Archive | 2007-08 Season

Greenberg Picks Up Another COY Award

Tech Head Coach Seth Greenberg was named the Virginia Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year, as voted on by the Virginia Sports Information Directors Association (VaSID). Greenberg also earned the Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year honor following the end of the regular season in which the Hokies finished fourth in the ACC. They were picked to finish 10th in the preseason.

Read more at HokieSports.com.

Posted in 2007-08 Season0 Comments

Deron Washington To Compete in Slam Dunk Contest

Deron Washington isn’t done just yet. He will suit up in his Virginia Tech uniform one more time after being chosen to compete in the 20th annual State Farm College Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championships. The event will take place this Thursday, April 3, at the Greehey Arena at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and will be televised by ESPN at 9 p.m. EDT. TechHoops.com will have highlights of Deron’s dunks.

Read more at HokieSports.com.

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Games, Home1 Comment

Niemo’s Notes | Shout Out to the Students

























Pictured are the first people in line on the EVEN side entrance to the Cassell for the ole miss game. These students were there since a little after noon on Wednesday, waiting five hours just to get in.

I can’t say enough about how incredible it was the way our student body supported the Hokies in the NIT. That’s what it is all about. That’s what helps build your program. duke is known as much for the cameron crazies (NERDS) as they are for coach k and the players they have had. No recruit wants to go to a school that is half full for most games and half full arenas hardly inspire a team. Well, the fans certainly had the Hokies amped up for each NIT game, that was obvious.
























Zach “Barefight” and crew once again were first in line at the tennis court side entrance to Cassell, arriving around 2 PM Wednesday to give the rebels hell.

The three games drew 29,000 fans exactly, just 541 under the maximum capacity for three games. That’s 98% full over the three games and that is 98% awesome. But it was the students that led the charge. For each of the three games, they accounted for approximately 60-70% of the crowd. Normally they get only 3,000 tickets, and did get 3,000 free tickets to each game. But the students doubled that number for each game, coughing up the $5 to see Tech play. Hats off to you, students. Without you, the Cassell would have been half full, and the team might have played half as hard. Instead, we got maximum effort and two blow out victories before falling to a more veteran and physically superior team.

Thank you, students. We need to figure out how to get more of you into games next year when alumni and fans eat their tickets, leaving the Cassell 25-40% empty.

Notes:

  • Thanks, Zach, for hooking DuffHokie and me up with money seats at the ole miss game. Good to see running this site is finally paying off somehow!
  • Charlie – nice meeting you. Keep up the support.
  • To the guy that designed the Hokies on Fire shirts – congrats to you on designing such a big hit. Just make sure next year’s designer comes up with something original… just teasing you. The shirts were sweet, I just hate those heartbreaking wake forest types (long story).
  • Props to the students that spelled out VIRGINIA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE & STATE UNIVERSITY on their chests. Very creative, took a lot of coordination, meant they had to give up better seats to get everyone in a line, and was just plain sweet.

























I got a real treat on Wednesday, getting to meet David Jackson. He played at VT while I was there and was a member of the 1995 NIT Champion Hokie team. David later went on to play Slamball on Spike, a game that combined basketball with a car wreck.
I told him the story of how a former professor of mine loved him and used to ask each class how many times he fell on the floor (he was the Big Flopper before Deron Washington patented it). I always knew and ended up getting a 108% in the class with all my extra credit.
DJ now helps out with the team as a trainer.

Now, for uva. They drew just 16,334 fans for their three home games in the CBI. That’s just under 5,500 per and about 4,000 less than VT. Also, the Roanoke Times states that uva only drew 150 students for their first CBI game. 150! Ha! Yes, I realize the CBI is a new tournament with no TV coverage, but still. That’s a big discrepancy. Thank goodness we’re Hokies.

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Home, NIT1 Comment

Recap | #1 Hokies (21-14) 72, #2 ole miss (24-10) 81 | NIT Quarterfinals

Box Score

It was a hell of a ride, but tonight, it was time to get off. The ole miss rebels came into the Cassell and pounded the Hokies on the boards, out-rebounding the home team *46-23 en route to a 72-81 win to earn a spot in the NIT Final Four. When you factor in the Hokies’ abysmal free throw shooting, just 13/22, it’s a miracle that Tech didn’t lose by more than nine points.

During the post-game radio interview with Seth Greenberg, it was clear that he was not happy with his team’s performance. He apologized to the fans because he felt like he and the team “let them down.” I think Seth is being a little too hard on his team, but he was still in coaching mode, so I expected nothing less.

It certainly wasn’t the way Deron Washington wanted to end his career at the Cassell, but he did everything he could to get a win by scoring a season-high 23 points and pulling down 7 rebounds. A.D. Vassallo scored 16 and Malcolm Delaney added 14. Jeff Allen was held in check all night and only managed 7 points and 4 rebounds.

The Hokies jumped out to a quick 12-3 lead and the crowd was rocking and rolling. It was the same feeling and atmosphere as the uab game on Monday night. The Hokies picked up right where they left off and were just hitting everything. But the rebels were able to slow the Hokies down and played pretty much a zone defense the entire night which completely took the Hokies out of their game.

Tech also struggled with the size difference in the paint. As Niemo pointed out in the preview, senior Dwayne Curtis (#44) weighs 262 pounds and fellow senior Kenny Williams (#40) comes in at 6-8, 240 pounds. Niemo also correctly pointed out that Tech had to do a much better job boxing out on defense … and they did not. Rebounding and free throws killed the Hokies on this night, which saw their first home loss in the post season NIT.

The Hokies trailed by two at the half, 31-33, and managed to scratch, claw and fight their way to a 46-46 tie with 12 minutes to play in the second half, but ole miss ripped off a 14-3 run that proved too much for the Hokies to overcome. The closest they got within the final two minutes was seven points.

The fans deserve a lot of credit because they stuck with the team until the end. It was as loud as the uab game and it wasn’t until about 45 seconds left that I think the crowd finally came to grips with the fact they were going to lose the game. As the clock ran down, the fans began chanting “LET’S GO HOKIES!”

On a whole, Hokie fans have to be thrilled with a 21-14 season. No one would have expected this in November and even without Deron Washington next season, there is plenty to excited about for 2008-2009.

One final note: Hank Thorns, who was 0-3 with no points in 9 minutes, did score an assist, which gives him Tech’s freshman record for assists in a season with 113, one more than Bimbo Coles.

Niemo may or may not have notes depending on his mental state following this crushing defeat.

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Home, NIT4 Comments

Preview | NIT Quarterfinal | #2 ole miss (23-10) @ #1 VT (21-13) | Wed., 7 PM | ESPN2

THE SETUP

“There’s a tradition in tournament play, not to talk about the next step until you’ve climbed the one in front of you…” -Coach Norman Dale in Hoosiers.

In case you were wondering what I’m getting at with that quote, the “next step” for the Hokies is a return trip to Madison Square Garden, the self-proclaimed “Most Famous Arena in the World”, and two games in New York City with a shot at VT’s third NIT Championship.  But there is no next step unless the Hokies TCB against the ole miss rebels first on Wednesday night at the Cassell.   

The rebels enter this game having defeated uc-santa barbara 83-68 and nebraska 85-75 in overtime on Monday night.  Both games were at Oxford and the nebraska game didn’t end until 11:30 PM Eastern, meaning the rebels have to travel to Blacksburg and play less than 44 hours later.

FYI: We know this will be Deron Washington’s and Marcus Travis’s final home game at the Cassell, though because it is supposed to be treated as a “neutral site” game, there is no smoke-screen as the team comes out or Welcome to the Jungle during introductions.

THE PREGAME















Expect fans, especially students, to be waiting outside the Cassell hours before gametime. Here’s a photo of the first students in line on Monday before the uab game, braving 30 degree temperatures for hours before getting let in. Zach “Bearfight” was rewarded for his dedication with an honorary arm-curl.

THE GAME

The ole miss rebels jumped out to a 13-0 start this season, including a win at clemson.  Then they hit the SEC schedule, and limped home with a 7-9 record in conference play, killing their NCAA Tournament chances.  The rebels were an impressive 5-3 against RPI Top 50 teams, defeating five different teams, but that wasn’t enough to overcome a losing conference record and a loss in the first round of the SEC Tournament. 

Unlike uab, the ole miss rebels are not a one-trick pony.  They have several options on offense, both inside and outside.  They are led by their court general, freshman #12 Chris Warren.  He is a waterbug on the court that can drive and score (leads the team with 15.5 points per game) or dish (4.5 assists per game) or shoot from the outside (hits three threes per game at a 38% clip). 

Warren’s main target inside is senior #44 Dwayne Curtis, averaging 15 ppg and 9.4 rebounds per game.  The dude is a load, weighing in at 262 pounds (too light for me to arm wrestle).  If Witcher is too slim to handle him, Allen or Diakite will have to pick him up, though that risks putting the Big Donut, Allen, in foul trouble.  Fellow senior #40 Kenny Williams is another big’un inside at 6’8″, 240 lbs.  All he averages is 8.4 ppg and 6.4 rpg.  In other words, Tech will have to do a much better job boxing out on defense.  They gave up several 2nd-chance points to morgan state and uab early in those games.  And hope VT is hot again from the floor since offensive rebounds will be tough to come by.

The rebels have two more players averaging in double-digits.  Both are 6’5″ sophomore wings in #14 Eniel Polynice (10.9 ppg) and #33 David Huertas (10.4 ppg).  Polynice is a slasher but a poor outside shooter (look for him to drive), while Huertas is more versatile, shooting 34% on threes accounting for half his buckets.

This ole miss team scores a lot of points (almost 80 per game) and get a lot of rebounds.  The Hokies must crank up the intensity on the defensive end and force the rebels to play in the half court set, limiting transition buckets.  Then, VT needs to clean the glass and limit second chance points.  If VT can keep mississippi under 70, the Hokies win.

THE NUMBERS:

Series: Tied 1-1; but VT won at ole miss, 61-59, in the 1982 NIT

  • VT is 10-0 all time at the Cassell in NIT play
  • Home teams are 20-6 thus far in the NIT but both home teams (cuse and arizona state) lost in the quarterfinals on Tuesday

Category

VT

VT

miss

miss

2007-08 Record

 

21-13

 

23-10

Points/Game

 

70.1

 

79.7

Scoring Defense

 

64.2

 

 

Leading Scorers

Vassallo

16.9

Warren

15.5

 

Washington

12.8

Curtis

15.0

Leading Rebounder

Allen

7.7

Curtis

9.4

Assists Leader

Thorns

3.3

Warren

4.5

Blocks Leader

Allen

1.3

Williams

0.8

Steals Leader

Allen

2.1

Polynice

1.7

STREAKS:

Cold: Hank Thorns is 1/9 in the NIT

Warm: Senior Deron Washington is 9/17 in NIT play (53%) after shooting just 41% on the season.

On Fire: Since the start of the ACC Tournament, Malcolm Delaney has hit 21/31 (68%) from the field and 12/16 (75%) on three-pointers

En Fuego: A.D. Vassallo is 17/23 (74%) in the NIT including 7/12 on threes (58%)

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Posted in 2007-08 Season, Game Previews, Home, NIT5 Comments

Recap | #1 Hokies (21-13) 75, #5 uab (23-11) 49 | NIT 2nd Round

Box Score | Buy Tickets Now!

The Hokies jumped out to a quick lead that they never relinquished, enabling Virginia Tech to cruise to a 75-49 victory over uab in the 2nd round of the NIT. The Hokies continued their sharp shooting from their opening round game. They opened the game 7 of 7, and finished shooting 47% from the field and 43% from 3 point land. In addition to the impressive performance on offense, the Hokies shut down uab’s best player, Robert Vaden. Vaden, who averages 21.4 points per game, only scored 9 on 3 of 17 shooting.

Unlike the opening 10 minutes of the morgan state game, this game was never close. In fact, uab coach Mike Davis called a timeout 28 seconds into the game. I’ve never seen a team call timeout that soon after tipoff. A Deron flop (successful one) and three pointer led to the T-O call. It didn’t help because A.D. Vassallo drained a 3 pointer 30 seconds later. The Hokies had a 10-point lead at the first TV timeout.

Once again, the Hokies had a balanced attack on offense. This has been a trademark of the Hokies offense ever since the loss at Chapel Hill in mid-February. A.D. Vassallo led all scorers with 18, followed by Malcolm Delaney with 17, and Deron Washington with 16. This threesome shot 60% from the behind the arc. J.T. Thompson provided a nice spark off the bench (again). He finished with 8 points on 4 of 4 shooting and 7 boards in 22 minutes.

The Hokies’ held the blazers to 18 points below their season average, and just 3 three-pointers on 18 attempts. That’s 17% percent. They didn’t do that much better from inside the arc, shooting 36% from the entire field. The Hokies also forced 16 uab turnovers.

Other Notes:

  • The battle underneath was pretty even: 37 to 36, Hokies.
  • Virginia Tech had 16 assists.
  • The crowd was doing the wave before the game.
  • The crowd thanked Coach Greenberg (again) towards the end of the game.
  • Greenberg returned the favor by applauding the fans at the end of the game.
  • VT improves to 10-0 all time in NIT home games.

Did I mention the crowd? I was not at the game, but I did speak to Niemo, who was there. According to him it was one of the most electric crowds at Cassell ever. This seems to come up every year, but the Athletic Department really needs to find a way to get the students better seats. If there is a silver lining to being snubbed by the NCAA, it’s that the NIT has given not only our team, but our fans, the opportunity to show a national TV audience what we are made of.

Thanks to tonight’s win, the fans are rewarded one last time with a home game on Wednesday vs. the second seeded ole miss rebels. The game will be on ESPN2. Tipoffs will be 7 p.m. The winner advances to the NIT Final Four in the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.

Before the game, the Hokies honor Head Coach Seth Greenberg with a game ball from his 300th career coaching victory, the win over morgan state.

Niemo’s Notes:

  • VT won by 20+…. that means another Bear Fight! (Jay-ger Bomb and Car Bomb back-to-back… are we going to Bear Fight our way through the NIT?)
  • Malcolm Delaney is playing out of his mind right now. He looks like Zabian Dowdell on offense… only he looks like a seasoned Dowdell. The sky is the limit for this kid. He’s averaging 15 points per game over the last four games. But here’s the really scary part: he’s 21/31 from the field (68%) and 12/16 on threes (75%). Dude cannot miss. FYI: He’s the only VT player I’ve tried to arm-curl I failed on… hmm.
  • As Wick said, the crowd was unbelievable. The best atmosphere I’ve ever seen for a VT basketball game, PERIOD. That’s because when we play unc or duke, 25% of the crowd is for them. And this crowd was much better than the uva @ VT crowd this year. As Wick said, get the students better seats, Weaver. They make a difference. Or take Ron Franklin’s word (ESPN play-by-play announcer), “This crowd is incredible.”
  • The Hokies hit their first seven shots tonight. That means that Tech hit 26 of 30 shots from the start of the 2nd half of the morgan state game through the seventh shot against uab.
  • Tech is 14-0 this season when leading at the half.
  • I’d hate to be the wife of uab head coach mike davis. I have never seen someone complain so much. It turned the officials completely against him. There were several points where they told him to shut up, and finally T’d him up.
  • I hope 2008 signee Durant can play, because Hank Thorns is just awful right now. He was 0-6 from the field. He’s gone from bad, to good, to a power play for the other team.
  • Vaden, who as Wick mentioned averages 21, had 2 at the half. O-ver-rated!
  • VT shot just 57% from the line but uab was AWFUL, hitting 4/14 for 28%. Crowd? Thank you.
  • If only the NCAA Tournament was like bowl games. We’d get bids just based on our crowd. We were known for having a great football fan base. Scratch that. We have a great fan base. Let’s keep it up. No more 4-5k crowds for basketball games.

Cope-acabana’s Notes:

Niemo and I were waiting in line (which is an outrage, don’t they know who we are?) outside of the Cassell with our entourage prior to the game. It was near freezing and with the wind chill, it was well below freezing. Then, Seth Greenberg came out of nowhere and walked up to the doors on the east side of the Cassell and told them to open up and let us in. The doors weren’t supposed to open until 7:30 and he had them opened at 7:15 … and the Greenberg legend continues to grow.

Wick’s source was correct. This was the most enthusiastic, intense and in-tune-with-the-game crowd the Cassell has seen all year and according to my source at the game, it was the best crowd in 10 years. I echo Wick’s sentiment that Virginia Tech needs to find a way to get more students at the games. For crying out loud, the fans were in the seats 1 hour and 45 minutes before tip-off and were cheering the Hokies as they stretched … seriously. Tech’s players were stretching and all 9,000-plus fans were chanting “LET’S GO HOKIES!”

During the uab player introductions, you couldn’t hear a word the PA announcer was saying through the deafening chants of LET’S GO HOKIES!” I honestly got chills it was that impressive and Tech players could feel it, too.

Oh, and Niemo arm-curled a fan waiting in line. The fan recognized the greatness that is Niemo and begged to be arm curled. Niemo obliged.

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Game Recaps, Home, NIT4 Comments

Around the World (Wide Web) | 3/24/08

It’s Angel Daniel Vassallo Day!!! (apparently) 

Vassallo Article on Roanoke Times: Roanoke Article

Article on Vassallo’s Pedigree from Richmond Times Dispatch: RTD Article

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Around the World (Wide Web), Home0 Comments

Preview | NIT 2nd Round | #5 uab (23-10) at #1 VT (20-13) | Mon., 9 PM | ESPN

THE SETUP

uab continues their tour of Virginia, though hopefully this will be their last stop.  puff the magic dragon (aka: the blazers) jumped out to a big lead at vcu last week and held on to capture an 80-77 win over the rams in Round One.

uab finished second in Conference USA in the regular season but were upset by #7 seed tulsa in the C-USA quarterfinals.  Just to show you how poor C-USA was this year, uab was not even on the bubble despite finishing second in the conference.  memphis was the only top 50 RPI team they played.  The blazers nearly beat them at home, losing 79-78, but as VT learned, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.  At memphis, the tigers woodshedded uab by 38 (really sounds like VT/unc, doesn’t it?).

The Hokies, meanwhile, absolutely pasted the visiting morgan state bears over the final 30 minutes, winning 94-62.  A.D. Vassallo tied his season high of 27 points in just 25 minutes of action.  Delaney (13), Washington (11), and Allen (10) also reached double-digits for the balanced Hokie attack. 

In the game, VT looked slow on defense early on.  They were beaten off the dribble in the first 10 minutes, leading to some easy buckets.  The bears were also scrappy on the boards, getting some offensive rebounds.  But after morgan state went up 16-14, the Hokies used an 18-5 run to put the game away by halftime.  Tech played their best offensive half ever in the second half, hitting their first 15 shots from the floor and going 19/23 (82%) for the half.  That’s a VT record for a half.

THE GAME

uab likes to run and force tempo.  They broke 100 in regulation late in the season against houston and have hit 80 in seven of their last 14 games.  The Hokies must get back on defense to negate uab getting easy buckets and force them to run their half court offense.  If this is a half court game, VT should win.

Also, the Hokies must do a good job of protecting the ball against the aggressive uab defense.  The freshman guards will be key for VT.

#24 Robert Vaden is by far uab’s best offensive player.  Expect Deron to draw that assignment.  Vaden is a 6’5″ wing player who has reached double-figures in every game but one this season.  Robert has eclipsed 30 points four times and had 41 against utep.  He shoots more threes than twos and shoots 41% from long range.  He was tied with (ugh) Stephen Curry of davidson for most three-pointers made this season (139) heading into the postseason tournaments.  Vaden has hit seven or more three-pointers seven times this season!  So Deron needs to get out on him and play him tight, daring him to go at the hoop.  Terrell Bell might also get some minutes (Vaden rarely goes out) and must show he can be the next defensive stopper for the Hokies.

Inside, uab does not have many scoring threats.  Just some bodies to clog the lane.  Their best low post scorer, #21 Lawrence Kinnard, is not a back to the basket player and is actually their second best three-point shooter (though Vaden is the only real threat).  So VT can afford to stay out on the perimeter on D and not collapse on low post players.  Also, point guard #10 Ed Berrios is a pass-only guard, similar to Hank Thorns.  The Hokies do not need to respect his shot or penetration.  The only offensive players that will challenge VT are their wings: Vaden and #25 Channing Toney, along with small forward Kinnard.

uab is without the services of two starters from early in the season: Paul Delaney III and Walter Sharpe.  But neither has played for over two months, so the blazers are used to dealing without them.  It has thinned their bench though.

THE NUMBERS:

  • VT is 9-0 all time at the Cassell in NIT play and home teams are 17-3 thus far in the NIT.

Category

VT

VT

uab

uab

2007-08 Record

 

20-13

 

23-10

Points/Game

 

70.0

 

74.3

Scoring Defense

 

64.7

 

67.1

Leading Scorers

Vassallo

16.9

Vaden

21.4

 

Washington

12.7

Kinnard

11.2

Leading Rebounder

Allen

7.8

Kinnard

6.8

Assists Leader

Thorns

3.4

Berrios

2.7

Blocks Leader

Diakite

1.3

Kinnard

0.8

Steals Leader

Allen

2.1

Johnson

1.0

VT’s NIT HISTORY

This year marks Virginia Tech’s ninth appearance in the NIT, which used to be the premiere basketball tournament until the 1960s. In fact, the Hokies 1973 NIT Championship is regarded as the biggest moment in program history by many, including me. In that game, Bobby Stevens recovered his own miss and hit a 12 foot jumpshot at the buzzer for a 92-91 overtime win in the championship game. The Hokies won their four NIT games that year by a total of seven points and each of the last three wins were by one point. I watched the tape of the game in the VT library and I have to tell you, I got chills when Stevens hit the winning shot, even 25 years later.

Tech also won the NIT back in 1995, again in dramatic fashion as Shawn Smith hit two free throws with less then five seconds left for a 65-65 overtime win over marquette (for you hoops junkies, William Gates from the movie Hoop Dreams was on that marquette team but did not play in the game). This tournament included one of my favorite all-time VT games, a 64-61 win over new mexico state on a Travis Jackson three-pointer in the final seconds. The win sent VT to New York and nearly sent me to the hospital. I was one of the first to try and jump on the court but one of the cops caught me in mid-air and slammed me down onto the railing right on my twig and two berries. It was still worth it. After the championship game, students flooded Main Street and it had to be closed off.

The Hokies finished third in the NIT in 1984 using an ABA style multi-colored ball. Their last appearance in the NIT was three years ago. VT won at home over temple before falling to a memphis squad that included several of the players they have this year.

THE OPPONENT

  • The university of alabama at birmingham is in… you guessed it, Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Founded: 1936
  • Conference: Conference USA
  • Enrollment: 11,500 undergrad and 4,500 grad (3rd biggest in Alabama)
  • Head Coach Mike Davis replaced Bobby Knight at indiana, before being removed a year ago.
  • uab has 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, 3 Sweet 16 appearances, and even made a trip to the Elite 8.
  • Famous Alums: None (I reviewed their list and didn’t recognize anyone except for Roddy White who plays for the Atlanta Falcons and they certainly don’t have a former Miss America like VT does!)

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Game Previews, Home, NIT4 Comments

NIT Update | Hokies Sitting Pretty With Win

If Virginia Tech can win at home on Monday against uab, they will be in great shape to make the semi-finals of the NIT and earn a second trip to Madison Square Garden this season.  That’s because the winners of Monday’s VT-uab and mississippi-nebraska game (also 9 PM Monday) will play on Wednesday night in the quarterfinals, just 44 or 46 hours later. 

If VT wins Monday, that means either mississippi, the home team on Monday, or nebraska will have to travel to Blacksburg and play again less than two days later.  That is a tremendous advantage to the Hokies to not have to travel with a quick turnaround and should take something out of the legs of mississippi or nebraska.

Also, to add onto the good karma, home teams are 17-3 in NIT play so far and Virginia Tech is 9-0 all time at home in the NIT.

In the other side of the bracket, the quarterfinalists are set.  #2 umass will play at #1 syracuse on Tuesday night at 7 PM on ESPN, while #2 florida will play at #1 arizona state at 9 PM Tuesday.  Both winners advance to MSG and will play on April Fool’s Day in one of the semis.

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Home, NIT3 Comments

Recap | #1 Hokies (20-13) 94, #8 morgan state (22-11) 62 | NIT 1st Round

Box Score

There was no bubble bursting letdown tonight as A.D. Vassallo tied his season high of 27 points to lead the top seeded Hokies to a 94-62 victory over the 8th seeded morgan state bears in the opening round of the NIT. Coach Greenberg earned his 300th career victory, and the Hokies are now 9-0 all-time in NIT play at Cassell.

The game was tight for the first 10 minutes. morgan state led 16-14 at the 11:57 mark thanks to sharp shooting and out-rebounding Tech 8-3. But then the Hokies started to break away by going on a 26-9 run to close the half. The bears just couldn’t find a defensive scheme to cool down A.D. morgan state switched from zone to man-to-man back to zone, but nothing worked as A.D. scored 19 of the Hokies’ 40 first half points. Vassallo, my player of the game, shot 11 of 14 from the floor including 3 of 5 from behind the arc. He easily would have topped his career high of 29 if he had played his normal minutes, but Coach Greenberg pulled him early given Tech’s large lead.

The second half was a shooting clinic. There were enough great plays to fill an entire Hokie highlight DVD. Tech made their first 15 shots of the second half. The first miss came at the 5:08 mark when a Terrell Bell three pointer caught iron. Tech finished the second half shooting 19 of 23 from the floor (83%). That’s nasty, just nasty. Overall, the Hokies shot 65% from the field, 82% from the line, and 57% from three point land. They quickly made up that early rebounding deficit and finished the game with 14 more boards than the bears.

You don’t expect to see the third team play in March, but it happened tonight. Marcus Travis, Paul Debnam, Terrance Vinson, and Tom Amalfe all got some quality PT tonight. Debnam and Amalfe each scored 2 points. Debnam now has 8 career points and Amalfe has 4. What a great opportunity for these guys, especially on their home court.

The Hokies move on to the second round against the #5th seeded uab blazers, who upset fourth seed vcu 81-78 in Richmond tonight. The game will be at Cassell, and probably on Monday. uab is coached by former indiana head man, Mike Davis. I’ll leave the rest of the uab preview to the King.

Niemo’s Notes (presented by Niemo):

  • My “player” of the game? The fans. We were just 200 short of a sellout. Compared to other NIT crowds, that is amazing. Thank you. Seth thanks you. The team thanks you. Amazing support. You gotta love our fans.
  • 20+ point wins equals a Bear Fight (Jay-ger bomb and car bomb back-to-back). I did mine. Did you?
  • The Hokies are now 9-0 all time at home in NIT games. 10-0 on Monday???
  • The 94 points VT scored marks their season high. 92 against gt at home on 2/23 was the only other time they hit the 90 mark. The last time VT scored this many was when they beat #1 unc at home last January, also scoring 94.
  • Jeff Allen added 3 more steals to his VT freshman record, now at 65.
  • Seth has 87 wins at VT, 108 at s. florida, and 105 at long beach state.
  • This is the 2nd time Seth has reached 20 wins at VT, and 2nd year in a row.
  • Ten different Hokies made a shot in this game. Of those 10, Thorns was the only player that didn’t shoot at least 50% (NASTY!).
  • VT hit six three-pointers in the first 13 minutes of the game. I couldn’t help but think, “We’ve finally found the range from three-point distance… and now they are moving it back by a foot next year. Might take us another 15 years to be good at threes.”
  • Witcher had a powerful dunk. Continues to show bursts, but needs to be more consistent.
  • VT is a NCAA team. Period.

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Game Recaps, Home, NIT18 Comments

Preview | NIT 1st Round | #8 morgan st. (22-10) vs. #1 VT (19-13) | Wed., 7 PM | ESPN Classic

Update: For those of you that watched the florida state NIT game Tuesday night, you probably noticed it was more empty than a SEC Tournament game. Seriously, let’s not embarrass our school by only have a few thousand at the game on Wednesday. If you are on the fence about going, YOU ARE GOING! This team is fun to watch. Consider yourself lucky to get to see Deron dunk one (or two or three) more time(s). And it isn’t like we are kentucky or unc, going to the NIT should be a big deal to us. We didn’t make the postseason from 1997-2004. I’ll get off my soap box now…

THE SETUP

“Well then I guess there’s only one thing left to do… Win the whole [bleepin'] thing!” -Tom Berenger in Major League.

Like it or not, deserving or not, the Hokies are in the 71st National Invitational Tournament as a #1 seed. And this is a good opportunity for the Hokies. This team is young and have every significant player back except for Deron Washington next year. Any chance this team gets to play together is a good thing, and this tournament beats the crap out of the one VT played in up in Canada in September, eh?

ACC COY Seth Greenberg must dip into his magical bag of motivational speeches and tell Tech to forget what might have been and focus on the “what is”. A.D. Vassallo said all the right things on Saturday, saying he just wanted to keep playing wherever, now the team has to prove it.

I’ve always said ESPN Classic, who is broadcasting this game, should have a sister station called “ESPN Crapper”. That’s where they’d show replays of football games with 6-3 final scores, every duke-unc football would be an automatic showing, and they’d join blowouts in progress once teams had cleared their benches. Well, if I have my way, this game will be an “Instant Crapper” as I’m hoping the Hokies will come out focused and motivated, not disappointed, and lay the woodshed to the visiting morgan state bears from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, or “MEAC” as they say on the mean streets of Fairfax, VA where I grew up.

THE NUMBERS:

  • VT leads the series 6-0, including four wins from 2002-2005. Deron Washington, A.D. Vassallo, and Cheick Diakite have all played against morgan state.
  • VT is 8-0 all time at the Cassell in NIT play! Considering they could get up to three home games if they keep winning, I like our odds of making NYC and MSG.

Category

VT

VT

msu

msu

2007-08 Record

19-13

22-10

Points/Game

69.2

67.7

Scoring Defense

64.8

61.4

Leading Scorers

Vassallo

16.6

Smith

17.0

Washington

12.8

Holmes

13.0

Leading Rebounder

Allen

7.9

Coly

11.1

Assists Leader

Thorns

3.4

Green

3.6

Blocks Leader

Diakite

1.3

Coly

2.6

Steals Leader

Allen

2.1

Green

1.2

VT’s NIT HISTORY

This year marks Virginia Tech’s ninth appearance in the NIT, which used to be the premiere basketball tournament until the 1960s. In fact, the Hokies 1973 NIT Championship is regarded as the biggest moment in program history by many, including me. In that game, Bobby Stevens recovered his own miss and hit a 12 foot jumpshot at the buzzer for a 92-91 overtime win in the championship game. The Hokies won their four NIT games that year by a total of seven points and each of the last three wins were by one point. I watched the tape of the game in the VT library and I have to tell you, I got chills when Stevens hit the winning shot, even 25 years later.

Tech also won the NIT back in 1995, again in dramatic fashion as Shawn Smith hit two free throws with less then five seconds left for a 65-65 overtime win over marquette (for you hoops junkies, William Gates from the movie Hoop Dreams was on that marquette team but did not play in the game). This tournament included one of my favorite all-time VT games, a 64-61 win over new mexico state on a Travis Jackson three-pointer in the final seconds. The win sent VT to New York and nearly sent me to the hospital. I was one of the first to try and jump on the court but one of the cops caught me in mid-air and slammed me down onto the railing right on my twig and two berries. It was still worth it. After the championship game, students flooded Main Street and it had to be closed off.

The Hokies finished third in the NIT in 1984 using an ABA style multi-colored ball. Their last appearance in the NIT was three years ago. VT won at home over temple before falling to a memphis squad that included several of the players they have this year.

THE OPPONENT

  • morgan state university bears (used to be the golden bears yet their colors are orange and blue… go figure) is a historically black college
  • Founded: 1867
  • Location: Baltimore, MD (Malcolm Delaney’s area)
  • Conference: MEAC
  • Enrollment: 6,000 and like VT, have a student from all 50 states
  • Were just 4-26 two years ago, 13-18 last year, and 22-10 this year. Based on that, they improve by nine wins each year and will lose this game.
  • Have a women’s bowling team
  • Head Coach Todd Bozeman coached another golden bears team, at cal, and coached Jason Kidd. He won the MEAC COY this season.
  • This marks msu’s first postseason appearance on the D-I level.
  • morgan state won the MEAC regular season title.
  • Boubacar Coly was the MEAC Defensive POY. He averages 11.1 rebounds (4th in the nation) and 2.6 blocks. But he is just 6’9″ so I assume this was padded by weaker competition.
  • Jamar Smith, the MEAC POY, missed the MEAC title game with a foot injury. His status is uncertain for this game and he has missed three of the last five games.

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Game Previews, Home, NIT5 Comments

THE BALLA REPORT 3/18/08

The NCAA Tournament selection committee has spoken and have decided that the “body of work” of the Virginia Tech Hokies is not worthy of an attempt at one shining moment. Don’t expect me to provide any expert insight as to why or how the Hokies were snubbed or what criteria was used in the snubbing, because I, like most everyone else, don’t have a clue.

We’ve heard it all. RPI is not a factor, but then sometimes it is, but only in cases to eliminate teams from consideration. The last ten games are a factor, but not really if you had some good wins in a high school gym in Maui or Puerto Rico back in November, but struggled down the stretch. To me, the most laughable thing I heard from head committee bozo Tom O’Connor, after the field was unveiled, was that conference affiliation was never looked at. What?!? Come again?!? So, there is no difference in the ACC and the CAA? Or the MEAC for that matter? Seriously buddy, c’mon now, what’s more important than that? Uniform color, best dancing mascot, or hottest dance team? Pressed by CBS’ Billy Packer as to how in the world the conference with the #1 ranked RPI, the ACC, could only get four bids O’Connor confusingly mentioned that the criteria discussed above is what was used by the committee to select the participants, but then again, not always, but sometimes though.

Along with the Hokies, arizona state seemed to get the most sympathy after losing out on a bid to a team it beat twice, arizona. I agree that sucks, but how about this though, NEITHER ‘zona team should be in. The sun devils, along with oregon for that matter finished at .500 in the Pac-10 while the ’cats were 8-10 in conference. And this, my friends, includes TWO automatic wins against the lowly oregon state beavers, a spectacular 0-18 in conference, and 6-25 overall. I’ll argue that the last place team in the ACC, n.c. state is capable, on a given night, of knocking off the best team in the Pac-10, powerhouse ucla.

There has been a lot of talk recently, led by Bob Knight on ESPN and coaches like Jim Boeheim, of expanding the tournament from 65 to 128. That seems pretty ridiculous to me, but how about this… Tonight there is a play-in game, errr..”opening round” game between mt. st. mary’s and coppin state, playing for the right to get lambasted by unc. Why just one play-in game? Why not add three more play in games, thus allowing three more deserving teams into the big dance. Usually there are no more than three teams who have legitimate claims of being unfairly left out.

Teams that under the current format are 15 and 16 seeds, would play, on the Tuesday before the normal Tournament begins, for the right to be the 16 seed and in turn play the #1 seed in the region. That way, teams from the less powerful conferences still have “a chance” and access to the National Championship, one of the things that make March Madness the great event that it is, and at the same time bring more teams in the Dance, better allowing the best teams to determine a true National Championship.

For the record, the Balla’s final four picks this year: unc, memphis, georgetown, and ucla, with unc winning it all. My sleeper pick to watch: Davidson and sharp shooter Stephen Curry.

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Featured Columns, Home, The Balla Report1 Comment

Tickets on sale for NIT

Tickets for Wednesday’s NIT first round game against morgan state are now on sale through the Virginia Tech Ticket Office. Tickets are $15 for the general public and $5 for students. Seating is General Admission.

Click here to order your tickets online.

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Home, NIT3 Comments

Hokies to face morgan st. in the NIT

Virginia Tech is a #1 seed in the 2008 NIT. The Hokies face #8 seed morgan state (22-10, 14-2 MEAC) on Wednesday night at Cassell Coliseum. It will be on ESPN Classic at 7:00 PM.

If the Hokies win on Wednesday, there could be a very intriguing match-up in the Second Round. VT would play the winner of #5 uab and #4 vcu. Both of those teams are very good. uab finished second in Conference USA behind memphis, and vcu won the Colonial regular season crown by three games before losing in the semi-finals to william and mary.

Rounding out Tech’s bracket is #3 nebraska against #6 charlotte, and #2 ole miss battling #7 uc santa barbara. The other #1 seeds are ohio state, syracuse, and arizona state. Two-time defending National Champion florida is a #2 seed.

But first things first. The Hokies must put their disappointment about not being in the Big Dance behind them and TCB against morgan state. The two teams are actually more familiar with each other than you might think. They have played six times since 1985, all at VT and all won by the Hokies. They played every year from 2002-2005, so Deron Washington has played them twice (2 points in 2004 and 16 points in 2005), and A.D. Vassallo (12 points) and Cheick Diakite (2 points) have each played morgan state once.

Note: Don Devoe was a part of the NIT Committee. Devoe coached Virginia Tech to the 1973 NIT Championship.

Note #2: As the #1 seed in their bracket, Tech will not have to play a road game in the NIT. The best seeded team hosts, so Tech could host 3 games before going to MSG for the NIT Final Four.

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Home, NIT6 Comments

NCAA Tournament | Why Virginia Tech Got Left Out

With the news that Tech will not be making a return trip to the Big Dance, we are all disappointed right now. Let’s take a look at who got in over VT and why.

  • #12 seed villanova (20-12, 9-9 Big East) – nova is the last at-large in the tournament. In fact, they are the only at-large with a #12 seed or lower. The Hokies and the cats have almost identical resumes. nova had one more win, 9 wins in conference play, a big conference tourney win (syracuse), and neighboring RPIs (low 50s). Also, they got screwed by officials in losses to nc state and georgetown, so they have a similar gripe as VT does in their close losses. The difference is nova went 4-7 against RPI Top 50, and this is what gave them the nod over Tech.
  • #11 baylor (20-10, 9-7 Big 12) – The Big 12 was #2 in conference RPI. baylor beat three NCAA teams: notre dame, texas a&m, and kansas state. Their RPI was also about 10 spots higher than the Hokies. The bears did lose to a poor colorado team in the Big 12 Tourney, but their body of work was apparently enough. I think you could flip a coin on them or VT.
  • #11 kentucky (18-12, 12-4 SEC) – Left for dead back in December, the cats came rolling back with a 12-4 SEC record. But their loss to georgia in the SEC quarterfinals put them back on the bubble and their RPI was close to VT’s. However, they were 4-6 against RPI Top 50 and 8 of their 12 losses were to tourney teams. They also beat #2 seed tennessee. 12 wins in the SEC has to get you in, plain and simple.

Continue Reading

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Home, NCAA Tournament6 Comments

No NCAA bid; NIT announcement at 9pm

The NIT brackets will be announced on ESPN2 and ESPNU at 9:00 pm eastern time.

http://www.nit.org/sports/m-nit/spec-rel/031608aaa.html

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Home0 Comments

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