A Few Days to Forget
It was not a great weekend for the Hokies, Jay already covered the huge loss to Cornell on the wrestling mat, but Saturday and Sunday promised to bring a little spring back into the Hokie Bird’s step. That was the hope, anyway.
The Hokie Men’s Basketball Team Dug Itself a Big Hole
The first court loss of the weekend came at the Cassell for a big - 8925, but not capacity - crowd. Maybe it was the lack of the band, or the attenuated entrance, or the continued presence of starting Guard Hunter Cattoor on the bench, but the Hokie basketball team started about as flat footed as you can get.
North Carolina State played a full court press from the opening tip. They gave the Hokies exactly no breathing room to advance the ball, and with a heavy press and switching double teams under the basket continued to pound Tech relentlessly. It was difficult for the Hokies to find the handle on the ball, when they did only Forward/Center Lynn Kidd was managing to get the ball to go into the basket. Tech was nearly useless from three-point range in the first half and the number of fouls called was bewildering, especially because the Hokies kept getting the short end of the NC State heavy pressure game. Tech would end the game with 21 personal fouls called and NC State netted 18. From the stands the calls were definitely going NC State’s way and the crowd was making its opinion known.
The First Half was the Difference with the score a disappointing 36-22 and Tech having to struggle for every point and keep the ball on every possession.
The Second Half was Almost a Miracle
Tech came out in the second half with the Hokies beginning to make a dent in the lead, and NC State probably running out of energy to keep up the heavy pressure. There isn’t much to say except that Tech just couldn’t get the umph up enough to get past the Wolf Pack as the final buzzer sounded.
Men’s Stats to Note
Again, the Hokies paid for poor free throw shooting ultimately only netting a hair over 76% from the charity stripe. This amounted to a five-point difference which would have won the game by a point. Tech also couldn’t break the full court press with a running game. They only managed 8 points on fast breaks (and one of the key methods to break a full court press is the fast break) and 11 points on putbacks. Meanwhile the Wolf Pack blew the doors off Tech for 16, and 13 off of put backs. NC State out rebounded Tech 38 to 29 with a 12 to 6 advantage in offensive rebounds.
Three Hokies scored in double digits, but none double-doubled (Sean Pedulla - 19, Darius Maddox - 16, and Lynn Kidd - 14). Justyn Mutts grabbed 8 boards but didn’t manage to get into double figures (9).
The Men’s Team has Been Shoveling that hole and are now facing the reality of a four-game losing streak that threatens to take them from NCAA contender to tenuous bubble status, fast. They head to Western New York State to play Syracuse on Wednesday. It’s another tough road trip and the Hokies need to find something to staunch the bleeding. Tech is 11 - 5 overall and only 1-4 in the ACC. Those are not encouraging numbers with a 4-game skid showing a down trajectory.
We’ll get this turned around. Keep believing pic.twitter.com/mAoKvEyuWy— Virginia Tech Men's Basketball (@HokiesMBB) January 8, 2023
The Women Went to Coral Gables and Got Beaten Up
The triumph of beating UVA in the Cassell sure wore off a bit too quickly. The Lady Hokies hit the road to Coral Gables to play what was thought to be a very winnable game (though not easy) against the Miami Hurricanes. If it was tough for the men’s team, it was brutal for the women. Miami took lessons from the Hokies last several opponents and played what was closer to a street fight than a basketball game.
Final from Florida this afternoon pic.twitter.com/LSkAoaZAS0— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) January 8, 2023
The Hokies Kept the 1st Half Close
Even with the tough play, pressing, and some advantageous calls and non-calls by the refs Tech managed to keep the score close in the first two quarters. The first half closed with Tech only trailing by a single bucket 39 - 38, but the damage had been done. In that first half Tech had been hitting around 50% from the field, but the second half the lid went on the basket as Miami went on repeated runs.
The ‘Canes Just Accelerated Away in the Second Half
The problem was that at no time after the first 4 minutes and 15 seconds of the first quarter did the Hokies manage to regain a lead and that was a bruising 7 - 6 after a Georgia Amoore three-pointer. Tech would get close, and close again, but Miami never allowed a pass.
The Hurricanes just opened the throttle, gained as much as an 8-point lead in the 3rd quarter, and kept the Hokies at one arm’s distance for the duration of the game. They just kept nibbling away at that differential to eventually put 11 up on the Hokies who just had no answer for the constant pressure.
Stats to Note for the Women
Liz Kitley and Georgia Amoore again scored in double figures, 20 and 13 respectively, but no one managed a double-double in this game. Amoore dished off 6 assists, but the critical scoring that just didn’t happen stopped at 9 points each for Cayla King and Kayana Traylor. This game there were only 4 points put up on fast breaks. The Hokies lost the foul count with 19 versus 16 for Miami, but that didn’t make a huge difference in the game other than a sign of the physicality of the play. Eventually with 33 seconds left, Kitley fouled out.
The Women’s Team Needs to Get Rolling, Again
Unlike the men the women haven’t hit a huge skid to break. The latest AP poll has them back at season opening #13.
A tenth straight week in the top 1️⃣5️⃣ #Hokies pic.twitter.com/pdPgcUXGv1— Virginia Tech Women's Basketball (@HokiesWBB) January 9, 2023
It’s sort of an up down home and away fight with the team needing to find a way to win conference games on the road. right now, the Women are 13-3 and 3-3 in the ACC. That’s not ideal, but it’s not something that signals big alarm bells. It just wasn’t a great road trip. They’ll have to get back in the W column with their next contest against Louisville in Blacksburg on Thursday, Jan 12th. They’ll have a week to regroup and recover because they play Pitt in Pittsburgh on Jan 19th.