Buzzketball No-Shows in New York

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[Chen Jiang]

Virginia Tech lost 71-77 to Saint Louis on Thursday night, and as a result the Hokies will play Washington on Friday at 5 p.m. in the 2K Classic consolation game.

I'll say it how it is. The Hokies performed awful against Saint Louis. They appeared slow. They shot the ball terribly. Free throw attempts were wasted (23-36, 63.9%). Virginia Tech didn't deserve to win the game. End of story.

Buzz Williams echoed similar sentiments post-game. He was highly critical of his team's toughness and character.

"They were tougher than us from start to finish on both ends of the floor — more physical, played more like we want to play," Hokies coach Buzz Williams said.

"I didn't think that we were ever in the fight. I don't think that we were ever in the mix. I thought they overwhelmed us not only with their energy but with their physicality.

"Our character was revealed in how we played. ... I was shocked that [was] who we were tonight. That caught me off guard. Normally we like the fight. Normally we are the first to the floor.

"I didn't see any of that. And that's not from our new guys, that's from all our old guys. I played our old guys a lot of minutes because I kept thinking it would turn, and it never did. Very ... disappointed in our competitiveness."

Although, there were two bright spots for the Hokies. Ahmed Hill scored 26 points courtesy of 10 for 16 shooting. Justin Bibbs also returned to the lineup after sitting out the opening two games of the season. And, yeah, that's about it.

Here's the one stat that defines the game for Virginia Tech: K.J. Blackshear Jr., Justin Bibbs, and Ahmed Hill were 19 for 30 (63.3%) from the field. The ENTIRE rest of the team shot 2 for 22 (9.09%). That includes a 1 for 7 performance from hyped-up freshman Nickeil Alexander-Walker, 0 for 7 for Justin Robinson, and 1 for 7 for Chris Clarke.

Hill succinctly summarized everyone's frustration.

Virginia Tech will lose a lot of games if that happens consistently. The Hokies don't have a great defense to fall back on. Saint Louis proved that by out-rebounding (43-33), out-shooting (47.4%-40.4%), and out-assisting (13-12) Virginia Tech.

This game was the exact opposite from what Buzz and Co. wanted to see. This was a lackluster performance against a team that is ranked in the No. 247 in RPI and No. 141 in KenPom.

This isn't a loss that knocks the Hokies completely out of the tournament, but it's a game that the selection committee will certainly consider in bubble or seeding scenarios.

A follow-up loss to Washington would be devastating.

Washington and Providence played a close game. Ultimately the Huskies lost 70-77. I found that a bit surprising. Providence is a team similar to Virginia Tech in terms of rankings, ratings, etc..., while on the other hand, Washington is ranked No. 210 in the RPI.

Honestly, Virginia Tech shouldn't lose. I said that about the Saint Louis matchup though, and look how that ended up. Washington isn't a good team (I hope the RPI gave that away). Last season, at least they had Markelle Fultz to make them an exciting team to watch. This year they have... um... squints eyes Jaylen Nowell? He's a true freshman that's averaging 21.5 points per game. He scored 14 points and snagged seven steals on Thursday night. I'm looking forward to seeing how Buzz plays defense against a very capable scorer.

Many previews that I have read about Washington portray the Huskies as a team with a similar playstyle as the Hokies. On their roster, there are only two or three "traditional" post players. Because of that, the Huskies like to spread it out with guards and move the ball around. Watching them play against Providence only confirmed what I had read. They played a lot of zone against Providence as well. Don't be surprised to see that.

If Washington hasn't fixed their defense from last season, the Hokies should light them up. The Huskies played really, really bad defense last year. Like, really bad. 81.1 points per game, No. 332 in the country, bad.

If the Hokies manage to bungle this game, expect an even more grumpy column on Tuesday.


Great writeup, Henry. That was really frustrating to watch. Interested to see how we bounce back today.

If the Hokies manage to bungle this game, expect an even more grumpy column on Tuesday.

I don't think this column was grumpy in the least. It perfectly summarized a totally poor showing.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

RPI at this point in the season is purely a guess based on preseason rankings, so I wouldn't reference it or KenPom just yet. The Billikens were picked to finish 7th in the Atlantic 10, but it wouldn't exactly be surprising if they finished 5th, which would likely make them a top 100 RPI team. We shouldn't panic about rankings at this point or take them as an indication of how good a team is.

That being said, that was a highly disappointing effort from the Hokies. They played like a team that expected to walk in and get the win without much effort and St Louis played their hearts out. Hopefully the boys have finished sightseeing in the Big Apple and are ready to play some basketball today. Washington looked pretty good last night and they're going to be itching for a win.

Leg for #TeabagPaulus

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

Thank you my good man. One of the greatest moments in sports history.

Agreed. Also, that dunk Deron had against BC still gives me chills to this day. "Do the Hokie Pokie and turn yourself around young man!" and showing his mom are engrained in my head like the dialogue before the 2003 Miami-VT game in Lane.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

Thanks for the link! Needed a good basketball vibe after that lame outing last night.

Forgot how much fun it was watching Deron.

No problem! He could do some stupid things on the court, but man was he a highlight reel every now and then.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

I think a lot of the expectations of this game were set by how bad last years SLU team was. They have a good coach in his second year and their top two scorers from last night Bess & Goodwin didn't play last year, neither did French or Foreman. This is a very different team than last year. Ford came in with a gameplan that worked. I wouldn't be too surprised to see SLU back on the bubble this year, because like goodraisin said, rankings don't mean much right now.

Outside its night time, but inside its LeDay


Sounds like they underestimated St-Louis, and panicked a bit. We'll find out a bit more about the character of the team from the bounce-back game today.

This game felt a lot like some games last season where we were down or struggling late, and then Seth Allen turned into Alpha Dog and LeDay just got angry and the two of them willed their way to victory. We definitely missed that kind of leadership and taking the team on the shoulders last night. Here's hoping someone steps into that role soon.

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.

I really think Hill stepped up into that role, but he really didn't get any help from anyone else down the stretch. Those guys last year certainly stepped up when we needed them, but they never really had to do it completely by themselves like it seemed with Hill last night.

Twice last night we closed the gap a bit, got a stop, then got nothing on offense after Robinson missed a quick three from the top of the key. I didn't think either of them were bad shots (sure they were quick, but he was open on both), but as each missed I was thinking to myself - Seth Allen would've drained that and turned the game around. I think Robinson has the mentality to fill that role, shots just weren't falling for him.

to the heart of cygnus' fearsome force we set our course

TBH, other than Hill, nobody's shots were falling last night. Had some good looks, but just couldn't drain the shots.

Even FT's were pathetic. As bad as we played, we make 7 of the 13 missed free throws, we win the game.

Washington is coached by that Boeheim protege, right?

So we'll get some 2-3 zone practice at least.

I didn't realize that. They did play quite a bit of 2-3 zone last night. I think our offense is very well suited for the 2-3 zone... we basically act like we're playing against one whether we really are or not. Blackshear, Clarke, or Horne go to the high post, the guards feed them the ball, then it's a handoff, kick out, or drive from the high post.

Yeah, if we make shots the 2-3 isn't a problem for us. We have mobile faux-post players who can pass out of the middle of the zone. Watch for Wilson to take that spot some.

If I recall correctly, the guy who took the UDub job was the "HC In Waiting" at Syracuse for like 5 years and finally got bored of the never aging Boeheim and left. Hopkins or something like that.

You recall correctly. That's exactly what happened. Mike Hopkins.

Outside its night time, but inside its LeDay

This feels a lot like the Texas A&M loss. Lost a game early on that we shouldn't because we were highly inefficient offensively. Games happen. Thankfully it's to Saint Louis and not Radford. We won't play this bad again. Take some comfort in the fact that we missed 13 free throws, had 7 players M.I.A. on offense, played shit defense and didn't get completely run off the floor against a team that'll probably be in the mix for an A10 title come March.

Our floor is rising. We literally cannot play worse this season.

Always choose joy.

Yup, my thought was that as terribly as we played, we still had a chance to win in the end even with the other team playing pretty well. That says a lot about the potential of this team as long as they can get into a rhythm

The best part about the game last night is that Justin Robinson healed his torn ACL in about 5 minutes.

Other than that? Just hope that the team learns from this and continues forward. Buss Buzz is completely correct in that the effort just wasn't there tonight from guys you expect and need the effort to come from. The veteran leaders didn't bring it, and it set the tone from the beginning.

"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

YES. That was the craziest thing. He couldn't put any weight on that leg, then he comes out minutes later and is completely fine. There were literally zero signs of any injury. So weird.

He even told the team he tore it as he was walking off the court.

And then all of the sudden people are giving me shit in the Game Thread because he was back out there playing.

"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

That's gotta be such a moment of fear for those players.

Terrible non-call on that play as well. And the NAW loose ball late in the game. Actually, that happened 2x to NAW late in the game. Considering we shot 36 FT's, the officiating certainly did seem to screw us.

The way the game was going last night, sending us to the line only hurt our chances to win

"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 refs were pretty terrible for both teams. Completely inconsistent all game long. We had the opportunity to capitalize on it but shit the bed at the line.

The best part about the game last night is that Justin Robinson healed his torn ACL in about 5 minutes.

This. The season changes completely if 5 goes out for the year.

I told Justin (from my sofa) to never scare me like that again.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

Well we got two turnovers and 3 points off their first two possessions. St Louis took a quick timeout; what a great timeout by their coach! A lot of coaches would have let it go another couple of possessions, being only 30 seconds into the game, but he did not. That was big, because we might've kept our momentum and gotten a 6 or 7 point lead early.

"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

The team was certainly lackluster last night, but did anyone else think that Buzz wasn't very fired up either? I felt he should used a timeout or two during the game to change the flow.

I thought the same thing. At one point I thought to myself, "Doesn't Buzz usually shed a layer of clothes by this point? Why is he so calm, our team is playing like garbage?" I guess he let the guys have it after the game, but why not during?

Its part of the early season goings on with basketball. Coaches of good teams will sit back and allow the team to effectively eat one to send the message that they can't just show up and expect to win, and that they are capable of losing to anyone. You see this happen annually with both Roy and Coach K where they'll just sit on the bench fuming internally, but won't go crazy with the timeouts to see if the team can work through it on their own. If they can, great, if they can't, then its a great coachable lesson for later in the year.

A loss to Saint Louis isn't going to keep us out of the tournament if we still make 20+ wins in ACC play. Its not a terrible loss, its just not a quality one. If this loss means we're more prepared the rest of the way, its an acceptable one to take.

"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

If we make 20+ wins in ACC play, we will be the ACC champion in regular season and have an auto entry after doing well in the Tourney.

Glad to see some much more reasoned takes this morning. I feel like there's an embarrassing percentage of our fanbase just waits for an excuse to trash the basketball team sometimes

You're leaving the football team out? But in all seriousness, I thought most of the game thread and post-game takes were pretty reasonable considering how poorly we played. They didn't even hold a candle to the Georgia Tech postgame thread.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

That's a good point, I just don't typically go anywhere near the football game threads once the games start, and even less post-game. I just feel like we don't get nearly as many comments for basketball when we're not losing, but I guess that's pretty typical for both sports.

We took a bad L last night, but there's no reason to believe the season's over already. No bubbles burst 3 games into the season, especially when you play in the ACC.

I think the most surprising part of the loss last night was Blackshear. He looked completely lost on defense and had 2-3 fouls that I can think of that were absolutely inexcusable. Idk if he was just expecting Saint Louis to not go at him or what but that needs to be cleaned up yesterday if he expects to compete down low in the ACC this year. Obviously we're going to have bad shooting nights but this was concerning. It wasn't that we missed shots. It was that we got outrebounded by a team that is less athletic and on average shorter than we are. Rebounding is 75% effort and positioning and 25% height. We're going to get killed on the glass if we continue to have that pathetic effort in rebounding, which will lead to losing games like this. Interested to see how Buzz and the guys bounce back tonight. If we don't come out playing like our hair is on fire I will be very concerned.

One thing I noticed about him when he first came to Tech was that it seemed like he didn't know how to control his own body, like he was still growing into his legs. He would get silly fouls because he just couldn't position his lower body correctly. Prior to his injury, it looked like he had made leaps and bounds with Buzz and his staff on getting this fixed. I think in a few weeks you'll see those bad fouls go away for him. He looked on fire at times before his injury and I fully expect him to get back to that same level.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

In his defense, his last foul was because a Billiken just ran into him deliberately for a foul.

They never called a charge in our game, and there should have been at least 2 called. Wilson to his credit had position outside the circle, was set and took the hits.

A major factor in the differential in rebounding is that Buzz emphasizes taking the shot over taking the shot when you have guys down low to possibly rebound and also emphasizes not allowing easy transition baskets. It to me is a major Achilles heel for any team to not at least compete for offensive rebounds. Too often the entire team can be found outside the 3 point perimeter when we shoot, and then they all race back to play defense rather than crash the board. Even the shooter fails to follow his shot, which to me is Basketball 101. The majority of our offensive rebounds come off missed layups and missed free throws and almost never on a perimeter shot. Last night 3 of Clarkes four rebounds came off his own missed layup attempts. We had a total of 7 offensive rebounds last night.

I can appreciate wanting to cut down on transition baskets but with the speed this team has I would be much more in favor of the way St Louis approaches it with one or two designated to get back on any play while the other three crash the boards. How often on a transition basket does it require three or more to at least slow the play down?

Outside of that, the effort and skill required to be a good rebounder doesn't seem to be something that Buzz puts too much emphasis on. Only Clarke and Wilson seem to really pursue the ball coming off the rim with consistency. Blackshear gets rebounds but more as a function of being down low more than because of effort. Even on the defensive end, too often you see our guys tipping the ball when they do have position rather than securing the ball with two hands. This gives the opponent a second chance at the apple.

I think Pig Jackson is a natural rebounder from the guard position and should be given the green light to go get as many offensive rebounds as he wants. He is one of the few guys on the team who will go get rebounds outside of his own zone. He had a rough introduction to high-major basketball, though. He twice tried to take on his defender one-on-one and had the ball poked away leading to a fastbreak the other direction.

Exactly right. And he showed it tonight against UW too. But completely agree that Buzz is seeing what works in the NBA game and applying it here. So our many of the other major programs though.

I agree in some sense, but Buzz is all about the analytics, so if he thinks that getting back in transition D is more important than crashing the boards, then I trust him.

However, I think when you're down by 6-10 pts with only a few minutes left, you have to send guys in to battle for the Offensive rebound. LAst night, on some of the missed shots there at the end, guys were habitually turning and running back.

"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

Difficult game to watch. Since Buzz's tenure began, there have been a few games where our body language and control have appeared sluggish and frustrated (A&M/NCSU) and this looked a lot like those games. While watching, I had trouble believing we could come back based on the way the team carried themselves.

"K.J. Blackshear Jr., Justin Bibbs, and Ahmed Hill were 19 for 30 (63.3%) from the field. The ENTIRE rest of the team shot 2 for 22 (9.09%). "

Thought this stat was extremely revealing as to how last night went. On a lot of possessions we seemed to be taking the first shot available and forcing it, but when we're "on" we are clearly looking for the best shot possible and really slinging the ball around.

Hoping we can rebound tonight (pun intended).

Clarke was upset, he had multiple layups where the ball just came back out. He would get the rebound and another shot and it just wouldn't go in.

There were a couple times when he went for the layup and hit the underneath of the rim.

He's just off right now.

"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 yeah, that's about it.


Waho's suck
Uva swallows

There was a quick 7 point burst there at the end with about 4 minutes left to cut it to 4. I think NAW had a clean look at a 3 which would have cut it to 1. It rimmed out and was kinda that tale of the second half, close but just couldn't do enough to dent the lead which seemed to land between 4-9 point for the remainder of the game. A rough one shooting, too. Hopefully they bounce back.

The Dude Abides

Reason we lost this game was due to the continued struggles at the charity stripe. Tough night for Alexander and Clarke as well. Hill looked very aggressive, and it is nice to see him continue to develop and hopefully become a factor for us when we get into conference play.

It definitely was not the reason we lost because Saint Louis got slapped with a bunch of trash calls too, but I thought the officiating in that game was just brutal. We're lucky some of those in the 2nd half on Blackshear got called as blocks because he easily could have fouled out much earlier in that game. I remember one play down the stretch where Robinson threw an outlet pass to Alexander on a fast break and he was basically tackled into the baseline, not allowing him to even have a chance at the ball. I think the ESPN crew even said as much as "that would be pass interference in football." All that said, we didn't play well and didn't deserve to win but I just had to get that off my chest.

"It might be dark outside, but it's LeDay in here." - Jay Bilas

The refs seemed to make so many ticky-tack calls all game but then would swallow their whistles for some of the more egregious fouls (the pass interference you referenced being the worst, imo). It was baffling, really curious if anyone knows which conference that crew came from last night

I'm not going to over-react. I think this is still a tourney team... but their half-court offense was atrocious.. If they didn't score on a fast break or an inbounds play (ex. Hill for 3 x4), they didn't score.

Looking at all the games this year, I think its clear what this team's problem is; Buzz has hair.

When Buzz was bald: this team was tough, gritty, didn't care how it looked as long as it got the win

When Buzz has hair: this team is soft, more finesse oriented, cares about aesthetically pleasing looks and stylish play.

It's simple analytics.

I'm on a seesaw when it comes to FT's. Sure 63% as a team sounds terrible, we missed 13 and lost by 6... but shooting a reasonable 75% only adds 4-6 more points (counting hitting the front & back of 1&1's we missed). Coming at the right point in the 2nd half that may have been enough to tie the game and change the dynamic down the stretch. But not seal a win.

The bigger issue is that we had many players who had bad games on both ends of the floor. Missing nearly every shot and getting beaten off the dribble constantly. If your shots aren't falling you gotta be able to step up on D and take shots away from the other team. Our players are talented enough that they should be expected to do that.

We missed at least 3 front-ends of a 1 and 1 at the line though. There's a potential for 6 points missed on only 3 actual attempts. Free throw shooting obviously wasn't the sole contributing factor to the loss, but it was a very large part of it.

Potential points aren't necessarily likely or realistic points. You cant expect the team to shoot 100% from the FT line, it's simply not realistic. With a guard heavy lineup, 80% might be a goal we have for them. But the way these guys have shot over their careers, a 75% team average is more realistic.

based on the FTA going from 64% to 75% would be 4 misses becoming makes, that's why I'm saying +5-6 points.. accounting for completing some of those 1&1's.

BTW aren't 1&1 the weirdest basketball rule ever? Instead of rewarding the fouled team consistently with the same scoring opportunities, you reward good FT shooters disproportionately.

It was the difference in the game. Apparently Buzz's new defensive approach is to not foul as much, so while they were getting layups, we were going to the line. They were making their layups, and we were not making enough of our FT's. You have to take what the defense gives you; last night it was FT's, and we didn't convert.

Plus, when they are making layups in the paint, much less chance to get out in transition (fwere misses, fewer long rebounds), which takes a big part of our O and rhythm away.

"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

It was certainly a frustrating game to watch, but it's by no means a death-knell to the season. There's going to be lots of film to break down from this game and show to the guys - there will be lots of teachable moments coming out of this one.

I also wouldn't worry too much about this being a blemish on their tourney resume. St. Louis may end up being a decent A-10 team this year, as some of the upper echelon from that league has taken a step back this year.

Bottom line - this team was always going to secure their bid by winning the majority of their OOC games and getting some scalps in the conference schedule. Yes, they've got some work to do to get back to the tourney, but it's still way too early in the year to write them off. I think they'll learn from this game and be a better team because of it.