Hokies Struggle From Deep, Fall to Virginia 58-64

Virginia Tech shot themselves in the foot 25 times.

[Virginia Tech Athletics]

Virginia Tech couldn't buy a bucket from behind the arc. The No. 20 Hokies entered Monday night averaging 41.8% from three, but against No. 3 Virginia, they shot 10.7%. That final score of 64-58, had the Hokies shot even 20% (still 20+ percentage points below their season average), it might have swung in their favor. Instead, Tech dropped to 20-6 (9-5) on the season.

Virginia shot a blistering 10 for 14 from deep in the first half back in January (13 for 24 overall). Meanwhile, as the 'Hoos were busy shooting the lights out of John Paul Jones Arena, the Hokies struggled and shot 7 for 21 from deep. Surely, it couldn't get any worse in the rematch.

Narrator: It got worse.

Virginia finished 11 for 27. Virginia Tech hit the showers with a 3 for 28 showing.

"All credit to Virginia," said Buzz Williams. "Incredibly well coached. Early entry Hall of Fame coach. Very disciplined in how they play on both ends of the floor. The numbers that matter, their defense is third in the country and their offense is fifth. So, you're for sure stressed out regardless of whether you have possession of the ball or not. And so, for sure, all credit to them defensively."

The kudos for the Hoos was repeated by the Hokies players, including Ahmed Hill, one individual that's struggled more of late than any other Hokie.

"They did a great job of guarding our sets," explained Hill. "Guarding the three. They knew who our shooters were. Just all credit to them."

Against Virginia, Hill extended his shooting slump. He made only 1 of 9 attempts from the bonus-sphere. Since the NC State game (first contest without Justin Robinson), Hill has shot a dismal 6 for 40 beyond the arc. For anybody who doesn't want to get frustrated calculating the percentage, it's 15%. His season average was at 36.3% coming into the game.

Against the Cavaliers, and their acclaimed packline defense, the Hokies had plenty of open looks. And almost every single one of those shots clanged off the iron. Virginia plays great defense, there's no denying it. But on Monday night, the Cavaliers gave up an uncharacteristic amount of wide open attempts. Buzzketball failed to capitalize, and in a big way.

"I think in the first half they missed wide open shots," said Tony Bennett. "They are hard to guard, they run good actions, slips, they can shoot it. We didn't do a good job. We were very poor with our underneath defense. We gave up so many easy baskets, then they just missed threes."

For a more positive takeaway, take a look at Kerry Blackshear Jr. and his stat line. The junior put up 21 points on 10 for 14 shooting, while securing his 1,000th career point in maroon and orange. He also grabbed 13 boards en route to a double-double.

"My teammates are finding me open looks," said Blackshear. "They're getting open looks themselves so I think that takes the pressure off of me. I think this new team that we have is starting to gel in the life without Five. Hopefully he'll be back soon too and he'll get right back into it."

Virginia Tech will now take advantage of a respite after a three-games-in-five-days stretch. Their next contest isn't for four days, when the Hokies travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame (13-12, 3-9). Williams laughed while remarking "that's good" when the break between games was pointed out to him.

"I have the utmost respect for how our guys have handled this month," explained Williams. "How hard they're trying. How much they care for one another. The symmetry of our staff is as good as I've ever seen. And the camaraderie of our team is as good as I've ever seen. But I think the chemistry between the players and the staff and all of us trying to pull in the same direction considering all the things that have transpired, it's been really healthy for me to make sure that I'm aware of the lessons that are presented. When you play, where you play, the timing of the games. I'm not sure, partly because I'm not very smart, it's taken me five years to get to that point. I've learned a lot. I'm lucky to have a front row seat with our staff and our players. Their resilience has been, in my opinion, off the charts."

Three Thoughts for the Road

Hey look, it's more Blackshear praise! Blackshear is providing some of the best basketball a big man has given a Hokies squad in a long time. He's suddenly become very comfortable handling the ball both in the post and at the top of the key. Drawing his matchup out that far from the hoop can create serious spacing issues for the opponent.

"I think statistically it speaks to how important he is," noted Williams. "We are still trying to figure out a set where he can dribble and then pass to himself and then make a decision from there. I just mentioned on the radio that one thing that I learned from Blackshear is not how good he is but the response of the other six kids of being accepting of how important he is to be the focal point whether that's to score or to make a decision. He makes the game easier for our other guys."

He was yet again the best player on the court for the Hokies, and it really wasn't close. Until an opponent figures out a way to stop it, it's obvious the offense needs to run through him until Robinson is healed up.

There was a very clear turning point in this game. DeAndre Hunter picked up his second foul with over 12 minutes remaining in the first half. Hunter is currently a projected first round pick, and he played a smidge over six minutes in the first frame. Instead of taking advantage and building a lead, the Hokies actually managed to trail heading into the locker room. Hunter didn't get called for another foul the rest of the game and played the entire second half. He paced the Hoos' second-half production in points (8) and rebounds (4). The Hokies' inability to take advantage of his absence dug them a deep hole.

Some tournament team is going to be very upset Virginia Tech is in their pod. While it would be thrilling for the Hokies to pick up a couple upset wins in their final four games, it's more realistic to expect Tech to drop their contests against ranked opponents. And with those losses, a drop down the seed lines would follow. Unfortunately, the Hokies don't have an impressive enough resume (currently a 3-6 Q1 record) to advocate for a 4 or 5 seed.

If everything comes together and Robinson can recover in time, the Hokies might be the most dangerous 6 or 7 seed in the entire tournament field. Imagine a 2-seeded Kentucky getting paired up with a 7-seeded Virginia Tech. Especially after the Wildcats cancelled their game with the Hokies this season. That would be fun.

Comments

Double post: after writing this up I realized this comment was more suitable in this thread:

So after some sleep, and some time to think about the game last night, I walk away with positive feelings for two reasons.

1. We are stretching our rotation from 6 to maybe, JUST maybe 9 (ish)
2. We are developing new offensive schemes that will be useful for the tournament run

That was the TL;DR version above, so let me expound a little.

1. The emergence of Kabongo and Wilkins will prove to be useful. Shortly after 5 went down we were forced to a 6 man rotation. Now keep in mind a lot of this was caused by injuries (Horne/5), but since Horne's return Buzz has been more and more willing to offer minutes to the two freshmen. Even last night on the postgame Buzz alluded to his frustration with himself for not inserting K&W earlier in the game. His trust is clearly growing in the two, and I really think that their biggest contributions are on the defensive side of the ball and the effort that they give each play. If they can contribute a smidgen of offense I think they can prove to be useful for our team. I think our frustration as a fan base with Bede causes us to overlook the positive contributions that these two have put on the floor night in and night out in pressure packed ACC games. I'm truly excited to see their continued development.

2. Buzz continues to refer to KBJ as his "point guard," of this new pick and dish scheme that they've been running since NC State. If, and I emphasize IF J-Rob makes it back in time for the tournament I truly believe that the added dimensions that we've added to our offensive package will truly help us down the road when a team comes into the game looking to shut Five down. Historically if 5 had an off night we would have to fight and claw to grab a W, much like we've been doing since he went down. But this team is building character, and I truly believe that this character will display itself in the toughest of times as we approach the postseason.

I leave one final thought, without our starting point guard we were able to keep the game relatively close with a team that blew us out of the gym earlier in the year WITH that same point guard. We put forth a hell of a defensive effort last night, and even WITH poor shooting we were still in the game in the waning minutes. UVA is ranked high for a reason, yet we pushed them to the end of the game. I'm not a fan of moral victories, but I truly believe if there is such thing as a moral victory, this will surely be one for the cohesion of this squad moving forward. If NAW can step up and provide that second option to KBJ, we really have a chance to grab at least 2 more wins out of the last few games, and hopefully that'll be enough to make a strong push in the ACC tournament.

Let's all hope 5 can make it back before the tournament. And let's hope the rumors in other threads that his season is over, aren't true. If we can get J-Rob back, and continue to incorporate the pick and dish tactics with KBJ, I really think we have a deep tournament run in us. Go Hokies!

via GIPHY

"...I'm getting a little tired of hearing how good everybody else is..." -Coach Fu [This week: 1-0]

That gif, tho. Leg.

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

If NAW can step up and provide that second option to KBJ, we really have a chance to grab at least 2 more wins out of the last few games, and hopefully that'll be enough to make a strong push in the ACC tournament.

It's been clear that teams have been keying on NAW since J-Rob went down. He's really struggled as a lead ballhandler, which I think is why we've seen KJ triggering the offense from the elbow and top of the key in the past few games. Hopefully taking a bit of the pressure off of him to create will free him up to be more effective.

It'll be extremely interesting to see the evals from pro scouts during this time period with 5 out of the lineup - given how many project him as a point in the NBA, I think he's going to have to improve on his handle as I think that's been exposed a little bit. He's still so young though, there's lots of room for growth.

He needs to improve his clutch free throw shooting as well (3-6 last night).

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

Yeah, he seems to have hit only half of his free throws over the past two games. He shoots them with an unusually high arc.

The problem is, we move KJ up to the key or the point and we have no offense near the basket. We saw it happen time and time again last night where movement would just stall at the top of the key with 5 guys standing outside the 3 point arc only to either commit a turnover or jack up desperation at the end of the shot clock.

We just don't have any playmaking ability with the primary ball handler right now and that is killing us. JRob can make something out of nothing and can make the pass when there isn't one to be made. Bede just doesn't have that ability, and NAW is much better and more comfortable working off the ball trying to get open. Just frustrating this all had to happen this year.

Now, that being said, we have this kid coming in to run PG for us in this recruiting class.....

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

The problem is, we move KJ up to the key or the point and we have no offense near the basket.

Obviously I have no inside knowledge of what Buzz is trying to run, but given how KJ is often looking towards the basket on some of the fake handoffs it seems like the intention is to try and get guys cutting to the rim off those actions.

For instance, we saw KJ at the top of the key faking the handoff to NAW as he's rocketing around and then dives towards the basket. It seemed like KJ was looking for him a lot on the roll, but either NAW wasn't looking for the pass or the passing lane was closed (give UVA credit there).

For whatever reason, there's not enough off ball movement towards the hoop from the wings in those instances IMO. Teams fear our shooting ability, so I would hope that we're designing sets to take advantage of this.

Bear in mind, these are just my observations from someone watching games with a distracted eye on a 7-month old...

I looked up the schedule to see if he plays anywhere near me and noticed my high school drew Sidney in the first round of the tourney soooooooo it will be a short run for them this year.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

And This

His quickness in the open floor, passing ability, football player toughness. Dude has serious potential to be just as good as JRob

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

1. We are stretching our rotation from 6 to maybe, JUST maybe 9 (ish)

I have to keep reminding myself that we should (arguably) have 5, Clarke, Nolley and Sy in the rotation rn with Bongo & Horne as deep reserves and Wilkins as a redshirt.

How about a 2 seed Nevada instead of Kentucky?

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

Yeah Kentucky is looking real good I'm not sure that would end well

Live look at our 3 point shooting the last couple weeks

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

Funny pic, but KBJ has been shooting it pretty well, before this game...as well as Outlaw...

I wish we had Outlaw for another year...dude has been playing his tail off this year..

Outlaw had some killer rebounds early. Playing super hard.

Can someone with higher basketball knowledge than me (not a high bar honestly) tell me if I am in the wrong on this.

I was at last night's game, and I typically don't pick up much on plays/sets but I couldn't help but notice that just about every time Kyle Guy got open, it was because Diakite (#25) was moving/hip-checking into our defender. I was screaming about this "moving screen" and guy next to me said just about every team does it and it is never called.

It seemed much more blatant to me last night. I started daydreaming that f I were Buzz and once game was lost I would tell the player to just truck #25 next time he moved into the way.

There were a couple times that Guy would get the ball, and Diakite would just run block for him as Guy was preparing to shoot, full extension running the defender back to the basket without a call.

Was more than a little obvious

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

I mentioned that on another thread......I've never seen more obvious moving screens.....actually stepping in front of our chasing defender, not just leaning their hip or sneaking a knee out. I'm old school. When a big guy would pick me like that, I would put a shoulder right into his mid-section the next time. I'd get a foul, but it would be worth it because they wouldn't do it again. Get off my lawn!

Our guys too often would drift around it though rather than catch knees and flop like a soccer star in the box. Force the issue to be seen. I had noted the same thing in the game thread while it was going on because it was every other trip down the floor but our guys either stood straight up at the pick or like I said above, drifted around it.

Yes, there had to multiple illegal screens...They run a mover blocker scheme that uses two post blockers for their shooters... while not sucking as much as it has in the past it still is painful to watch and especially sucks to be a big man in that system. If I'm Diakete, I declare for the NBA or grad transfer to a program where I can showcase my skills. Same for Huff. Both guys have NBA athleticism and skills and are wasting their time at UVA.

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

Huff is a year or two of development away from being a real issue if he finds himself in an offense that emphasizes post play.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

For me, there is no better 1-2 combo of punchable faces in the ACC, perhaps the whole NCAAB, than Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome.

Guy reminds me of that snot-nosed, kid-brother type, that would join in on all the pickup basketball games you played with your friends. From skill alone, you could tell he would be a good player, but he was just a such a smug little shit that you'd hack at him all game just to give him a reason to whine and cry at the dinner table that night. That's all i see when I look at that kid. Great player, nuisance on the court, highly punchable face.

Kyle Guy has dolphin teeth.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

I had a couple of thoughts after I came home from the game last night.

1. UVA is #3 in the Country and a dang good team.
2. We have been injured/suspended/etc and we kept it reasonably close.
3. Our free throw percentage has really dipped over the last couple games. How much of that is 5 not hitting 80% of his?
4. The ref's called a pretty fair game. They missed some things both ways but I can't blame them for the loss.
5. Our team is playing their hearts out and the fans seem to be supporting them.
6. There are good things coming for Hokie basketball.

Excellent points. Especially number six. I just want a season where the starting five players in November are available throughout the season and into the tournaments.

Is that too much to ask?

VTCC '86 Delta Company, Hokie in Peru, TKPC#490, One of us!

Well injuries happen, but we could almost field a team from our injuries + attrition alone (Sy, Clarke, Nolley, 5).

I mean we had that last year, right? No Outlaw, but he wouldn't have started.

5. Our team is playing their hearts out and the fans seem to be supporting them.
6. There are good things coming for Hokie basketball.

So much this. Having suffered through 30 years of basketball that seemed to be getting better at times only to regress to mediocrity, things are different now. The future of Hokie basketball is bright, and I feel like we are just beginning to see how good it could be.

Years ago I used to hear that other that Duke & UNC, nobody can have repeated success in the ACC. The thought was that occasionally a team could catch lightning in a bottle, but those two programs would dominate. I hate to admit it, but LOLUva has broken that mold, and I think we can do something similar. 5 years ago that thought would be a dream, but its quickly becoming possible.

Still though...

Fuck UVa.

Leonard. Duh.

I did a little looking around Hokiesports.com, but couldn't find anything. Did we break a school record for most missed three pointers in a game?

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

I can't imagine why they wouldn't plaster that record right across the homepage...

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)..

I hate losing to UVA, but because J-Rob is out I had already chalked this up to a loss. They got my hopes up by being so competitive, so I've been bummed, but there's a lot of positive things to take away from being so competitive and thing look good going into South Bend this weekend. That game was very winnable, but there are three things you HAVE TO do to beat UVA (you need to do these in every game, but you can win without them. You cannot win against UVA without doing all 3):
1. Hit open 3s (We know 3-28 and a lot of those looks were open)
2. Don't turn it over (8 turnovers. Not about the number, more about the situation. There were a lot of errant passes especially in transition in the first half where we could've taken the lead. You don't get a lot of transition opportunities against UVA, you have to take advantage.)
3. Make your free throws (9-13, 69.2%. Not terrible, but not good enough)

The past three years, we've beaten UVA in close games (total 5 points and 3 overtimes) by executing on at least two of these three things

2016 - 52.9% 3PT, 59.1% FT, 8 TO
2017 - 30.8% 3PT, 76.9% FT, 17 TO
2018 - 37.9% 3PT, 75% FT, 10 TO

If we ever want to beat UVA without the entire fanbase having to seek medical attention for collective heart failure, we have to execute on all three. Once you get a big lead on UVA, they have difficulty coming back, because their offense is not meant to move quickly. We are the perfect foil for them, we just have to basically make wide open shots.

Outside it's night time, but inside it's LeDay