Virginia Tech dropped a huge game today at Cameron Indoor Stadium in maybe the most heartbreaking way possible.

Free-throws.  It seems to always come down to free-throws.

The Hokies shot 43.8 percent from the free-throw line which translates into 7-16 in the game.  More specifically, Doe-Doe got to the line eight times during regulation and made just one free-throw.

Those are all very damning numbers.  Those numbers are made even worse when you consider that Virginia Tech took Duke into overtime. The score at the end of regulation was 58-58 and the final score was 70-65.

Free-throws make the difference.

It’s been that way lately for the Hokies, hasn’t it?  Virginia Tech missed free-throws down the stretch against UVA.  They couldn’t make any in the late collapse against FSU. Tech shot only 60% against Boston College.

Every game that Tech has played recently has been close.  Five points was the deficit today against Duke and that happens to be the biggest point differential in the Hokies’ last five games.  That’s a pretty telling stat.

It’s telling in a good way, though.  This team is pretty young but they’re hanging close with some good teams.  They’re playing the bad ACC teams close, which is disappointing, but at the end of the day, a win is a win for this collective group of players.

Today was a great chance for the Hokies to make a statement but at the end of the day the talent gap between Duke and Virginia Tech is just too great.

Both teams get a lot of credit for their performances today though.  Duke was coming off a road game against FSU only 36 hours ago and were clearly exhausted.  Austin Rivers, while he went off today, was visibly tired and his legs were fading quickly at the end of regulation.  Rivers hit some huge 3-pointers and made Erick Green look sloppy defensively in the first half. Rivers had a game-high 23 points for Duke. 

Speaking of Erick Green, he really had a terrible first half.  Defensively he was sloppy and on offense he couldn’t buy a basket.  Green was 0-6 shooting in the first half with a whopping zero total points.  Granted, Erick Green went off in the second half and extended his double-digit scoring streak to 30 games.  Green finished with 16 points but had he been able to get things going in the first half, there’s a good chance that Tech could have pulled off the upset.

I was incredibly impressed with the play of Cadarian Raines today against a big and very physical Duke front line.  Raines has been working his ass off in practice and it’s showing in his newly developed post game.  He’s making players get aggressive and bite on his pump-fakes while he scoops underneath them and lays the ball in.  He also seems to be taking some pages out of Davila’s skill set with the jump hook which is improving little by little.  I’m excited to see how he develops over the next two seasons.  He could be a great player for the Hokies come his senior year.  Today against the Blue Devils, Raines dropped 16 points and grabbed five rebounds.

In the end, Virginia Tech simply fought hard, period.  It’s not easy to go into Cameron Indoor Stadium and play Duke close.  It’s even harder to get them into overtime.  This team played with a lot of heart today and it’s a shame that missed free-throws and a rough first half from Erick Green cost the Hokies the game.

The Hokies fall to 15-14 on the season and 4-10 in the ACC.  Next up: Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum next Thursday at 9 PM.

Virginia Tech got a much needed 59-58 win over the ‘Hoos today in Cassell Coliseum.

Oh wait, no they didn’t.  The replay officials, of lack thereof I should say, dictated otherwise.  More on that in a minute…

The actual score, as it read on the scoreboard with the clock hitting 0:00, was 61-59 – UVA the victor.

The game was close, as have been the Hokies’ last four games.  Tech’s last four games have been decided by a total of five points.  The Hokies have gone 2-2 during that stretch.

Tonight’s game was expected to be a close one.  Given the fact that Tech had the home-court advantage and UVA’s style of ball allows for close games, the final score shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody.  UVA likes to play at a snails pace and they do a damn good job at keeping their opponents at that same pace.

Low scoring games lead to tight finishes usually, but UVA has thrived off of that this year.  Tonight was no different.

From the get-go, the game was much more crisp and, well, offensive than I think most people expected.  Tech came out hitting 3-pointers and UVA was shooting around 67% in the first half.  It was a very entertaining half of basketball, surprisingly so actually.

Erick Green was pretty much a non-factor in the first half of play scoring only two points and sitting for the latter half of the first after getting two quick fouls.  Mike Scott was THE factor for UVA in the first half scoring 15 of UVA’s 32 points.  The kid is a beast…and he kind of looks like a murderer.  Not gonna lie, seeing him in person for the first time, he’s a scary dude.

Tech held a halftime lead of 35-32.  And then the second half happened…

At the start of the second half, Tech got out to a quick lead and seemed to have UVA on the ropes.  A great halftime adjustment by Greenberg, perhaps?  It seemed that way.  Tech held a 47-39 lead with 14:53 left in the second half.

Then the Hokies decided to go to their most inefficient offensive gameplan: pass the ball deep around the perimeter and take bad 3-point shots.  Meanwhile, UVA started making 3-pointers and getting good looks at lay-ups and the next thing you know, the ‘Hoos are on a 17-2 run.  Tech was trailing 56-49 just like that.

It’s extremely frustrating to watch Virginia Tech basketball when the offense gets lazy in their sets.  It’s a mystery why this seems to happen at least once every game.  There always seems to be a stretch in every game where Tech’s offense stagnates and they just throw up 3-pointers like they can’t move the ball inside the 3-point line.  It’s truly baffling.

And then came the 3-pointer that happened but shouldn’t have.  With 3:07 left in the game, Jontel Evans banked in a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired.  Or did he?  Being at the game I was unable to tell if the ball was still in Evans’ hand, but I just assumed that three court officials and a replay staff with ESPN present wouldn’t miss the call.

It was at that time when my phone started blowing up with texts telling me that after replaying the shot on ESPN multiple times that the ball was still in his hand.  The officials never went back to review the shot.  Simple subtraction states that 61-3=58.  Fifty-eight is less than 59.  Theoretically, had that call been reviewed and reversed, the Hokies would have won the game.

Some of you might be wondering if the officials can go back after the fact and reverse the shot.  Well, as much as I would love for that to be possible, NCAA rules state that’s not how it works.

From the NCAA rulebook:

“The officials may also check if the shot was made before the expiration of the shot clock, but only when such a situation occurs at the end of a half or an overtime period. Such rules have also required the NCAA to write new rules stating that, when looking at instant replay video, the zeros on the clock, not the horn or red light, now determine the end of the game.”

Even if the Hokies get an apology from the ACC officiating crew, it won’t make a bit of difference.

Even with that blown call, Virginia Tech had a chance to clinch the game late down the stretch.  Just like the loss against Florida State, free-throw shooting killed the Hokies.

In the last two minutes of the game, the Hokies missed three free-throws which would have either tied the game, or given them the lead.  Tech missed six free-throws all game and half of them were in the last two minutes of the game when the score was in low single digits.

On the last possession of the game for Virginia Tech, a miscommunication on the play call led to Doe-Doe turning the ball over with about four seconds left in the game, solidifying UVA’s victory.  In that situation, you have to at least get a shot off.  UVA made sure that didn’t happen though, and props to them for it.

This is the story of Virginia Tech basketball though – close games and tough losses.  I’ll give this team some credit, they did fight hard tonight and definitely played with great intensity.  I still don’t see the leadership from the upperclassmen on this team though, and frankly we might just have to realize it won’t be there.

The Hokies are playing solely for a bid in the NIT at this point in the season, contrary to what Greenberg will say to the media. Virginia Tech fell to 15-13 on the season and 4-9 in ACC play.

Up next for the Hokies: No. 4 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium at noon this Saturday.

How typical.

How. Damn. Typical.

Up 15 points with 10 minutes left in the game.  Greenberg starts telling the team to kill clock.  Hokies do kill the clock, all the while not scoring points because the team was using up 30 seconds of shot clock and chucking up 3-pointers.

All of a sudden, FSU is within 5 points.  All of a sudden, Virginia Tech decides they don’t remember how to make free-throws.

How bad did that amnesia get?  I’m talking 3-10 down the stretch.

If you’re  wondering why all of my sentences are so short, I’m too pissed to type a long sentence.  Hitting the “.” key hard is kind of therapeutic.

With the game on the line.  10.7 seconds left.  Jarell Eddie is pushed and is fouled.  He can’t shoot the free-throws and so Greenberg has to pick a sub off the bench.  Davila is hurt.  Raines is hurt.  Barksdale is hurt.

He has the two walk-ons and Robert Brown on the bench to choose from.  He chooses Brown, aptly named by the fans “Big Shot Bobby Brown.”

Well, just like the rest of the team, Big Shot forgets how to make a free throw.  Bricks both of them.  FSU trails by two points.

They run down the court and hit a big 3-pointer.  Hokies now trail by one point.  They heave up a prayer, naturally it doesn’t fall.

How damn typical.

That’s all there really is to say.  Nothing more, nothing less.  This was an epic collapse in a game which could have been a statement for this “young” group of players.  Instead, it turned into a loss that none of these players will ever forget.

Virginia Tech coming into the game was the no. 1 free-throw shooting team in the ACC.  Tonight – not so much.

My message to Greenberg: This is why you don’t play to lose.  This is why your team scored seven (SEVEN) points in the last 10 minutes of the game.  Instead of piling it on like an elite coach does, you chose to fall back on your heels.  Well guess what, you just got smacked in the face for it.  You don’t kill clock with 10 minutes left in the game.  Are you serious?  I thought you would have learned not to do that after all the countless times you have played not to lose before, but apparently you have not.

All I can say for this game.  It was so damn typical.

Hokies fall to 14-12 on the season, 3-8 in the ACC.  Next up: Georgia Tech at Cassell this Saturday at 3 PM.

What A Comeback, Doe

Posted: February 12, 2012 in Men's Basketball

It would be very easy to sit here and write about the negatives that were very apparent in today’s game against Boston College, but I’m not going to do that (…yet).

Today was a day for comebacks.  Not only did Virginia Tech have to comeback against Boston College at home to win, but Dorian Finney-Smith also found his game.  Finally.

I’ve been hard on Doe-Doe, I’m aware of that.  Honestly, he needed to get harped on.  His play was pretty awful for a good part of this season, but tonight he found his game and I couldn’t be more happy for him.

Doe-Doe came off the bench today but once he was on the floor he did his thing.  Finney-Smith led the Hokies with 17 points tonight, including the game-winning tip-in with 1.8 seconds left.  Equally important tonight was his effort on the boards.  Doe pulled in eight total rebounds tonight but it’s extremely important to note that seven of those were offensive rebounds.

Second chance points are huge for a team that has struggled to get quality possessions offensively this year. The importance of Doe-Doe bringing in seven more of those tonight can’t be overstated.  He balled out tonight and it was great to see.

And as happy as I am for him, this team still struggled mightily today.  The big thing that needs to be remembered is that while the Hokies won tonight 66-65, they had to come back from as much as 10 points at times and only won the game with less than two seconds left.

The Hokies lost a close one to BC earlier in the year on the road without Erick Green and that was a huge blow.  Winning by one point with Erick Green at home doesn’t bode well for this team.  At this point in the season though, a win is a win.

Also, Virginia Tech was awful defensively tonight.  Boston College shot 57 percent from the field tonight.  Let me repeat that – Boston College shot 57 percent from the field tonight.  They also shot 43 percent from 3-point range.  For a team which prides itself on stingy defense and protecting the 3-pointer, they did a terrible job of it tonight. That has to improve for the next game.

It doesn’t really matter at this point though.  Tech got the win and at this point in the season that’s all we can ask for.  That and free milkshakes, because that is apparently an option now.

Tech moves to 14-11 on the season and 3-7 in ACC play.  Next up, at Florida State on Thursday at 7 PM.

The Hokies have lost eight of their last 10 games and are hovering right around .500 on the season overall.  If you can’t tell, Tech lost tonight to the Hurricanes of Miami.  The final was 65-49.

This was an easy game to figure out and anyone who follows Virginia Tech hoops could have predicted this outcome.

Can you guess what Miami has that Virginia Tech doesn’t?

NCAA trouble?  Strippers on a yacht?  An attendance of what looked all of 1,000?

All good guesses.

The correct answer was size, though.  Miami is a huge team while Virginia Tech is not.

Between Reggie Johnson (6″10, 284 lbs) and Kenny Kadji (6″11, 251 lbs), Tech was was undersized to compete down the stretch.  Johnson and Kadji would post up down low and take it right to Davila, Raines, and Barksdale.  Hell, Johnson even hit a 3-pointer against the Hokies tonight.  That’s his second 3-pointer made EVER in his career.

It was that kind of night for Tech.

Erick Green led Tech in scoring by dropping 17 points and grabbing five rebounds.  He was the only Hokie to score in double digits tonight.  The next closest was Dorenzo Hudson with eight points off the bench.

Tech could have been in this game if they had executed better and been more careful.  10 turnovers in the first half is not a recipe for success.  It also doesn’t help when you have more turnovers in the game than assists (14 to 10).  Combine that with 37 percent shooting from the field and that will usually be the game right there.

Miami hit shots and was more careful with the ball than Tech was tonight and that was the difference.  There’s not a whole lot Seth Greenberg can do when the team turns the ball over so much and just straight up can’t hit shots.

You might want to start ordering your CBI tickets Tech fans.  That is, if you want to even bother going to watch that post-season play.  I don’t blame you if you don’t.

Up next for the Hokies: Boston College at Cassell this Sunday at 6 PM.

Josh Hairston Drives Past Victor Davila For An Easy Layup

I’m going to make this short and sweet because there’s no reason for me to waste your time reading through paragraph after paragraph why Duke was better than us.  I can list the reasons off in a very short list:

  1. Talent Gap
  2. Coach K

Not very complicated, as you can see.  Duke simply recruits better players than Virginia Tech does and Coach K is arguably the best basketball coach ever.  Heading into halftime, Tech was down 10 points but not out of it by any stretch.  Coach K made the proper adjustments and started dumping the ball inside to both Plumlee brothers and worked the dribble drive with their guards which Tech couldn’t slow down.

The game was effectively over with 11 minutes left in the second half when Duke stretched its lead to 62-39 over the Hokies.  The final score was 75-60.

A couple of things to take away from this game though:

  • Victor Davila had a great game tonight.  He not only tied his career best in points with 16, but he also grabbed 7 boards as well.  He was active on the boards and fought hard down low despite being undersized against Duke’s forwards.  If only he could replicate that success more often.
  • Erick Green needs help on the offensive side of the ball. Outside of Victor Davila, no other Hokie besides Green scored more than 8 points tonight.  This isn’t rare for this group of Hokies either.  Heading into this game, the Hokies averaged 67.7 points per game.  Prior to this game, Erick Green averaged 15.9 points per game.  Some quick math says that Erick Green is essentially 1/4th of Tech’s offense.  Outside of Dorenzo Hudson, no other Hokie player averages more than 10 points per game either.  Someone else needs to step up offensively for the Hokies if they want to win some games.
  • 25.  By my count, that is the number of shots in a row that Dorian Finney-Smith has missed from the field.  His last made shot was against Florida State on January 10.  Greenberg tried to get Doe-Doe going early in the game and it just didn’t happen.  In 17 minutes tonight, Doe-Doe was 0-4 with 0 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocks.  It should be noted that he started tonight.  He quickly picked up 2 fouls in the first half and sat on the bench for a while before getting back on the floor.  Apparently Greenberg is working on “fixing” Doe-Doe’s shot and takes some blame for allowing this slump to get this bad.
  • The Hokies haven’t led in a game in over 80 minutes of game time.  Starting slow in nearly every game doesn’t help resolve this stat either.  Tech didn’t necessarily start slow today but Duke just outshot them all night from the tip onward.  Hopefully Tech can end this streak against Clemson.

The Hokies fall to 12-10 on the season, and 1-6 in ACC play.  Tech plays its next against Clemson in Cassell at 4 PM on Saturday.

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.