Tech needs to get off to better starts. They aren’t scoring early, they aren’t making shots. The players are engaged. If they weren’t engaged, they wouldn’t have been able to make big comebacks in the second half. Unfortunately they missed four layups and three front ends of one-and-ones against Maryland. That’s why they lost.
Tech needs a little bit more verbal leadership on the floor. The players did a great job down the stretch against UVA, BYU and Maryland, but they just didn’t do enough early against BYU and Maryland.
This team reminds Greenberg of the team Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon played on as freshmen. They didn’t have a dominant leader. They were just getting their feet wet. It took awhile for the light bulb to go on for them.
Greenberg sees some positives. He sees Victor Davila and Dorenzo Hudson playing better. He sees Jarell Eddie playing more consistent, though he’s got to make better decisions when he’s passing the ball.
Some people think Tech should press, but they have to make shots to press. They couldn’t press against BYU. With Marquis Rankin out, they only had eight guys, and depth was an issue. Greenberg doesn’t want to wear out certain players, and he doesn’t want to get into foul trouble.
Terrell Stoglin is a really good player. He takes and makes tough shots. Marquis Rankin did a great job on him. Greenberg’s biggest complaint was the two-three-pointers Tech allowed Stoglin to make in transition. Those shouldn’t have happened.
Tech is very inexperienced right now. They have four freshmen, Jarell Eddie is a true sophomore who missed the last part of last season, and Cadarian Raines is a r-sophomore who never went through preseason practice until this year. Erick Green , Victor Davila and Dorenzo Hudson are the only guys on the team who have been through these ACC battles before.
Greenberg didn’t like Erick Green calling out players in the Washington Post. If he wants to do that, then he needs to do that every day in practice. It’s not just about the two hours on the court. Greenberg brought Green into his office on Monday and told him that it was unacceptable, and that he owes his teammates an apology. Green played hard, and he scored some points, but being a leader and a point guard is about making your team better. Those are the things they discussed in the meeting. Green got to play off Jeff Allen and Malcolm Delaney last season, so this is a new experience for him.
Greenberg is telling Dorian Finney-Smith to stay the course. He’s going to be fine. He rebounded well against Maryland, and he played pretty good defense. He needs to get stronger. He’ll have a breakout at some point, and we’ll look back a year from now and say everyone overreacted a bit.
Learning how to play hard is a process. The freshmen are going through that right now. Almost all freshmen go through it. They’ve never been in a position where they had to play really hard more than once a month. League play is a different animal.
The disappointing thing about Tech’s starts this year is that they’ve prepared well during the course of the week for each game. Much of the problem has to do with Tech’s youth.
Greenberg is proud that his team is beginning to compete really hard. They got down by double digits to BYU and Maryland, and they could easily have tanked, but they showed the resiliency to come back. The goal is to get better each day in practice.
Tech has won 109 games in the last five years. They know how to win games. This team will learn how to win games. Greenberg likes this team. He would like them to have a real dominant leader, but that’s a work in progress. Jarell Eddie could be a real leader, because he’s a bright guy who works hard, but he’s still only a sophomore who is learning the game.
Tech has six home games left. Greenberg wants to see the Hokies get a little tougher on defense, they need to be more efficient on offense, and they need to convert better in transition. They need to be more consistent so they know exactly what they are going to get from each player, from game to game.
Dorenzo Hudson is working really hard. He’s doing everything he can. That layup he missed on Saturday, he would have dunked that two years ago. With his knee injury, he’s lost a lot of elevation and explosiveness. That’s just the way it is.
Marquis Rankin is probably Tech’s best on-ball defender, in terms of pressuring the ball. Guys also like playing with him in the transition game, because he gets rid of the ball so quickly. He missed all of the preseason, and couldn’t start practicing until the eighth game of the season. A preseason will be big for him next year.
Duke sets the standard for playing hard in the ACC. They are the bar that everyone else tries to aspire to. They are physically and emotionally tough. That’s where everyone is trying to be.
This year’s Duke team is interesting because of their frontcourt. The Plumlee brothers are playing at a high level. Ryan Kelly can step out and make shots. The backcourt isn’t defending as well as they usually do, but guys like Dawkins can really shoot.
Tech and Clemson have played some great games over the years. Zabian Dowdell was in the office recently on a visit, and he was telling Greenberg that he was so nervous on his senior day against Clemson that he couldn’t breathe. He had three turnovers the first three times he touched the ball, and Greenberg had to take him out. Tech lost a close one that day, and had they won the game they would have been the #1 seed in the ACC Tournament.
Clemson has some talented players, and they play good defense. They are a veteran basketball team. They have tough players, and they are mature.
Eddie has become more comfortable with the speed of the game with the college level. That’s made him a better shooter. He’s also improved as a rebounder.
The scouting report on Eddie is to close out hard on him and make him put the ball on the court. He’s tried to do that a bit more recently, and he’s had some success. He’s becoming a better all-around player.
The next step is becoming a better defender. He needs to guard the ball better. He’s got to do a better job of moving his feet, particularly against smaller and quicker guys.
Eddie is a good set shooter, but he’s got to improve how he turns his body coming off screens. Greenberg told Eddie when he was in high school that he had a Ray Allen type of release. He has to be shot-ready off of screens and curls.
The toughest shot for Eddie is out of the right corner, because he’s right handed and his right hand is parallel with the backboard. It makes it a tougher shot. His best shot is off the left wing.
On gamedays on the road, the Hokies will wake up, eat breakfast together, watch film, and then get about 1.5 hours to themselves just to relax. Eddie puts his music on and zones out. He gets dressed in the hotel, gets on the bus, and keeps his music on all the way to the arena. He gets out to the court and starts getting shots up. Then they go over the scouting report one more time, then they stretch and go through the pregame routine, then get one last pep talk, and then play the game.
Eddie thinks maybe nerves are affecting Tech’s starts, and maybe they just aren’t getting a good feel for the game early.
Monday was Day 2,620 of Virginia Tech’s continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.