Buzzketball Blasts Duke 89-75

Hokies cap off 2016 with a resounding win over the fifth-ranked Blue Devils.

[Virginia Tech Athletics \ Dave Knachel]

The entire Buzz Williams experience has already involved a lot of belief. This year, it's believing that the Hokies can stick with an opponent more talented than them. Next year, it's knowing that Tech will be able to win even more of these games.

The year after that? I'm not a fortune teller, but I don't think last second pleas from the fans will be necessary. Tech will have already have those games, the similarly close ones that have eluded Buzzketball in year one, wrapped up.

I wrote that in February 2015, after the Virginia Tech men's basketball team dropped an overtime heartbreaker to Duke at home. Buzz Williams and company were in the middle of a brutal first season in Blacksburg, where they finished last in the ACC for the fourth straight time.

The only hope fans could cling to were the promises of improvement. Nothing in sports is ever guaranteed, but if there was ever a person with a strong enough will to pull his squad out of the kind of depths the Hokies had sunken to, it was Williams.

The first sentence in the final paragraph refers to this season, Buzz's third. It's been almost two years since Jalen Hudson's ill-fated buzzer beater fell just short of an incredible upset over the eventual national champions. This was the year we all ear-marked as the time to see improvement.

It was also the last time the Blue Devils had made the trip to Cassell Coliseum. It's a far different squad than the one Mike Krzyzewski coached against that night —only two players, Ahmed Hill and Justin Bibbs, were even on the active roster at the time. And not-so-coincidentally, he saw a far different result.

The Hokies didn't just beat the fifth ranked team in the country, they blew the doors off them. Tech never trailed in their 89-75 win, and had a double-digit lead with 7:38 left in the first half until the buzzer.

This wasn't the case of an inferior group getting hot for a stretch and hanging on to pull off an upset. It wasn't an underdog perking up from three and riding unusually hot shooting to the finish.

No, instead Seth Allen, Justin Robinson, and the rest of the Hokie arsenal took advantage of shoddy Duke defending and ran them out of the gym. The two on-ball guards combined for 28 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds. They tirelessly pushed the tempo, and often found their teammates in the right spots.

Bibbs led Tech with 18 points of his own, and looked like a completely different player on both ends of the court than the man we've seen since mid-November. Despite foul trouble limiting his minutes, Chris Clarke was huge in opening up the lead early and closing it late (see above dunk). Hill had 17 and Zach LeDay had 11, giving the Hokies six double-digit scorers on the day.

Buzz's bunch was simply better from the jump. Duke's Luke Kennard had an impressive 34, but the rest of his teammates were often confounded on both ends. Yes, Krzyzewski's squad was without tripmaster Grayson Allen (though ESPN made sure no one forgot it), and top freshman Harry Giles is still working his way back from injury. But they're still one of the best in the ACC, with or without them.

And the obvious national story may be about Allen and his indefinite suspension, but the Hokies are the real thing to watch develop. With this thrashing, Tech sent a message to the rest of the conference: they're not a pushover like 2014-15. Nor are they young and inconsistent like 2015-16.

They're a formidable team who can beat anyone on their schedule.

A few quick thoughts

The most impressive thing, to me, about this win is how much they seemed to learn from the Texas A&M loss. Up 16 against the Aggies, Tech took the foot off the gas and played far too conservatively. It looked like they hoped to make it to the final horn, not put the game away.

Against Duke, the Hokies refused to change what worked. Look at the shot chart from the second half:

You see the giant blob around the hoop? They consistently attacked, and made any sort of comeback attempt impossible. No milking the shot clock, no taking the air out of the basketball. Tech continued to push, broke down Blue Devil defenders, and took it to the rim.

This was one of Seth Allen's finest performances since his transfer. He shot an efficient 6-8 from the field, constantly succeeded getting into the middle of paint, and made things happen. He played completely within himself, which is exactly what Tech needed.

Foul trouble could be an issue down the line. With Clarke's issues early, the coaching staff basically used a six man rotation, with Khadim Sy and Ty Outlaw combining as the sixth guy. If another wing, either Bibbs or Hill, had picked up an extra call or two, the Hokies would have scrambled for players.

Tech travels to NC State and then Florida State for their next two matchups, and both should prove to be tough. It'll be interesting to see how this team bounces back after such an emotional win, especially since they won't have a home crowd to back them.

Comments

Tyrod did it Mikey, Tyrod did it!!

When you have the conditioning of a Buzz program speed will kill size day in and day out. Duke couldn't keep up with us today, and I don't care if Grayson Allen or Christian Laettner were playing, we would have won while running them out of the gym. To me what's the most impressive is that we didn't just win, we didn't just dominate, but we did it while being on the crap end of some really iffy calls in that second half.

That was a statement win in every sense of the word. That was a shot across the bow to the ACC establishment. Your fun trips to Blacksburg are over. You're all on notice.

Don't let this comment take away from the fact that Arkansas blew a 24 point 2nd half lead in the Belk Bowl.
Don't let the Belk Bowl take away from the fact that Matt Ryan blew a 25 point 2nd half lead in the Super Bowl.

If we continue to win in the acc, then we can start feeling confident, 1 win does not make a team a top tier team.... but we are on our way.

Thanks Buzz

What a great week! Go Hokies!!!!!!!'

georgebd

Sadly I couldn't rush the court because I'm officially too old to do so, but here's a gif of the students having fun:

It's a great week to be a Hokie!

too old to storm the court, not too old to make and post a gif of it. I can respect that

How old is too old because I am afraid I might have passed that age three decades ago.

It's determine by what your heart (and doctor) says! Even considering it (when you're no longer a student) shows 'you're in'.

Considering the height of that wall, you might pass that age after freshman year... I'm surprised I didn't destroy my ankles or knees storming the court a couple times as a student.

Don't let this comment take away from the fact that Arkansas blew a 24 point 2nd half lead in the Belk Bowl.
Don't let the Belk Bowl take away from the fact that Matt Ryan blew a 25 point 2nd half lead in the Super Bowl.

That was my thinking! It looked like a lot of fun, but I've already had surgery on my knee and ankle from old soccer injuries. For the record, I'm 30.

If it were not for having to jump a wall I would consider it, but I am no longer flexible enough to land and absorb the shock like 35 years ago. 4 ft is about as high as I can jump from without risk of injury.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

"Let the children boooogie!"

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I'm officially too old to do so

This team ain't nothing to mess with. Absolute statement game today!

Great to see this team pulling it together and playing well.

Against a better team that foul trouble could prove costly.

/s

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-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

The important thing for this team is that we don't have a superstar. There are 7 or 8 guys that could score double figures every night. That's a huge advantage for Buzz.

I know it was a big win and kids will rush the court because, hey, it's fun. But I love how the team reacted after the win. It wasn't a celebratory reaction, they acted like they expected to win. They have confidence and I love it. Also, nothing is more fun than rubbing it in with that alley oop

Rip his freaking head off!

I can't believe I'm saying this, but it almost felt never in doubt. The vaunted dook "run" never came.

VB born, class of '14, Semper Paratus

another view of that dunk:

Holy snap. I've been running around all day, and this is the first I've seen about the game.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

You missed a good one. Domination from the beginning.

(see dunk above)

Oh, I did.

Again and again and again

Is this where we come to lol at that dookies?

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

Was there a postgame presser by Buzz? Would love to see vid if out there.

@vtscottyb

Several vids on YouTube.

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-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

He gave a great, but short interview on the radio. Can't seem to find it posted anywhere yet, but he really stuck to the message that the goal is victory, not just one win. He made a point to go on record to say the timeout at the end of the second half was about reminding the team of that message and not any of the other malicious reasons people speculated. Even brought up that the refs asked him why he took the time out, the first time in his career that's ever happened.

EDIT: Here's the interview.

Thanks. I love hearing Buzz speak. It's no wonder why kids gravitate towards him and respect him so much. He is a bottomless pit of valuable insight and knowledge. I would love to follow him for a season.

On another note, I missed the whole timeout situation that people are speaking about. When did he take it, and what was the outside perception?

@vtscottyb

He took a timeout with < 2 min left when the game was already won, Enter Sand Man got blasted and I think I remember chants of "overrated" from the fans. There was discussion about it being a timeout to celebrate and Coach K was pretty obviously pissed about the TO as he called one himself soon after and made sure to go to every single ref to make sure they knew he wanted a full TO.

Not the same timeout where they weren't able to inbounds the ball fast enough?

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-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

Yea I remember the sandman timeout, but I don't remember us taking one that wasn't needed. The one I remember is the inbounds like you indicated. I really don't know what the big beef was. I will try and go back and review that part on replay after the CFP game.

Edit: I went back and just watched the last 3 mins. Here is what happened: Clarke went to the line for 2 with 40.6 seconds left. He missed the first, then buzz called a time out (from his post-game presser, he said it was to tell the team that this isn't their end goal and just a step in their journey, etc as someone already indicated above).

Then, after Duke made their next basket, Coach K was very adamant about telling everyone it was a full time out then it appears he points towards the Hokie huddle while he speaks to the official. Then the next TV shot shows an official speaking to Buzz (apparently to ask why he took the timeout). Did K actually ask the official to speak to Buzz for an answer? That's absurd if so.

I can see how that might have rubbed K the wrong way, but he had no reason to be the judge on what the timeout was for. Isn't he one who embraces the 'every moment is a teaching moment' idea? Buzz was simply using it to instruct his players on what their goals are and to keep it in prospective, maybe to act like they expected to win, etc. Last note: it doesn't appear that any words were exchanged at the handshake, looked like a 'good game' and move on.

@vtscottyb

Just the nature of Coach K. He routinely makes everything about him even situations that shouldn't be anything close to being about him. I'm still annoyed he pulled Zabian Dowdell aside in the handshake line to teach him the appropriate ways to celebrate after we knocked then of back in like 2007 or so. That was a slimeball move then, it was a slimeball move last year when he did it to the Oregon kid, and it'll be a slimeball move the next time he does it. But should another opposing coach ever pull a Duke player aside to do the same you know K would be furious with it.

Don't let this comment take away from the fact that Arkansas blew a 24 point 2nd half lead in the Belk Bowl.
Don't let the Belk Bowl take away from the fact that Matt Ryan blew a 25 point 2nd half lead in the Super Bowl.

Coach K attracts players like Grayson because they share an attitude, while Buzz attracts players like Seth because they share one? I'm good with that.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Thanks VTCPA... this brings some clarity to a statement that Buzz made in his post game interview. He went with this following a question about how to get the guys ready for a road game against NCSU:

Maybe this goes out publicly so I'll say it... One of the officials asked me, after I called the last TO why I called the TO (looking at Laser with a confused look). An official has never asked me in my career why I called the TO. (With a more confused look on his face) And I said, "What do you mean? I was coaching my team." And then I've heard some other things about what was going on in that particular TO. [pause] And its completely knocked me off my line. [pause] But here's the thing, I can't control all of that. What I can control is, is I'm responsible for my team and my message the last TO, so it can become public record, was: "This is one game and our responsibility is to handle it as such. Win or lose, that's not what we're striving for. We're striving for victory. Victory is the best version of ourself". So, uh, I was not calling a TO for any unprofessionalism that was suggested my way

Coach K doesn't like to lose...

Is it football season yet?

Coach K is a Sanctimonious asshat of the 1st order

Semper Fi

Taken at a Duke practice:

Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate, and hetzers gonna hetz

I like how Coach K called a timeout as some sort of revenge but he was only prolonging his blowout loss. You showed him, Coach.

"My favorite cocktail is bourbon on ice. It makes the ice taste better." - Jimmy Russell

Old School! I loved it when the crowd started singing Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye.

Where is Click?!

Me too, Musky. Used to love it at football games back in the days when they let us. "Stick It In" indeed.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I've been to many games in Cassell in my time, but I've never rushed the court. Until today. This team played their hearts out and I'll never forget this game. FAM!

I found TKP after two rails from TOTS then walking back to my apartment and re-watching the 2012 Sugar Bowl. I woke up the next day with this username.

Tech won and UVA lost before the new year. All good things!

Reach for Excellence!

VT Football: It'll get after ya!

Proud Hokie since 2004.

True but realize that we get to play that same FSU team in a week.

That alley oop, for some reason, reminds me of this. This video, Mike Patricks WOOOWWWW, and Deron's Mom's reaction are amazing.

Looking forward to many more moments like these.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

Yep, tye two best dunks I have ever seen from VT.

Don't forget about deron jumping over the dook guard. Clarke might be the best all around player I've seen for the hokies, but deron was the most exciting.

Stick it in! Stick it in!

I remember seeing that dunk live, I lost my mind from my couch lol. Pretty sure I actually scared my mom because she thought I'd hurt myself. Good memories.

"It's a miracle in Blacksburg, TYROD DID IT MIKEY, TYROD DID IT!"

Where is Click?!

OT: 'member when SportCenter used to report on sporting events that took place?

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-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

For real. I'm tuned in this morning expecting bowl game highlights and maybe mention of our upset. Instead it might as well be the Sunday NFL Countdown preshow.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Seriously though, SC is 60% NFL, 30% stupid jokes between anchors and former NFL players/coaches, and 10% other sports.

They covered it a ton during Sportscenter all day yesterday when they could have easily ignored it completely for the CFP. Not sure why you expect them to still be making it a headline the next day with a full slate of NFL and bowl games on tap.

Because it was early morning and they already have 3 hours of programming devoted entirely to the NFL that follows Sports Center on Sundays.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Yeah, I 'member!

Great win, but heck yeah, we'll have to frugal with the fouling, cause depth could be our downfall. Would be nice to have Blackshear back, but I have't heard that that's on the horizon. Hopefully, we'll be smart enough to not get in foul-fests with teams that have greater depth than us.

"That man was violating a city ordinance, and I was just doing my duty to enforce it." - Mike Curtis

"..because anytime you go upside a man's head, or a woman's, they have a tendency to blink their eyes.." - Deacon Jones

I like this description & quote, from McFarling's column. It doesn't really answer the depth question, but it does explain consistency and how the success can continue going forward:

But you get the sense that the way this Tech team is constructed, it could absorb a lost player or two and still be potent.
Developing balance has been a priority throughout coach Buzz Williams' rebuilding process.
"I just want guys that can pass, dribble and shoot," Williams said. "I don't want the ball to get stuck and go, 'Hey, the ball has to go to Jimmy.' In my brain, because I'm so linear with how I think, what are we going to do if we can't get the ball to Jimmy?
"So let's get as many good Jimmys as we can, and if we can't get it to that Jimmy, throw it over here to the other one."
Or throw it off the glass and let another Jimmy rock the house one last time. Either way works.

Get the ball to Jimmy, he's always open.

McFarling - Virginia Tech provides satisfying thrashing of Duke

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-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

This may belong in the other thread about Allen's tripping habit, but since this is the most recent Buzzketball and Duke thread, I'll put it here. And because there was much discussion about Coach K's reaction to the Buzz timeout.

I got the scoop on exactly what happened in the private post-game meeting between Coach K, Allen, Coach MAtheny and Steven Santa Ana of Elon. Sauces: let's just say, they were there.

I'm not going to give the full story, but let's just say the <10 minute meeting involved a whole lot of Allen tears and an ~7 minute F-bomb laced Coach K rant in which he defended himself and his handling of the situation. So Coach K took 70% of a meeting that was supposed to be about Allen apologizing to Santa Ana and had his own little temper tantrum. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, Coach. Or should I say teacher/mentor?

--
"It's time to go play Virginia Tech Football longer and harder than anybody else in America!!" -- Justin Fuente
"I put a brick in Sacksburg today." -- Cam Phillips