Archive for January, 2012

How many times have you heard this story before: the Hokies start slow but manage to battle back in the second half to make it a competitive game.  Tech loses by less than 4 points and then gets credited for their heart and determination in a loss.  Hokie fans are then left to wonder what could have been had Tech been able to make a shot in the first half.

And yes, I’m exactly describing today’s game against Maryland in that first paragraph.

To put it in perspective, the Hokies had 5 field goals in the last 35 seconds of the second half; Tech made 6 field goals in the ENTIRE first half.  This is Virginia Tech basketball.

The final score was 73-69.  The score at halftime was 32-19.  After some quick math (69-19), I deduce the Hokies scored 50, I repeat, 50 points in the second half!

It’s baffling how polarizing this team is.  In the first 20 minutes today it was like watching a JV team play the varsity squad in high school.  In the second half it was like I was watching ACC basketball.  Oh wait…

All negativity aside, props to Seth Greenberg for benching Dorian Finney-Smith to start the game.  He’s clearly hit the freshman plateau and he was hurting the team.  In his place was Cadarian Raines, who didn’t quite have a great game today.  One of the biggest problems in the first half for the Hokies was a lack of rhythm.  Tech tried to work inside out on offense which is something they haven’t been able to do all season.  Tech looked lost and so did Cadarian; it just didn’t gel.

Once Tech started hitting shots in the second half though, this was a new ballgame.  Erick Green was playing smart for the most part, the turnovers were limited and Victor Davila played a hell of a half (10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block).  The problem is that once Tech started hitting shots, so did Maryland; more specifically, Terrell Stoglin started hitting shots.  Stoglin finished with a game high 28 points, 21 of which were in the second half.  Every time Tech pulled the game within 5 or 6 points, Stoglin was there to hit a huge shot and take the wind out of the sails.

These games sting; they hurt to lose so damn much.  This is not only Tech’s 6th loss in the last 7 games, but every game outside of the UNC whooping have been within 4 points.  This team is so close but it always seems like a big mistake or a slow start hold them back.  I actually feel bad for Greenberg on days like today.  It’s not his fault the players can’t hit shots; it’s not his fault that Dorian Finney-Smith can’t buy a basket; it’s not his fault that Robert Brown fouls Maryland shooters late in the game with no time left on the shot clock for 3 free-throws; these aren’t things he can control. Either way, he’s going to feel the heat from this streak that the Hokies find themselves in.

While Seth is experimenting with the lineup, he might as well try some different things.  TeaBagPaulus919 on Twitter has a suggestion:

Want to see this lineup next game: Rankin, PG; Green, SG; Brown, SF; Eddie, PF; Davila, C.

What else does Greenberg have to lose?

Tech falls to 12-9 on the season and 1-5 in ACC play.  Next up: The Dookies on Feb 2 at Cassell.

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The Hokies started off tonight as bad as they have played all season against the Brigham Young Cougars Stormin’ Mormons.  After 10 minutes of play in the first half, the Hokies had a total of 3 points.  The problem?  Starting off 0-15 shooting from the field typically isn’t good.  Once the Hokies started making some shots though, they started making big shots.  In fact, the Hokies shot 64% in the 2nd half of tonight’s game after shooting less than 30% in the first half.

The biggest problem that plagued Virginia Tech tonight is the same problem that has plagued them all season – finishing.

After being down most of the game, the Hokies battled back and managed to get a 6 point lead about halfway through the second half.  In Virginia Tech fashion though, the Hokies proceeded to let BYU go on a 10-0 run and take a 4 point lead.  It was back and forth from then on out.  Virginia Tech and BYU traded baskets and individually were tied up 66 apiece with 48 seconds left in the game.

It was at that point that I began to think that the Hokies actually had a decent chance to win the game.  It was promptly after I began thinking those thoughts when BYU’s Brock Zylstra hit a huge three-pointer to put BYU up 69-66.  That three-pointer was Zylstra’s first points of the game – with 26 seconds left.  Clutch.

After a costly turnover by Dorenzo Hudson and a foul to try and save time, BYU only made 1-2 free throws.  Off the miss of the second free-throw, Erick Green drove coast to coast and made an easy layup.  After a timeout by the Hokies, BYU attempted to inbound the ball, but it was deflected and ruled out on BYU.  Hokie ball.

And then Virginia Tech pulled a Virginia Tech and failed miserably on their last offensive possession.  After inbounding the ball past halfcourt and getting it almost stolen, Erick Green tried to drive to the hoop.  Naturally, it got blocked but the Hokies recovered.  This resulted in some frantic passing until Robert Brown chucked up a three-pointer with 2 seconds left.  He missed and the Hokies lost 70-68.

Turnovers killed the Hokies tonight, plain and simple.  Tech turned the ball over 15 times; that’s one more turnover than Tech had assists.  Robert Brown, Jarell Eddie and Dorenzo Hudson each turned the ball over 3 times.  BYU had 23 points off Virginia Tech turnovers. That stat alone could explain the Hokies’ loss tonight, but there’s one more big aspect that I feel needs touching upon…again.

I hate harping on this over and over and, more specifically, I hate pointing fingers at one player, but Dorian Finney-Smith has been a total non-factor lately.  In 18 minutes tonight, Doe-Doe went 0-8 from the field and finished the 0 points.  Finney-Smith  only grabbed 4 rebounds, had 1 assist and stole 1 ball.  Doe-Doe managed to pick up 4 fouls in his time on the court too.  This is the second straight game that Doe has picked up a lot of fouls in few minutes.  Moreover, his lack of offensive production is proving to be very detrimental to this team.  The best representation of Doe’s entire season happened tonight too.  Finney-Smith went up for what would have been a SportsCenter Top-10 worthy dunk but left his feet a bit too early and short armed the dunk.  The ball proceeded to rim off and BYU pulled down the rebound.

I don’t know what Finney-Smith needs to do to get better, because if I did, I would probably be making a pretty good salary right now as a coach for the team.  I know Finney-Smith leads the Hokies in rebounds and has one of the higher rebounding totals in the ACC, but I think it’s time to take him out of the starting lineup.  Now might be the time to experiment with a 3 guard lineup by bringing Hudson back off the bench.  This change is less than ideal but Finney-Smith is proving to be a drain on this team in general.  He isn’t scoring and he’s racking up fouls which leads to other teams scoring points.  What he’s doing just isn’t working right now and something has to change.

Outside of all of that, this team just simply needs to execute better.  They need to keep fighting down low for rebounds and they need to watch the turnovers.  Excluding UNC and Syracuse, the Hokies have 6 losses by a combined 20 points.  Of those 6 losses, 4 were by 3 points or less.  The Hokies are close, but close doesn’t count in basketball.  Tech has to close these games out; and until they learn how to close, they will continue to lose these close games.

Tech sits now at 12-8 on the season.  The Hokies play at Maryland this Saturday at 2:30 PM.

A Win Is A Win Is A Win

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Men's Basketball

It’s about damn time.

I’ll say that again – It’s about damn time.

The Hokies finally earned their first ACC win of the season and it’s just a little bit sweeter because it came against in-state rival UVA. This was the Hokies’ first road win against a ranked team since 2009 when Tech upset No. 12 Clemson.  This was also the fewest points that Tech has scored in a win since 1997.  Most importantly though, this is a huge win for the Hokies and there is a lot of good to take away from this game.

For starters, the Hokies were able to contain UVA’s best player, Mike Scott.  In 36 minutes of playing time, Scott only scored 10 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.  This was the biggest question coming into the game, whether or not Tech would be able to slow Scott down.  If the Hokies managed to slow Scott down, I thought Tech had a chance.  Well they did manage to slow Scott down, and they did have a chance.  And for the first time all season, they took advantage of that chance.

Secondly, I’m extremely impressed with Dorenzo Hudson.  It would have been very easy for him to get discouraged coming off the bench in the past two games, but instead of moping about, he’s trying to make the most out of his senior year.  Today Hudson scored 12 points off the bench, including the game winning three-pointer with 17 seconds left.  That bucket iced the game for the Hokies.

Lastly, despite the Wahoo’s stellar defense, the Hokies managed to shoot above 40% for the first time in five games.  It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Hokies did manage to shoot 45% from the field and 39% from three.  Tech didn’t score a lot of points but neither team did.  That’s a credit to UVA’s defense and Virginia Tech’s resiliency all at once.  UVA is a very good team, but their style of play lends itself to close games against good teams.  They will win a lot of games this season, but they will also lose some games that they shouldn’t because of their snails pace.  Today was one of those days.

All of that aside, there are still some major issues with this team.  Doe-Doe doesn’t fit into this offense at all.  He was held scoreless on 1 shot today and only pulled down 1 rebound in 17 minutes of play.  I’m not entirely sure how Greenberg can work Finney-Smith into the offense, but he has to try something.  Also, Tech has to do a better job getting to the free-throw line.  UVA shot 22 free-throws today while Virginia Tech shot 7.  This speaks to a lack of aggression from the forwards and a lack of ability to work the ball inside.  Neither of these two things should surprise anyone who has watched this team at length this season.  It’s no secret that this team is fairly soft.

Not one Virginia Tech fan should be uttering the phrase “NCAA Tournament” or any variation of it at this point in the season because that’s not realistic.  The goal should be to get better as a team and to show improvement.  Today has the potential to be a big stepping stone for a young team.  I’m hoping Seth Greenberg is able to keep the team motivated moving forward and can continue to improve little by little each game.  This team doesn’t have bad players, but they need an identity.  Tech ran a lot of plays today with a smaller lineup on the court and played from the perimeter in. If Tech plans to be a perimeter heavy team, so be it, but the Hokies need to go ahead and embrace it.

This is a nice way to rebound from the collapse against UNC, but the team needs to stay focused.  Winning 47-45 on the road against No. 17 UVA won’t salvage this season, but it’s a damn good way to build some confidence in this team.  The Hokies now sit at 12-7 on the season and 1-4 in ACC play. Up next: The BYU Stormin’ Mormons Cougars.

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[Editors Note: My apologies for the bare layout so far on the site, still working on it and have a lot of placeholder things up right now.]

Okay let’s get this out of the way.  That wasn’t pretty and we all recognize that.  This whole season hasn’t necessarily been pretty either.

The theme of the game tonight was size.  UNC has it, Virginia Tech doesn’t.  That is the biggest problem with this team right now.  The guard play is usually pretty solid whether it be Erick Green, Dorenzo Hudson or even Robert Brown from time to time.  What we never know per game is how the forwards will play.

Victor Davila got manhandled down low by Tyler Zeller and it showed.  Zeller had 14 points and 11 rebounds while Davila had 2 points and 8 rebounds.  This isn’t to call out Vic either, because the other forwards were weak tonight too.  Doe-Doe (Dorian Finney-Smith) played arguably his worst game in a Virginia Tech uniform going 0-5 from the field, turning the ball over twice and amassing 5 fouls throughout the game.  After his putrid first half, Finney-Smith didn’t see much court time in the second.  Granted, Finney-Smith is a freshman and playing a team like UNC isn’t an easy task even for veteran players.  However, this type of play can’t be what Greenberg expected when he was recruiting Doe-Doe: He must get better.  C.J. Barksdale was constantly beaten on defense and had 0 points in 10 minutes.  Cadarian Raines contributed 2 points of his own in 15 minutes with only 2 rebounds on top of it.

Excluding Jarell Eddie, Tech’s forwards combined for 6 points.  That output just won’t cut it against a team with as much talent as UNC.  The sad thing is that there’s not a whole lot Seth Greenberg can do about it.  Against elite level players Tech is undersized, undermanned and over matched. You can say that Greenberg needs to recruit large players better, but that doesn’t help in the now.

Not to be completely negative, I want to give some props to Erick Green and Dorenzo Hudson.  Erick Green was pretty good tonight all things considered.  17 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals isn’t a bad night at the office.  Also, Dorenzo Hudson deserves some major props for his play in the first half.  He came off the bench and absolutely DE-LIV-ERED.  By the time the game was all said and done, Hudson had 16 points on 4-6 three-point shooting.  All of that was in the first half, but most of the Hokies’ points were anyway.

For the Tarheels, there’s nothing I can tell you that you don’t already know.  Zeller is good, Henson is good and Barnes is really good.  Those three players combined for 57 points; that’s 11 fewer points than the Hokies totaled all night. The Hokies had UNC in check with good shooting in the first half (8-16 three-point shooting), but UNC adjusted and made the Hokies keep shooting.  Tech just couldn’t realistically keep that pace up and UNC rolled.  A 19-0 run to start the second half would be the dagger in the game.

The final score tonight was 82-68.  For the fourth straight game, the Hokies shot less than 40% total from the floor.  It’s also the second time this season that the Hokies have led a top-10 team at the half and ended up losing by 10.  That other game was Syracuse in Madison Square Garden in the preseason NIT.   Where the Hokies go now, I don’t exactly know, but it would be hard to see it getting any worse — though I wouldn’t be surprised if it did after Sunday’s game against UVA.  Virginia Tech is 11-7 on the season and 0-4 in ACC play.  This is Tech’s worst start in conference play since the 05-06 season when the Hokies started 0-6 in ACC play.  That Tech team finished 4-12 in league play overall.  It’s hard to think that this team couldn’t muster at least 5 wins in the ACC, but the team hasn’t exactly given fans a reason to be hopeful.

Redesigning The Site

Posted: January 13, 2012 in Site News

If you haven’t noticed, I’m redesigning the site to be more organized and straightforward.  Any suggestions would be appreciated to what you would like to see me do or post.

I hope to have everything up and running again by next week.