Despite LeDay’s Efforts, Tech Opens With a Bad Loss to Alabama State

Zach LeDay
Zach LeDay

Virginia Tech’s 2015-16 men’s basketball season got off to a disappointing start with an 85-82 loss to Alabama State in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday. The Hokies played poor defense, and didn’t dominate the Hornets on the glass like they should. The result is an 0-1 record and a tough start to a season that was expected to be much better than last year.

Several statistics would point to a rather easy Virginia Tech win…

VT made more free throws (25) than Alabama State even attempted (21)
VT outrebounded Alabama State 41-36
Fastbreak points were 15-0 in favor of VT
Points int he paint were 46-26 in favor of VT

However, the Hornets put up 71 field goal attempts to VT’s 57, and though they shot a slightly lower percentage (47.4% for VT to 42.3% for Alabama State), they grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and beat Tech 19-7 in second chance points. The Hokies had 14 offensive rebounds of their own, but couldn’t convert them into very many points.

While they were technically outrebounded, Alabama State’s margin of -5 was much closer than it should have been given Virginia Tech’s obvious size advantage. The Hokies were also porous defensively, failing to close out on shooters on multiple occasions.

“We need to play better defense,” r-junior USF transfer Zach LeDay said. “We need to use the same intensity on defense that we use on offense.”

LeDay made his Virginia Tech debut on Saturday, and though he was expected to be a role player this season, he had a huge first game, finishing with 26 points and 15 rebounds. Those 15 rebounds include seven offensive boards. He also had two assists, a block and no turnovers in 35 minutes, and was generally Tech’s most active player on the court.

“I didn’t play good enough for us to win,” LeDay said of his performance. “So it’s not good enough.”

The Hokies got off to a slow start, trailing 10-5 a few minutes into the game. However, they slowly got it together and put a big run on the Hornets, taking an 11-point lead twice in the first half. With 8:14 remaining, they led 31-20 after two Chris Clarke free throws, and then led 35-24 at the 7:21 mark following a jumper from LeDay in the paint.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t close out thanks to bad defense and poor rebounding. Defensive rebounding was particularly poor in the second half, as Alabama State grabbed 11 offensive rebounds over the final 20 minutes. The Hornets stayed in the game, and took their first lead since early in the first half on a Bobby Brown dunk with 7:18 remaining to make the score 67-66.

They were able to keep the Hokies at arms length over the final few minutes, and Seth Allen’s potential game-tying three-pointer was just off the mark.

Allen, Tech’s highly-touted transfer from Maryland, had a disappointing first game. He finished with 13 points, though he was just 2-of-9 from the field. He had four of Tech’s 11 turnovers, including a drop of a wide open pass in transition that would have resulted in a breakaway dunk.

However, the loss can’t be pinned on Allen. The Hokies played poorly as a team on defense and on the boards.

“A little bit of everything [went wrong defensively],” Buzz Williams said. “I think if you score 82 points and you shoot 40 free throws at home you probably should win.”

The Hokies will hope to play better defense on Wednesday night when they host Jacksonville State. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game can be seen online on ESPN3.

— box score —

15 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I think this team has much more talent and potential than what we have had recently…it’s just the first game. I will be going to see them play this year for the first time in a few years.

  2. I’m not going to sugar coat it, that was ugly, particularly the sense that “if we just keep playing” we’ll win this game was the attitude. Alabama State didn’t go away and even starting breaking down VT.

    If there’s any hope, it’s that near the end, the players started to hustle again like, uh, we might lose this game!? Hope it’s the proverbial wake-up call (I hated saying that but….) and we need to treat Jacksonville State like we’re playing Kentucky. Allen needs to realize it’s been a year, and he can’t walk into a game like nothing’s changed, back to fundamentals guy.

    Anyway, hoping…hoping it was just a case of folks heads not being screwed on right but then that needs to be – and can be – fixed by the next game. Holding my breath…

  3. Wow, we’ve essentially been eliminated from NCAA tournament contention on opening night.

    This is a bad loss that would likely keep a bubble team out. And since a bubble NCAA berth was our ceiling this year, this is a dagger.

  4. Having coached some basketball in my time, all of these new players need some time to jell. You cannot just throw players together and hope they play well. They should improve as the season goes on but will it be enough to keep everyone happy? Probably not but time will tell. Good luck Hokies.

    1. But playing good hard-nosed determined defense is usually not a function of teaching as it is a function of character.

      1. That is a very strong statement. Not sure I agree with anyone alluding to a player’s character after a bad first game.

  5. Hopefully this is a “big” wakeup call for these players. Better it happens with the 1st game!!!!!

  6. Very disappointing. I just want a team worthy to cheer for. Giving up 85 points to Alabama State does not show any improvement on the defensive side.

      1. That’s not fair – it is too much to expect from a passionate fanbase to be ok with a loss to a school like Alabama State. We should and do have bigger and better players, better coaching, and better facilities… So why can’t a fan who’s invested time (and money) supporting VT athletics be able to gripe about it?

        If you’re satisfied with this, how much of a “fan” are you?

Comments are closed.