Friday, January 30, 2009

What the heck just happened?

A more frustrating game, I cannot remember. Virginia Tech had at least a 15 point lead in both halves of their Thursday night game against Clemson, but a 20-1 run in the second half gave the Tigers the lead which they would not relinquish. A career night for Malcolm Delaney, where he scored 37 points, was overshadowed by the joint play of KC Rivers and Trevor Booker, who combined to put the smack down on the Hokies. Delaney was 6-10 from the 3-point arc, and he was also fouled on two 3-point attempts where he converted all six free throws. The kid played his heart out and deserved a win, but the Hokie defense was pourous and the guys could not contain Trevor Booker down low. This meant that whoever was guarding Rivers would often come down to help on a double team, and this left Rivers wide open for the 3-pointer. He converted 7 of 10 attempts. And when Booker didn't pass the ball? He made the shot anyway. The Hokies did manage to clamp down on Terrence Oglesby, who was only 1-5 in the game. Oglesby has hurt us in the past, and perhaps got too much attention from the VT defenders since Rivers was always so open.

The first half was the thing dreams are made of. After a shaky start, Tech got their feet under themselves and absolutely destroyed Clemson's full court press. The Hokies passed their way through the press with ease and found open shooters on the other end of the floor. VT put up 53 points at halftime, their best total of the season. Malcolm Delaney hit an incredible half court shot that had the crowd going nuts as the Hokies went in for halftime. Hank Thorns had a sick pass to Jeff Allen for a slam, and then Allen had another move where he faked the pass, drove to the bucket, and threw it down (actually, this was in the second half but still worth noting... thanks Sam!). JT Thompson had a huge dunk in the first half on a fastbreak where he dipped under the defender, then rose up to flush with two hands. The guys and I were going crazy for the whole first half... we couldn't believe how well the Hokies were playing. That all came back down to earth in the second half. Clemson abandoned their crappy full court press, and all of a sudden the Hokies forgot how to score in a half-court offense, and they forgot how to defend a half-court offense for that matter. At one point it got so bad that Greenberg pulled Vassallo out of the game for slacking off on defense, and Vassallo did NOT take it well. In fact, Vassallo had what experts call a "piss poor game" all around, but especially on defense where KC Rivers made him look like a chump. Greenberg tried to calm Vassallo down, but he wasn't having it and he was yelling at the coach. This was a sure sign that VT was going to lose the game, and as the seconds ticked down it turned out to be true. It was a tale of two halves.

If you get a chance, watch the game film of this game on whenever they post it. The Hokies had some of the most incredible plays I've seen in a long while, but they just weren't enough. This definitely puts the Hokies in a bit of a hole concerning their schedule. Tech has a relatively "easy" ACC stretch for the next six games, but they finish up with their last four games: at Clemson, Duke, UNC, and at FSU. That's a rough way to finish. The Hokies basically need to go 5-1 over the next six games, or they're going to have a really tough time getting into the NCAA tournament. That Clemson win would have been huge... oh well, maybe next time.

In other news, is anyone wondering "What is 'G'?" Those lousy commercials have been taunting basketball viewers for weeks. Well your answer is right here. They are Gatorade commercials. That's right, freaking Gatorade. And you thought "G" was going to be something cool. Oh, you feeble-minded fool.

I'm so ticked from this loss, I could spit right into my cubicle-neighbor's mouth.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Boo-Hoos

This article was written a while ago just after VT beat UVA in the Hokies' second ACC game of the season, but it's a must-read. I hate to kick an injured dog into a vat of boiling hot acid because that's basically what I'm doing to UVA by posting this, but the article is extremely telling. This guy could not be more accurate about UVA fans, and the guy IS a UVA fan. Case in point: My brother. He attended UVA for four years and received his undergrad in Computer Science. He then went on to Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire to get his law degree. What college team does he cheer for? Ohio State, and even so, only when they are winning. That sounds like your average UVA fan to me. Booooooooo!

In other news, my buddy The Ritt pointed out that Virginia Tech's wrestling team is on an absolute tear right now. They just beat the #6 team in the nation, Central Michigan, and have a record of 15-1. They also have a win at #17 Michigan. Their one loss is to #4 Nebraska (those midwest schools are wrestling powerhouses). I don't particularly care for watching dudes in skin-tight, extremely-revealing singlets roll around with other dudes in bulge-highlighting spandex, but a Hokie is a Hokie and this team certainly deserves a shout-out for their incredible form this season. Go Tech!

Buenvenidos a Miami

Jack McClinton was shut down by Malcolm Delaney and the Virginia Tech Hokies finally managed to win a close game against a tough University of Miami (FL) team. The game went to overtime after Delaney failed to connect on the last shot of regulation. McClinton, a 47% 3-point shooter with range as far as you can imagine, started the game just 1-9 and couldn't find any space to shoot against Delaney, JT Thompson, and Dorenzo Hudson. Plus, I think he was wearing eye-liner. Delaney had a game-high 29 points on 9 of 19 shooting, and AD Vassallo was right behind him with 28 points on 11 of 20 shooting. The Hokies struggled to hit their 3-point shots in the first half going only 3-12, but went on to shoot 5-8 in the second half, and 1-1 in overtime to finish at a very respectable 43% from the arc. They also shot close to 50% from the field as a whole, which continues the Hokies hot shooting as of late. VT also won the turnover battle causing 11 turnovers while giving up 9, which seems to be a delicious recipe for success for Tech in the last couple games. Whatever it ultimately was that led to the win, the Hokies seem to be riding high on the saddle of... justice? No that's not right. Let's go with "winning and sportsmanship."

I had predicted that Vassallo would have a good game against Brian Asbury and DeQuan Jones. I was right, although he didn't unleash the inner beast until the second half. AD seemed to be trying to force shots in the first half, but in the second half he seemed to just go with the flow of the game and found himself open for shots in a lot of different places. He took advantage of smaller defenders and posted up McClinton and James Dews on a couple of occassions. With the lone exception of an ill-advised drive through about 3 Miami defenders where he ended up turning the ball over, Vassallo played the possibly the smartest game of his college career.

Malcolm Delaney is becoming such a predictable player, that you can pretty much pencil him in for at least 20 points and some great defensive efforts. Delaney had 3 steals and 4 rebounds to go along with that. Lately, he seems to be playing his best when Hank Thorns is in the game running the point. Hank did not have a good shooting night, going only 1-5 from the floor, but what he missed at the bucket, he made up for everywhere else. Thorns had 8 assists in the game and only 1 turnover. He also had 4 rebounds including a ridiculous offensive board in overtime where he skyed over two guys with at least a foot height advantage on him to grab the ball and reset the offense. Lewis Witcher also had a stellar effort last night going 3-3 from the field with some post moves that made me do a double-take. He pissed off the Miami fans when he swatted a Jack McClinton drive before it hit the backboard (they all thought it was goaltending, but replays show that they're morons). Witcher got into foul trouble though and had to sit for most of the second half, but I wouldn't say that he did anything wrong... he got jobbed on a couple of those calls.

Brian Asbury had the game of his life, which might make some people sad since it was in a losing effort, but I am not one of those people. Suck on that, Asbury! He'd been shooting a measley 14% from the 3-point arc on the season, but yesterday he found his stroke hitting 3-6, including the shot that eventually forced the game into overtime. Asbury also contributed with shots from all over the floor and a respectable defensive game where he blocked a few shots. Dwayne Collins also had a fantasic game for the Hurricanes, going 7-10 from the field and 9-12 from the free throw line. Not bad for a 58% free throw shooter. The Hokies just did not have an answer for him inside, and I have absolutely no idea why the 'Canes didn't just keep going to him in overtime. He was having his way with everybody... Allen, Davila, Witcher, and Diakite, it didn't matter. Miami decided that they were going to live or die by McClinton, and that was a good move for the Hokies.

Let's talk a little about what this means for VT's NCAA tournament chances. I would classify this win as "superb." This is a win, on the road, against a top-30 RPI team. That's not quite the resume booster that the win against Wake Forest was, but it's more like icing on the cake. This win continues my belief that Virginia Tech will make the NCAA tournament if we go 9-7 in the ACC. That would give us an identical record to last year, and although we did win an ACC tournament game against Miami last year, I think that our resume is good enough that we might not even need an ACC tourney win to get in the big dance this time around. The ACC as a whole is a better conference than last year... it is not quite as top-heavy. The committee will notice that on Selection Sunday. Also, our losses this year are not as bad as last year. Seton Hall just knocked off Georgetown, so our only bad loss seems to be against Georgia, but that was by 1 point in their arena. The Bulldogs have a current RPI around 217, and they have lost all 4 SEC matchups. They are 9-10 on the season. Seton Hall has an RPI on the wrong side of 100. Our other 3 losses are against Wisconsin, Duke, and Xavier, and the selection committee will not hold those losses against us. So we basically only have 2 bad losses this year. Last year we had 3 bad losses against Richmond (RPI 121), Old Dominion (RPI 133), and Penn State (RPI 155). The Georgia loss certainly looks worse than those losses, but I am hopeful that the Bulldogs will pull themselves back up to a respectable level like they did last year. A man can dream, can't he?

As always, you can watch the game film here. Enjoy that Delaney shot again where he sticks one right in McClinton's mug. What's that Jack? That coffee's a little too hot? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Another Tech Tragedy

I don't think it would be right of me to have a Virginia Tech blog and not talk about the vicious attack that happened at a cafe on Tech's campus two nights ago. On Wednesday night around 7pm, a new graduate student named Xin Yang was allegedly killed AND DECAPITATED by Haiyang Zhu. You can read the story here. I am honestly floored by this occurrence, and I can't believe it's possible for someone to sit in a somewhat crowded cafe and take someone else's head off with a kitchen knife without one of the onlookers interrupting this sick action. What is happening at Virginia Tech? The community there went years without a murder, but there have been 3 separate incidents in the last 3 years, one of which, the Virginia Tech Tragedy, received national and even international news coverage. One thing is for certain... the students will stand their ground and band together as a community. These random acts of violence will only make the university, its students, and its alums stronger in their resolve. We will not be terrorized. This latest news from Virginia Tech turns my stomach, and I hope that the rest of the VT community will mourn the loss of Xin Yang and will pray for her family. I'm seriously pissed off about this.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Did you attend the Wake last night?

WOW! I mean, that game was ridiculous. Virginia Tech downed Wake Forest 78-71 in an extremely entertaining game in Winston-Salem, NC. The Hokies went up by 16 points at one point in the first half (becoming the first team to lead the Demon Deacons by double digit points THE ENTIRE SEASON), only to have their lead dwindled down to 2 points late in the second half. The Hokies played suffocating defense all night, holding a team that averages 84 points per game to only 71 points on the night. Tech forced Wake to shoot from the outside for most of the game, which is not Wake's strong suit. Man, there is just so much to talk about.

Let's start with Aminu busting his forehead open on Vassallo's arm! AD went up for a rebound around the 16:00 mark of the first half, and his arm came down accidentally on Al-Farouq Aminu's head. The one-and-done freshman had blood just spilling out of his head into his hands and overflowing onto the floor. I have never seen anyone bleed like that after getting hit by a body part. Aminu had to come out of the game for a significant portion of the first half. The Demon Decons relied on little-used Gary Clark during that spell, and the advantage was to the Hokies. Clark went 0-3 with a turnover in his six minute stint. I was a little surprised that Dino Gaudio didn't put Harvey Hale in during that time, as Hale is a regular bench player and the second best 3-point shooter on the team, but I guess Gaudio has seen Hale's statistics against VT. He never plays well against us. In five career games against Virginia Tech, Hale is averaging 4.8 points per game. He is only 9-of-35 from the field and a paultry 3-of-21 from three-point land coming into last night's game. Hale finished 1-4 with 3 of those shots and his only make coming from the 3-point line. Greenberg seems to have his number, and it's close to zero.

Aminu came back from his head injury to put the hurt on the Hokies in the paint. There were a couple of plays where he knifed through the lane for a layup, or putback, or dunk, and I felt like weeping softly as I wallowed in my own self-pity in front of my fiancee and three other women. Virginia Tech looked like the Hokies of former years as they blew free throw after free throw and kept Wake in the game, but their stifling defense was enough to pull out the victory in the end. And let's be honest, VT shot the ball exceedingly well from the field. I mean, let's not lie to one another... our relationship is too far along to play those head games. The Hokies shot 50% on the game, which is far beyond normal for the boys in burnt orange and chicago maroon. Tech hit shot after shot in the second half, making me wonder if I'd slipped into a strange alternate dimension where the Hokies shoot well and where girls love college basketball and know a lot about the players. Yes, that was the case last night... it was eerie and awesome, like walking into your bathroom and finding your dog using the toilet.

Let's talk a little bit about VT! The "Big Three" of Vassallo, Delaney, and Allen had another solid game, although they also accounted for 11 of Tech's 13 turnovers (yikes). Allen was the most efficient shooting 6-10 from the field and pulling down 7 rebounds. Vassallo and Delaney struggled from the free throw line though, and that had to be quite upsetting to most Hokie fans, but they were pretty decent from the field and Delaney pulled down the quietest 8 rebounds I've ever seen (or not seen). I was really surprised after the game to see that he led the team in rebounds. Cheick Diakite on the other hand played his best game of the season. He grabbed 5 rebounds in 22 minutes of play, and he posted 8 points going 4 of 6 from the charity stripe where he usually shoots around 50%. He had two saucy pull-up jumpers from the wing that seemed to spark the team. And let's not forget that he purposefully slammed into Chas McFarland late in the game, which resulted in a double technical foul on both Diakite and McFarland, giving Chas his fifth foul and fouling him out of the game. YEAH! SUCK ON THAT! McFarland was being a little pansy the entire game, or at least when he wasn't on the bench with foul trouble. He intentionally rammed his shoulder into Delaney, coming from behind, and didn't even get called for a flagrant or technical foul. That was probably why Diakite's shoulder bump resulted in a double technical later... I think the refs were making up for the fact that they missed the technical foul on McFarland earlier in the game. Chas finished the game with zero points on 0-4 shooting. He averages around 10 points per game.

VT's role players were more than adequate last night, getting steals, rebounds, key 3-pointers, and harrassing Wake on defense. Ish Smith was bugging the crap out of Delaney and forcing turnovers until Hank Thorns came in to handle the point guard duties. From then on, Smith was completely neutralized and Thorns didn't turn the ball over once! The mighty mite also provided a key 3 later in the game to ignite the Hokies' spirits. He got pretty feisty at one point as he dove for a loose ball only to find Jeff Teague straddling him when he tried to get up. Thorns pushed Teague out of the way and gave him a nasty look, and he was right to do it. The refs quickly got between the two players and diffused any possible altercations. Nobody messes with Hank Thorns! He's a 5'9" powder keg ready to blow your face off!

This win for the Hokies was exactly what their NCAA tournament resume was lacking. It's a signature win against an definite top-25 RPI team. What is even better than that? It happened in an away game. What this win means for the Hokies is that as long as they go 9-7 in ACC play, they should expect to be in the big dance come March. But can the Hokies ride this wave of sweetness, or will they fall hard back down to earth as they take on Miami away on Sunday? I don't know about you kids, but I'm pumped to find out! I don't know how the 'Canes intend to stop the Hokies when they can't even see them. That guy knows what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wake me up before you go-go

Another ACC showdown; another ACC win. Virginia Tech took down Boston College in the Cassell on Saturday afternoon to improve to 2-1 in the ACC. It was a productive 3-game homestand where VT beat UVA, Richmond, and Boston College to improve their record to a respectable 12-5 on the season. I'm going to go ahead and make a prediction that if VT goes at least 9-7 in the ACC, that should be good enough to get into the NCAA tournament... even if VT doesn't get a signature win against UNC, Duke, or Wake Forest. I know it probably seems like I'm taking crazy pills, but I think the ACC as a conference is that much stronger this year, and we would have virtually the same resume as last year except with more respectable losses. Our out-of-conference losses aren't as bad this year as they were last year. But Tech can avoid all of that mumbo-jumbo (you love that phrase, admit it) if they can beat Wake Forest in Winston-Salem this weekend. Well I think they would still have to finish 9-7, but you can smell what I'm stepping in.

Make no mistake, this is a TOUGH task. Wake Forest has 4 players averaging double figures in points, and their fifth starter is just under at 9 pts/game. Likewise, those 4 players shoot between 50 and 55 percent from the floor with that same fifth starter shooting 49.5%. Their bench players are fairly productive as well. Another scary stat is just how well this team rebounds... their 3 low-post starters average over 7 rebounds per game apiece. Compounding the scaryness is the fact that freshman Al-Farouq Aminu is probably going to be an NBA lottery pick in this summer's draft, and sophomore point guard Jeff Teague could be as well.

Wake is tall, athletic, and deep. The only thing going against them is that they aren't a particularly good 3-point shooting team with the exception of Jeff Teague at 52%, but he only shoots from behind the arc about 3 times per game.

Jeff Allen really picked up his game against Boston College on Saturday and managed to drench the Eagles with 30 points and 9 rebounds (5 offensive). He also managed to pick off 3 passes and stuff 3 shots. You could really point to a bunch of his plays as "best play of the game", but some suggestions are his dunk in traffic late in the second half or his sweet/unselfish pass to Witcher for another dunk. Vassallo also had a monster slam up over two of BC's forwards, and he had a solid night shooting the ball. Delaney was less impressive shooting the ball from the field, but racked up 11 of 12 foul shots and had an incredible no-look, behind-the-back pass to Dorenzo Hudson for a 3-pointer in the first half. Check out all of VT's offensive plays here. I really believe that if VT plays with that kind of intensity all 40 minutes against Wake, they will walk out of that building with a victory. It may take a perfect storm, but as long as Mark Wahlberg is there in spirit, this game is going to belong to Tech!

In other news, just up the road in Washington, DC the nation is welcoming Barack Obama as our 44th president. Personally, I'm of the mindset that it doesn't matter who our president is, the country basically will act the same and that the economy operates outside of the control of the president, but I am happy with Obama as our president as long as he doesn't try anything outlandish and stupid (read: Freedom of Choice Act). Sorry, this isn't a political blog, so I won't go into that any further, but look into it so you know how wrong it is. Otherwise, I think Obama can do some great things for this country (as long as it is God's will for him to do so... oh wait, this is now a political AND religious blog... run away!)

Thursday, January 15, 2009


They never even saw it coming. The Spiders got completely punked by the Hokies last night. Richmond was ice-cold from the floor, hitting only about 31% of their shots for the evening, and a paltry 13% on 3-point shots. VT wasn't much better from behind the arc, hitting 14%, but they were a whole lot better with the rest of their shots, hitting 45% combined from the floor. Jeff Allen appears to be back to his old self, putting up 11 points and 12 rebounds to go along with 2 blocks and 2 steals. Allen has the best hands of any big man I've ever seen, and I'm not exaggerating there. It's unheard of for any power forward to lead their team in steals. JT Thompson had his best game since coming back from injury a couple weeks ago. He had 10 points and 8 rebounds (3 offensive), and was a thorn in the side of Richmond all night. Also nice was the fact that he didn't have any turnovers, which was a bit of a problem for VT last night and was the only reason that they didn't blow out U of R by 20 points or more. VT gave up 16 turnovers as opposed to only 7 for Richmond. That stat needs to improve this weekend as we take on Boston College in Blacksburg. Tyrese Rice is arguably the best player in the ACC this year, and he'll be looking for revenge against VT this year. Last year in Blacksburg the Hokies blew out the Eagles by a final score of 67-48. Perhaps you remember this dunk by Deron Washington? I believe the term is "sick-nasty".

Terrell Bell and Dorenzo Hudson had an excellent game when you combine their two stat lines... in 25 minutes they were 6-9 for 13 points with 7 rebounds (2 offensive) with an assist and 2 steals. That exactly the kind of production I was hoping for out of our shooting guard position.

The Hokies have a lot of versatility this year. Hudson and Bell have the size to play either the 2 or 3 on offense, but can also guard either position on defense. JT Thompson is able to play the 3 or 4 on offense, and can guard a 2-4 on defense. Jeff Allen can play the 4 or 5 and can guard either on defense. Delaney can guard a 1 or 2 on defense and can play either on offense. This team can give you a lot of different looks and the versatility means that Greenberg can almost always get a favorable matchup for each of his players on both offense and defense.

I hope Tech absolutely crushes Boston College on Saturday. They could use a blowout ACC win to legitimize the program this year.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Children's Book

A fantastic new idea for a children's book. Thanks to G-chat on G-mail, you can see the exchanging of ideas:

me: that sounds like a children's book
i wonder what lessons "the littlest bitch" would learn?

Lee: you caught me, it is, i bought it for my nephew

me: hahahahaha

Lee: you'd think it was about a little female dog, but its about a totally annoying dwarf
not very pc

I'm pretty sure that's how ideas like "Everybody Poops" and "Gregory the Terrible Eater" get formulated.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Spooky Spiders

Tomorrow night, the VT men's basketball team will take on the Richmond Spiders. This is the final non-conference game of the regular season for the Hokies, and is a literal must-win. U of R is not a quality team and will finish the year without an invitation to post-season play. Despite an 8-6 start to the season and a 1-0 start to Atlantic-10 conference play, the Spiders do not have a win against anyone of note... they have beat the teams they are supposed to beat and lost to the teams who were supposed to beat them. The Hokies managed to drop their matchup with U of R last year, which was a game that I attended here in Richmond. The Hokies really struggled to find quality shots in that game, and they bricked the open looks that they did have. This is a game that VT really needs to dominate because this opponent's talent is certainly inferior to the talent of Tech, but something tells me our guys will be scraping out a close victory yet again. The Spiders' leading scorer is David Gonzalvez, who I only slightly remember from the game last year (really none of Richmond's players stood out to me, so the fact that we lost ended with me trying to drown myself in the nacho cheese I had purchased at halftime). Gonzalvez is an excellent shooter, hitting 50.5% of his shots (that's pretty high for a 2-guard), including 42.9% from the 3-point line. He averages better than 16 points per game and also manages to pull down 4.6 rebounds per game. Gonzalvez will play mostly at shooting guard, so expect to see Dorenzo Hudson, Terrell Bell, and JT Thompson guarding him for the vast majority of the game. Richmond has a 6'10" forward in Justin Harper who doesn't rebound very well for his size, but the Hokies will have to follow him out to the 3-point line because he shoots an excellent 44.6% out there, and he's not shy about jacking up a shot from that distance as half of his field goal attempts on the season are 3-point attempts. The Hokies should really crush this team in rebounding margin because the Spidey's forwards and center do not get on the boards. If there was ever a game for Jeff Allen to come out of a slump, it would be in this game because he could seriously rack up about 10 offensive rebounds if he's motivated.

Here are some things I would like to see in this game:
1) More time with Hank Thorns at point guard and Malcolm Delaney at shooting guard. Delaney can free himself up easier for shots when he is running off of high screens from the SG spot, and we got to see him hit some wide open looks from those situations in the Virginia game. It's tough to play Thorns a lot when he's being guarded by taller opponents, but Richmond's PG is only 6'0" so that's not a huge advantage on Thorns.
2) I want to see JT Thompson crashing the boards after a shot, both on offense and defense. He is too good of a rebounder to have another game with zero boards like against UVA, and historically he's our best player when it comes to following up shots for easy putbacks.
3) Better play from Jeff Allen all over the court. He needs to be more aggressive going up for a shot, and he needs to get in better position for rebounds. There were points in the UVA game where I thought we were better off having Lewis Witcher in the game instead of Jeff Allen. I never want to feel that way again.
4) The team needs to figure out how to play defense. It seems like we either get a good number of turnovers, or else we hold the opposing team to a low shooting percentage. We need to be able to do both since they're the trademark of a Seth Greenberg team. Davila is still a big liability on defense, and his offensive game has taken a hit in ACC play... it'd be nice to see him progress a little in both areas within the next few weeks.

Here's a question, why aren't more teams nicknamed "The Spiders"? Wouldn't you say something like 90% of people are scared of spiders to some varying degree? They're disgusting and terrifying, but instead colleges like to opt for nicknames like "the cardinals" or "the volunteers". What kind of weak crap is that? I don't remember anyone ever saying, "Sweet Lord, we need to get out of the house! There's a cardinal in our kitchen!" I don't remember any pedestrians running away in hysterics as a Red Cross volunteer hands them a pamphlet about giving blood. I guess you could say the same about "the hokies" so maybe I should just keep my mouth shut, but my point is that I would have thought more teams would be nicknamed "the spiders" simply because they're legitimately frightening... unlike a terrapin (read: turtle).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A win is a win. Right?

The Hokies clinched their first ACC basketball win against the much-hated Hoos of UVA yesterday. The Hokies opened up a hefty 12-point lead with about four minutes left in the second half, but a late flurry (primarily from the Cavs' Mustapha Farrakhan, who must've borrowing Jesus' left arm for a bit) left the Hokies stunned and incredulous with a 1 point lead. However, AD Vassallo hit a turn-around jumper and some key free throws down the stretch to seal the win for VT. Vassallo and Malcolm Delaney went nuts in this game, combining for 53 of VT's 78 points. Vassallo had his best shooting day in a month and Delaney was a nuisance everywhere on the court hitting shots from outside and inside the 3-point line, including some excellent drives to the hoop, and defensively he came up with 2 steals and some solid on-the-ball defending. I hope we will see a lot more efforts like this from both Vassallo and Delaney now that the Hokies are in ACC play. This win evens the Hokies up at 1-1 in the ACC and puts them at 10-5 overall.

Let's take a second to talk about the UVA Cavaliers... okay that's long enough.

Just kidding, I'm going to give them some props; that team is going to be the most improved team in the ACC next year. They are a very young team, starting 3 freshmen, a sophomore, and a senior, but unlike most teams in that situation, the Cavs' best players are the freshmen and the sophomore. The Cavs will lose Mamadi Diane and Tunji Soroye off of their roster next year, and that might turn out to be addition by subtraction. Diane seems to have completely derailed this season and is completely useless for the Cavs. I think they'd be better off giving his minutes to Farrakhan or Jamil Tucker, but Dave Leitao keeps marching Diane out there hoping to get him back to his form from previous years. Also, it seemed like the Hokies went on a run every time Assane Sene came out of the game to be replaced by Soroye. The lineup of Sene, Landesberg, Zeglinski, and Mike Scott is pretty formidable, and could be even better if Farrakhan moves into the starting lineup, or if UVA can recruit another big-time freshman for next year. Honestly, I'm a little shocked that Farrakhan is only averaging 9.8 minutes per game, as he appears to be UVA's best pure shooter. He must be a defensive liability or something. Or maybe Dave Leitao has something against his grandfather, nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. I've also got some praise for Sylven Landesberg, who is already one of the best slashers in the ACC as a freshman. That kid can straight up finish a drive. I really thought that was the kind of game we would get from Dorenzo Hudson, but he hasn't shown that ability yet.

Now let's give some praise to some of Tech's lesser-known players. Terrell Bell had one of his best games of the season, although it didn't really show up on the stat sheet. Bell had 5 points on 2-5 shooting, but he was 1-1 on his 3-point shots, pulled down 3 boards, dished out 3 dimes, and had a steal as well. He was also a factor in one of Delaney's steals, tipping the ball that was about to sail out of bounds to Delaney, who then drove in for an uncontested dunk. He also played excellent defense on Landesberg and didn't give up much to him. I really hope this means that Bell is gaining confidence. Hudson usually plays more minutes than Bell, but that wasn't true in this game. Hudson only came into the game once for a total of 2 minutes. He did pull down a rebound to initiate a fastbreak for VT in that span though. Lewis Witcher looked active and displayed a decent scoring touch in his 11 minutes on the floor, but what VT fans will remember most was his inability to finish an easy layup (he probably could have dunked the ball if he wasn't such a pansy) at the end of the 1st half after Delaney hit him with a beautiful pass near the basket. That sort of inconsistency has become the norm for Lewis Witcher, who may never reach his full potential as a player due to what seems to be a lack of confidence in his own abilities. Cheick Diakite had an excellent game, although his efforts also won't really show up on the score sheet. He had some big rebounds and a couple nice shots despite having hands of stone. Jeff Allen had possibly his worst game of the season, going 0-7 from the field and looking like a scared child every time he went up against Sene. He just couldn't find a way around those Stretch Armstrong limbs of Sene, and instead of passing out, he kept trying to challenge the reach of Sene. Just one example of how "The Big Donut" doesn't really refer to Allen's physique anymore as much as his intelligence. A couple of dumb fouls on the offensive end kept Allen out for a large stretch of the first half. JT Thompson still looks extremely rusty and missed several shots that I really think he would have made last year. He also managed to pull down exactly zero rebounds, which I can't imagine will be the norm for him this season. My thought is that Thompson is a key component to the Hokies this year, and their season will go as he goes. If he can become a somewhat reliable fourth option for scoring, then the Hokies will make it to the NCAA tournament. If he doesn't, the Hokies are NIT-bound.

Hank Thorns doesn't have much confidence in his 3-point shooting. He missed one wide-open shot, and from that point on he kept passing up open threes to drive into the lane where he would immediately have to pass back out.

I suspect that opposing teams are doping their blood before games against VT this year. Somehow we keep getting everyone's best game of the season. UVA is a good offensive team, but they played with a renewed vigor on defense against the Hokies and we wouldn't have won without the individual efforts from Vassallo and Delaney. All in all it was a decent home effort, but the Hokies will need to play better if they want to make it to the Big Dance this year, and they'll need to do it against either UNC, Duke, or Wake Forest to win one of those games and give us a signature win for our tournament resume.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Go Long. Keep going.

I am back once again after a long break from blogging, but once again it is with a good reason... I got engaged! I was thinking about writing a post on the whole engagement story and breaking it down from a sports reporter type of angle, but then I realized that I have no idea how to do that. I guess you could say that it was like I called for a play-action pass (I pretended to be going to Colorado for New Years Eve, but I actually drove to Jacksonville to surprise my soon-to-be fiancee), then I threw long (did about 24 hours of driving combined for the trip), and the result was a touchdown (I successfully applied the ring to my fiancee's finger). Go football analogies! Top that, Bill Simmons!

Speaking of football, how about that FedEx Orange Bowl? I was somehow able to watch most of the game even though I was still in Jacksonville with a bunch of non-Hokies (I watched the game again later on DVR at my place), and I am once again forced to give Bud Foster most of the credit for this "W". The defense looked pretty shaky in the first half, but Cincinatti's vaunted offense only scored 7 points, and the Hokie D kept picking off Cincinatti quarterback Tony Pike in the 2nd half. 4 interceptions against a guy who had thrown only 7 interceptions (compared to 18 touchdowns) in 11 regular season games! Not a bad day's work for the boys in Chicago maroon. I have to raise my hands to the sky and praise the Lord that no top-flight college is willing to hire Foster as their head coach because that means VT will continue to do battle with arguably the best defensive coordinator in the college game. How do we keep managing to hold onto this guy? It's a Christmas miracle. Someone cue the dancing elves.

My game ball goes to Kam Chancellor, and believe me when I tell you that I never ever thought that I would be saying that on this blog. Kam has a knack for getting the big hit, but I remember him most often for missing the big hit and getting burned in the open field. Not in this game though... Kam was playing with his wits this time, and proved to be a constant menace for both Tony Pike and Cincy's smorgasbord of wide receivers. Kam had a nice interception in the 3rd quarter and should have been given another one on a ridiculous grab where he got a hand and a knee down in bounds before the rest of his leg landed out of bounds. The referees didn't see it that way, however, and so Kam only ended up with one pick, but I'm telling you that the guy had it inbounds. And let me talk for just a second about the first touchdown where some people would say that Kam Chancellor got "burned" or "beat". Neither is the case... you can't say that when the wide receiver has to lay out to catch the ball with his fingertips and barely gets one foot inbounds for the score. Kam actually had excellent coverage on that play and Tony Pike threw it where only his receiver could catch it... credit needs to be given to Cincinatti on that play and shouldn't be taken away from any Virginia Tech player. Sorry if I just put you in your place, but you had it coming. Shame on you.

The most surprising stat to me is that the Bearcats (seriously, what the heck is a bearcat) had 3 sacks against the Hokies versus zero sacks for our defense. Granted, Jason Worilds was not healthy enough to play and he's one of our best playmakers at defensive end, but Orion Martin and Nekos Brown were surprisingly quiet all game. Martin did end up with an absolutely superb grab of a pass that almost hit the ground to get VT's third interception and set up Darren Evans' touchdown run, but the 6'6" Pike was somehow too speedy for our defensive line to actually catch and drag down.

I remain a huge Cody Grimm fan and I think he might need to be a starter next year. This year he was mostly playing in the place of Cam Martin who battled an injury all season long, but I think that next year if Cam Martin is healthy again, we may need to move Grimm to the rover position and let him start there. Dorian Porch has been adequate, but I think Grimm would be a big upgrade. I know that Davon Morgan will be back from injury next season, and that him and Porch were neck-and-neck throughout spring and fall practice, but I really don't like Morgan's coverage abilities, I don't think he knows how to play in a zone, and I don't think he would be nearly as effective in run defense as Grimm can be. That kid plays like his hair is on fire. Someone get him a bucket of Gatorade. Orange flavored of course.