There comes a moment in the lives of many young adults where they reach a crossroad. And while the questions may be different–Am I in the right place? With the right person? Doing a good job? –they frequently face doubt and uncertainty. Without a wealth of experience to fall back on, they're forced to choose the only option afforded to them.
They have to figure it out on their own.
And figuring it out is terrifying. The fear of making the wrong decision can lead to frantic change, switching jobs/apartments/cities/relationships at an unsustainable clip. It can also lead to petrified inaction, the anxiety of making a different life choice inevitably resulting in doing nothing at all.
The second direction is scarier, because it takes legitimate courage to propel yourself forward. And the longer you wait, the more life gets slowly worse. And eventually it gets to a point where you ask yourself what you need to do before it's too late.
Sometimes it's going back to school, or moving cities, or breaking up, or finally asking for that promotion. But whatever it is individually, these inflection points can change the course of one's life.
And after a 77-73 overtime loss at home to Boston College–their fifth consecutive loss, and second time in two weeks they've fallen to the Eagles–the Virginia Tech men's basketball team is currently searching for their inflection point. Nahiem Alleyne's game-tying free throws at the end of regulation seemed like that moment, but then stagnant play and bad habits came back to haunt them in the extra frame.
Don't let the score fool you, the Hokies ran into the same problems they faced in blowout defeats to Georgia Tech and Miami. Lack of movement off-ball, over-reliance on the three point shot, and defensive gaffes cut Tech's legs out from under them.
After a close first half, Jim Christian threw out a zone to contain the Hokies, and it worked swimmingly. Mike Young's squad struggled to make plays off the dribble, rarely made the extra pass, and seemed completely baffled by the change. The Eagles–not exactly defensive juggernauts–forced multiple shot clock violations and even more last-second heaves to simply get the ball to the rim.
To their credit, the young Hokies responded to adversity after scoring just seven points in eight minutes. Landers Nolley played hero when things broke down, finishing with 29 points on 12-22 shooting and 11 rebounds. The freshman played inspired basketball, doing his best to work inside and take what was given to him. He hit from the post and snuck into the middle of the zone to hit a few feathery mid-range jumpers.
But he couldn't get much from his teammates, with Alleyne scoring 16 points on 16 shots and Tyrece Radford getting six of his 10 in the game's first 10 minutes. Yet again, Tech's youth was at the forefront of a loss, making mistakes on both ends of the floor. In a running theme, they compounded stagnation on offense with bad feet and movement on defense.
This is rock bottom for the Hokies. Their youth has been put on full display, and now every opposing coach knows how to take advantage of them. Credit to Young, he's trying things. He's putting the ball in the hands of secondary playmakers, he's finding creative places on the floor to feed Nolley, and he's trying to (slightly) dial back the triples. BC actually took more attempts from three than Tech did, a rarity in 2020.
But at the end of the day, this isn't up to him. These players, the cadre of 18-year-olds sitting in the locker room, are going to decide if this team wins again. For the first time in many of their careers, they're experiencing losing in bulk. It's a massive hit to the egos of players with their kind of pedigrees, and they're the only ones who can turn this thing around.
Things will get better in 2021 and 2022, but the 2020 season is at a crossroad. The Hokies are currently sinking into the loss column, not moving, not changing, and stuck in the face of hardship. They have all the ability in the world to turn this thing around and win a few games to earn a trip to the NIT. Or the adversity could swallow them whole, and they hope things change next year.
Whatever happens, they have to figure it out on their own.
A Few Quick Thoughts
Tyrece Radford, playmaker: Radford is full of surprises, isn't he? We already knew the 6'1" guard–who is just 1-9 from three point range on the year–makes up for his lack of threat on the perimeter by crashing the boards. But now he's getting a little feisty with the ball in his hands. He's nowhere close to perfect, and he's not the answer to Tech's playmaking woes, but the freshman used his surprising first step to get in the lane and find some teammates.
His scythe-styled distributions don't always look pretty (nor do they always find their mark), but it led to some open buckets. As the Hokies search for ways to play it inside-out–getting it into the paint, then finding shooters after the defense collapses–look for Radford to create more.
Neither side can blame the refs, but they can complain in harmony: The officials were BRUTAL all day. Quick, inconsistent whistles. They seemed intent on controlling loose ball contact, but then seemed oblivious to chaos happening down low. Then they randomly changed their tune, blowing the whistle even without obvious contact. The Eagles shot more from the line, but it was indicative of the way they attacked more so than one-sided officiating. Both Tech and BC should send this tape to the league office, if only to just complain.
regardless of what happens today, i remain firm in my stance that if you get swept by boston college in football and basketball in the same year, you deserve to be relegated to the sun belt immediately— KABONGOBALL (@BUZZKETBALL_) January 5, 2019
I bet jet sweeps would kill Troy, though.