Seminoles stifle Hokies 91-82

Buzzketball lost a crucial home game against the Seminoles.

[Mark Umansky]

After a week off, Virginia Tech returned to action against Florida State and the Hokies continued to struggle, and ultimately dropped the contest 91-82. Buzzketball sits at 13-6 (2-4) for the season and looks to bounce back on Monday night against North Carolina.

Justin Robinson put in the best Tech performance of the loss. The junior guard set his second consecutive career-high, pouring in 26 points and six assists. The lone stain on Robinson's stat sheet were four turnovers.

When asked about Robinson's performance, Buzz Williams got straight to the point.

"Yeah, good," said Williams. "Five's our engine, I love Five. We need to continue to work on Five's turnover rate."

The Hokies started fast. Tech jumped out to an early 10-4 lead within the first 5 minutes. However, Florida State responded with a three-point barrage. The 'Noles hit five triples in just under four minutes.

Unfortunately it was nothing new to the fans in attendance who groaned as they watched FSU's C.J. Walker hit three consecutive uncontested threes. That hot streak from deep gave the Seminoles a seven-point lead. A lead FSU wouldn't relinquish for the rest of the game.

Given how hot FSU started off the game, the remainder of the first frame was lackluster. After starting 5 for 6 from deep, the 'Noles connected on only one more from deep the rest of the first half.

For the Hokies, the story of the first half was having to play catch-up. Tech was never able regain the lead after surrendering it during the three-point onslaught around the 10 minute mark.

"I think we have a team good enough to beat any team the rest of the season, and we have a team good enough to get beat by any team the rest of the season," said Williams.

FSU benefited from a significant size advantage and 13 missed three-pointers by the Hokies in the second half.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. played only 73 seconds in the second half before he earned his fourth personal fouls. To the bench he went, and Seminoles' big man Christ Koumadje was able to wreck havoc. At 7'4" Koumadje overwhelmed 6'6" Chris Clarke.

"In the second half ... it certainly helped that they had a few players in foul trouble," said FSU coach Leonard Hamilton.

The Hokies' attempts from deep in the second frame seemed to always go halfway down, and then bounce right back out. Those near-misses turned into open layups or jump shots on the other end of the floor for the 'Noles.

"We got a little too spread," said Bibbs. "We found our defense, but it was too late then. They had easy lanes to get to the rim all day."

Nickeil Alexander-Walker was cold the entire game. He drained only 1 for 8 bucket from long range. His shot-selection wasn't good either. The freshman forced up some deep, contested shots that just weren't smart.

"The light's red until we get a paint touch. The light's green after we get a paint touch," explained Williams. "I think only one of the three's he shot was prior to a paint touch."

As fans started to head to the exits with five minutes left in the game, the Hokies tried to make one final run. Led by Bibbs and Robinson, the lead was cut to just six points. It was just too little, too late. FSU was able to ice the game with free throws and layups.

At the heart of that closing effort from the Seminoles, well that was true freshman M.J. Walker. The shooting guard surprised everyone when committed to FSU over the Hokies last May. As the clock ticked down, it was especially obvious why Williams wanted Walker in Blacksburg. The youngster had several contested layups and hit multiple clutch free throws. Walker scored 19 of his career-high 24 total points after the break.

"You'll have to ask his dad, or go interview him," said Williams when asked about Walker's decision to be a Seminole. "What a good player he is."

The Hokies have no time to dwell on this tough loss. Nationally-ranked North Carolina comes into Cassell on Monday night. It's a must-win game. End of story.

When posed with the question on how the team will deal with such a quick turnaround, Bibbs just chuckled and said, "Good question".

"Go home and watch film, and think about it for a few hours," added Bibbs. "We'll learn from it. Tomorrow we'll come in with a good mind. It's the next game."

And while the coaching staff is trying to stay focused on the Tar Heels, it's hard to not look further ahead. There is a sense of urgency within the program, and rightfully so.

"Right now, we're 'minus 1' and I've taught that no matter where I coach," said Williams. "With 12 games to play, how we handle this going into tomorrow ... I don't think it's going to get any easier. It gets harder."

First Half: Virginia Tech 38–Florida State 41

15:17 — Quick start for the Hokies. They're up 10-4, with three-pointers from Bibbs and Hill leading the charge. It's a promising start.

11:35 — Shocker here in Cassell. The Hokies are giving up three-pointers in bunches. FSU hit four in the last 3 minutes.

10:54 — C.J. Walker is on fire for the 'Noles. He's got three straight shots from deep. Hokies will have to start playing defense if they want to win this game.

6:24 — It's been a back and forth game so far. FSU has opened up a lead as large as 7, but Tech has it down to just two again. The 'Noles have cooled off a bit from deep.

1:17 — Terance Mann picks up his second foul of the night, to the delight of the students. Mann just about charged at the ref as well. He's not happy.

0.0 — That was the longest 1.5 seconds of my life. Hokies had a good play design to try and get a layup at the buzzer, but Clarke overthrew Blackshear.

Second Half: Virginia Tech 82–Florida State 91

19:37 — Blackshear Jr. picks up his third foul just 23 seconds in. He'll have to sit for a very long time. 6'6" Clarke will be tasked with guarding 7'4" Koumadje.

16:08 — Williams checked Blackshear Jr. in with 16:52 to go. He just picked up his fourth foul. Not the best decision by the head coach in hindsight.

12:55 — Hokies are unraveling. All their three-pointers are going halfway down on the offensive end, and on the defensive end, they're giving up easy shots. The team is starting to become visibly frustrated.

12:24 — Blackshear Jr. checks back in with four fouls. Williams is going all-in.

10:31 — Blackshear fouls out. With the Hokies down 12, that feels like the final straw.

5:37 — Angola hits a transition layup to put FSU up 71-57. Really feels like this game is over.

3:36 — Under-four media timeout, and there is a pulse inside Cassell. The Hokies just forced a turnover and have a the lead down to just nine.

1:52 — Hold on to your butts. Clarke has a chance to cut the lead to just six.

57.0 — M.J. Walker, after stiffing the Hokies and heading to Tallahassee, just made a huge steal and layup to put this game away. Ouch.

34.1 — It probably won't change the outcome of the game, but FSU just flopped hard to get that foul call. Clarke is disqualified.

Comments

That result sucks.

I wanted to lord it over my FSU-fan friends. Now I'll likely have to wait for the September football game.

It doesn't help that you live right in the heart of 'Noles country either. We'll get 'em in September and you'll reclaim bragging rights in NW Fl.

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

Not getting MJ Walker really hurts. Dude competes on the defensive end. Not something you can say about a lot of our guys. Some of our guys "effort" on that end of the floor could best be described as lacksidasical.

Soft perimeter defense plus no consistent alpha player on offense is not a good combination to have. I know he's going to be a great player before his collegiate career is done but I don't think it's a stretch to say that NAW's play so far has been disappointing compared to the hype. He was supposed to come in with an elite offensive game and I just haven't seen it in the games I've been able to catch. Combine that with Clarke's ability to turn the ball over nearly half the time he gets it, and it's a recipe for... Well, this kind of year.

The good news is that I think they'll be better in the future, but it's pretty much already a wasted year for the program. This team has tournament caliber talent but the sum of the parts is just not there. Thankfully, Buzz is the kind of coach who can fix this, just don't think it's in the cards to get it fixed before it's too late, which it may already be.

"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

Hopefully, "Buzz is the kind of coach who can fix this". FTFY

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I'm gonna stop beating the "we need to recruit more big men" dead horse because it's just not Buzz's style, and it won't happen. With that being said, with the lack of size on our side, opposing teams will always grab more rebounds than us and probably get more second chance points. With the style of play that Buzz likes to run (fast-paced, lots of 3s), it does make up for those second chance points the opposing team gets and sometimes outweighs it.

The problem isn't the defensive rebounding. The problem is that, in addition to the second chance points, our players don't close out on shooters properly, and they don't play help defense when someone gets blown by. Everyone is taught at a young age how to properly close out: you sprint till you're about 5 feet away, and then slow down so you don't get blown by, AND HAVE YOUR HAND UP. Not doing that properly boils down to laziness in my opinion.

Help defense is a little more complicated, but I still expect players who have played at a high level of basketball for awhile to understand how to play it properly. A lot of lapses in man defense boils down to laziness as well. I know we like to talk shit about how boring UVA's style of basketball is, but the defense that they play is phenomenal and not the least bit lazy. In fact, they over-help and still close out on all shooters properly.

I'm not saying that we need to play at the same level defensively as UVA because then our players wouldn't have the energy to shoot all those 3s and fastbreak all the time, but a little more effort would go a long way.

Marshall University student.
Virginia Tech fanatic.

Keep beating that dead horse. Bigger players would help. Not "big men" in the traditional sense specifically, but just bigger players in general. I like the "positonless basketball" trend that's taken over the sport the last decade of which Buzz subscribes. But it works best when the line up you're putting out is 4 and 5 dudes in the 6'5" to 6'8" range that all share the same skill set. That's what makes switching so effecting in the positionless philosophy. Every guy is long and fast, so no matter who gets matched up with who, its a problem for the offense. Except we're playing that style with short guys, some of which are shorter than what's actually listed by the school. We're rolling out a lot of guys in that 6'3 range. That's gonna show up as a disadvantage in several areas on most nights. We masked it last year with LeDay, who despite being on the short side himself, played big and really bullied his way around. You can also mask it with excellent offense (I'm talking players that get NBA scouts looking). We don't have either this year. All we can hope for is hot shooting nights.

Indeed, beat that horse until it is ground meat. I don't know how anyone can think otherwise. Even playing a small, transition focused lineup like we have, you need more than one center active on your roster!

Buzzketball DOES HAVE A BIG MAN PROBLEM. Losing your only player over 6'6" to foul trouble at that 10 minute mark and have only one player capable of boxing out a defender isn't a winning formula. Giving up those offensive rebounds n the final minutes, during a comeback, is soul and momentum crushing.

There is no depth in the front court. No number of <6'6" OKG, hustle players can fix this. Recruit some big men for crying out loud, and avoid the soap opera scenarios like you have with Sy. We have two low post players that are active and worth giving minutes to on the entire team! Meanwhile, we have 4 point guards and everyone else plays the wing, with 2 more coming next year. I will keep on complaining an imbalanced roster, there is no height on this team and we don't seem to emphasize filling this gap in recruiting.

We haven't beaten FSU since they have been this tall and strong, not since the days they were starting 5 guards themselves.

I feel like Virginia Tech should be better at defense.

We put the K in Kwality

There's certainly enough talent on this team for us to be competitive in the ACC with or without a couple of bigs.

The turnovers, lack of defensive effort, and poor free throw shooting is simply mind blowing to me. These are D1 basketball players, fundamentals should be second nature.

With that being said, there's still time to finish strong.

Is it football season yet?

We are missing the tourney this year. Sucks, but it's the truth

I know I can't do better, but these guys were recruited as basketball players. Missing so many shots is hard to imagine. We have a lot of heart, but no size. Of we miss the the ball, were doomed. And we have no rebounding on the offensive end, zero. Actually I think we got one offensive rebound the entire game.

I love the energy, but we must have some bigs.

I'm not giving up, but this is painful.

Why does it feel like they've mailed it in for the season? NIT here we come.

#FUENTEenFUEGO
Waho's suck
Uva swallows

Is Fullard so bad that he can't play at all. Blackshear gets into foul trouble seemingly every game. Seems Fullard could provide something/anything for 5 minutes or so. NAW seems lost at times. Lots of head hanging last night, but they never gave up.

foresthokie
US Navy Vet

When it got competitive at the end (really just down to 6 pts) I saw some intensity in NAW for the first time of the season.

It is easy to forget he is a kid who could always impose himself on the court because he liked to win. Now we will see how much he can impact the outcome of games because he hates to lose. Here is hoping it inspires him to work to get to a higher level of production.

I don't know if we should panic yet, but we are getting close. It is going to be reallly tough to get 8 more wins to finish at 10-8 which I think is the only way we even get on the bubble.

That means we need 7 wins out of this group of 8:
@ BC
@ GT
NCSU
Clemson
Miami
Louisville
@ND
@Miami

And at least 1 signature win from this group:

UNC
DUKE
@DUKE
@UVA

Yeah. Unfortunately I only see about 4 games we will win in that group and you would have to think after coming into the season with high expectations, the more we lose the more frustrated guys will get. We would have to go on a serious run to end the season and at this point it just doesn't seem like it will happen

Ha, I wasn't panicking but now I am. I think you're right that we've got to get 10 wins in conference. I will be very surprised if we're able to do it with that schedule.

I'm so curious to know what team meetings are like today. What we see coming out of the Buzz social media machine are lessons on relationships, growing one's self, and overcoming adversity. These are all great lessons and Buzz has done an amazing job of providing a space for his team to grow. What we don't see are lessons on getting rid of lazy passing and bad defensive rotation. Do they talk about these things? What's the plan to fix our shortcomings on the court? At some point don't the coaches get sick of giving up historic shooting nights and make adjustments?

It's the same problems every game. I thought we would see some effort to minimize those problems by now.

Not how I thought this season would play out so far this year. Need to climb out of hell now.

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

The UVA game rang the bell for me. I figured we were in trouble at that point. Being hit or miss is not so bad when there are enough hits to make up for the misses, but we're at the point that we can't afford to miss...and that's unrealistic.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

The worry I have is the effect missing the tourney will have on recruiting I was hoping for more development from NAW to help make VT even more attractive to high end recruits but as seems usual for this program depth is the big issue doesn't help seeing jalen Hudson doing well at Florida his shooting would be welcome in this team

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Outlaw's shooting would also be welcome.