With Hunter Cattoor Back, Hokies Hope To Snap Losing Streak At Clemson

The Hokies need a big game on Saturday at Clemson. The good news: Hunter Cattoor is back. (Jon Fleming)

It was two weeks after Hunter Cattoor’s injury the last time Virginia Tech (11-7, 1-6 ACC) and Clemson (15-4, 7-1 ACC) met. The senior guard could only watch the Hokies fall by three, 68-65, on Wed., Jan. 4 in Cassell Coliseum.

At that time, it was the third consecutive loss for Tech. The program’s suffered three more defeats since. But four weeks after his injury, Cattoor returned to action on Wed., Jan. 18 in Tech’s loss at No. 10 Virginia. It wasn’t a favorable result, but better basketball was played.

On Saturday, the Hokies travel to Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C. for a rematch with the now-No. 19 Tigers. And they’ve got a little bit of confidence back after shooting 49% and trading blows with UVa earlier in the week.

“Obviously, it’s never fun losing, and losing six straight doesn’t feel great,” Cattoor told reporters on Friday morning. “But the mindset is the team. You can’t break apart. A lot of times when you start losing, people think they’ve got to do more and there start to be cliques in the locker room and stuff like that, so the biggest thing is just keeping the team together.”

Cattoor spoke with the media for the first time since his injury, which he suffered on Dec. 21 at Boston College. He fell on his left elbow and immediately felt pain, and he missed the last nine minutes in the loss. He flew from Boston to his hometown of Orlando for Christmas, where he got X-rays. What originally looked like a simple bone bruise turned out to be a fractured elbow after a CT scan.

Cattoor said he was lucky enough that he didn’t need any surgery or a cast; it just took some time to get the movement back in his elbow. In the meantime, the Hokies dropped close game after close game. Defeats at Wake Forest, vs. Clemson and vs. NC State were by a combined nine points. Then came the defeat at Syracuse, where a 10-point margin felt more like a thumping.

Sean Pedulla and the Hokies hope to turn the corner on Saturday. (Jon Fleming)

However, Wednesday’s result in the Commonwealth Clash still had some positives. The team had its second-best offensive output in an ACC contest this year, only behind Dec. 4 vs. North Carolina. At the same time, the Hokies shot 44% from three, the best mark through seven league games. All five starters recorded double-digit points, led by Darius Maddox’s 13, and MJ Collins added a punch off the bench with eight points.

Cattoor’s return to the lineup was a big factor. He had a few superb cuts, helped Virginia Tech move the ball well and knocked down a few clutch baskets when needed. Head coach Mike Young described it best: he’s a gravitational shooter, one that pulls defenders to him and away from teammates. As a result, the offense flowed better and less stress was placed on the likes of Sean Pedulla and Grant Basile.

Cattoor wasn’t 100% against UVa – as of Friday morning, he still wasn’t there – but he’s taking it day-by-day. And a close-to-healthy Cattoor is better than no Cattoor. That was obvious in Charlottesville.

His presence could be just what the Hokies need. In the first clash with Clemson, Tech shot 27.9% on two-point attempts, the worst mark since 2012. Young said afterwards that the spacing and ball movement were not what they needed to be. Even though a 9-0 run gave Tech momentum down the stretch, just one of the last eight shots found the bottom of the net. Moreover, VT had 12 assists to 12 turnovers.

After Virginia, the message was almost the opposite. “Those are Virginia Tech numbers,” Young said after the Hokies recorded 19 assists and eight turnovers. 

“I think our team played a lot better offensively [at UVa],” Cattoor said. “I think the ball was moving a lot more, our assist to turnover rate was a lot better than it’s been in the past couple of games. Defensively, I think we still need to take a couple steps up with that. But I think overall, we played pretty well. … I liked the way we fought”

How will meeting No. 2 with Clemson go for the Hokies with Cattoor? (Jon Fleming)

In Saturday’s rematch with league-leading Clemson, Cattoor’s excited to get his opportunity to face the Tigers. He was frustrated sitting on the bench during that loss a few weeks ago because he wanted to compete. It stung a little bit more because it was a game the Hokies could’ve won, too.

Sitting with a 1-6 conference record, Tech doesn’t have much, if any, wiggle room. But with back-to-back Quadrant 1 games against Clemson and Duke (Monday), there’s no better time to get back on the right track.

“We took a lot of bad shots that game,” Cattoor said, “and in our offense, if you take a bad shot, that’s like a turnover for us with our play style. … We know who we are as a team, we know we’re better than what our ACC record is, and at the end of the day, we’re just going to have to play better out there.

“We’ve got to be a little bit better offensively, we’ve got to be better defensively and put a full 40 minutes together to win a game.”

14 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. “…we know we’re better than what our ACC record is…”. Actually, you are what your record is. And the Hokies record in the ACC right now is 1-6.
    This team needs to figure out how to turn this season around pretty quickly.

    1. You are a fool. Babcock needs to go. His football and basketball hires are a joke. We need to move to a D2 conference.

      1. OMG!! I am fool? Your comment is one of the dumbest I have ever seen on TSL…EVER!! While I am no defender of Whit Babcock (especially his football hires), to say that Tech should go to D2 is one of the most foolish comments I have EVER seen…ANYWHERE!!

        VPI is a major university and belongs in D1. It just needs to figure out how to hire good football coaches and how to bring its basketball program out of a nosedive (and I still believe that CMY is the man to do that…after all he did win the ACC tournament last year, remember?). D2!?! REALLY!?!

  2. Rooting for a win…. but not expecting it.

    Hokies lose by 4-7.

    Go Hokies, please prove me wrong!

    1. Toledo, hope you are wrong, but believe you are Correct. Clem’s big guys will beat us and the Bookies’ spread of 2.5.

      GO HOKIES, shock the ACC!!!!!!!

  3. We really could use Rice but I assume he’s lost for the season.What a bad run of luck,play 8 minutes then break a finger in practice!

  4. So glad to have a much-needed Hunter back in the lineup. It’s been a rough go for all HOKIE fans the past six games and predicting that Saturday’s game will be a turning point in the season.

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