Archive | 2008-09 Season

2008-09 Season in Review

THE SEASON (19-15, 7-9 ACC — tied for seventh; ACC Quarterfinals; NIT Second Round)

Any way you look at it, this season was a disappointment.  Back in November you heard one thing from almost every college basketball expert: this Virginia Tech team was an NCAA Tournament team.  The players said that was their goal.  Greenberg expected it.  Everyone expected it after coming so close last year and having every significant player back other than Deron Washington.  Well it turned out Deron’s loss was a very big one, as Tech went from having the best Scoring Defense in the ACC last year (and by over three points) to just the eighth-best Scoring Defense in the ACC.

The result was no invitation to the Big Dance for the Hokies.  In fact Tech was further off the bubble this year than last.  Tech completely fell apart in the second half of the season, losing six of their final seven ACC games. 

One of the biggest frustrations this season was Tech’s inability to start and finish games.  The Hokies regularly trailed by 4-7 points at the first media timeout.  In fact, they were behind at the first break in their final seven ACC regular season games and nine of the last 10.  In the ACC Tournament, Tech jumped out to early leads and we saw the results — VT was much more in control. 

Just as frustrating was the final eight minutes of games.  Tech was within three points (one possession) in each of their final three regular season games, but could never take the lead in any of them.  In fact, the Hokies were within three points or less in the final eight minutes of 11 of their 15 losses, and led in the final 10 minutes of seven of those games.  Tech just ran out of gas at the end of games, possibly due to how many minutes Malcolm Delaney and A.D. Vassallo had to play.

Another frustration was the off-the-court and on-court antics.  A.D. Vassallo was benched at the start of two games for two separate incidents and Jeff Allen sat the second uva game for flipping off maryland fans.

Defense

Defense was an issue all year.  The Hokies could not get stops when they needed them at the end of games.  Tech’s low post defense was abysmal, allowing opponents’ big men to catch the ball way too close to the basket.  Part of this had to do with the skinnier Jeff Allen, but it also had to do with Hokie big men not working hard at times when the ball was on the perimeter and rooting the opponents out. 

VT also got dominated on the glass, giving up key offensive rebounds to bigger teams.  Tech just doesn’t have the size inside to really secure the glass.

In perimeter defense, Tech got torched in non-conference games.  In the two NIT games, VT allowed their opponents to hit 27 of 51 threes.  And that wasn’t even their worst effort.  wisconsin hit 12/18 (67%) in a key out-of-conference loss in December.  The Hokies’ guards did a very poor job of fighting through/over screens, and the help defender often released too early.

Tech will have to improve in all of these areas next season if they want to return to the upper half of the league, a place VT lived in three of their first four ACC seasons.  6’9″ Cadarian Raines should help inside and lessen the impact of losing Cheick Diakite, but Jeff Allen needs to put weight back on.  At maybe 6’7″, he needs that bulk to throw around against taller players.  But Tech will still not have a really big body inside that many of the other ACC schools have.

On the perimeter, Dorenzo Hudson became a solid man defender as the year went on.  But judging by the production of some of the guys he was guarding, like 46 by duquesne’s Jackson, ‘Zo needs help.  The guards need to really embrace the defensive end and work harder to fight through screens, and the help man cannot release until the guard is back in position on high screens.  Green, Boggs, and Atkins will add length on the perimeter and can help.

Offense

For Tech this season it was The Big 3 of Allen, Vassallo and Delaney.  Those guys produced almost 70% of Virginia Tech’s points, and against boston college at bc, they accounted for 61 of 66 points.  If two of the three were off on a given night, forget about it, VT was done for.  But when they were clicking, Tech was tough to beat.

Vassallo was Tech’s most complete offensive player.  He continued to drain threes, finishing his career with 267 made, a Virginia Tech record.  He also showed a deadly runner either down the paint, or along the baseline.  Every now and then he’d rock the rim with a dunk, and shot a career high 84% from the line.  A.D. was third-team All-ACC (he was 2nd team last year) and finished as Tech’s fifth all-time leading scorer with 1822 points.

Malcolm Delaney had an up and down season on offense.  He started out slow, getting most of his points from the line.  But when the Hokies won nine of 10 games in December and January, Delaney started taking over the VT offense.  He was named the ACC Player of the Week once in mid-January after torching wake for 21 and miami for 29.  Then he scored 37 against clemson, a VT ACC game record.  But as he got more banged up, he went into a shooting slump down the stretch, and to no surprise, VT struggled.  He completely lost his ability to hit runners in the lane, a shot he was deadly with mid-season.  Malcolm did set a VT single season record for free throws made with 225, crushing the old high of 200.

Jeff Allen also struggled down the stretch.  He lost weight in the offseason and this allowed bigger opponents to push him out of the way.  He did show a much improved three point shot, hitting 17/42 on the year, but inside his numbers went way down.  He has a patented spin to the baseline and up and under move that worked very well this season, but he needs to add muscle this offseason to battle inside next year.

With the rest of the offense you never knew what you were going to get, if anything.  J.T. Thompson showed an ability to convert second chance opportunities, and hit open mid-range jumpers, but that’s it.  Terrell Bell, Hank Thorns, and Dorenzo Hudson really struggled shooting-wise most of the season.   Thorns shot under 30%, Bell 33%, and Hudson 36%, though Hudson did improve as the season went on and as he took over the two-guard spot. 

Tech also severely lacked ballhandlers.  This will have to be addressed this offseason.  Hudson needs to work on that aspect of his game, and Green should help with this next year.  Momo Jones would have been a big help, but the Oak Hill point guard has reopened his recruiting and may not end up in Blacksburg.

AWARDS

Time to give out the Dundees!  I mean the Niemo’s.  Here we go…

  • MVP: Malcolm Delaney — Hands down.  No one meant more to this team.  Vassallo was the better offensive player, but he didn’t play defense.  And Malcolm was one of only two ballhandlers VT had along with Thorns.  Plus, he was the team leader.  As Delaney struggled down the stretch, so did VT.  As he goes next year, so will Tech.  Hopefully he won’t have to carry as much of the load.
  • Offensive MVP: A.D. Vassallo — Like I said above, he can do it all on offense.  He leaves Blacksburg as Tech’s fifth all-time leading scorer and best three-point shooter.  He had a good inside-outside game, and could score off the glass.  A.D. had his best season this year.
  • Defensive MVP: No one — No one earned this.  Cheick didn’t block as many shots this year.  Allen didn’t get as many steals.  The Hokie guards couldn’t shut anyone down.  The low-post players couldn’t stop anyone.  The team just couldn’t get stops.  I will say that Thompson was the hardest working player on defense.  Despite being undersized, he really battled inside.
  • Most Improved Player: Dorenzo Hudson — He really struggled with his shot early in the year, but found his touch at the end.  Hudson hit a three in each of VT’s last six games, and eight of nine games, nailing 7/16 threes in those final six games.  Dorenzo scored at least six points in five of those six games, and had a career-high 15 points against duquesne.  He hit 80% from the line on the season, and he became the shutdown defender for VT, drawing the opponent’s best guard in each game.  Big things will be expected from him next year and he’ll have to pick up many of Vassallo’s points.
  • Best Win: VT 78, #1 wake 71 — What a great road win for VT.  This win put them at 3-1 in conference and gave Tech their third win over a #1 team all time.  Things were certainly looking up at this point.
  • Toughest Loss: Wow, there is no shortage of games to pick from:  The xavier half court shot to beat VT in Puerto Rico…  The off-balance jumper by wisconsin to give them a two-point lead with less than a second…  The one point loss to georgia…  The tip-in with less than a second left at boston college… The three point loss to unc in the ACC Tournament…  But I’m going with clemson 86, VT 82.  Tech led by as many as 15 in the second half.  They could do no wrong.  Delaney had 22 at the break, including a 3/4-court shot.  But the wheels came off with 16 minutes to go and clemson went on an 18-0 run to take the lead.  Tech battled the rest of the way but came up short.  Had VT held on, they would have been 5-1 in conference with five very winnable games coming up and may have become ranked in the polls.  Instead, the wheels started to come off and VT went 3-8 the rest of the way in ACC play (including this loss).

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Games0 Comments

NIT 2nd Round Recap | baylor 84, VT 66

This was one of the ugly ones, another agonizing cold start. The Hokies were thoroughly dominated at home, on national television, in the final game in a Hokie jersey for seniors Cheick Diakite and A.D. Vassallo. Twelve minutes into the game, the Hokies were down 22-5 on 1 of 17 shooting. The single made basket was a Jeff Allen dunk. At the 7:36 mark, Cheick Diakite finally broke this ridiculous shooting drought with a turnaround jumper in the lane. Malcolm Delaney followed with a three, and the Hokie offense was finally in the game — down by 15.

The Hokies struggled through the rest of the half, sprinkling a few baskets in with ugly turnovers and shaky defense, and Tech went into halftime losing badly, 41-21. At the break, baylor was shooting 67% (16/24) from the field while the Hokies were at 24% (7/29).  Even more telling, the bears were 12/14 in the first half on two-point shots.  The Hokies could not stop the bears from getting easy buckets.  Senior big man Josh Lomers came in averaging less than three points per game, but scored 12 in the first half on 5/6 shooting.  Most of his points were layups where baylor lobbed the ball over a Hokie big man, who was fronting Lomers, or a feed into the low post where Lomers would catch the ball less than five feet from the hoop and go to his right for a short hook.    A.D. Vassallo, Tech’s fifth all time leading scorer, was scoreless at the half.  Tech had no answer for the baylor zone — unable to shoot over it (2/11 on threes) and taking bad shots inside.

In the second half, the deficit quickly extended to 26, and baylor just wouldn’t stop scoring and defending. With nine minutes left, baylor led 62-34 — Malcolm Delaney was shooting 1 for 11, and Vassallo was 2 of 12.

The end of the game saw the Hokies pull back admirably with a nice 18-3 run spurred by a full court trapping press, and there was a little excitement when a baylor player clobbered Delaney while boxing out on a free throw. But that’s as far as it went — the Hokies recovered a little less embarrassment in the final box score, but in the end, baylor took the easy victory, 84-66.

The shooting stats tell the story of this game: baylor shot 62% overall and 48% from deep. VT went for 33% and 23%. Aside from his arctic-shooting start, Malcolm Delaney posted a nice stat sheet with 14 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds, leading the Hokies in all three categories. Dorenzo Hudson had another encouraging game, shooting 3 of 6 for 10 points and two steals that led to dunks. A.D. scored 12, Jeff Allen 9, and J.T. Thompson scored 8.

This concludes the Hokies’ 2008-2009 season with a 19-15 record, and A.D. Vassallo finishes his career in 5th place on the all-time scoring list for Virginia Tech. baylor moves on to play auburn for a trip to the NIT final four at Madison Square Garden.

Niemo’s Notes:

  • Wow, was the crowd loud in the final eight minutes — if only we had a reason to cheer in the first 32 minutes.  Cassell was about 75% full at best.
  • Props to the guy in the first row on the opposite side of us that participated in Shirtless Halftime!  We need more like you.
  • Lomers’ 12 first half points for baylor almost tied his season high for a whole game of 14.  Tech was AWFUL at low post defense all season.  They need more bigs inside.  This is exposed more than ever when VT plays out of conferences teams that are more physical like georgia, baylor, mississippi, and wisconsin.
  • VT’s two NIT opponents were 27/51 on threes (53%).  Tech did not fight over screens and were not doing a good job of running out on open perimeter players.  Throw in wisconsin’s 12/18 three point performance in December and you see a real issue at defending the three in out of conference play.  Tech must improve this in the offseason.
  • To finish with a positive — Dorenzo Hudson has really stepped up the last few weeks.  He looks like he could become a legitimate scorer, and a decent shutdown defender for the Hokies.  But judging by Aaron Jackson’s 46 for duquesne and what baylor did today, I guess the jury is still out on that.  But he did have two great steals from behind on help D.  Many people have been waiting for him to show the promise he displayed as a scorer in AAU play, and we are starting to get a glimpse, much like how Delaney stepped up late last season.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Recaps, Home, NIT4 Comments

NIT 2nd Round Preview | baylor (21-14) @ VT (19-14) | Sat., 11 AM

THE SETUP

The Hokies will take on the baylor bears on Saturday morning at 11 AM in the second round of the NIT.  It is Breakfast in Blacksburg!  The early start time should be a good thing for VT since baylor is from the Central Time Zone.  This is a 10 AM tip-off on their body clocks, and after having to travel all the way from Waco.  baylor, the #3 seed in their bracket region, defeated #6 seed georgetown by a 74-72 score at baylor.  The bears overcame a 10 point halftime deficit.  The Hokies won 116-108 (2 OT) in one of the greatest games in Cassell Coliseum history in the first round.

THE SERIES

  • All-Time: 1-1 (VT won in 1960, bu in ’68) 
  • Both were at neutral sites as part of tournaments

SIX PACK OF FUN FACTS

  1. Virginia Tech has won their first game in the last ten tournaments they’ve played in dating back to 2006.  But they are just 3-6 in the second game of tournaments over that span.
  2. In addition to Vassallo (see #5), two other Hokies set career highs on Wednesday — J.T. Thompson with 21 and Dorenzo Hudson with 15.
  3. With a win in this game, the Hokies will have won 20 games or more in three straight seasons.  VT has not done that since the mid-80s when they won 20+ five years in a row from ’82-’86.
  4. Aaron Jackson set a Cassell Coliseum record for points scored by an opponent with 46 in the game Wednesday.  Allan Bristow of VT, whom Vassallo just past on the scoring list (see #5), had 52 against gwu in 1973, the overall record.
  5. A.D. Vassallo moved into fifth place on the all time VT scoring list with his career high 33 points on Wednesday.  He also had a career high 12 rebounds.
  6. Tech’s 116 points against duquesne marked their highest scoring output since scoring 141 against southern miss in 1988.

THE LINEUPS

Virginia Tech 

Position

Player

Height

PPG

Year

Point Guard

23 – Delaney

6′3″

18.2

So

Shooting Guard

5 – Hudson

6′5″

4.5

So

Small Forward/Wing

40 – Vassallo

6′6″

19.3

Sr

Power Forward

0 – Allen

6′7″

13.8

So

Center

34 – Diakite

6′9″

3.8

Sr

Bench

1 – Bell

6′6″

2.3

So

 

10 – Thorns

5′9″

2.7

So

 

14 – Davila

6′8″

3.1

Fr

 

21 – Witcher

6′9″

2.0

Jr

33 – Thompson

 6′6″ 6.5 So 

baylor

Position

Player

Height

PPG

Year

Guard

0 – Jerrells

6′1″

16.1

Sr

Guard

45 – Carter

5′11″

10.6

Jr

Guard

24 – Dunn

6′4″

15.5

So

Forward

23 – Rogers

6′9″

12.4

Sr

Center

50 – Lomers

7′

3.0

Jr

Bench

4 – Acy

6’7″

5.6

Fr

 

5 – Dugat

6′

10.0

Sr

 

15 – Diene

7’1″

1.8

Sr

 

41 – Jones

 6’10″

2.8

 Fr

 

 

 

   

Click ‘Read more’ to see the rest of the preview…

Continue Reading

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Games, NIT1 Comment

NIT 1st Round Recap | VT 116, duquesne 108 (2OT)

Boxscore  |  Highlights

The Hokies just plain survived.  They did their best to give this game away, but managed to pull a victory out of the jaws of defeat after 50 minutes.  This is a game that will go down in the history of Cassell Coliseum as one of the great games ever played there, and VT found a way to win it. 

After 20 minutes, you would have thought this would have been an average game.  Tech led 34-26 at the break.  But duquesne outscored the Hokies 52-44 in the second half.  Tech had a 13 point lead with 6:40 left to go in the game, but the dukes promptly went on an 11-0 run to cut the lead to two with 5:10 left in regulation (yes, it only took 90 seconds to cut the lead from 13 to two).  duquesne led 77-74 with 46 seconds left, but two A.D. Vassallo free throws and a second chance runner tied the score.  The Hokies stopped the dukes attempt to win the game at the end of the second half.

In the first overtime, once again, the Hokies built up a lead.  Tech led 92-86 with just 48 seconds left, but two three-pointers from the dukes and two crucial missed free throws by Malcolm Delaney tied the score.  Delaney set Virginia Tech’s record for free throws made in a season this year, but that’s how this game went.  J.T. Thompson scored on a putback of a Vassallo miss with 10 seconds left, reversing the end of regulation, but duquesne’s Aaron Jackson hit a layup with 1.7 seconds left to send the game to double overtime. 

Jackson scored 46 points in this game, and 40 of those points were scored after halftime.  He set a record for most threes made against VT with eight, surpassing the seven made by miami’s Darius Rice in 2001. Jackson’s 46 points were just five short of the all time high against Tech, scored by Elgin Hayes of houston in 1968.

For the Hokies, A.D. Vassallo scored a career high 33 points and moved into fifth on the all time VT scoring list with 1810 points.  He hit several clutch threes in the second half and overtime and nailed all 10 of his free throws.  He also added a career high 12 rebounds, giving him his seventh double-double of his career.

Jeff Allen broke out of his slump and also added a double-double.  He had 10 big first half points and finished the game with 23 points and 10 rebounds.  This marked his ninth double-double of the season and 19th of his young career.

The third part of the Big 3 had a big second half.  Malcolm Delaney, who had just two points at the half, finished with 20 points and 12/14 from the line (but the two crucial misses at the end of the first OT).

The Hokies shot nearly 60% from the field (59.4%) thanks to many easy buckets in the paint against the small, thin duquesne lineup, while the dukes shot 51% thanks mainly to red hot three point shooting.  The story of the night was duquesne’s three point shooting.  They hit 17/30 for the game (57%) and that includes missing 4/5 in the second overtime.  Yes, they were 16/25 (64%) after 45 minutes.  They could not miss.  Whereas the Hokies dominated the game in the paint. 

J.T. Thompson (21 points) and Dorenzo Hudson (15 points) also set career highs, meaning Tech saw three players set career highs in this game.  Jackson’s 46 was his career high for duquesne as the senior fouled out late to finish his career.  All five of Tech’s starters (Thompson started over Cheick Diakite) scored at least 15 points, while the Hokies got just four bench points.  Every VT starter played at least 41 minutes.  duquesne saw four guys reach double digits.

The 116 points by the Hokies mark the first time Tech has reached triple digits since 11/23/04 against md-eastern shore (102 points) and the 108 mark the first time VT has given up 100 since 1/30/05 – duke 100.  Both point totals are highs in the Greenberg era.  The 108 points against are the most by an opponent since fsu scored 117 on 3/1/89 and this is the highest Hokie point total since VT beat southern miss 141-133 in double OT on 2/6/88.

Tech won their ninth straight NIT opener and 10th straight tournament opener in this game.  The Hokies will look for their third consecutive 20 win season on Saturday morning at 11 AM in the Cassell against baylor, who overcame a 10 point halftime deficit to defeat georgetown on Wednesday night.  It marked baylor’s first postseason win since 1950 (59 years).

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Recaps, Games, NIT1 Comment

NIT 1st Round Preview | duquesne (21-12) @ VT (18-14) | Wed., 7 PM | ESPNU

THE SETUP

Note: Please remember to Support Shirtlessness tonight by taking your shirt off at halftime, whether you are at the game, at home watching, in the bathroom at work (yes, someone really did this last week during the miami day game), or at Bailey’s.  Shirtless Halftime is quickly becoming one of the great VT traditions.  So once that clock hits triple-zero at the end of the first 20 minutes, show the world you are tired of being oppressed by shirts.  We want a 51% Shirtless Halftime participation level for our cause by 2012.

Spread: VT by 8

Good Omen: Speaking of eight – the Hokies have won their NIT opener in the last eight NITs they have played in.  The only time they lost a NIT opener was in 1966, Tech’s first ever postseason appearance.  Add to that the fact VT has won their last nine tournament openers, and you have some good mojo for tonight.

Ah, yes, what every kid fears when shooting on their local black top growing up: to play on ESPNU in March.  That means just one thing: your invite to the Big Dance didn’t come and you are stuck heading to the Junior Prom, the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) with that hefty red head with braces, otherwise known as duquesne.  It could be worse, we could be sitting at home all alone with nothing to do but play Dungeons and Dragons online with other nerds like some other school I know.  And even worse, their dad just skipped town.

That said, motivation could be an issue in this game for players and fans.  Last year the Baby Hokies were fired up after getting snubbed by the NCAA Tournament Committee and ready to show the world they deserved a bid.  They bear-fighted morgan state by 32 and then uab by 26 before succumbing to mississippi and that real partyboy, Andy Kennedy.

This year, the Hokies came into the season with the expectation of being in the Big Dance.  Most college basketball analysts had Tech firmly in the field of 65.  But the game isn’t played on paper, it is played in big gigantic domes and such.  And things didn’t go the Hokies way much of the season. 

Now, the Hokies have to forget about the NCAAs.  Will the team be fired up for this?  Will seniors A.D. Vassallo and Cheick Diakite be disappointed at missing out on one more shot at the NCAAs?  We shall see.  Will the fans come out in droves like they did last year and turn the Cassell into the rowdy atmosphere it was last NIT?  We shall see.  All I know is the students were amazing last year.  Probably close to half the fans at the games were students.  3000 free student tickets have been offered up for this one, but we need the rest of you students to pony up the $5 to get in.  And alumni/fans, please show your support with $15 for the Hokies.  If you are fired up and loud, it will give the team a big lift.

THE SERIES

  • All-Time: 7-5
  • In Blacksburg: 5-0
  • As Members of the A-10: 7-3

SIX PACK OF FUN FACTS

  1. Virginia Tech has won their first game in the last nine tournaments they’ve played in dating back to 2006.
  2. Tech has won the NIT twice – 1973 and 1995.
  3. This marks the first time the Hokies have made a postseason tournament three years in a row since 1982-86 when the Hokies went five years in a row.
  4. Malcolm Delaney made 16/26 shots, 9/15 three pointers, and scored 44 points in the three NIT games last season.
  5. Cheick Diakite sits in fifth place on the VT all time blocked shot list.
  6. With nine points in this game, A.D. Vassallo will move ahead of former teammate Zabian Dowdell into sixth place on the all time VT scoring list.  With 28, he moves into fifth.

THE LINEUPS

Virginia Tech 

Position

Player

Height

PPG

Year

Point Guard

23 – Delaney

6′3″

18.2

So

Shooting Guard

5 – Hudson

6′5″

4.2

So

Small Forward/Wing

40 – Vassallo

6′6″

18.8

Sr

Power Forward

0 – Allen

6′7″

13.5

So

Center

34 – Diakite

6′9″

4.0

Sr

Bench

1 – Bell

6′6″

2.3

So

 

10 – Thorns

5′9″

2.7

So

 

14 – Davila

6′8″

3.1

Fr

 

21 – Witcher

6′9″

2.1

Jr

33 – Thompson

 6’6″ 5.8 So 

duquesne

Position

Player

Height

PPG

Year

Guard

1 – Jackson

6′4″

18.5

Sr

Guard

13 – Duty

6′1″

7.3

Jr

Wing

23 – Bolding

6′4″

9.6

Fr

Forward

30 – Clark

6′5″

13.2

So

Forward

25 – Saunders

6’7″

13.3

So

Bench

3 – Evans

5’11″

9.5

Fr

 

32 – Monteiro

6’5″

3.2

Fr

 

54 – Lewinson

6’9″

0.8

Fr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Click ‘Read more’ to see the rest of the preview…

Continue Reading

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Previews, Games, NIT2 Comments

Hokies Get No. 2 Seed in NIT, Host duquesne Wed. at 7 p.m.

The Virginia Tech Hokies are a No. 2 seed in the 2009 NIT tournament and will host a home game Wednesday, March 18, at 7 p.m. Tech will play duquesne in the first round.  duquense and VT do have some fairly recent history — the two were Atlantic 10 rivals from 1996-2000 and played 10 times over that span, with the Hokies winning seven of those 10 games.  Tech leads the all time series 7-5 and are 5-0 against the dukes in the Cassell.

If the Hokies win, they will play the winner of #6 georgetown at #3 baylor on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Monday.  It won’t be Thursday, so likely will either be Friday night, very early Saturday, or Monday night.  That game should also be at the Cassell.

The #1 seed in Tech’s quadrant of the bracket is auburn.  florida, creighton (barrel), and san diego state are the other #1 seeds.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Games, NIT2 Comments

Game Recap | unc (28-3, 14-3) 79, hokies (18-14, 8-10) 76

Box Score | Highlights

The Hokies had their hearts broken once again in the final seconds as the tar heels got some help from the officials and a very late questionable call to hold off the Hokies 79-76. The controversial call with 5.2 seconds left gave unc a held ball and possession with a 77-76 lead.

Virginia Tech had the ball, trailing by 1 point, with no shot clock and the chance to win the game with a basket. J.T. Thompson intercepted a pass back out to the perimeter and attempted to back in the lane where he was met by a pair of heels, Ed Davis and Tyler Hansbrough, who mugged Thompson, but the refs let it go and then called a held ball with the possession arrow in unc’s favor. That effectively ended the game and sent Seth Greenberg into a coat-flinging rampage.

Tech fouled immediately and Hansbrough hit both shots to give the heels a 79-76 lead. Not surprisingly, unc had only been called for three fouls until the final 30 seconds of the game, when they started fouling the Hokies to disrupt their game plan and force them to inbound the ball. Tech got the ball to A.D. Vassallo for a game-tying shot attempt, but it wasn’t a good look and hit mostly air as the clock hit all zeros.

The Hokies continued their stellar play from the Miami game and fought tooth and nail in this game, giving the heels all they could handle. Even with Allen and Vassallo in foul trouble pretty much the entire game, Tech kept the game close, and in fact led for the majority of the game. But as well as they played, unc is unc, and when they need a big shot they get it. And when they need a foul called against their opponent, or a no-call against them, they get it. It’s tough to beat that combination.

Vassallo, despite foul trouble, was tough for unc to defend. He led the Hokies with his second double-double of the season — 26 points and 10 rebounds. And he was 4/7 from 3-point range. Malcolm Delaney also recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists, his first career double-double, and a career-high in assists.

Despite all the close losses, and despite having clearly displayed the ability to play with the best teams in the country, it is unlikely that Tech will get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. It appears that they’ll probably earn a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NIT tournament. We’ll know for sure on Sunday. The Hokies will likely host a first-round NIT game next Tuesday or Wednesday, March 17-18. We’ll keep everyone posted.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Recaps, Games5 Comments

Game Recap | Hokies (18-13, 8-9) 65, miami (18-12, 7-10) 47

Box Score | Highlights

Virginia Tech took one small step toward playing its way back into the Big Dance with a dominating 65-47 win over No. 9 seed miami in the first round of the 2009 ACC Tournament. The Hokies held the canes to just 47 points — the lowest point total Tech has allowed all season. It was also the fewest points Tech has allowed in an ACC tournament game and fewest points scored by a miami team in four seasons. Tech has now won nine straight tournament-opening games.

This win was chock-full of milestones. The Hokie defense played perhaps its best game of the season, locking miami down. Not a single player for the canes scored in double-figures. Jack McClinton, miami’s shoot-it-from-anywhere All ACC guard was held to just 9 points, tying a season low for him.

Senior A.D. Vassallo set a new Virginia Tech record for most 3-pointers made in a career with a pair of treys, moving ahead of Walley Lancaster (257) and into first place with 258. With at least two more games left in his season, Vassallo will likely add to his new record.

Sophomore Malcolm Delaney played a stellar defensive game, but Tech’s second-leading scorer struggled from the field, hitting just 1 of 10 shots. However, he did have 8 assists and 14/15 made free throws. His 14 free throws gives him 205 for the season, which breaks Bimbo Coles’ VT record of 200 set during the 1988-89 season. Coles played 29 games that season, while Delaney needed 31 to set the new record.

Delaney, despite just one made field goal, led the Hokies with 17 points. Vassallo added 14, and J.T. Thompson gave the Hokies a huge game with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Dorenzo Hudson also played perhaps his best game of the season, helping the Hokies get a good start with a 3-pointer to open the game, giving Tech the early lead, which they never gave up. Hudson started and helped Delaney lock down McClinton, preventing him from getting very many open looks.

The Hokies built a 14-point lead in the first half, but miami used a 16-6 run to end the half and cut Tech’s lead to four, 28-24.

The Hokies led the entire game, and used a 14-0 run in the second half to pull away for the win. Tech, the No. 8 seed, will face top seed unc tomorrow at noon in the ACC quarterfinals.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Recaps, Games, Home2 Comments

The Balla Report 3/11/09

The 2008-09 ACC basketball regular season has come and gone. Don’t forget tickets are still available for the 56th annual ACC Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Hotlanta (assuming you have 20/10 vision and a very nice pair of binoculars). Anyway, it’s time once again for the Balla’s postseason awards. And the winners are………

All ACC First Team (in order)

Ty Lawson unc
Toney Douglas fsu
Jeff Teague wake
Tyler Hansbrough unc
Gerald Henderson duke

Reserves / 2nd Team

Tyrese Rice bc
Jack McClinton miami
Trevor Booker clemson
K.C. Rivers clemson
A.D. Vassallo Virginia Tech

Water boys / 3rd Team

Greivis Vasquez maryland
Jon Scheyer duke
Malcolm Delaney Virginia Tech
Kyle Singler duke
Gani Lawal ga tech

PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Lawson. The unc point guard edges out fsu’s Douglas and last year’s winner, Hansbrough. Even though Douglas scored 75 more points than the next closest player (McClinton), Lawson’s numbers are better across the board. He emerged as the leader of the top ranked heels. Always lightning quick, his ability to drive to the hoop and distribute the ball was the difference in several unc wins. Any time a guard shoots better than 50% from the field, that’s a helluva year.

COACH OF THE YEAR – Al Skinner, boston college. By a nose over fsu’s Leonard Hamilton. Skinner did more with less in my opinion. The lightly regarded eagles beat both unc and duke, and were the only team to win in the Dean Dome this season.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR – Sylvan Landesberg, uva. One of the few bright spots in an otherwise long season for the wahoos. If the name of this award was changed to “Newcomer of the Year” the award would have gone to bc’s Joe Trapani, the vermont transfer.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Douglas. I’m going with Douglas over freshman teammate Solomon Alabi. With all the great guards in the conference this season, it was Douglas who usually had to shut down a high scoring opponent, leading the ACC’s top defensive team along the way. Plus, he didn’t have the benefit of Alabi’s condor-like wing span.

Looking for a job? Facing foreclosure? Need some quick cash? Here’s how this year’s tourney will play out:

Round 1: miami over VT, clemson over ga tech, nc state over maryland, bc over uva

Quarters: unc over miami, fsu over clemson, wake over nc state, duke over bc

Semis: fsu over unc, wake over duke

Finals: wake over fsu

You heard it here first. Hell, what do I have to lose? Before the season I predicted the Hokies would be a sweet sixteen team this year.

Let’s just hope the only tornado that comes near the Georgia Dome this year is an improbable run by Delaney, Vassallo, and company. Remember, in last year’s SEC tournament which started at the Georgia Dome and ended at Alexander Coliseum, the georgia bulldogs pulled off an even bigger shocker to make the NCAA’s.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, ACC Tournament, Featured Columns, Home, The Balla Report5 Comments

ACC Tournament Preview | #8 Virginia Tech (17-13, 7-9)

THE SETUP

Virginia Tech no longer has any margin of error.  The Hokies are now in a single elimination situation in more ways than one.  Obviously if they lose in the ACC Tournament, they are done from that.  But a loss in the first two rounds of the ACC Tournament will eliminate Tech from any chance of going to the NCAA Tournament and send them to the consolation tourney, aka: the Junior Prom, the NIT for the second year in a row.  If the Hokies can defeat miami in the First Round (and for the second time this season), and then knock off the #1 (that’s in the nation, not just the ACC) unc tar heels in the Quarterfinals, they put themselves squarely back on the bubble.

But first things first — the Hokies, losers of six of their last seven games, must knock off a pesky miami hurricane team on Thursday at noon in the opening game of the ACC Tournament.   miami is also on the bubble, so call this an elimination game where both teams are playing for their NCAA lives.

The Weekend Warrior and Niemo will be at the ACC Tournament – the first person to recognize Niemo and come up to him and say, “Yahtzee” will get a beer bought for him or her (pending ID check: must be 21 years of age except in Puerto Rico; offer not valid with any other coupons; and assuming they sell booze in the Dome for this).

THE BRACKET

Thursday – First Round

  • Noon – #8 Virginia Tech vs. #9 miami
  • ~2:20 – #5 clemson vs. #12 georgia tech
  • 7 – #7 maryland vs. #10 nc state
  • ~9:20 – #6 bc vs. #11 uva

Friday – Quarterfinals

  • Noon – #1 unc vs. #8 Virginia Tech / #9 miami
  • ~2:20 – #4 fsu vs. #5 clemson/#12 georgia tech
  • 7 – #2 wake forest vs. #7 maryland/#10 nc state
  • ~9:20 – #3 duke vs. #6 bc/#11 uva

Saturday – Semi-Finals

  • 1:30 – Friday afternoon winners
  • ~3:50 – Friday evening winners

Sunday – Championship Game  – 1 PM

ACC TOURNAMENT SIX PACK

  • Virginia Tech is 2-4 in the ACC Tournament
  • The Hokies are 0-1 in the First Round, having received a bye three of the previous four seasons
  • A.D. Vassallo scored 22 points against wake in the 2007 Quarterfinals, a Tech game high in the tournament
  • This is the first tourney opponent Tech has played in a previous ACC Tournament — Tech has also played georgia tech, uva, wake, nc state, and unc
  • Tech has been held under 70 points in five of their previous six ACC Tournament games — the lone time they surpassed 70 was in the win against wake in 2007 (71).  Two VT opponents have passed 70 — nc state with 72 in 2007 and georgia tech with 73 in 2005.
  • Malcolm Delaney scored 30 combined points on a blistering 10/15 from the floor and 6/9 from three-point range in last year’s two ACC games.

FIRST ROUND – #9 miami (18-11, 7-9)

How about this for a good omen in this game: Virginia Tech has won their first game in the last eight tournaments they’ve entered.  This dates back to the 2006 Old Spice Classic in Florida, where VT lost to western michigan.  Since then, the Hokies have won their opening games in both ACC Tournaments, both Holiday Festivals, the NCAA Tournament, the NIT, the Great Alaska Shootout, and the Puerto Rico Tip-off (I did not count things like the BB&T Classic or ACC/Big(11)Ten Challenge that are just one game and not true tournaments).

Also, the Hokies should have some confidence knowing they defeated the canes 88-83 in overtime in miami.  The Big 3 went nuts in this one, scoring 74 of Tech’s 88 points.  In fact, only one player other than the Big 3 had more than two points — Lewis Witcher had six.  Malcolm Delaney had 29, A.D. Vassallo 28, and Jeff Allen 17.   Jack McClinton was “limited” to 20 points (he was just 6/21 from the field), and Dwayne Collins dominated the Hokies inside for 23 points.  Brian Asbury, who had been in a shooting slump, got hot and scored 21 points, by far his season high, and mostly against Vassallo.  Tech shot 43% (9/21) on threes, and despite trailing most of the game, took a late lead only to see the game sent to overtime on a Brian Asbury three with 25 seconds left.  The Hokies fell behind by four early in overtime, but scored 11 of the final 13 points to pull away.  After that game, Tech was sitting at 4-1 in the ACC and riding the gravy train with biscuit wheels.  But that was a LONG time ago in a basketball season.

miami comes into this game having won three of four.  But those four games included the bottom three teams in the ACC, and bc, who finished in sixth.  The canes lost to 2-14 georgia tech in their second to last game.  So while the wins may have given them a lift after a 4-8 start in ACC play, they haven’t proven much of anything.  The canes lost six of their final seven games away from Coral Gables, with the lone road win against lowly uva. [editor's note: italics added because its fun.]

Meanwhile, VT was strong away from the Cassell this season.  Tech finished 3-5 away from Blacksburg in ACC action, with wins over wake (wake’s only home loss of the season), clemson, and miami.  The Hokies know they can play in unfamiliar settings. 

KEYS TO THE GAME

  • Get a Lead!  Virginia Tech has not led at any point in their last three games, a span of 120 minutes since the end of the clemson game.  The main culprit has been slow starts on offense.  In Tech’s last seven games, they have trailed at the first media timeout in every game by an average of five points.  The Hokies have played up-hill every game, and it has taken a toll on them.
  • Malcolm Delaney: Malcolm is the leader of this team, the heart and soul.  And as he goes, so go the Hokies.  When he was putting up ACC Player of the Week numbers (an award he won once) in mid-January, the Hokies were red hot.  But he has been in a slump the last nine games, due in part to the fact his body is extremely beat up from throwing it around, giving each game his all.  By no coincidence, Tech has struggled.  Malcolm must regain the hot-shooting touch he had in the first half of the ACC season, where he was in the Top 10 in the ACC in shooting percentage.   The biggest issue lately has been his inability to hit runners in the lane or on the break.  If Malcolm can get a 10-footer in the paint to drop, and an early three, VT could be in for a good day.  Delaney was hot against miami in the first meeting, hitting 9/19 from the floor and 3/7 on threes.
  • Impeach McClinton:  Jack McClinton has insane range from deep.  He must be guarded anywhere and everywhere on the floor.   He finished third in the ACC in scoring and was tops in three-point shooting, hitting an incredible 90/194 threes (46%).  But he has been in a slump the last three games, hitting just 9/37 shots from the field (24%).  The main issue has been, like Delaney, he cannot hit a two-point shot — he is just 3/19 from inside the arc.  And Tech has done a great job on him in the last two meetings.  He was just 6/21 from the field in January (4/12 on threes) and 4/17 from the field (3/11 on threes) in VT’s 63-49 defeat of miami in the Quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament last season. 
  • Boo Collins / Yay Allen: As I mentioned earlier, Dwayne Collins dominated Tech inside in January.  He scored 13 straight points for the canes during the second half to keep them in the game.  Jeff Allen managed to play 40 minutes in that game, a rare occasion where he didn’t battle foul troubles.  If Tech is going to limit Collins, they have to keep Allen on the floor and get a big effort from Diakite and/or Davila inside in post defense.  Davila has been playing better in the low post of late on the defensive end, while Diakite can challenge his shots.  And Tech must limit second chance opportunities for the big cane lineup (the goon line).

THE LINEUPS

Position

VT

Height

miami

Height

Point Guard

23 – Delaney

6′3″

1 – Hurdle

6′2″

Wing/SG

40 – Vassallo

6′6″

33 – McClinton

6′1″

Wing/SF

33 – Thompson

6′6″

31 – Jones

6′6″

Power Forward

0 – Allen

6′7″

21 – Collins

6′8″

Center

14 – Davila

6′8″

0 – Graham

6′8″

Bench

34 – Diakite

6′9″

20 – McGowan

6′9″

 

10 – Thorns

5′9″

30 – Thomas

 6′7″

 

1 – Bell

6′6″

32 – Asbury

6′7″

 

21 – Witcher

6′9″

23 – Dews

6′3″

 

5 – Hudson

6′5″

 

 

Posted in 2008-09 Season, ACC Tournament, Game Previews, Games0 Comments

Game Recap | #24 fsu (23-8, 10-6) 63, Hokies (17-13, 7-9) 53

Box Score

Virginia Tech’s Big Three – Jeff Allen (6), Malcolm Delaney (13) and A.D. Vassallo (14) – combined for just 33 points as the Hokies lost their final regular season game on the road to No. 24-ranked fsu, 53-63. Tech’s 53 points was its second lowest output of the season behind its 44-point effort at duke. The Hokies did get a stellar game from Cheick Diakite who pulled down a career high 11 rebounds.

Once again the Hokies got off to an extremely slow start and hit just 1 of their first 11 shots. With less than 8 minutes to play in the first half, the Hokies only had 9 points and trailed by 14 points with less than 5 minutes left in the half. But, they did not quit and fought their way back into the game and cut fsu’s lead down to 7 at the half.

The second half saw the noles push their lead back to double digits. Tech hung tough and kept it close and even got to within 3 points with a little more than 7 minutes to play. That’s when fsu’s Toney Douglas started to heat up. He buried a 3 pointer to push the lead back to six and scored 12 points in the final seven minutes to lead fsu past Tech. Douglas was the only fsu player to score in double digits.

Foul trouble was an issue for the Hokies in the second half as Allen and Delaney sat for a good chunk of time with four fouls each. Turnovers (including several lazy passes) killed Seth Greenberg’s team. Tech committed 17 turnovers and fsu turned them into 18 points. Though fsu is much bigger than Tech, the ‘noles only had a 36-33 edge in rebounding. Diakite played with with the big boys today and more than held his own.

It was another poor shooting performance for Tech as they managed just 30 percent from the field (16/52), 25 percent from three (5/20) and 69 percent from the free throw line (16/23). Next to the duke loss, this was probably Tech’s worst game of the season – statistically speaking.

The loss caps a disappointing end to the regular season for Virginia Tech. Following the Hokies’ 76-71 win against georgia tech on Feb. 11, Tech stood at 16-7 overall and 6-3 in the ACC. Since that game, Tech has won only once, losing six of their final seven games, including three homes games. Their lone win was an upset on the road against #12 clemson on Feb. 25.

The loss gives the Hokies a 7-9 conference record and means the Hokies will need to deep in the ACC tournament. More than likely, the Hokies will need to win the whole thing, especially if last season is any barometer. The Hokies were 18-12 and 9-7 last season and lost on a last second shot to unc in the ACC semifinals and still got snubbed by the NCAA selection committee. Short of winning the ACC tournament, the Hokies appear to be NIT bound.

Next up for Tech is the ACC tourney which begin on Thursday. Tech will take on miami at noon. The Hokies beat the canes earlier this season 88-83 in overtime, in Miami. The entire ACC tournament will be broadcast on Raycom and ESPN or ESPN2.

Notes:
A.D. Vassallo needs just two more 3-point field goals to set a new Virginia Tech career record for made 3-pointers. Wally Lancaster currently holds the record with 257 made 3-pointers from 1986-89. Lancaster also holds the school record for most 3-point attempts (694) and most consecutive games with a made 3-pointer with 73.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Recaps, Games0 Comments

Preview | VT (17-12, 7-8) @ #24 fsu (22-8, 9-6) | Sun., 2 PM | Raycom

Note: If Virginia Tech wins this game, they finish in 7th place in the ACC and will play nc state on Thursday at 7 PM.  If Tech loses, they finish in a three way tie with maryland and miami.  In that scenario, maryland would be the #7 seed and play nc state, while VT would be the #8 seed and play miami at noon on Thursday.

THE SETUP

Recap of the Weekend Warrior’s trip to Tallahassee back in October

Spread: fsu by 5.5

This is all the setup you need: Virginia Tech must win this game to keep alive any hope of going to the NCAA Tournament.  You cannot finish below .500 in your conference and expect to make the Big Dance.  It is time for the Hokies to put up or shut up.  If VT finishes 7-9 in the regular season in the ACC, no “certifiably insane” speech is going to carry any weight.  With a win though, Tech would have three wins against Top 25 RPI teams (#14 wake, #17 fsu, and #18 clemson), and all on the road.  Unfortunately for Tech, both bc and miami have fallen out of the Top 50, so those are no longer Top-50 wins.  Joe Lunardi of ESPN Bracketology currently has the Hokies on the Big Dance waiting list, five to eight spots out of the tourney.

THE SERIES

  • All-Time: 17-23
  • At fsu: 5-13
  • In ACC Play: 2-4
  • Streaks: The home team had won all five games since VT joined the ACC until fsu won in Blacksburg two weeks ago.
  • Of Note: VT has won on the road at every ACC school except fsu and nc state since joining the ACC.

Last Meeting: fsu 67, @VT 65 – It all came down to one shot, the ball in A.D. Vassallo’s hands with an open look at a three to give Virginia Tech the victory.  But as has been the case so many times this season, the bounce did not go the Hokies’ way.  Instead, the shot clanged off the iron and out, and Virginia Tech missed out on another golden opportunity for a big win at home. 

Derwin Kitchen was the story in this meeting, scoring 19 points, his season high.  Having hit just seven three pointers on the season coming in, he went 3/3 from long range, including a shot he just hucked up from the corner at the end of the shot clock.  Toney Douglas had a team high 22, but that was no surprise.  His jumper with six seconds left put fsu ahead.  Malcolm Delaney had 25 for the Hokies in his best performance over the last eight games — he took a break from his shooting slump and went 5/8 on threes in the game.

No shock here, but VT fell well behind early in the contest.  It was 25-11 fsu before the halfway mark of the first half.

Click ‘Read more’ to see the rest of the preview…

Continue Reading

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Previews, Games1 Comment

Recap | #2 unc (26-3, 12-3) 86, VT (17-12, 7-8) 78

Boxscore

Once again the Hokies were within reach of getting their NCAA Tournament ticket punched, only to have the ticket-taker drift away into the night and leave Tech empty handed.  VT now faces a must-win situation on Sunday at florida state.

The Hokies played uphill all game, trailing most of the contest — VT never led.  But VT cut the heel lead to one with 5:17 to play.  After that, unc went on a 10-0 run to go ahead 73-62 with 2:59 to play and the Hokies never got closer than five after that.  Remind anyone of the duke game and the final five minutes in that contest?

A.D. Vassallo, aka: Mr. 2nd-Half, had another stellar night in his final regular season game at Cassell.  A.D. scored 25 points, including 19 in the second half, and moved ahead of Ace Custis into 8th place on the VT all-time scoring list.  Jeff Allen had his sixth double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds, but 14 of his points were in the first half.  He was the Hokie offense in the first stanza.  Malcolm Delaney added 19 points, but many of them were free throws in garbage time.  He was just 4/16 from the field including 1/7 on threes.  He is 6/28 in his last two games and just 1/13 from long range. 

The heels dominated the Hokies inside on offense.  They were able to score at will in the low post.  Tyler Hansbrough had 22 points while Deon Thompson and Ed Davis added eight each.  On the perimeter, Ty Lawson seemingly could score whenever he wanted to.  He was just too quick for any Hokie to guard.  Lawson poured in 22 points.  Wayne Ellington added 15, hit three big three-pointers in the first half.  He shot over the Hokies when he wanted to, especially Hank Thorns.

For the game, Tech held unc to just 41% shooting from the field and 32% on threes, but gave up 14 offensive rebounds. VT lost the turnover battle by three (11-8).  unc converted more of Tech’s turnovers into points, outscoring VT 15-4 on fast breaks and 18-8 on points off turnovers.  Tech just could not cash in on a couple of 3-on-1s, and missed two easy layups in the game (stop me if you’ve heard that before).

It was deja vu all over again for the Hokies in this contest.  For the fourth straight game Tech started slow and stared a significant deficit in the face by the first media timeout.  As has become the norm, the Hokies started slow from the field and trailed 12-6 at the first media timeout.  This was the fourth straight game the Hokies trailed by six or more at the first TV timeout and 13th time in 15 ACC games Tech has been behind at the first break.

The Hokies did battle back and got to within one in the first half.  But a Tyler Hansbrough three at the end of the half pushed the unc lead to six at the break.

Tech finished their home slate a disappointing 4-4 in ACC play.  The Hokies did play a very difficult home schedule, but Tech went just 1-4 against teams currently above .500 in ACC play.  They went 3-0 against the bottom three teams in the league.  bc is the only team above .500 that VT beat at home, and they sit at just 8-7 in the league right now and were 1-2 in ACC play when the Hokies defeated them.  If you want to make the Big Dance and want to compete for a bye in this league, you have to beat the teams in the upper half of the league at home on occasion.  The Hokies were unable to get that done this season.

Tech finishes the regular season on Sunday at 2 PM at florida state.  VT lost the first meeting, less than two weeks ago, 67-65 at the Cassell.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Recaps, Games3 Comments

Preview | #2 unc (11-3, 25-3) @ VT (7-7, 17-11) | Wed., 7 PM | ESPN

THE SETUP

Note: Wednesday is Senior Night.  Please come out to Cassell and show some love for A.D. Vassallo and Cheick Diakite!

Spread: unc by 9.5

If unc was ranked #1, I’d have a lot of confidence coming into this game — Tech is 2-2 against #1′s under Greenberg, with one win over #1 unc in 2007 and a two-point loss to #1 unc in the ACC Tournament thanks to a Hansbrough shot with less than a second left.  But unc aren’t #1.  The heels are “only” #2. 

That aside, Tech obviously still has everything to gain in this game.  A win secures a VT finish of at least .500 in conference play for the fourth time in five ACC seasons, and may lock up an NCAA Tournament bid.  But unc is playing for a #1 seed in the Big Dance, and will want to avoid a slip-up heading into their game at home against duke this weekend.  So don’t expect the heels to coast through this one.  That said, Tech does have more on the line and should come out scratching and clawing, much like they did in the ACC Tournament, playing for their lives (which in some ways they are).  The Hokies cannot afford to wait until the ACC Tournament to make a statement this year.

Stats Six Pack:

  • VT is 5-1 on Wednesdays this season including 3-1 in ACC play (the wins over #1 wake and #12 clemson were both on Wednesdays).  Tech is 3-0 at home on Wednesdays. 
  • The Hokes are 4-1 against ACC teams that Tech only plays once this season (unc is the last team VT plays once), and 2-0 at home against those teams
  • With a win, Tech will clinch their fourth winning record at home in ACC play in five seasons.  Tech has gone 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in past seasons, and are 4-3 this year at the Cassell.
  • Senior A.D. Vassallo will move into 8th place on the all-time VT scoring list with nine points in this game.  He currently sits eight points behind Ace Custis.
  • Senior Cheick Diakite is 5th on the all-time shot block list at Tech with 123.
  • This senior class has won 74 games to date.  That’s the most wins for a class since the 1997 seniors finished with 81 wins (that class included Ace Custis).

THE SERIES

  • The Series: 12-57
  • Since VT joined the ACC: 2-4
  • At the Cassell: 1-2

Last Meeting: ACC Tournament Semis — unc 68, VT 66: Yeah, this one stung.  Tech lead most of the second half, but Hansbrough’s baseline jumper with .8 seconds left killed the Hokies’ NCAA Tournament hopes in the ACC Tournament Semi-Finals.  And this was after unc beat Tech by 39 in Chapel Hill a month earlier.

LINEUPS

Virginia Tech

Position

Player

Height

PPG

Year

Point Guard

23 – Delaney

6′3″

18.4

So

Shooting Guard

5 – Hudson

6’5″

3.9

So

Small Forward

40 – Vassallo

6′6″

18.7

Sr

Power Forward

0 – Allen

6′7″

14.0

So

Center

34 – Diakite

6′9″

3.9

Sr

Bench

1 – Bell

6′6″

2.6

So

 

10 – Thorns*

5’9″

3.0

So

 

14 – Davila

6′8″

3.4

Fr

 

21 – Witcher

6′9″

2.2

Jr

33 – Thompson

6’6″

4.8

So

 unc

Position

Player

Height

PPG

Year

Point Guard

5 – Lawson

5’11″

15.8

Jr

Shooting Guard

22 – Ellington

6′4″

14.9

Jr

Wing

14 – Green

6′6″

14.1

Sr

Forward

21 – Thompson

6′8″

11.2

Jr

Forward

50 – Hansbrough

6′9″

21.3

Sr

Bench

4 – Frasor

6′3″

2.7

Sr

 

11 – Drew

6’1″

1.6

Fr

 

32 – Davis

6’6″

6.3

Fr

 

44 – Zeller

7’0″

6.4

Fr

 

 

 

 

 

* We’ll have to wait and see if Hank Thorns is cleared to play in this game.  He had to sit the duke game after coming down with the flu on the clemson trip.  His playing status and playing time will depend on how tests go this week.  Since Lawson is just 5’11″, and lightning quick, Tech could use the speedy Thorns on defense.  And it would be nice to rest Delaney some and allow him to play off the ball.  You can be sure his 2/12 shooting performance against duke had a lot to do with tired legs and not running off screens (plus Elliot Williams is a big time defender in the making).

Click ‘Read more’ to see the rest of the preview…

Continue Reading

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Previews, Games0 Comments

The Balla Report 3/1/09

The duke blue devils used their famous sixth man (seventh and eighth too for that matter) to escape Cassell Coliseum with a 72-65 victory over the Hokies on Saturday. And no, we’re not talking about anyone off the duke bench. This time it was the three man officiating crew of Gary Maxwell, Tony Greene and Bob Donato who decided to buy into this flop fest. Now, anyone who follows ACC basketball knows that duke gets more than their fair share of close calls – pretty much any call that could be perceived to go either way with the exception of maybe when they’re playing carolina. Sometimes however, this gets down right ridiculous.

Let’s make one thing clear, I’m not saying the Hokies lost the game because of the referees. No, the Hokies lost the game because they turned the ball over 19 times (while only forcing duke into 9 turnovers). They lost because they forgot that Gerald Henderson can’t go left but he can go right as well as anyone in the league. And they lost because they simply weren’t able to hit the big shots down the stretch when given the opportunity.

But, man, what an advantage it would be to know that any time a quicker, more athletic player drove past you and to the hole you were likely going to be bailed out by a charge call. Makes playing defense a lot easier. Or, it’d be great to have a guy like Kyle Singler be able to use not one but two hands to push off on his defender (like he did on A.D. with 1:23 to go) then cut wide open for an easy layup. And who could forget Jon Scheyer’s lovely pirouette as he was trapped in the back court with 0:14 seconds to go and the devils clinging to a three point lead – in which he lifted his pivot foot three times by my count. Nice to have that get overlooked.

Quick memo to whoever is planning the white outs and black outs in Cassell: Virginia Tech basketball is two hours of heart pounding excitement on its own. The Atlantic Coast Conference is the most competitive conference year in and year out. We don’t really need any other gimmicks. Not to mention they haven’t worked – loss to clemson in the black out and loss to duke in the white out. Our school colors are Chicago maroon and burnt orange. No black, no white. Orange and maroon effects work well in Lane Stadium for football, why not go with those in the Cassell for hoops as well?

Next up for the Hokies are the unc tar heels Wednesday night. If nothing else, the Hokies should at least be used to the questionable officiating mentioned earlier, because they’re going to see it again against the heels.

It’s Senior night for A.D. Vassallo and Cheick Diakite. Most considered big Cheick as nothing more than a project coming out of Bamako, Mali by way of prep school in Massachusetts. Diakite has become a valuable contributor with his defense and shot blocking abilities, and has shown the ability to hit a jumper out to about 15 feet.

Vassallo has transformed his game from that of simply a stand still shooter as a freshman to that of an all around, complete player. I used to cringe whenever A.D. would try to put the ball on the floor. Now, not only is A.D. a world class shooter, but he’s an adequate ball handler who can drive to the hoop, he’s got an array of nice floaters and jump hooks in the lane, and he’s become one of the team’s better rebounders. I think A.D. definitely has a chance to play in the NBA. Let’s hope A.D. can find the “zone” one last time in the Cassell Wednesday night and get that elusive 8th conference win at the hands of the top 5 heels. Plans for mid March could depend on it.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Featured Columns, Home, The Balla Report1 Comment

Game Recap | duke (24-5, 10-4) 72, Hokies (17-11, 7-7) 65

Box Score

A.D. Vassallo notched his first double-double of the season with 26 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Hokies’ poor first half, the absence of Hank Thorns, an injured J.T. Thompson, and of course, the duke factor, i.e. questionable calls as Tech fell to No. 7 duke, 65-72.

The Hokies managed just five points in the first 10 minutes of the game and fell behind 20-5 midway through the half and trailed by as many at 16 (16-32). Malcolm Delaney only scored 7 points on 2/12 shooting from the field and 0/6 from 3-point range; but he played all 40 minutes, had 8 assists and only 3 turnovers. Thorns missed the game because of illness (still dehydrated from the clemson game apparently) and duke took full advantage of his absence by denying Delaney the ball the entire game.

Thompson sprained his knee on a dunk in the win over clemson and was slightly better than 80 percent (his words) before this game. He came off the bench and scored 13 points, just two shy of his season high of 15 vs. charleston southern. Cheick Diakite recorded a DNP (did not play) in this game – only the second game in which he has not played this season.

Vassallo, who is 10th on Tech all-time scoring list, scored 21 of his 26 points in the second half, including a streak of 15 straight Tech points during a 15-4 run that pulled the Hokies into a 58-58 tie. Vassallo was simply unstoppable during that run and the Cassell was going nuts. But, after knotting the game at 58 with 5:59 to play, Tech went without a point for 4 minutes, 47 seconds.

The dookies only scored one field goal in the final six minutes, but hit 10/12 free throws to put the game away. The Hokies, without Thorns, couldn’t get a good open look for Delaney or Vassallo in the final minutes.

As has been par for the course when playing the evil empire, the officials gave duke just about every call and then some, let coach k manipulate them and allow their players to get away with so much holding, reach-ins and over-the-backs, it was laughable. I couldn’t find any official stats, but I counted SEVEN charges called against the Hokies including two in the final minutes that killed the their momentum. At one point, head coach Seth Greenberg slammed a water bottle to the floor and came dangerously close to getting a technical.

Additionally, with the Hokies trailing by four with about 22 seconds to play, dook inbounded the ball along the baseline and the Hokies swarmed trying to get the foul. Two Hokies were trying to get a held ball call and in the process were mugging the dook player, but the refs didn’t call anything. Finally, after 8 seconds ran off the clock, coach k called a time out. Again, Greenberg was livid. After calling ticky-tack calls all night, the Hokies were trying to foul and the refs decided to let them play.

The bottom line is the the Hokies came back from a 16-point deficit minus Hank Thorns who was coming off his best game of the season and a key contributor, Thompson, playing hurt. Add to that Jeff Allen’s foul trouble and it’s amazing the game was as close as it was. Now Tech needs to win at least one of their final two regular season games to ensure at least a .500 record in conference play.

With today’s loss the Hokies have been officially eliminated from getting a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament and will play on day one. Their next game is Wednesday, March 4, at home against unc, which crushed georgia tech today, 104-74. Game time is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.

Random Notes:
Delaney attempted a Hail Mary three pointer at the end of regulation in an attempt to keep his double-digit scoring streak alive … he missed. His 7 points marks the first time all season he has failed to score 10 or more in a game. The last time Delaney scored fewer than 10 points was March 9, 2008 at clemson when he had 3 points. Since that game, he had scored in double-digits in 32 straight games.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Recaps, Games0 Comments

The Wild Hokie Club!

The Hokies experienced their worst season since the ricky "program bomb" stokes era. Sure, it would have been easy to quit on you, but did we quit when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? HELL NO!

 

And we do it for free! But, just like NPR, we rely on the generosity of our loyal fans to help keep this humble Hokie website alive. That being said, see how you can help TechHoops.com make it to 10 years!

 

Jon King, Ben Floyd and Dan Rickenbach all got in on the action and we encourage all TechHoops heads to do the same.

 

Any donation amount earns you a spot in our Wild Hokie Club. We'll even give you a shout out on Twitter and Facebook. We may even let you get armcurled by Niemo.

 

So join the TechHoops.com Wild Hokie Club today!


Choose your level of support!




New Poll Question

Has the hiring of Buzz Williams influenced your plans for attending games next season?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Get TechHoops Updates via Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Photos on flickr