN Top 100 for next year, including the #19, 55, 64, and 91st best players.  If they had a postseason ban put on for next year, don’t you think that 4-star shooting guard might re-think going there, knowing he might be one and done anyway?

This reminds me of a few years ago when miami self-imposed a postseason ban.  They were 4-4 at the time and not really in the Coastal race.  Whoop-dee-doo.

This whole situation reminds me of the teenager who gets caught with beer in his car by his parents.  He knows he’s going to be grounded.  So, he goes to his parents and says he’s self-imposing a grounding for Tuesday night.  No parties for him that night, he’ll stay home.

The NCAA needs to send a message and say, “Thanks for the offer, but your ban has to be in a future year — a year when you haven’t established you suck.  A year that might scare off recruits.  A year that isn’t already lost.”  They need to make syracuse stay home on a Friday and/or a Saturday night.

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Tech’s Offensive Efficiency — Overall and in the Clutch

Obviously, Virginia Tech’s offensive efficiency down the stretch was a dumpster fire at syracuse.  The Hokies committed 6 turnovers, attempted just 2 field goals, and 4 free throws after the final media timeout (3:50 to play).  Using the calculation of Offensive Efficiency = FGA + (.475 x FTA) – Off Rebs + Turnovers, that gives you an offensive efficiency of 0.4, or 40 points per 100 possessions (an average team averages over 101.5 points per 100 possessions).

But that’s just a small sample size so I wanted to see how VT was doing overall from an offensive and defensive standpoint, just in ACC play, and in the clutch (after the final media timeout) of these last 4 nailbiters.  Here’s what it looks like… (note this shows points per 100 possessions).

  • All Games:
    • Hokies: 101.6 (right at the NCAA median)
    • Opponents: 102.0 (slightly higher than the average median — i.e. slightly bad)
  • ACC Games:
    • Hokies: 97.6 — not very good
    • ACC Opponents: 110.3 — really, really bad from a VT standpoint; this would be in the bottom 50 teams if this was VT’s overall Defensive Efficiency
  • vs uva:
    • Hokies: 33.3 — really, really awful… just 2 points in the 6 possessions to close the game — I should note that up until that point VT’s efficiency was 86.5.  Not very good, but then again, this was one of the best defenses in the nation (uva).
    • uva: 116.7 — uva scored 7 points on their final 6 possessions — uva’s efficiency up until that point was just 78.2, an awesome defensive showing by the Hokies.
  • vs pitt (this includes overtime):
    • Hokies: 122.2 — awesome!  Explains how they overcame a 7-point deficit late.  11 points in 9 possessions to close the game.  Helped that VT got 3 offensive rebounds to extend possessions.
    • pitt: 60.0 — and this explains how pitt lost
  • at wake:
    • Hokies: 150.0 — again, terrific!  9 points in 6 possessions.
    • deacons: 183.3 — this explains how VT lost that game.  wake scored 11 points in their final 6 possessions, helped by a couple of offensive rebounds
  • at syracuse:
    • Hokies: 40.0 — yeesh.  6 turnovers in 10 possessions will do that to you — up until that point VT was at an efficiency of 101.5 which isn’t bad against the ‘cuse zone.
    • orange: 140.0 — they scored 14 points in their final 10 possessions — the orange’s efficiency was just 87.9 up to that point, another solid defensive showing from VT… for 36 minutes.
  • Overall in the ‘clutch’ of the last 4 games:
    • Hokies: 83.9 — not great
    • Opponents: 118.8 — very bad from a VT standpoint
    • Why it isn’t good…
      • VT has committed 7 turnovers in the clutch, compared to just 2 by their opponents
      • Opponents have grabbed 9 offensive rebounds compared to just 3 for VT (all in the pitt game)
      • When you turn the ball over and can’t get rebounds to get ‘stops’, here’s your result.

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Game Log: syracuse (6-3) 72, Hokies (1-8) 70

Recap:

Boxscore

Tech blew a 13-point lead with 5:30 to play, an 8-point lead with 3:40 to go, a 4-point lead with 41 seconds to go, a tie game with 19 seconds to go where VT had the ball and the shot clock was off, and lost in regulation 72-70 at syracuse in Tech’s 4th straight game that came down to a shot at the buzzer (1-3).  There are losses and there are LOSSES.  This stings about as much as a loss can, to me even worse than the uva loss a week ago.

Give credit to the orange.  Up against the wall and down with 4 minutes to go (and down 66-58), they went to a full court trap press and caused 6 Hokie turnovers.  That was capped by a back court violation with 7 seconds to go and the game tied. where Tech could have held for the last shot.  Instead, ‘cuse got the ball back and a Michael Gbinije up-and-under shot with 0.1 seconds left gave the orange the win.

I should also note that unlike against uva, VT didn’t just take the air out of the ball down the stretch.  They kept pushing, trying to score when the press led to odd man breaks.  The problem was more times than not that led to a turnover or a quick miss and change of possession.

The Heartbrokies absolutely played their hearts out tonight.  They hit their first 6 three-pointers of the 2nd half (and 50% for the game — 9/18) to turn a 34-30 halftime deficit into leads of as many as 13 at 63-50.  But once again they found a way to lose down the stretch, this time by the turnover bug.  Tech committed 16 turnovers for the game including those crucial 5 in the clutch.

The Hokies dominated from deep (9 makes at 50% compared to 4 makes at 19% for the cuse) and held their own on the glass (9 offensive rebounds for VT compared to 11 for the orange, despite the fact VT played 5 guards a good bit of the game and both ‘big’ men, Pierce and Henry, fouled out with more than 4 minutes to go).  The Hokies even split in rebounds with each team getting 40.  Tech was 7/8 from the line compared to 16/29 for ‘cuse (55%), but Gbinije made 2 critical free throws to tie the game to setup his game winner.

In the first 14 minutes of the 2nd half of both games vs syracuse, VT outscored the orange by 17. Unfortunately, the final 6 minutes were another story and ‘cuse closed the game 22-7 tonight.

VT was led by 19 points from Justin Bibbs (41 in the two games vs syracuse), a career high 18 from Jalen Hudson before he fouled out, and 13 from Adam Smith.  Muller and Henry chipped in a key 9 points, too.

For syracuse, it was a 3-man show.  Gbinije and Trevor Cooney had 18 each, and Rakeem Christmas, the focus of Tech’s defense, had 15.  The rest of the team combined for just 21 points.

Well, now it is time to try and go to sleep somehow.  Not going to be easy after staying up until 11 and thinking you had the game in hand.  We’ll see you Saturday at the Cassell when Tech plays florida state at 3 PM.

Game Flow:

The Hokies were absolutely dominated in the first half of the game at the Cassell, falling behind by as many as 22 and trailing 42-23 at the break.  That was not the case tonight as Tech came out prepared for the orange.

After falling behind 2-0 after just 12 seconds, Tech tied the game at 2-2 about 3-1/2 minutes in and never trailed for the next 8 minutes.  The Hokies led 14-10 with 9:55 to go in the first half, thanks in large part to the aggressive play of Jalen Hudson off the bench.  Hudson had 6 of Tech’s first 14 points, taking it right at the syracuse zone.

syracuse elected to play 4 defenders beyond the 3-point line.  When the Hokies were able to penetrate past that line of defense, good things happened for the most part.  Meanwhile, Tech did everything they could to limit syracuse’s star, 6’9″ Rakeem Christmas, doubling him often inside.

While the orange’s strategy had limited success early, it finally paid off when Tech got sloppy with their passing.  Down 14-10, ‘cuse went on an 11-0 run over the next 2:30 to take a 21-14 lead with 7:15 to go in the first half.  It was a dunk show for the orange, and they’d have 5 dunks in the first 15 minutes of the first half thanks to their interior advantage.

If you have watched the Hokies of the last 10 days, then you knew they’d respond… and they did.  Tech went on a 14-4 run over the next 4:30 to take a 28-25 lead with 2:45 to go in the first half.  Again, it was Hudson’s aggression that paid off, Adam Smith finally hit a couple of 3s (Tech didn’t hit a 3-pointer until almost 13 minutes into the game), and Justin Bibbs was hitting midrange jumpers from the high post to get Tech back in the lead.

Hudson went at the rim hard 5 times in the first half, most of which were right at big man Christmas.  The result?  10 points thanks to 4 field goals and 2 free throws.

syracuse responded with a 9-2 run to close the half and took a 34-30 advantage into the break.

Smith and Hudson each had 10 for Tech, and Michael Gbinije had 10 for ‘cuse.  Cooney and Christmas added 9 each.

Where Tech struggled was when they were flat-footed in the paint.  syracuse had 7 blocked shots in the first half, including 4 from Christmas.

The Hokies, who were already undersized, played 5 guards most of the final 5 minutes of the first half.  But Tech did a great job on the boards, getting 33% of their offensive misses (8 offensive rebounds in 24 chances), compared to just 3 offensive rebounds for ‘cuse in 19 chances (16%).

**** orange 34, Hokies 30 – Halftime ****

The Hokies came out bombin’ after the break, hitting 3 three-pointers to open the 2nd half and fuel a 9-0 run to take a 39-34 lead with 18:30 to play (2 from Muller, 1 from Smith).

Things went back and forth over the next 7 minutes, but the Hokies kept raining 3s and ‘cuse kept dunking.  Tech hit 3 more three-pointers (Hudson, Bibbs, and another Muller 3), giving them 6 in 6 tries in the first 8:12 of the 2nd half, while the orange got 3 more dunks, giving them 8 with 12 minutes to go.  But the 3 beats the dunk, and Tech led 52-49 with 11:20 to go.

Tech finally got a dunk of their own, as Bibbs found Shane Henry on the baseline for a 2-handed flush to put VT up 56-50 with 10:12 to go.  Then Jalen Hudson banked in a 3 with 8:30 to go to put VT up 59-50… then Jalen Hudson added an up-and-under layup (to give him 18 points surpassing his career high of 15 and ACC high of 12) to put Tech up 61-50 with 7:10 to go, capping a 12-1 run for the Hokies…

Then Satchel Pierce, Tech’s lone big man, fouled out with 6:58 to go.  Problem?  Not at first.  Bibbs added a jumper to make it 63-50 Hokies and an 11-0 run with 6:30 to go.

syracuse then installed a full court trap press and Tech started rushing shots (granted they had numbers) and turning the ball over, leading to a 6-0 run for ‘cuse to make it 63-56.

After Shane Henry missed a free throw with 4:01 to go and VT up 66-57, he fouled Rakeem Christmas 90-feet from the basket, and fouled out of the game, eliminating Tech’s last regular forward.  Tech led 66-58 at the final media timeout with 3:50 to go.

After the break, a VT turnover led to a syracuse layup to make it 66-60.  Another Hokie turnover in the back court led to a ‘cuse free throw to make it 66-61 VT.  Another Hokie turnover in the back court led to an orange put back to make it 66-63.  A wild Hokie shot led to a ‘cuse layup to make it 66-65.  Yeesh.

Justin Bibbs hit a pair of free throws to stop the bleeding and make it 68-65 Hokies with 2:12 to go.  Christmas hit 1/2 free throws to put it at 68-66 VT and then both teams traded turnovers, giving Tech the ball with 1:22 to go.

Adam Smith had an open, but rushed, look with 1:15 to go and missed, giving ‘cuse the ball back down 2 with 70 seconds to go.

Christmas missed a hook with 50 seconds to go, and VT got the rebound and Bibbs went to the line with 41 seconds to go.  AND HE DRAINED THE ONE-AND-ONE, putting VT up 70-66 with 40.5 to go.

Tech responded doing the worst thing possible, fouling Gbinije on a layup, giving him an and-1 and fouling Jalen Hudson out with 37 seconds to go (yes, that took them all of 3 seconds).  The free throw was missed and VT led it 70-68 with 32.7 to go and a VT timeout.  Tech killed 6 more seconds in the back court and burned their final timeout with 26 seconds to play.

The Hokies threw away the inbounds pass and Gbinije, who was 4/8 from the line on the night, went to the stripe and sank both with 19 seconds to go to tie the game at 70.

The Hokies could have played for the final shot, but committed a back court violation and the orange got the ball back with 7.1 to go and the game tied.

Gbinije put in a leaner with 0.1 to go and that was that, 72-70 ‘cuse.

Preview:

Spread: syracuse -12.5

The Hokies look for revenge as they close out their first half of ACC play when they head to the Carrier Dome to take on the orange Tuesday night (late).

In the first meeting (Link to Game Log from the first meeting), Tech fell behind by as many as 22 in the first half, and trailed by 19 at the break.  But nobody makes us bleed our own blood, and the Hokies responded with a 26-9 run after the break to cut the ‘cuse lead to 2 with 6 minutes to play.  After Devin Wilson missed a left-handed layup, the orange retook control and led by 9 with 52 seconds to go.  But some shaky free throw shooting for syracuse and good 3-point shooting from VT allowed Tech to get the ball back with 4 seconds to and down 68-66.  Tech got the ball up the court and to Malik Muller in the corner for a potential game-winning 3-pointer, but it was not to be and Tech lost by that 68-66 margin.

Justin Bibbs had 22 to lead VT, and Devin Wilson had 13 points and 8 assists.  syracuse was more balanced with Trevor Cooney (18), Rakeem Christmas (17), Tyler Robertson (11), and Michael Gbinije (10) in double digits.  (Link to Boxscore)

Tech did a decent job on the glass (syracuse rebounded 39% of their offensive misses compared to 29% for VT) and beat ‘cuse from deep (10 makes at 40% compared to 6 makes at 29%).  syracuse was horrible from the line (57%) in 28 attempts, and both teams shot 39%.

The key was Tech was ice cold in the first half (28%) while syracuse hit 43%.  Cooney had 14 before the break for ‘cuse as VT could not stop him, and Christmas added 10.  The Hokies just looked overwhelmed by the patented Boeheim zone, scoring just 3 points in a 10 minute stretch, but then looked like the better team for most of the 2nd half.

Series:

  • All-time: syracuse 6-2
  • In ACC play: syracuse 2-0
  • At syracuse: syracuse 3-1 (the one win was in 1976 when Boeheim was an assistant)

Trends:

  • syracuse has lost 3 of 4, falling by 13 at clemson, beating bc by 8 at home, losing by 4 to miami at home, and then by 10 at unc
  • Hokies: Have won 1 of their last 2!!! And 3 games in a row have gone to the buzzer

What We/they Do Best in ACC Play:

  • ‘cuse – 6.8 steals per game (2nd in the ACC — and Cooney leads the league at 2.4) and +2.8 in turnover margin (#1) — they are middle of the pack in almost every other stat
  • Anything 3-point related (on offense) — VT is #1 in the ACC in makes per ACC game at 9.0, and #6 in % at 36.5%.

What We/they Do Worst in ACC Play:

  • syracuse, like VT, is near the bottom in free throws, hitting just 64% in league play (and just 57% at VT)
  • Anything related to rebounding — VT is last in Defensive Rebounding % by a large margin, and 14th in Offensive Rebounding %

Best Player:

  • Rakeem Christmas (18.4 PPG and 9.0 RPG) — in ACC games he’s averaging 20.3 PPG (tied for tops in the league) and 9.3 RPG (5th).  He’s also 3rd in FG% and blocks.
  • Justin Bibbs has averaged 18 PPG in the 4 ACC games he’s played in.

RPI:

  • orange: 69
  • Hokies: 203

Offensive Efficiency (Points per 100 Possessions):

  • orange: 104.3 (107)
  • Hokies: 101.7 (167)

Defensive Efficiency (Points Allowed per 100 Possessions):

  • orange: 94.4 (53)
  • Hokies: 101.5 (167)

Tempo (Possessions per Game):

  • orange: 66.3 (115)
  • Hokies: 65.1 (178)

Posted in Home10 Comments

Game Log: wake (2-7) 73, Hokies (1-7) 70

Recap:

Boxscore

For the 3rd game in a row, and 4th time in 8 ACC games, the contest came down to a 3-pointer for the Hokies to tie or win the game.  Unlike against pitt, and more like against syracuse, uva, and now wake, the iron was unkind as Justin Bibbs’s shot banged off the rim (the Hokies got the ball back with 0.4 seconds left but a Hill 3-pointer wouldn’t have counted even if it had gone in… it didn’t) and Hokies fell to the last place wake forest demon deacons in Winston-Salem 73-70.  Tech isn’t quite in last place, though, as georgia tech fell to 1-8 earlier today.

While the miss 3-pointer stands out, it was Tech’s struggles on the glass that cost them the game.  VT tapped a wake missed free throw out of bounds with 35 seconds to go and the deacons up 69-67.  That allowed wake to get another chance from the line and put themselves back up by 4 before Smith would hit a 3-pointer that cut the lead to 1 instead of giving VT the lead.

The greatest news of the day was the return of leading scorer Justin Bibbs after missing 4 games due to a concussion suffered in practice.  He scored 10 points in 20 minutes.

Tech had an extremely balanced attack on the afternoon, unlike vs pitt when Smith and Muller combined for 48 points.  Today, SIX Hokies scored in double digits — 12 for Smith, 11 for Wilson and Hill, and 10 for Bibbs, Beyer, and Muller.

The Hokies held wake’s star, Devin Thomas, to just 9 points thanks to great double teams in the post.  But that allowed their fellow leading scorer, Codi Miller-McIntyre, to go for 19 points and Mitchell Wilbekin scored 15 including some critical 3-pointers.  Dinos Mitoglu also had 15 for wake.

It was another tough loss for the Heart-brokies who have played three solid games in a row after basically never leading in their first five ACC games.  But that said, the Hokies fought and fought and fought for 40 minutes once again.  They always are playing up hill at the end instead of having a chance to ice the game, and that’s the next hump for this team to get over (they did take a brief lead in the final 2 minutes but couldn’t get a stop).  This loss would bother me a lot more had VT not won Tuesday, but let’s face it — a week ago an 0-18 ACC season seemed realistic.  Now we are off the hook of a winless slate and seem poised to win a few games over the 2nd half of the ACC slate.  I know, not much, but it is all about baby steps and the Baby Birds are making huge leaps lately.

Keys to the Game:

  • Limit Devin Thomas:
    • Devin averaged 17 PPG and 10 RPG in ACC play entering the game and presented a huge challenge for Tech inside
    • WIN: Tech held Thomas to just 9 points on 3/5 shooting.
  • Attack the tin:
    • Shoot at least 12 free throws and get fouls on Thomas
    • WIN: Tech was 17/20 (85%!!!) from the foul line so this was a great sign… and they got Thomas in some foul trouble — he hat to sit for 5 minutes when he picked up his 3rd foul with 12 minutes to go.
  • No freebies:
    • Force Miller-McIntyre and Thomas to go to the line and not get layups (they both shoot 60% from the line)
    • WIN: Thomas shot more free throws (6 — making 3) than field goals (5 — making 3).  That shows they didn’t let him just score without getting hacked.  McIntyre had 7 free throws.
    • And, they even scratched Thomas’s cheek.  But the problem was while Devin Thomas was just 3/6 from the line, wake rebounded 2 of his misses leading to 3 second chance points.
  • Dominate from deep:
    • Tech shoots 37% from deep and makes 8.5 per game in ACC play coming in
    • wake shoots 30% deep and makes just 5.6 per game (and is near the bottom of the ACC in 3-point% defense in the league at 37% allowed)
    • PUSH: Tech hit 9/26 from deep (35%) compared to 7/25 (28%) for wake.  That’s not bad, but not enough for Tech to win (heck, 1 more make and this game goes to overtime).

But the true key to the game was rebounding.  As I point out below, VT outrebounded wake in the first half 18-17 and 6 offensive boards to 5.  In the 2nd half, wake destroyed the small Hokie lineup.  wake grabbed 10 offensive rebounds after the break, including 3 on missed free throws (and a critical team rebound after wake missed 2 FTs up 2 with 35 seconds to go) that led to 5 second chance points just on those free throw misses.

wake also had 8 blocked shots to 0 for Tech.

Who the Heck is that Guy?:

Today, that honor goes to wake’s 6’10” freshman from Greece, Dinos Mitoglu.  He came in averaging 8.5 PPG but had 10 points at the break and finished with 15 points including 3/7 from deep.  I should note he did have 26 against syracuse, but hadn’t eclipsed 10 points in any other ACC game.

Game Flow:

For the first half of the first half, it looked like the Hokies were well on their way to a 2nd straight victory.  Tech led 10-4 with 10:30 to go in the first half and wake was just 2/11 from the field.

Then, the mistakes started — a miscommunication led to an easy layup on a wake inbounds pass, then a Hokie inbounds pass the wrong way led to a breakaway layup for wake.  Just like that it was 10-8, and wake would wake-up to score 16 points in the next 3 minutes and 30 seconds (including a 9-0 run) on 6/7 shooting to take a 20-15 lead.

Part of the problem was Satchel Pierce, Tech’s lone true big, picked up 2 fouls in the first 4:05 of the game and sat most of the rest of the first half.

Tech battle the rest of the half and thanks to a Devin Wilson 3-pointer just before the break, were only down 32-28.

The Hokies actually outrebounded the deacons on the offensive glass in the first half 6-5, but those 6 (and 18-17 overall) led to 0 points, while wake got 8 points from their 5 offensive rebounds.

Ahmed Hill had 8 at the break to lead VT, while Wilson and Muller had 7 each.  Dinos Mitoglu had 10 at the break for wake.

wake opened the 2nd half with more spirit then the Baby Birds, and a 7-1 run put wake up 39-29, their first double-digit lead of the game.

Tech seemed to agree with me on the “no freebies” for wake key to the game.  Christian Beyer picked up his 4th foul with 11 minutes to go in the game and putting wake in the one-and-one already and in the double bonus with 10 minutes to go.  And Jalen Hudson fouled out with 3:20 to go.

Once again, though, the Hokies got off the mat and responded (seems to be a theme for this undermanned Buzz Williams team).  The game ebbed and flowed between a 4-10 point lead for wake for the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half.

The strategy worked, and the Hokies cut the wake lead to 1 at 51-50 thanks to an Adam Smith 3-pointer from the exact spot as his game winner against pitt with exactly 10 minutes to go.

The game would go back-and-forth from that point:

  • After wake went up 5, VT battled to cut the lead back to 1 at 57-56 with 7 minutes to go on a Devin Wilson layup.
  • Mitchell Wilbekin hit a 3 for wake as the shot clock expired to make it 60-56 deacons, but Ahmed Hill responded with a 3 to make it 60-59 with 4:30 to go.
  • wake got a layup from Miller-McIntyre (to give him 19 points) to make it 62-59, but Jalen Hudson put back an offensive rebound to make it 62-61 with 3:30 to go.
  • After 2 Wilson free throws Tech got within 64-63, and finally retook the lead on a Wilson to Beyer dish and layup, putting the Hokies up 65-64 with 1:50 to play.
  • On the ensuing possession, Tech doubled Thomas in the post as they had done all day, but he found Wilbekin in the corner.  Wilbekin was 2/8 from deep on the day, but swished a 3-pointer to put wake back up 67-65 with 1:30 to go.
  • Bibbs then drove at Thomas and picked up his 4th foul, and tied the game at 67 with 2 free throws and 1:18 to go.
  • Devin Thomas scored on an up-and-under with 59 seconds to go against Beyer (and his 4 fouls) to make it 69-67 wake.
  • Hill missed a 3-pointer with 37 seconds to go that would have given VT the lead and the Hokies fouled Wilbekin — he missed both but the Hokies tapped the rebound out of bounds and wake got the ball back (the opposite of of Tuesday when VT got a favorable review).
  • So, VT fouled Wilbekin again — and this time he made both to put wake up 71-67 with 32.7 go to.
  • Adam Smith again was Mr. Clutch, hitting an elbow 3-pointer to cut it back to 71-70 (sure would have been nice if VT could have rebounded the ball previously).
  • Jones, a 59% foul shooter, then hit both (of course) to put wake up 73-70 with 11 seconds to go.
  • And to end, Bibbs missed a good look from the corner to tie the game.

Preview:

Spread: wake -7.5.
Note: In most markets, this game will be on CSN-Plus (or CSN2) since the Caps play at the same time on Comcast Sports Network.

As we like to say around these parts, “If you want to be the worst, you’ve got to lose to the worst.”  And the Hokies have done that quite a bit the last 3 years.

With both T/techs winning their first ACC games of the season this week, there are no longer any winless ACC teams.  VT and bc sit tied for 13th place at 1-6, while wake and gt hug the bottom at 1-7.  SO THIS IS THE 13TH PLACE MEGA BOWL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Hokies ride into this game with Uncle Mo finally on their side after a heartbreaking loss to #2 uva and a miracle comeback win against pitt.  wake, under new Head Coach Danny Manning (yep, the kansas star who is originally from the area), has lost 4 straight since a home win over georgia tech.  So this is certainly the pillow fight of the weekend.

The Ghost of Bzdelik lives on.  You regular readers know how I loved to point out former Coach Bzdelik’s road record (he only won 1 conference road game in 4 years at colorado, and just 2 in four years at wake — though one of those was at VT / JJ last year).

Even with Manning in charge, wake 0-4 on the road… unfortunately for VT, this game is at wake.  And Tech is 0-5 in all road games this season.  Can Tech keep their momentum from their last 2 home games going?  Or will they look like the roadkill they’ve resembled in their previous 5 road games?  We’ll see.

Note: Barring some huge surprise, Justin Bibbs will sit for the 5th straight game.

Best Players:

  • #0 Codi Miller-McIntyre (Guard, 6’3″, Junior): The former Hargrave teammate of Montrezl Harrell leads wake with 14.2 PPG and 4.0 APG.  The offense runs through him.  He is explosive in transition and off the drive, but shoots just 27% from deep (11/41) and 42% from the field.  wake is at their best when they can get out and run and use their athletes.  Tech must cut him off and force him to pass.
  • #2 Devin Thomas (Forward, 6’9″, Junior): wake’s best low post player averages 13 PPG and 10 RPG.  In ACC games, he is averaging 17.4 PPG (5th in the league) and 9.9 RPG (3rd).  To me, he’s the most important player in this game for either team, but I’ll expand on that below…

Keys to the Game:

  • Limit Devin Thomas: While Codi averages more points than DT, Thomas is the bigger mismatch for Tech.  He’s a very skilled low post scorer who can also hit midrange jumpers.  Devin had 31 against louisville (Harrell) and followed that up with 24 against duke).  He should have a big day against the Hokies limited front court, unless..
  • Attack the Tin: The Hokies must be aggressive.  In the pitt game, VT shot 17 free throws.  Not exactly duke or unc, but it was almost double what Tech had averaged in their previous 3 games.  Going to the rim not only should create easier opportunities, and more free throws, it could also produce fouls on Devin Thomas which could limit his minutes and wake’s biggest advantage.  Devin is prone to fouls, having fouled out 3 times this year and accummulating 4 fouls in 2 other games.
  • No freebies: Both Codi (61%) and Devin (60%) are horrible free throw shooters.  wake is actually below VT in FT% in ACC play (60.4% vs 61.6%).  Tech should not give them easy buckets.  Commit a hard foul and force them to earn it from the line (especially Beyer and Henry).
  • Dominate from deep: Same recipe as against pitt.  Shooting 3s is what Tech does well.  They killed pitt from deep (12 makes to just 4 for pitt and 44% to 36%).  In ACC only games, wake is last in the ACC in Points Against, last in FG% Defense, 14th in 3-Point%, 11 in 3s made per game (5.6 compared to VT’s 8.5), and 10th in 3-Point% Defense.  If the Hokies don’t finish with a distinct advantage in 3-pointers made and percentage, they have very little chance of winning.

wake, as a whole, isn’t particulary good at anything.  They are not in the top 5 in ACC games in any category.

Also, luckily for VT, wake is not a great offensive rebounding team (just 28%, 12th in the league).  Tech must get a body on Devin and hit the glass as a team, especially on the weak side, like they did against uva and pitt.

Tempo Stats:

  • Offense:
    • wake: 102.1 points per 100 possessions (158th in the NCAA)
    • VT: 100.3 (196)
  • Defense:
    • wake: 97.0 PP100P (90th in the NCAA)
    • VT: 100.5 (149)

RPI:

  • wake: 153 (14th in the ACC)
  • VT: 192 (last in the ACC)
  • RealTimeRPI predicts a 77-65 win for wake (but 5 total ACC wins for VT)

Series:

I use to say we OWNED wake forest.  At the end of the 2011 season, Tech was 4-0 vs the deacs in football and 8-2 in basketball since joining the ACC.

That’s changed.  wake has won 3 of 4 over Tech in basketball since, including a 83-77 win in Blacksburg last season to give Bzdelik his ONLY road win in his final two seasons at wake.  …And then there was the football game this season.

That was before Buzz… and Danny Manning.  If this game was at VT, I’d pick the Hokies, but it isn’t, so I won’t make a prediction.

  • All-time: 29 wins, 29 losses
  • In ACC play: VT 9-5
  • At wake in ACC play: 3-3

Posted in Home0 Comments

Game Log: Hokies (1-6) 70, pitt (3-5) 67 (OT)

Recap:

Boxscore

There will be no winless ACC season.  The Hokies got up off the mat and answered the bell, beating the (arm) pitt panthers 70-67 in overtime at the Cassell in front of 5,206!  Woooooooo!  Time for some Victory Scotch!!!

[Writer’s Note: this was not the first draft of the recap…  ;-)]

It was deja vu all over again for the Hokies, down 62-59 to pitt — a 3-pointer with a chance to tie in the final seconds penn state, syracuse (for the win), uva, and now pitt.  But this time Adam Smith, from the top of the key but even deeper than Sunday, drained the 26-28′ three-pointer with 0.7 seconds to tie the score and send the game to overtime.

As fate would have it, Lady Luck was on Tech’s side (and so was Adam Smith).  With the score tied at 67 and just 29 seconds to go, Malik Muller missed a tough up-and-under layup.  The rebound was slapped by a pitt player off Muller’s shoulder and out of bounds, but was called Tech ball on the court.  After looking at replays that clearly showed the ball hit Muller and went out of bounds without being touched again, the refs gave the ball to VT claiming the pitt player touched it again (he didn’t).  Tech milked the clock down since the shot clock was off and with time running out, once again Adam Smith played the hero, burying a deep 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left to put VT up 70-67.

pitt got the ball up court quickly and had a decent look at a 3 to tie at the buzzer, but the worst 3-point shooting team in the league came up short, and Buzz Williams had his first ever ACC win.  And Tech snapped a string of 25 straight losses to ACC teams not named miami.  And Tech won their first game in exactly a month… you get the idea.

The Hokies (1-6) avoided falling to 0-7 in ACC play for the first time since joining the league (and the first time in any conference since the ricky stokes days).  Just like in 2006 when Tech was 0-6 in the league, they answered when it mattered most.

Tech was led by 26 points from Adam Smith (tying his season high) and a career high 22 points from Malik Muller.  Those two guys scored 48 of Tech’s 70 points and shot 17/36 (47%) from the field and 10/20 (50%) from the 3-point line.  The rest of the team was 6/24 (25%) and 2/7 (29%).

Let me be frank — this was an AWESOME win.  Hats off to the guys as I was writing them off (literally) on two different occasions in the 2nd half.  Especially responding so quickly after the uva game without your leading scorer or rebounder.  Wooo!

Game Flow:

After falling behind 11-5 to start, the Hokies went on a 17-7 run and went into the break up 29-24, their first lead at the half in a month (and first halftime lead in ACC play).  Malik Muller led Tech with 12 points in the first half, including the final 10 of the half.

pitt opened the 2nd half on a 10-0.  The team with the worst 3-point shooting percentage, and fewest made 3s in the ACC, hit two right out of the blocks.  After getting just 4 offensive rebounds in the first half, they quickly grabbed 3 more to turn a 29-24 deficit into a 34-29 lead.

The Hokies responded with 5 quick points to tie the score, only to see pitt go on another 6-0 run and take a 40-34 lead.

Just when you thought the Hokies would fold up, they responded again, going on a 15-4 run to take a 49-44 lead with 8 minutes to go sparked by 8 points from Muller and 5 from Smith.

Just when you thought Tech might take charge, pitt went on a 9-0 run (and 12-2 overall) to take a 56-51 lead with 4:18 to play.  It all started with a Tech fast break, resulting turnover, that led to a pitt dunk.

But once again Tech would battle back, and a Christian Beyer 3-point play and two Adam Smith 3s sent the game to overtime.

In overtime, VT led by as many as 3 before pitt chipped away and tied it with a minute to go.  Tech would control the ball for the next minute, capped with the Smith 3 for the win, until 3.6 seconds were left.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

Key Opportunities:

  • pitt came in as the worst 3-point shooting team, and 3-point defense, in ACC games
    • 1st Half Result: Hokies hit 5 three-pointers to just 1 for pitt (36% vs 25%)
    • Game Totals: VT had a 12-4 advantage in made 3s and a 44% to 36% advantage in %
    • Summary: Big win for VT here and is why they won, obviously

Buzz’s Focus:

  • Get to the Foul Line (VT had attempted just 29 free throws in their last 3 games, and made just 14)
    • 1st Half Result: Tech got to the line 9 times (making 6… although they missed the front end of a 1-and-1)
    • Game Totals: 12/17 from the line (71%)
    • Summary: about double the attempts from recent games and a higher % — win for VT

Weaknesses to Limit/Exploit:

  • pitt was #4 in league in Offensive Rebounding % (in ACC games), VT was dead last in Defensive Rebounding % — 35% grabbed vs 41% allowed
    • 1st Half Result: pitt was able to get just 4 of 13 offensive rebound chances (31%)
    • Game Totals: 15 offensive rebounds for pitt at a 41% clip
    • Summary: pitt dominated the glass in the 2nd half… this was a wash and on par with past games
  • pitt averaged just 8.3 turnovers per ACC game and had the best turnover margin in the ACC (+3.1)
    • 1st Half Result: VT caused 8 turnovers in the first half (committed just 5) and Tech had an 11 to 2 advantage in points off turnovers
    • Game Totals: pitt had just 3 turnovers in the final 25 minutes (11 for the game), but VT had a 16-8 advantage in points off turnovers and a +2 turnover margin
    • Summary: surprising win here and helped limit pitt’s opportunities at offensive rebounds

Preview:

Note: Justin Bibbs is expected to miss his 4th straight game while recovering from a concussion.

Spread: pitt by 4.5. (That’s it?! Wow, how things change after one game. Is half their team sick? I did hear the line opened at -6 so it is moving VT’s way.)

Tech looks to avoid their first ever 0-7 start in ACC play on Tuesday night when they host the pitt panthers.

Luckily, the Hokies won’t have to chew on that bad taste in their mouth from the uva loss for very long, returning to the court just 52 hours after falling to the hoos.  And the other good news is Tech’s schedule lightens up a lot after playing four straight teams ranked in the AP top 13.  Of Tech’s first 6 ACC games, they’ve played the first, second, third, fourth, and (tied for) fifth place teams.  Only fsu isn’t at the top of the league.  In the Hokies’ next 6 games, they’ll play the 9th (tied), 13th, 4th, 11th, 15th, and 9th (tied) place teams.  If they cannot get a win in this stretch, things will really start getting hairy in terms of avoiding a winless conference slate, as Tech closes with 4 games against ranked teams in their final 6 contests.

The pitt panthers roll in a little less strong than you expect from a Jamie Dixon club, lacking a true star.  Dixon’s won at least 20 games in each of his previous 11 seasons at pitt, including 10 NCAA appearances.  pitt was 26-10 / 11-7 last year in their first year in the ACC.  But this year they sit at just 13-7 and 3-4 in the league, with 20 wins and/or a NCAA Tourney bid in some serious jeopardy (pitt’s RPI is 66… VT’s is 224).

pitt is coming off consecutive losses, although they were at #5 duke and home vs #10 louisville on Sunday.  pitt has also lost to hawaii, san diego state, indiana, at nc state, and clemson.  But all of those losses are top top 100 teams except for hawaii, so don’t get too excited.  Tech hasn’t beaten a team rated higher than 188 (md-eastern shore) in the RPI.

That said, there were a lot of positives on Sunday for the Hokies.  They hung with, if not outplayed, the #2 team for most of the game… except the beginning and the end (two pretty important parts).  There was a fired up crowd on hand.  They played good defense.  They found ways to score without Bibbs… for 30 minutes.

Can they repeat that formula on Tuesday?  We’ll see.  And I’m sure the crowd won’t be anywhere near the same, so Tech will have to create some of their own energy.

The biggest factor, to me, is the start.  In each of VT’s 6 conference games they have fallen behind by 10+ points within the first 15 minutes.  They’ve led just twice in the first half of ACC games, and both leads were in the first 3 minutes.  Before the uva game, they had trailed by at least 8 points (and up to 19) at the half.  If the Hokies can actually come out and be competitive it will make things a whole lot easier for them, and keep them from having to exert so much energy just to get back in the game.

#2 6’9″ 235 lbs. sophomore Michael Young leads pitt, and should have a big game against the undersized Hokies.  He leads pitt with 13.6 PPG and 7.7 RPG.  #1 Jamel Artis (10.9) and #0 James Robinson (10.1) are the only other panthers that average double digits.  (yeesh, this is the second time this year you just had to look for low numbers to see another team’s top scorers)

pitt does have beef inside, like most Big East teams did, and all but one of their top 5 scorers are 6’5″ or taller, so they’ll present challenges for Tech.  But they aren’t a big time scoring team and don’t have any explosive scorers.

I won’t tell you they are the worst 3-point shooting team in the ACC, since I’ve said that 100 times before over the years and then that team proceeded to shoot 50% or better, but they are dead last… for now.  In fact, they’ve made just 24 threes in 7 league games, by far the lowest total in the league.  But these are also the two worst 3-point defenses in the league.

The key is if Tech can find some easy points (VT had just 3 fast break points vs uva), do a good job on the defensive glass (they did vs uva), and get some 2nd chances (they got just 1 offensive rebound vs uva).  Also, can VT take advantage of the worst 3-point shooting team in the league, and worst team at defending the 3?  Tech must finish with a huge margin in 3s made and percentage to have a chance to win this game.

Team Stats: (in ACC games only)

  • pitt (ACC rank) / Stat / VT (ACC rank)
  • 64.1 (11) / PPG / 60.7 (12)
  • 69.6 (11) / Opp PPG / 72.5 (14)
  • 74% (2) / FT% / 62% (14)
  • 40% (10) / FG% / 39% (13)
  • 47% (14) / Opp FG% / 45% (12)
  • 27% (15) / 3-Pt% / 35% (8)
  • 43% (15) / Opp 3-Pt% / 39% (14)
  • 2.7 (13) / Blocks / 2.7 (14)
  • 5.6 (t-7) / Steals / 4.5 (11)
  • +3.1 (1) / Turnover Margin / +0.5 (7)
  • 64% (14) / Def Reb % / 59% (15)
  • 35% (4) / Off Reb % / 22% (15)

Series:

  • All-Time: pitt 6-3
  • In ACC: pitt 1-0 (beat VT in OT at pitt last year)
  • Streak: pitt has won 5 straight (they were 4-0 vs VT in Big East play including a win in the 2004 Big East Tournament, Tech’s last game in the league)
  • At VT: VT 2-1 (though the wins were in 1966 and 1980)

Posted in Home5 Comments

Game Log: #2 uva (7-0, 19-0) 50, Hokies (0-6, 8-11) 47

Recap:

Boxscore

Score at Media Timeouts

Score at Media Timeouts

Adam Smith had his NBA range 3-pointer hit the rim twice before popping out at the buzzer, and the Hokies lost a heartbreaker 50-47 at the Cassell to #2 and undefeated uva.  This one hurts, but that’s a good thing after becoming numb to losses recently.

Tech, who hadn’t led after the 17 minute mark of the first half in their previous 6 games, led for most of the second half.  In fact, they used a 16-0 run in the first half of the 2nd half to go up by 10, 43-33 over the hoos and lead for 13 straight minutes until 3 minutes to go in the game.

But the Hokies scored just 4 points in the final 10:43 of the game, dooming them to their 6th straight defeat to uva (and uva’s 5th straight win at VT).  Tech looked young and inexperienced down the stretch, turning the ball over too often, and give uva credit for taking advantage of that, going on an 7-0 run with VT up 45-43 after the final media timeout.

With leading scorer Justin Bibbs still out with a concussion, Adam Smith led the way for VT with 15 points.  Malik Muller added 9 and Devin Wilson and Ahmed Hill had 7 each.

uva was led by Justin Anderson’s 12, including a critical 5 points to tie the game at 45 and then put uva up 48-45 on a 3-pointer.  No other wahoo reached double digits.

VT shot 45% for the game compared to just 35% for the hoos.  And the Hokies were 5/19 from deep compared to uva’s 6/18.  Turnovers were basically even, too (14 for VT, 13 for uva).  And this was uva’s lowest point output in ACC play this year (and 2nd lowest of the season).  Give a lot of credit to Tech’s defense.

But virginia hit 10/12 free throws (83%) while VT hit just 4/7 (57%).

uva also had 12 offensive rebounds (38% offensive rebounding percentage) compared to just 1 for the Hokies (4%).  38% isn’t that bad, especially for the undersized Hokies.  But 4% on the offensive glass for VT considering all the 3s they missed?  That shows why the hoos win.

This may sound like the words of a loser, but at least this was fun.  The Hokies absolutely played their hearts out for 40 minutes, but just came up a little short, as you’d expect against a veteran, #2 team.  It got the capacity crowd of 9,847, VT’s first sellout since the final game of the 2011-12 season, into the action.  No one left this game bitter they came.  And that will help attendance growing forward which will energize our troops.

Game Flow:

The Hokies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in front of the capacity crowd on an Ahmed Hill jumper just 23 seconds into the game.  That may not sound like much, but it snapped a string of more than 198 consecutive minutes of play where the Hokies never led (dating back to 3 minutes into the florida state game when Tech led for 15 seconds, their only previous lead in ACC play).

The lead didn’t last long.  Malcolm Brogdon hit a 3-pointer on the next possession and uva went on a 9-0 run to go ahead 9-2.  Here we go again, we thought.  Tech did battle and kept the margin around 7 for the next 10 minutes until uva went up 24-13 with 6:57 to go in the first half.  The Hokies have now trailed by double digits in the first 15 minutes of all 6 ACC games.

Then, the unthinkable happened.  The Hokies made the pack-fudge defense look like a sieve.  A Wilson 3-point play, a Muller layup, a Smith 3-pointer, and a Pierce dunk spurred a 10-0 run for the Hokies and they were within 1 point at 24-23 against the hated hoos.

The teams traded baskets and then Tech had 3 possessions to take the lead, but turned it over each time.

Tech wouldn’t score for a 4-minute stretch, but luckily uva tallied just 4 points.  Adam Smith closed the half with a hanging, floating runner with a man right on his hip to make it 30-27 uva at the break, giving him 8 points to lead VT (uva allowed just 28 points the whole game in their last contest vs georgia tech).  This was the closest VT had been at the half in ACC play (-19, -8, -19, -13, -10).

The second half started with another Brogdon 3-pointer to put uva up 33-27.  Then… we… went… nuts!  The Hokies went on a 16-0 over the next 8:20.  Sixteen-to-zippy.  No, this time it wasn’t the Hokies that went scoreless for 5, 6, 7, 8 straight minutes.  It was the #2 hoos.

Thanks to 7 points from Adam Smith and 5 points from Malik Muller, Tech went ahead 43-33 before a Perrantes 3-pointer cut the lead to 7.

This marked Tech’s first lead in the 2nd half since December 27th against presbyterian.

And then the two teams switched droughts… Tech started taking the air out of the ball on offense and it certainly hurt the flow.  After Wilson’s layup to make it 43-33 with 10:43 to go, the Hokies scored just 2 points over the next 9 minutes and 40 seconds.

The Hokies led 45-43 at the final media timeout with under 4 minutes to play, and then the wheels came off.  uva got an alley-oop dunk to Justin Anderson to tie the game at 45.  A missed 3-pointer by Smith was followed by a 3-pointer by Anderson.  A turnover followed for VT and a put-back basket for Anthony Gill for uva, and the hoos were rolling up 50-45.

Ahmed Hill got a 3-point play opportunity (but missed the free throw) with 1:06 to go to break their dry spell and cut the uva lead to 50-47.

After a uva miss and VT rebound, Tech had the ball with a chance to tie, but Will Johnston didn’t realize he was wide open and passed to Malik Muller in the corner, and just like against syracuse, Muller wasn’t able to convert (his 3-pointer was blocked).

uva missed the front end of a one-and-one and Tech called a timeout in the front court with 6.8 seconds to go.  uva burned their foul to give with 5.2 to go.  Adam Smith’s NBA range 3-pointer from the top of the key hit the rim twice and popped out, and VT lost 50-47.

Tech returns to action Tuesday night at home against pittsburgh.

Notes:

  • Justin Bibbs sat for the 3rd game in a row while recovering from a concussion and likely won’t play Tuesday vs pitt.
  • VT wore pink jerseys in honor of breast cancer awareness.
  • In Tech’s 3 ACC home games, they’ve missed a 3-pointer to win at the buzzer, lost by 25, and missed a 3 to tie at the horn.

Preview:

Update: Bibbs will not play today and is unlikely to play Tuesday vs pitt.

Here’s your preview:

  • uva is really good
  • We aren’t

There you go, I just saved you 15 minutes.

To be honest, I haven’t watched the hoos play all year.  It’s tough enough to watch the Hokies play every single minute and analyze that, I couldn’t stomach also watching the defending ACC champions and undefeated hoos.  Even with Akil Mitchell and Joe Harris (Cleveland Cavs) gone, they’ve become even better thanks to Justin Anderson (14.1 PPG) and Malcolm Brogdon (13.6 PPG), and the pack-fudge defense of Tony Bennett, and a cast of characters that buys into the defense-first concept.

I do know that:

  • VT just lost by 25 to notre dame
  • VT hasn’t led in a game in 2-1/2 weeks, or 197 minutes and 39 seconds of game action
  • uva just held georgia tech to 28 points… for the whole game… and beat them by 29

The only hoo basketball I watch is Mike Smith (former hoo who torched the Hokies for 5 seasons… yes, 5) for my beloved Atlanta Hawks, the top team in the Eastern Conference by far.

While this is as bad of a discrepancy between the teams as there has been since VT joined the ACC, we should know there will be brighter days ahead.  Just look at 4 years ago — uva was finishing up their 6th season in 7 years with a losing record in ACC play.  The Hokies capped their 5th winning season in ACC play in 7 years since joining the league.  Now, the tables have turned.

Yes, we are taking it on the chin in Buzz’s first year with extreme turnover on the roster, but Bennett did the exact same thing at uva.  His first season in hooville they went 15-16 and 5-11.  The next year they went 16-15 and 7-9 with tons of attrition.  People were starting to question if he was the answer because several of their top skill players (guys who didn’t want to play in a team-first/defensive juggernaut) were bolting for places where they could jack up 20 shots per game.

While I don’t foresee us being #2 in the nation five years from now in the Barbara Walters season, I do hope that we can become relevant again in the ACC and at least be a .500 team in conference each year under Buzz.  I hope.

No word yet on if Justin Bibbs will play, but we do know JvZ’s days are done, and he’s already off the roster.

Perhaps someone will ‘accidentally’ sets off the fire alarm in the Inn Saturday night at 3 AM forcing the hoos outside, like back in February of 2007 (disclaimer: no, I’m not condoning this, and I don’t even know if uva still stays there).  That happened on Friday night 2/9/2007 thanks to some buddies of mine (and it was a drunken accident).  Tech went on to beat uva 84-57 the next day in a noon tilt!

Series:

  • All-time: uva 86-53
  • In ACC: uva 13-8
  • Streak: uva 5 straight wins (not quite up to 11 like us over them in football, but it is getting close)
  • uva has won 4 straight in Blacksburg over the Hokies, before that, VT was 14-2 all-time in the Cassell against the hoos and 5-1 in ACC games at VT (now 5-5)

Note: The two T/techs are a combined 0-11 in ACC play this year.  bc and VT are at 0-5 with ga tech in last at 0-6.

Posted in Home4 Comments

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.

Posted in Home4 Comments

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)

Posted in Home3 Comments

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

Posted in Home2 Comments

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

Posted in Home6 Comments

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.

Posted in Home6 Comments

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

 

 

 

Posted in Home1 Comment

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

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