Nice victories by the Hokies and the heels last night (I had two victory Scotches — Glenlivet XII — one for the Hokies and one for the end of uva’s bowl hopes).
Let’s dive into my tale of the tape…
- Rebounding: GRADE = A… Tech held vmi without an offensive rebound in the first half last night despite missing 14 three-pointers (which tend to lead to long rebounds and more offensive rebounds). That’s amazing. Yes, vmi grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in the 2nd half, but a lot of that was after the outcome had been decided. Tech still gathered 78% of vmi’s misses, which is a very good ratio. Cadarian Raines had his 2nd straight double-double, and is now tied with Eddie averaging 8.7 rebounds per game. And van Zegeren chipped in 8 rebounds. Tech has improved exponentially in this area in the last two games, though they are playing smaller opponents. But trending up is a good thing.
- 3-Point Shooting: GRADE = A+… Tech is hitting 40% of their 3-pointers on the year (including 11/24 last night), and their opponents’ are hitting just 16%. That’s assault, brother! Green and Johnston are at 50%, and Eddie and Brown are at 41%. Tech is taking good shots from the outside, and hitting them.
- Be Fun: GRADE = A… Three or four dunks last night and 21 fast break points. Part of that was vmi’s aggressive defense and the fact it is easy to get outlet passes off missed 3s, but still, Tech took advantage. Tell me you aren’t having a lot more fun watching this team than in past years.
- The Bench: GRADE = B/F… B for early in the game (both Wood and van Zegeren played very well and were around +20 leading up to the final 5 minutes of the game, and Johnston nailed 3 big 3s), but when the walk-ons came in the wheels came off. vmi went on a 16-0 run as soon as VT cleared their bench. But I would focus more on the B than the F here since the walk-ons, other than Johnston, wouldn’t have played in a close game.
- Balance: GRADE = A… All 5 starters reached double digits, Johnston had 9 and Wood 6 off the bench. That’s balance. No more games of Delaney with half our points… at least for now.
- Overall: GRADE = A… You can tell the guys are playing loose but still playing hard (a tough combo to reach). Guys aren’t afraid to take shots early in the shot clock for fear of getting pulled. And everyone is working hard on defense – that is why opponents are shooting such a low % from deep — guys are hustling out to get a hand in their face. Give JJ a solid A so far.
- Erick Green – man, does he look dominate right now. He is deadly shooting 3s from the corner, his pull-up jumper is automatic, and he is finishing his drives which is something he struggled with in past years (he got to the line but couldn’t finish a lot). His offensive game is great all around right now.
- Cadarian Raines – Tech did a better job of involving him last night. He looks as sharp as he did last year at the end of the year on offense (that spin-a-rama was sweet). The biggest good news is how much his rebounding has improved — two straight double-doubles, the first two of his career.
- Jarell Eddie – man, does he have a sweet shot. His penetration game is still a work in progress but when he has an open look, put 3 on the board and head back on defense. And as with Raines, he is doing an amazing job on the glass (8.7 rebounds per game).
- C.J. Barksdale – it was good to see him play well against vmi. He had 2 points on the season coming in, but tallied 11 last night on 4/8 shooting and with 6 rebounds. Hopefully the light is coming on… and any nagging injuries are healing.
- Robert Brown – His game is close to Green’s offensively, he just doesn’t get to touch the ball as much. Outside shooting is fantastic, pull-up jumpers are nearly automatic, and he’s a decent finisher but that will improve with time.
- Marquis Rankin – It was good to see him on the court as he gets back from all the emotion he likely had to deal with for his family matters. But he was clearly rusty last night – 2 turnovers in 3 minutes and a -16 rating. Luckily, Tech has time to ease him back in. It will be interesting to see how he has progressed from freshman to sophomore.
- Marshall Wood – Nice to see him hit a couple of 3s after starting 0/8 on the season. He was aggressive last night though not quite as aggressive as he was against rhode island. Tech needs that fire every night when he’s in.
- Joey van Zegeren – Really nice game from him last night – 2 dunks, 8 rebounds, and another block in 18 minutes. He is playing with a higher motor than I expected and is a lurking shot-blocker in the paint. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with his game.
- Will Johnston – 3 made 3s off the bench – that’s huge. Even if he only plays a few minutes, if he can come in and be a ‘microwave’ with a quick 3, he could contribute. And Tech could go zone while he is in to minimize his defensive and rebounding weaknesses and play him on the wing.