Hokies Hold Off Boston College's Three-Point Barrage, Escape With 85-79 Victory

The Eagles certainly made it interesting, but the Hokies did just enough to earn another ACC victory.

Buzz Williams looks on from the sidelines. [Mark Umansky]

Just three days removed from a thorough beating in Chapel Hill, Sunday night's tussle with Boston College figured to present the Hokies with a chance to flip the script. The Eagles arrived in Blacksburg yet to register a true road victory, their resume sprinkled with losses to programs a typical college basketball fan would struggle to locate on a map.

And true to form, the Hokies jumped on Boston College almost immediately, converting on 10 of their first 11 from the field to build out a commanding 18-point lead midway through the first half. In the 24-by-7 pressure cooker known as the ACC, the Hokies were finally bound for an effortless win.

Enter Jordan Chatman, a 6'5" Washington native averaging just seven points per game coming off the bench for Jim Christian's Eagles squad.

Chatman's career high? 16, coincidentally tallied against Virginia just two weeks back in Chestnut Hill. Suffice it to say that particular record no longer holds.

Chatman pillaged the Hokies to the tune of nine three-pointers — six in the first half alone — almost single-handedly keeping the Eagles within striking distance while Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson worked through some early-game rust. But despite an often porous zone defense that frequently lended itself to open shooters, the Hokies managed to hold off Boston College's furious second-half comeback, escaping with a far from perfect 85-79 victory.

Seth Allen led the way for Tech, an efficient 18-point performance once again showcasing an increasingly poised veteran running the show for the Hokies. Zach LeDay wasn't far behind with 17 of his own, eclipsing the 10-point mark for a sixteenth consecutive game. And with freshman Khadim Sy's minutes and productivity seemingly dwindling as conference play develops, LeDay continued to provide the sole interior presence for the Hokies, battling Boston College's Mo Jeffers for much of the evening.

While Chatman stole the headlines with his torrid three-point shooting, Justin Bibbs held his own personal shooting clinic, converting on four of five from behind the arc to keep the Hokies afloat as Boston College threatened down the stretch.

The Eagles never led — although they did pull within one after a five-point flurry from Bowman midway through the second half — but Chatman's historic night came frighteningly close to shocking a home-standing Hokies team. But the Hokies never panicked down the stretch, answering every Boston College punch with a counter of their own to inch back above .500 in ACC play.

A Few Additional Thoughts

Why Zone BC? The Hokies played a mish-mash of different zone defenses against the Eagles, rarely switching into man against a 9-13 Boston College team. I'll be honest: this one surprised me.

Look, it's clear the Hokies are vastly undersized — that was never more on display than against North Carolina — but Boston College should be a team you're confident in matching up with. Without digging too far into the rabbit hole, let's just say zoning this team doesn't exactly inspire confidence, not when the program's aspirations are to play meaningful basketball in March for the first time in a decade. At some point, you either need to a) be tough enough to match up and get stops or b) hide your deficiencies with junk defenses. Right now, the Hokies aren't doing either. Their zone isn't active nor fluid enough to confuse opponents or force turnovers, and Buzz clearly seems hesitant to match up against ACC teams.

ACC Outlook At 5-4 in conference play, the Hokies still appear well-positioned to craft a tournament-ready resume come March. Given the pedigree and competitiveness of the ACC this year, conventional wisdom suggests any team that finishes at 9-9 or above figures to end up on the right side of the bubble (assuming a halfway decent non-conference schedule). With two matchups against Virginia and a midweek contest with Miami up next, let's say the Hokies go 1-2 in their next three, placing them at 6-6. That leaves Pittsburgh, Clemson, Boston College and Wake Forest on the schedule, four winnable games that could lift the Hokies into nine or ten win territory. Throw in a late-February matchup with Miami in Cassell that the Hokies could be favored in, and it's not hard to see why the pundits have the Hokies firmly in the NCAA Tournament right now. Their play of late hasn't been overly impressive, and Buzz and his staff certainly have plenty of questions to answer on the defensive end of the floor, but it's impossible to ignore the momentum building as the wins continue to accumulate in Blacksburg.


BC has two of the better scorers in the league in Robinson and Bowman. Man to man against those two would be a very quick way to get our guards into foul trouble. You don't expect a guy shooting under 40 percent from behind the arc to hit his first nine.

Always choose joy.

BC has two of the better scorers in the league, and lost to Nicholls State and Hartford.

Like I said, at some point, you just have to get some stops.

The zone is working but we need to rebound much better. It really comes down to getting you butt on someone and not letting them get the rebound. Our rebounding is inexcusable. But the actual defense and forcing our opponents into bad shots is actually quite decent.

Always choose joy.

I mean, clearly rebounding is an issue (and by nature, harder out of a zone), but it's tough to say the zone is "working" when one guy goes 9-11 from three and you give up 80 points to a mediocre Boston College team.

The pretty simplistic standards to "working" defense, but to each their own. I obviously don't agree and I thought the defense, as a whole, was pretty good tonight.

Always choose joy.

Well, here are some less simplistic numbers that all say to me that the zone isn't working, especially in ACC play. Since conference play started Tech is allowing opponents to shoot 49% from the field(14th in ACC of 15 teams), opponents shoot 53% inside the arc (13th), opponents shoot 40% from outside (12th), opponents have gotten the 6th most rebounds against Tech while Tech has gotten the 14th most rebounds, Tech has the 14th most steals to our opponents 8th, Tech has the 13th most blocks, Tech has forced opponents into the 15th most turnovers and Tech is allowing the 2nd most points per game at 81.8 compared to scoring 76.9. Those numbers say to me that the ACC is absolutely dissecting Techs zone defense.

And before you get to the but Tech is 5-4 in those games, that's because of how well these guys have shot on offense. Tech is essentially the ACC version of the Washington Redskins, all offense and very little defense. Tech is shooting a league best 55% inside the arc (1st in ACC, 21st in country). If you look at Techs margins of victory, that small percentage above their opponents of about 3% is where most of their wins are. Five wins by a total of 33 points, but three of those by 6, 1 and 1. The stats essentially wash out between Duke win, Florida State loss and the Syracuse win and the UNC loss. One other saving grace for Tech that maybe you attribute to the strong home crowds, but opponents shoot the 2nd lowest free throw percentage against Tech at 66%.

Nailed it. Also having everyone get back to prevent transition office while giving no effort towards getting offensive rebounds doesn't seem to be working as well. What did we have 1 or 2 offensive rebounds last night?

I had more of an issue with the other way again UNCheat- too many people going for a fast break instead of a defensive rebound. Box out the shooter before you run down the court. It does no good to start a break if you can't get the ball.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

This is a huge factor in our rebounding deficiency. Some of this is size, some is positioning while like you point out most is our guys running to each edge of the court for the fast break pass rather than assuring we actually got the rebound in the first place. UNC got about a dozen points this way on easy put back baskets.

From what I can tell, we've been in zone since Clemson, not since the beginning of the ACC slate. We're 2-1 in those games, including an away victory. Last night we held BC to one of our lowest shooting field goal percentages of the conference. They shot SIXTY ONE TIMES and only had 79 points, which is pretty inefficient, especially considering they hit 13 free throws.

And since you mentioned our offense, playing zone helps our offensive efficiency as well. It allows us to go smaller and quicker, which suits our better offensive players. It allows us to put any number of combinations on the floor at a time, something we cannot do with a man-to-man defense because we simply don't have enough lock down defenders 1-on-1. I find it no coincidence that our offensive numbers in the zone are pretty dang good. The more energy we spend on defense, the more it takes away from our offense.

I think the zone is fine and it puts us in the best chance to win. Last night it was fine. The more we play it the more it'll be smoothed out. As Buzz said, the data isn't out. All he knows is that we are 2-1 in it.

Always choose joy.

Except last night when BC missed most of those shots we had left zone coverage to play mostly a man to man hybrid defense, which caused pressure on their shooters and took away most of the open looks. Buzz made the change at about the under 16 timeout in the second half, up until then BC was shooting better than 50%, with 13-27 in the first half and 4-6 before the under 16 timeout in the second half. We definitely played zone defense for the majority of the NC State and Florida State games because of the height disparity against FSU and trying to slow the assault by the Wolfpack. I would have to go back to watch the Syracuse game to see our primary defense but after that game we have been almost exclusively in zone because of the height of Georgia Tech with Lammers down low as well as the Notre Dame game where Vasturia broke our zone from the top of the key and Farrell did it driving to the basket.

It seemed evident that Buzz felt zone coverage would give us the best chance to win the game. He stuck with it despite the fact that one guy was having the game of his life and killing us from downtown.

I'd say the zone worked because we won the game. I have to give Buzz the benefit of the doubt as to why he didn't make any major adjustments.


I never met a project that couldn't justify a new tool.

Except he didn't stick with it. In the second half he went to a hybrid man to man defense for most of the final 15 minutes, which kept the corner threes from getting open all but once and put a defender close on the BC shooters to prevent easy looks. With the shift BC shot 14 of 35 in the second half, compared to 13 of 26 in the first half.

Any player at this level in this league is going to shoot like that if you give him enough uncontested looks, especially those who are recruited into this conference as a pure shooter. Of the 9 in a row he made we couldn't even get a hand in his face for at least 7 of them. Any 3 point shooter in the ACC is going to kill it like that from 3 if we play defense like that.

That's bad defense. It's good we won but it's past point something is done to correct this. Clemson and BC are two teams we should have buried but we allowed them to stay close because we couldn't guard the 3. Eventually this will catch up to us and it's going to lead to some ugly results when it does.

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

The best shooters in the world will struggle to make 9 in a row in an empty gym.

We aren't good at defending the three because we are getting beat off the ball and our help D is leaving us exposed.

But Chatman's performance last night was an anomaly, a statistical outlier, noise.

I think we could give all our best shooters those shots uncontested and they'd be lucky to hit half.

Seth Allen is shooting 48.5% from 3 this year but he'd be lucky to shoot 50% if every shot was uncontested? Are you sure about that?

Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound, Jeff Jagodzinski, Paul Johnson, Pat Narduzzi.

he'd be much closer to 50% than 9/9. I'm sure about that.

I can live with 74%. That's not bad at all.

I'm good with his 48%. He was 28% last year, 38% the year prior and 31.2% as a freshmen. He's come along way.

You have to admit that 9/9 is a statistical anomaly.

That would be impressive in an empty gym, let alone a live Cassell.

They might not make 9 for 9, but they'll usually make around 60-70% of those shots.

Lets not pretend that last night was an anomaly. Teams are routinely getting some of their best performances of the year from deep by a wide margin against our squad this year. My most to all metrics, we are abysmal at defending the 3 point shot this year, and its a trend, not an outlier.

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

Not an anomaly yet set an acc record for consecutive 3's made on attempts? I agree we aren't a good 3p defensive team, but what he did on his first 9 shots was an anomaly.

60 percent instead of 100 percent is like an 8 point swing. That matters. #pleasecheckmymath

Always choose joy.

I haven't been able to catch the games live so these write-ups have been wonderful. It sounds like whatever our guys lack in size, they do have guts and grit.

This is accurate, but we have struggled against any team that has a significant size advantage, and have struggled rebounding in ACC play. Additionally, we have done a very poor job closing on perimeter shots and we've let several bad three shooting teams go way above their season average beyond the arc. Sometimes you just catch teams on a hot shooting night, but this seems like a trend. Not sure we can fix our mismatch issues against teams with a several bigs, but we should be able to make adjustments defending the perimeter.

Wanted to look into this some more just for some factual perspective and here is what I found: (1st Number is a teams ACC Average 3PT%, Second is what we allowed) Differential - Result

Duke (38.4% vs 31.3%) -7.1% Win (22.4 attempts vs 16 attempts) -6.4 attempts
NC State (34.7% vs 35.3%) +0.6% Loss (21.4 attempts vs 17 attempts) -4.4 attempts
FSU (35.2% vs 41.2%) +6% Loss (20.2 attempts vs 17 attempts) -3.2 attempts
Syracuse (37.1% vs 29.4%) -7.7% Win (21.6 attempts vs 17 attempts) -4.6 attempts
Notre Dame (40.3% vs 38.9%) -1.4% Loss (21.2 attempts vs 18 attempts) -3.2 attempts
GT (33.6% vs 42.9%) +9.3% Win (12.9 attempts vs 14 attempts) +1.1 attempts
Clemson (37.9% vs 48.1%) +10.2% Win (22.1 attempts vs 27 attempts) +6.9 attempts
UNC (37.6% vs 46.7%) +9.1% Loss (22.8 attempts vs 30 attempts) +7.3 attempts
BC (36.9% vs 41.4%) +4.5% Win (22.9 attempts vs 29 attempts) +6.1 attempts

In nine ACC games so far, we have allowed opponents to shoot better from the perimeter in six of nine contests. In the three where we held them to worse shooting, we won two of three, being the Duke and Syracuse wins with the Notre Dame loss. After that the W vs L stacks up an even 3-3, although if you look at our three worst performances, they are both of our 1 point wins over Clemson and GT along with the 18 point loss to UNC. All three of those contests saw our opponents shoot over 9% better from outside the arc than they have against the rest of the ACC.

The second set of numbers you see above are how many three point attempts opponents have averaged in ACC play vs how many attempts they took against us. The first five contests of ACC play we actually allowed our opponents to shoot fewer three point attempts than they have averaged during the rest of conference play. The remaining four contests we have allowed quite the opposite, especially the final three, where each game we have allowed opponents to shoot more than 6 attempts per contest more than their ACC average.

That was all like "Kay-o Ken 5!"

Waho's suck
Uva swallows

Note the defender undercutting him as he jumped... That is why Clarke held onto the rim, which is allowed by the offensive player to ensure you don't dangerously land on an opponent. That should have never been called a technical.

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

My guess is that the ref only saw Clarke do a high pull up off the rim, which I think is a technical. He probably didn't see the undercutter and that Clarke was just trying to ensure he didn't hit anyone on his swing back towards the court. Whistle probably wouldn't have been blown if Clarke kept his arms straight, but it might've been a natural reaction to pull up if he thought someone was in the way of his landing. Either way, it was a sweet coast-to-coast play!

He wasn't in any danger (that defender was no where near his legs IMO) - that T is subjective, but pretty much the pullup will earn the T most times (you can hang to avoid , but not do a pullup)

Where is Wilson? Is he not in basketball shape yet or did he piss off Buzz? I seem to remember his D being pretty clutch last year and that seems to be where we need the most help.

Heard they are trying to redshirt him.

We put the K in Kwality

Would be smart for Wilson. His future isn't in basketball, so another year on scholarship is a wonderful advantage for him.

Wilson could easily catch on with a European team, especially with his defensive skill set or he could go join Jimmer Freddette in China, where he has turned into a sensation. I am always amazed at the number of middling college players that make big money over there.

Seth Allen doing Seth Allen things. That is a GREAT pic of Buzz at the top.

Waho's suck
Uva swallows

Got a chance to go to the game, the entire first half Bowman was getting chants of "Cheeto Head" because of his pink/red/orange locks. At first he laughed it off but he missed a couple and it seemed to start to affect him. Small little things like that can be the difference in road and home games that make defending home court in the ACC so important.

VT '17

That's not nice. Here have a leg

Dangerously cheezy!

on TV it sounded like "DOA" which I thought was pretty descriptive of BC's offensive output over the first 10 minutes of the game.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Glad to get the W. Really can't take any team for granted in the ACC.
Credit to that BC guy who kept hitting 3's.

completely agree with the comment about zone defense not working. Our guys dont rotate well enough to play effective zone for long stretches. Ive noticed alot of two guys going to one guy when teams swing the ball. gotta get away from it.

"I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them." - Lee Corso

Fuck Matt Ryan!

Go Hokies!

I appreciate hot takes that our Zone D is terrible, but that really isn't the case.

it's flawed, but that is because our roster is flawed. Short bench, very few post players. This strategy is obviously set up to protect our posts and protect our team's endurance. Curious what any of you would suggest we do differently on D?

The only real deficiency I'm seeing in our Zone D is the weak-side corner 3. (We're not stopping penetration to the lane in any type of defense)
The weakside defender was constantly sagging to the edge of the lane, ready to help on drives to the hoop, leaving 15+ feet between themselves and Chapman camped in the corner. Someone drives from strong side, drawing the attention of the weakside defender and then passes to Chapman, or alternatively a skip pass to Chapman still was giving him enough time to get a wide open look. (Transition D was also a problem.. left Chapman open several times, luckily BC didn't make it a point to feed him the ball)

That deficiency seems to be built into our defensive concept. When your post is a 6'7" senior or a 6'10 freshman you have to help in the lane. It's that simple. Give up some open 3's or give up easy shots 3' from the rim that also put your only 2 post players in foul trouble. Pick your poison. Buzz strongly favors paint touches so it stands to reason that he strongly favors denying paint touches.

Late in the game when we stuck to Chapman like glue, BC was much more effective getting to the lane. Lucky for us cheeto was having a terrible night and missed multiple point-blank shots.

No disagreement, as I have discussed most of these points before, as you note the weak side corner is our Achilles heel. Clarke, Hill and Outlaw need to improve their positioning. It's a matter of about two to three feet and if done correctly takes away the deadeye corner as well as allowing them to offer help defense. Outlaw is actually the best of the three in the position as scary as that is. There are times though that you need to vary your coverage as Buzz did last night in the second half to disrupt an opponents strength. It doesn't even have to be for long periods of time because of how short we are both height and bench wise. It was another reason I really enjoyed seeing us use an actual pressure press defense for a spell. Keep your opponents off balance offensively.

I love Chris Clarke, but I thought he pressed a little too much in the BC game. He had 4 TO's I think. Also, I think we missed 9 FT's. We are definitely vertically challenged.

US Navy Vet