Well, that SUCKED! If there was something that we didn't need to do to, it was to hurt our tournament résumé. And this loss did that pretty badly. This loss placed us squarely back on the bubble, so much so that if the season ended today, I would even have us on the outside looking in. And I'm a lot kinder to my Hokies than are the network bracketologists. If it seems like I'm being a complete pessimist, please forgive me, and consider the recent Tech basketball history. I certainly have a reason to be concerned. We don't want to be playing ourselves back onto the bubble at the end of the season. So here are the things that killed us tonight...
1. Ball movement and passing (or total lack thereof)- We finished with an anemic 5 assists tonight. That is way under our average, and even though we have not been doing much in that area recently, tonight it was just terrible. Wanna hear the even more brutal stat? Malcolm Delaney had ALL of our assists. If our team had 20 assists, that would be different. But we had 5. We absolutely HAVE TO assist on more of our baskets. That we are averaging less and less assists is indicative of the kind of shots that we take, make, and use some kind of voodoo witchcraft to make go down. Malcolm and Dorenzo hit some pretty ridiculous shots (although both have been slumping as of late, which is not a good sign), but to be a team that goes to the NCAA Tourney, we have to be a team that TAKES GOOD SHOTS! Stop me if you've heard this before (because I've said it in about every critique of the team this year), but good shots just don't appear out of nowhere. They almost always have to be created. So seeing that we have only five assists is not just indicative of the shots we take, but how we're setting them up.
These players (and the guards especially) have got to take more accountability with the ball in their hands, and get other guys involved and open for easy looks. Tournament teams MAKE good shots, but to even get to that point you have to TAKE good shots. Enough Malcolm Delaney and Dorenzo Hudson ISO, let's run an offense!
The most frustrated I was with the team tonight was at the end. I know it was in garbage time, and the game had already been lost, but Erick Green, Ben Boggs and Manny Atkins all decided they were going to score tonight and completely ignore open teammates with good shot opportunities. They all took some bad shots, and although they decided they were going to score, only Ben Boggs did. Even in garbage time, we need to look crisp. If this is the way the freshman play when we get down, this is the way they are going to play when we get up (which it often is, and one of the reasons our leads have diminished when we put them in)! Bottom line: DON'T BE SELFISH, GET YOUR TEAMMATES INVOLVED!
2. Bad shot selection- I know I had a mini-rant about this above, but seriously, it has been that bad at times. Tonight was one of those times. Specifically, JT Thompson with shots from 18 and beyond. JT! I thought we had gotten past this! YOU ARE NOT A JUMPSHOOTER! ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK! Dorenzo, don't settle for turnaround jumpers off of screens every time. YOU ARE NOT J.J. REDICK!
3. Rebounding- I wanted to just say defensive rebounding, but it's just a problem in general. A team that was a good rebounding team (I'll even go as far as to say great) has been poor as of late. We got out-rebounded by 21! OUCH! That's just not going to work. We have to do a better job boxing out. We gave the Eagles WAY too many second and third chance opportunities tonight by not boxing out. It's a mental thing. You cannot even give a team that is shooting poorly (which was definitely not the case for BC tonight) multiple opportunities to make a shot, because they will!
One possession comes to mind, about 5 minutes into the second half, when we were making our run to get back into the game. BC took two bad shots, we played GREAT D, and then somebody doesn't box out and a BC player runs in and grabs the board and gets the putback. That sealed it for us right there in my opinion. You can never afford to do that, ESPECIALLY if you're down and making a run to get back into it. And that stopped any momentum our team had right there. On the offensive end, better shots will help us get more offensive boards, because an offense that is running smoothly will give guys the ability to be in rhythm and get to the offensive glass.
4. Jeff Allen- In his last 4 games, Jeff has played 20 minutes or less because of foul trouble. Tonight he played 14. We cannot win with this happening. He has an equal responsibility to play smart, and how well he plays ultimately will determine how deep we go into the post-season (not saying NCAA as of right now). I'm not mad at him for his fifth foul, because it wasn't a foul. He got the ball cleanly as Trapani had his back turned and Trapani subsequently arm-barred Allen. Easy call to make (either a no-call which would have been best, or on Trapani), but they didn't do it. That was one of only a few bad calls all game. But certainly, Jeff had plenty of fouls before that. So WE HAVE TO KEEP THIS KID OUT OF FOUL TROUBLE! Maybe Greenberg will consider going back to the Jeff Allen project, where JT Thompson starts in his stead to keep Jeff out of foul trouble early on.
5. DISH OFF OF PENETRATION!- How many times have I said this too!? This would certainly help with our dismal assist performance night in and night out, but it was extremely apparent tonight. This is a huge problem, but I'm going to go a different way with it tonight. I know that attacking the basket has been something I've harped on to this point, but tonight Tech players drove out of control into backpedaling BC players on the fast break. Two straight possessions come to mind, as somewhat past the midway mark of the first half, Malcolm Delaney did it on a run-out, and then off of another long rebound Hudson did the same thing into two BC defenders. Both shots missed, neither of the plays drew fouls, and on both, better shot opportunities could be had as there were open trailers or jumpshooters spotting up. Make an adjustment. Obviously the officials were swallowing their whistles on that, and it's better to regroup than to drive out of control and put the pressure for the officials to make that call on the road. It's a numbers game. Don't try to drive into greater numbers. That's just common basketball sense. The commentators even mentioned it when in the second half Malcolm drove too far into the lane, was bumped and lost the ball. So although I'm all for penetration, you don't always have to take the shot off of it. KICK IT OUT! Also, if they are waiting for you in the low post, sure, go ahead and take an open jumper (this only applies to Delaney, Hudson, and on RARE occasions (just never outside 15) Bell). Just get under control and don't rush it.
6. How many times have we heard this?- When the ball actually does come down into the post from a pass inside, Victor Davila mishandles it and it rolls out of bounds or to the other team. Seriously, Victor, you're becoming a regular Kendrick Perkins down there in the post (even though Perkins has actually shown improvement with this). You have to have your hands above your waist ready to catch and go up. This is one of the FIRST and most important things that they teach post players. Without this, you're useless to us.
7. FORGET- If we want to have anything to do with the tournament this year, we have to do it with a completely clean slate. Forget about what you've done to this point. It's irrelevant. That includes this BC game. We need to come to the Cassell Saturday prepared, confident, and mentally tough to beat a good Maryland team. Be ready to play hard and smart, and do the little things! Our home crowd has to keep rocking. If we do these things the rest will take care of itself. But make no mistake, we are playing for our NCAA tournament lives!