Florida State Ends Hokies' Trip to Charlotte in Overtime

Virginia Tech drops a heartbreaker in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.

[Atlantic Coast Conference \ Liz Condo]

There are always moments in conference tournaments that get national attention. UConn hitting a 3/4-court heave to send their game to a fourth overtime against Cincinnati. Kemba Walker hitting his step back buzzer-beater over Pitt in Madison Square Garden. Shoot, North Texas banked in a halftime heave from the opposite free throw line yesterday evening and that made the rounds. On Thursday afternoon, Virginia Tech was on the wrong side of one of those moments. Florida State's Terance Mann hit a wild runner while falling out of bounds with 1.8 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Seminoles over the Hokies, 65-63.

It's hard to reflect on a buzzer-beating loss and feel positive, but Buzzketball has no reason to hang their heads. The Hokies showed a grit and effort in the quarterfinals that should not be dismissed solely on the end result.

"I don't want it to come across arrogant at all, but if there was some category for effort across the country regardless of sport in college, I think we would win," noted Buzz Williams. "I know it comes across selfish and I just said this to our guys, and I don't mean this in the wrong way either, I don't want to win so we can win. I want to win because that means we get to play again. And I've never seen, in my career as a coach, the connectedness and the effort that these guys play with. I'm just struggling to articulate over and over to these guys the level of respect that I have for them, considering all that they have been through and how they just keep responding. So much of what goes on in the locker room and timeouts, it's them, it's what they're saying. And it's not just our players and it's not just me, it's the organization all pulling. And I think you can see that. We probably get more bench warnings than anybody, and it's not for mal-intent, it's just that's kind of how we do things when it's just us. But the utmost respect for Florida State, for sure, but also for the effort and care and love that our guys play with."

Tech emphatically took its first lead of the contest on a Kerry Blackshear Jr. slam, just a casual 38:44 into the contest. The Hokies had to scrap and claw their way back from a 13-point first half hole to go into halftime down by just 2, and faced seperate 7- and 8-point deficits following the intermission.

"I believe it's the matchup," explained Nickeil Alexander-Walker. "I think we matchup well with them and they matchup well with us. When you have two teams that are tough by label it's going to be a good game and it's competition. Guys wanted to compete, everyone was going back and forth and we were aggressive, they were aggressive, it was a physical game, but again, like Med said, credit to them, they made shots down the stretch and they did what they had to do. They're a great team, which is why they earned that double bye and I just feel like it's always a great matchup because you have two high level teams going as hard as they can."

And don't forget, even though you probably want to, that Tech had a 3-point lead with 18 seconds remaining with a chance to make it 4. By all definitions, the Hokies had Florida State picking up the towel to throw. But instead, Blackshear missed his free throw to set up the first of two heartbreaking shots by the 'Noles.

In regulation, it was Devin Vassell who stepped up for Florida State. Head coach Leonard Hamilton drew up a perfect play design for a game-tying deep ball.

"We had four options and Trent [Forrest] did a very good job of locating," said Hamilton. "We had options on the left and options on the right, and I think with the lack of experience with Vassell, I'm sure that they thought he was the -- would be the last option, but he was open and he's a very confident freshman and he knocked the shot down. And when it left his hand, Coach Gates said, 'it's going in, Coach', and he was right."

"Coach just drew up a great play," added Vassell. "Trent, he just found me open, T-Man set a great screen and I caught it, and my teammates told me to let it go if I got it, and so I just let it go and it went in."

As both teams huddled up before that final play, the question running through just about anybody's mind was if the Hokies, up three, would foul before FSU got a shot opportunity.

"We discussed all of that," explained Williams. "Did you see how Nickeil played the ball? On the out of bounds play? We didn't want it to go to the strong side. That was one thing. We talked about fouling on the inbounds pass and then we talked about -- our colors signify some defensive things for us, we wanted to 'black' on the weak side. Coaches call that a hammer screen that they set and we wanted to 'black' that, which is switch it. So we prevented it from going to the strong side, it went to the weak side, but we didn't 'black' it, we didn't switch it. In hopes that if you switch it, maybe that's denied and now the ball's got to go towards half court and now as the ball goes towards half court now we can load to the ball and maybe buy, eat up two and a half, three seconds and maybe it's more of a contested shot. Really good player, it's 24 that hit the shot, right? I think he's shooting 44 percent from three through 18 conference games. Obviously that's why they ran the hammer for him."

The play that Hamilton and his coaching staff drew up was designed in a way that Vassell immediately caught and shot the ball. Tech had no chance to foul because the 'Noles never put the ball on the floor. To give credit where it's due, Vassell hit a corner three with Isaiah Wilkins' hand right in his grill. It was good defense, but better offense.

And in overtime, it was a similar situation with a similar result. Good defense, better offense. Mann's shot hit the rim four times, and the backboard once for good measure, before dropping through the net. That's March for you.

"For me, when I caught it they were kind of jogging back on defense, and I kind of caught it in a stride so I thought I was going to get all the way to the basket and he [Ahmed Hill] kind of cut me off and I took the hit and shot it, confident shot," explained Mann. "Just let it go."

Alexander-Walker got a good look at a game-winning three from just inside halfcourt, but the shot sailed just wide of the back iron. And with the miss, the 'Noles moved on to the semifinals to play Virginia and the Hokies packed their bags for Blacksburg.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, And Some Justin Robinson News

The Good. It's weird to write, but it might be good that Virginia Tech lost. Instead of having to play their third game in as many days against a tireless Virginia squad, the Hokies get to rest until their first round game of March Madness.

Florida State played 10 guys against Tech, with only 3 of those playing over 30 minutes. The Hokies played 8, but 6 combined for 220 of the 225 possible minutes. Tech needs as much rest as they can get before the real (sorry, ACC) tournament starts.

The Bad. Buzzketball started 0 for 12 from three against Florida State and finished 4 for 19 (21.1%). That's not just poor, it's statistically improbable. Tech entered this contest averaging 40% from deep on the season.

"I think they had beautiful contests they knew that we as a team that we could shoot three, they kind of played it, they wanted to make us drive and go into their bigs and the bigs are so tremendous at blocking shots so we tried to get them in the air, kick out for a three, but they did such a good job of contesting it so they just made it miss," explained Hill.

Hill and Alexander-Walker led the team in makes from the bonus-sphere, with both going 2 for 5 on the day.

The Ugly. Free throws. They're free for a reason.

The Hokies went a perfect 4 for 4 in the first half and seemed quite comfortable from the charity stripe. But then, they practically lost the game from the line after the break. Tech shot an abysmal 3 for 9 in the second frame, including the aforementioned Blackshear miss with 18 seconds remaining that would've made it a 4-point game.

Yes, the Hokies probably had tired legs from their game yesterday. Yes, it's a different arena with a different shooting background and different rims. But if Tech makes 1 more free throw out of 9 chances, they win the contest in 40 minutes instead of losing it in 45.

Justin Robinson report. Williams was much more candid about the senior's status. The more open the head coach becomes, the closer it feels like Robinson is to returning.

"He's making progress," said Williams. "Similar to any athlete, you have to continue to make progress and that progress is based on the doctor's timeline, the trainer's timeline, he has met each passing phase, we took pictures of it last Friday before we played our last home game, those pictures determined that he couldn't play. So we're going to end up being able to take pictures again on Sunday and I think that's a nine day stretch between pictures, which is the longest that we have had. We, not me, the medical team will make that decision after those pictures are reviewed. Five did his work on Sunday ... We came here on Monday. So on Tuesday we had practice here in Charlotte. He was able to do a little bit more than Monday. God's the ultimate healer and we're praying that it works."


Well that was a tough one. I couldn't watch in real time so just wrapped up the replay. Sure Blackshear normally makes that free throw, but it's tough to blame him too much after making a heck of a shot just to put the team up 3. Let's find that three point range again before next week. I'll be in Columbia, likely rooting against Duke and UNC once again.

Well I suppose there's one potential positive from this: maybe aTm will look at this loss and decide to call off the dogs on Buzz (hey, a guy can hope, right?). I hope....

The final result stung. No doubt. Took hours to cool off. But FSU made really tough shots when they needed to and sometimes that happens.

What does concern me is that we had very poor possessions in the following: to end the half, to end regulation, and the last two to end overtime. This team should be too experienced and Buzz too good of a coach for that to happen. Those should be our moments to shine, not to make really poor decisions.

Those possessions were the first time in a while that I felt like this team really missed 5. Driving to the rim and getting fouled seemed to be a 5 hallmark. His ability to do that would have sealed the win against FSU.

I already knew ahead of time it wasn't going to be a fair & impartial called game.

If by that you mean the multiple calls that went Virginia Tech's way, including an obvious non-goaltend that was called and gave the Hokies two free points in crunch time, then yes I agree.

Yeah I don't know how you call this game impartial. Were there some really questionable calls yes. Were they against both teams? Yes. There was a collection of a few calls/no calls in a row where it seemed like we were getting murdered with no calls but that was very short lived and didn't have any impact on the outcome of the game.

(add if applicable) /s

I agree, mostly, but I'm not sure they had no impact on the game.

Non-calls on fouls might have changed the game one way or the other, even if they were consistent.

Who else thought the title would be a play on the Miami title...

"Play FSU again, Go to OT again, Lose Again."

Yes,that's the Hokie Bird riding a camel. Why'd you ask?

Shit. Almost glad I had to travel for work and miss the game after being in
Charlotte for the first of the tournament. So do you really have to get bad at football to win at BB? This sucks. Hope we make a run in the real tournament. I said last year I'd be happy to make the second round this year, but really struggling to keep that mindset. Sweet 16 and play longer than LOLuva. FUck the Seminoles, they suck genitals. Hope we go deeper in the real tourney than they do, too. Then again, grateful we're not in the NIT, or even worse, snubbed by it.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Players not named Hill, Nickeil, or Blackshear shot 4-14 from the field for 9 points. We're gonna need more from the "other" guys offensively next week. And of course Robinson returning could help with that.

From the report i got naw doesn't get a pass. He had a bunch of turnovers and was horrible from the free throw line.

6-9 from the line isn't quite "horrible." Not blaming him, but KJ's 0-3 was a bigger issue. That said, they were both great. Their talent and desire to win kept us in the game along with Ahmed Hill straight up willing the team to the comeback for that stretch in the 2nd half. Unfortunately, it's really hard to win a basketball game with the scoring distribution that we had.

It can be said of almost any close game that just one more point would've turned the tide. Last night, it was Blackshear's free throws, last game with FSU, it was Outlaw's free throws. One more point in regulation both games, and we're still playing after a double bye. Tough loss, but a couple of damn fine games and I'm proud of the whole bunch of 'em.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Great Postgame interview...i wish Buzz would retire here..

On a side note, Berman seems to hate his job...

That's just a bonus.

As much as he appears to care about the organization and everyone here, maybe he will.

If you haven't watched this interview, I highly recommend it. Makes me proud to be a Hokie. I appreciate all of Buzz's interviews, but this one was the best.

"Is that velvet or suede? Man you look like a million bucks!"

alot of people alluded to this in another thread yesterday, but i'm so proud of the culture Buzz has instilled in this program. You can hear the authenticity in everything he says, and you can feel how on board his players are when they talk about things. Really hope we can keep him around. I feel great things will continue to come if so. BUZZ IF YOU'RE OUT THERE DON'T LEAVE US.

We were known as a 3 point shooting team, but failed miserably. How can we be so hot or cold as a team? Sorry to say (and I couldn't watch the game) but when Ty goes for 0 points, we're in trouble.

No matter how you look at it you can't win games shooting 21% from three (as a high percentage three point shooting team), 54% from the charity stripe and you have starters that score zero points. You're digging yourself out of a hole every single game you play that way. Being inconsistent has by and far been the most crushing thing for us this year even with the attrition. We had some growing pains after Robinson got injured but I believe we did find an offensive identity after a few games, but it relies on being able to consistently play at a certain level on offense. Our team can be amazing to watch or very very frustrating. That being said we still kept ourselves in that game and time and time again FSU hit the shots. Very tough to beat a team in a close game when they're sinking the important ones.

Man, did you nail every part of the frustration and angst that we all have. This team is great, but man, they scare me every game.

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

Feel like Ty's hamstring was bothering him and he was basically used as a decoy the whole game

Thanks for the additional info, that would explain a lot. I do pray for his recovery.

Yeah, but then I think about being down by xx points early yet still having a 3 pt lead with 2 seconds left. Completely off our "identity" and still within a single free-throw of victory.


-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

Rough day for me yesterday. Tech losing had me flat out pissed, then Marshall lost that night in similar heartbreaking fashion had me depressed. I have some takeaways from yesterday's game.

We NEED Robinson back if we want to make it past the first weekend. It's clear no one can handle the ball as a point guard on this team. NAW had way too many turnovers, Bede won't stop picking the ball up in the backcourt, and Med is really just suited for playing off the ball. You can't make a deep tournament run without good guards.

Is it me, or does NAW always seem to go 1-2 from the line in the second half? I don't know if it has to do with fatigue from having to handle the ball a lot more with J Rob our, but it just seems he's not doing very well from the stripe when we need it most.

Bede is going to break the rim off the backboard shooting a jumpshot one of these days. I really hope he can fix it in the offseason. There's a million different things going on when he shoots, and if one goes wrong, the shot is way off. He needs more touch when he shoots as well. That 3 NAW hit with like a minute left was possible because he had touch on the ball. One of the best kept secrets it seems of jumpshooting is that the softer the ball hits the room, the better chance it has of going in.

One positive takeaway from yesterday's game is that Outlaw scored 0 points. Yes, I view that as a positive. We took a top 25 team to overtime (should have won if FSU didn't have a perpetual horseshoe stuck up their ass) with the best 3 point shooter in the conference scoring 0 points. I'm glad that happened now because I doubt it will happen more than once.

I feel good about this team in March if 5 is back, and I think he will be. With him back, Bede will shoot less, NAW and Bede won't have to handle the ball as much, and hopefully NAW starts making his foul shots on fresher legs.

But damn that was a frustrating loss yesterday.

Marshall University graduate.
Virginia Tech fanatic.
Formerly known as JWillHokieAlum.

I mentioned this in another thread, and while I am certainly no expert, I've never seen anyone get so much lift on their jump shots as Bede. It looks like he puts so much effort into jumping as high as he can, that it throws his balance and release off.

The basic components of a great jumpshot are consistency, elbows in, and a soft touch with a tiny bit of backspin. Bede's motion looks slightly different every time he shoots it, and (like you mentioned) he's lacking a soft touch. Outlaw's form is consistent regardless of where his defender is. Hill's release has a slight hitch, and his shooting numbers dip when he speeds up his release against longer defenders.

"For those who have passed, for those to come, reach for excellence."

The problem was the black unis. Wife was pissed off as soon as she saw 'em. She's more right than wrong, usually.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

If that were the case, we should have beaten them at least once in the last couple of weeks.

She says they're not retroactive. It's a game to game affair.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Don't argue with the wife!

Lesson learned...46 years ago. She's a uni nazi like me, though. We're not very traditional in most things in life, but when it comes to VT uniforms, we're adamant that they should be our primary colors. Next thing you know, people will want to get rid of "Hokies" because it's too old and just isn't cool enough. Think I'm kidding? Just wait a few years and remember, you read it here first.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I've given it some thought and I think that maybe losing the game is for the best. I had to listen to the end of the game on the radio and it sounded like Blackshear almost injured himself at the start of OT. I would rather lose this game and not risk anyone else getting hurt before the NCAA tournament, especially because there was a very low probability to win the ACC tourney without Robinson anyway.

Where we miss J Rob the most is trying to close out games. He's simply our best "closer" down the stretch of close games.

In Sam Rogers we trust.


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

Anyone watching FSU-UVA? Florida State looks great and is completely handling the hoos. I don't feel as bad about our two losses to them now.

"For those who have passed, for those to come, reach for excellence."

The latest ESPN Bracketology has us as the four seed in the West with FSU as the 3 seed.

I would pick the good guys on a neutral court with fresh legs in the elite 8.

I think it's funny that a Virginia Tech/Liberty first round game is in play.

Oh man we'd better skunk the flames if we play them

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)..