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

Dear Hokie Hoops Fan,

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

Sincerely,

JJ

Boxscore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Positives:

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

Things that didn’t stink:

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

Things that had a moderate to severe odor:

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

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

Final Thoughts:

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

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

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

Posted in 2013-14, Game Recaps, Home13 Comments

notre dame 70 (2-3, 11-7), HOKIES 63 (1-4, 8-9)

Boxscore

A lackluster, uninspired first half proved to be too much for the Hokies to overcome despite a fierce second half rally, and Tech fell in South Bend, IN by a 70-63 score to the fighting irish in the first ever meeting between the two schools as ACC members.  This marks Tech’s fourth straight loss and 6th in 7 games, and snapped notre dame’s 3 game losing streak.

For those of you that were watching the NFL Conference Championships instead of this game, you’d swear Virginia Tech won if you just looked at the boxscore.  Check this out:

  • VT shot 52% from the field compared to 41% for notre dame AND VT shot 63% in the 2nd half
  • Tech shot 36% from 3-point range against 32% for the irish
  • The Hokies surpassed the 60 point mark in regulation for the first time in ACC play
  • Joey van Zegeren had 6 blocks in the game
  • Two Hokies set career highs in points – Devin Wilson and Cadarian Raines* each had 20

* I bet you are wondering who this “Cadarian Raines” guy is.  No, he’s not a mid-season transfer, he’s actually a 5th year senior who had been riding the pine for most of the last month.

So how did the Hokies lose this game?  As I like to say — bad teams find ways to lose, and when you are picked to finish last in the ACC out of 15 teams, you find new ways to lose every night.  Tonight, these were the factors that did the Hokies in:

  • Turnovers: The Hokies had committed 9 turnovers or less in each of their last 4 games.  Tonight, they had surpassed that with 10 turnovers by the break.  In fact, they had 7 turnovers in the first 9 minutes of the game to put themselves in an early whole.  Tech had 17 turnovers for the game.  This gave notre dame a lot of extra possessions (they had just 10 turnovers), so despite the fact VT shot 11% higher than notre dame, the irish had 10 more FG attempts and just one fewer made field goal than the Hokies. And despite Joey’s 6 blocks, notre dame had 11 offensive rebounds so a lot of those blocks were turned into 2nd chances (again, more possessions extended for the irish).  JvZ, who had those 6 blocks, also had 6 turnovers in the game in just 16 minutes.
  • Free Throw Shooting: The Hokies were just 9/15 from the line (60%) while notre dame was 13/18 (72%).  But that 9/15 doesn’t tell the whole story — Tech missed the front end of 2 one-and-ones, meaning 4 points were wasted on those 2 attempts.  The Hokies have now shot 60% of lower from the foul line in 7 of 8 games — 6 of those 7 games were losses.  Tech is an even 50% on FT% through their first 5 ACC games, easily last in the ACC (10% below unc).
  • 3-Pointers Made: While Tech shot a slightly higher % on 3s, notre dame had 9 makes to just 4 for the Hokies.  C.J. Barksdale was the only Hokie to make a 3-pointer in the first 29 minutes of the game (he had 2).  Tech must find a way to get more 3s (they average 8 makes per game).  This was in part due to Ben Emelogu being out with an ankle injury and Adam Smith playing just a handful of minutes due to his nagging injury (Smith didn’t score).  And then there’s…
  • Jarell Eddie was benched to start the game and had just 2 points on 1/5 shooting.  He had more turnovers (3) than points (2).  He’s now 7/34 (21%) on FGs and 3/17 (18%) on 3s for 21 total points during this 4 game losing streak.  So while Raines had a resurgence, Eddie is in a tailspin.  Maybe we won’t see him for the next month.
  • Sleepwalking: Tech looked like it slept through the first half.  There was little to no effort from the Hokies until Raines came in with a little over 9 minutes to go in the first half and promptly scored 9 points and drew a charge in the next 5 minutes.  Then Tech hit the snooze bar and slept through the final minutes of the first half.  That’s why Tech’s 63% FG% in the 2nd half just wasn’t enough, they had too far to go.

Tech led just once in this game by a 7-6 score and trailed for the final 35:30 of the game.  notre dame used runs of 9-0 and 10-0 in the first half to pull away from Tech.  The 9-0 run early in the game put the irish up 15-7 and the 10-0 stretch closed the first half, giving the irish a 15-point lead, 39-24, at the break before Digger Phelps was honored at the half.  Tech’s guards/small forwards were just 1/9 from the field in the first half.

The Hokies, to their credit, came out fired up to start the 2nd half.  After scoring just 24 in the first half, Tech scored 17 points by the first media timeout.  That was thanks to 12 points in the paint, mostly off Devin Wilson’s penetrating layups, or Barksdale/Raines short hooks and jumpers.  The Hokies started the half 8/10 on FGs to get the lead down to 4 at 46-42 at that first media timeout.

The Hokies went on another 7-0 run, their second such run of the second half, to get within 2 points at 53-51 with 10 minutes to go.  But back-to-back 3-pointers by the irish put them up 8 and Tech never got closer than 5 the rest of the way.

While not having Emelogu at all, or Smith for most of the game, I should note that notre dame lost their leading scorer and best player 2 weeks ago, so that shouldn’t be an excuse.

Pat Connaughton led all scorers with 21 for the irish and seemed to have an answer whenever VT made a run. He scored 8 straight in the first half at one point to help notre dame pull away.

There were some real positives to take from the game, though:

  • VT covered the spread (+10.5) for the first time since the miami game!
  • The field goal percentage was great to see.  Tech was shooting just 37% on FGs in ACC play coming in (last in the ACC) so this was a HUGE improvement.
  • Raines.  ‘Nuff said.  We saw this in the first game against usc-upstate and a lot 2 years ago.  We just need to bottle how he played tonight.
  • Devin Wilson had 18 points in the 2nd half and just killed the irish off the dribble.  He had a sick crossover for a layup late in the game and several acrobatic layups.  But he needs to be aggressive early.  Where was he in the first half (just 2 points)?  He’s also 5/7 from behind the arc in his last 5 games after starting the year 1/7 from deep.  By choosing his 3-point attempts wisely and hitting them, Devin will force defenders to come out on him and help make it easier for to drive.  Devin also added 7 assists to go with his 20 points.
  • Feeding the post – Tech made a concerted effort to feed the low post tonight and you saw the results — VT had 36 points in the paint.  If the Hokies can ever get their 3-point stroke back, this could be a deadly combination and having threats inside/Wilson on the drive will force defenses to collapse.
  • Raines, Barksdale, and van Zegeren combined to shoot 15/23 (65%).  Wilson was 7/10 (70%).  [However, that means the rest of the team was just 2/15 (13%).]
  • 2-3 zone: VT ran a 2-3 zone almost all of the 2nd half and it gave the irish fits… except when they were hitting 3s (which is the vulnerability of a zone).  But kudos to JJ for that switch at the half.  But, I can’t let him off the hook completely…

JJ’s Head-Scratcher of the Game: Tech secured a rebound down 8 with 1:26 to go in the game.  They proceeded to pass the ball around the perimeter until JJ called a timeout with 1:10 to go and just 19 seconds on the shot clock.  What did the Hokies then do?  They ran screens but still didn’t get a shot up until Devin Wilson was fouled with 4 seconds on the shot clock and less than a minute left in the game.  Using over 30 seconds on offense at that point, and 15 seconds after a timeout, is unacceptable. Another oddity was Christian Beyer was in the game instead of Jarell Eddie both before and after the timeout. I realize Eddie has been struggling, but down 8 shouldn’t you have one of your best 3-point shooters in there, especially with Smith and Emelogu hurt?

JJ’s Head-Scratcher of the Season: Do I even need to say it?  Benching Raines for the last month.  Sure could have used him in those other close games.  But hey, Tech lost tonight even with him, so maybe none of it matters.  And we did see some of Marshall Wood tonight, too, though he looks lost with 0 points in 13 minutes.  Hopefully the doghouse is vacant for now.

The Hokies return home to face wake forest on Wednesday at 7 PM.  Sadly, I cannot call this a guaranteed win despite the fact wake has not won an ACC road game in more than 2 full calendar years (they’ve lost 17 straight ACC road games and Coach Bzdelik, the reigning Worst Coach in the ACC, is 1-27 in ACC road games at wake — note he was 1-23 in Big 12 road games at colorado for a grand total of 2-50 over the last 7 years).  If Tech loses this game, well, I’ll have more on that if and when we have to face that fact.  But let’s hope we get a good showing with the students back!

Shot Chart — Here’s how the Hokies did from various ranges on the floor:

  • Shot in the Paint: 18/30 (60%)
  • Midrange Shots: 3/7 (43%)
  • 3-Pointers: 4/11 (36%)
  • ALL FIELD GOALS: 25/48 (52%)
  • Free Throws: 9/15 (60%)

Posted in 2013-14, 2013-14 Season9 Comments

clemson 56 (3-1, 12-4), HOKIES 49 (1-3, 8-8)

Boxscore

Well, I hope you enjoyed it while it lasted, because tonight was probably the last time all season the Hokies will step on the floor with a winning record.  Tonight Tech lost their third straight game, all at home, to the team picked to finish 14th in the ACC.  c-l-e-m-s-ohhh-n defeated Tech 56-49 fueled by a 7-0 run to finish the game in the final 90 seconds.

Hey!  We broke the 4,000 attendance mark with 4,022 fans!  Seriously, though, major props to the fans going to the games.  (Joke: What’s the difference between a VT basketball crowd and an opera crowd… An opera crowd cheers at the end.)

I will say this, the Hokies (whom I predicted to win this game by a score of 5X to 4X instead of vice versa) actually played pretty well against the #1 defense in the nation in terms of points per game allowed (53 per coming in).  Tech shot over 40% for the game, well above their average in ACC contests.  And they fought back from a 49-43 deficit to tie the game at 49 on a Ben Emelogu 3-pointer with 1:49 to play.  But on the ensuing possession Adonis Filer-of-fish converted a controversial 3-point play (why controversial, you ask?  Well, Rod Hall caught the inbounds with both feet in the front court and then leaped into the back court to start the possession, then the refs gave Filer 2 steps of continuation on the 3-point play — JvZ’s 5th foul of the game).  But that’s besides the point — once again this JJ led team found a way to lose late… at home.

The Hokies are now just 7-5 in the Cassell this season.  While that may not sound that bad, keep this in mind — in the 50+ years of the Cassell, Tech has had a losing record at home just once.  ONCE.  And Tech just lost to a 4-11 team at home and the team picked to finish 14th.  With 6 home games to go, that doesn’t bode well for the Hokies to finish on the plus side of .500 (need 3 more wins) or even at .500 (need to go 2-4).

Anyway, back to this game.  How did we lose, you ask?  Well, here you go:

  • Devin Wilson: Swimming through a pool of sharks would be easier for him than hitting a free throw right now.  He went 2/8 from the line tonight… for the 2nd straight game.  Yep, he’s 4/16 (25%) from the line in the last two games… Games VT lost by 3 and 7 respectively.
  • Free Throws, Part 2: Tech was 4/14 from the line tonight, and one of them was banked in.  If I need to clarify why that’s bad then…
  • 3-Pointers: Tech was 2/8 from deep in the 2nd half and 5/16 (31%) for the game.  So much for #1 in the nation.
  • Did Senior Night already happen?  No Raines tonight (again) and Jarell Eddie was 1/6 (including 1/5 on 3s) for 3 points.  Jarell is now 6/29 (21%) on FGs and 3/16 (19%) on 3s for 19 points in his last 3 games (he was averaging 17 ppg before this stretch).
  • Speed Limit 59: Tech has yet to eclipse the 60 point mark in regulation in an ACC game.
  • Droughts:
    • After scoring 10 points in a span of 3:04 in the first half, the Hokies went more than 6 minutes and 30 seconds without a point (0/9 FGs).  A 9-0 run put clemson up 16-10.
    • In the 2nd half with Tech up 36-30, the Hokies went 5 minutes without a field goal (and just 1 point total) as clemson went on a 10-0 run to go up 40-36.  VT never led after that point.
  • Raines: 0 minutes; Wood: 0 minutes

Here are your shooting stats for the game:

  • In the Paint:
    • 1st half: 6/12 (started out 2/8)
    • 2nd half: 6/8 (at one point made 9 in a row!)
    • Total: 12/20 (60%)
  • Midrange Jumpers:
    • 1st half: 1/6
    • 2nd half: 2/6
    • Total: 3/12 (25% — that’s, um, not good)
  • 3-Pointers:
    • 1st half: 3/8
    • 2nd half: 2/8
    • Total: 5/16 (31% — you live by the 3, you die…)
  • FREE Throws (emphasis on the free):
    • 1st half: 1/2
    • 2nd half: 3/12
    • Total: 4/14 (29% — THIS is why we are the worst team in the ACC.  IT’S A FREE THROW, PEOPLE!)
    • Tech is 16/35 from the line (46%) in their last 2 games.
  • In short, last game we couldn’t make a layup to save our life.  Today, it was a free throw.  You become the worst team in the league by finding ways to lose by [stinking] at very simple things, like layups and free throws.

It wasn’t all bad, though:

  • Turnovers: just 9 total — 4th straight game with less than 10!!!
  • JvZ tied a career high with 11 points (8 in the first half) and showed the ability to hit a hook shot and create off the dribble!  But he was 1/4 on FTs and the one was a bank… the other 3 hit the back iron — maybe step back a foot?)
  • Love the ‘Logu: I really like Ben Emelogu more and more each game.  Now, K.J. McDaniels stripped him twice tonight, but that guy is the Dominique Wilkins of this conference.  He is a FREAK athlete.  On offense, it looked like K.J. was on a T1 and Jarell Eddie was on dial-up (nerd humor).
  • Beyer really contributes when he’s out there — he had 4 points and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes tonight but it is the 50/50 balls he helps Tech get that means the most.  Love this guy.

Devin Wilson led the Hokies with 14 points, including his 4th and 5th 3-pointer of the season.  Ben Emelogu and Joey van Zegeren added 11 each.

This was a very cleanly played game for the most part between two evenly matched terrible teams.  Neither team led by more than 6 (both led by that amount at some point), until the final margin when clemson went up 7.  And at one point in the 2nd half the game went 5 minutes and 30 seconds without a whistle.  The under-12 timeout in the 2nd half didn’t come until 6:37 to go in the game.

And, last but not least… JJ’s Head-Scratchers:

  • JJ called a timeout with 1:30 left in the 1st half and 15 on the shot clock.  What did VT do afterwards?  Smith dribbled until clemson knocked it out of bounds.  Then… he dribbled it some more until clemson forced a jumpball with 2 on the shot clock.  And Tech had to huck up a shot on the inbounds to beat the shot clock.  Great play design!
  • The Hokies, down 3, fouled clemson’s best foul shooter, K.J. McDaniels, 80-feet from the hoop with 55 seconds to go.  Uh, pressure and make him pass?

That said, I did like the 2-3 zone from JJ to start the 2nd half.  It seemed to throw off clemson a bit.  But let’s face it, losses are losses.  We aren’t at rock bottom yet… that could come next Wednesday.  In the mean time, see you at South Bend, IN on Sunday at 6 PM on ESPNU ACC Sunday Night Hoops!

Posted in 2013-14, Game Recaps13 Comments

boston college 62 (1-2, 5-11), HOKIES 59 (1-2, 8-7)

Boxscore

In front of fewer than 4,000 fans, the Hokies dropped fourth game out of their last five, losing at home to the previously 4-11/0-2 boston college eagles by a 62-59 score at the Cassell.  Tech has now lost 6 of their last 7 against the eagles, a head-scratching number given bc has been at the bottom of the ACC the last several years.  Between football and basketball, the eagles really seem to be our kryptonite.

This game featured two teams expected to finish in the lower third of the ACC and this game could not have been closer.  The eagles, the most unathletic team in the ACC, had lost 7 games in a row against Division I opponents, but they were ready today.  Neither team led by more than 5 points in the game which feature 15 lead changes.  The last of which came on a Lonnie Jackson 3-pointer, his 5th of the game, with 27 seconds left to put bc up 61-59.  The Hokies advanced the ball past half court and took a timeout with 22 seconds left.  That’s when your…

JJ Head-Scratchers of the Game Happened…

  • JJ took C.J. Barksdale out of the game with 22 seconds left for that critical possession… he had been Tech’s best offensive threat in the 2nd half including hit two 3-pointers.  No idea what the thinking was here, Adam Smith needed to come in but for someone else (like JvZ).
  • After the timeout, Tech bled the clock until inside of 5 seconds were left, instead of trying to score quickly and, if unable to, fouling to extend the game.  Not sure if that’s what JJ drew up, but that’s what happened.

With 2 seconds left Adam Smith shot a fadeaway baseline jumper that bounced high off the rim and out.  bc gathered the rebound and hit 1 of 2 free throws.  Jarell Eddie grabbed the miss and launched a full court shot that actually hit the back rim, but like most of his shots on the day, was just off.  Jarell was just 3/14 on the day and 1/6 on 3-pointers.

Several things did in the Hokies in this contest:

  • Free Throws: Devin Wilson was 2/8 from the line.  Ouch.  And by the 2nd half is was mental, clearly getting in his head.  The rest of the team was pretty good (10/13) but 12/21 (57%) overall just won’t win you games.
  • Abysmal 2nd half shooting: The Hokies were 8/28 from the field (29%) in the 2nd half.
  • Worse than normal 3-point shooting: Tech was just 7/22 from deep (32%) for the game.  They started the 2nd half 1/7 from deep.
  • Pathetic Paint Shooting in the 2nd half: The Hokies started the 2nd half 1/9 (11%) on shots in the paint.  Let me repeat that — ONE for NINE!  These are layups, people!  They missed 2 dunks.  DUNKS!  For the 2nd half Tech was just 3/12 on shots in the paint.
  • Tech also seemed to lose a lot of 50/50 balls and several times in the first half did not stop the ball in transition, leading to easy buckets for bc (who also had 21 points from behind the arc in the first half on 14 3-point attempts).
  • The Hokies haven’t reached 60 points in any of their 3 ACC games this season (averaging 57 points).  But that’s what happens when you can’t shoot; and Tech has just 10 fast break points in their last 2 ACC games.

Just to double up, here’s how bad Tech was shooting the ball in every facet Saturday:

  • All Field Goals: 20/57 (35%)
  • Shots in the Paint: 9/24 (38% — these are layups, people!!!)
  • Midrange Jumpers: 4/11 (36% — Tech just doesn’t have midrange shooters on this team and that creates a huge hole, allowing the defense to flash out on 3-point shooters and then pack it in the lane to defend the drive.  Oh, and one of them was banked in (that’s 3 banks in 2 games))
  • 3-Pointers: 7/22 (32% — not terrible but this team has to do better from deep to win)
  • Free Throws: 12/21 (57% — awful, just awful)

Adam Smith had 12 points to lead the Hokies, but just 2 in the 2nd half.  C.J. Barksdale tallied 11 and Eddie had 10.

Oh, and in the next chapter of the When It Raines It Pours soap opera, Cadarian didn’t play at all today.

The Hokies led 34-32 at the break despite bc’s 50% 3-point shooting.

And there were some positives in this game:

  • 6 turnovers: That’s a season low.  The Hokies, worst in the ACC in turnovers coming into today, have not committed just 22 combined turnovers in their last 3 games.  The problem is that’s translated to a 1-2 record.
  • Block Party: Joey van Zegeren had 5 blocks for the game, tying his career high.
  • 2nd half defense: While the Hokies couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat on offense in the final 20, their defense did get much better — after bc went 7/14 from deep in the first half, they were just 3/12 in the 2nd half. And Lonnie Jackson, who had 14 points in the first 17 minutes, didn’t score for the first 19:30 of the 2nd half… the problem is Tech let him get open off a screen and hit the game-winning 3-pointer.
  • Devin Wilson was very aggressive on offense early in the game, which was great to see.  And as a result he got to the line a bunch.  The problem was… well, you know.  He did have 4 assists on the day and 3 steals.  He even hit a 3-pointer, just his 3rd on the season.

Yes, bc was 4-11 coming in.  But they had a murderous schedule.  Still, this is a game Tech had to win at home if they want to avoid the ACC cellar, and they found a way to lose at the end.  This team continues to struggle to finish close games.  That’s about all I can say.  This was a tough loss, and obviously the fans are fed up.  This game marked the third time this season fewer than 4,000 have passed the gates and 7th time in the last 8 home games fewer than 5,000 fans showed up (radford drew 5,200).

Tech returns to action Wednesday night against clemson at the Cassell.  See about 3,900 of you then!

Posted in 2013-14, 2013-14 Season18 Comments

The Week Ahead: Jan. 7 vs #2 syracuse (9 PM) and Jan. 11 vs boston college (Noon)

Gambler’s Delight:

  • Tech is favored by 2.5 over (4-11) boston college at the Cassell.
  • The Hokies are 12-point underdogs against syracuse.  Reportedly Marshall Wood and C.J. Barksdale are battling the flu (but so was Jordan!) and Adam Smith is questionable with his calf injury.  Enjoy!

The Hokies this week begin a stretch of 17 ACC games over the next nine weeks to close out the regular season.  Staying undefeated in the ACC (VT is 1-0) will not be as the Hokies have to face the undefeated and #2 ranked syracuse orange on Tuesday, then the struggling boston college eagles on Saturday, both at the Cassell.

syracuse may be undefeated but they looked awfully vulnerable on Saturday, nearly losing their inaugural ACC game to a bad miami team at the Carrier Dome.  The final score of 49-44 looked more like a BCS game score, with syracuse trailing by as many as 6 in the 2nd half before going ahead for good with a little over 4 minutes to go.  miami, a bad shooting 3-point team, hit 7/19 (37%) from deep.  Tech will have to match their 3-point % of 43% and makes (8.7) to have any shot, and must limit their turnovers which will be tough against that vaunted zone of Coach Boeheim, who will be making his first trip to Blacksburg since I was crawling 36 years ago.

On Saturday VT has a great shot at a win, in what is almost a must win if the Hokies want to stay out of the ACC cellar this season.  The eagles have lost 7 straight games to Division I teams and bc is now 0-2 in the ACC after their 2nd ACC loss at home, this time to clemson.  The tigers led by 14 at the half in that game but bc made it interesting late with a full court press and had 2 free throws with a chance to tie with 1.3 seconds left, but Hanlan missed them both and clemson won 62-60.  If the Hokies can beat them, bc will be 0-3, and getting to at least 2-1 themselves, would really give the Hokies momentum as the ACC slate swings into full gear.

Here’s the week ahead:

  • Tuesday, January 9th at 9 PM at the Cassell on the ACC Network: vs #2 and undefeated syracuse (1-0, 14-0) - First ever ACC meeting!
  • Saturday, January 11 at Noon at the Cassell on Raycom: vs boston college (4-11, 0-2)

Stat(s) of the Week:

  • Steals: VT is last in the ACC in steals (2.9 per game) while syracuse is #1 (10.1)
  • Turnovers: The Hokies are last in the ACC in turnover margin (-5.4 per game) and syracuse is #1 (+6.3)
  • Luckily, bc is 14th in the two stats listed above.
  • Attendance: syracuse drew 28,135 fans for their home game against villanova.  The Hokies have drawn 41,750 fans total threw 9 home games.

Hokie Leaders (through Jan. 5):

  • PPG: Eddie – 17.4 (6th in the ACC) — (Smith 13.1 and Emelogu 12.2)
  • Rebounds: Eddie – 6.3 (18th in the ACC) —  (Barksdale 5.3)
  • Assists: Wilson – 5.2 (4th in the ACC)
  • Blocks: van Zegeren – 1.9 (6th in the ACC)
  • Steals: Wilson – 0.6

Hokie Team Stats (through Jan. 5):

  • PPG: 74.0 (10th in the ACC)
  • Opp PPG: 69.2 (13th in the ACC)
  • FG%: 44% (13th in the ACC)
  • Opp FG%: 38% (5th in the ACC)
  • 3-Pt%: 43% (#1 in the ACC and #7 nationally… also #17 nationally in makes per game at 8.7)
  • Opp FG%: 31% (6th in the ACC)
  • FT%: 69% (9th in the ACC)

VT vs the opponents:

  • vs syracuse: 
  • orange 4-2 overall
  • Last Meeting: #5 cuse 69, VT 58 at MSG on 11/23/11
  • VT hasn’t beaten syracuse since 1978, which was the only previous meeting (that’s right, the orange never came to VT in Big East play) — Boeheim was in his 2nd year as the syracuse head coach back in 1978 if you can believe that.
  • This is the only meeting this regular season between the Hokies and syracuse.
  • vs boston college:
  • bc 15-8 overall
  • bc 9-6 in ACC play
  • VT 5-3 at the Cassell in ACC play
  • Last Year: bc 86-75 at the Cassell on 1/9/13
  • The two schools will play again this year at bc on January 29th

opponents’ Records This Season:

  • syracuse (ACC: 1-0, Overall 13-0): Beat #18 baylor to win the Maui Invitational and recently came back from a huge first half deficit to thrash #8 villanova 78-62 in the Dome.
  • boston college (ACC: 0-2, Overall: 4-11, losers of 7 straight games vs D1 teams): They’ve played a murderous schedule to date, with 10 of their 11 losses against top 110 teams and 5 against top 50 teams (lost all of those games).  They beat #135 washington at a neutral site. Their ACC losses were at home to maryland and clemson.

opponents’ Best Player(s):

  • syracuse: They have 4 guys that average 11.8 ppg or more but C.J. Fair is the best of the best, and was picked as the ACC preseason player of the year. The 6’8″ senior averages 17.4 ppg (leads team) and 5.5 rpg (2nd).  Tyler Ennis is a heck of a freshman point guard, averaging 11.8 ppg and 5.4 apg, plus 2.7 steals out of that zone.  Trevor Cooney is their 3-point specialist and he’s deadly — 43/86 for a cool 50% from deep.
  • boston college: Olivier Hanlan – 6’4″ sophomore guard – 19.4 ppg (leads team), 3.2 apg (leads team), 0.9 spg (leads team).  If you didn’t see him at the end of the season last year, you missed out.  Hanlan is a deadly penetrator and get’s a lot of and-1s.  He put up 41 against georgia tech in the ACC Tournament last year and had 38 vs florida atlantic this season.

Prediction: VT goes 1-1 this week

I’m starting to slip in my predictions after a strong start.  No way I had unc-g right and I thought we’d pummel md-es by 30.

I am confident we will lose by double digits, if not a Bear Fight, to syracuse. That is unless we are insanely hot from deep against their zone (and if we can actually get a decent crowd at the Cassell, but I don’t expect that on a Tuesday night with the students still on break).  And while Tech has great recent history against #1 teams, Tech is just 1-7 all time against #2 ranked teams.  I expect that to go to 1-8.

I am predicting VT beats the 4-10 boston college eagles, but I don’t have a strong confidence level in saying that given their difficult schedule.  And bc has won 5 of 6 against the Hokies, including 2 of the last 3 in the Cassell.  But since both teams stink in turnover margin, I think Tech will win being at home.  I think the Hokies will play hard and pull this one out in a low scoring nail-biter.

Posted in 2013-14, Game Previews6 Comments

unc-greensboro 55 (7-7), HOKIES 52 (7-5)

Boxscore

There are bad losses, really bad losses, embarrassing losses, and “Holy crap is the ESPN Bottom Line broken?!  There’s no way we lost to $h—– unc-g-spot!?”.  Well, this is the latter of those.  The Hokies, who were 15-point favorites in this contest, lost at home to the unc-greensboro spartans by a 55-52 score at the Cassell on Saturday.

The Hokies led 43-32 with 10:06 to go in the game and seemed to be in control.  But they would score just 6 points over the next 9:49 and unc-g led 52-49 with 17 seconds to go.  Marshall Wood made 1 of 2 free throws to tie his career high of 14 points (led VT today) and cut the lead to 2.  After unc-g’s Drew Parker made 1 of 2 free throws, Devin Wilson got fouled as he scored a layup and went to the line with a chance to tie the game at 52 with 10 seconds to go.  But the 67% foul shooter missed badly to the right.  White hit 2 free throws for unc-g to put them up 3.  Marshall Wood had a good look at a 3 with 5 seconds to go but missed and time ran out and the Baby Jakes had their second horrific home court loss of the season.

How bad was this loss?

  • It was just unc-g’s 2nd win in 52 tries against ACC teams.  Yep, they are 2-50 now.
  • unc-g-spot was 271st out of 351 teams in the RPI coming into the game.
  • The spartans were just 3-7 against Division I teams entering this contest.
  • To me, this loss is volumes worse than the 30-point loss to vcu.  It was that bad.
  • Even worse, this loss didn’t even phase me.  I didn’t curse once.  I didn’t punch a couch cushion.  I didn’t throw a liquor bottle at a neighbor.  Granted, my 10-month old son was watching with me, but that wouldn’t have stopped the Weekend Warrior.  Have I matured? Doubtful. I think I’m numb to these terrible losses now, almost as if I expect them (that’s not a good thing).  I hate to say it, but the ricky stokes era, Part 2 may be upon us.  I think JJ has 1.5 to max 2.5 years left and the new A.D. will go out and get a qualified coach.

I could add that unc-g was without their 2nd leading scorer, Saddler (12 ppg), but VT was without their 3rd leading scorer, Adam Smith (13 ppg), so I guess that’s a wash.

How did VT lose to the 271st “best” team in the nation?

  • After 27 minutes of action, Tech didn’t have a single point from their upperclassmen (Eddie, Raines, Barksdale, and Johnston).  In fact, they had 0 points to go with 6 turnovers at that moment.
  • For the game, Tech’s upperclassmen finished with just 5 points and 8 turnovers.
  • Jarell Eddie was 1/12 from the field for the game (started 0/9).
  • As I said above, VT scored just 6 points between 10:06 to go in the game and 17 seconds, allowing unc-g to go on a 20-6 run and take a 52-49 lead.
  • The Hokies, who were #1 in the nation in 3-point % coming in at 44%, hit just 3/15 (20%).  That’s more than 6 makes below their average of 9.3 made 3s per game (11th in the nation).
  • VT was 13/23 on FTs (57%).  unc-g was 14/16 (88%) — there’s your difference (I’m sure Slam Dunk will second that).

I predicted the Hokies would be rusty after just 1 game in 20 games, and they certainly were in the first half.  The game was tied at 22 at the break with the Hokies having 9 turnovers.  It looked like they had turned it around in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half, outscoring unc-g 21-10, but that’s when the wheels came off.

Kyle Cain, a junior transfer from arizona state, led all scorers with 18.  He was clearly the best player on the floor for either team, hitting 8/14 shots and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Joey van Zegeren had a career high 11 points, and added 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.  Ben Emelogu also had 11 for Tech.  Jarell Eddie had scored in double figures in each game until today, held to just 4 points on that 1/12 shooting (and just 2 rebounds which is also surprising).

Adam Smith, as mentioned, was out with a calf injury.  C.J. Barksdale was limited to just 6 minutes due to his banged up knee.  And Cadarian Raines is clearly still in the JJ Doghouse, playing just 7 minutes for the game (1 point).

Both teams were awful from the floor, with each team shooting just 36% for the game.  Both teams hit just 3 three-pointers.  And turnover margin was close (unc-g had 13, VT had 15).  The difference, as I mentioned, was unc-g’s advantage from the foul line.

The Hokies return to action on Tuesday at 4 PM in the Cassell against maryland-eastern shore who is ranked 317th in the RPI.  They are just 1-6 against D1 teams (and 1-1 against lower division teams).  Since the Sun Bowl is going on at the same time, I’m sure there will be plenty of good seats still available!

Posted in 2013-14, Game Recaps6 Comments

The Week Ahead: Dec. 16 to 22 (vs vcu – Saturday, 12/21, 5:30 PM – NBC Sports Network)

Updated:

I’ll add some additional notes here leading up to tip-off on Saturday:

  • vcu is favored by 10. The rams beat wofford 72-57 on Tuesday to move to 9-3 heading into this game.
  • vcu (as Pat mentioned) is #1 in the nation in steals per game at 12.4, a full steal ahead of anyone else.  Keep in mind, that’s just steals and doesn’t include all other turnovers such as deadball turnovers.  VT averages 13.6 turnovers per game (238th in the nation).
  • The rams have 5 guys averaging more than a steal per game.  Wilson leads VT at just 0.6 steals per game.  Weber for vcu has more steals himself (45) than the entire VT team (31).
  • vcu actually shoots as many 3s per game as the Hokies (21), but shoot a much lower percentage at 36% compared to VT’s 44%.  Lewis is vcu’s best shooter percentage-wise (and has the best ‘do on the team), but doesn’t shoot a ton.  Graham will shoot a ton and is streaky, hitting about 37% of his 3s (he’s on a hot streak, though — 13/24 – 54% — over his last 5 games)

FULL PREVIEW: The Hokies continue their 12 days off this week following their ACC opener win at miami.  On Saturday, Virginia Tech finally returns to action, playing former Metro Conference rival vcu in the Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic at the Richmond Coliseum (hampton and jmu play at 3 PM preceding the vcu/VT game).  The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.  While this is technically a neutral site game and probably will have a pretty fair split among vcu and VT fans, the game is being played near vcu’s home court, thus making this a road tune-up of sorts.

As for the game, you probably couldn’t find a worse match for the Hokies.  vcu, led by Head Coach Shaka Smart (allegedly a candidate for the VT job two years ago), has made the NCAA Tournament three years in a row, winning at least one game each year and reaching the Final Four in 2011.

Thing to Watch: The main reason they will present such a challenge to the Hokies is their style – vcu will press Tech from the time pull into the Commonwealth’s capital city.  The rams love to press and trap full court and the Hokies, with a very young backcourt, have not looked good against full court pressure so far this year.  Luckily, VT has had almost two weeks to prepare for it.  Tech’s lack of depth, though, will present another challenge if the guards tire (or get in foul trouble).

To have any chance to be competitive in this game, the Hokies must limit their turnovers (14 or fewer turnovers) and find ways to aggressively attack the press and get some easy buckets.

Stats of the Week:

  • Virginia Tech is 9th in the nation in 3-Point % at 43.9%
  • Devin Wilson is 40th nationally in assists per game (5.5)

Hokie Leaders (through Dec. 15):

  • PPG: Eddie – 19.3 (Smith 14.2)
  • Rebounds: Eddie – 7.0 (Barksdale 6.7)
  • Assists: Wilson – 5.5
  • Blocks: van Zegeren – 2.0
  • Steals: Wilson – 0.6

Hokie Team Stats (through Dec. 15):

  • PPG: 77.6
  • Opp PPG: 69.6
  • FG%: 46%
  • Opp FG%: 38%
  • 3-Pt%: 44%
  • Opp FG%: 30%
  • FT%: 71%

VT vs vcu:

  • Even, 10-10 (Teams haven’t played since 1995 when the Metro Conference disbanded)

vcu’s Records This Season:

  • 9-3
  • Key Wins: 59-56 at #25 uva
  • Losses: 85-67 vs florida state (fsu manhandled them), 84-80 vs georgetown, and 77-68 at northern iowa
  • vcu has been a bit of a disappointment this year, reaching #10 in the rankings before losing two of three games in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament.  They just lost to a 4-5 northern iowa team.

vcu’s Best Player(s):

  • Treveon Graham (6’6″ junior guard): 16.3 ppg (leads team), 6.5 rebounds per game (2nd), 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals)
  • Best Defender: Briante Weber (6’2″ junior point guard) – 3.8 steals per game (#1 nationally)

PREDICTION: Unfortunately, I think the Hokies will get run off the floor and lose by double digits due to the vcu pressure.  Even if VT handles the press early, I think it will eventually take its toll and the young, and not deep, Baby Bird backcourt.  Hey, I was wrong about miami, so let’s hope I’m wrong here.

Posted in 2013-14, Game Previews10 Comments

HOKIES 61 (1-0, 7-3), miami 60 (0-1, 5-5) – OT

Boxscore

THE VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES, PICKED TO FINISH DEAD LAST IN THE ACC, ARE ALONE IN FIRST PLACE!!! Sure, this was the first ACC league game of the season of any team, but let’s enjoy the moment while we can!  The Hokies snapped their 6-game ACC Opener losing streak, winning on the road in 82-degree Coral Gables, FL, 61-60 in overtime.  And Coach James Johnson beat Coach Larranaga of miami, whom JJ used to work for at george mason (that’s gotta feel good for JJ).  Tech moves to 7-3 on the season (4 straight wins) while the c-a-n-e-s canes fell to 5-5.  This was Virginia Tech’s first ever win in an ACC Opener on the road (Tech is now 2-8 all time in ACC Openers).

Tech showed tremendous composure given their youth and the fact they were in a road arena for the first time.  The Hokies trailed by 13 with 15 minutes to go in regulation, and 10 with 4 minutes to go.  Trailing 55-45 with 4 minutes on the clock, Jarell Eddie scored Tech’s final 11 points of regulation and helped Tech tie the game at 56.  Unfortunately, his shot with 2 seconds to go was blocked that could have won the game in regulation.  An alley-oop to Joey van Zegeren with 0.3 seconds left was caught and banked in by JvZ… but you can’t catch and shoot the ball with 0.3 left, you can only tip it so the officials waved the shot off and the game went to overtime.

Jarell Eddie was once again the star of the game with 24 points (coming off a career high 34 earlier in the week).  His left-baseline fadeaway with 19 seconds left in overtime put the Hokies ahead 61-59.  miami’s Garrius Adams got fouled with 7 seconds left but could make just 1 of 2 free throws.  On the rebound, Tech nearly lost the ball out of bounds and Joey van Zegeren made a critical mistake, saving the ball into the hands of Donnavan Kirk.  But Kirk was too far under the hoop and his shot hit the basket support, giving the ball back to the Hokies with 2 seconds left.  VT was able to salt away the rest of the clock and capture the win in their first road game of the season.

It was a tale of three Eddies in this game.  In the first 10 minutes of the game, Jarell hit 3 three-pointers.  Then he scored just 2 points on 1/11 FGs over the next 25 minutes.  But once again Eddie got hot, scoring 13 points between the final 5 minutes of regulation (3/3 on 3s) and overtime.  In addition to his game-winner, he also hit the game tying 3-pointer with 46 seconds left in regulation to knot the game at 56 (which is the way the second half ended).

While Eddie was the Player of the Game, Joey van Zegeren had the Play of the Game.  With the game tied at 59 in OT and less than a minute to go, the Hokies turned the ball over near midcourt.  miami had numbers and it looked like Rion Brown would get an easy bucket to put the canes up.  But JvZ, playing major minutes for the injured C.J. Barksdale*, jumped around Devin Wilson to swat the shot off the backboard and give the Hokies possession, setting the stage for Eddie’s go-ahead jumper.  JvZ put out incredible effort, running the floor to get back on defense.

This game wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty between two teams picked to finish in the lower third of the league.  The Hokies, who came into the game 4th in the nation in 3-point %, hit just 5/16 in the first half.  In fact, Tech was just 9/30 (30%) on field goals at the break and hadn’t attempted a single free throw (Tech only attempted 3 FTs for the whole game).  VT scored just 8 points over a 13-minute span that overlapped the end of the first half and the start of the second half.  With 24 minutes gone in the game, the Hokies had just 24 points.  Get the picture?

miami, who is one of the worst shooting teams in the nation, weren’t much better shooting, but held a 31-23 lead at the break due largely to points in the paint.  They had an 18-4 advantage at the half in the paint, due largely to their ability to beat Tech off the dribble while the Hokies got nothing off the drive.  In fact, Tech didn’t have a fast break point until their were 5 minutes left in regulation.

Tech, who lives and dies by the 3, was dying for the first 36 minutes of the game. Virginia Tech was just 8/28 (29%) on 3-pointers until 4 minutes were left in the 2nd half, but VT hit 4/6 the rest of the way to fuel the comeback and win.

THE GOOD:

  • EDDIE!  EDDIE!  EDDIE! He has not exactly been Mr. Clutch at the end of games in the past, but his 11 straight points to close regulation (including 3/3 from deep), and that fadeaway late in OT were money!  He scored 58 points in 2 games this week and has to have a good shot at ACC player of the week.
  • We Got Wood!  I dogged Marshall Wood a few weeks ago but he’s been great from deep of late.  He hit 3/6 3s today and is 8/15 (53%) during Tech’s 4 game winning streak.
  • Turnovers – For the first time all season Tech won the turnover battle (committing 10 compared to 12 by the canes)
  • Craig Kimbrel – Another first today was the Hokies winning, and finishing, a close game.  VT’s previous 6 wins had come by an average of 16.7 points, and just one of those (wvu) was close at the end.  Today VT found a way to come back and then win.   This is a big moment for a young team.
  • 1-0: The Hokies haven’t been able to say they were 1-0 in the ACC since the 2006-2007 season, the last time VT went to the NCAA Tournament (no, no, NO, I’m not starting that line of thinking).  But for a team picked to finish 15th, it is critical to beat the other bad teams.  And to do it on the road is even more sweet, and VT did that today.  Congrats to the Baby Birds/Jakes!

THE BAD:

  • Points in the Paint: VT has to figure out how to score inside.  Tech couldn’t get out in transition and they couldn’t get low post points with Barksdale out and Raines seemingly still in the doghouse (he played maybe 10 minutes and had just one FG attempt).  miami shut down Devin Wilson off the drive (just 1 point) and Ben Emelogu wasn’t much better (11 points but on just 5/14 shooting – and just 1/7 on 3s (he was over 50% from deep coming in)).  Tech has feaster on smaller teams, but against athletic teams like miami that have some length, you can see how much VT struggles to find points inside the arc.  This has to improve.  Even with Barksdale back he’s more of a spot-up shooter facing the basket. Also, VT must be more aggressive. 3 free throws for an entire, 45-minute game?
  • *The Curse of Greenberg: So Ben Emelogu and Adam Smith were back from injuries today.  (That’s good!)  But C.J. Barksdale was now out with a knee sprain. (That’s bad)  Seriously, can we go a week without a new injury?  There were rumors of the Hokies going to hard in practice when Seth was the coach and I wonder if that isn’t continuing.  I mean, who deals with this many injuries?!

The Hokies now go into their bye week on a high note!  Tech is off until Saturday, December 21st when they play vcu at the Richmond Coliseum.

Posted in 2013-14, Game Recaps12 Comments

The Week Ahead: Dec. 3 to 8 (Tuesday vs winthrop; Sunday @ miami – ACC Opener)

Update: miami stats have been updated… miami just lost at nebraska by 11 in the ACC/Big(12)Ten Challenge, scoring just 49 points (that’s 11 more than uva)…

Believe it or not the 5-3 Hokies kick off ACC play this week with a road game against the defending ACC regular season and tournament champions, miami.  But first Tech has a Tuesday night home tilt against winthrop.

  • Tuesday vs winthrop (5-1) at 7 PM – ESPN3
  • Sunday at miami (5-4) at 12:30 PM – ESPNU – ACC Opener

Obviously miami was really, really good last year.  But you will need a program to know this team.  Their top six scorers from last year are all gone and they return just one player that averaged more than 10 minutes per game or 2 points per game.  The canes, after winning both the regular and tourney titles in the ACC last year, were picked to finish 12th in the league this year, barely ahead of wake.  And they look like a team that could contend for the ACC cellar (along with VT).  Check out who they’ve played and lost to already below in the Opponent’s Records This Season section.  But miami did beat 7-2 arizona state in the 5th Place Game of the Wooden Legacy Tournament

This is a critical game for both VT and miami because:

  1. Teams picked near the bottom love to get an early win and get some momentum going.
  2. This is a match-up of ACC bottom-feeders (at least predicted to be).  Losing to another bottom-feeder can really put you in a hole for your ACC season.

Oh, and the winthrop eagles will not be a cupcake on Tuesday – they beat usc-upstate by 8, jmu by 12, and their only loss was to vcu by 21.  The eagles average 81 PPG and 8 steals per game, so they no doubt will put pressure on the Hokies who have struggled with presses.

Stat(s) of the Week:

  • Tech is just 1-8 in ACC openers and have lost 6 in a row.
  • The Hokies are 4th in the nation in 3-Point % at 46.9% and 18th in 3s made per game (9.0)
  • Virginia Tech outscored their opponents by a combined 34 points in their two games last week on their way to two Bear Fight (20+ point) victories.

Hokie Leaders (through Dec. 1):

  • PPG: Eddie – 16.9 (Smith 15.0)
  • Rebounds: Eddie – 6.9 (Barksdale 6.8)
  • Assists: Wilson – 5.3
  • Blocks: van Zegeren – 2.0
  • Steals: Wilson – 0.6

Hokie Team Stats (through Dec. 1):

  • PPG: 79.3
  • Opp PPG: 71.6
  • FG%: 46%
  • Opp FG%: 38%
  • 3-Pt%: 46%
  • Opp FG%: 30%
  • FT%: 72%

VT vs the opponents:

  • vs winthrop: VT 1-0 (a 62-55 win at the Cassell way back in 1998)
  • vs miami: miami 13-10 overall, VT 9-7 in ACC games — The Hokies won 8 of the first 10 ACC games vs miami but the canes have won 5 of the last 6, including both games last year (73-64 at the ‘Burg and 76-58 at miami)

opponents’ Records This Season:

  • winthrop: 5-1 (Of note: wins over usc-upstate, east tenn state, and jmu, lost to vcu by 21)
  • miami: 5-4 (Of note: Lost to st. francis (NY) in their opener, needed OT to beat georgia southern, lost to central florida and gwu, and barely beat cal state fullerton — i.e. not impressive.  Their lone resume win was a win on Sunday over arizona state, 60-54.  Last game – lost by 11 (60-49) at nebraska).

opponents’ Best Player(s):

  • winthrop: The eagles have a 3-headed monster on offense/ defense with Andre Smith (14.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, and 1.5 SPG), Keon Johnson (13.2/2.3/1.8/0.8), and Joab Jerome (12.7/3.8/2.3/1.3).
  • miami: Rion Brown – The 6’6″ senior leads the team in PPG (13.8 – had 25 against nebraska), rebounds (6.6), and assists (3.0).  Brown is the only returning hurricane that averaged more than 10 minutes per game last year.  But he was just 7th on the canes scoring list last season, averaging just 6.4 PPG.

Things to Watch:

  • winthrop, like the Hokies, shoot very well from deep.  They hit 41% of their 3s and make over 8 per game on average.  Their 3 stars shoot a combined 43/83 (52%) from deep, and Smith is 20/38 from deep so Tech must guard him tight on the perimeter.
  • miami is dead last in the ACC in PPG and FG% (and 2nd to last in 3-Pt %).  If Tech can force miami to play half court on offense and earn their points, the Hokies will have a good shot at a W.  In fact, I’m not really sure what miami does well — they are near the bottom in almost every statistical category in the ACC and they haven’t exactly played stiff competition.
  • miami is scoring challenged but really emphasize defense under Coach Larranaga.  Look for miami to slow the pace and try to keep this game in the low 60s.  miami hasn’t scored more than 63 points in regulation in their last 4 games.  VT will need to get some easy buckets in transition to win and force their up-tempo pace on miami as much as possible.

Prediction:

So far I’ve been spot-on picking VT’s record each week (but not necessarily the games).  I see Tech going 1-1 this week, with either game possibly being the win or loss (though I’ll say VT beats winthrop and loses at miami).  Going on the road is tough in this league and miami will be inspired in their first ACC home game of the season as defending champs and will overcome their numerous departures.  That said, this is a bad miami team, especially right now while they are trying to find their identity with so many new faces.  The Hokies really need to win this game if they want to avoid a third straight year at the bottom of the league, but I’ll go ahead and say they lose a game like this (similar to the seton hall game) until they prove me wrong.

Posted in 2013-14, Game Previews2 Comments

HOKIES (5-3) 81, radford (4-2) 56 – Bear Fight #2!!

Boxscore

The Hokies absolutely pounded their neighbors on Friday afternoon in front of 5,200, woodshedding the radford highlanders 81-56 to move to 5-3 on the season and capture their 2nd straight Bear Fight victory (good thing most people have today off because it is time for some early drinking!!).  Tech now leads the all time series 6-1 but the schools hadn’t met in eight years (the Greenbergs didn’t want to play each other so after Brad left VT to be the radford head coach, the series stopped until Brad, and then Seth, were let go).

This is how you do it, this is how you debate!  When you play a team from the Big South, you have to come out and smack them in the mouth early and show them they don’t have a chance to win.  This game was over by the half, actually, even early than that.  With the scored tied 5-5 with 17 minutes to go in the first half, the Hokies went on a near Bear Fight run, outscored ru 18-0 over the next 4 minutes and jumping to a 23-5 lead.  Tech created turnovers and got out and ran well to blow the game open.  The Hokies were red hot from the field (started 14/21 – 67%) and dominated the glass (had a 16-6 rebound advantage early on).  Tech never looked back after that, leading by double-digits the rest of the game.

The Hokies, for once, didn’t do it with 3-point shooting.  Tech was 7/15 (47%) from deep on the day, which is remarkable, but that wasn’t the story early.  Instead, VT did a beautiful job of beating radford with pick-and-rolls, backdoor passes, and Adam Smith off the pull-up/drive.

Once again it was a balanced offensive attack for VT.  They got a Hokie-high 28 points from Adam Smith, 14 from Barksdale, 13 from Eddie, and 10 from Marshall Wood.  They also got double-doubles from Jarell Edide and C.J. Barksdale.

Tech shot 50% for the game, the 2nd time they’ve done that this season (52% vs vmi).  The Hokies destroyed the smaller highlanders on the glass with a 41-29 advantage overall.  VT snagged 81% of ru’s misses, a very impressive number, while getting 25% of their own misses (average).

The Hokies played without freshman captain Ben Emelogu for the second straight game (concussion-like symptoms).  Cadarian Raines, who sat the final 37 minutes of Tuesday’s game, did not play at all today.  Coach JJ is trying to send another message on effort.

radford made it interesting with 6 minutes to go in the half, using a full court trapping press (VT absolutely has no answer for full court presses right now, even with Devin Wilson in the game).  But after the highlanders cut the lead to 13, VT used a 7-0 run to go up 20.  Tech led by as many as 22 in the first half and took a 48-28 lead to the break.  The Hokies led by a combined 34 points at the half in their two games this week.

VT was 18/31 on FGs (58%) in the first half compared to 10/33 for ru (33%).  Adam Smith led VT with 17 and C.J. Barksdale had 10 at the break.

Javonte Green, ru’s leading scorer at 17 ppg, had 11 at the break and 15 for the game.  The Hokies don’t seem to worry about stopping their opponent’s best player, they just take everyone else out of their game — radford only had 2 guys with more than 2 points in the first half, and on Tuesday you’ll remember only 3 furman players had scored until the final minute of the game.

THE GOOD:

  • C.J. Barksdale – His effort is fantastic right now.  He is really battling on the defensive end to get his hands in passing lanes, deflect balls, body up, and get after tough defensive rebounds (and offensive rebounds, too).  Barksdale had his first double-double of the season with 14/10 today.  C.J.’s also 14/15 (93%) on FTs on the year after going 4/4 today, although that one miss was critical in the seton hall game.
  • Adam Smith – I really like him off the dribble, much more than when he just sits out beyond the arc and chucks (and he loves to chuck).  He’s now scored 19+ points in 3 of the last 7 games and he’s reached double-digits in 5 straight.  Adam had his Hokie high of 28 points today (2 short of his career high of 32 he had at unc-w vs wake forest).
  • Devin Wilson – He can really thread the needle on passes from odd angles.  Had a great pass to C.J. for a dunk and later for an easy layup off penetration, throwing the ball almost blindly around a defender.
  • Jarell Eddie – He picked up his 3rd straight double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds).  He’s averaging over 15 PPG and 10 rebounds in those 3 games, and Eddie’s reached double-digits in points in all 8 games.
  • Greg Donlon – The walk-on made his first career field goal as a Hokie at the end!  He did have a free throw last year, but this marked his 2nd and 3rd points of his career.
  • Up-Tempo – This team looks good when they run.  The frustrating thing is after a 10-0 run in 4 minutes, they won’t push the ball for another 10 minutes at times (especially if a team pressures VT and takes them out of their game).  The Hokies have to look to run, even if they are forcing it at times.  They have good finishers (Wilson, Smith, or Wilson dishing to JvZ or C.J., or kicking to Eddie or Johnston on the wing for a 3).
  • After the usc-upstate game I thought this season could be epically bad.  But I think if we played usc-u today we’d destroy them.  This team has really come together even though we are constantly missing parts.  Perhaps Barksdale is the key – he had really good +/- numbers last year and the team has looked a lot better since he came off suspension.

THE BAD:

  • Tech against the full court press – this has been an issue so far this year, although VT hasn’t seen much of it.  Expect teams to start showing more and more of it (and we know vcu will press VT from the time they walk into the Richmond Coliseum in a few weeks).
  • That’s it — this was a really nice effort from the Hokies in front of a lot of faculty, family, and a few friends but a very mild environment.

Did You Know: All 7 games in this series have been played in the Cassell but Virginia Tech has played at the Dedmon Center before… as a home game.  Back on 1/13/96 the Hokies beat la salle 71-55 at the Dedmon Center in an A-10 conference tilt.  Tech was playing there because part of the Cassell roof had collapsed a week earlier, killing a worker (who I believe was removing snow).  Because of the issue with the roof, VT played one game at radford and one game at the Roanoke Civic Center before the Cassell was fixed.

HOKIES return to action on Tuesday night vs winthrop at the Cassell at 7 PM.

Posted in 2013-14, Game Recaps4 Comments

The Week Ahead: Nov. 25 – Dec. 1 (Tuesday vs furman at 7; Friday vs radford at 2)

The Hokies have started the season just as I expected, at least record-wise, with a 3-3 start.  That said, I have been impressed with the Baby Birds (or Jake Squad).  Ben Emelogu is for real, Trevor Thompson should develop into a good low post player (needs to add weight), Devin Wilson had a rough weekend but has shown flashes, and Adam Smith can really light it up offensively when it doesn’t matter.

After playing the #1 team in the nation and a Big East cellar-dwellar (both losses) this past weekend, the schedule gets considerably easier for the next week and a half.  The Hokies play their next three games at home against low tier conference teams (two from the Big South and one from the Southern) before opening ACC play at miami on December 8th.

This week the Hokies host two games at the Cassell, including their neighbors:

  • Tuesday at 7 PM vs furman (2-2) – ESPN3
  • Friday at 2 PM vs radford (3-1) – ESPN3 – Bring your leftover turkey sandwiches!

Stat(s) of the Week:

  • Virginia Tech was 34/63 (54%) on 3-pointers in their 3 games last week, but just 50/124 (40%) inside the arc.
  • The Hokies are shooting a blistering 47% on 3s on the season.
  • Of Tech’s 249 points last week, 41% were via 3s, 40% via 2s, and 19% from the line.
  • The Hokies were -28 combined in turnover margin last week in their 3 games.

Hokie Leaders (through Nov. 17):

  • PPG: Eddie – 18.0 (Emelogu 14.3)
  • Rebounds: Barksdale – 6.0 (Eddie 5.8)
  • Assists: Wilson – 4.7
  • Blocks: van Zegeren – 2.0
  • Steals: Wilson/Raines – 0.7

Hokie Team Stats (through 11/17):

  • PPG: 79.7
  • Opp PPG: 77.2
  • FG%: 44%
  • Opp FG%: 39%
  • 3-Pt%: 47%
  • Opp FG%: 33%
  • FT%: 71%

VT vs the opponents:

  • vs furman: VT 13-12 and 7-4 at home — the two schools haven’t played since 1964
  • vs radford: VT 5-1 with all 6 games at the Cassell — haven’t played since 2005 and VT has won 3 in a row

opponents’ Records This Season:

  • furman: 2-2 (gardner-webb is their lone D1 win with losses to florida golf course by 1 (the same team that made the NCAA run last year) and to college of charleston by 34)
  • radford: 3-1 (lost to gwu by 22, beat chattanooga, brevard (not D1), and binghamton

opponents’ Best Player:

  • furman: sophomore guard Stephen Croone – leads the team in PPG by over 9 (21.0 ppg), leads the team in assists (2.8), leads the team in steals (1.8), and is 2nd in rebounds of active players (5.3).  Also commits 4.3 turnovers per game.
  • radford: junior forward (but just 6’4″) Javonte Green – leads the team in PPG (16.8) and rebounds (7.3).

Things to Watch:

  • furman is not a good 3-point shooting team.  They average just 5 makes (29%) per game and no one has more than 6 made 3s.  furman’s top 4 scorers are all guards.
  • radford has no one taller than 6’8″ and their top 4 scorers are all 6’4″ or shorter – so stopping their guards is the key.
  • The Hokies have had a negative turnover margin in all 6 games, including a combined -28 last week in 3 games.  That has to improve.  VT is not forcing many turnovers, either (just 16 steals on the season).

Prediction:

The Hokies are going 2-0 this week [period]  Anything, while certainly possible, would be an embarrassment. Time to build up some momentum before the conference opener on December 8th, which is at miami (miami lost everybody and is very beatable, so VT needs to steal a game like that if they want to avoid the cellar, but we’ll get to that next week).

No prediction on the VT @ uva football game, or duke @ unc.  I mean, could VT lose 3 games they are double digit favorites in (VT is -13.5 in this one)?  And unc is -5.5 after their 80-20 win over odu.

Posted in 2013-14, Game Previews6 Comments

seton hall (4-2) 68, HOKIES (3-3) 67

Boxscore

The Hokies choked away the Consolation Game in the Coaches vs Cancer Classic in Brooklyn, losing by just one point (68-67) in a game they easily could have won.  Tech returns home for a game on Tuesday after going 1-3 in the Coaches vs Cancer Classic, including 0-2 in Brooklyn.

Tech led by as many as 10 in the first half and led 61-57 with 1:30 to play, but critical mistakes down the stretch cost Virginia Tech.  Up 61-59 with 51 seconds left, Jarell Eddie shot a ball off the top of the backboard at the end of the shot clock for a turnover.  After seton hall missed 2 free throws, C.J. Barksdale had a chance to put VT firmly in control but missed the front end of a one-and-one, his first free throw miss of the season in 10 attempts.  Fuquan Edwin then hit a 3 to put the pirates up 62-61 with 27 seconds to play.  After another Eddie miss, Edwin nailed two free throws to put the hall up 64-61.  Eddie, a senior, then threw the inbounds pass into the first row on the right sideline, turning the ball back over to the pirates and effectively ending the game (though freshman Ben Emelogu would hit two 3-pointers from about 30-feet each at the end to make the final difference just one point).

This is a very disappointing loss for the Hokies.  seton hall, like VT, was picked to finish last in their conference, the now thinned out Big East.  Tech had every opportunity to win.   This was a match-up of equally paired teams, and Virginia Tech lost.  That, like I said, is disappointing.  You want to beat the teams you are even with. And if Tech wants to avoid another cellar-dweller status in the ACC this season, they have to find ways to win games like this (miami, clemson, and nc state (they lost to historically black nc central the other night) are other likely candidates to finish at the bottom).

THE GOOD:

  • Jarell Eddie (for the first 39 minutes): He had 19 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 blocks.  He was all over the court.  He had 42 for the two games this weekend including 9/17 on 3s.
  • Ben Emelogu: 18 points including 4/5 on 3s, with the last two from Manhattan.  He’s now 16/30 from deep on the season.
  • 3-Point Shooting: VT was 10/19 (53%) from deep tonight.  The problem is their 2 point shooting…

THE BAD:

  • 2-Point Shooting: The Hokies were 13/38 (34%) inside the arc tonight and just 25/72 (35%) for the weekend.  Tech had just 4 points in the paint in the first half tonight and 28 of their 36 first half points were either 3s or free throws.  They must find more of an inside presence.  Raines was in foul trouble tonight (picked up his 4th foul with 19 minutes left) and Barksdale showed flashes, but that’s it.  To be blunt, VT is soft inside.  Raines is Tech’s only physical player, and don’t say it is because they are young — they have a senior, a junior, a redshirt-soph (so 3rd season), a sophomore, and just one freshman inside.  This is just a soft team that gets killed inside.
  • Devin Wilson: He looked good in the first 4 games but he was overmatched this weekend.  Freshman point guards have to take their lumps, and he did in Brooklyn — just 2 total points in the two games though he did have 13 assists and played decent defense.
  • Cadarian Raines: Battled foul trouble as mentioned above and scored just 4 points for the weekend (while committing 7 fouls).  Not what you’d have hoped for from a senior.  Where’s the guy from the last 8 games of two years ago, or the second half of the usc-upstate game?
  • Adam Smith: He had 27 points on Friday, but 24 of those were after VT was down 30.  He had 9 points in the first 10 minutes tonight, but just 2 points in the final 30.  Can this guy score when it matters?

So, after 6 games, my assessment of this team is the young guys are better than I expected (especially Emelogu — I LOVE this guy), Eddie is looking like a big time shooter (but he also did the first month of last season then fell off the map), the other returning players seem to be the exact same guys they were last year, ballhandling and toughness/rebounding seem like issues, and VT still can’t close games.  The results (3-3) are about what I expected, though we’ve looked better than expected doing it.  My thought is still that this is going to be a very rough season with a losing record overall, but I do hold hope we can avoid finishing 15th in the ACC.  I just don’t see us finishing any higher than 13th.

Virginia Tech hosts furman this Tuesday night at 7 PM.

Posted in 2013-14, Game Recaps6 Comments

Highlights from Virginia Tech’s 87-72 win over wvu

True freshman Ben Emelogu, who is a team captain, scored 22 points in yesterday’s big win over west virginia at the Cassell. He hit a huge three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half to send the Hokies to the break with all the momentum.

Posted in 2013-14, 2013-14 Season, Games3 Comments

Highlights | #5 nc state 80, #12 HOKIES (13-19) 63

The Virginia Tech Hokies’ season ends with an 80-63 loss to nc state in the First Round of the ACC Tournament.  Erick Green, the ACC Player of the Year, scored 15 points, finishing the season with 801 points (first Hokie to eclipse the 800-mark) and 25.03 ppg to lead the nation.  Tech finishes the season at 13-19.

Posted in 2012-13 Season, ACC Tournament, Highlights4 Comments

Erick Green Highlights | wake forest 90, Hokies 79

Here are some of the game, but mostly Erick Green’s, highlights from wake’s 90-79 win over the Hokies on Sunday.

Erick did move into 10th on the Virginia Tech career scoring list during the game with 1,727 points (passing Ace Custis), set a single season points mark for VT with 786 points (passing Bimbo Coles’s of 1989-90), and tied his career single game high of 35 points.

Marquis Rankin also chipped in a career high 15 points (not shown).

LINK TO VT ALL TIME LEADERS PAGE

Posted in 2012-13 Season, Highlights1 Comment

Game Highlights | duke (13-4) 85, HOKIES (4-13) 57

The Virginia Tech Hokies drop their 6th straight game to duke in the last 24 months, falling 85-57 on the road to duke. The blue devils beat Tech by a combined 60 points in two games this season. Erick Green, the nation’s leading scorer, hit his average exactly with 25 points.

Posted in 2012-13 Season, Highlights0 Comments

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