The Hokies suffered their first loss of the season tonight, 68-67, in a tough road test against the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Summary: The Hokies looked extremely unprepared for the Mountaineer’s defensive pressure. WVU extended their pressure way beyond the three point line and Tech had no answer. The Hokies were unable to penetrate inside the defense and were missing the open shots they did have. On top of everything, Jarell Eddie picked up his second foul only five minutes into the game.
The Mountaineers did a great job of contesting Erick’s shots, and didn’t allow him to score until eight minutes into the game. That’s all he needed to get started though, and scored the Hokies next nine points, which barely kept them in the game. WVU proceeded to go on a 13-0 run to take a 12 point lead with five minutes remaining in the half. Would the Hokies be able to come back from this deficit? At this point in the game you could feel the momentum completely on WVU’s side, and I was scared the lead would to continue to grow. The Hokies finished strongly and got the game within six points at the end of the half.
Listening to Bob Knight announce while watching two teams combine to shoot 35% is not the most fun thing to do. Similar to Oklahoma State, the Hokies were allowing the game to be played at WVU’s pace and were failing to get into transition. Our offense is not good in the half-court and it showed. How would come out in the second half?
We came out very fast paced, and shot the ball very well because of it. We forced turnovers and long rebounds which allowed us to speed up the game. Even when WVU would make a shot, Tech made an effort to pass the ball in as quickly as possible and sprint down the court, creating holes in the Mountaineer defense. Tech took the lead only three minutes into the second half, and began to pull away. The Hokies started to look like the better team, with the Mountaineer’s only keeping it close with great shooting from behind the arc. Everyone expected that to end at some point, but it didn’t, they continued to shoot lights out from long range, and the Hokies began trading two pointers with three pointers.
The game was tied at 62 with 2:30 remaining, and every Hokie’s heart began to beat faster. Cadarian was at the line to take the lead with 40 seconds remaining. He missed both, and Robert Brown was called for a foul after what looked to be a clean steal. It began to look like the game was over, but Brown made a crazy bank shot from three to take a one point lead with 15 seconds remaining. With five seconds remaining, West Virginia’s Juwan Staten made a wide open layup to win the game. There was some confusion from the defense on that play; everyone was supposed to switch men, but Robert and C.J. failed to communicate.
Quick thoughts: We let a backup averaging 1.3 ppg get a double-double on us. Not something you expect a team to do and we let their bench score 36 points today. We gave their bigs room to shoot, and they ended up making them, which backfired on us.
They were lucky during the second half, making seemingly every three pointer they shot. Just a little stat to describe their successes: They made only five two pointers but seven three pointers. They shot 34.3% to our 48.6% in the second half, but the threes gave them the win.
Not having Jarell caused us difficulty rebounding. Some of the balls bounced right into their hands, but that also had to do with our inability to box out.
The team almost came through with the win but things just didn’t go our way today. Sometimes it’s like that, and I want to see how we respond.
Point Guards: Well, I’m starting to wonder if Erick is ever going to have a bad game. He comes out every night and produces no matter the circumstances, and teams have yet to find a way to stop him. If he keeps this up, this team will go far and he’ll be making some good money next year.
I don’t like seeing Marquis in the game for 25 minutes. He struggles offensively and makes the matchup 4 on 5. He stood in the corner on offense and WVU didn’t have to respect him. When he does get the ball, he runs out of control at the basket and throws up prayer. I would’ve rather had Marshall Wood at the 3 to help with rebounding.
Shooting Guards: Robert Brown took many ill-advised threes today, but did a great job getting to the basket and finishing in transition. He had a career high 21 points and helped make up for Jarell being on the bench. When there’s a lot of dribbling at the top of the key, it’s nice being able to watch him drive to the hoop and make something happen.
Forwards: Having Jarell in foul trouble was a game changer. Jarell adds a lot to the team offensively, and not having him on the floor for the majority of the day really affected us. We missed his seven rebounds per game, and were unable to find someone to replace his presence on the boards. Not having him was the main reason we were out rebounded so badly.
C.J. played a good game. He was effective on the boards and provided someone athletic and with size down low. He was efficient scoring and provided great defense. The only points Tech really allowed in the post were tip-ins. He finished with a career high three blocks.
I was extremely disappointed Coach Johnson didn’t put Marshall Wood in for more than five minutes. He was effective rebounding and would’ve given us more size against their lineup as opposed to Rankin. In his five minutes of play, he managed to pick up two rebounds and tip a few more to his teammates. He’s more well-rounded offensively compared to Rankin and Marshall was the guy we needed out there to fight for rebounds.
Centers: Cadarian missed his free throws at the end of the game, and that really stuck out. For a guy shooting 70%, I expect him to make at least one. He did fight for offensive rebounds late in the game, but all that comes to mind is the missed free throws.
JVZ had a nice dunk and finished with his normal night, I would’ve liked him to have been more physical rebounding but he had a couple blocks to make up for it.
Stat of the Game: A lot of people will say it was being out rebounded 49-38, 23 of which were offensive. That contributed, but a team almost doubling their three point percentage did us in. The Mountaineers on the season were shooting 23% from behind the arc, and they finished the game over 40%. They made 10 three pointers, and only 14 two pointers, and the game wouldn’t have been close if they shot their average.
Mike’s Player of the Game: Erick Green keeps playing like an All-American. He finished with 23 points, a career high 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and ZERO turnovers. He’s had the flue for the past two days and lost seven pounds on top of that. Amazing performance by Green.
The Hokies played 10-15 good minutes of basketball the entire night, and lost by one to a team that shot lights out from deep and had 23 offensive rebounds. People said this game would show what kind of team we really are, and I think it did just that. I can only take positives away from today and even though we lost, I’m extremely impressed with our team and predict we will crack the top 25 at some point.
Hopefully Hokie Nation won’t give up on this team after one loss, and will still come out and support. Let’s pack Cassell Monday night at 7 p.m. against Mississippi Valley State and get a nice bounce back win.