Buzzketball Season 4 Week 2: Points, Points, And More Points

This week I talk about records being broken, Dikembe Mutombo, and the ever-challenging opponent of TBD.

[Mark Umansky]

Everybody who thought this team was going to score a total of 243 points in the two games this week, raise your hand.

Put your hand down, VTGuitarMan. You liar. Just because you acquired a lot of turkey legs doesn't mean you were able to predict that.

The Hokies went 2-0 last week (thank goodness). Tech dispatched Detroit Mercy and The Citadel. If you don't want to read this whole article, the TL;DR is as follows:

Points. Nickeil Alexander-Walker. More points. Kerry Blackshear Jr.

Now that we got the stragglers out of here, let's dive right into what happened last week.

Virginia Tech 111–Detroit Mercy 79

The Hokies opened the regular season with a convincing win on Friday night. Nickeil Alexander-Walker was everything as advertised, if not more. Kerry Blackshear Jr. added the dominant post presence the Hokies desperately needed. Chris Clarke seemed like he didn't even notice his knee brace. It was a good win.

A couple things stood out to me right away. The first four baskets were each scored by a different starter. It was exciting to see the ball being distributed in a way that allowed for any position to score. When it was all said and done, five Hokies finished the game in double figures. No matter the opponent, that's a great performance.

The negative side of this game from a team standpoint was that the defense could've been much better. Detroit Mercy is not a good team. Straight up. Yes, it's nice to hold them to 79 points, but that's still too many. Part of that high-scoring performance for the Titans came from the Hokies turning the ball over 12 times. But part of the Titans' output was because the Hokies looked sluggish on the defensive end. They weren't fighting through screens. Weren't boxing out. Weren't hustling to get loose balls. And it hurt.

Now, let's talk about some individual performances. Because hot dang, there were some good ones.

In Alexander-Walker's first official game, he casually led the entire team in scoring. With a 9 of 14 shooting performance, including 4 of 7 from deep and a couple free throws. He finished the game with 24 points. Not too shabby for a true freshman.

I joked last week that he was the best player on this team after seeing his performance against South Carolina. Yeah, it might not be a joke. He has all the makings of a player for the ages. He showed a poise and calmness that shouldn't come from a teenager playing in his first collegiate game. I'll talk about what he did against The Citadel in a little bit, but it was somehow even better.

Another performance that stood out to me on Friday night came from Ahmed Hill. He quietly put together a 19 point night and added nine rebounds. I asked him about being only one rebound away from an opening game double-double and he said he's "been working on getting more rebounds and tonight it just all worked out for me." I then tried to follow up with him about the guards in general crashing the glass a lot more, but I couldn't. Because the players got pulled out of the break-out session with no warning. Cool.

Virginia Tech 132–The Citadel 93

I will now quote from last week.

"Spoiler: There will be a lot of points in that game."

And Henry said, let it be so.

The over/under on this game was 188. Ha.

Look. The Citadel was one of the highest scoring teams in the country last year (77 points per 100 possessions), but also one of the worst defensive teams as well. They score a lot of points, and they give up a lot of points. And that's why I wasn't surprised to see the Hokies put up 132 of them. Was I surprised at the team-record 36 assists? Perhaps, yeah, a little.

Last year, the Hokies struggled in the first half against The Citadel, going into the halftime break with only 40 on the board and down by four. They then busted loose and added 73 more in the second-half, en route to a 113-71 victory. It was a decent performance, but they didn't play to their potential against such a bad defensive team.

This time around, that changed. The Hokies scored 66 points in each half, shooting almost 70% in the first half and 68% in the second. They took advantage of a terrible full-court press from the Bulldogs and scored 72 points in the paint. They made 12 three-pointers. And they had the aforementioned 36 assists. They set the record for most points scored in a regulation game. It was fun to watch. Just don't let UVA see. They'll probably think this is the combined score from three games.

Now, you're probably thinking I'm going to talk about Nickeil Alexander-Walker YET again. You're wrong. That's later. Instead, I'm going to focus on Kerry Blackshear Jr. His stat line against The Citadel: 22 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists.

It was an extremely efficient performance. He shot 9 of 11 from the field, and 4 of 6 from the line. I made a note during the game that stood out to me later that night as I reviewing. Kerry being back is great for this team. He can pass. He can score down low. He can stretch the defense with his outside shooting. He can be physical in the post. If he can stay healthy, he's exactly what the Hokies needs to surprise some teams in March.

Okay, NOW it's NAW time. He scored 29 points on Sunday night, so that's pretty good, I guess. He also added four rebounds and three assists. I mentioned that he played even better than he did against Detroit Mercy, and it's true. He didn't sub out until the ten minute mark in the second-half. And yet, he didn't appear tired. At all. He was running up and down the court and getting to the hoop just as effortlessly as usual. After a particularly deep three in the first half, I turned to somebody next to me on press row and remarked that he seems like he chooses when he wants to score. It's almost like he knows he can put up 40 every night, but decides not to. That's scary.

One final observation from Sunday night. During the game, I chatted with other TKP staff and mentioned that Pig (read: Tyrie Jackson) and Wabissa Bede were playing great perimeter defense. I pointed out that the defensive effort from the guards being stepped up a notch throughout this season is key. French, being the ever observant man that he is, added that having Dikembe Mutombo at the rim would help too.

So, as promised, here is a Mutombo gif.

#SCTop10 Play of the Week

You know what this is. Click it anyways.

Quote of the Week

Buzz Williams on why Virginia Tech continues to schedule games against The Citadel, even though he has publicly said that they don't play basketball normally:

"We probably need to pause it. I just love Duggar [The Citadel coach]. ... When I can help them, I want to do that. I think we've played them every year I've been here except for Year 2. It's not smart on my part. The officials asked why I'm playing these guys and it's because I like that guy down there. We need to stop that. That's not a good enough answer anymore."

So there's the answer to the question we've all been kind of asking. Why schedule a game against such a polarizing team? It's because Buzz likes the other coach. And to be honest, I'm not a fan of that logic. Schedule somebody better, Buzz. Get a home game version of the Kentucky game. Scheduling games shouldn't be based off of friendships. It should be based off the desire to make the team better.

November 16: Saint Louis

The Good: It's another very winnable game.

The Bad: It's a winnable game becuase Saint Louis isn't good.

This is another game within the 2K Classic. This time the game's in Madison Square Garden. While that will be a lot of fun to watch, I don't feel that worried about this matchup. The Billikens (what the heck is a Billiken anyways?) are 247th in the RPI, and really shouldn't be that much of a challenge for Virginia Tech.

This game is a chance for Buzz and the team to show off to the national audience what the Hokies are capable of. They're part of a Thanksgiving tournament for several reasons, and this is one of them. National exposure. The game is going to be televised on ESPN2, it's in MSG, it's going to draw an audience.

That's what is most important about these next couple games. Show off to the country what this team is capable of. Get the players used to the bright lights. Get some respect for the program.

November 17: TBD

The Good: We've never lost to TBD

The Bad: We've never beaten TBD

This is a tough opponent. TBD has always proven to be a struggle for the Hokies.

On a serious note, it's either going to be Washington or Providence. My hope is that it'll be Providence. They would prove to be a much more difficult matchup. Hopefully that would lead to our first real look at what we can expect from Buzzketball against tougher opponents. Providence should prevail, but this is college basketball and anything can happen. I'm looking at you, Indiana-Indiana State.

Comments

Well done, thank you!

Put your hand down, VTGuitarMan. You liar. Just because you acquired a lot of turkey legs doesn't mean you were able to predict that.

This is a Billiken:

Yea, there is some positive JuJu involved, but...ummm....yea.

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

In America he became the athletic mascot of Saint Louis University, because the figure was said to resemble coach John R. Bender. The school's athletic teams remain the Billikens to this day.

The Billiken is a charm doll created by an American art teacher and illustrator, Florence Pretz of Kansas City, Missouri, who is said to have seen the mysterious figure in a dream. The Billiken was elephant-like with pointed ears, a mischievous smile and a tuft of hair on his pointed head. His arms were short and he was generally sitting with his legs stretched out in front of him. Billiken is known as "The God of Things As They Ought to Be."

Billiken is known as "The God of Things As They Ought to Be."

So he's the one we should thank when we whoop LOLUVA in football every year?

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

A game with Providence on Friday night would be fun. In the AP poll, VT has the 32nd most votes, Providence has the 30th. Pretty close in RPI (VT 56, Providence 71). Both probably on the good side of the bubble but bubble teams nonetheless.

I haven't really looked into who plays who in what early season tournaments, but I do know there are a lot going on this weekend. If the right cards fall the right way (beating STL would be the first one), it might be a matchup to see who cracks the top 25 next week.

I would like to think that Tech should be able to handle Providence easily. If they have trouble with the Friars I will worry a lot more about ACC play. The Friars just lost to Minnesota.

The Friars just lost to #14 Minnesota in a game that was close until the final TV timeout. If we have trouble with the Friars it'll be because we've gotten too comfortable playing high school teams up until that point and they're our first decent opponent. They're #31 on KenPom.

I grew up a URI Ram fan, I have nothing but loathing and spite for the Friars. They are constantly overrated, and do come from the Pitino school of cheating.

I respect the hatred. I hope you're right about the overrated part, but the cheating would scare me either way. UNC did just win the Championship last year.

Providence has good guard play and will match up well with us.

Always choose joy.

Providence returns their top 7 players from last year in terms of minutes played. Last year they made the NCAA tournament, losing in the "first round" to USC. Also, they recruit our state very well as they have 4 players on their team from Virginia, including two freshmen. They have the 38th best player from the 2017 class and currently have the 53rd and 54th best players from the 2018 class.

The Friars just lost to Minnesota.

Minnesota is a very good team and that game was close until there were about 6 minutes to go.

Yes, but we have Blackshear and NAW

"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

...And a 10th year senior

Finally got a chance to go back and watch the first two games. Looks like our returning players are continuing to improve, and Blackshear and NAW look like an upgrade from LeDay and Allen. Assuming Bibbs returns and largely replaces Wilson, and is at lease as good as last year, and we stay healthy (especially Clarke), I think we may already be significantly better than last year. I am excited to see if we can look this good against real competition.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

If Tech beats Saint Louis Tech gets Saint Louis and Seattle in the College basketball Imperialism thingy

Hello all you boys and girls I'd like to take you to the inside world It's quite an irregular place to be But never fear you're safe with me. Well maybe

The only thing that beats a team that plays small ball and moves the ball around is a team that plays small ball and moves the ball around coupled with a nasty shot blocking monster protecting the rim against dribble drives.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Just to clarify; is Blackshear that monster

I wouldn't call KJ a rim-protecting monster. He is a great scorer and passer. That doesn't mean he isn't capable of defending the paint, its just not his style I think.

This game is a chance for Buzz and the team to show off to the national audience what the Hokies are capable of. They're part of a Thanksgiving tournament for several reasons, and this is one of them.

Is this really considered a Thanksgiving tournament, when it's scheduled a week ahead of Thanksgiving? You had me second-guessing if I'd hibernated a week and didn't realize it.

Regardless, it is a nice opportunity to get some exposure for this squad.

I do enjoy watching the Hokies over the Thanksgiving holiday, so a little bummed that the tournament is a week early. I am eagerly anticipating watching this team against some real competition, though.

I'm really curious about what happens on Friday when Justin Bibbs starts playing again. Does Devin Wilson get bumped from the starting lineup? Or NAW? Or does Buzz bring Bibbs off the bench this season to get more of a scoring punch (I won't say from the "bench unit" because there is no such thing on a Buzz Williams team, but he could look to pair Bibbs with Bede to give him an experienced and dangerous wing scorer).

It's interesting how with college football, a lot of times the trends will start there and make their way up to the NFL. It seems to be the opposite for basketball... NBA teams will start trends that slowly get adopted by college basketball teams. The adoption of small-ball lineups by the dominant teams, for example. I think the latest trend to be adopted that I've seen is what Buzz started doing last year in bringing two of his best players off the bench. Stripping the significance of the term "starter" had already been underway in the NBA, and I think it's arriving in college basketball. The term that should matter in basketball is the term "closer". The guys on the floor at the end of the game matter so much more than the guys standing on the floor during tip-off.

I think the latest trend to be adopted that I've seen is what Buzz started doing last year in bringing two of his best players off the bench. Stripping the significance of the term "starter" had already been underway in the NBA, and I think it's arriving in college basketball.

Eh, I dunno about that.

The only example I can think of that fits your description is Ginobli coming off the bench for San Antonio, but that's been happening for almost a decade and more of an outlier than the trend. Not sure there's any other NBA team who does such a thing (and no, I'm not counting almost washed-up D. Wade coming off Cleveland's bench).

I watch a lot of NBA (actually a Cavs fan, so ouch!). It's very common. Andre Iguodala for the Warriors. Lou Williams. Jamal Crawford. Isaiah Thomas (the new one, not the hall of famer). Cavs have been closing with Kyle Korver, but he doesn't start. JJ Barea used to play that role in Dallas. The Lakers currently close with Clarkson and Randle, neither starting.

I think it's J-rob, Bibbs, NAW, Hill, and KJ. Bibbs has started his entire career so far I don't see that changing.

Outside its night time, but inside its LeDay

I feel he might do something similar with Bibbs/Clarke that he did with Allen/LeDay. They'll play starter minutes, but start on the bench.

Always choose joy.

I think that will be Clarke's role. I don't really see it with Bibbs because he's such a good defender, you're losing more by playing Devin over Bibbs to start out. Then again idk if I'll ever be surprised by the strange ways Buzz uses his lineups.

Outside its night time, but inside its LeDay

What is so different about how the Citadel plays?

they don't play defense and try to get a shot off within 10 seconds

Always choose joy.

Just looked up the season stats so far.

Team Rankings as of November 15th:
Points Per Game: 2nd - 121.5
Field Goal Percentage: 2nd - 62.5%
Total Points Scored: 7th - 243

Go ahead and close it up. We're winning the national title.

"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

UVA fans over on the sabre Thinks Tech is going to be horrible in ACC play

Hello all you boys and girls I'd like to take you to the inside world It's quite an irregular place to be But never fear you're safe with me. Well maybe

Who the fuck cares.

They think a team that scored 49 points in a game in the tournament is actually ok. Their opinion is shit.

"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

And you act like something has changed from normal.

I'm just saying Uva fans are going to be rocked after Tech puts up 100 points against them in a game

Hello all you boys and girls I'd like to take you to the inside world It's quite an irregular place to be But never fear you're safe with me. Well maybe

i like the sentiment, but LOLUVA basketball is like GT football. They limit your possessions by not shooting the ball on their end til 5 seconds on the shot clock. So triple digit points is pretty much off the table no matter how well you play. Dominating citadel means hanging 130+ points on them. Dominating LOLUVA means getting to 80. The mantra last year for beating LOLUVA was "get to 60 and you've blown open their gameplan."

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)..

Well said. It's actually the same strategy that Seth Greenberg employed. When you slow down the pace and limit possessions, you are almost always just a couple of made buckets away from a win. Similarly, you can be beaten by garbage teams if they have a hot shooting night. Teams with middling offensive skills and great defensive skills benefit from slowing pace.

Really excited for this game tonight, fam. Can't wait to see our dudes put on a show at MSG in front of a nationwide audience