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Virginia Tech Hokies Defeat Gardner-Webb in Men’s Basketball

It was a quiet exam week Sunday basketball game. Cassell might have been sold out, but whoever grabbed those tickets used them for wall paper. It was a small crowd and a big margin win. There are some issues to note, though. GO HOKIES!!!

Warmups before the game with Gardner-Webb
John Schneider - SB Nation

Game Day Exam Week Sunday Style

One of the nice things about living in Blacksburg is attending various sporting events without having to go anywhere except to find some parking within less painful walking distance from the event. Early season basketball, (men’s and women’s) usually has reasonable ticket packages available and also some goodies to go with it.

This afternoon, the Hokie Men’s Basketball Team hosted the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs for a non-conference game in the Cassell. The interesting thing was the notice that the game was sold out and the stands were probably just a hair short of half full. Who bought up those tickets, and what they did with the fans I cannot say. It was mostly the mid-year break local folks with a few students showing up. It’s still exam week, here, and Monday is a heavy day for tests. I am surprised that many students actually showed up.

I am not going to take anything away from Nate’s normal “Three things” article, this one is more about what I saw as a decently knowledgeable basketball fan, but I cannot claim any level of expertise. I, at least, got a chance to play football and baseball (and softball). At five feet six inches tall, I was not a basketball player. So what I observe is just factual stuff that I saw. Fixing problems and whether or not it’s being addressed is something that I leave for the experts.

Seeing Things, Real Things

I did see two things that I really think will be an issue for the Hokies this season; inside game and sustained offense.

The first issue that I saw that concerned me is that the Hokies inside game (within 12 feet of the bucket) is really shaky. There were quite a few ball handling errors, turnovers, and missed passes. Sometimes it seemed like the players had noodles tacked on their arms instead of hands. Passes were often not very crisp, and the transition from catching to dribbling was sort of sloppy. There were some good moments, and a couple of classic three point plays (layup w/foul) but there are some mechanical issues with ball handling that really need some serious work. Someone needs to teach these guys a quality finger-roll.

The second thing that really gripes me big time is that there is little or no follow-up and certainly no intermediate offensive rebound coverage on three point attempts. The game was marked by very few offensive rebounds, and rarely was anyone in any sort of range to grab a rebound to put back up if a three popped out. Thankfully a good deal of the three pointers drained, and the lack of an offensive follow-up was not matched by the Bulldogs putting the ball in the basket on the reverse.

If you look at any of the successful teams out in NCAA basketball land, the teams that win rebound on offense to keep possession. We have only two big guys on the court and never at one time, so Mike Young is going to need to work on some of that.

Just some other observations that are pretty positive:

  • Landers Nolley II is the real thing. I sincerely hope he sticks around for a full 4-year career as a Hokie. He has special talent, and his scoring was critical again, today. His 15 points from outside the arc lead the team and accounted for all but three of his points today:
  • Nolley had 18 points and played for 30 minutes total.
  • Isaiah Wilkins ended up coming off the bench to put in 13 6 of which were from three point range.
  • Hunter Cattoor chimed in with 11 one of which came off a flagrant Technical foul on Gardner-Webb.
  • Tyrece Radford hit double figures with 10
  • And even if Wabissa Bede only had 8 points, he ran the offense well and led the team with five assists.

The bench is really important on this team. The difference between the starters and the supporting role players is very narrow. This 2019 Hokie team is going to need every player putting in quality time on the floor.

This team is hot and cold. If the 3-point shots ring out, the offense goes completely cold and the defense is just good enough to handle mid-level teams. Lots more work on the inside game is going to be necessary before we get consistent high level success. That time will eventually come. The core of the team is young and inexperienced. (Where have we heard that one before?) It is also talented. This season will be a good one if we notch a .500 in the ACC and a +.600 non-conference record. We’ll see as things develop. We’ll be heading to the VMI game, coming up.