VT-Iowa Recap

The Hokies came out firing on all cylinders tonight in their first big win of the season. They took down the Iowa Hawkeyes in the ACC-B1G Challenge 95-79. Here are my thoughts on the game:

Summary: The Hokies started out shaky but still kept the game close through the first media timeout. They weren't doing so hot on the boards and were struggling defensively, giving up dunk after dunk after dunk. We were trapping the big man down low every time he received the ball, and this allowed Iowa to have wide open shots. The Hawkeyes were doing a great job with their perimeter defense, were pressing extremely well, and weren't allowing the Hokies into their bread and butter transition offense. Iowa did a god job throughout the entire half holding Erick Green and Jarell Eddie in check. They finished with 12 total points at the half. Tech's supporting cast, however, was extremely productive and helped us keep the game close. Similar to the past games, the Hokies began to go on a run by forcing turnovers and getting into transition. We finished on a 10-1 run to end the half and held an eight point lead at half time.

We didn't really have too much of Erick in the first half, but boy did he begin to take over the game in the second. He went on his own little 9-0 run to start the second half. He extended the lead to 17, and it began to look like we were about to blow the roof off of Cassell. LOLNOPE. We proceeded to give up 14 straight points to Iowa, and it was now a three point game. During this run, Iowa slowed down the pace and forced Tech into their half-court offense. Iowa was playing a 2-3 zone and our offense started to look like Greenberg had come back to coach: pass around the arc, and then take a contested shot as the shot clock expired. After four minutes without scoring, Jarell was finally able to split the defense and make a layup. Now the question was how we would respond to this run? We began to push the tempo, and got the game back to a fast paced, high scoring game. This prevented Iowa from being able to get set in their 2-3 zone and the Hokies slowly began building a lead. We got the lead to 11 with nine minutes to go and never looked back. Virginia Tech had its largest lead of the night with two minutes remaining, a surprising 21 points, and was able to relax for the rest of the game.

Quick thoughts: So raise your hand if you though Tech was going to win by more than 15 points tonight. No one? What about winning the rebounding battle? Nope? Okay, that's what I thought. This was an unexpected victory that has really gotten Hokie Nation excited. The team played an inspired game tonight, looking to prove that they are for real, and every single person contributed. This is the biggest team effort I have even seen in my years watching Virginia Tech basketball. Everyone had a role tonight and contributed tremendously. This team is a blast to watch and I really enjoy seeing players WANT to be out there on the court. The team fought hard tonight and was rewarded with a win. We took care of the ball and played an extremely physical game, that's why we won tonight.

Point Guards: Erick Green had another "Wow" performance after finishing with 24 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. He was held in check for the majority of the first half, and then really changed the game in the second half. He did a great job getting everyone involved and made great decisions the entire night, including always getting it to the right guy during the fast break. Unfortunately, his streak of free throws ended at 37 straight. That is the only bad thing that happened tonight from him (Yep, he was that good). Marquis Rankin was in foul trouble all night and didn't get to play much because of it. He was a little reckless tonight defensively. He did however shoot well tonight, something we hadn't seen from him yet.

Shooting Guards: Robert Brown played the best game he has all year. He shot 75% from the floor and was able to drive on Iowa all night in our half-court offense. Not only did he shoot well, he got everyone involved with the incredible passes he makes, and some are even a little too nifty and our own players don't see it coming. He helped make up for Jarell Eddie's struggles with scoring and was the Hokies second leading scorer. Big props to Rob, he really stepped up tonight. Will Johnston makes threes, it's what he does. He struggles to do anything else well. Coach Johnson put him in tonight, and he immediately made a three pointer, however, he became a liability on the defensive end and had difficulties getting around screens and following his assignment.

Forwards: Jarell Eddie never really got it going offensively tonight, but still had a solid effort. He took three bad shots (something I'm not used to seeing, maybe had to deal with frustration from his difficult start) but still brought us valuable points from driving the ball. He continued his rebounding success on the season and finished with seven rebounds, which I will always take from a small forward. C.J. Barksdale played the best game of his career tonight. He played the most physical game he's had since he's been at Tech. He fought hard in the post and got his fair share of rebounds from it. Not only was his presence felt on the boards, but he also had a major impact defensively. The stats only say one block, but he got his hand on the ball while it was going up a lot. He also is one of the more athletic big men we've had, and was extremely useful in transition. He had multiple baskets come on the fast break. Finishing with 11 points and 7 rebounds against a team of Iowa's size is no small feat, and should be recognized. Marshall Wood again had trouble getting the ball in the hoop. He was 1-6, but made up in other ways. Numerous times I saw him go up hard for a rebound, something you don't normally see out of a freshman. He's a very physical player and did some dirty work tonight.

Centers: Cadarian had a typical performance, and was excellent from the free throw line. He finished with nine points and six rebounds, and was a part of getting Iowa in foul trouble. The only way Iowa's big men were going to stop him was by fouling, so that's what they did. JVZ surprised me tonight. He didn't let Iowa push him around and finished with a career high in points tonight, with 10. His t3 offensive rebounds all led to points. The only complaint I havd was he sometimes got pinned under the basket, had no chance of making the shot, but still took it anyway. Best performance of the year for him, by far.

Team: I had to add this section for tonight. This was truly a team effort. We had five guys in double figures (almost six). We got 22 points from our bench players, and they kept us in the game for the first half. We shared the ball, played with intensity, and everyone contributed. Nights like these make the team even more fun to watch. Everyone gave 100% tonight, and the score showed it. We believed we could do it and we got it done.

Stat of the Game: The Hokies won the rebounding battle 36-30. We played a really big team tonight. I was going to be more than happy if we tied with rebounds. We surprised everyone with our rebounding ability tonight, and I think a lot had to do with the effort we played with.

Mike's Player of the Game: I think I need to start renaming this part to Mike's Player of the Game Other than Erick Green. He did it again tonight. He didn't have too many points in the first half but stayed patient and took over the second half. I'm starting to believe he is the best point guard in the ACC until someone proves me otherwise.

We again had our troubles from three point range, but that didn't matter. We found a way to get it done inside and finished shooting 52.5% on the night. We finished with only nine turnovers and shot 90% from the free throw line. We did everything well tonight. This performance has gotten me really excited but I'll have to wait a little longer to see how good this team really is. I do know one thing though; they will put up points. We're averaging 87 points per game which is currently in the top ten in the nation.

Our next game is Saturday at 2 p.m. against undefeated #15 Oklahoma State. Cassell Coliseum should be full this weekend. Make the right decision and go to the game. Go Hokies!

Comments

Der fliegende Holländer

I heard at least one other person refer to van Zegren as the flying Dutchman, which might be the best nickname idea ever. Hopefully it catches on

RIP Stick It In

starting to believe in this team

beat okie state and i'll start thinking we can make some noise in the conference.

the kids are having fun and giving 100% effort.

great student turnout and energy as well

"We're your family right?!? You love your family right?!?"-Dadi Nicholas
"That kid you're talking to right there, I think he played his nuts off! And you can quote me on that shit!" -Bud Foster

After our unbelievable start to the season from behind the arc I really wanted to see what we'd look like when the 3 ball wasn't going in, well we look pretty damn good even then. Like you said, great effort from everyone on the floor. I was in the tunnel when I noticed this, but apparently the team came over to the students section after the game and gave everyone high-fives which is a very classy move. The students were loud which is something I honestly didn't expect. And the energy at every timeout shows you just how much these guys love playing, just watch the bench players at every timeout go sprinting to the guys on the court. I love seeing that kind of enthusiasm. The only complaint I had was Cadarian's missed dunk, could have blown the roof off the building if he had made it.

Rip his freaking head off!

Are you talking about the one at the end of the first half? He got mauled and I couldn't believe they didn't call that foul. Usually I would say it wouldn't make a difference because he's a poor FT shooter but his FT stroke looked really good tonight.

Pleasantly Surprised

thus far with this team. I thought they played well together and was able to survive that surge early in the second half, something not typical of the Greenberg era. If Marshall can continue to develop into a physical presence down low with Raines and JVZ, I think we can make some noise in conference play. Let's hope Green keeps the hot hand all season.

Its gonna happen

Not to be a naysayer, but there is gonna be one game where we dont have a hot hand shooting, matter fact we might be cold as ice that game. it happens you cant stay hot forever. however how this team responds to that game is going to define how good they're going to be.

Virginia Tech, the only school that actually eats its own mascot <3

Effort

During every season, every team has those games. The real tell all is whether they play hard and give the same effort for 40 minutes even when things aren't going their way. I'd like to think JJ wouldn't accept anything less but until it happens we won't know.

Great Writeup

So many great things from last night, things that we haven't seen from a Hokie Basketball squad in years...I almost forgot what consistent scoring looked like.

JJ continues to impress me; whether its waving his arms up and down out of a timeout to pump up the crowd, or leading the team by the student section postgame to slap highfives with everyone. It is more than building a bridge between the team and the fans - Greenberg did a great job paving the way, but JJ appears to be building on this and making it his own - but an attitude amongst the players that almost humanizes them in an endearing way. So many times in the past decade the players looked unhappy and deadpan (with the exception of Jeff Allen because, well, hes Jeff Allen), as though this was a Soviet squad. I know its only 6 wins, but its a refreshing change.

Some other quick thoughts:

- Will Johnston can really fire it from long range, but good lord does he look lost on defense. Its not for a lack of trying, his head and feet are always moving, its just that they're moving so much he can't react properly to the cuts.

- CJ and Cadarian were huge and make me not miss Victor Davila more and more. They play like men, and it makes me feel more comfortable going into games against bigger, stronger teams (et al UNC).

- I'm thinking of changing my twitter handle to @MarshallWoodsHighTopFade. I think in a week he should be able to square that puppy up right and start to rival Nerlens Noel. Could you imagine if we matched up with them down the road? It'd be like Kid vs. Kid. (For the under 20 crowd, see below)

VT just ran Iowa out of the gym. Iowa was sucking wind the last 7 minutes of the game, which allowed for the Hokies to pull away as much as they did.

Seeing this, in the final minutes, with a couple possession lead, JJ kept the foot on the accelerator and continued to push the ball up the court for open shots. That is a major departure from Seth, who would have used all the shot clock, and more often than not, set up for a bad shot.

> Robert Brown is silky smooth. He's going to be a very potent scorer by the time he leaves Blackburg.

> I think Greene is going to make a lot of money in the NBA if he maintains this level of production through ACC play.

> The Flying Dutchmen is going to suprise some people with his size and athleticism. He could be a factor if he continues to work on his skills.\

> LOVE the walk around the gym that JJ and the team does.

Keeping up the pace

Keeping our foot on the pedal was one of the biggest things I noticed last night. You have to do that at this level, any team is capable of making a comeback. You're right, I don't think a Greenberg coached team would have won that game by as much as we did.

Wife isn't happy

(She's an Iowa alum). I'm very happy! Go hokies!

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

Wait 'Til Saturday

Last night was a great win no doubt, but their transition defense is still really shaky, and Van Zegren scares me on defense. He settled down a bit in the second half but he was a real liability in the first half, but I think he'll get the hang of it as the season goes on. Their first real test is on Saturday against Ok St. That's when we'll see what they're really made of

The next test is Okie St

But Iowa was indeed a test. That's a good team, two legitimate scoring threats, size, defenders, ball handlers, good coach. Iowa is a middle tier ACC/B1G team and we handled them.

OSU is better, but we seem ready for the challenge.

What I Saw

That I LOVED:

1) Even with Green and Eddie struggling our bench and other secondary players kept us in that game.

2) People keep wondering when Green will drop off, and I think he will (a little), but after last night, he could legitimately be a First Team All ACC candidate and finish the season averaging 20 points a game, but I want to see his assist numbers stay up, because that is what will make this team really really tough.

3) The distributed scoring made me feel all warm inside. How many times under Greenberg did we have more than two guys in double digits? We have five, count em', FIVE, guys there last night. That is an amazing stat and shows that we are more than just one or two players.

4) The fact that we kept up the pace to the very end was something I failed to see in previous teams, but this one did just that and we ended up gassing Iowa and running up a nice final margin.

5) JJs energy during the game along with high-fiving the student section at the end of the game is perhaps my favorite new "tradition" that JJ has implemented this year. Greenberg obviously cared about getting students to games, but sometimes he seemed to be doing it just for his own good and making us look like more of a basketball school than we really are. I don't think there is anything wrong with that but JJ seems to be doing it because he really does care about the product he is putting out there and appreciates the support the students have been giving this team.

I think we all need to understand though that this team probably won't win the ACC and we will start to see our weaknesses more as we play stiffer competition.

I for one am still keeping my expectations low and just hoping that this team continues to surprise me like they have so far. With that said, I don't think this team has as many weaknesses as I thought they did before the season, give all the credit to JJ and the player's work ethic in the offseason for that.

I would be happy with just competing with OK State for the whole game but I do think we can win, especially because we are at home and Cassell will be rocking.

Realistically, I'm just hoping that this team has a decent record in ACC play. But I know I'm gonna enjoy sitting back and watching them play and grow as a team all season.

Great job by JJ and this team so far. Can't wait to see how it all plays out!

2nd half success

The fact that this team scored +30 points in the final 10 minutes of the game says a lot about the attitude of the team to me. This is a group that sticks with it and is in good physical shape. They're mentally strong and refuse to coast even when they have a lead like what was seen in the greenberg era. I'm having fun watching this team and that's not a statement I could make about most of last year.

New team

Everything feels different about this team from years past. To me it all comes down to the attitude of the team. In years past you wouldn't see guys excited to play every night. We've seen guys wanting to give it all. When they were down JJ was right there to get them back up. We saw vs Iowa how good they could be when they have a live atmosphere behind them. I was always worried about the one or two games when we would lose to a team we should beat. I have a feeling that this year might be different. It'll be nice to see Oklahoma st come in and really challenge the team. This game will show how good JJ is at in game adjustments because they'll get their runs.

The big thing about Greenberg was that he was great in big games. One overlooked part of that is he was terrible in the first half of the season to get big wins. Some examples... K-state twice, Syracuse, Purdue, etc. It'll be interesting if JJ can get the team together quicker in the upcoming years and this weekend to get the big wins early.

Side note: The start of the 2nd half was refreshing to see us not go on a 5 minutes scoring drought (or any part of the game for that matter)

Maybe it wasn't a full 5 minutes....

But we did let them have a 14-0 run early in the second half that cut our lead from 17 to 3, over a span of 4:19

true

If I'm remembering it correctly, that was when Iowa couldn't miss and we had to play solely half court vs their zone. We weren't shooting well so we couldn't score. Once Iowa came back to Earth though and missed a couple shots we took off and didn't look back.