Happy New Year, Hokies and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) fans – hope you all had a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year from all of us at All Sports Discussion. It’s been awhile since I posted an update on Virginia Tech men’s basketball – and as we enter the ACC, this is probably the right time. We’ll give you a short synopsis of the good, the bad, and the ugly for the performance of this year’s men’s hoops team. In addition, we’ll also discuss what you can expect for the rest of the year. Here we go:
- Erick Green – At this point, there are very few guards that are playing better in college basketball than this young man. Mr. Green is the leading scorer in the nation (has that ever happened at Virginia Tech?). His performance is so important, that it dictates the overall results of the team. Who scores 35 points on the Hoos? No one.
- The Hokies 7-0 start right out of the gate. Hokies (and some ACC) fans were legitimately excited about the uptempo style of play that new coach James Johnson brought to Blacksburg (especially after that dumpster fire football season – in the month of November, the men’s basketball season had more wins that the football team – that never happens!!). Yes, some of the teams were not all that great (e.g. VMI, Appalachian State), but there were some very good wins vs. Oklahoma State (at the time, the #15 team in the nation who had a win over NC State) and Iowa in the ACC – Big 10 challenge.
- Virginia Tech’s “win” vs. Bradley in the Continental Tire Classic in Las Vegas, NV. Yes, a win is a win – but we had one of the ugliest performances the Hokies have had in years. Virginia Tech had 24 (!!!!!) turnovers in the game. Thank the networks for not televising this game. It did show, however, that the Hokies could win a game – and not be at their best (and of course, this is the understatement of the year).
- Rebounding. Virginia Tech does not have a player ranked in the top 150 players in individual rebounding (Jarell Eddie checks in at #241 at 6.6 rebounds per game – yeah, he is our small forward – tells you we are getting nothing from the power forward or center spot).
- Turnovers – Virginia Tech’s turnover margin is at -1.3 (e.g. our opponents have 192 total turnovers – and and we have 215). Against Colorado State, we had 15 turnovers. In the game with BYU, we had 16 turnovers. We’ve already talked about the game with Bradley where we had 24 turnovers.
- Losing to Georgia Southern. If Virginia Tech could ask for a Christmas gift, it would ask for a “do-over” on that game with Georgia Southern (RPI 253).
- Depth. We knew our depth would tough this season (we have eight scholarship players – and Marshall Wood is injured), but when a coach has to bench a player on a thin bench for lack of effort, we’ve got issues.
- Our half court offense. If it’s possible, our half court offense is even worse than it was last year.
- Team Defense. For the first time since 1936-37, Virginia Tech has lost three straight games by 20 points or more points – that year, it was to Washington and Lee, Catholic University, and Navy. This year, it was to Colorado State, BYU, and Maryland. We only had a chance in the first half of the Colorado State game. If you throw Boston College in the mix, Virginia Tech gave up an average of 91.25 points per game. Through January 23, 2013, Virginia Tech has the 314th ranked scoring defense in the country (this is a volatile statistic that changes on daily basis, but woof). That is horrifying. You can expect very few wins when your team defense is this porous. Just wait until we play teams like Duke, UNC, NC State, Miami, etc. that have excellent perimeter shooting. Woof.
- Worst loss to the Hoos in 13 years. The Virginia Tech loss to Virginia was our most lopsided loss to the Hoos since November 2000 (Ricky Stokes, UVA grad, was VT’s coach). The Hoos scored 74 points – that’s like a normal team scoring in the 90’s on the Hokies.
- Coaching adjustments? I’m not a coach – so it’s hard to comment on in-game adjustments. But I do think some of James Johnson’s statements have been curious. I look for more than a coach just to say, “They weren’t making those shots all year.” Or, “We have to give up something.” There were no in-game adjustments – at all – on Colorado State, Maryland, or Virginia’s three-point shooting (and their coaches made us pay).
So What’s the Outlook For the Rest of the Season?
- Today, Erick Green is no worse than a 2nd team All-American and absolutely first team all-ACC. He and Duke’s Mason Plumlee are #1 and #1a for ACC’s most improved player, too.
- Last year, I mentioned that the Hokies could have a 4-12 record in the 2011-2012 season if they did not pick up their level of play. I was right on the money. Exactly. This year, the Hokies will likely have a worse ACC record. I see potential wins vs. Georgia Tech at home – and maybe Clemson at home (as that is Erick Green’s senior night)… but even winning those games will be difficult as Georgia Tech will have revenge on their minds for their home loss to VT – and Clemson will absolutely work us in the half court. I love my Hokies, but I do not see any other wins on the schedule. So, in ACC play, I see our floor as a 2-16 record – and 4-14 is the ceiling for this team. The games vs. Miami could be very ugly.
- Even though this team will most likely have poor results on the court, you also should not give up. Go and support this team – because the guys on this team need your support. Especially, Erick Green – I will be at his senior night game – he’s given so much at Virginia Tech, it’s the least I can do. I don’t know if we will have another player like him for at least a decade if not more – he’s a special player and deserves as much support as you can give him.
FWIW, Tech Hoops asks if James Johnson is the New Bryan Stinespring. It is worth the read – and it’s well thought out (I don’t think I’m ready to refer to James Johnson as Bryan Stinespring yet) – Niemo at @techhoops essentially calls for Jim Weaver, the athletic director, to resign. I do think that James Johnson needs players and time before the rush to judgement.
What are your thoughts on this season update? Agree? Disagree? Let us know!!