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Feb
04
2018

So What’s Up With Virginia Tech Men’s Basketball? Is it NIT or Bust?

 

Good evening, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) sports fans.

Even though it’s the evening of the Super Bowl, it’s basketball day here at @AllSportsDACC.

And we’re checking in on Virginia Tech men’s basketball.

Since I last wrote about the Hokies (and honestly questioned whether Virginia Tech was an NIT team), they went on a three game winning streak over North Carolina, a short-handed Notre Dame team (with Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell out of the lineup), and Boston College (which was a much bigger win than people think as Duke lost in Conte Forum).  Justin Robinson had 23 assists and 2 turnovers in this span.  Many folks thought Virginia Tech had turned a corner – and quality basketball was back.

So, the Hokies played Miami this past Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd in Cassell Coliseum.  And I saw a team that let Miami drive into the lane on offense at will (Miami could have paid real estate taxes as it penetrated the lane so much).  The Hokies defense was ridiculously awful.  In conference play, Virginia Tech’s opponents are shooting 43% from the field.   However, this past Saturday, Miami was 29 of 57 from the field (including 10 of 21 from three-point land).  As I said, many of those hoops were Hurricane player just driving directly unabated to the hoop.  I’m wondering to myself – how are Coach Larranaga’s Hurricanes getting to the hoop so easily?  Buzz Williams had some thoughts on that (via @NormWood):

Tech (16-7, 5-5 ACC) gave up a big run to Miami in the first five minutes and could never regain the lead. The loss dropped Tech to 2-3 at home in ACC play, and made Williams question the collective effort of some of his veteran players.

“That would be what I’m disappointed in the most,” said Williams, whose team hosts North Carolina State next Wednesday. “That’s not what you want to talk about in February, particularly when it’s a sold-out game, particularly when it’s at home, particularly after the last time you played (in Cassell Coliseum) it was a really good win, particularly after two consecutive road games. I wish I had an answer to that. Maybe that would solve it, or help solve it, but I don’t know that that’s a magic pill.”

…..

Forward Kerry Blackshear also had an afternoon to forget, finishing with two points on 1-of-4 shooting from the floor and one rebound in just 15 minutes. The 6-foot-10 redshirt sophomore started the game, but he sat the bench for nearly the first 11 minutes of the second half, watching freshman P.J. Horne (eight points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes) play in his place.

Blackshear has had to sit extended minutes on the bench at other times this season because of foul trouble, but fouls didn’t have anything to do with his bench time against Miami. He didn’t commit a foul against the Hurricanes.

“I just didn’t think he played hard,” said Williams, whose team was out-rebounded 41-28, including 12-7 on the offensive glass. “I didn’t think collectively – it’s not (Blackshear), it’s us – I didn’t think collectively we played hard enough.”

…..

Miami’s guards had success in the first half getting into the lane on inadequately defended straight-line drives on its way to building a 44-32 halftime lead. Miami’s 44 points tied for the second-most Tech has given up in the first half all season.

So, Norm saw exactly what I saw in that Miami basically paid land-use real estate taxes on Virginia Tech’s “defensive lane.”

Here’s what site friend, @ChadWillis, had to say:

 

I agree.

So, where are we at?  Unless the Hokies defense somehow gets better, Virginia Tech might not get an NIT bid.  There are no gimmes left on the schedule.  Virginia Tech has home games left with NC State, Clemson, Louisville, and Duke.  The Hokies must go on the road to Virginia, Duke, Georgia Tech, and Miami.  There are no “gimmes” on that schedule.  None.  Virginia Tech must win three to get an NIT bid.  Four Virginia Tech regular season wins and two ACC tournament wins would get an NCAA bid.  Five regular season wins and one ACC tournament win would probably get the Hokies an NCAA bid.  I’m having a hard time finding three wins on this schedule simply because Virginia Tech’s defense is as bad as I’ve seen it in a long time.  I don’t miss much from the Greenberg era, but I do miss the defense.  Virginia Tech might need an angel to get to the postseason:

The Hokies must go back to the basics where they go 1-0 on every possession – then they put together a string of good possessions – to win a game – and go 1-0 vs. every opponent.  The Hokies are not good enough where they take possessions off and allow an opponent to pay real estate taxes in the lane.

Go 1-0 on every possession, Hokies!!

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