With BYU hoops in Blacksburg tonight, we caught up with Chris Hatcher of SB Nation's Virginia Tech blog Gobbler Country to get some insight on the Hokies and what we can expect from tomorrow's game. Much thanks to Chris and Gobbler Country for exchanging these questions with us.
1. The Hokies started the season 11-3 in non-conference play before going 0-4 to start the ACC. What was the difference? To you, what looked or felt different during those 4 games, or what wasn't happening that did in non-conference play?
The difference was playing a higher quality of opponent. For the umpteenth year we played a few good teams out of conference, lost to those teams, beat who we should have beaten and came into ACC play without any quality non-conference wins. This year our best quality non-conference win would be Oklahoma St...twice (which sort of takes away from the quality of it), once at a tournament and one that was already on the schedule. We lost those four games because we are young, apparently ACC play intimidated us and we made mistakes we couldn't afford to make against better teams. Wake played their best game probably all year against us to get the win. FSU is obviously better than we gave them credit for after they left Blacksburg with a win. BC beat us without Erick Green, but BC's so bad there should be no excuses there. That game was just a suck-fest all-around. And of course, UNC is UNC, so despite leading for about 20 mins, their athleticism, talent and experience prevailed.
2. Virginia Tech did stop that slide however, and is coming off a big road win against the Hoos, your heated (and ranked!) rival. What did you see in the game against Virginia that made the difference, and do you think that performance will affect the Hokies' game against BYU?
The difference in the game vs. UVA was defense. The 'Hoos couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from deep, going 1-14 from beyond the arc. Although our defense played a part in that, to some extent, that was just fluke-ish. But, I have to say, our post players did a phenomenal job on All-America and ACC POY candidate Mike Scott down in the post. He was held to well below his average in both scoring and rebounding and didn't really have an effect on the game. Coming in that was a BIG concern. I think the only thing that the Hokies will get out of this game is confidence. Their confidence was wavering before the UNC game, but that was kind of the spark, and now almost having beaten two Top-20 teams in back to back games, I think they are going to feed off that. Particularly certain players who were struggling.
3. Due to differences in time zones, interest, and regional TV coverage: for BYU fans who have never seen Virginia Tech this year, explain the style of play on offense and defense.
Why don't I start with the good: the defense. Seth Greenberg has been known to sit players for months on end (mostly freshmen) who don't play up to the caliber of defense he expects out there. However, this year we have 4 freshmen in the rotation because, well, we have to. We have only 9 healthy scholarship players at the moment, but 8 are quality players as of right now and all were ranked at least 3 stars or higher by Rivals.com recruiting service, so they all have talent (Though recruiting projections as I'm aware are not science. More correlation than cause). We start two freshmen as of two games ago when Dorenzo Hudson, mired in a year-long shooting drought was benched in favor of Robert Brown. Since then Hudson has averaged 14 points off the bench and hit the clutch 3-pointer to seal the game Sunday against UVA. But back to offense/defense. We play a man D, but on the rare occasion we will press (which has been incredibly successful over the years for us) or show a zone look, but that's just to show a different look. We are strictly a man defense team.
On offense, we swing the ball from one side of the perimeter to the other trying to free up a player to hoist a 3-pointer. We don't throw it to the post often, we usually don't drive the lane, and we don't run sets, so there isn't much movement. This is a disturbing trend to me because I am a fierce opponent of isolation offenses, yet for years we have trotted out this 2002-07 University of Richmond offense that waits until the end of the shot clock to hoist up three pointers. The difference was theirs were open. We often settle for contested looks. Greenberg is a guard-oriented coach, but this year is the worst and most extreme variety of this offense we've seen out of him.
4. BYU gets a bucket with 10 seconds left to take a one-point lead. Irrespective of normal scoring averages, which Hokie do you want taking the last shot, and why? (And who is the #2 option?)
One, of course this happens, it's Virginia Tech and that's all we do. The answer for you is more what I don't want. I don't want a contested 3-pointer. But that's the shot we'll probably take even down one. I'd like to see Erick Green drive, draw in defenders and dish to a cutter or to Davila waiting in the post if his shot isn't there, that way it give him a score/pass option. The #2 option would probably be Dorenzo Hudson at this point, though I would also be comfortable with Jarell Eddie taking the shot. The key to me is that it's open and a good look. That's what is important.
5. Erick Green seems to be Virginia Tech's all-everything guard: scores, dishes, can hit from outside, and has a solid 2:1 assist-turnover ratio. Assuming Green gets his, who else needs to step up on offense to really have VT rolling?
Dorenzo Hudson or Victor Davila. Dorenzo scoring means he's hitting from 3-point range and or on the fast break where he's lethal. When he puts up points the offense really gets into a groove. Also I'd say Davila because when we DO feed the post he shoots a high percentage and we usually get a good look. I think it would be a fair assumption that Green does get his because he's scored double figures in every game this year in which he has played. The question is WILL other Hokies step up on offense, or will they do enough.
Prediction: I think the Hokies have more overall talent as they just inked the #13 recruiting class in the nation and have some highly ranked guys from previous classes as well. But, the Hokies have RAW talent. BYU has the better system and I believe that system right now develops better players than does the Hokies' model and when given the opportunity to go with talent/athleticism or a better system/scheme, I go with the latter. I think BYU wins this one by 4.
Make sure to check out our answers to Gobbler Country's questions on BYU