Hokie Hoops: The Four Myths

For the third year in a row, it's been a tough winter for Hokie hoops. However, these past few months have not only been a trying time for the Virginia Tech men's basketball team, but for its fans as well. As the losses mount, frustration builds, and as frustration builds, things are said. It starts with just a few people throwing out something in the middle of a twenty point loss, but all of a sudden a LOT of people are saying it and it becomes one of those things that just become "common knowledge".

Twitter is a vehicle for "common knowledge"—things like facts and thinking things through are checked at the door in favor of quick wit and #hotsportstakes. After a while, those half baked conclusions seem to become the indisputable narrative. Topics ranging from complaining about Jarell Eddie to questioning James Johnson's tactical ability are topics brought up game in and game out.

Today I want to address four myths and common commentaries that are tossed around during games.

Tech Hardly Ever Runs Offensive Sets

I see this complaint on Twitter all the time, and it drives me nuts. "What just happened? Did Tech even run a play there?" Just stop it. This isn't the NBA, a coach doesn't just roll the ball out and say "go play". A collegiate team practices a few times a week, and has time to go through the playbook. I know that there are a few insiders that read this website, and I'm willing to bet that they'd back me up when I say that I'm sure James Johnson and staff don't just blankly stare at a wall as their team practices contested 25-footers.

From what I can see, there are three reasons as to why the offense gives off the impression of disorganization: youth, lack of depth, and talent.

Tech's inexperience is a huge disadvantage, especially when it comes to offensive cohesiveness. Learning a handful of offensive sets, and routinely executing them well enough to yield a successful play is a bit more difficult than it seems. A successful offense doesn't start and end with a well drawn play. Instead, it's the way players react to the little things that routinely have the greatest impact. How will a defender go around a screen? Will the helping big man hedge towards the three point line, or will he fade back and pack the lane? What do you do, as a ball handler if you are double-teamed during a given play? These are just a tiny sample of things that can happen on any given possession, and players have to practice for all of them. All it takes is one player to mess up one certain aspect of a given scenario, and the entire play is out of whack.

You normally see a certain lack of cohesion from all young teams, some of which eventually figure it out, and some that never do. Even teams with freshmen that are NBA-caliber players like Kentucky have problems performing consistently on offense, it's just a lot of things to learn in one year. These guys are learning, and they're learning a lot. Something mentioned by the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Mike Barber caught my eye during the Pittsburgh game:

It's tough to have even a remotely consistent offense when your coach is still teaching 60 to 100 percent of the players on the floor.

The other two reasons why Tech doesn't have any offensive fluency need less words to explain. Lack of depth not only means tired legs during the back half of games, but lack of quality practice time as well. One of the oldest clichs in coaching is that the better a team practices, the better it plays. Well, it's pretty difficult to have a good practice with seven healthy scholarship guys. How do you expect a team to simulate the length of a team like Florida State when four of their forwards are dinged up? Even simpler, how do you expect a guy like Ben Emelogu to have a consistently good game when his ankle keeps him from going all out in practice? When you set up a game plan for a specific team, it's easy to talk about what you want to do offensively, but if you don't have the people to fully in place in practice it doesn't really do you much good.

And then, there's the whole talent thing. To be blunt, at times there are shots to be had, and guys just don't hit them. Now, I realize that it's college basketball and the 15-foot jump shot is a white whale, but you still can't help it if the shots don't fall on a consistent basis. Now maybe it's not the first option of a play, but Tech needs buckets when the ball lands into the hands of someone for an open corner 3, or in the mitts of a big man with favorable position on the low block.

This team runs an offense. It runs offensive sets pretty regularly, yet it just has certain inadequacies to overcome, many of which can't be helped.

This Team Should Have a Better Record

I'm not going to elaborate to a depressing point about this, but this is something that I see frequently as well. Many people are still bemoaning the fact that this team doesn't win games that many people think it should. Anything from "Clemson is beatable" to "Jeff Bzdelik's ACC road record" have been brought up as reasons why Tech should have beaten fill-in-the-blank ACC team here.

Let's just be completely honest with ourselves and realize that this team is legitimately the worst team in the conference. It's not fun to come to grips with, but it has to be done. Not to be too harsh, but simply look at the starting five guys on any given night and tell me how many of them would legitimately have a chance to start if they played for the opposing team. The answer won't always be zero, but it won't usually be high.

The good thing is, it's not a trend that will definitely stay the same from year to year. A team's fortunes can change due to so many things: one stellar recruiting class, a player developing in the offseason, a coach making a leap...there are a ton of ways to improve from year to year, and I think that this team will prove that. It's just that at this current moment in time, the talent level top to bottom (especially considering the age of the talent in Blacksburg) just isn't the same as other places.

Jarell Eddie Hurts More than he Helps

This became the most popular misinformed opinion after Eddie gave up a four-point play in the closing seconds of regulation to help Pitt send Saturday's game into overtime. In fact, Jarell had a few different mistakes at the end of that game that one could argue cost his team a win (a costly turnover here, clock mismanagement there). Where would they have been, however, without his 15 points? As much as you can say he hurt them in that game, he also kept them in it with a couple of big boy shots.

Yes, I know that he's shooting under 30 percent from the field since the Syracuse game, and that a shooting percentage like that is usually reserved for the middle school rec team I used to coach. I get that, I really do. I know this will sound weird, but he is Tech's lone threat to consistently score. He's the guy that opposing teams will always have bolded on their scouting report, and the player that defenders won't let out of their sights. He's a good shooter, but how many good shooters can be dependable with a hand in their face almost every single time they touch the ball? Sure, it's frustrating that he often doesn't follow his shot for a potential put back, and he makes me cringe when he tries to do too much. However, he's for better or worse (and I know, it's been mainly worse) their best player. At the very least he stretches the defense, taking a guy out of the lane in order to stay close to him (why do you think Raines and van Zegeren get as many 1-on-1 post ups as they do).

One final thought on this: for those people who say that a last shot should go to anyone else (the majority say Emelogu, but I've seen others as well), I just don't agree. Emelogu, especially on a bum ankle gives you nothing that Eddie doesn't bring to the table other than a streakier jump shot. Eddie is the guy, and he has the highest probability—again, I didn't say how high—of making a shot.

The Team Has Quit on the Season

I feel strongest about disproving this myth. Right around the time of the Boston College game, I was seeing a lot of people (fans, bloggers, beat writers) question the effort and heart of this team. I understand that there is a lot of frustration floating around the basketball team right now, and that was especially the case post-BC. I understand that losing to another dismal ACC team by over 20 points is nowhere remotely positive, but to not only question the effort of the team during that game, but to also cast the accusation like an umbrella over the rest of the season? I said it after the Pitt game, and I'll say it again; that's just lazy.

One thing that I try to never do is question the legitimate effort of players who are playing a sport of any level. It's impossible to fully know what's going through a player's head, and simply disrespectful and insulting to question whether or not they are trying.

If you watch this team, you can see the effort. You can see the pain on their faces after each mistake, the frustration in their eyes after each missed shot. This isn't a team that just coasts through games simply trying to get them over with, but instead a team that isn't as talented as the opponents they are playing. Yes, they give up a ton of threes on defense, but do you know what else they do? Play two centers together, which in a zone means that they are responsible for getting out to the wings on defense. The foot speed just isn't there. What about when Will Johnston and Christian Beyer play on the same side of a zone? It's not that the effort isn't there to contest a long shot, they just don't quite have the athleticism to cover enough ground and get to the shooter in time.

To not only have fans, but professional writers question what basically comes down to a college student's moral fiber (whether or not they are a quitter) is wrong on more than one level, not to mention unprofessional. This team plays hard. Whether they're playing hard for JJ, for each other or for themselves, the effort is there.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but losing feeds into negativity, that negativity makes the bad seem even worse, and the truth gets blurred. As fans, aren't we supposed to be able to accurately and rationally discuss our team, even when their season has gone horribly wrong?

Comments

I couldn't even get past the first point, towards which I could not disagree more.

Its absurd... absolutely downright absurd to suggest that you cannot expect an NCAA team to run set plays, and run them well. I see teams run plays all the time at the collegiate level. Hell, when I ran as a student manager of our 8th grade basketball team in junior high school many years ago, we ran drills on a daily basis to work on running offensive plays. We worked on recognizing what a defense was running and to create an offensive set to counter it. Pick and rolls, isolations, back door plays, etc. You set those up. You get guys in position and run a play to get someone open. You don't roam around like an amoeba trying to make something work on the fly like you would on a blacktop in the park.

I don't see that happening with this Hokies squad. I don't see any attempts to get any kind of rhythm in the game. I don't see the easy set plays with the intent of getting someone with a favorable matchup. Yes, Coach JJ might do a lot of in-game coaching, and the team might be young this year, but this is an issue that goes back to last season, when we had a very experienced Erick Green on the roster, and our only offense was to get him the ball in isolation. And the fact we didn't work on anything else last year is glaringly apparent this season when we look completely lost on offense. I watch the team right now and I see 3 guys standing around watching the dribbler try to work with someone else to try and get one of the two open. Everyone on the court needs to be moving.

I'd like to see statistics on how often we let the shot clock go down to 5 and jack up a poor 3. To me, it seems like that is our main offense. I know I could be wrong but what I see and what I'm sure most people see is an inept offense that freaks out and jacks a 3 up when they realize the shot clock is down to 3.

Brian, I also disagree here. Offensive philosophy gets drilled into players as early as middle school. Yes, the action and motion will change from coach to coach, but the nuances and subtleties you describe in your article do not. If you come off a screen and the defender goes underneath the screen, you flail out. If he follows you around the screen, you roll off it to the basket. The bigs are taught when to seal their man and come back to the baksetball. If your point gets doubled, the other guys are taught how to react. D1 college basketball players know how to do this stuff as they've been doing it since 8th grade - - JJ is either not reinforcing it or requiring it for his offense.

I'd like to point out the recent Duke / Syracuse up in NY as a case study. Watch those two teams play offense. It's clear they have an identity. For Duke, they would either get penetration with the point or work the ball inside, and the perimeter guys would all find open spaces to set up for jump shots. Over and over again. They were not necessarily running a "set play", but the guys knew the approach and the nuances you discussed in your post. They've known those nuances for years. Syracuse would run a high ball screen, and would either roll off it, or the other low post player would simply seal his man away from the action for an open pass and score. Consistently. Again, no set play, just a set of basic basketball rules that the players knew and followed.

What are JJ's basketball rules? Don't tell me his D1 basketball players don't know these things yet becuase I won't believe you. Again, I just don't think it's clear what this basetkball team wants to do offensively, and the players player accordingly. It starts with an identity from the top.

It's more absurd to suggest Tech isn't running set plays. It's clear, at least to me, that's what Brian was saying.

"This team runs an offense. It runs offensive sets pretty regularly, yet it just has certain inadequacies to overcome, many of which can't be helped."

Agree. I read this as "they run an offense, but because of young, inexperienced players, they do not execute well."

I have watched a little bit of VT basketball, and they are very erratic with running sets, but we also have to consider that the opposing defense has a much easier time of defending those sets because VT has players that are tremendously limited offensively. For example, if VT runs a pick and roll for Emelogu and JVZ, JVZ's defender can play behind the screen to cut Emelogu from driving on the switch or take JVZ if he cuts to the basket. JVZ isn't a threat to roll and shoot a jump shot, and Emelogu isn't a good enough jump shooter off the dribble to risk jumping over the scream. There is a talent gap, made worse by the attrition of and complete lack of buy-in by Greenberg's recruits. This is made even worse because their top freshmen recruits like Mueller and Clark didn't qualify.

Viva El Guapo

I understand both arguments, my problem is that the "myth" is a lazy argument, and the response is kind of a strawman.

Of course they're running set plays, every team runs set plays. The problem is that they're running them poorly, so poorly it makes it look like they're not doing anything at all. As espoused in the article, there's reasons they're running them poorly. That said...

The biggest problem is that, as the season progresses, they're not getting any better at running the offense. Of course theyr'e young, but they should be showing progression and they're simply not. They're not getting better. This is the second season in a row that the team is arguably regressing on offense as the season progresses. That's really, really bad.

IMHO virtually all teams run offensive sets, not plays. Plays are for special situations and the times they've been run they've been pretty successful (the missed free throw tip in comes to mind last year). Teams run Flex, tight flex, Dukes 1-4 and various motion O's- all designed to create opportunities for the scorers to score.

My issue is not that they don't run set plays, its that the sets make no sense. For instance, Trevor Thompson for all appearances looks to be deadly from the high post but he's hardly taken a shot from there and when healthy Barksdale will hit a FT line jumper 60% of the time. What about some high-low post action with them and Raines?

Other issue is that this is not a good passing team. They have guys in position to make plays and they don't pull the trigger on the pass. You see guys in the post with their man sealed to the outside and their inside hand extended and the pass never comes. Frustrating.

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

This, This, a Thousand Times This:

"Other issue is that this is not a good passing team. They have guys in position to make plays and they don't pull the trigger on the pass. You see guys in the post with their man sealed to the outside and their inside hand extended and the pass never comes. Frustrating."

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

or they just wing the pass right out of bounds and kill whatever little bit of momentum we may have had.

"It's worth it right? It's worth it to lay it all on the line for your brothers!"
"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 (both quotes)

A fair assessment. I think I need to add something to what you've said though:

Tech Hardly Ever Runs Offensive Sets
Your right they do. But the sets involve poor passing to open players, almost no passes to the inside, and at times the players end up standing around. To me that means that the sets are the wrong sets and the players don't look for 2nd and 3rd options or try to be a little inventive. Are they taught to?

This Team Should Have a Better Record
One thing would get this to be true...Hit. Your. Free. Throws!

Jarell Eddie Hurts More than he Helps
I think him getting targeted as you describe is why is shooting %age has suffered in the ACC games. BUT, he has to be a senior leader and step up and Hit. Those. Shots! Period.
I think your right though some of his decisions are mind numbing.

The Team Has Quit on the Season
They've definitely not quit the season. The Pitt game was a sign of this. But that game brought out all the other glaring issues which I mention above. All. Of. Them.

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

I know that he's talented, but Jarrell Eddie's tendencies on the court remind me of all the things that Carmelo Anthony does to frustrate NBA fans. I've always said that Eddie reminded me of Melo, but lately it's been for not the right reasons.

Well written and all in all I don't disagree with you on much. Maybe splitting hairs more than anything else.

As to the offensive sets, the comments you see from most people regarding this at least when they have the space like this to elaborate (Twitter and 144 characters makes elaboration a bit difficult) do allude to most of what you said regarding Tech on offensive sets. The lack of the swing man to run a clean sweep along the baseline to get around the outside screen, the inability of the big men to consistently be open to get the ball deep in the lane even in 1v1 matchups, and the failure to move without the ball all contribute to these comments. Tired legs, lack of depth, lack of talent all plague this team. We have covered the 10 players that should be here that aren't time and again but it all has an impact. Is it frustrating for JJ to watch? I damn sure hope so. The only real negative that I point to in all of this is that we consistently see the same mistakes from the same players game in and game out. That's the one thing that I put on JJ, regardless of the amount of time he gets with the players. The lack of improvement on basic skills of basketball to me goes on the coach.

The team has exactly the record they have earned. Be it from blowing leads, the inability to close out games, or the lack of talent or depth to even compete with teams in the ACC. Was losing to Pitt the way we did heartbreaking? Sure. I would take ten Pitt type losses over the VCU game everyday of the week.

Imagine how Pitt is feeling right now, with how they lost to Syracuse?
We all knew we weren't going to be a good team, and we expected losses. I think for many of the fans here, its the way we have lost games that is more troubling than anything else.

As to the feedback we see on Jarell Eddie, I believe that's more from the expectation that he should be the main player, the guy taking the last shot, the man that can create on his own if necessary. Has he hurt this team more than he has helped? He is the leading scorer on the roster, so obviously not. Most of the comments on him revolve more around when he disappears entirely, when Raines sitting the whole game on the bench contributed more offensively than Eddie. He has had several great games, Pitt being one of them even with the late mistakes, but he also has had the games where he goes 0-for-12 from the field and isn't even able to get to the free throw line. Its those games we usually lose by 20+. As Eddie goes offensively, so goes the flow of Tech games. And no, Emelogu should not be the one taking the three at the buzzer, at least not this year.

As for quitting, there have been specific games where that's exactly what I would classify the effort I saw from this team ... (not the season) Boston College away, VCU after the Havoc D, Michigan State in the second half....when performance declines as the opposing talent declines I look to effort and in those three games there wasn't an effort to get back into those games. Even Boston College played the end of their bench and opened their lead. Were those demoralizing circumstances in those three games, absolutely, but the second half of each of those games showed lackadaisical ball control, lack of hustle on defense especially after turnovers, and no sense of urgency on the offensive end of the court. Were those games out of reach? More than likely. Do I know if JJ told the team to slow the game? No but I do know what I saw, so don't be so quick to condemn the fans when they throw the term quitting out on Twitter or Facebook or even here, because they are reacting to what they see in the here and now. Even the football team gets tagged with it, when down by 21 late and they are running the ball or taking too much time to get the next play off. The Pitt game showed that they have not quit on the season but it doesn't mean they haven't quit on specific games.

Rob Peterson
VTCC
Charlie/Hotel Company
Class of 1999

Tech runs an offense. Most college teams against man to man run a motion offense with different derived variances depending on how the defense is guarding, switching, and helping, or sometimes a flex offense for some teams. (but this is not a "set" play) "Set" plays are more situational and are not run continuous in an offense. They are called and they are ran but not as much as you think (and this is dependent on the coach). This isn't football where the coach will call in a play every time we have possession. The only "set" play run consistently (by VT) are inbound plays (either under the baseline or sideline out); however, situationally we call set plays in the half court.

I think there is some confusion to what a set play really is. A set play is a strategically planned and choreographed play to get open shots and score points. Generally speaking the sequence is run through just one time (where as our offense runs continuously). Set plays are quick hitters to score points at a certain key point during the game. They should not be your entire offensive system and it is almost non existent that a college team will run their entire offense with just set plays. An example of a set play used in college would be we are in time out and there is 4 seconds on the shot clock and we are inbounding under the basket. Here we would call a set play, in this case and inbound play. When our PG is walking up the court into half court and looks back at JJ he is for the most part seeing what variation of motion to run and making sure he is seeing what the coach is seeing and they are on the same page. I would be willing to bet that we only have a handful of set plays for given situations and i am also willing to bet that most of these are entry or inbound plays. The amount of set plays a team has depends on how experienced the coach is.

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@VTimHokie85

Exactly. Your key words are "derived variances depending on how the defense is guarding".

However, what are VT's defined variances? There are none. Which is why when the defense does something unexpected, we have 4 players standing around, with 1 guy trying to create his own shot.

Well said. Bingo!
The ability to coach several derivatives down to deal with said variances is the essence of risk management and real preparation. If you don't think hypothetically about what could happen, your plans are doomed from the start.

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

This is my theory:

The team is young and the motion offense we run can often times become very rote or repetitive in nature in its execution. Instead of reading their defenders, i think our players are more concerned with maintaining the continuity and filling into spots and never fully taking advantage of what the defense gives them (in short they are flustered and thinking too much). Motion offense is about reading what the defense is giving you and spreading the court. They look so concerned about going thru the motion instead of reading their defenders. We are thinking too much about it and that will lead to more players standing around. I don't think we have the experience or enough talent to run this effectively against ACC defenses. Motion offenses also are also ideal for great 3 pt shooting teams and teams with excellent guard play because lanes are more open from spacing for dribble drive penetration. This is why Duke's motion offense is so effective.

Ive seen us play some flex before. The flex essentially opens up the two most easy shots in the game, the elbow jump shot or the underneath layup. I think it would be a better offense for our team to run, however the flex is very easy to defend for teams that are sound on defense (most ACC defenses) so its almost like we are damned either way where the flex is to simple to defend and motion is too much for us to run. The flex also requires good interior forward play and a good "finisher" player. Maryland basically won the national title years ago with this offense. They ran it probably 60% of the time. They had no real 3 pt threat and and average at best guard play, but what they did have was good forwards and a good finisher (Juan Dixon). We ran alot more flex back in 07/08 (probably 70/30 motion/flex). We had a finisher with Deron and better forwards then.

I think our problem is more so the talent isn't there (compared to other ACC teams), experience (from the coaches to the players), and our defense isn't what it used to be. No matter how many points we score we need to be able to stop the other offense. I think this is on everyone though from coaching down to players.

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@VTimHokie85

Offensive sets. I actually will disagree with this part. For a long time the program has not been very good at offensive sets, systems or whatever you want to call it. And it has nothing to do with youth or depth. Whether it was Erick Green or Malcolm Delaney-led teams with experience, the "offensive sets" were something they went through the motions with. We would do the motion along the baseline using "screens" to free people up but the screens were meaningless. We did them half-heartedly, the led to nothing..including no real outside shots, no rolls, no screen and pops..nothing. Our offense for years has essentially been about guards or wings going 1-on-1 and shooting without regard for teammates. Whether it was Erick Green, MD, Vassallo, Eddie, or whomoever, that was our offense. It was not read and react, not motion, not flex, not whatever. NOW, actually for the first time in a long time we actually involved the posts...we had a semblance of a high low game against Syracuse. We did some screen and rolls. So actually we have more of a "system" than we did under Greenberg. But our offensive has been about 1-on-1 basketball in which guards have been too much freedom.

I agree with you here. Almost every time Devin crosses mid court, he looks to JJ on the bench for the call on what to run and then communicates it to the other players on the floor. Lack of execution plagues this team though.

Rob Peterson
VTCC
Charlie/Hotel Company
Class of 1999

Thats something that goes all the way back to the beginning of the Seth Greenberg regime. Considering many considered JJ the architect of the offense under Greenberg (at least thats what I have heard numerous times) it does not surprise me one bit to see this continuing.

Why Beyer over Raines and Wood? Why? Why? Why?

And don't tell me it's effort. Of course he exhibits more effort, he has to because of the talent gap. I'm not saying Raines and Wood(kinda concerning about his regression) are All-ACC performers but they earned a scholarship for a reason.

Number one issue with JJ. I think it cost this team a win or two earlier on. Not like it truly matters. It just seemed way too personal from afar.

Maybe with his own guys, it'll be a different story, however the lack of basic fundamentals on this team, I severely doubt it.

I suffered a mild stroke on the 15th consecutive inbounding play into the corner against the VCU trap.

Princeton, with not-so-good athletes, is a much better basketball team than VT because they have coaching that demands and reinforces things on offense.

The whole running "sets" vs "no sets" vs "plays" vs "no plays" is not the point - - the point is that the offense has not done well for the last several years and will not get better with this current staff.

Back to Princeton...they damn near beat Kentucky in the 2nd round of the 2011 tournament using back door cuts , effective screens, and organized offense. This was wiith a roster full of recruits never ranked higher than a "2-star", with most players being not-rated.

It's not the current players ya'll.

It also seemed clear to me that Brian is saying we do run offensive sets.

And I agree, I think saying we don't is kind of a ridiculous criticism. A) because we do (albeit not well) and B) because even really good teams, on average, only score about 20% of their points through "plays." The majority of points are scored in transition or after the play breaks down.

"No, we will not die like dogs, we will fight like lions!"

Too bad this team is terrible at scoring in transition. And finishing uncontested dunks.

Sigh.

Oooff!

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

I certainly don't presume to be an expert on BBall but after many years of watching D1 games going back to the UCLA streak and up thru now with the Dukes, NC, Kentucky Kansas', etc, it goes without saying that something is amiss here. Heck, I can't even remember our record when I watched Deron and "Damn it Dowdell" but it was exciting ball and it kept making me buy tickets. During Seth's time, there was a lot of excitement and close games and we knocked off some giants here and there. There were also some "damn it all to hell" times too but still enough excitement to keep buying tickets. The last few years have brought nothing that makes me want to keep buying tickets. Excitement became much of a rarity. I don't keep in my old brain enough memories to point out what I am seeing now but I'll just use "lack of fundamentals". The one game that has stuck in my mind for some reason over all the others was the Wake game here. McKie just kept popping his threes and Miller-McIntyre kept driving the lane (sometimes full court) and we kept letting him do it. Almost every time he drove, he either made it or was fouled or both but he had no obstacle in his way. Our guys seem to be lost so many times on both ends. Yes, we can't make our foul shots when it counts and yes, we dribble away the entire clock and then throw up the desperation shot too many times. Yes, our talent level and injuries do contribute but fundamentals that we learned way back are lacking. There are times when we don't have but one shooter on the court and if we can't find him for a shot or can't get it in to the bigs for CR to throw a wild-ass shot up, then we look lost. I dunno....maybe we need more time, maybe we need better talent, maybe we need.......I dunno....

BroncsZoo

So Brian, in your opinion, given the team's struggles this year, and the hurdles you mentioned above, does JJ deserve another year as our head basketball coach? If so, how much does the team need to improve (and in what areas) to secure his job for yet another season?

*Edited for clarity

Twitter me

March 13th..... One month from today...

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

I know you didn't ask me, but as far as I'm concerned, I've seen all I need to see with Coach JJ. The team has regressed from last year, and I am seeing very little progress this season. The kind of recruiting we're seeing right now will not get us to a competitive level in this conference, and we're already on the bullet train to last with blowout losses to the teams directly in front of us in the standings.

One of the first decisions Babcock is going to need to make is who will be our new Men's Basketball Head Coach. We just cannot afford to wallow in such misery for too long.

And from previous threads to support coaching salaries, more facility upgrades, etc. We. Need. $$$$. Revenue (or lack thereof) will probably be the one parameter to decide this.

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

JJ's getting another year. I'm at least 85% sure of that, and honestly it doesn't matter what anyone thinks about him other than Babcock. I know people aren't going to want to hear it, but a big reason to keep him? The super cheap contracts of him and his staffs, as then Babcock has a year of change in the fundraising department.

I know that this will probably rile people up, but I think he should get another year as well. Selfishly, I want to see this press that they have engaged (with some success, I might add) used in a larger quantity, which will only come when they get Mueller and the three guards from this incoming class. You can't say that you've "seen enough of JJ" when you've only been able to see about half of him.

I hope you're right. He deserves it. He inherited a really bad situation and then he's had some terrible luck with injuries and guys not qualifying.

Now if we're still in this position next year at this time, then I'll be all for making a change. But JJ deserves a fair shot.

With regards to This Team Should Have a Better Record, clearly a team's record is what it says it is. We can't have a better record because we've played the games and the results are what the score says they are. However, I do believe our team would a better record if you were to do a statistical analysis than they do in reality. Even if we have the worst players in the ACC, how much worse than every other team would they have to be to lose 10 straight games, including 5 home games, by an average of 13+ points, with 5 losses by 20+ points? I don't believe our players are that much worse than the rest of the ACC. Now obviously the current losing streak is a statistical possibility as well- one that we've managed to fall in- but I do believe we would be expected to win at least one game in this stretch, and therefore the team has underperformed with respect to wins.

The main reason for the struggles is talent. When you have 2 walk-ons playing significant minutes to go along with mid-major scholarship players, it's a struggle to play in the ACC.
As a side note, this team is terrible in setting screens and getting past screens. That is reflective of coaching.

Excellent column. I agree almost completely on all points. The main reason that VT isn't winning games right now is lack of talent. To put it bluntly, we need better players.

I think the three freshmen and Adam Smith have actually pulled their weight pretty well this season. All four have decent skill sets now and the ability to improve as they get more experience and, in the case of Smith and Emelogou, get healthier.

James Johnson signed a good class this year with Hudson, Bibbs and Lang. First and foremost, all three are reputed to be good shooters, which is something our program desperately needs right now. Plus he'll be adding Malik Mueller and Maurice Kirby to the mix next season as well.

I believe that we'll be better next year. Not "contending for an ACC championship and an NCAA berth" better, but better.