Virginia Tech Men's Basketball: Hokies Implode at Syracuse 70-72

Buzzketball almost pulled off the upset.

[Cuse.com \ Michael J. Okoniewski]

There are losses that sting, losses that hurt and losses that race pass the course of normal human emotion and fall between disbelief and shock. The Virginia Tech men's basketball team's 70-72 loss against Syracuse on Tuesday fell in the last category.

After a nip and tuck first half battle, the Hokies came out of the gate swinging in the second. Down four, they started to bury three pointers like the line was moving closer to the basket with every shot. They eventually built a 13-point lead, and it looked as if this was going to be the new high-water mark of the Buzz Williams era.

Then everything went terribly wrong.

Down a baker's dozen with just five and a half minutes to go, the Orange switched into their rarely seen full-court press. To say that it worked would be the understatement of 2015.

Tech turned the ball over eight times in the final 5:35, doubling their amount of giveaways up to that point, and gifted the game away. It was a brutally heartbreaking display by a team that played some of its best basketball for the first 15 minutes of the period.

Justin Bibbs looked fully recovered from his concussion, playing 30 minutes and scoring a team high 19 points. Jalen Hudson submitted a serious man-ball performance, putting up 18 points and 7 rebounds, while showing why his coach says that he's the most talented player on the team. Shane Henry had an incredibly active 7 minutes (before fouling out) and the small-ball lineup with Malik Mueller worked wonders.

All of that, though, can't make us overlook what happened in the end.

I'm in a weird spot with this game. Obviously, the Hokies were outmanned again. They shouldn't have been in this game at all, yet the team competes and takes it to every opponent on the schedule. And really, when looking at the size and general talent deficits they face on a nightly basis, isn't that all we can ask for?

On the other side, I completely understand why Buzz Williams was so frustrated post-game.

"We lost," Williams said after the game. "We deserved to lose. It's the fourth one possession game in the last four games and that's the ninth game that was a one possession game and we are 2-7. I'm not going to back away. It's my fault. I have to figure out a way to put those guys in better positions. We're dead last."

This was one that his team should have had until they quite literally gave it away. Surely, it must have felt helpless. Sitting there, watching his team implode while also knowing that he couldn't really help them.

He's going to have some second thoughts about his coaching decisions (like not playing Christian Beyer a single minute, even after Henry and Satchel Pierce had fouled out), but that's normal for any good coach. At the end of the day he can't inbound the ball for his players, nor can he cut onto the floor to help with a double team.

This shouldn't have happened, his team shouldn't have lost and he's not really into the whole moral victory thing. He's going to be frustrated, and he should be. But this game, is also a great example as to why this team is going to get so much better.

I am excited for the future of Virginia Tech basketball because of games like these. Right now, not only is the cupboard bare, but Buzz has had to build a whole new cupboard. They're small, they're young and they're just not really in a position to succeed today.

But they've taken such a big step forward in year one, the next few seasons really could take this program to heights that it's never seen before. Do they need more ball handlers? Do they need more size? Yes, but both are on the way. This team is coming together right before our very eyes.

Record-wise, this year is going to be a dumpster fire. They're going to win just as many games as many of us predicted in the preseason, and they'll probably finish last in the ACC again.

As any fan of competition knows, it's never okay to be fine with losing. Being fine with losing games comes from general complacency, usually something that banishes a team to mediocrity forever (see Georgia Tech basketball). What's been going on over the past few weeks, though, isn't complacency. It's the exact opposite.

Hokie fans know how high the odds are stacked against their team. It's been the drum that's been banging ever since the season started. Yet, Tech fans go into each game thinking that they're team has a fighting chance, something that's entirely different from the past three years.

Watching this team is going to be like watching a child grow. Right now, they're an infant. They can't do a whole lot and have their greatest successes ahead of them. How much will they grow next year? Hell, how much will they grow next game?

We can't know, but that's why we watch.

Comments

Excellent article. That was a tough loss.

This year has got to be about silver linings. I know it sucks for the players but close losses need to be weighed against the capability for future wins. I hope these type of games don't burden them too much. Overall they are playing way above my expectations for this year.

Great article! The promising thing about the team this year is seeing a clear, sound program being formed before our eyes. We're also seeing that Buzz has the talent to build this program and to coach a team that is undermanned. Playing four & sometimes five guards for long periods of time, yet keeping us in the games. Despite his W-L record, Buzz is doing a masterful job this year. That gives me much hope for the future.

I don't know about everyone else, but I hope we draw Syracuse in the ACC tournament. We're not done with them yet.

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

This was a great write-up.... perfectly put. You want to hang your head and weep while pumping your fist at the good things.

'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'

I know I will catch some flack from this statement but here it goes; the last time-out Buzz called was unnecessary and it cost them the game. They were struggling to get the ball in the entire last 2 minutes of the game and with 20+ seconds to go, they do get the ball in and Tech was up 2. Syracuse has all their guys in the back court except the guy guarding Malik. Malik could have broken to the basket or he could have reeled around to run the clock down, get fouled and shoot free throws. Instead, Buzz calls time-out and VT gets the ball stolen on the in bound pass and the rest is history. I don't know what it is with coaches who call these last second time-outs. I would like to see it charted because I bet the odds go against the call. Besides that, the boys played their butts off and they should have won this game. Tech basketball is definitely on the right path.

Considering how panicked the team was at that point, it is understandable that Buzz called a TO to settle them and formulate something. Looking at it after the fact, I understand your thought, but in the moment the coach has to go with his instincts. For whatever reasons, our guys got a feather in their throats last night. They'll grow past that, though.

While the timeout obviously didn't work out like Buzz had hoped, it was still the right move. The team was struggling to break the press and with 25 seconds left on the shot clock, Buzz realized they only had a few seconds left before a 10 second call since they had burned a timeout early in the shot clock as well. The best option was to call a timeout, regroup, and get a fresh 10 seconds to work with.

This was the last time-out, where the ball was already located at half-court, so the 10 second violation would not have played a factor in that reasoning at all because they were already inbounding the ball which would have given them a fresh 10 seconds. 99 out of 100 coaches would have done the same thing, but that doesn't make it the right call, it makes it the popular call.

Just rewatched that segment. Buzz was granted the last timeout with Adam Smith's feet on the 3-point line of our own backcourt, which means he probably requested the timeout as Mueller, who was about 5 feet away from the basket, was being trapped and/or beginning to make the pass. There was 3.5 seconds left on the 10 second clock when Buzz was granted the timeout. I get what you're saying, but I definitely think it was the right call.

Last few minutes were very painful to watch! Better days are ahead for this coach & team . Still , another outstanding coaching job , with available talent & players.

georgebd

After watching that game last night I have come to two conclusions, 1 - this team has more heart than I can remember seeing in any VT BBall team in some time and 2 - Devin Wilson is horrendous.

Good stuff, definitely an accurate depiction of how the end of that game went. For anyone who wants a TL;DR version of the last 5 minutes of that game:
it's gone

Fire
But we'll get through it.

no way, not even close to this.

can you imagine if Johnson was still here? that would be the equivalent to this image. IMO this team is a year away from winning more than losing and 2 years away from serious magic.

Agreed. Something mentioned elsewhere in this thread is how well Buzz has prepped this team twice for Syracuse's zone. He has a really great ability to analyze the opponent & devise a solid game plan.

Of course the ultimate test will be Duke, but thus far Buzz has shown that he is of an equal skillset to some very big name ACC coaches thus far. Pitino, Williams, Brey, Bennett, Dixon, & Boeheim - none appear to be too much for Buzz. Also, while the team isn't winning as much as we'd like (yet), we're not seeing the schizophrenic nature of the Greenberg teams. The offensive & defensive cultures are as good as I've seen from Hokie hoops in decades. As you mentioned, next year seems like it could be a 16-16 or 17-15 kind of season. Then we can look for the third year to reward everyone's patience, hopefully.

The offensive & defensive cultures are as good as I've seen from Hokie hoops in decades

Sans Ricky "Program Bomb" Stokes Era?

We lost," Williams said after the game. "We deserved to lose. It's the fourth one possession game in the last four games and that's the ninth game that was a one possession game and we are 2-7. I'm not going to back away. It's my fault. I have to figure out a way to put those guys in better positions. We're dead last."

I know this isn't new with Buzz but I'm so glad to hear this type of emotion from him. He could have totally said "A play here or there and it goes the other way." and he would have been correct (not a knock on Beamer, love the guy but can't stand when he says that). Although this year is obviously going to struggle it can't be too surprising when you see how many players left in the off-season. Buzz is in his first year and basically re-built the team from the ground up so growing pains are definitely expected. Plus it's not like we were crushing it in any of the years past in basketball.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

Plus it's not like we were crushing it in any of the years past in basketball.

This may be the nicest thing anyone has said recently about the James Johnson era of VT Basketball.

I think it really killed us when Shane Henry fouled out. It would've been nice to have his size/length in there in the last few minutes.

it is encouraging to see them play so tough despite not having a lot of height, etc. it stinks to be so bad, but they're competitive recently, and that's encouraging moving forward.

We had 4 and a half guards on the floor and couldn't break a press. I am miffed. Was it a mental block? Idk...shouldn't happen. The only advantages we have by having 4 guards on the floor is ball handling and quickness, and it appeared we were at a disadvantage in those two categories.

T_Sprad3

The key to breaking the press is seeing over it, we need a big guy that can pass out of traps

You also need a capable ball handler that can operate under duress, and right now, this team lacks that.

I remember when I was in school and the Hokies played Wake in Cassell. I spent the entire pre-game warm-up in awe of the way Chris Paul dribbled all over their half of the court at varying speeds. To put it simply, he passed the eye test. Im not saying this team needs a Chris Paul — thats obviously a once-in-a-blue moon type of point guard — but I dont think this team has a pacey primary ballhandler right now that can weather any storm. Jalen Hudson could be that guy, but Id be willing to bet that guy is coming from outside the program next season. The last four minutes of last nights game highlighted that shortcoming.

You also need a capable ball handler that can operate under duress

http://wpmedia.o.canada.com/2013/05/final-thats-what-she-said.gif

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

A couple of thoughts:
Coaching -- I loved the game plan, and that's what I keep getting excited about. That was the best VT offense against a zone I've ever seen. He adjusted his personnel to get as many ballhandlers and finishers as he could put out there. He got the ball in the middle and worked the baseline. We used passing and penetration to break down the top of their zone. We attacked the rim, even when Christmas made it impossible. I loved not playing Beyer in this game because I've seen Beyer play big minutes against other teams and it is a sign that Buzz is manipulating this roster as needed to put his team in the best position to win.

Players -- Overall, I loved what I saw from Smith, Hudson, Muller and Bibbs. We deemphasized Wilson because he can't shoot, but he was effective on the baseline (basically playing the 4). Henry played his best game of the year, he was active. Hill and Satchel seemed overwhelmed, but its worth noting that we seem to have one or two freshmen overwhelmed every game. That's the inconsistency of youth. Hill has been playing great the last five games and Hudson terribly. Same with Satchel and Henry. Overall, I'm very encouraged with the talent on this team, it's the roster construction which causes us problems.

Mentality -- We need to get in the habit of winning. Briefly yesterday, Van Pelt and Russillo touched on an important point: "Why does college basketball suck now?" One of the answers was "these kids grow up in a culture of playing 5-8 AAU games in a weekend, so who wins loses emphasis." Its not like HS ball where winning is more than you. So, the focus on winning and ability to close is mental. One of the many things I like about Tony Bennett is that his kids play consistently every night and know how to finish games. Often, close games aren't close at the end, when you're up 13 with 5 mins left, close games become 20 point wins by continuing to get good shots, breaking down their press, hitting FT's (yay! no JvZ and now we can shoot FT's!) and forcing tough shots.

tough loss, but as with the last five games or so, I'm more encouraged every game.

I have complete trust in where this team is headed under Buzz.

What frustrated me the most last night is that these kids were absolutely out of control last night. They forced way, way too much. Between the numerous errant passes, to the inability to handle the press, to the forced shots with no rebound help, to the decisions to drive the lane and force a low percentage shot with no clear path to the basket, to the silly reach in fouls away from the basket (or even in the offensive zone) this team fell off the 'controlled chaos' ledge into the uncontrolled. And unfortunately, this is the second game in a row it has kinda happened like that late. Both Cuse and Wake should have been wins, and if we slowed up the game a bit and allowed ourselves to regroup a bit, we probably would have.

I have faith that we will be a better team in the future. But these silly little errors we're seeing all over the place legitimately are beneath these players. If they were committing them in high school, they wouldn't be playing D1 basketball now. I get that Cuse pressed at the end, but you see the press at every stage of the game, from rec ball to high school, and you really should know how to beat it more times than not. 4 straight failed possessions to end the game because you couldn't handle the press is just plain frustrating because these kids have been coached for years on how to beat it.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

I agree with you 100%, but Syracuse didn't look very impressive at all either. We have any sign of a big man and we win by 10+ points.

Keep in mind we had 10 turnovers at the 4 minute mark and were carving up that zone- great passing, finding open spaces in the teeth of the zone, kickouts for three... it was spectacular. The last 4 minutes were exactly how you describe- an absolute train wreck.

The only out of control stuff I saw prior to that was Hill. He needs to watch Hudson take the ball to the hoop- Jalen is unafraid and takes to the chest of the big man, while Ahmed flails and make himself smaller.

'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'

Completely agreed... for about 36 minutes we played a pretty decent game. We were a little wild at times, but it was working. Controlled chaos is how I would put the game up to that 4 min mark. Then, Pierce fouled out and the team proceeded to collectively poop their pants for the finish of the game.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Good point on Pierce- I think its easy to overlook Pierce's role in the press break. On press breaks, he gets the ball a lot in the middle of the floor. You chuck it up to him at 7-0, he turns and has options. With him out, it really starts to fall apart.

'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'

I'm not sure what game you were watching, but I saw a lot more concerted attacks against the soft spots in the 2-3 than I saw rushed/forced shots.

The team didn't respond that well to the pressure that Syracuse applied at the end of the game, but we're a limited team and couldn't prepare for everything they might throw at us. We were very successful against their base defense and offense though.

Wiley, Brown, Russell, Drakeford, Gray, Banks, Prioleau, Charleton, Midget, Bird, McCadam, Pile, Hall, Green, Fuller, Williams, Hamilton, Rouse, Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Hosley, Fuller, Exum, Jarrett

Yes, the press break was unbearable. To be fair, though, a Syracuse press is very different from the presses run in high school by some less...athletic...teams.

^^^ This post. Also it is alot different when your 6'4 players have been thrown around like rag dolls by a 6'9 center for 30 plus minutes. This game was a very physical game down low (reminded me of Big East games where the officials would let the teams play in the paint) and I'm more then proud how our team handled that aspect of the game. I also know people posting arent high on Syracuse but they were still a better team then us and expected to win. We also had all guards in the game. No body to throw OVER the zone.

We haven't seen team press us that much except WVU earlier in the season. I would expect Duke to press us when we get to that game (i believe they pressed us most of the game last year even with a substantial lead)

I was also very happy as someone stated above about how we played against the 2-3. Elbow jumpers were open all game. Christmas in the begining was a little shy to come up and guard our smaller post player. Later in the game Syracuse adjusted and made Christmas come out more to the FT line, which opened up underneath passes for our cutters

@VTimHokie85

1- These guys can play with most teams now, they just don't know how to win. Its cliche but its true. We have had big leads late and blown them every time. We haven't figured out how to play while winning late. We get sloppy. That is part of having freshman everywhere and as they get experience, it will get better.

2- I think we are 1 big man away from winning more games. We have 0 inside presence right now and when Pierce is off the court, our rebounding is horrible. Losing JVZ has definitely shown in this aspect but I understand sometimes things have to be done.

3- Hudson finally looked like he had some confidence and like he belonged out there. He has a very fast first step and can get to the rim

4- Not to be used as an excuse, just an observation, I thought the refs were horrible last night. In the first half, we drove to the hoop very well and were getting hammered by Christmas especially with the body and they weren't calling any of them. Christmas was also hooking like crazy in the post against Mueller who played great down low considering the size disadvantage. The fact they shot almost 30 FTs and we were below 10 blows my mind in how that game was called.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

Not to be used as an excuse, just an observation, I thought the refs were horrible last night. In the first half, we drove to the hoop very well and were getting hammered by Christmas especially with the body and they weren't calling any of them. Christmas was also hooking like crazy in the post against Mueller who played great down low considering the size disadvantage. The fact they shot almost 30 FTs and we were below 10 blows my mind in how that game was called.

I'm not surprised with the foul discrepency. When you don't regularly feed the ball inside and you don't regularly get shots around the rim, you're simply not going to be fouled that often, and you're going to have a lower number of attempts at the line. Combine that with our addiction to the silly reach in fouls throughout the contest, and Cuse's ability to feed it down to Xmas, and yeah, that pretty much makes up that difference. Yes, the refs were allowing the game to get physical inside, but they were also calling every single handcheck on the outside. We never adjusted.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

That game was embarrassing last night.....

That last 6 minutes was embarrassing last night***

FTFY

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

Yes you are correct

the biggest thing i saw in the final 4 min when the press was on was when we did break it we pulled it back out and tried to set up the offense, now i understand the press is supposed to take you out of your offense and make you take a quick shot but with our youth i think that is the best thing. just let them play ball. we would have #s pull it back out and then turn the ball over, i understand the thought process of milking the clock and we were getting quality shots against the zone for most of the night but 2 on 1 i just have to think you attack and get to the line or a bucket more often than not.

twitter @smithey_daniel
head scout BSP scouting specializing in north florida/ southern GA highschool football scouting

Let's be honest the refereeing didn't help last night. Syracuse was getting away with a lot of shoving and fouls. The ref's called them blocks and steals but for the Hokies doing the same thing it was a foul.

The players played their hearts out and I am happy to see that effort. It will get us a couple more wins during the rest of the year.

Nice writeup, but I'm going to nitpick the headline. We didn't implode so much as Syracuse shook off the cobwebs and stepped up and started using their talent advantage to force our team into mistakes.

"implode" implies unforced errors, mistakes from within, etc etc. Our guys played a great game and while they did make a few unforced errors down the stretch, the story of this game is really Syracuse getting their crap together late in the 2nd half and taking advantage of our lack of big men. No, Christmas didn't take the shots down the stretch but his presence meant our team had to give him a lot of attention, resulting that guard having easier looks.

The team came in very well prepared for what Syracuse wanted to do on offense and defense, but we're limited enough that we couldn't prepare well for everything they might throw at us.

Wiley, Brown, Russell, Drakeford, Gray, Banks, Prioleau, Charleton, Midget, Bird, McCadam, Pile, Hall, Green, Fuller, Williams, Hamilton, Rouse, Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Hosley, Fuller, Exum, Jarrett

I know fouls are a part of the game, and this may be a stupid question, but is there any way that our guys could try to foul less? Seemed like nearly half the team fouled out with a large amount of time still to go.

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Josh Jackson, Jerod Evans, Michael Brewer, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.

The delicate balance in fouls is that you want your guys to stay aggressive & not be tentative. Since Buzz is (obviously) an aggressive type coach, he probably wants his guys to keep their foot on the gas in playing aggressive tough defense. He really wants that to be a big part of the culture. What you asked makes sense to consider, but Buzz is willing to sacrifice the foul problems in order to build the aggressive culture.

All I can say is, after years of watching four guys stand around while one is trying to figure out how to score, this team is easy to root for and fun to watch. The team is buying in to Buzz, and so am I.

After the last four games, I'm not sure too many teams are looking forward to playing us, as they know we will fight to the very end.

This! I am actually looking forward to every game and love they are playing so hard! You just didn't see this in the JJ era.

Also great to see the emergence of Jalen Hudson, I believe he is and will be taking minutes away from Wilson. It will be interesting to see who may be leaving the program this year, especially if we bring in more recruits.

After painfully rewatching the last six minutes of this game, here are my thoughts:

1) Coaching: Buzz did come in with an excellent game plan to combat the Orange. This was exactly what I expected with Buzz getting a second shot at a team. Big Plus. Last four minutes, several minor negatives that I attribute to the coach rather than the players. The first is how long Buzz waited to call a timeout once the press started. After the second set of press, he should have called the timeout, made sure the team knew which set plays to run and also that they needed to slow the ball down once in the frontcourt. We took shots with more than 20 seconds on the shot clock three times in the last three minutes. That was part of what had made us so successful thus far in the game was to run the clock down to a few seconds before getting an open look. Secondly, the decision to leave Beyer on the bench, rather than plant him smack in the center of the defensive end to be the steady hand. I do consider Beyer a more reliable option to score than Hill at this point. Lastly, the play designs to break the press I felt were much to deep towards midcourt. Our baseline passer was rushed way to often to make awkward passes. Having a third Hokie in the middle to act as pass option or pick option would have been helpful. Do these issues make the difference in the end of this game? I dont know, but I know they didnt help an already depleted group of young players get the ball up the court. Buzz cant dribble or pass for these guys though so there is that.

2) Beyers Potential Impact: Beyer is no doubt the least talented player on the team, but he has regularly shown this season that he has solid hands, is smart with the basketball and is of a pass first rather than dribble mentality. I do believe Beyer could have made a world of difference in breaking the press. I also believe Beyer is the most polished scorer in the lane of the three bigs, so if Henry was able to quickly chip in nine points, I believe Beyer would have scored as well. He is better at positioning his body to protect the ball from bigs than both Henry and Pierce at this point. It also would have been better having Beyer on Christmas (God Bless Mueller for his effort) but not having the bigger body down low on the defensive end cost us a minimum of eight points between Christmas free throws and Syracuse guards getting easy put back buckets after initial misses.

3) Fouls: I am not sure what Buzz really can do about how often we take bad fouls at this point. I agree that Buzz likes an aggressive defensive nature and doesnt mind when his team takes fouls that prevent easy buckets or come from extreme effort. Hudson draws alot of these kinds of fouls. Pierce and Henry too often take very unnecessary or pointless fouls. Part of it comes from a lack of body control for both players, but part of it also comes from having the mentality that they are the lesser of the big men on the floor so they poke and slap, rather than stand tall. Too many ticky tack fouls towards the end of the game.

4) Press: This is the third or fourth time this season that a team has used the press successfully against us to either get back into a game or to build an insurmountable lead. (UVA, WVU, Syracuse, Northern Iowa) as I recall, so its obviously a point of weakness. Two things of note to me watching last night again, too often our guys are looking to break the press with the dribble rather than the pass. Two of our turnovers into buckets were balls knocked loose from dribblers. As part of this, our guards have got to learn to get their heads up in the press situation rather than looking at the floor. Once they put their heads down, they limit their options down to the dribble. Secondly, its apparent we dont spend enough time running options on the second pass very much in practice. Once the first pass is made, the third and fourth guys should begin moving to allow open passing lanes for the player with the ball, but what we saw last night was both of those players standing in place rather than moving based on the position of the defenders.

5) Heroic Effort of the Night: I have been the first to bust Muellers balls for some of his efforts in December before Buzz disappeared him. Last night, against Christmas, he was Don Quixote. His head up in Christmas armpit, arms in front of his face, made a difference on multiple possessions. He pissed Christmas off so much that if the refs werent allowing murder down low, he would have been out of the game early in the second half. He also did pretty well early on shooting the rock. Wanted to make sure I gave him credit for a job well done.

6) The Offensive Lane: It was great seeing Bibbs break the zone quite a few times by taking the pass at the top of the key. One of the keys to the game. After that though our night in the offensive lane is something of a nightmare. The biggest thing that stood out to me was our inability to protect the ball when we take it up for a layup or dunk. There were at least seven occassions that this occurred with no basket made and no foul called. I know that Christmas had a height advantage but too often it was our own shooters creating their issue by either going up weakly or not going up with both hands to protect the ball. Syracuse ends up with eight blocks credited, but the bigger problem was that the Hokies only reached the foul line eight times in the game. Our players shooting in the lane were primarily Hill, Bibbs, Pierce and Henry. Hill went 0-7 with five missed layups. Bibbs scored 19, but went 7-18 from the field to do so, missing four layups but also got four free throws late. Pierce went 0-3 amidst another uninspired night on that end, but as I put in the game thread, until he can hit the shot from the free throw line regularly, I am ok with him taking few shots. Henry has the surprise night from the field, going 4-6 along with 1-2 from the free throw line. The only other player that regularly made an appearance in the lane was Hudson, who went 3-5 on his layup attempts. Why, with our size deficiency am I bringing this up? I am bringing it up because we had open looks and should have done alot more damage either with our shots or by getting to the line. Hopefully our players can learn to protect the ball better and draw the fouls, which can have a massive impact on the game, either by removing opposing players or getting that extra 10 points to decide games.

Just reported on ESPN - Syracuse has self-imposed a ban on postseason tournaments for themselves this season. No NCAA, no NIT, and ESPN reports no ACC tournament. This because the NCAA has taken EIGHT years (ESPN report) to investigate some violations by them. Conveniently, Syracuse is not that great this year, so like Miami in football, their self-imposed sanctions are pretty weak sauce.

I'd encourage folks to keep their eyes open for details to come in the next day or so.

We all know the truth. They're just doing this because they really just didn't want to face VT again in the ACC Tourney. Third time would be the charm.

So this means we get a first round bye?

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

No 15 seed for us bitches!

"That kid you're talking to right there, I think he played his nuts off! And you can quote me on that shit!" -Bud Foster

"Virginia Tech advances to the second round of the ACC Tournament."

I think its interesting that the report says that Syracuse self reported in 2007, and that most of the issues were long ago, but none of the issues occurred after 2012.....makes me wonder what they self reported in 2007 that they allowed to continue until possibly 2012? Pretty odd.

I also agree that the timing is very suspect considering how poor their play is. Its almost as if the Tech game sealed the fate of this team regarding the post season, especially considering they still have six games against ranked teams remaining. I would be pretty pissed off for this mid season announcement if I was Rakeem Christmas since this ends any chance he has to return to the post season, which of course doesnt help his draft stock.

Yep, just like Miami did in football. Take the 'penalty' - which isn't a penalty at all - since your team has no real shot in the postseason anyway. While the NCAA allows it, since it's taken them this many years to come to NO resolution.

The hypocrisy rivals any I've seen, outside the political world.

I was really hoping Oliver Luck moving to the NCAA would have some positive traction. Maybe this comes too soon, as I am not sure he is in the job yet but really the entire NCAA office needs a clean sweep.

I think he doesn't go in until this summer. It will change little, though.