Posted on 22 November 2008.
Posted on 21 November 2008.
Recap of the Keys to the Game:
Bottom Line: This is a heartbreaker but Tech dug their own hole by not putting this game away in regulation. The Hokies must find ways to score late in close games. Until then, these resume building wins will continue to elude them. The wisconsin game in 10 days has even more importance now, as it gives Tech a great chance at an out-of-conference quality win at home.
Posted on 21 November 2008.
The Virginia Tech Hokies lost their first game of the season on a heartbreaking half-court buzzer beater at the end of overtime against xavier, 63-62 in the semi-finals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. It was duke 2005 all over again.
With the game tied at 60, Dorenzo Hudson missed a short jumper from the right side, but Jeff Allen, who led all scorers with 22 points, was there for the tip-in to put the Hokies ahead 62-60 with 1.9 seconds left. The musketeers inbounded the ball to Dante Jackson who took a few steps before heaving a half-court shot that banked off the glass and in as the buzzer sounded. Game over.
It’s hard to pin this loss on the buzzer beater because the Hokies had several opportunities to put this game away in regulation. Following a Malcolm Delaney trey with 5:11 left in the game, Tech went scoreless for the remainder of regulation. Tech had a 52-45 lead at that point, but the offensive drought allowed xavier to crawl back into the game.
With the game tied at 52 and 46.6 seconds left on the clock, Delaney, one of Tech’s most reliable free throw shooters, missed both shots that would have have given Tech the lead and likely the win.
Tech used a 14-4 run early in the second half to build a 10-point lead, but squandered it with poor shot selection, turnovers and ill-timed fouls. But, Seth Greenberg called a timeout and settled them down. Tech actually played pretty well against a xavier team that went to the Elite Eight back in March. Had it not been for the late second-half no show for the offense, Tech would have won this game.
In many respects, it’s a wonder they were even in it at all considering A.D. Vassallo scored only four points in the game on 2-13 shooting. Vassallo, who had been averaging better than 19 points a game, never got into a rhythm thanks to xavier’s aggressive defense that often double-teamed Tech’s perimeter shooters the entire game.
Allen led the Hokies with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Delaney added 15 points and 5 assists. Hudson was the only other Hokie to score in double figures – he had 10 points. Allen continues to show his improved range and accuracy hitting on 1 of 2 three point attempts.
This was a tough loss for the boys, but hopefully one that they can use a chip on their shoulder. But they really needed a quality win against a quality opponent this early in the season. This could come back to haunt Tech come tournament selection time. Next up, a consolation game against the loser of tonight’s other semifinal game between seton hall and memphis. More than likely Tech will face seton hall, which won’t help their RPI much.
I’ll leave the rest to Niemo.
Posted on 19 November 2008.
SEMI-FINAL OPPONENT – xavier (Friday, 1:30 PM EST – ESPNU)
Finally, the Virginia Tech Hokies will face a team that, according to preseason rankings and expectations, is on par with them. xavier is sitting at 29th in both polls while VT is 33/39. This game is a resume builder. A win here will look great come March selection time, considering xavier is picked to win the A-10 and has made three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, going 4-3 in that time. In reality, the Hokies would be happy with one quality win in this tournament. That just got a little harder since seton hall stunned #19/20 usc last night. That means if Tech loses to xavier, they would likely play seton hall, which wouldn’t necessarily be a quality win even if the Hokies beat them in the 3rd place game. So I guess there’s only one thing left to do – win the whole [darn] thing!
Both teams are coming off seasons in which they made the final eight of a postseason tournament – the difference is for the musketeers, that tournament was the NCAA (30-7 overall) while it was the NIT for Tech. But while VT returns eight of their top nine players, xavier lost three of their top six scorers (including #1 and #3) and their top two point guards.
The Hokies must exploit xavier’s inexperience at guard. Tech needs to really put pressure on them on the perimeter and keep the musketeers from feeding the ball inside. Dante Jackson will start at the point, but he is more of a shooting guard. Terrell Holloway, a freshman, will spell Jackson or Dante will shift to the 2. Holloway is more of a true point but will be playing just his fourth collegiate game Friday. He did break out with 12 in their 75-71 win against mizzou.
Unlike VT, who gets 75% of their points from their Big 3 (Vassallo, Allen, and Delaney), xavier’s strength is their balance, especially on the wing and inside. Derrick Brown (PF) and C.J. Anderson (G/F) were both All A-10 Preseason selections and are averaging 11.3 and 9 points per game respectively. Another wing, B.J. Raymond is averaging 11 points per game. Four other players are averaging between 6 and 9 points per game. That means everyone, even A.D. Vassallo, must chip in on the defensive end.
Keys to the Game:
Probability of a VT Win: 40% (I’d have called it 50/50 if VT had J.T.)
01/07 vs. syracuse, 9 p.m., ACCN
01/11 vs. boston college, noon, RSN
01/15 vs. clemson, 7 p.m., RSN
01/19 @ notre dame, 6 p.m., ESPNU
01/22 vs. wake forest, 7 p.m., RSN
01/25 @ virginia, 3 p.m., ACCN
01/29 @ boston college, 7 p.m., RSN
02/01 vs. maryland, noon, ACCN
02/05 @ florida state, 9 p.m., RSN
02/08 @ pittsburgh, noon, RSN
02/15 vs. miami, 6 p.m., RSN
02/18 vs. virginia, 9 p.m., ACCN
02/22 vs. nc state, 2 p.m., RSN
02/25 @ duke, 7 p.m, ESPNU
03/01 vs. north carolina, 2:30 p.m, ACCN
03/04 @ maryland, 8 p.m., ACCN
03/08 @ georgia tech, 2 p.m, ESPN/ESPN2