Hokies in Freefall, Lose to BC

It's gut-check time for Landers Nolley and company as Tech drops fifth straight.

[Mark Umansky]

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.

Welp:

I bet jet sweeps would kill Troy, though.

Comments

This is an impressive skid mark, and as a father to two young boys I know a good skid mark when I see one.

I think any kind of post presence would really help this team, and Ojiako has not stepped up yet. I would like to see Young put him in the game, not ask that he play defense like everyone else, to back off after the ball goes out past the foul line extended, and on offense, just play physical. Feed him in the post high or low and let him try to get to the basket with bully ball. Put him in about the five minute mark and say, hey, I don't give a hoot if you foul out, go hard to the basket and on defense stop anything you can.
As a coach, my patience with his timid minutes to date would be gone. Time to get him some useful minutes and man up for the future.
And once he established himself as a post presence the feed and kick that is totally missing might come back.

The LewDew, Professional Golf Bum

I ojiako has a lot of growing to do and in competitive games he's a liability. He doesn't block out well and more importantly he's good to pick up fouls setting screens. I swear it happens at the top of the key every time he's in the game.

With that said, we need him to grow into something and I was disappointed he didn't get a ton of burn in the GT blowout. He got five minutes and we played Branden Johnson 8 at the end of the game down by 30. That could have been big minutes for him.

He had the flu...shouldn't have played at all.

wait a second...

i thought Virginia Tech coaches aren't allowed to use youth as an excuse?

/s

They are not when they are in their fourth year and should have a healthy collection of upper classmen.

Welp, it was a good run. It'll be good again next year

Rick Monday... You Made a Great Play...

Romanes Eunt Domus

At the beginning of the year this team was picked to finish 14th. We are currently tied for 11th. The smoke and mirrors beginning of the season was fun to watch but reality has set in. With youth, there is a lack of leadership mainly because they are young and this is all new. We knew deep down that this was going to be a rough year, so we need to play loose, have fun, learn from the mistakes we are making and develop as basketball players. Play like you have nothing to lose because everybody is expecting you to lose. Then when the ACC tournament comes, kick everybody's ass and win the whole damn thing. Go Hokies!

It isn't entirely roster though, this style of play has always been high risk and has a very low floor, we got a taste of that in the Virginia game. I don't think you can consistently shoot threes like this without a paint presence and expect to make the tournament. I totally understand doing it against good teams, but against BC or GT the roster difference isnt that dramatic, we can very well win playing a conventional game. In these cases we more set ourselves up for a surprising loss.

I'm pretty confident we would win the sun belt in atleast football, so I guess there's a brightside?

This years recruiting class would be pretty good for the sunbelt

This is legitimately the first game that has me worried for the future. BC was slightly better this time around, but by the eye-test they are a truly awful basketball team. The last game we lost to them I remarked they might be the worst P5 squad I have seen in a long time and they were only slightly better Saturday. They don't do anything well yet we struggled mightily, and we've now lost twice to them! Without Nolley this game would have been a blowout, and he may be gone next year. We seemed slightly more willing to penetrate and attack the rim, but outside of Radford we are still timid there, even when BC matched our lineup with their own small-ball approach. There's only so much you can do when open shots don't fall, and I'm sure this insanely young team is losing their legs this deep into the season, but it's still shocking to see a team fall from beating Michigan state to losing to to a BC squad that looks like an above-average high school team.
Ok, negativity out, this team is at least playing hard, and they seem like they can turn it back on at any moment. Just hit a couple more shots and cut down on the truly logic defying mistakes and we win most of these past few games. I think they can pull it off and would love to see what we can do in the NIT.

I think Nolley stays. He can shoot and that is it. He doesn't play hard defense and he can't really beat anyone off of the dribble. I don't think NBA scouts are going to be banging his door down anytime soon.

I keep mentioning this, but this VT team does not have a PG and that is a huge problem right now. I know not having a big man hurts just as much or likely more, but we have to get more from that position that the regular stalling in the paint and having no idea what to do with the ball.

Is coronavirus over yet?

Bede is a great passer and facilitator, he just can't shoot or score. He's way too hesitant to pull the trigger on a shot, and he should be way better at the line too.

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

I agree. It's not that he can't score, its more the fact that he often doesn't even bother to that hurts the most. He did this last year as well but seemed to figure it out in the ACC tournament and it carried over in the NCAAs where he had some really nice games. So you were hopeful he figured it out. But he's back to being far, far too passive. He'll have lanes coming off of screens to go to the basket (for a layup or draw fouls), and he'll turn them down. Opposing teams know this and essentially are using his defender as a free roamer to double others or play passing lanes, so we're playing 4 on 5 on offense. He's got a low turnover percentage, which is great, but there's other times where I'd wish he force the issue a bit and try feeding passes to guys instead of being cautious. Turnovers suck but so does getting at bad shot because the shot clock ran down. Sometimes it pays to be just a bit more aggressive. At this point in the season, we've got nothing to lose. I wish he'd just say "eff it" and be more aggressive. Look for his own shot more, push the pace more, etc.

I wonder if part of it is that he's such a poor shooter (literally everywhere on the court including around the rim) that his confidence to finish/shoot is affected? I really like Bede and hope he can figure it out during his time here. I'd love to see him thrive as an ACC PG for VT.

Is coronavirus over yet?

He's really not that bad of a shooter he just doesn't shoot that often

He could make some 2s but he's not good from 3 or the stripe

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

Bede has scored 136 points so far this season (52 for 140 or 37%... He really needs to be between 40%-50%), good for #7 on the team while playing the second most minutes.

He does have 144 assists (good for #26 in the country) with 43 turnovers for a turnover to assist ratio of 3.35 (not bad at all).

I'm OK that he isn't a great shooter. And I think his turnover to assist ratio is good for a guy who doesn't shoot very well, but at some point he has to be able to stop having tunnel vision every time he drives into the paint. He needs to stop being so passive when he gets near the rim. And on those rare occasions when he isn't passive, he needs to learn to finish.

Is coronavirus over yet?

It was comical how BC would switch to zone when Radford, Bede and Horne were in and then back to man when Young countered with Cone and Cattoor. Those guys, Bede etc., are experienced and tough but just can't stretch the zone. It's painful to watch. We need lineups that are more versatile and too many of our experienced guys are limited.

'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'

We also did little to make the zone move and work to defend. Barley anything went to middle of the zone with the majority just being Bede, Radford, and Nolley either holding the ball for too long or just passing around the perimeter. Contrast that with the game in Syracuse where we moved the ball quick and with confidence.

Bede needs to step up and drive for his shot. Teams know he is reluctant to drive and shoot. Wish JRob's play would have rubbed off on him, but I guess not. I'd rather see Radford or someone else at the point who will be a threat to drive and score if Bede continues to play like this.

"That man was violating a city ordinance, and I was just doing my duty to enforce it." - Mike Curtis

A defensive set I've been watching absolutely murder us is Bede being guarded by a big. I'm not sure that its even coming off screen switches but even so: They're sinking the big essentially to the lane cause they know Bede isn't going to shoot and pressing everyone on the perimeter figuring if they get beat on the dribble they've got someone in the lane already.

(add if applicable) /s

We are an engineering school now!

Blessed by Frank though.

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

Wow... ACC basketball is trash this year. Like old school, before Florida was any good level of suck.

Leonard. Duh.

VT Marketing Class of 2009
Current Roanoke-Hokie
Go Hokies!