Summary: With three minutes remaining, the game was tied at 58. How would the Hokies finish? Would we close like last year's team and suffer another close loss? Would we start a new trend of close wins? These thoughts rushed through my head as Wake Forest took two free throws.
With two minutes remaining, Travis McKie drained a three. Cassell went silent as the Demon Deacons called a timeout. How would we respond? Did we have the confidence to come back? That was quickly answered when Jarell Eddie shot from deep without even thinking. Swish. The Hokies were there to play.
Next thing you know, we forced a turnover and had the ball with a minute left. Could we really do it? Marquis Rankin showed no fear, drove to the basket and made a tough floater to go up by two. We had the lead! We had the lead! Could we do it? It was short lived, when a poor defensive switch resulted in another Mckie 3-pointer.
With 24 seconds remaining, the Hokies called timeout. Everyone in Cassell knew the ball would go to Erick. However, that plan went out the window when Robert Brown caught the ball. He drove to the basket and as he went up to shoot, everyone shouted, "Nooooo!" How could we let our fate be determined by a person who had missed 68 of his last 85 shots? All these thoughts went away when the ball went in.
Could the Hokies hold on defensively? Somehow, the luck was on our side this time. Wake missed an open tip-in at the buzzer and we got the win.
Quick thoughts: Ball movement looked pretty good. Better than most days, at least. We had a good shot attempt almost every time down the court, which was nice to see.
I was happy we were able to keep the game close without Erick as the main scorer. The pieces are slowly coming together. We have Erick and Jarell, now we just need Robert. He is imperative to the team's success. If we can have three scorers, I feel like we can finish around 5th in the ACC. Yes, I know that's pretty high but 1. The ACC isn’t very good and 2. Three scorers are all we need to get back to the success we had at the beginning of the year.
I loved seeing Cadarian and JVZ in at the same time. It's almost like anyone who tries to drive will get their shot blocked. We sacrifice a little athleticism doing this, but it gives C.J. a rest.
Marshall Wood seems pretty close to being back. He dressed yesterday and if he doesn't play against UVA, we should have him for Clemson next weekend.
The noise in Cassell was surprising, considering the lack of students. There was an impressive showing by fans. If everyone shows up for UVa, it could get loud.
Don't get your hopes up too much. Wake isn't the best team in the world and we beat them by one. However, it was a step in the right direction, so let's see if we build off it.
Point Guards: Where was Erick the first half? Similar to his game against GT, it took him a while to get started. He followed up only four points in the first half with 18 in the second. He never looked completely confident and missed a huge open layup that resulted in a four point swing.
Marquis played quite a bit today, and was excellent defensively (minus the last position where he let his man run by him and force Cadarian to leave his man). No doubt, his biggest contribution came with 40 seconds remaining, when he made a floater to go up by two.
Shooting Guards: Robert Brown came through in the clutch. He was awful all game, but sank the game winning shot. I thought the overtime last weekend would spark his confidence, sure didn't look like it though. He continued to fire away with no success. His worst shot came when he was on a fast break and got blocked by the rim. In warm-ups, he drained shots, he's getting close ya’ll!
Forwards: Jarell Eddie is BACK!!! He played great and kept our team in the game while Erick struggled. Hopefully this was the game that gets his confidence back for the rest of the season. He was 7-11 and 3-4 from behind the arc. That was the Eddie I'm used to seeing. He was extremely aggressive, drove to the basket, and took high percentage shots. He shot well and I would've liked to see him fire more threes if he had the chance. He passed up a few shot. He got 9 rebounds to go with his 18 points. Now all we need is Robert!
C.J. played sparingly, and was relieved by JvZ and Christian for much of the game. He had 4 points on 2-3 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, but to be honest, he didn't stand out very much.
Christian Beyer had four rebounds in only nine minutes of play. That describes him perfectly. As Coach Johnson likes to call him, he's the "energy bunny" of the team. He may not do too much for us, but he's that spark our team needs. His biggest moment was when he blocked a shot, then followed it up with a layup in transition.
Centers: Cadarian played his best game of the year. He showed how versatile he can be and how he is still getting better. Instead of catching the ball and immediately looking to score, he looked around for his teammates and was able to find people cutting to the basket. If we can add this dimension permanently, our half-court offense will improve tremendously. If he can continue to be physical he will become that scary presence we need down low. Oh, by the way, he blocked 4 shots. He truly dominated in the post. That's the only way to describe it.
Joey once again had a huge dunk. He really is becoming the Flying Dutchman. He needs to learn how to hang on to the ball, though. Too many times we lose a possession because he can't catch the ball.
Stat of the Game: The Hokies shot 56% in the second half to close the six point deficit and win the game.
Mike's Player of the Game: Cadarian Raines. I think this is his first time getting the award, so congrats to him on a well-played game. He had half of the team's offensive rebounds, tied a career-high in rebounds, had a career-high in assists, and had a season-high in blocks. Pretty good game, right?
The Hokies taken on rival UVa Thursday at 8 p.m. It will be on the ACC Network and ESPN3. Everyone should come out for the game. It's UVa for crying out loud! The Hokies look to get three straight wins in the ACC and could use their fans to back them up.
P.S. It’s Maroon Monsoon so wear #AllMaroonEverything.