Saturday, February 27, 2010

And the hits just keep on coming

The Hokies lost in double overtime to Maryland tonight, and I'm obviously too ticked off to write a coherant blog post right now. Maryland, particularly Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes, kicked our butts tonight. Why in the world do we give the last shot to Erick Green, who is absolutely as cold as possible from the field. We didn't need a three, but Delaney panicked and threw it to Green who was open for a three in the corner. Green bricked the shot and the Hokies lost. We have officially taken ourselves out of the NCAA tournament and we will now have to play our way in. That means a win against NC State at home and then a win at Georgia Tech away. If we lose either of those games, we'll have to make a run in the ACC tournament to get into the Big Dance. This is just... I never would have thought our team would let themselves lose this game. I blame Seth Greenberg for using Malcolm Delaney to defend Greivis Vasquez, who abused Delaney all night. Delaney should have been guarding Eric Hayes... a much less versitile player.

Seriously, I feel like breaking this computer over my knee. How do we lose that game?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Speaking of Vomit...

Can we just skip the post about BC today? What an expletive-laden performance. I hardly ever cuss and I must have cussed out loud 20 times during that game. Can we even call it a game? Is it a game when a father plays his 3-year-old son in basketball on a regulation hoop? That's the best equivalent I could find to match how VT looked against Boston College last night. It was like our arms were too short to grab rebounds, our muscles were still forming which made us unable to hit shots, and our reactions were slower than many sloths. Seth Greenberg needs to burn the tape for that game and just pretend like it never happened.

For whatever reason, that tight flex offense just gives VT fits. We can't seem to figure out how to defend it. I am praying to the Lord Almighty that we don't have to face Boston College in the ACC tournament. How we managed to get a win in Blacksburg is one of life's profound mysteries. Besides causing turnovers, there wasn't a single good thing for the Hokies to take away from this game. Malcolm Delaney continues to struggle with his shooting in ACC play, and it's about time that we realize that Delaney is not an elite player. He may score points, but he's doing it from the free throw line, which is useless late in games when playing from behind. He looks for the foul so much that referees are getting to the point where they just aren't calling obvious fouls anymore when they notice that it's Delaney who is drawing them.

I need to take several deep breaths and calm down. There was no urgency from our team to win that game... it seems that they have bought into the hype about them and figured that they don't need to come to play every single night. The mental mistakes overfloweth. And now, the Hokies have an incredibly important game at home against Maryland on Saturday where they absolutely have to win, and I am just not sure that this team can handle the pressure. Make no mistake... VT is probably an NCAA tournament team if they beat both Maryland and NC State, but there is a chance they might need to add an ACC tournament win as well. Leave it to the Hokies to wait until the last possible minute to book their NCAA tournament ticket. We've done it every year that we've had a chance since the last time we were at the Big Dance in '06. It's happening again. My secret reasoning? I think our players love the publicity they get from being "on the bubble" for the two weeks before the selection committee does their thing.

I have nothing more to say today... I just can't muster any positive thoughts. I'm going to go take a dump in a box and mark it "Virginia Tech".

Monday, February 22, 2010


That wasn't exactly the game that Virginia Tech fans were looking to see. Tech couldn't hit the broad side of a barn in that one, but were fortunate enough to stay in the game due to the fact that Duke couldn't hit the broad side of a battleship. VT was tied with the Dookies as late as 8:40 in the second half, but then the Blue Devils started to rear their ugly heads and make some shots (and I do mean ugly... did you see the shiner on Singler? He's hideous enough... he didn't need that kind of help). Neither team could hit an open shot for most of the game, but Duke was able to make their run late with a final score of 67-55. That score is a real shame because the game was much closer than that. The first 32 minutes were hotly contested with VT holding the lead for the first 10 minutes, then Duke jumped out to an 11 point lead only to fall back to 5 at halftime.
  • Dorenzo Hudson got himself into a jaw session (Well, why don’t we just say—as long as that means a talk) with Nolan Smith late in the second half and could have gotten ejected from the game for giving a hard nudge to Nolan's face. You can't call it a hit... he kind of took his fist and pushed it across Smith's chin. The refs went to the monitors and came back with the decision to give each player a technical foul, which was a bit of a relief to Hokie fans. Hudson would have had to sit out the next game if he had been caught fighting. I definitely think Smith was trying to bait Hudson. He had a look on his face after the nudge that seemed to say, "Look ref, look! He hit me! Throw him out!" Honestly, if Jeff Allen had been involved in the altercation, I think his reputation would have gotten him ejected from the game, but Hudson is known for being a good guy, and I think his reputation had the opposite effect on the referees.
  • This loss doesn't hurt the Hokies too much. Yes, it would have locked us into the Big Dance, yes you can basically lock up a regular season title for Duke now, and yes the Hokies still need to grab some wins to make the NCAA tournament, but you still have to like Virginia Tech's chances to make the field. Wins against ACC bottom-feeders Boston College and NC State will get the Hokies in the "bubble talk", but add a win over Maryland at home, and the Hokies can start packing their dancing shoes before they even set foot in the ACC tournament. The Hokies might even be able to win only one of the two against BC & NC State as long as they beat Maryland, since Maryland is starting to jump up in the RPI. Even after losing to Duke, VT got a bump in their strength of schedule, which also improved their RPI to #44. Maryland is sitting at #36. Wake Forest is threatening to drop out of the top 25 sitting at #21, and that would be bad news for VT.
  • Malcolm Delaney has reverted back to his new old self... if that makes any sense at all. After doing a good job of knowing when to look for a foul and knowing when to shoot the ball against Wake, he came into Cameron Indoor Stadium and laid an egg. He looked for contact on just about every shot inside of the 3-point arc, and was rarely rewarded with a foul. He was more successful drawing fouls on the Duke big men as they came up to set a high screen and ended up setting moving picks. At any rate, fouling out the Duke big men shouldn't have been a priority in that game. They have nice pieces in Lance Thomas and the Plumlee brothers, but none of those guys is a real game-changer. Brian Zoubek was definitely a game-changer with his 8 offensive rebounds and 8 defensive rebounds, but the referees were allowing a lot of contact on both ends. Delaney did a poor job of adjusting to what the referees were giving. Delaney didn't have a bad game, but the Hokies needed him to be a star, and he was just a role player in this one.
  • If Delaney laid an egg, then Dorenzo Hudson laid a full-grown chicken. He shot 3-12 and 0-4 from the 3-point line. He had zero assists and struggled to dribble the ball against the pressure defense of the Dookies. He did go 6-6 from the foul line, but he needed to shoot much, much, much better from the field. A few of his jump shots were so atrocious that Duke didn't even have a chance to set up for a rebound.
  • Honestly, it's tough to pick out a player for the Hokies who had a good game. P@'s game ball has to go to Terrell Bell who was 2-2 from the field and had 8 rebounds... 4 offensive, and a steal. He also played some phenomenal defense. Not a pantheon performance, but the best one I could find.
  • Our next game is against Boston College in Chesnut Hill this Wednesday at 7pm. The game is televised on ESPNU. BC has a knack for giving us a tough game when they play at home, and I expect Wednesday to be no different. If the Hokies think they can cruise in and grab an easy win, they are sorely mistaken. This isn't a must-win for VT, but it's pretty close. This game is definitely a situation where a loss hurts more than a win helps.
  • My friend Sam picked up a 12-pack of Saranac winter brews (named 12 Beers of Winter 2009) for the game yesterday. They were scrumtrulescent and I highly recommend them. I tasted the Belgian Ale, Black Lager, and Big Moose Ale... all delicious. I should have tried the Maple Porter, and the memory of missing out on that may always haunt me (until I pick up a 12 pack of my own).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wake Highlights

I thought I would attach the ESPN highlights from the Wake Forest game.

There is some solid footage of the Cadarian Raines block slash Dorenzo Hudson monster dunk. What I find hilarious is that the banked-in 3-pointer by Al-Farouq Aminu is a highlight. That's like having a highlight of a guy fumbling a football, tripping over himself, and finally falling forward to land on the football for a 3 yard gain. It's lucky, but the athlete definitely doesn't deserve credit for it. Let me help everyone understand this... nobody purposefully shoots a 3-pointer off the glass unless there is a hand in the way, they can't get a pass off (either because of good defense or the shot clock has wound down), and they absolutely can't get another shot. Every other banked 3-pointer that you see is an accident. Players don't practice shooting 3-pointers off the glass (unless they're just having fun with teammates). Sorry, I'm not sure why this pisses me off so much... I guess I have a strong dislike towards ignorance. I just can't stand when announcers say things like, "He banked it in! I think he called that!" when there was a clear shot for the 3-pointer and there was plenty of time on the clock. Why don't they just say the truth, "Wow that was an extremely lucky shot! Someone up there must really like Aminu."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It is now OK to freak out a little bit

Why is it okay to freak out? Because Virginia Tech basically punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament last night beating Wake Forest 87-83 in Blacksburg. It's not exactly set it stone... Tech obviously can't lose out the rest of their games and Wake obviously can't do that either. Wake took a 1-point hit in their RPI and fell to #12, but VT jumped up 6 spots to #44. We are basically in a "safe spot" as far as RPI is concerned as long as we don't drop back to #50 or worse. Even if our RPI falls to the 50s, I think we will be okay as long as we win at least one more ACC game. 2 would be better. A win against Duke on Sunday would make us a lock, but wins against Boston College and North Carolina State would get the job done.

The game last night was played at a frantic pace... definitely not what we're used to as VT fans, but this Hokie team has done a good job of adjusting to other styles of play besides the slow-down style we prefer. The game against VMI is a good example of this. The difference in this game came down to foul shots. Wake fouled VT a lot. VT didn't foul Wake as much (although I'm guessing most Wake Forest fans are not in agreement here, but they're a bunch of punks anyway so they can go cram it with walnuts). I thought the defining play of the night was Dorenzo Hudson's Sportscenter-worthy dunk with about 12 minutes left in the game. That dunk seemed to fire up our team and give them the encouragement to beat the Demon Deacons. Until that point in the second half, we basically traded baskets for 8 straight minutes. I wanted to hurt things during that stretch. Tech was shooting so well, but so was Wake. Then the rim-rocking jam by Hudson changed the course of the game. Since I am prone to making bullet points, here are some other things to note from last night's game:

  • Terrell Bell was a man. 7 offensive rebounds and 7 defensive rebounds (that's 14 total for all you liberal arts majors). He also had 4 blocks in the game. He didn't light up the scoreboard, but he lit up the crowd with some huge plays.
  • Jeff Allen was basically a non-factor in this one. He got in foul trouble keeping him out for long stretches and he turned the ball over when he was in the game. He had a few nice baskets, but you'd like him to be more of a presence against Al-Farouq Aminu. Instead...
  • JT Thompson showed why he's a legit candidate for sixth man of the year (you know, if such an award existed at the college level). He gives great defense despite being constantly outmatched in the height department, and he gives you scoring exactly when the team needs it. He made 5-10 shots from the field, but hit all 6 of his free throws... not bad for a 58% foul shooter (although he's really been much better than that in ACC play).
  • Malcolm Delaney seemed to at least BEGIN to understand that he can't look for contact on every single shot. There were a few plays he made where the Malcolm Delaney from two games ago would have given himself no chance to hit the shot and gone barreling into the defender hoping to get the foul, whereas this time he decided to put up a difficult but open shot. He made almost every shot he attempted that would fall into this category. I really hope that this is the Malcolm Delaney we see going forward... the one who knows the right time to draw the foul and yet also knows when to avoid the defender and put up the shot.
  • Obviously, a lot of credit needs to go to Seth Greenberg. At halftime, he realized that the Hokies had chances to shot fake and get their opponents up into the air for either easier shots or else chances at fouls, and the VT players capitalized on those chances. He also decided to play some zone defense to try to force the Wake Forest players to shoot long jumpers. I've been going back and forth with a few friends about whether this was actually successful or not. In my mind, Ish Smith destroyed us in the zone because he knew exactly where to drive the ball and then kick to the open man once he got double- or triple-teamed. And frankly, I thought the announcers gave Aminu far too much credit for Smith's good play... at least half of Aminu's points were easy dunks and layups made available by Smith drawing defenders to himself. At any rate, I need to watch the game again to see if I am remembering correctly. My initial thought is that LD Williams, a piss-poor jump shooter, torched us from the outside to the tune of 9 for 11 while we were dealing with Smith in the zone. I'll know more after another viewing.
  • Back to Greenberg... I just feel like he's done a better job with his halftime talks this year. The Hokies have rarely come out looking like they didn't know what to do in the second half this season, as opposed to last season where it felt like we were frequently out-coached in the second half. In all likelihood, it's not that Greenberg has gotten better or was worse last year, but it's that the players are more experienced and have been able to execute his advice better. Either way, I freaking love it.
  • Chas McFarland is a dirty piece of horse crap. I can't say it any nicer than that. I can't tell you how happy I was to see that the refs gave him his deserved technical foul after he walked directly towards JT Thompson and bumped him. I was afraid they hadn't seen this. Just in case you don't remember, McFarland did the same thing to Malcolm Delaney last year (starts around 1:10), except he threw a much harder shoulder into Delaney, and he did it from behind so Delaney didn't see it coming. Classy guy with a classy trash-stache.
  • Aminu is athletic and he can rebound, but what else can he do? I didn't see much of an ability for him to create his own shot and he doesn't seem to be a great shooter. So why is this guy an NBA lottery-pick in the making? Let's see what happens to his career when Ish Smith isn't around to inflate his stats.
The Hokies have a huge game against Duke this Sunday at 7:45 PM in Cameron Indoor Stadium. A win would lock us into a spot in the NCAA tournament, and would help us towards a higher seed. I am not going to expect a win here. Hardly anyone plays well at Cameron. I'm just looking for Tech to be competitive and show everyone that they belong in the NCAA tournament. And hey, if all that effort turns into a 'W', I'll be jumping up and down, screaming my head off like the rest of you while wearing my "Gobble, Gobble Bitches" T-shirt. Go Hokies.

Monday, February 15, 2010


That's 2 for 2 against the hated Hoos of UVA, and 5 out of the last 6. Maybe our nickname should be the Hoo-daddies instead of the Hokies? Done.

The defense on Saturday night was STOUT. I was planning to watch the game on DVR about a half-hour in so I could forward through commercials, but I accidentally caught the score of the game. It was 14-11 at that point. I remember thinking, "Man, we must be ice cold, but at least UVA is ice cold too." Then after watching the game, I realized it wasn't so much a factor of VT or UVA shooting poorly, it was more a testament to some amazing defense. These players just couldn't shake their opponents. The few open looks we got, we tended to make them. Ditto for UVA. The second half was a little different. Both teams had stretches where they were hot... we just had the last hot streak. Jeff Allen was so clutch with the dunk/and-1... then after that he hit that huge 3-pointer. He seemed well rested for the second half, and he should have been having only played about 3 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.

Malcolm Delaney continues to struggle with the referees. In the last two games, Malcolm has looked for the foul instead of looking for the open shot. This isn't necessarily a bad tactic if the refs are giving you the calls, but the last two games suggest that the referees are not planning on giving Delaney the foul shots that he deserves for drawing contact. I think that Malcolm may have to adjust his game if this keeps up.

Dorenzo Hudson continues to carry the Hokies through ACC play. He might not always be the high scorer, but he is the team leader and the loudest voice in the huddle. He's finding ways to contribute even on the rare poor-shooting night. He was the most consistent player on the court for the Hokies against UVA, and his foul-shooting turnaround has to be one of the most mind-boggling stories of the season, anywhere. Seth Greenberg says we can thank the new practice facility for that... players now have more than 2 baskets to use for free throw practice, and everyone on the team has to make 100 after each practice. It's paying dividends not just for Hudson, but for JT Thompson, Jeff Allen, and Terrell Bell. Heck, let's just say that it's good for everybody.

The UVA game was kind of a lose-lose situation. Or really, more like a tie-lose situation. There was no benefit to beating UVA besides the benefit of boosted pride (hence the "tie" reference, and any "kissing your sister" comparisons you might want to make). The win did absolutely nothing for our NCAA tournament resume. Even if we played UVA in every game to finish out the season, if we won all of them we would still be a bubble team on selection Sunday, so you can see just how little a win mattered here. A loss, however, would have certainly hurt our tournament bid and put us in a position where we needed to win another game somewhere down the line. That's what happens when the Selection Committee weights "good wins" higher than "bad losses", which they do. You can lose to literally anyone as long as you beat a few good teams and show that your team can play with the other teams in the tourney. However, if you go through your schedule beating all kinds of teams, but don't really have a signature win, you will probably be a 1-seed in the NIT.

Cue the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who will be gracing Cassell Coliseum with their presence tomorrow night. Wake comes in ranked #11 in the RPI... a strong team with a strong ranking. This is the optimal team for VT to beat in order to assure a bid to the Big Dance. Unlike Duke and Georgia Tech who are terribly hard to beat on their home courts, we play Wake Forest in Blacksburg. Unlike Maryland, Wake is almost certain to remain a top-notch team (particularly in the RPI rankings, which the Selection Committee uses as a guide). If the Hokies win this game tomorrow, they will likely only need one more win to go to the NCAA tournament, and it could come against a bottom-dweller (in other words, Boston College or NC State). There's a possibility that they would need to beat both BC and NC State, but that would only happen if Wake Forest went on a losing streak after losing to VT. Naturally, I'd love for VT to not only win tomorrow, but win every other game they play for the rest of the season. I'm just trying to look at this from a least-amount-of-effort standpoint. People can argue all they want about needing more ACC wins, but they won't be what matters. What will matter is having a top-25 RPI win and no bad losses. That's enough to punch your ticket if you've also won 20 games, which the Hokies already have. Even if we're supposedly "on the bubble" as far as ESPN is concerned, I can guarantee you we'd end up in the tourney.

So you can see why I'll be sweating bullets for the next 28 hours. A win puts us just a short hop away from our first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006! A loss makes our road that much more bumpy. Delaney, if there was ever a time for you to go 6-6 from the 3-point line, tomorrow would be it. LET'S GO... HOKIES... LET'S GO... HOKIES. (Cue "Enter Sandman", and fade to black)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Suck it, Raleigh

Virginia Tech won against NC State in an away game in Raleigh for the first time since 1917. Yes, you read that correctly. How absurd is that? It's not like NC State has been incredibly dominant over the years, especially recently, but for whatever reason the man in the gross red jacket (aka Sidney Lowe) has owned Seth Greenberg. Last night was different though. Behind 23 points from Dorenzo "Where the Heck Did That Come From?" Hudson, Tech managed to whoop the Wolfpack by 20 points on their home floor.

Frankly, I was getting a little tired of the Wolfpack-red handprints being left on our asses every time VT went down to Raleigh, so I guess Hudson was feeling the same. Jeff Allen had an active and impressive game with 14 points and 8 rebounds, as did JT Thompson with 12 points and 7 rebounds. Malcolm Delaney took what NC State gave him, and what they gave him were opportunities to get his teammates involved. Malcolm dished out 5 assists and only took 10 shots in the game. Allen and Victor Davila each recorded 4 blocks. Davila had a really tough time offensively against Tracy Smith, but was very effective against Smith on the defensive end, holding NC State's leading scorer to 12 points on 12 field goal attempts. Nicely done my Puerto Rican friend.

I had to add this in after my friend Dave brought it to my attention. One of the big reasons for the VT win was that NC State went 0-13 on their three-point shots, and a big reason for that is the way Greenberg had our players defending. Usually, when a post player on another team sets a high screen around the 3-point line, you will see our big man step out on the opposing guard to try to stop him while our guard is forced to run around the screen. This can leave the opposing guard open for a 3-pointer if VT's guard decides to go "over" the screen. This is almost always the defensive style that Greenberg prefers. Yesterday, however, Greenberg had our guys switching players when those screens happened, and by doing so we really seemed to surprise the Wolfpack. This creates a size mismatch, as you will have guards defending centers in the paint and centers defending guards on the perimeter. NC State wasn't ready for this, and they weren't able to take advantage of the size mismatch, with the exception of Dennis Horner, who isn't the type of player who can put a team on his back and carry them. Horner made some shots, but overall the Hokies were able to shut down the perimeter shooting of the Wolfpack, and that was the biggest contributing factor to our win.

A fan of any other team in the ACC might wonder why I'm getting so pumped up over a win against NC State, but they just don't realize our historic ineptitude against these chumps. This win brings us to 6-3 in the ACC. Things are looking good, but it's not the right time to rest on our laurels. Our next two games are at home against UVA and then Wake Forest. 2 wins would be incredible, but if we're going to pick a game to win, you have to hope that it's against Wake. For whatever reason, the RPI loves Wake Forest and a win against them would do a lot more for the Hokies than a win against our in-state rival. With that said, to quote Coleman's bikini-clad companion at the end of Trading Places, "Can't we have both?" I don't see why not. Virginia Tech has yet to lose a game in the Cassell this season, so you have to think the players will be keen on keeping that streak intact. One more win will give Virginia Tech 20 wins on the season. In a usual year, this would be enough to make the NCAA tournament, but with our craptacular schedule, we need 22 or possibly even 23 wins to get there. Keep chugging along, Hokies... the end is in sight.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Clemson Basketball = Rosie O'Donnell

Let's be honest, that game against Clemson was ugly. It was like watching Rosie O'Donnell in high definition for 2 hours. VT only shot 15% from the field in the first half... their worst shooting half in history. If it weren't for Clemson being ridiculously over-aggresive and fouling everything in sight, the Hokies could have easily lost that game by 10 or 15 points. But then again, if Clemson hadn't been so in-your-face defensively, then it is highly possible that VT would have shot better from the field. But then, maybe Clemson's best player, Trevor Booker, wouldn't have sat on the bench for so much of the game in foul trouble. So as you can see, the what-if game is dizzying and stupid, so let's not play it. Instead let's focus on the most important thing here... Tech is 5-3 and has just completed the first half of ACC play.

8 more games remain... 4 at home and 4 away. This is where Virginia Tech will have a chance to prove that they belong in the NCAA tournament. With upcoming games against Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Maryland, the Hokies will be looking to rack up a signature win that will punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament. A win against Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium would do wonders for us... it means we could probably go 2-6 the rest of the way and still make the NCAA tournament. I would rather not rely on that scenario though. The best thing for the Hokies to do would be to go at least 4-4 the rest of the way and secure a win against at least one of the teams mentioned before. The game I would target is Wake Forest because we play them at home and they have a good RPI value, sitting at #15 right now. Even if the second half of their ACC slate is less productive than the first half, I imagine they could still end up as a top 25 RPI team, and that's the qualification the selection committee really wants to see... a win against a top-25 team.

Aside from the games against Duke, Wake, GT, and Maryland, there is even more fun in the second half of this ACC schedule. We play NC State twice, who have historically OWNED (or PWN'D if you prefer) the Hokies since we have come into the ACC. This is highly disturbing, as the Wolfpack have been arguably the worst team in the ACC over that period of time. For whatever reason, they really understand how to play our style. Maybe it's Sidney Lowe and that wretched red jacket he wears. Maybe it was just that we struggle against long, athletic scorers like Courtney Fells, Gavin Grant, and Brandon Costner. Who knows. But I am sick of losing to them, and I'm sure our players feel the same at this point. The last intriguing thing is that we get to play our arch-rival, UVA, one more time. This time, it's going to be in Blacksburg. That last loss can't be sitting well with the Hoos, so I expect them to come into the Cassell with guns blazing.

I'd also like to take a little bit of time to gloat. I told you punks that UNC wouldn't be very good this year, but you just wouldn't listen to me. McDonald's All-Americans are nice, but unless they're NBA-ready talent (and I don't think anyone would EVER have accused John Henson, Dexter Strickland, or the Wear twins of being that good, even at the start of the season) then they're not going to be huge contributors as freshmen. UNC lost 4 players to the NBA. That's just too much to recover from. People recover from triple-bypass heart surgery easier than that. In 2 years, North Carolina will be back in a big way. The freshmen will have progressed. Will Graves and Ed Davis will be seniors, and they'll be among the best in the ACC (and probably the whole country). Until then, you can sleep all you want on the Tar Heels. Go ahead, grab a quick nap. They aren't going anywhere in the meantime.

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's Always Fun To Beat The Heels!

I don't care who you are, if you are not a North Carolina Tar Heels fan, then you absolutely love beating them. It doesn't matter that UNC is a middle-of-the-pack caliber team in the ACC this year. It's always nice to get a win against a team that regularly pulls in several McDonald's All-Americans every year. Fortunately for Virginia Tech, this batch of All-Americans isn't NBA-ready yet. They have a lot of growing up to do. John Henson had his best game of the season, but he wasn't terribly impressive. He had a lot of open dunks that came from poor rotation on Tech's part. David Wear had a nice game offensively, but he still looks over-matched against seasoned vets like 'Zo Hudson, JT Thompson, and Terrell Bell.

With all that said, UNC shot the ball better from the field last night. The keys to this win were the 9 extra possessions the Hokies gained on turnovers and the futility of the Tar Heels from the foul line. Once again, the ACC referees embarrassed themselves with another poor showing. The fouls were definitely not being called evenly as VT attacked the rim just as much as UNC and our boys' efforts were not rewarded at the same level that North Carolina's efforts were. Drawn charges for UNC were blocking fouls for VT. Body contact at the rim turned into fouls against VT, but no-calls for UNC. The students, the announcers, our coach... everybody seemed to know that the calls were poor except for the people making them. Cassell Coliseum was loud last night, and maybe we can partially thank the referees for that. I got a text from my friend Dave that read, "Is it possible for me to be more upset with the refs?" I think everyone watching that game felt the same way.

Foul trouble plagued Virginia Tech for almost the entire game. Malcolm Delaney, Jeff Allen, Terrell Bell, Victor Davila, and JT Thompson all had issues at one point or another. Delaney had to be pulled after getting his 4th foul with 12 minutes left to play in the second half. He came back in with 7 minutes left and never picked up a 5th foul. That's incredibly good work from Malcolm Delaney. Jeff Allen seemed to use much better judgment with his fouls in this game and when his outside shot abandoned him, Jeff did the smart thing and pushed the ball towards the rim. I thought it was an outstanding game for Virginia Tech on a night when no one (besides Hudson and Davila) was shooting the ball well particularly well. VT ramped up their defense in the second half to create turnovers and grab offensive rebounds, and those extra possessions evened out the poor shooting effort. VT also made 18 of 22 shots from the foul line... another key stat in the win, especially considering our usual propensity for suck at the foul line.

My only criticism from last night... feed the post! Davila was feeling it down low, hitting 3-4 and looking very confident in his post moves. Instead of continuing to get the ball to him and forcing UNC to double team, our guards decided to continually swing the ball around the perimeter and look to the high post where Allen and JT Thompson were setting up. The best (or worst depending on your viewpoint) example of this was a play where Davila had posted his man deep down low, a few steps from the basket. Delaney had the ball on the wing and could have easily fed Davila, but instead Delaney decided to drive the ball right into where Davila was posting. I'm not sure if he thought he could use Davila as a screen for his defender or what, but it didn't work, Davila lost his post position, and Delaney was forced to pull the ball back out and swing it around the perimeter. Like I said though, that's my only criticism. You can't fault the shots for not falling, but you can fault the types of shots we took, and we settled for a lot of long 2-pointers.

Now everyone needs to take a step back and remember that this UNC team isn't all that good this year and this win doesn't mean too much. A win against Clemson on Saturday would actually be better for our NCAA tournament resume. Clemson is #35 in the RPI right now, and a top-50 RPI win is always helpful to the resume. The thing that should make you a little nervous is that Clemson has had a week to prepare for VT, but Seth Greenberg will only have about a day and a half to prepare his team for Clemson. That's a tall order, particularly when you consider Clemson's unique full court trap. Teams would usually like several days to prepare for that trap. However, the Hokies handled the pressure from the trap so well last season that Clemson was forced to abandon the trap (and came back from 20 points down to win the game... grrrrr). Delaney and Hudson have had plenty of practice against the trap, but Erick Green is one guy who could use more time with it. We also don't have Hank Thorns back this season, and he was a big reason why the trap was useless against us (even if he was a complete non-factor once that trap was broken). Tech tends to play well in games with a quick turnaround like this one, so I am going to keep my fingers crossed.

In other news, Richmond is getting ready for another snow storm. Let me tell you just how unlucky we are here... it now will have snowed here 3 times this winter. The first two were over a foot of accumulation each time. The one today/tonight is supposed to be at least that bad. Every one of these snow storms has arrived on a Friday. So I haven't missed a single freaking day of work!! COME ON! What kind of bullcrap is this? If it's going to dump snow on us and force me to bust my hump shoveling all of it up, shouldn't I at least get to miss a day of work here and there?

Complete BS. I quit.

Monday, February 1, 2010

3 games down... where was I?

Wow, I haven't posted since the FSU game? That's pretty poor on my part. If you were a nun, I think I would hand you a ruler to slap my knuckles. The Hokies have won a close one against Boston College at home, won an extremely close one against UVA on the road, and lost a close one against Miami on the road. The loss moves Tech to 3-3 in the ACC, but the thing to note is that we have played 4 road games to only 2 home games. That means we have 6 home games left in the season compared to only 4 road games, and as you may well be aware, home games are usually easier to win. For one thing, the officiating tends to help out your cause. For whatever reason, ACC referees like to give the home team a BIG advantage in foul calls, which leads me to my first of many realizations during ACC play:

1) The ACC referees are simply terrible. When I say terrible, what I really mean is "uneven." In the case of the Miami game yesterday, both teams were using their hands and slapping a lot on defense, however the not-so-obvious calls were given to Miami and not to Virginia Tech. I realize that referees like to hear the roar of applause from the home crowd, but their goal should not be to please the crowd, it should be to call a fair game. Likewise, I thought the Hokies got lucky with a lot of calls when they played Miami at home, although the 'Canes still couldn't have won the game even with fair calls. When you have non-biased announcers wondering where calls are coming from (as was the case yesterday), you really need to wonder how good these referees really are.

2) Dorenzo Hudson is REALLY stepping up his game. Prior to ACC-play, watching Hudson shoots jump shots was like watching a bloody car crash. Now? It's still like watching a car wreck, except everyone is miraculously okay and $100 bills started showering down on them from the sky. I'm serious, his shot is UGLY, but lately it's been going in the hoop, so I really don't care what his form looks like. He's gained so much confidence this season, and is a legit scoring threat. A season ago, you could not depend on 'Zo to finish a fastbreak. The missed dunks reminded me of Deron Washington when he was a freshman. He would jump way too early and give himself no chance at either a layup or a dunk, resulting in a dunk clanging off the iron. This season, he's got to be one of the better finishers in the ACC. I think I can sum it all up best with an old Virginia Slims slogan; "You've come a long way, baby."

3) JT Thompson is really starting to assert himself on the offensive end. With the regression of Victor Davila's game, Thompson's emergence has been a breath of fresh air. You can kind of see his mind working and at some point during the game he just snaps and says to himself, "Okay, SOMEBODY has to take the ball strong to the hoop on this team." And then he does. In yesterday's game, Dwayne Collins was destroying us in the paint during the first half. Davila was too slow for him. Jeff Allen played too weak. In the second half, Thompson spent a lot of time guarding Collins, who bests him by 2 inches and 30 lbs, but Thompson (with the help of a double team) held his own. This might not seem like a big deal, but realize that the Hokies were double-teaming Collins when Allen and Davila were guarding him as well, and that didn't work at all. JT needs to be our high energy guy off the bench. Someone who can come into the game and light a spark under everyone's butt. In the last two games, he's really shown up.

4) When VT plays fast, active defense... we create turnovers and get buckets. When we are complacent and relegate ourselves to just defending the player and not the pass, then we get our butts handed to us. I thought that was the biggest reason for our loss last night. Tech allowed Miami to shoot 70% from the field in the first half and although the Hokies forced 8 turnovers, I don't think any of them led to a fastbreak basket. Most of them ended up with the Hokies inbounding the ball as Miami's defense was set and ready. Tech was down by 17 points at halftime. In the second half, the Hokies were jumping passes all over the place forcing steals that allowed for easy fastbreak buckets. Because of the turnovers and good offensive rebounding, Virginia Tech somehow climbed back into the game despite some scorching-hot 3-point shooting from the 'Canes. Tech's defense as of late is what has allowed us to stay in some games when our shooting has abandoned us.

5) That win over Virginia on Thursday was amazing. We were down by ten points with less than 3 minutes to play. You hardly ever see a team come out of a hole like that, but our guys battled their way to a win. As Seth Greenberg said, this team believes that they are going to win every time they get the game to overtime, so that back-breaking 3-pointer by Sammy Zeglinski to tie the game ended up being a moot point. In our team's mind, they had already won once the opening tip of overtime commenced. My brother, a UVA grad, was talking trash all game via text message. He got extremely quiet towards the end there. Also, I wanted to note Jeff Allen's ejection. I thought the ejection was ludicrous, but I thought the foul call was warranted. During the replay on TV, it definitely looked like Allen charged up that elbow and meant to throw it high. I don't think you can say that he meant to hit Jeff Jones in the head, but I think he realized that was a possibly when he did it. However, clear-out fouls like that happen all the time and I can't ever think of a time that they've resulted in an ejection. Just because Jones flopped harder than Deron Washington has ever flopped, that doesn't mean it's an eject-able offense. I think in this case, Jeff Allen's reputation hurt him more than the foul itself. Terrible decision, but it seemed to fire up our team, so thank you for being horrible, ACC refs!

6) VT is in a good place right now for making the NCAA tournament. We are 16-4 with 6 home games and 4 away games left (plus a shot at more wins in the ACC tournament). If we managed to win 4 of the 6 home games and 1 of the away games, that puts us at 21 wins... a good win total for the NCAA tournament. However, I think we will be sitting at home come Selection Sunday if we don't upset one of the high-RPI ACC teams. That means Duke, Georgia Tech, or Wake Forest. Unfortunately, we only get one shot at each of those teams. A win against Wake Forest would probably be the easiest since a) we play them at home and b) we beat them last season on the road, when they were arguably a better team. A win against Duke would be the best for us, but that win would have to come on the road. I could see it happening if Duke racks up a bunch of wins between now and then, but if they are coming off of a fresh loss, we can basically just punch their winning ticket right now. Georgia Tech will be an extremely tough opponent for us because their two best players are sizable post players. We'll probably have to double team Gani Lawal AND Derrick Favors, which will leave tons of space for Georgia Tech's other players to shoot and drive to the bucket. With the home-referee advantage, I am not looking forward to playing GT in that last game of the regular season. Anyway, did I get off point? Yeah I think I did. We need to win, but more importantly, for the selection committee to see that we belong in the NCAA tournament, we need to win against other teams that are expected to make it. It's that simple, and so far the Hokies have not been able to do that.

7) We play North Carolina this Thursday at 9:00. In a normal season, this would be a good chance to make a name for ourselves and get a high-caliber win on our resume. This season is different though... UNC has really struggled to beat anyone decent and they seem to have been really affected by the loss of Tyler Zeller (even though it doesn't really seem like he did too much). Don't let their name confuse you... the Tar Heels are a middle-of-the-pack ACC team at best. A win at home on Thursday would be great and is needed, but it's not the marquee win that will put our team over the top on Selection Sunday.