I have a message for the ACC basketball - take notice of the Hokies, now. They just took down Iowa in a very emphatic fashion, outrebounding a much taller Iowa by a very slim margin 32-30, but connecting on 90% of their free throw to Iowa's 72.2%.
I tweeted three keys to this match up:
Obviously, Virginia Tech controlled the glass by a slim margin, collecting 8 offensive rebounds, which I think was a major key in this victory, as well as the 90% free throw connection. The only transition basket Virginia Tech gave up was due to a series of comedic back-to-back-to-back steals by Iowa and Virginia Tech.
But tonight, Virginia Tech showed that they can play with the big boys. Under Greenberg's system, they would have probably lost due to the preference by Greenberg to grind the clock, play prevent, and basically make Erick Green the focal point. Tonight, Virginia Tech did not just get out and run, they played with gritty defense, and they played hard for every loose ball.
When Iowa was making a comeback, there was not a loss of composure, nor were there any sense of "Here we go again." The Hokies were determined to play defense and get out in transition. They made baskets from beyond the arc, they made baskets from the floor, and they dunked the ball that brought roars from the fans who cheered on the Hokies in a raucous Casell Coliseum.
This year's squad are completely different from last year. Last year, they played too conservative, they played not to lose, but this year, they are playing on a different level. Two more big time opponents are coming up, Oklahoma State and West Virginia, and if they win they both, I would expect to see them maybe cracking the top 25 poll soon.
In the mean time, I am having fun watching this squad grow, having fun, and playing honest-to-goodness basketball. The support for this year's squad should continue to grow. After the win, Coach James Johnson did the new tradition, a tradition he started: a victory lap around the Coliseum, giving high fives to the fans, and the players followed suit. When was the last time anybody saw this?