OK, let’s get right to the tale of the tape from Tech’s tantalizing victory on Monday:
- Rebounding: GRADE = B-… This was a giant weakness in the opener but Tech was much improved on Monday night. VT grabbed 71% of rhode island’s missed shots, and snared 29% of their own misses. That’s a solid ratio, and against a taller team than etsu. Still not great but definitely an improvement. And the guys were clearly working harder on the glass, especially Raines (12 boards), van Zegeren (6 rebounds), and Wood (3 boards).
- Defense: GRADE = B+… Hokies absolutely took Malesevic, who had 26 in uri’s opener and 24 vs VT last year, out of the game. Kudos to the Tech bigs on that (Barksdale started out covering him then it was a lot of Marshall Wood). Malesevic made just 1 FG and had just 6 points. uri was just 1/21 behind the arc and shot just 33% for the game. VT also blocked 9 shots, including 4 by Wood, after getting just 1 block total in the opener. The lone negative was they let Munford beat them off the dribble regularly (he was 10/13 on drives).
- Be Fun and Up Tempo: GRADE = B… Another alley oop! It failed, again, but you know if Seth was still in charge we’d have never seen another alley oop after the first one failed. The guys are playing loose, without fear of being yanked for taking a questionable shot. The Hokies did look to push the ball up the court just like in the first game, but also seemed to bleed more of the shot clock then I’d like at times. That led to a couple of scoring lulls, including the entire second media timeout sequence. By my count, Tech had 64 possessions on Monday compared to 70 in the opener, so that tells you things weren’t quite as quick (I don’t think uri was bleeding the clock anymore than etsu).
- Feeding the Post: GRADE = D… Raines was on last night but we simply didn’t feed him the ball enough. When a team is transitioning to more up-tempo, it can be hard to settle for setting up the offense and feeding your bigs, but you have to do it. Raines is a real talent and needs touches. Tech’s offense needs to work to get him the ball more inside and let the big man work.
- EG – I take back what I said after Game 1 – he has improved and looks fantastic. Through 2 games he has 46 total points, 10 assists to just 4 turnovers, and is shooting 54% from the field. Erick looks much better at finishing off the drive (thank you, Chris Paul). The only negative is I’ve always hated his free throw rhythm – he holds the ball so long and seems to put so much pressure on himself thinking about it (Karl Malone-ish), and is just 13/20 on the year. I wish he’d quicken his rhythm, but it is a little late for that.
- Robert Brown – Had some troubles with Munford’s quickness on defense, but Brown is a fantasic offensive player. He really has a complete offensive game – 3s, pull-ups, driving. I’d like to see him drive more but for a sophomore, he’s really stepped up.
- Jarell Eddie – Almost had his 2nd straight double-double with 9 points and 8 rebounds. He’s giving great effort on the defensive glass and really positions himself well. Had 2 blocks and just 1 foul, so he’s playing smarter on defense.
- Cadarian Raines – I thought his post moves looked rusty in the opener but they were sharp last night. Had a nice lefty hook in the 2nd half and later followed it up with a turn to the baseline and a righty baby hook. Also added a career high 12 rebounds. He has to be a great rebounder for Tech, and was last night.
- C.J. Barksdale – After just taking 1 shot in Game 1, I thought we’d see the improved C.J. we’ve heard about in Game 2 after he hit a jumper on Tech’s opening possession… Those were his only points of the game (and season) and he grabbed just 1 rebound while playing just 12 minutes (Marshall Wood played 28). Not sure what’s going on, but the light ain’t on right now.
- Marshall Wood – Very solid game. 4 blocks and 2 nice, acrobatic layups inside. His motor was running high last night and that was great to see. He plays tougher than most freshmen. The problem is he still hasn’t hit a 3-pointer — 0/5 last night and 0/8 on the season. Wood has no fear, though, and launches whenever he has any opening. You gotta think they’ll start falling at some point, and you don’t want hesitation, but maybe he should consider a pump-fake and put the ball on the floor and drive – we saw he could finish inside.
- Joey van Zegeren – Solid night, also. Only had 1 official block but was battling inside all night. Grabbed 6 rebounds in just 12 minutes. Got lost on defense at one point that allowed uri a dunk, but his effort is there, which is all you can ask.
- Marquis Rankin – on the bench but did not play as he transitions back from attending family funerals.
- The Walk-Ons – not as successful as in the opener. Johnston couldn’t slow Munford down at all on help defense but did hit a nice 3-pointer, and Patrick struggled running the point. The latter will be resolved when Rankin returns to action. But the two walk-ons that played averaged a +/- of -9.5 tonight, and that’s not a good sign when you win by 19.