The Fighting Irish came into Blacksburg to open up the 2019 ACC Season and Tech was ready. The Hokies came out hot and didn’t really cool down. Buzz Williams is wisely using the veteran leadership on the team and the experience is paying off this season. Here’s what the Hokies showed and what they still need to improve upon.
The defense. Each and every game the Tech defense shows more intensity and more chemistry. Early in the game the Irish were forced to take bad shots late in the shot clock and Tech was able to pick off passes across the middle. Being an undersized team, smart double-teams and quick reactions are very important to keep powerful offenses contained. The Hokies were able to do both by hedging screens and forcing Notre Dame out of the paint.
Rebounding was horrendous on both sides of the ball. The Fighting Irish grabbed 14 offensive rebounds compared to Tech’s 3. Those boards led to second chance points and were a big reason the game was so close at the half. While it’s good that we overcame the rebounding gap, if Tech can’t hold teams to one shot, it’ll come back to bite them. Buzz needs to get all five guys to box out and protect the glass.
The shooting was phenomenal. In past years, Tech simply can’t shoot in conference play, but it was a different story against the Irish. Virginia Tech shot 61% from behind the arc and 60% from the field. Good ball movement, well-run pick and roll, and transition layups led a balanced but deadly offense from the Hokies. If they can continue to shoot this way, they’ll be tough to keep up with.
A LITTLE MORE GOOD
Take a look at the box score and you’ll see four guys scoring in double figures, and none of them are Justin Robinson. On any given possession, Tech could have anybody knock down a shot. Alexander-Walker took a limited number of shots but was super effective and did his usual thing. In the same way, Hill went 7-8 from the field and was a spark to a second half run. To cap it off, Outlaw hit four 3’s and Blackshear played like a man in the post. He went over, under, and faded away and was a machine. If everybody does their part, this offense is deceptively dangerous and could make some noise later in the year.
WHAT IT MEANS
Yes, it was one game. Yes, it isn’t Duke or UVA. But, it’s a talented ACC team with a very good and experienced coach. This win showed we can play our game against good competition. In bigger games, Alexander-Walker and Robinson are going to make the big plays, but we have a lot of guys that can contribute. If Tech shoots well and continues to improve on defense, we have the capability of making noise in the both the ACC and National tournament. It’s one game, but it’s a start.