Sunday, March 09, 2008

Virginia Tech Basketball

To say I have mixed emotions right now would be an understatement. The Hokies stood on the verge of playing their way into the NCAA tournament with a win over Clemson and they had it in hand and couldn't score or hit free throws to win a must-have game on the road. So that hurts.

But then, this team full of freshmen wasn't even supposed to be in the top half of the league much less finish 4th and get a 1st round bye in the ACC tournament. And yet here they are. So I am proud of them.

However, watching the Hokies play basketball in an exercise in total frustration. Just like the Virginia Tech football team, the basketball team defense is absolutely intense and hard-fought. Clemson was limited to 3 FG in the final 12 minutes of the game. That is amazing. 

Unfortunately, just like the football team, the offense is a demonstration in poor execution, fundamentals and even more similarly to the football team a lot of it stems from not having a floor general. The Hokies best leader is 5'7" guard Hank Thorns and he doesn't have nearly enough playing ability to be a solid guard at the ACC level. He does have great toughness and heart, but the Hokies need more size and ability. And they have it in Malcolm Delaney. The problem is that Delaney is a shooting guard playing at the point. He is tall and quick with a decent shot, but he doesn't manage the game and drive-and-dish like a point guard is supposed to. That's not encouraging.

Those who know me, know how physically and emotionally exerting it is for me to watch a football game. Well, watching a Hokies basketball game is MENTALLY exerting. I can feel myself going crazy watching them run around like lost sheep on offense. Watching games like Wake Forest and Clemson slip away is like watching my own sanity slip away. So that's not good.

And to make matters worse, now the Hokies, having lost to Clemson, are going to need at least two wins in the ACC tournament and unfortunately that second one is very likely going to have to be against the number 1 team in the country - the UNC Tarheels. And all that assumes the Hokies get past their first round opponent which is possibly going to be NC State. The Wolfpack are terrible but they have some sort of mindmeld over the Hokies when it comes to basketball, having beaten them 4 straight times. That's not good.

What is good is that the Hokies have this opportunity. They weren't supposed to finish this highly in the conference considering that 5 freshmen get significant playing time for the squad. But they did. And now they aren't supposed to win 2 games in the ACC tournament. But they might. And that would be VERY GOOD. I just hope my mind can hold out a little longer.



Lefty said...

The pity is that the only reason they won't make the NCAA's is because thet lack that "signature win." 9 wins in the ACC (and 3 sweeps) is signature enough, no?

MadJay said...

Unfortunately not. They needed to have 1 win against a good opponent (i.e Clemson, Duke, UNC, Miami or any nonconference opponent that will be a 10 seed or higher in the tournament). Now that win will have to come in the ACC tournament. It's still very possible, just more difficult.

Anand "EhhTee" Trivedi said...

To have a serious case to be admitted, the Hokies would probably have to go deep into the ACC Championship. Wins by San Diego, George Mason, and Siena yesterday severely hurt Tech's chances as these teams are now their respective conference champs and their victories were over teams that will eat up three of those precious at-large spots.

Tech would have to beat the winner of the Miami/NC State game, and then go on to beat North Carolina (as they are likely to advance past the winner of the Wake Forest/FSU matchup).

Even then the Hokies would not be guaranteed a spot. It is likely for the Hokies to make the NCAA Tournament they would have to make if not outright win the ACC Championship.

I'm resolved to accept that the Hokies will be a high seed in the NIT.

As a side note, I am simply astonished to see the Hokies at a double digit RPI rating (57). One thing to be proud of: gone are the days of the 200+ RPI rating.

MadJay said...

I respectfully disagree. I think a win over UNC in the semifinals would absolutely lock the Hokies in. The NCAA's have only ever refused a 9-7 ACC team twice in history and they aren't going to do it to a team that beats the #1 team in the country if the Hokies are able to do that. Of course that "IF" is the size of the Empire State Building but hey, stranger things have happened (i.e. winning the NIT in 1995).

Hokie Guru said...

Big win over Miami.

MadJay said...

Huge even. That win puts the Hokies at 60/40 to make the tourney. The win over UNC would make them a lock. I will be going to the ACC title game on Sunday if the Hokies beat UNC.


Hokie Guru said...

We need a couple of other things if we lose to UNC... we can't have Minnesota (my home state) win the Big 10... that is our worst nightmare... and it might be a possibility... Minnesota is playing out of their minds right now... Tubby Smith is a great coach, period... this is just one example of a team that needs to lose... I think you all get the drift of what I'm saying here... the conference tournament favorites need to be the favorites and win their tournaments :-)

Baseballbrett said...

Well, they ended up with a number 1 seed in the NIT, and as dissapointed as I was to see them miss the NCAAs, I am still truly amazed at how well the team performed given the circumstances. Hopefully the offense will continue to develop, and Delaney will become a better PG, because he and Vassallo have a chance to put up serious numbers next year.

Hokie Guru said...

I think we could actually start another freshman again at PG... Delaney's natural position is SG.

I went to my first game in the Cassell this year... that place rocks... it was the UVA game... but we need to get more students in their... Weaver needs to fricking wake up... this could be one of the most dominating home advantages in ACC basketball.

MadJay said...

Great call about the Cassell being a huge home court advantage. The announcers couldn't say enough good things about the atmosphere!

You're right about Weaver needing to wake up though. Spend $90,000 and GET SOME GOOD LIGHTING IN THERE FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!! I mean we can come up with millions for a practice center but for the facility we put on TV let's allow it to look like a cave. Ridiculous.

Delaney is a shooting guard no question. Thorns isn't the answer at point. I hear very good things about this Durant kid next year (cousin of Kevin Durant) and I hope he delivers because with a good point guard the Hokies could win the ACC.

Can you imagine if you are Nigel Munson right now, staring up at the ceiling realizing you could have a chance at an ACC title if you'd just stayed at VT? Wow.

Hokie Guru said...

What pisses me off is that Nigel Munson took Stephen Curry's scholarship, madjay.