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With latest Bear Fight loss, Hokies tie a dubious record

The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only NFL team in history to win a Super Bowl with a perfect record. And each year, when the last undefeated team finally loses, some of the surviving members of the Dolphins crack open bottles of champagne to celebrate their place in history for another year.

And then there’s the 1953-54 Virginia Tech men’s basketball team, which holds the school record for most losses in a single season with 24 (the team finished 3-24 with a 2-13 conference record). That team was beyond bad. In fact, it’s safe to say they were the worst team in program history, although their 15 game losing streak is just the 2nd worst in school history — the following year the 1954-55 team lost 18 straight on their way to a 7-20 season (both under Coach G.F. Laird, who was mercifully re-assigned after the 1954-55 season).  This year’s team could match that record losing streak of 18 if they lose out and lose their ACC Tournament opener.

That being said, we wonder if the surviving members of that team are preparing champagne bottles of their own as this year’s Virginia Tech team is on the verge of breaking a record that has stood for 60 years.

Should the Hokies lose by 20 or more points on the road to No. 25 ranked pittsburgh on Saturday, they would be the first Virginia Tech team to lose five consecutive games in reverse Bear Fight* fashion, breaking the record currently shared by this year’s team and the ’53-’54 team.

We combed the record books looking for four-game losing streaks for the past 70 years and that’s about where we stopped. Why? Because when we got to the 40s and 30s, we started seeing opponents with names like “Kroger Blue Devils,” “Roanoke YMCA,” “Langley AFB,” “House of David,” “NC Preflight School,” and “Woodrow Wilson Hospital.” So, we decided to stick with the last 60 years for the purposes of our research.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we lost to nc preflight school 29-60 in 1944.

Back to business. You see, the ’53-’54 team suffered two four-game losing streaks in which every loss was by 20 or more points (told ya they were terrible):

Jan. 5, 1954 – Lost 62-91 to No. 20 nc state (29 pts)
Jan. 6, 1954 – Lost 45-82 to No. 8 duke (37 pts)
Jan. 9, 1954 – Lost 40-73 to george washington (33 pts)
Jan. 12, 1954 – Lost 73-95 to virginia (22 pts)
(VT lost the next game by 18 points and the one after that by 24 so they narrowly avoided 6 straight Bear Fight losses)

And again…

Feb. 13, 1954 – Lost 53-107 to #15 duke (54 pts)
Feb. 15, 1954 – Lost 61-83 to richmond (22 pts)
Feb. 17, 1954 – Lost 51-96 to nc state (45 pts)
Feb. 20, 1954 – Lost 67-101 to wvu (34 pts)

In the 2013-14 season, the Hokies have lost their last four games by a combined 84 points.

Jan. 25 – 45-65 at virginia (20 pts)
Jan. 29 – 52-76 at boston college (24 pts)
Feb. 1 – 60-80 vs. maryland (20 pts)
Feb. 5 – 50-70 at florida state (20 pts)

The panthers are 19-4 this season with losses to duke, virginia, syracuse, and cincinnati. They’re 12th in the nation in points allowed, giving up just 60 per game, while scoring an average of about 74. However, they did need overtime to beat miami last night, so they are capable of playing down to their competition.

On the other hand, they’ve doled out seven Bear Fights this season, including a massive beatdown of clemson. So, there is potential for the game to get real ugly on Saturday.

Whether this year’s team sets a new record for consecutive Bear Fight losses or not, it’s been a hell of depressing season for fans, coaches, and players alike.

* Note: A “Bear Fight” is a VT victory or loss by 20 or more points. A loss is a “Reverse Bear Fight”. The moniker is named for a brutal sequence of shots: a Car Bomb and Jager Bomb back-to-back. The idea is we either got beat so bad we should do a Bear Fight to forget about it, or we won by so much we should do a Bear Fight to celebrate. However, we don’t actually do these any more for health reasons, nor do we encourage or condone binge drinking. However, the labeling of big wins or losses seems to have stuck.

* Editor’s Note: The original version of this article identified the ’53-’54 team as holding the record for longest losing streak (18), however, it was the ’54-’55 team that actually holds that ugsome record. The ’53-’54 team does hold the record for most losses in a season (24).

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Featured Columns9 Comments

florida state 70 (5-5), HOKIES 50 (1-9) – noles Complete Hokie Hat Trick

Boxscore

“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffin’ glue.”  -Airplane

It was not a good day for the Hokies in terms of head-to-head competition with the seminoles.  Let me recap:

  1. fsu got a commitment from 4-star DT derrick nnadi, arguably Tech’s highest profile recruit (of guys we had a shot with)
  2. Next, the noles got 4-star Javon Harrison (a WR who will end up playing defense for the noles because they have better WRs) to flip to fsu after being committed to the Hokies for more than 18 months.
  3. Finally, in the least surprising of the three, the noles defeated the Hokies in hoops 70-50 late Wednesday night in front of about 500 people.  The Hokies are now 0-7 at fsu since joining the ACC, the only venue Tech has not won at of the schools that were in the ACC before this year.  FYI: The noles had lost 4 of 5 coming into this game, but what cures your ails more than the Hokies!  This marked Tech’s 4th straight Reverse Bear Fight loss.

SHOOTING STATS:

VT fsu
FG% 21/61 (34%) 20/46 (44%)
3-Pt% 5/21 (24%) 9/16 (56%)
FT% 3/9 (33%) 21/25 (84%)

GAME LEADERS:

Leading VT fsu
Scorer Raines – 13 Thomas – 24
Rebounder van Zegeren – 9 Bookert/White – 8
Assists Wilson – 3 3 guys – 3

 

In order to make these recaps more efficient, I’m going to try out a new template.  Here’s how it will work:

  • Tech was without [insert rotating laundry list of players hurt, suspended, sitting out, or abducted by aliens]
  • The Hokies were horrendous from the free throw line [insert crazy stat]
  • Jarell Eddie couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.  He started 0-for-[insert really high number here]
  • Tech was completely unprepared for their opponent and got destroyed in the first half, falling to an [insert a double-digit number here] deficit at the half
  • The [opponent] shot really, really well; hitting [insert FG% and 3-Pt% that were probably at 50% or above] and Coach JJ made ZERO adjustments to correct it — [insert Head-Scratcher]
  • The Hokies were horrendous shooting the ball — [I can pretty much just put in numbers under 35% on FGs and under 30% on 3-Ptrs and under 60% on FTs and not even have to sweat it]
  • Tech would make a valiant run to start the 2nd half.  They cut an [insert huge halftime lead] to [insert closer number] before [insert analogy to pooping your pants and continuing to make people money that bet against VT].
  • [Insert random thing that you've never seen before that VT screwed up or allowed to happen tonight]
  • [Some random opponent went nuts]
  • Tech lost by a Bear Fight; Tech’s [insert ridiculously high number] straight loss by 20+…

OK, so let’s fill in the above for Wednesday night…

  • Tech was without C.J. Barksdale (groin – 3rd straight game missed), Marshall Wood (???), and Adam Smith (calf, stress fracture, anything else???).  But keep in mind fsu was without Ian Miller, their leading scorer, so again, this is just an excuse.
  • The Hokies did not make a free throw until 2:07 was left IN THE GAME.  They started 0/5 from the stripe and finished 3/9 (33%) from the foul line.
  • Jarell Eddie couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.  He started 0-for-7 from the field.  In fact, he was 0/16 between the maryland game and the first half of this game before hitting his first 2 shots at the start of the 2nd half.  FYI: they didn’t stop the game to give him the ball.  Later in the 2nd half he broke his streak of 11 straight missed 3-pointers (which had included 94 minutes of play).  Jarell finished 3/14 from the field and 1/7 from deep.  He’s now 25/96 (26%) on FGs since the start of 2014 and 13/52 (25%) on 3-pointers.  That’s VT’s leading scorer.
  • Tech was completely unprepared for their opponent and got destroyed in the first half, falling to an 11-point deficit at the half, down 31-20.  VT has been outscored by 80 points in the first half of their last 6 games, trailing by double-digits in all but one of those games (they were down just 8 to maryland)
  • The seminoles shot really, really well; hitting 44% of their FGs and 56% (9/16) of their 3s and Coach JJ made ZERO adjustments to correct it — despite fsu shooting 4/7 from 3-point range in the first half, JJ stayed in a 2-3 zone (which is vulnerable to 3-point shooting), allowing fsu to hit 4/5 (all by Aaron Thomas in a span of less than 4 minutes) from deep to start the 2nd half and jump to an 18-point lead by the midway point of the final stanza.
  • The Hokies were horrendous shooting the ball — Tech shot 34% from the field and 24% from deep (Will Johnson made 4 of Tech’s 5 three-pointers… the rest of the team was 1/14).
  • Tech would make a valiant run to start the 2nd half.  They cut an 11-point halftime deficit to 7 right at the start of the 2nd half before completely crapping the bed and falling behind by 20.
  • The seminoles had a 5-point play.  Yep, that’s not a typo.  Montay Brandon hit a 3-pointer late in the first half as Jarquez Smith was fouled under the hoop.  He hit both free throws to give the noles a 5-point play and turn a 5-point lead into a double digit advantage.
  • Aaron Thomas has 24 points for fsu, his 2nd highest point total of his career.  He was 6/8 from 3-point range.
  • The Hokies lost by a Reverse Bear Fight, Tech’s 4th straight loss by 20+ and 6th time in 12 games… LOL.  A walk-on, Brandon Allen, hit a fadeaway jumper with 11 seconds left to put fsu up 20 and give them the Reverse Bear Fight win.

Some other things of note:

  • Props to Ben Emelogu:  He re-injured his ankle in Fight Club… I mean practice the other day but still battled his way through this game playing mega minutes and scoring 8 points.
  • Cadarian Raines led the Hokies with 13 points on 6/11 shooting.
  • Will Johnston, a walk-on, was 4/7 from 3-point range for 12 points.  The rest of the team was 1/14 from long range.
  • Devin WIlson was 1/8 from the field for just 4 points.  He’s averaging just 5 points in his last 3 games after averaging 18 in the previous four games.  Devin is just 6/27 (22%) on FGs and 0/6 on 3s in his last 4 games.
  • Joey van Zegeren and Trevor Thompson both fouled out before the final media timeout.  They combined for 15 rebounds but just 6 points (all by Trevor Thompson).  Tech was called for 26 fouls compared to 21 for the noles (not complaining, just saying they were more aggressive).  The biggest discrepancy was fsu shot 25 free throws and hit 21 of them (84%), including a perfect 14/14 in the 2nd half.  Tech was just 3/9.
  • The Hokies were dominant on the offensive glass… again.  Tech snagged 16 offensive rebounds in 43 opportunities (37%) while allowing fsu just 6 of 27 (22%).

Shout out to LeeRay Seamon!!!

JJ Head-Scratcher: Leonard “Happy” Hamilton is a coach that has built his team behind tough defense.  Yet when the opponent misses or commits a turnover, the noles look to get out and run and get easy buckets in transition.  The Hokies, meanwhile, pull the ball out and setup in the halfcourt, eliminating fast break opportunities.  One prime example was a backwards pass Devin Wilson intercepted, yet our best ballhandler slowed the ball up and waited for everyone else to catch up.  Given our offensive struggles… WHY?!

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Recaps9 Comments

The Week Ahead: at florida state (Wednesday at 9 PM) and at pittsburgh (Saturday at Noon)

Gambler’s Delight: fsu is favored by 15 over VT.

Predictions: VT will go 0-2

You probably don’t need a rationalization for why we’ll lose games 9 and 10 in a row on the road versus two Top 50 RPI/BPI teams, but here’s some fuel on the fire:

  • Tech is 0-6 at fsu since joining the ACC.  This is the only ACC venue Tech hasn’t won at of the ACC schools that were in the league before this year since joining the league.  VT had won at every other ACC venue by their 4th try, and it took Tech just 3 tries to win at duke and unc.  But the Tucker Civic Center?  0-6.  Last time there VT blew a 15-point 2nd half lead (and they were up 9 with 90 seconds to go).  If the Hokies couldn’t win then, they certainly can’t win with this squad against a team that, despite a 13-8 record, is #38 in the RPI and #41 in the BPI (VT’s RPI is over 200).
  • pitt has lost two in a row at home, but they are 13-2 overall at home this season with the lone losses to duke and uva (on Super Bowl Sunday on a shot with less than a second to go).  We are not duke or uva, and we never faired well with pitt in the Big East in football or basketball (went 0-4 in hoops vs the panthers).

Schedule:

  • Wednesday (2/5) at florida state (4-5, 13-8) at 9 PM on RSN (Wondering how many Hokies will regret staying up for this game and being tired at work the next day)
  • Saturday (2/8) at pittsburgh (6-3, 18-4) at Noon on RSN (VT is truly the home of noon kickoffs this year)

Stats of the Week:

  • Devin Wilson (93 assists) needs 21 more assists to set the Hokie record for a freshman (currently held by Hank Thorns at 113).
  • JJ is 21-32 (39.6%) at Tech, a lower winning percentage than the late Bobby Hussey (23-32 — 41.8%) and ricky “Program Bomb” stokes (46-69 — 40%) who lasted 2 and 4 years coaching Tech respectively.
  • The Hokies have been outscored 205-136 (41.0 to 27.2) in the first halves of their last five games.
  • Tech has lost 3 straight by 20+ points and 5 of 11.  VT has trailed by at least 20 points at some point in the game in 4 straight games.
  • Tech has shot 60% or worse from the free throw line in 8 of 9 ACC games
  • VT has shot under 38% from the field in 4 straight games and in 7 of 9 ACC games
  • The Hokies are last in the ACC in Conference Games in FT%, FG%, and 12th in 3-Point%.  VT is also last in Opponent’s 3-Point%
  • C.J. Barksdale is the only, and I mean only, VT player that has a higher FG% in ACC play than overall.
  • JvZ went 2/7 from the line on Saturday and increased his FT% in ACC play (26%).
  • Tech was just 12/46 (26%) on FGs in the 2nd halves of their two games last week.
  • bc was last in ACC Games in FG% Defense entering their game with VT — they are now 11th… and maryland jumped from 14th to 12th.

Hokie Leaders (through Feb. 2):

  • PPG: Eddie – 14.2;  (Emelogu 11.6)
  • Rebounds: Eddie – 5.7; (van Zegeren 4.8)
  • Assists: Wilson – 4.4
  • Blocks: van Zegeren – 1.9
  • Steals: Wilson – 0.9

Hokie Team Stats  — Overall (through Feb. 2 — note that these stats and conference rankings are for all games, not just ACC games which have severely brought down Tech’s offensive numbers):

  • PPG: 67.6 (12th in the ACC)
  • Opp PPG: 69.7 (12th in the ACC)
  • FG%: 42% (15th in the ACC)
  • Opp FG%: 41% (8th in the ACC)
  • 3-Pt%: 38% (2nd in the ACC)
  • Opp 3-Pt%: 34% (12th in the ACC)
  • FT%: 65% (13th in the ACC)

Hokie Team Stats  – ACC Games Only (through Feb. 2)

  • PPG: 57.6 (13th in the ACC)
  • Opp PPG: 69.3 (9th in the ACC)
  • FG%: 37% (15th in the ACC)
  • Opp FG%: 44% (10th in the ACC)
  • 3-Pt%: 31% (12th in the ACC)
  • Opp 3-Pt%: 39% (15th in the ACC)
  • FT%: 57% (15th in the ACC)

VT vs the opponents (VT’s RPI is 215 and their BPI is 166):

  • at florida state (RPI #38, BPI #41): 
    • fsu 27-20 overall
    • fsu 8-5 in ACC games
    • fsu 6-0 in ACC games at fsu (only venue of the previously 12 ACC teams Tech hasn’t won at)
    • Tech has lost 8 straight at fsu with the last win in Tallahassee back in 1990 (Bimbo!) when both teams were in the Metro Conference.
    • This is the only regular season meeting.
  • at pittsburgh (RPI #18, BPI #6):
    • pitt 5-3
    • VT was 0-4 vs pitt in the Big East
    • Tech last beat pitt in 1980 as part of the VT Classic, and last won at pitt in 1967
    • Tech lost their final ever Big East game, losing to #6 pitt in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals back in 2004
    • First ever meeting as ACC foes
  • This is the only regular season meeting.

opponents’ Best Player(s):

  • florida state: Ian Miller (6’3″ senior guard) and Okaro White (6’9″ senior forward) – Miller narrowly leads the team in PPG (12.7), assists (3.2) and 3-pointers made (35 at a 36% clip).  White is just behind Miller in PPG (12.6) and leads the team in rebounds (6.7).  Both get to the line a lot and shoot very well (Miller – 87% and White 74%).
  • pittsburgh: Lamar Peterson (6’5″ senior forward): He leads the team in PPG (17.7) and assists (4.5), chips in 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals, plus shoots 42% from behind the arc (40/96).  He also gets to the line 5 times a game and hits 80%.  To put it mildly, he will be a match-up problem for the defensively challenged Hokies.

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Previews3 Comments

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

Boxscore

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

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

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

What is Rock Bottom?  It is this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite maryland @ VT Memories from the ACC:

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

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

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

boston college 76 (2-5, 6-14), HOKIES 52 (1-7, 8-12)

Boxscore

The Good News for everyone going to the game Saturday: The Hokies are going to win because I guaranteed Tech would win a game this week!

The Bad News… That’s because the Hokies got absolutely tarred and feathered by a boston college team that is 0-5 in ACC play and 4-14 overall in games against teams other than Virginia Tech (but swept the Hokies in their two meetings).  The eagles won 76-52 on Wednesday night, giving Tech their 2nd straight Reverse Bear Fight loss and 4th of the season.  VT is now 1-11 all time at bc  since joining the Big East in 2000.

This game came down to one stat: 3-point shooting.  In the preview it was mentioned that in Virginia Tech’s last 10 games they had won both games where they made more 3s than their opponent, and were 0-8 when making the same or less.  So here’s the only stat you need to know about this game: The eagles made 14 three-pointers to just 4 for Tech.  That says it all.  And consider this — bc started 11/17 (65%) from deep but shot 3/20 (15%) the rest of the game and still increased their lead.  The Hokies were 0/7 from deep in the 2nd half and finished just 4/14 for the game (29%).  bc was 14/36 (39%) despite missing their final 10 three-point attempts.

boston college absolutely blistered the nets in the first half.  After Tech took a 7-5 lead in the first 3 minutes, boston college went on an 11-0 run to take a 16-7 lead.  The eagles stretched that out further to a 23-12 advantage just short of the halfway point of the first half.  At that point, bc was 7/9 from the field, 5/7 on 3-pointers, and 4/4 from the line.

The eagles didn’t cool off much the rest of the half.  Check out these first half numbers:

  • FGs: 13/19 (68%)
  • 3s: 7/12 (58%)
  • 2s: 6/7 (86%)
  • FTs: 13/16 (81%)
  • bc came in averaging just 65 ppg in ACC play but had 43 at the break

The only reason VT was down *just* 13 at the half was their offensive rebounding.  Tech had 8 offensive boards and 12 Second Chance Points compared to just 1 offensive rebound and 2 Second Chance Points for the eagles.

Jarell Eddie snapped out of his shooting slump with 18 first half points on 7/10 shooting.  The rest of the team was just 6/20 (30%) in the first half.

But Jarell could muster just 4 2nd half points, finishing with a game-high 22 on 8/13 shooting.  He also led Tech with 9 rebounds for the game.  No other Hokie hit double digits for the game and, other than Eddie, everyone else was just 10/40 (25%) for the game.

The Hokies have now trailed by 15, 16, 17, and 13 (way to buck the trend slightly) at halftime of their last 4 games, and trailed by as many as 15 in the first stanza of this contest.

Unlike in the past three games, there was absolutely no run by the Hokies in the 2nd half to make it interesting.  If you thought the eagles’ arms would be tired after the break, you were dead wrong, at least at the beginning.  bc started the 2nd half on a 14-3 run to go ahead 60-36 before Tech had even made a single field goal.  This included a 4/5 start from long range for the eagles.

The eagles had eclipsed their average points per game in ACC play (65) with 10 minutes to go in the game.  It got so bad that boston college was up 30 (76-46) with 6:39 to go.  Did the eagles let up?  Nope.  boston college increased their lead during each of the first 8 (of 10) media timeouts of the game (including halftime).  Finally Tech won the under-8 to under-4 stretch by outscoring bc by a single point (to cut the lead to 25) and again by 1 point to finish the game.

The Hokies shot just 5/23 (5 made field goals for an entire half?!) in the 2nd half (22%) against, I’ll say it again, the worst defense in the ACC and scored just 19 points after the break despite the fact the outcome was all but decided.

A few other notes:

  • Every Hokie except for Jarell Eddie (8/13) and Christian Beyer (3/5) shot under 50% from the field.
  • Tech was 12/21 from the foul line (57%).  They have shot better than 60% from the line in just 1 ACC game.
  • bc had 24 points off turnovers to just 1 for VT.
  • The Hokies shot 34% for the game against the worst defense in the ACC, that was allowing opponents to shoot 47% in ACC games coming in.
  • bc had 4 guys in double figures (Rahon 20, Anderson 18, Hanlan 11 (he had 4 fouls, including a technical, in the first 3 minutes of the 2nd half), and Heckmann 14) to just 1 for Tech (Eddie – 22).

Crazy stat of the night: Since VT beat bc on January 23rd, 2010, the eagles have gone 26-41 in ACC regular season games.  During that stretch they are 7-1 (88%) vs the Hokies and therefore 19-40 (32%) vs everyone else.

Point/Shot Distribution:

Shots VT bc
Paint 12/35 34% 8/14 57%
Midrange 2/4 50% 2/3 67%
Threes 4/14 29% 14/36 39%
Free Throws 12/21 57% 14/18 78%
2nd Chance 14 5
Fastbreak 1 3

Inside Niemo’s Head:

  • Dare I say it is safe to state we are rock bottom?  Would losing to a team by 24 points that was 5-14 and 1-5 coming in, with the one win against you qualify for that (and this being a week after losing to a team that hadn’t won an ACC road game in over 2 years).
  • Is boston college our Kryptonite or what?  We are 1-7 at bc since they joined the ACC in basketball, and just 2-3 at bc in football (and believe me, that’s awful for Tech — we’ve been amazing in ACC road games in football over the years).  The Hokies have now lost 7 of 8 to bc in hoops.
  • JJ is really making is easy for the AD.  He is apparently attending the hoops game on Saturday.  JJ better hope we get more than this or he is really playing the AD’s hand for him.  I mean, in all honesty, if we had a stable AD who wasn’t coming in on March 1st, would JJ have any chance of surviving?
  • I am never, ever picking us to beat bc again.  Ever.
  • Thank goodness I’m done with the anti-biotics I was on last week because tonight was made for Michelob!… and Wild Turkey!… and anything else you can drink.  Cheers, y’all.

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Recaps12 Comments

The Week Ahead: @ bc (Wednesday at 7 PM); Home vs maryland (Saturday at High Noon)

Gambler’s Corner: The terps are favored by just 5.5 on Saturday. Did Vegas watch the bc game?

bc opened as 6 point favorites (the line was down to 5.5 — please tell me you all aren’t betting on VT because I said we’d win! If so, no refunds!)

Update: C.J. Barksdale is doubtful for the game Wednesday due to a groin injury according to THIS ARTICLE.

Predictions:

Normally I save this for the end but I have some exciting news for you.  No, no, you aren’t in the running to win the $1 million prize through Publisher’s Clearinghouse.  I’m here to tell you the Hokies are going to win a basketball game this week!  A men’s game, at that!  And I’m sticking with my pick even with the news Barksdale is probably out with a groin injury (and Adam Smith is still out with a stress fracture).

The Hokies enter the week alone in last place in the ACC at 1-6, but can move all the way up to 14th place with a win Wednesday.  Tech, who is 4-17 away from Cassell under Coach James Johnson, hit the road to boston college, where they are 1-10 all time at bc since joining the Big East in 2000 (including losing 4 in a row over the last 6 years).  Despite all that, I believe VT will beat the eagles on Wednesday night in the ACC Pillow Fight Game of the Month!

I know, I know, you are saying, “Are you crazy?  You pick VT to win against boston college EVERY single time and we always lose to them!  Are you certifiably insane?” Yes, Tech has lost 6 of 7 to the eagles and are just 7-16 combined in Big East and ACC play against them.  But if wake’s coach, Bzdelik, can go on the road and win against all odds, why can’t Virginia Tech win in front of probably fewer than 2,000 friends and family gathered (bc drew just 1,789 people for their home loss to georgia tech last week)?  The eagles are 0-4 at home in ACC play (like Tech), so home court advantage is not a factor.

With all the negativity and job security rumblings (including from here), I think the Hokies will win Wednesday.  I didn’t say play well, or play hard, or play with any semblance of a gameplan, I just said they’ll win.  I mean, this is a boston college team that is 1-10 in their last 11 games against Division I teams.  Granted, that one win was at Virginia Tech, but maybe they’ll take the Hokies lightly this time (as Devin Wilson claimed VT might have in the first game considering their 5-14 record).

And who wouldn’t get hyped up for the Flint Mega Bowl Battle for 14th Place!  The winner moves just up the road in the ACC standings, the loser falls firmly into dead last in the cellar.  Set your VCRs because this is gonna be a classic!

And if the Hokies don’t win at boston college, then I am guaranteeing* they win at home versus maryland this weekend, who has lost 4 of 5 and are ranked near the bottom of the ACC in almost every defensive statistic.  I mean, we have to win at home eventually, right?  Why not now?  Let’s get some revenge for the loss at Lane in football against the terps!  This will be the final meeting at the Cassell between the two teams as ACC foes (they do play at maryland later this season) before the terps head off to the Big(14)Ten.

So, I’m saying VT goes 1-1 this week with the more likely win at bc.  As always, 0-2 is more likely than 2-0, but I just have a feeling.  I have a feeling we are going to just win, baby!

*Note: I think I’m 0-3 all time in “guarantees”, so please use my predictions for recreational purposes only.  Any usage of said predictions for gambling purposes would be truly idiotic on your part, unless of course you bet the opposite of what I say.

Also, when we win, you know people are going to start saying how JJ has turned a corner and this and that.  No!  If we beat an awful bc team it proves nothing other than they are worse than us.  And if we beat maryland, who is much better than the Hokies but still not very good, it will prove nothing other than you can’t lose them all at home.  So let’s not go crazy if we win other than to enjoy it and take solace that maybe, just maybe, our core players are getting better (on their own).

Schedule:

  • Wednesday (1/29) at boston college (1-5, 5-14) at 7 PM on RSN
  • Saturday (2/1) vs maryland (4-4, 12-9) at 12 PM on ACC Network

Stats of the Week:

  • Tech has trailed by 15, 16, and 17 points at the half in their last 3 games respectively.
  • Devin Wilson has scored 4 total points in the first half of those 3 games and 54 in the 2nd half.
  • Devin is 7/11 (64%) on 3-pointers in ACC play, but 58% from the line (32/55).
  • Jarell Eddie is shooting 28% on FGs and 31% on 3s in ACC play.
  • In Tech’s last 10 games, they are 2-0 when making more 3s than their opponent, 0-6 when making fewer 3s, and 0-2 when making the same number.  Along the same lines, VT is 2-1 when shooting a higher 3-Pt % than their opponent and 0-7 when shooting a lower 3-Pt %
  • bc, maryland, and VT rank as the 3 worst defenses in terms of Opponent 3-Point % in the ACC (with bc the worst).  So if Tech was ever going to get back on track from deep, this is the week to do it.
  • VT is the worst shooting team in the league, and bc has the worst FG% defense.  That’s about what you’d expect between two evenly struggling teams.
  • maryland’s defense is 13th or worse in Opponent’s PPG, FG%, and 3-Pt%.

Hokie Leaders (through Jan. 27):

  • PPG: Eddie – 14.4;  (Emelogu 11.1)
  • Rebounds: Eddie – 5.6; (van Zegeren 4.7)
  • Assists: Wilson – 4.6
  • Blocks: van Zegeren – 2.0
  • Steals: Wilson – 0.9

Hokie Team Stats  — Overall (through Jan. 27 — note that these stats and conference rankings are for all games, not just ACC games which have severely brought down Tech’s offensive numbers):

  • PPG: 68.8 (12th in the ACC)
  • Opp PPG: 68.8 (11th in the ACC)
  • FG%: 43% (13th in the ACC)
  • Opp FG%: 40% (6th in the ACC)
  • 3-Pt%: 39% (2nd in the ACC)
  • Opp 3-Pt%: 33% (10th in the ACC)
  • FT%: 66% (13th in the ACC)

Hokie Team Stats  – ACC Games Only (through Jan. 27 — Note that bc’s and then maryland’s ranks are also in the parenthesis)

  • PPG: 58.0 (13th in the ACC;  bc: 8;  md: 4)
  • Opp PPG: 66.9 (9th in the ACC;  bc: 11;  md: Tie-14)
  • FG%: 38% (15th in the ACC;  bc: 6;  md: 12)
  • Opp FG%: 43% (8th in the ACC;  bc: 15;  md: 13)
  • 3-Pt%: 32% (9th in the ACC;  bc: 2;  md: 10)
  • Opp 3-Pt%: 38% (13th in the ACC;  bc: 15;  md: 14)
  • FT%: 57% (14th in the ACC;  bc: 3;  md: 5)

VT vs the opponents (VT’s RPI is 195 and their BPI is 148):

  • vs boston college (RPI #159, BPI #178): 
    • bc 16-8 overall
    • bc 10-6 in ACC games
    • bc  6-1 in ACC home games vs VT (won 4 straight)
    • Earlier this season (January 11th, 2014): eagles 62, @HOKIES 59 – LINK to RECAP
  • vs maryland (RPI #80, BPI #65):
    • maryland 30-10 overall
    • maryland 7-6 in ACC games (won 3 straight)
    • VT 4-2 in ACC games vs maryland at VT
    • Last year:
      • @maryland 94, Hokies 71 (1/5/13)
      • maryland 60, @Hokies 55 (2/7/13)
  • The two teams meet again on Tuesday, March 4th

opponents’ Best Player(s):

  • boston college: Olivier Hanlan – 6’4″ sophomore guard – 18.9 ppg (leads team), 3.1 apg (2nd on team), 3.1 rpg (2nd), and 0.8 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.
  • maryland: They really don’t have a “star”.  Dez Wells probably has the most talent but isn’t always their guy every night (he usually is in the low double digits with a high of 33 vs bc this year).  They have 5 guys average in double figures, 3 guys average 5+ rebounds, and 2 average 3+ assists, and there isn’t a ton of overlap of those guys.  But Jake Layman killed the Hokies last year (6’8″ wing player – sophomore) with 20 and 14 points in the two games respectively (his highest and 3rd highest game outputs of last year), so I’ll say watch out for him.  He had 18 against the Hokies in the first half of the game at maryland last year.

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Previews14 Comments

uva 65 (6-1, 15-5), Hokies 45 (1-6, 8-11)

Boxscore — On behalf of all of us here at TechHoops.com, we welcome Virginia Tech’s new athletics director Whit Babcock to Blacksburg. We’re sure he was watching the game today and the only thing we can offer is a heart felt “good luck with that.”

Once again, the Hokies failed to cover the spread (18 points) and once again, they lost to uva. Today, the Hokies fell on the road in reverse bear fight fashion, losing 45-65. The last time the Hokies lost to uva by more than 20 points was 1990, 61-86.

True freshman Devin Wilson was the only Tech player to score in double figures, but they were all in garbage time in the second half.

There’s nothing really to recap. Virginia Tech didn’t have any semblance of a game plan. They didn’t defend. They couldn’t penetrate. They couldn’t shoot. They couldn’t do anything against Tony Bennett’s stingy defense.

The Hokies scored 17 points in the first half and had their usual 10-minute streak without a field goal. From the 14:33 mark to the 4:20, Virginia Tech didn’t hit a single basket. Their only point during that stretch was a single free throw.

The Hokies trailed by 17 at the half, getting double 34-17. Tech has now trailed at the break by 15, 16, and 17 points in their last three games. If that doesn’t tell a story, then I don’t know what does.

After starting 3/3 from the field, Tech went 3/19 the rest of the first half. At the break VT was 27% from the field, 27% on 3s, and 25% from the line (2/8). At least they are consistent! And here are the Hokies’ abysmal stats for the game: field goals 14/42 (33.3%), 3-pointers 3/18 (16.7%), and free throws 14/25 (56%). What else do you need to know?

What’s left to say? No one played well and if there was a game plan, it was abandoned at the opening tip. One good thing was Ben Emelogu returned to action after missing the last two games with an ankle injury and played most of the game.

Here’s a quote from Niemo that pretty much sums up this game and this season:

“If this is the first Virginia Tech basketball game Whit Babcock has watched, he probably just threw up in his mouth a little bit and wonders what he’s gotten himself into.”

Next up, boston college in Chestnut Hill, where we haven’t won in eight years. Road trip?

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Recaps, Games7 Comments

James Johnson is edging closer to the hot seat

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

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

Here is the remaining schedule:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Home25 Comments

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

Dear Hokie Hoops Fan,

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

Sincerely,

JJ

Boxscore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Positives:

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

Things that didn’t stink:

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

Things that had a moderate to severe odor:

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

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

Final Thoughts:

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

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

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

Posted in 2013-14, Game Recaps, Home13 Comments

The Week Ahead: Wed. vs wake (2-3) at 7; Sat. @ uva (5-1) at 3

Gambler’s Corner: The Hokies are favored (yes, you read that right, that’s the Bzdelik adjustment) by 1.5 over wake on Wednesday. Update: spread is up Hokies -3. Clearly people believe in the Bzdelik jinx.

Rock Bottom: While most fans are more interested in the Hokies’s game at uva on Saturday, it is the game on Wednesday vs wake forest that I believe will truly show where this program is at (more on that in a minute).  And if the Hokies lose Wednesday and Saturday and fall to 1-6 in the ACC, this program will be about as close to Rock Bottom as they could be outside of being put on probation, getting kicked out of the ACC, and/or hiring another unproven head coach because no one else would take the job.  Here’s why:

To me, Wednesday is the more critical game for the Hokies to win.  To be the worst, you have to be beaten by the worst.  And Coach Bzdelik at wake forest is hands down the worst coach in the ACC right now, possibly ever (though Bob Wade of maryland might have a say in that).  Bzdelik is worse than Sidney Lowe and Paul Hewitt, whom you long time loyal readers know I regularly loved to beat up on.  And when you put Bzdelik on the road, you get someone who makes ricky stokes look like Bill Belichick.  To lose to him at home would just be a flat out embarrassment, even if Ben Emelogu (ankle) and Adam Smith are still battling injuries.  Check out these numbers from wake’s 4th year head coach:

  • 0-4 on the road this season with 3 of the 4 losses by 15 or more points.
  • 17 straight ACC road game losses (add in 0-2 in ACC Tourney games during that stretch and they are 0-19 outside of Winston-Salem)
  • By Wednesday, they won’t have won an ACC road game in more than 2 full calendar years, dating back to 1/21/12.
  • All told, Bzdelik is 1-27 in ACC road games… add in 0-3 in ACC Tourney games and he’s 1-30 away from wake.  That’s a cool 3% winning percentage.
  • It gets worse…
  • His 17 game road losing streak in conference is NOT his worst streak of his career.  He lost his first 23 road games in the Big 12 before colorado won their final road game in Bzdelik’s third and final year with the buffaloes.
  • Add colorado up (1-23 on the road) and you have a combined 2-50 in true conference road games.
  • Bzdelik is so bad he’s listed TWICE on the list of worst coaching tenures (for colorado and wake) over the last 30 years by Athlon – LIST
  • Bzdelik and wake went 1-15 in the ACC his first season at wake (no other team has lost 15 regular season ACC games since the ACC expanded in 2004).

So, as you can see, if the Hokies lose at home to a coach that wins on the road about as often as Larry King gets married, it will show how truly bad the on-court product is right now.

Then, combine that with a loss at our arch rival (which would be Tech’s 4th straight loss to uva and 6th in 7 games — our worst such run vs the hoos since losing 6 in a row between 1996-2001), two straight seasons finishing at the bottom of the ACC (and on our way to a third), and you have all the makings of Rock Bottom.  Does it sound like I’ve pretty much resigned myself to us losing both these games?  Well, I’ll save that for the predictions.

Schedule:

  • Wednesday (1/22) vs wake (2-3 in the ACC, 12-6 overall) at 7 PM on RSN
  • Saturday (1/25) at uva (5-1 in the ACC, 14-5 overall) at 3 PM on ACC Network

Stats of the Week:

  • How can you top 17 straight ACC road losses and 1-27 overall?  So I’ll say it again.
  • In ACC games only, VT is last in FT% (50%) and tied for last in FG% (39.5%).  They are just 8th in 3-Pt% (33%)
  • uva is #1 in the ACC in turnover-margin in ACC play
  • The hoos are #4 in the nation in PPG allowed at just under 57 per game (clemson is still #1)
  • VT is last in the ACC in steals per game (3.2) and just one player has more than 9 steals — Devin Wilson with 14 which is still less than 1 per game.
  • uva, wake, and VT are all in the bottom third of the league in terms of FT shooting

Hokie Leaders (through Jan. 20):

  • PPG: Eddie – 14.5;  (Emelogu 11.5; Smith 11.0)
  • Rebounds: Eddie – 5.8; (Barksdale and van Zegeren 4.8)
  • Assists: Wilson – 4.9
  • Blocks: van Zegeren – 2.2
  • Steals: Wilson – 0.8

Hokie Team Stats  — Overall (through Jan. 20 — note that these stats and conference rankings are for all games, not just ACC games which have severely brought down Tech’s offensive numbers):

  • PPG: 69.7 (11th in the ACC)
  • Opp PPG: 68.2 (10th in the ACC)
  • FG%: 44% (13th in the ACC)
  • Opp FG%: 39% (6th in the ACC)
  • 3-Pt%: 40% (2nd in the ACC)
  • Opp 3-Pt%: 32% (8th in the ACC)
  • FT%: 66% (13th in the ACC)

Hokie Team Stats  – ACC Games Only (through Jan. 20)

  • PPG: 56.8 (14th in the ACC)
  • Opp PPG: 64.0 (7th in the ACC)
  • FG%: 40% (14th in the ACC)
  • Opp FG%: 41% (6th in the ACC)
  • 3-Pt%: 33% (8th in the ACC)
  • Opp 3-Pt%: 36% (11th in the ACC)
  • FT%: 50% (15th in the ACC)

VT vs the opponents:

  • vs wake (RPI #64, BPI #80): 
    • Hokies 29-28 overall
    • Hokies 9-4 in ACC games
    • Hokies 5-1 in ACC home games (won 5 straight)
    • Last Year:
      • @Hokies 66, wake 65 (1/19/13)
      • @wake 90, Hokies 79 (3/10/13)
    • Tech’s won 5 straight at the Cassell over wake
    • This is the only meeting this regular season between the Hokies and wake, so this is probably the last time VT will play against Bzdelik.
  • vs uva (RPI #24, BPI #25):
    • uva 84-53 overall
    • uva 11-8 in ACC games
    • uva 6-3 at uva in ACC games
    • The teams have split the last 6 meetings at uva
    • Last year:
      • uva 74, @Hokies 58 (1/24/13)
      • @uva 73, Hokies 55 (2/12/13)
    • The two meet again on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at VT (yep, we play there on a weekend and at home on a weekday… again!)

opponents’ Best Player(s):

  • wake: Codi Miller-McIntyre – 6’3″ sophomore - Believe it or not, Travis McKie is not wake’s best player anymore.  The senior and former HS rival of Cadarian Raines is just 4th on the team in PPG at 9.2 (down more than 4 ppg from last year and 7 ppg from his sophomore season).  Meanwhile, Codi, a teammate of Montrezl Harrell at Hargrave, has doubled his scoring this year to lead the team with 15.3 ppg.  He also leads the team with 3.8 assists.  He kicks in a solid 3.1 rebounds per game and 0.9 steals, too.  He is not a good 3-point shooter (25% — 12/47).  Codi does his damage on the drive, especially in transition, and gets to the line a lot (5.7 FTA per game).
  • uva: Joe Harris – 6’6″ senior - You say Harris by default because he’s been their star for a few years now, but is down 5 ppg from last year at 11.3 (though still leads the team).  That’s in part to him playing just 2 minutes in the first meeting with fsu after suffering a concussion.  Since then, he’s averaging 15 ppg, all in ACC play, so he’s getting it going at the right time for the hoos.  He’s a deadly 3-point shooter – hitting 44% of his 68 attempts (makes 1.7  per game).  But like I said, this is a balanced uva attack with six guys averaging between 6.7 and 11.3 ppg.

Prediction: VT goes 0-2 this week and I’m saying this whether Emelogu and Smith play or not.  I think a loss at uva is all but a given the way uva is playing (5-1 in the ACC, just destroyed unc, and led at duke with 30 seconds to go in their only ACC loss).  Maybe VT pulls off some magic like they did at uva two years ago when the Hokies won 47-45, and Tech has split the last 6 games at uva, but I just don’t see it happening this year given current trends.

As for wake, I think they are licking their chops.  They are the superior team in terms of talent and if this game was at wake I’d predict a Bear Fight win for the deacons.  The only reason this game is in question is because it is a road game for a Bzdelik-led team.  Believe me — they know they haven’t won an ACC road game in 2 years and will see this as a golden opportunity.  And like I say, bad teams find a way to lose and that’s Tech right now.  It pains me to say it because I love recounting Bzdelik’s road woes, but I just can’t pick this Hokie team right now to win anything.

Or perhaps I’m trying to put the reverse mojo on after picking VT to beat bc and clemson at home and going 0-2.  We’ll see.  There are some powerfully pathetic forces at work on Wednesday night.  Who will be crowned the worst of the worst?

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Previews0 Comments

Plus-Minus Stats for notre dame Game

Here are the plus-minus numbers for each Hokie (with minutes played in parenthesis) for the 70-63 loss at notre dame on Sunday night: (starters are in bold)

  • Barksdale:  +8 (19)
  • van Zegeren:  +3 (16)
  • Smith:  +1 (15)
  • Beyer:  -2 (23)
  • Wilson:  -6 (36)
  • Eddie:  -6 (24)
  • Johnston:  -7 (25)
  • Thompson:  -8 (7)
  • Wood:  -8 (13)
  • Raines:  -10 (22)
  • ——————-
  • STARTERS:  +4
  • BENCH:  -39
  • TOTAL:  -35 / 5 = 7 point loss

Notes:

  • Wow, how stunning is it that JvZ, who had 6 blocks but also 6 turnovers, had a +3 while Raines, who scored a career high 20 points, had a -10?  Were the bench guys playing with Raines that bad or was his defense giving up as much as he scored?  And was JvZ’s blocks that much of a positive factor while he was in there?
  • I think you can chalk that up to the starters played well as a unit when in there together while the bench just crapped the bed, especially at the end of the first half when notre dame went on a 10-0 run with mostly bench players in, while it was starters in when Tech went on their 7-0 run to start the 2nd half.
  • Bench: Thompson, who missed several point blank layups, and Wood, who just looks lost out there right now after his recent flu/benching, had a combined -16 in just 20 minutes of play.  Johnston and Eddie weren’t much better — they contributed just 5 points in 49 minutes of play while combining for a -13.
  • Barksdale last year was The Man in terms of plus-minus.  He was regularly at the top.  So no surprise to see him lead VT with a +8 on Sunday.  What is more of a surprise is why did he play just 19 minutes while scoring 12 points on 5/6 FGs and two 3-pointers???
  • Wilson’s -6 might surprise you given how well he played, especially in the 2nd half, but when you play most of the game (36 minutes), your plus-minus is bound to be close to the final score (-7).
  • Smith has previously had some bad plus-minus numbers given his struggles on defense but he put up a +1 Sunday despite not scoring.  Too bad his injury limited him to 15 minutes.  I think this is an anomaly you can chalk up to the other guys playing well while he was in.

Posted in 2013-14 Season0 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

The Week Ahead: Wed., Jan. 15 vs clemson (7 PM) and Sun., Jan. 19 at notre dame (6 PM)

Gambler’s Corner:

  • notre dame is favored by 10.5 over VT on the night they honor Digger Phelps.
  • c-l-e-m-s-ohhh-n is favored by 3.

You’re only as good as your last game, they say, and the Hokies are coming off a real stinker – losing at home in front of less than 4k while shooting less than 40% and scoring less than 60 points.  In fact, Tech hasn’t reached the 60-point mark in regulation in any of their 3 ACC games this season.  And if you are hoping the Hokies break that streak on Wednesday, don’t count on it.  clemson is #1 in the nation in PPG allowed.

But hope springs eternal, and Wednesday night is a new night.  And thank goodness for that.

On Sunday, Tech will be featured as part of ESPNU’s ACC Sunday Night Hoops.  But the ratings should be lower than a WB sitcom — the game will start right as Manning vs Brady is ending and overlap with most of San Fran @ Seattle.  So at least not many people will see us if we throw out another stinker!

Here’s the week ahead:

  • Wednesday, January 15 at 7 PM at the Cassell on Raycom: vs clemson (2-1, 11-4)
  • Sunday, January 19 at 6 PM on ESPNU: at notre dame (1-2, 10-6)

Stat(s) of the Week:

  • clemson is #1 in the nation in scoring defense at 53.5 ppg (uva is #3)
  • The tigers are #1 in the ACC in FG% and 3-Pt% defense, but 14th and 10th offensively in those two stats respectively
  • clemson and notre dame are #2 and #3 in the ACC in FT%, with VT at #10 (could be a deciding factor in the games)
  • Jarell Eddie is 2nd in the ACC in 3-Pt% and 3s made
  • The Hokies have fallen from #1 in the nation in 3-point % a few weeks ago to #17 now 40.7%
  • ACC Shooting Woes: In their 3 ACC games, Tech is shooting just:
    • 35.4% from the field (62/175) — last in the ACC for conference games only
    • 32.5% from deep (26/80) — 8th in the ACC
    • 53.7% from the charity stripe (22/41) — last in the ACC
    • Tech hasn’t cracked 40% from the field or 3-point line, or 60% from the foul line in any ACC game

Hokie Leaders (through Jan. 14):

  • PPG: Eddie – 16.1;  (Smith 12.7 and Emelogu 11.6)
  • Rebounds: Eddie – 6.1;  (Barksdale 5.0)
  • Assists: Wilson – 4.9
  • Blocks: van Zegeren – 2.1
  • Steals: Wilson – 0.9

Hokie Team Stats (through Jan. 14 — note that these stats and conference rankings are for all games, not just ACC games which have severely brought down Tech’s offensive numbers):

  • PPG: 71.5 (10th in the ACC)
  • Opp PPG: 68.9 (12th in the ACC)
  • FG%: 43% (13th in the ACC)
  • Opp FG%: 39% (5th in the ACC)
  • 3-Pt%: 41% (2nd in the ACC and 17th nationally)
  • Opp 3-Pt%: 32% (7th in the ACC)
  • FT%: 68% (10th in the ACC)

VT vs the opponents:

  • vs clemson (RPI #104): 
    • Hokies 15-13 overall
    • clemson 8-7 in ACC games
    • Hokies 4-3 in ACC home games
    • Last Year:
      • @Hokies 69, clemson 61 (3/2/13)
      • @clemson 77, Hokies 70 (1/27/13)
    • Tech’s won 3 straight at the Cassell over clemson (home team has won 6 in a row in this series)
    • This is the only meeting this regular season between the Hokies and clemson.
  • vs notre dame (RPI #89):
    • notre dame 3-1 overall
    • First game as ACC foes
    • notre dame won all 3 Big East meetings
    • Tech’s only win over notre dame was their 92-91 overtime thriller to win the 1973 NIT Championship on a buzzer-beater by Bobby Stevens!  Tech won their 4 NIT games by a combined 5 points.
    • This is the only meeting this regular season between VT and notre dame

opponents’ Records This Season:

  • clemson (2-1 ACC, 11-4 overall):  Last week: Lost vs fsu (56-41) and beat duke at home (72-59).  They’ve also beaten temple (who is awful this year) and south carolina (also pretty bad).  They lost to umass, auburn, and arkansas, plus florida state.
  • notre dame (1-2 ACC, 10-6 overall): Everyone expected doom and gloom when Grant, their leading scorer at 19 ppg, went out for the season.  They responded with a win at home over duke in their first ever ACC game.  But since they they at home to an average nc state team (77-70) and at georgia tech 74-69 (both teams lost their 2 other ACC contests).  That duke win doesn’t look as good considering duke is just 1-2 in ACC play now.  And even with Grant notre dame lost to indiana state (Bird wasn’t playing for them) and north dakota state at home.

opponents’ Best Player(s):

  • clemson: K.J. McDaniels – 6’6″ junior – if you remember K.J. from two years ago, he can flat out jump out of the arena.  He is the most explosive leaper in the ACC.  But he has become a much more well-rounded player and now shoots 37% on 3-pointers (20/54).  He leads the team in PPG (17), rebounds (7.1), steals (1.1) and blocks (2.9).  He reminds me of Josh Smith on defense and can block a lot of shots as a trailer on breaks, or just go up and out-jump someone and reject them in the lane.
    • K.J. is in the top 10 in the ACC in points, rebounds, field goal %, free throw %, and leads the ACC in blocks per game.  He’d be a fantasy stud if you are into that stuff.
  • notre dame: Garrick Sherman – 6’11″ senior and Eric Atking – 6’2″ senior - Both irish seniors have stepped up a ton since Grant’s injury (19 ppg).  In the four games since the injury, Sherman has averaged 16.3 ppg and 12 rebounds, including 21/18 in a loss to nc state!  He will likely give the Hokies fits in the low post given Tech’s lack of beef (weight/muscle) with Raines riding pine, and even Raines would give up a few inches to Sherman.  Atkins, meanwhile, has averaged 21 ppg and 7 assists in those 4 games, including 30 points against canisius and 11 assists in their win over duke.

Prediction: VT goes 1-1 this week

Yeah, I said it!  I think Tech will knock off the c-l-e-m-s-ohhhhh-n tigers at home Wednesday.  I think they “won’t take [clemson] lightly” and will be fired up after the embarassing loss to bc at home.  Tech’s won 3 in a row over clemson at home, including the last two seasons (when Tech only won 4 league games each year).  This is a prime game for a letdown from the tigers.  After losing to fsu by 15 at home on Thursday and scoring just 41 points, they beat duke by 13 (72-59) on Saturday at Littlejohn.  Combine that with a sterile road game and all the ingredients are there for a Hokie upset.  Yes, I realize Tech is offensively challenged and clemson has the #1 defense in the nation, but the tigers aren’t an offensive juggernaut, either.  I think the Hokies pull it out in a game in the 50s (the loser probably won’t make it out of the 40s).

The Hokies can beat notre dame, too, given that their leading scorer is out for the season.  So I’m hedging my bets and saying Tech wins one of two, with the more likely win being against clemson.  However, an 0-2 week is much more likely than a 2-0 week (you will hear me saying this every week for the rest of the season).  Go Hokies!

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Previews1 Comment

Plus-Minus Stats from the bc Game

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

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

Couple of things stand out:

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

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

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Home2 Comments

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

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