The season has now gone from abysmal to disastrous. At this point, the Virginia Tech Hokies men's basketball team is going to be lucky to win another game this season. My goal all season has been to remain objective and even keel while assessing the Hokies' continued struggle to transition from the Seth Greenberg era into whatever we're calling this period here. It is a difficult task to put it lightly, especially in the face of results like those on Wednesday night, where VT lost to the woeful Boston College Eagles for the second time in 18 days, 76-52. Of the Eagles meager win total of six, two of them have come against the Hokies.
It was nice to see Jarrell Eddie look alive while notching a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds, but as in so many instances this year, he was at the helm of a ghost ship headed towards a deserted island. It was Eddie's fourth double-double of the season, and his first since the Radford game which ended a three-game streak of double-doubles back when the season still held promise. Eddie's season has been one of unfulfilled promise, though to his credit he has had little in the way of help in sharing the load; particularly once resident gunner Adam Smith fell prey to his continued calf problems, and exacerbated those into a stress fracture. The senior forward has a possession usage rate that ranks 9th highest in the ACC, but he has an effective shooting percentage below 50%, which is very poor for a player who takes so many three pointers. If you shoot 33% from range, that translates to 50% from the field from two points. Eddie's concerning inability to convert layups or the occasional medium-range jumper cuts his efficiency off at the knees. At this point, his glaring weakness: his ability to create his own shot in his comfort areas is on full display, and the lack of scoring depth surrounding him only magnifies it.
The Hokies were unable to defend the Eagles at all in the first half, allowing them 48 points, on 13-of-19 shooting from the field including 7-of-12 from three point range in falling behind 15 at the half. BC's Joe Rahon who had a great home game against the Hokies last year as well, felt right at home, sinking 5-of-8 three pointers on his way to a team-high 20 points. Eagle teammate Ryan Anderson added an inside punch confounding the Hokie front line with 18 points and a team-high eight rebounds.The Hokies tightened up on the three point shots in the second half, holding the Eagles to just 7-of-25 from distance, but due to their own incompetence on the offensive end of the floor were unable to take advantage.
The stat of the game was points off of turnovers. The Hokies haven't handled the ball well all season, and have an extremely high turnover rate, and are among the worst teams in the nation at turnover margin, ranking somewhere in the 330s since November. Tonight the Eagles had 24 points off of just 12 VT turnovers, for an effective conversion rate of 100%, which I might not have ever seen before. By contrast, the Hokies had just one point off of seven BC turnovers. The margin of victory was 24, the margin here in this one category was 23. There's definitely a correlation to be made in there somewhere.
Devin Wilson is still playing mammoth minutes for a true freshman point guard, and he hit the wall some time ago. 38 minutes running the PG in a guard-dominated league is going to be a fantastic learning experience, once he has a chance to let the physical and mental bruises heal. Wilson is the fifth most turnover prone player in the ACC, and he has gone from assisting at about 5.5 per game to having no more than a pair in four of the seven consecutive league losses. The experience will be invaluable so long as he takes the good lessons, and doesn't grow comfortable with the constant losing.
We are watching trends become rules here, and I am sad to say that I don't expect much more than what we are seeing now the rest of the way. The ACC season couldn't have begun any easier than it has, with four of the first six games at home. Additionally, with games against Miami, Wake Forest, Clemson, and BC twice, the table was set for the Hokies to at least attempt a competitive start to conference play. Once again, injuries and attrition have hurt the depth, and it's difficult to assess just how underwhelming a job Coach James Johnson has done. Nonetheless, we have seen very little in the way of creativity or energy from the bench, and it is manifesting in the team's poor body language on the floor.
Johnson's difficulties motivating his team have been well-documented, and instead of admitting fault and adjusting, we have seen him dig his heels in and exhibit a stubborn streak that has proved detrimental to both team and fan morale. As it turns out, it appears the ACC scribes had it right on Media Day when they projected the Hokies to finish last in the ACC by a wide-margin. I suppose this is why you are never supposed to bet money on your team, because I would have bet the Hokies would have won at least a third of their games. At this rate, it'll require a .500 record over the remaining 10 games to achieve that. Not likely.
Then again, we can always hold out hope that they can claim the ACC tournament outright, AMIRITE?
Alumni Side: Let's Go
Student Side: #crickets
Here are some other odds and ends before I sign off on hoops and get back to working on recruiting stuff:
- Cadarian Raines played 8 whole minutes, JVZ just 17, Trevor Thompson 15. None were effective, combining for 3-of-13 from the field and just nine rebounds. Again their BC counterpart had 18 and 8.
- No other Hokies scored in double figures. Yeah.
- The Hokies one again struggled from the charity stripe, going 12-for-21. Wilson once again shot poorly, going 3-of-7. He has begun to think too much at the line, and what was once a strength may become a weakness if he ceases to be aggressive in fear of being sent to the line.
- The second-best player this evening was Christian Beyer who played 27 minutes and put up 7 points and 6 rebounds. As much as I respect the efforts of Beyer, him being the second "star" of the game for the Hokies isn't going to be a marker of team success.
- Marshall Wood got the start and looked completely disinterested as he is wont to do. He played just 13 minutes and contributed just one point, and was consistently late on defensive rotations.
- Ben Emelogu didn't have a good night, shooting 3-for-11, and just 1-of-4 from range. He also couldn't fight thru screens on his gimpy ankle and was late several times getting a hand up on defense.
The Hokies return home to take the Cassell floor on Saturday against the University of Maryland Terrapins at noon. The Terrapins narrowly edged the Miami Hurricanes at home tonight 74-71 to improve to 4-4 in the ACC. The Hokies have been averaging less than half capacity in the Cassell this season, in part due to an ACC scheduling screw-job that saw three consecutive games scheduled at home during the winter break. The reality is though, that apathy has taken control of even the most enthusiastic of Hokie supporters, and with the weather that has been blanketing the 'Burg this past week, fielding even half capacity might be a triumph of sorts. As always, we hang in there and hope for the best.
Ben will return with a recap after the game on Saturday. It has been my pleasure to fill in for him tonight.As always you can follow us on Twitter @GobblerCountry or on Facebook at Gobbler Country.
Mi Cassell es su Cassell, please stay warm out there.