For much of Saturday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum, Senior Day stuck to script. Lacing it up for the final time in Blacksburg, Seth Allen and Zach LeDay seemed destined to cap their Cassell careers with another victory, guiding the Hokies to an early double-digit lead over visiting Wake Forest with apparent ease.
But the Demon Deacons, their own dreams of March conceivably hanging in the balance, refused to go away. Hampered by early foul trouble from star big man John Collins, the Deacs trailed by just five at the half, the score not at all indicative of how the Hokies controlled action throughout the first 20 minutes.
But much to the Hokies' chagrin, a different Danny Manning unit emerged from the locker room for the second half, one powered by the imposing length of Collins and the scoring brilliance of sophomore Bryant Crawford. A former standout at WCAC power Gonzaga HS, Crawford's game-high 26 points ultimately proved too much for Buzz's bunch as the Hokies fell 89-84 in their regular season finale.
"I think they're very talented. I think what they've done since (Danny Manning) has been there speaks for itself," said Buzz Williams. "Collins is an early-entry pro. Crawford shot 14 free throws, five assists, zero turnovers today...I really like the complexion of their team."
LeDay paced Tech with 24 points and 10 rebounds, closing out his brief but decorated Cassell resume with yet another double-double. LeDay, an undersized forward who at times has struggled with bigs of Collins' caliber, went toe-to-toe with an All-ACC performer and more than held his own, missing just once from the field en route to an impressively efficient afternoon.
Allen did his part as well, repeatedly getting to the rim against a Wake Forest defense that had a nightmarish time keeping the former Maryland standout out of the lane. But it wasn't quite enough, as the Demon Deacons offense cruised to a 47-point second half performance with a shooting percentage eclipsing the 60% mark.
T(re)y Outlaw, Cooling Down Just five days removed from setting a new Virginia Tech record for three-pointers made in a single game, Ty Outlaw began his descent back to Earth Saturday afternoon. (And yes, it's a good thing that shooting 3 of 6 from deep qualifies as "coming back to Earth"). Outlaw inconceivably found himself wide open for a few good looks in the first half, but the Deacs stuck to the 6'6" wing much tighter throughout the final 20 minutes. More importantly, despite his clear ability to score from deep, Outlaw still hasn't shown an ability to do anything but that — shoot. If he wants to become a legitimate scoring threat in the ACC, Outlaw will need to improve off the dribble.
Up Next: Brooklyn The Hokies finished with a 10-8 league record for the second straight year, but make no mistake, this team's resume is far superior than a year ago. There shouldn't be much bubble drama for Tech in Brooklyn, but an opening round victory would relax any remaining doubt for the more pessimistic side of Hokie Nation. That opportunity will come on Wednesday evening at the Barclays Center, as the seventh-seeded Hokies anxiously await the victor of Tuesday afternoon's clash between Wake Forest and Boston College. If the Hokies were to get past their first matchup — granted, potentially an unwise assumption — a date with second-seeded Florida State would lie ahead.
Perhaps not built for the day-to-day grinder that is the ACC Tournament, Brooklyn will be a tough test for a Hokies team with an increasingly shrinking bench. But if nothing else, Tech has proven they can put the ball in the basket, and that's a good place to start. The three-point line figures to be the ultimate equalizer for the Hokies throughout Championship Week, and if they can find a way to get stops on the defensive end (and avoid the freak-show known as North Carolina for as long as possible), an intriguing run isn't completely out of the question.
Buzz Williams' Post-Game Presser
Buzz on the refs: "If in our last home game, that's who the conference commissioner of officials wants to send us, that's just part of it."— BUZZKETBALL (@BUZZKETBALL_) March 5, 2017