Radford, Hokies Opening Eyes After Road Win Over Wake

Posterizing dunk punctuates Virginia Tech's third-straight ACC victory.

[Virginia Tech Athletics \ Dave Knachel]

As a hush fell across the crowd inside Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a scowl emerged on the face of Tyrece Radford with his fists tightened beside him.

Going up with his left hand, the 6-foot-1 freshman guard from Baton Rouge, La. elevated above Wake Forest 7-foot center Olivier Sarr and put down one of the most impressive dunks of the season for Virginia Tech to put a cap on another ACC victory.

"I love that dunk even though he hit me and I lost it," Radford said after the game. "I recovered it and it was tough. I think it was an eye-opener to a lot of people."

Much like Radford's one-handed slam with 9:28 remaining, the Hokies are starting to open eyes after an 80-70 win over the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem on Tuesday.

It was Tech's third straight road win in ACC play and fourth in a row over Wake Forest. Mike Young is the first-ever Hokies coach to win three of his first four ACC road games.

"Again, I continue to say it that nothing is going to surprise me with this team," Young said. "They have a level of confidence and it's a great team in terms of preparation. It's pretty unique and pretty special. I've had some young teams that were a little goofy and needed to grow up some. ... This team, you give it to them and they've got it."

Despite six freshmen playing significant minutes for Tech this season, the swagger it has played with has been impressive through its first six games in league play.

One of the biggest keys has been the play of Radford, who had career highs of 21 points, 13 rebounds and four steals Tuesday. It was his second career double-double.

"I just went out there and had fun and enjoyed playing with my teammates," Radford said with a laugh. "I guess when I'm having fun, it just happens like that."

Much like they did during their previous two wins over Syracuse and N.C. State, the Hokies used a strong second-half run to put the game away against Wake Forest.

With just under 15 minutes to go and holding onto a three-point lead, Jalen Cone hit back-to-back 3s and a key jumper from the top of the key to give Tech a 53-42 lead. A few minutes later, Nahiem Alleyne sparked another 11-0 run with a 3 and Radford's poster slam later capped it as the Hokies took complete control, leading 66-46.

"They got comfortable," Wake head coach Danny Manning said. "Radford, he plays tremendously hard and he gets thirteen rebounds and gets to the free-throw line twelve. Some of those were late, but he put pressure on us with his dribble penetration."

At 6-foot-1, Radford's work on the boards this season has been one of Tech's biggest storylines. Tuesday marked the 10th game that he's grabbed at least eight rebounds, and per Sports Reference, among ACC players he ranks 8th and 12th respectively in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.

But it hasn't just been rebounding that Radford has brought to the Hokies. After his career-best performance against the Demon Deacons, Radford is now averaging 9.2 points — that's ranked second on the team — along with 6.5 rebounds per game. According to Pomeroy he tops all players in offensive rating (ORtg).

"I thought Tyrece Radford was just amazing once again," Young told Jon Laaser and Mike Burnop on the postgame show. "He gets that [dunk] with his left hand and he looks like Chuck Foreman running the football downhill. That dunk was just a physical play."

Radford's blue-collar approach to the game stems from the tragedy he's experienced.

After redshirting his first year in the program under former coach Buzz Williams, Radford told Norm Wood of The Daily Press that he dedicated himself to improving as a rebounder. Radford, who is known as "Boots" by his Tech teammates, quickly became one of the Hokies' most likable players with his uncanny ability to dominate the glass.

"Today, we were clicking in the beginning, besides them coming back after that, but [Wake standout Brandon] Childress went to the bench and we had to capitalize on that," Tech point guard and captain Wabissa Bede said. "We lost it but then we came back thanks to Tyrece's energy, like always, jumping in passing lanes and getting steals."

Radford's game isn't always pretty. He isn't a great shooter from 3-point range — a rarity on this year's version of the Hokies — and a lot of his buckets come off putbacks and gritty plays around the basket. But that doesn't matter to his first-year head coach.

"It wasn't a very pretty game, but it doesn't matter how pretty it is on the road," Young said. "You find a way to win. That's the only thing that matters. That's three out of four on the road for this team. That's really impressive. I'm really proud of the competitiveness of this group and getting us out of here with another one tonight."

Much like Radford, the progression of Tech as a team is ahead of schedule with guys like Jalen Cone, Landers Nolley and Nahiem Alleyne all shining as true freshmen.

"We are just enjoying the moments and are taking them in a they go," Nolley said. "We will continue to just take it game by game and have fun every day. We haven't exceeded many goals or have focused on setting records for how many games we have to win. We just go out and compete every game and play our game and have fun doing it."

That fun with the game comes from the youthful approach the Hokies have shown this season and the energy Young has injected into the program. With six freshmen playing key minutes, there's no doubt Tech has exceeded expectations in Young's first year.

And while there's still plenty of games left to be played this season, Young admitted that the Hokies coaching staff has had to adjust those goals as his players continue to grow.

"We're closer to seeing what we'll see over the last 14 regular season games," Young said. "I feel confident that we're going to be able to get to a lineup that can play both ends, rebound the basketball and help us win. We're figuring it out as we move along."

While Radford's one-handed slam opened eyes inside LJVM Coliseum and quickly was being circulated around social media on Tuesday, there's no doubt the play of Young and the Hokies that deserves the most attention through six games in ACC play.

Sure, Tech will likely still face its fair share of growing pains as the season moves along. But Radford and the rest of the Hokies have put the league on notice now and continue to provide eye-openers as expectations grow around the Virginia Tech program.

"If I do that, my team can go further," Radford said. "Everybody on the team has to contribute. If I keep doing what I'm doing, I think we can go far."

Comments

Great write up, thanks!

I've had some young teams that were a little goofy and needed to grow up some. ... This team, you give it to them and they've got it."

God I love CMY and his quotes.

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

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)..

This team is 3-1 on the road in ACC play with wins against teams with BPI ranks of 59, 68, and 124.

We have remaining games against #s 1, 8, 90, 93, and 158.

If we can beat the three currently ranked 90+, we'll have 6 ACC road wins. That would be the best ACC road record in VT history....so far.

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

Good start to going 4-0. Now we just need to concentrate and beat Syracuse again. They are going to be running hot after beating UVA at CVille.

Damn, you were so close to an amazing pun.

Now we just need to concentrate and beat Syracuse the Orange again.

to a pulp!

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Am I the only one who thinks this is a Kevin Dresser joke?

also, our clemson win just got a little more shine with them taking out UNC and Duke back to back.

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 hope they don't get too good. We play them again

Good news is that it is in Cassell. Even better news is that it is before Spring Break, so the students will still be in full force.

Bad news, part one, is that it'll be the second to the last game of the season, and since we don't have a deep bench, the guys will be worn down (not sure how deep Clemson's bench/talent is). Bad news, part two, is that it'll be only 2-2.5 days rest from playing @Louisville, so even more exhaustion.

I agree with everything except about not having a deep bench. We play 9 guys significant minutes, which is about as deep as can be hoped for.

guys like Jalen Cone, Landers Nolley and Nahiem Alleyne all shining as true freshmen.

Wait did Nolley's season out last year not count toward his eligibility?

All talk last year was about how it cost him a year of eligibility, but everything I see this year lists him as a redshirt freshman.

I think he was an "academic redshirt". There is a zone in the NCAA's GPA-related entrance requirements which allows one to be qualified to receive financial aid and practice, but not compete.

Tyrece Radford anagrams to Racy Odd Ferret

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 like that they're having fun. Hopefully that will remain as expectations rise, but probably not.

We were a different team when Horne had to sit with fouls. Just estimating by memory, I think we outscored them by 25-30 when he was on the floor, but when he sat we did not have anyone who could stop Saar from scoring or rebounding. Saar even made his free throws whenever Horne was on the bench.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Up to 36 in NET rating. There is a lot of season left, and the ACC as a whole is down this year which helps, but I am very impressed with what MY has done.

The country as a whole is down also which gives us a chance to sneak into the tourney

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

Last report I saw we are trending as a 9 seed right now.

As folks said.....a lot of season left, but good motivation to make sure we keep that spot.

It is also worth noting that Bede got all the way to the rim and finished a couple of layups last night. Him being a threat to do that a couple times per game and not looking to only pass will be important going forward to keep the defense from only playing passing lanes and not bothering to contest a potential shot.

I was at the NC State game and fans all around me, collectively we were asking why Bede wouldn't take a shot? I guess because other shooters were having a good night, he decided it would be best to just feed the rock and get assists to best help the team.

He's definitely a pass first PG, but his jumpshot is broken. He releases the ball after the apex of his jump. It's crazy that no one has tried to help him fix it because it looks the same as it did when he was a freshman.

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

So true. I also liked seeing him take two 3s. He may only shoot 30ish % from deep, but he shouldn't hesitate to pop it when he's open late in the shot clock. He's a pass first guy who'll average more assists than points this year, but his 6 points vs. 9 assists last night felt like a more balanced stat line than the 4 points vs. 23 assists he'd put up the preceding 4 games.

I noticed last night both times he put the ball up with his right hand while driving left. Is that why he's relatively ineffective to finish drives because he can't finish lefty?

I noticed that too. I don't think that is the only reason as he hasn't been finishing on the other side of the rim either. I think his confidence in his ability to score is just completely gone.

Thank you for the write-up, Cody! Radford is an absolute monster. He and Cone are making themselves hard to keep off the court.

And to top all of this week off, a third consecutive loss for the slumping boo 'hoos has actually made me smile even with all the Fu nonsense and a tough day fishing. Yay! I'm starting to really look forward to seeing what happens when they come to the Cassell.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Our loss to them, especially by such a large margin, is looking more inexplicable by the day. That was by far the worst this team played all year. Kihei Clark dominated us and has been absolutely terrible for them in the three games since. We defended him all wrong and let him get several uncontested layups. When they come to Cassell the game plan should be completely different.

Come on now, he had a near double double last night with 8 points and 9 turnovers :-)

'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'

If only somebody had written an article about how VT changed their defense after that UVA game!

And a great article it was. Should have given you credit.

I agree with psingle - it was a great write-up. I noticed the details when watching the Wake game, and appreciate your article.

I'm just here to sling some legs

Posterized for TKP!

"Hey Bud, you wont have to hold the opponent to 17 points anymore."