Virginia Tech became 5-0 for the first time since the 1984-1985 season after a 87-76 victory over Appalachian State. Here are my thoughts on the game below:
Summary: The Hokies got out to a very slow start in this game, after Appalachian State did an excellent job of denying Tech’s transition offense. Tech wasn’t playing the best defense and Appalachian State was making the majority of their shots, allowing them to be set on defense every time we came down the floor. We weren’t doing well in our halfcourt sets which lead to turnovers and being unable to get in a groove. Our defense began to step up and started forcing missed shots, and turnovers, allowing us to play in transition. We showed how much more comfortable we are in transition, making five straight shots. After playing pretty poorly for the majority of the first half, the Hokies allowed ASU to keep the game close. Poor defense led to the overall struggle in the first half but the Hokies still managed to shoot an incredible 56% from the field.
The Mountaineers continued to fight and keep the game close even tying it up at 50 five minutes into the second half. Appalachian State was killing the Hokies on the boards and shooting extremely well today. Joey and Dot were pretty much nonexistent tonight, struggling to get things going and rebound. With about 10 minutes left in the ball game we started to get momentum, and started running away with it. Tech went on a 13-2 run which all but sealed the game. The Hokies ended up winning the game 87-76 but the score does not indicate how close it actually was.
Quick thoughts: Virginia Tech again struggled on the boards, getting out rebounded 35-27, and allowing 12 offensive rebounds, and after five games I think it’s safe to say we are going to have difficulties all year with that. In ACC play, whether we win or not will be decided by how well we rebound. We most likely will get outrebounded every game, it’s just how well we control it. I would be happy if we kept the rebounding margin somewhat close in every game. We can shoot with the best in the country, hitting 50% of our shots on the day, and that is with shooting our worst from three this year (only 28%). Erick Green and Jarell Eddie look like they will be our primary scorers this year, each scoring over 20 for the second straight game.
Point Guards: Erick Green set a career high in points for the second straight game. I now see why he decided to not transfer and play under Johnson. He had 27 points even with shooting poorly from outside. He was perfect again from the line for now the third straight game. He’s 31-31 in free throws. That’s incredible!!! I’m curious to see how long he’s going to play this well, and how the team responds when he has a bad night. Marquis Rankin, boy does he play good defense. He’s so quick that he’s able to play unbelievable on ball defense. He’s also a great help defender, traps very well, and always gets his hand on the ball. He is going to be a huge asset for us defensively.
Shooting Guards: Robert Brown struggled to get his shot going for the second game in a row. I’m not too concerned, but I really think we’ll need him next game against Iowa. He looked the best at the free throw line today than he has in his entire career, so that’s an improvement (yes, I’m a glass half full kind of guy). He ended up with 6 assists which lead the team. He’s second on the team in assists this year, showing he’s not just a shooter and gets others involved. He is dangerous when driving which leads to wide open three pointers form help defense. Just something I’ve noticed this season. Unlike the previous games this year, Will Johnston hardly played, and didn’t put up any threes while he was on the court.
Forwards: Jarell had another incredible night, getting 23 points on only nine shots. He didn’t miss a shot until late in the game. He has improved so much this year. He now is able to post up, drive, shoot off the dribble, and continue to sink three pointers. He is by far the most efficient scorer and has shown he will be a primary offensive threat this season. When Erick has his struggles, look for our team to go through Jarell for scoring. To start the night he drained a three from five feet beyond the three point line, and never looked back. I want to see how much he levels out from beyond the arc, he’s currently shooting a ridiculous 59% on a fairly large sample size (27 shots, which leads the team). He also had two nice dunks on the night, which got the crowd pretty excited. Thank goodness for Marshall Wood and C.J. Barksdale tonight. They each had their best game of their best games of the season, finishing with 13 and 10 points respectively. No I’m not all about points, C.J. had a season high in rebounds, and was perfect from the line. Marshall also collected eight rebounds. Had we not had both those guys out there, we would’ve gotten killed on the boards even more. Those two alone had over half of our team’s rebounds. C.J.’s shot was also on, so he was able to stretch the defense by stepping outside occasionally. He was also very versatile and stepped into the 5 spot at some points during the game. Hopefully he builds from this game and has a big game against Iowa. As Coach Johnson said, Wood is getting better every minute. Every game he does better and better and this afternoon was his best performance of the year. He’s only five games into his freshman year and is already impressing. I’m curious to see how he does against stiffer competition these next few games.
Centers: Cadarian and Joey had pretty lackluster performances. Cadarian didn’t score until there were three minutes left in the game, and struggled with foul trouble throughout the second half. He played very sparingly and was forgettable. I did like the effort he showed at one point in the game, diving for a 50-50 ball (Seth would’ve been proud), which I think ended up as a jump ball. Joey played the least he has all year, and ended up with zero rebounds. He was a contributor to our rebounding troubles. Overall the center had their worst game o the year, but hopefully they can pick it up in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Stat of the Game: The Hokies made 30 of 39 free throws today. That is near 80% for the ENTIRE team. In a game with 45 fouls, it was important that Tech made their free throws to win the game.
Mike’s Player of the Game: I have to give it to Jarell for the second straight game. He was extremely efficient once again and I think he showed how well rounded his game has become. He literally did everything this game and really helped spark our offense.
Guys, I think Joe is going to have to rename the blog CUZ WE A #BASKETBALLSCHOOL NOW. FINAL FOUR YA’LL, BUY YOUR TICKETS. In all seriousness, this team has really surprised me through the first five games. We’re averaging over 85 points per game (who cares who we’re playing, that’s a lot), and I think everyone is enjoying this playing style for a change. We’ll know more about this team in the next two weeks, and we’ll be able to see how good they’re going to be.
The Hokies will be taking on Iowa next Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU. If you are anyway near Blacksburg I beg you to come out and support the team. We could really use a big crowd to get the players excited in their biggest game of the season so far. If you can come, do it.
One last thing: LET’S #BEATUVA TOMORROW. We haven’t had the best season, but we still have a chance to become bowl eligible and send our seniors off with a win in Lane. Scream the most you have this year. It’s the last chance you’ll have for 10 months. Let’s keep the Commonwealth Cup in our possession for at least another year. GO HOKIES!!!