Tag Archive | "020809-ncstate"

Recap | Hokies Rally from 18 Down to Tame the pack in OT, 91-87


Box Score

About [bleeping] time… The Hokies finally got a close game to go their way today as they came back from down 18 points in the second half, and down 8 with less than two minutes to play, to beat n.c. state in overtime, 91-87.

It was also the first win for the Hokies over the pack since Jan. 15, 2005, when the good guys won 72-71 at the Cassell. The OT win was the eighth straight overtime win in ACC play for Virginia Tech, which improved to 15-7 overall, 5-3 in the ACC.

Senior A.D. Vassallo scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half and OT; Jeff Allen had 21 points, 8 rebounds; Malcolm Delaney scored 18 points; and J.T. Thompson stepped up with 12 points off the bench.

The Hokies jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead, but it was all pack after that in the first half, using a 30-8 run to take a 16-32 lead midway through the first half. The Hokies responded with a 17-4 run of their own to cut the state lead to 33-36. In a game of runs, the pack answered with a 13-3 sprint to take a 49-35 halftime lead.

The Hokies continued to struggle early in the second half, falling behind by 18 points at 43-61 with less than 14 minutes to play. But in the span of just 27 seconds, the Hokies scored 8 quick points to cut the lead to 10.

The outburst began with a steal by Hank Thorns who appeared to have a clear path for an easy layup, but state’s Courtney Fells sped down the court and fouled Thorns from behind while blocking the shot. Fells, who has 9 inches and 60 pounds on Thorns, made contact and sent the smaller Hokie flying face-first into the padded base of the basket. The ref called an intentional foul, even though it clearly was not (I’ll get to the officiating later).

Dorenzo Hudson came on to shoot the technical foul shots and made both. The Hokies inbounded the ball and got it to Hudson who drained a three from the right wing to cut the pack lead to 63-50. At the other end, Allen stole the ball from Dennis Horner and fed Delaney on the left wing for an uncontested trey to cut the lead down to 53-63.

From there, the Hokies kept within reach of the pack and were trailing by eight with under two minutes to play. Tech used a Thompson layup and four foul shots from Delaney to pull within two. After a pair of missed free throws by state’s Horner, Vassallo drilled a baseline jumper with 17 seconds left to tie the game at 76 and sending it into overtime.

Fueled by a monster 18-point comeback in the second half and by the energy of the Cassell crowd, the Hokies took over the extra session. They grabbed a quick 4-point lead and never looked back, though it did get a little scary toward the end. Though his stats don’t look all that impressive, Terrell Bell played a solid game defensively and led the Hokies in OT.

After Vassallo gave Tech a 78-76 lead, Bell blocked Fells’ shot at the top of the key, grabbed the ball and took it the other way for a layup and a 4-point Hokie lead. With about a minute to play in OT, Bell had a key assist to Allen along the baseline for the hoop and the foul. Allen completed the 3-point play to put Tech up 85-80.

The pack kept it close with a pair of clutch treys from Javier Gonzalez, but Vassallo hit four foul shots in the final 17 seconds to close out the game and snap Tech’s two-game skid. The win also snapped Tech’s six-game losing streak to state, and Tech’s nightmarish string of close losses.

The Officiating

Back to the refs. The officiating was questionable at best in this game, particularly late in the first half when the Hokies got called for two fouls within nine seconds of each other and neither one was a foul. The first was on Victor Davila, who was called for a foul even though he had position and his hands were straight up in the air. That foul ignited the crowd into deafening cascades of “boos”, and Seth Greenberg exploded off the sideline to contest the call.

The official nearest Seth gave him a warning, but Seth continued to seethe and stalk the sideline. The pack’s Tracy Smith missed the second of two foul shots, but state rebounded the ball. While trying to guard Brandon Costner, Delaney was thrown to the floor by the much bigger Costner, and when the whistle sounded, Hokie fans started to cheer, but the official immediately pointed to Delaney and the chorus of boos began again.

This time, Seth had to be restrained by his assistants as he screamed at the officials, who quickly gave Seth a technical foul. It didn’t deter Seth, as he continued to yell while his assistants continued to stand between him and the refs. After the first half, Greenberg waited for the officials to walk off the court, but they motioned for Seth to leave the court, which he did, but not before a few choice words. Only after Seth was gone did the officials leave.

The Fells foul on Thorns in the second half was called an intentional foul, but after watching the replay, it clearly was not. The refs reviewed it at the scorer’s table and still called it intentional. That led to five points for the Hokies.

Neither coach was happy with the officiating in this game, but then again, when was the last time a coach in any sports was thrilled with the officiating?

Virginia Tech returns to action in the Cassell on Wednesday night at 7 PM, hosting georgia tech. The game is scheduled for ESPNU, so for many of us not able to attend, and not able to get ESPNU on Comcast, it will be time to find a barstool and belly up. georgia tech is struggling through an abysmal season at 1-8 in conference and 10-12 overall.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Recaps, GamesComments (2)

Preview | nc state (12-8, 2-5) @ VT (14-7, 4-3) | Sun., 1:30 PM


THE SETUP

The Opposing View  |  Old School nc state Brick of the Game

Superman has kryptonite, Achilles has his heel, Niemo has that cafeteria chicken salad wrap he ate for lunch, the Weekend Warrior has Wild Turkey bourbon, uva has, well, anything VT, and the Virginia Tech basketball team has the nc state wolfpack.  Since Tech joined the ACC, nc state is just 28-43 (under 40%) in ACC regular season play, yet five of those 28 wins have come against the Hokies.  nc state also ruined VT’s chance of reaching the ACC Tournament Finals by defeating the Hokies in the Semi-Finals of the 2007 ACC Tournament, even though state was just 5-11 during the ACC regular season that year with two of those five victories against the Hokies (yes, they beat Tech three times in probably Tech’s best basketball season ever and one of state’s worst).

It is bad enough to lose to nc state over and over again, but the games haven’t even been close for the most part.  In Tech’s six losses, they have lost by an average of 13 points.  And VT’s lone win was by just a point, where the Hokies overcame a late 10-point deficit.

Well, I’m here to tell you people: this crap ends Sunday!  Enough is enough.  I’m tired of losing to the worst coach in the ACC, Sidney Lowe, and his bright red sport coat that would make a pimp throw up.  You heard it here: the Hokies are neutering the pack on Sunday!

Niemo’s News & Notes 6-Pack:

  • Tech is trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.  They have lost two in a row twice.
  • Of the top-nine Hokie scoring efforts in an ACC game, Delaney’s 37 against clemson last week marks the only time the Hokies have lost one of those games.
  • With a win, Tech will clinch a winning record at home this season.  Tech has only had a losing record once at the Cassell in its 48-year history (ricky stokes was the coach).
  • Delaney is fourth in the ACC in scoring with 18.5 ppg.
  • A win Sunday would put VT at 5-3 at the halfway point of the ACC season, the same mark they had last year.
  • Vassallo is sixth in the ACC in scoring with 18.0 ppg.

THE SERIES

Warning!  It ain’t pretty…

  • All-Time: 10-34
  • At the Cassell: 1-3
  • In the ACC: 1-6
  • Streak: nc state six in a row
  • Last Meeting: 2/5/08 – nc state 73, VT 63 (Recap)
  • Of Note: The Hokies have not won at nc state since 1917.  After winning the first two road games in the series, Tech has dropped 19 in a row.  The wolfpack are one of just two ACC teams that VT hasn’t beaten on the road since joining the ACC.  fsu is the other.  Luckily, this game isn’t in Raleigh.

LINEUPS

Virginia Tech

Position

Player

Height

PPG

Year

Point Guard

23 – Delaney

6′3″

18.5

So

Shooting Guard

40 – Vassallo

6′6″

18.1

Sr

Small Forward

33 – Thompson

6′6″

4.5

So

Power Forward

0 – Allen

6′7″

14.4

So

Center

14 – Davila

6′8″

4.1

Fr

Bench

1 – Bell

6′6″

2.5

So

 

5 – Hudson

6′5″

3.4

So

 

10 – Thorns

5′9″

2.9

So

 

21 – Witcher

6′9″

2.4

Jr

34 – Diakite

6′9″

3.7

Sr

 nc state

Position

Player

Height

PPG

Year

Point Guard

12 – Degand

6′3″

4.9

Jr

Shooting Guard

4 – Fells

6′6″

11.8

Sr

Small Forward

23 – T. Smith

6′8″

8.2

So

Power Forward

33 – Costner

6′9″

15.0

Jr

Center

34 – McCauley

6′9″

12.9

Sr

Bench

10 – Gonzalez

5’11″

3.4

So

 

15 – Ferguson

6’5″

5.8

Jr

 

24 – Mays

6’2″

4.5

Fr

 

30 – Thomas

6′5″

2.3

Fr

 

31 – Horner

6′9″

5.3

Jr

Depending on if state goes big or small to start, Ferguson could get the nod over Tracy Smith and begin the game at the two, moving Fells to the three — this is their smaller lineup.

THE OPPONENT

  • ACC Tournament Titles: 10 (third most in the ACC by far)
  • Last Title: 1987

nc state is a bad road team.  They are 1-5 on opposing home courts this season, including five losses in a row.  Their lone win was at uno (new orleans).  The pack did play davidson and florida tough away from Raleigh, but have lost their last three road games to clemson, duke, and bc by double digits.

I’ll let Steven from Section Six (nc state blog) break down the pack team in detail.  Here’s what he said in our Q&A:

Niemo: What are the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s wolfpack squad?
 
Steven: Pretty much what they’ve been throughout the Lowe era. At the offensive end, we shoot reasonably well, but we turn the ball over too much. We were offensive rebounding well in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but we’ve slid predictably in conference play. Defensively, we’re among the worst teams in the country at forcing turnovers, and we give up a lot of second chance opportunities.
 
Niemo: Tell me about your players.
 
Steven: Brandon Costner has regained much of his form from two years ago, and he does a little bit of everything — he’s a pretty good rebounder and passer, and will block some shots, in addition to scoring. He has a tendency to score 3-4 buckets in a row and then promptly disappear for long stretches. But some of that is on the coaching staff.

Ben McCauley has also had a bounce-back year shooting the basketball, and he is rebounding better than he has at any point in his career. Courtney Fells remains an enigma, scoring effortlessly in some games while being a complete non-factor in others. He’s prone to poor decisions, be they shots with a hand in his face or lazy passes.

Julius Mays has been a pleasant surprise at the point, playing about as well as could reasonably be expected. But he’s not much of a factor at the offensive end, and neither is Farnold Degand, the other point guard. Both have had turnover problems.

Though not so much of late, Tracy Smith has been an excellent high-energy contributor off the bench. He’s an outstanding offensive rebounder.
 
Niemo: This might predate most people reading this column, but on the TV show Dallas I’m pretty sure they had a season without J.R. Ewing (he was supposedly dead), then brought him back and pretended like that previous season was just a dream. For some reason, that’s how I look at this year’s nc state team. It is almost like last year, with J.J. Hickson playing for you guys, didn’t really happen and now you’re back to basically the same team you had two years ago except for Atsur and Grant. Agree?
 
Steven: In the sense that Courtney Fells, Brandon Costner, and Ben McCauley are once again the team’s primary sources of production, that’s true, but there is one big difference: the lack of a competent distributor at the point. Engin Atsur really complemented those guys well — McCauley in particular — and we’re missing that. 

For more, see The Opposing View.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Big 3 > Dynamic Duo: Two years ago, Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley killed the Hokies.  McCauley averaged 15 ppg and 6 rpg in the pack’s three wins.  Costner went for 11 ppg and 7 rpg.  Last year, only McCauley played and had just eight points, but that team was the J.J. Hickson show. 

This year’s state team is much more like two years ago.  Costner and McCauley are averaging 28 ppg and 14 rpg this year to lead the wolfpack.  The Hokies are going to have to limit their points.  Costner is solid with his back to the basket or facing up, while McCauley is better in the low post.  Both are terrific passers.  Ben used to be the better passer, but Costner is averaging an impressive 2.5 apg this season, good for second on the team.  Tech must guard Costner on the perimeter — he has attempted 82 three-pointers at a 37% clip.

Vassallo and Allen had good games last year (31 points combined), but Delaney was a no-show.  He had just four points on 1/5 shooting.  He must abuse the poor nc state defense this year.

Attack the pack: nc state is not a good defensive team.  In ACC play, they are dead last in field-goal-percentage defense and 10th in scoring defense.  Costner and McCauley are good on offense, but can be lazy on D and aren’t very athletic.  Plus, their guards have trouble shutting down talented opponents.  Delaney needs to attack the paint and either score or look for an open teammate.  Or,since state is used to collapsing the lane on help defense, Delaney’s teammates (Vassallo or Allen off a pick and pop) should be open on the perimeter for a three.  Allen should be able to beat McCauley or Costner.  Tracy Smith is a high-energy guy in the low post for state that could present more problems for Jeff.

On offense, state is last in scoring offense.  They don’t have a lot of consistent productivity beyond Costner and McCauley.  Focus on these guys and force someone else to beat you.  Courtney Fells is a good long range shooter, hitting 41% of his threes.  He doesn’t get to the hoop much, and therefore doesn’t get to the line much.  state does not have a quality slasher that can get to the hoop and create points.

In the intangibles, the pack are dead last in rebounding margin and 11th in turnover margin.  The Hokies need to pressure the ball.  state lacks an experienced point guard.  Also, Costner will force passes at times leading to turnovers, and he can be stripped (Allen) when he’s on the perimeter.

The Past is History: Tech has lost six in a row to nc state.  Big deal.  The Hokies are a better team than nc state and this game is in the Cassell.  Tech will be well rested in this one, having had eight days off.  The Hokies may be a little rusty at first, but Delaney and Vassallo should have fresh legs in this one, which perhaps has been an issue of late at times.  If VT can get off to a decent start, they should be fine.

Posted in 2008-09 Season, Game Previews, GamesComments (0)


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