I was intrigued by the fact that a lot of the commentary on Duke’s victory
over VT centered upon Virginia Tech’s defensive failures. Tech coach Seth
Greenberg, columnist Aaron McFarling of the Roanoke Times, and TV analyst Jimmy
Dykes spent a lot of time talking about how the Hokies failed to execute their
scouting reports and contain Duke’s Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler. I would
counter that Tech’s difficulties on offense were far more responsible for the
defeat than defensive lapses.
Very few ACC basketball fans can stomach losing to Duke, but I was
particularly disappointed in this defeat. I thought the Hokies were going to win
at Clemson earlier in the week, and they did. I also thought Tech was going to
pull this one off; they didn’t.
Duke hadn’t been very impressive lately, and their defense had really slipped
from earlier in the season. The Hokies had just ended a three-game losing streak
on the road and would stay hot, I reasoned.
Instead, Tech got off to a horrible start in this game, falling behind 20-5
ten minutes into it. The Hokies scored just nine points in the last 17 minutes
in Durham on January 4th, giving VT a 27 minute stretch with just 14 points
against the Blue Devils.
The Hokies looked as bad as you would imagine while limping their way to
those five points. Tech admittedly committed a bunch of defensive faux pas
during that stretch and later, but their doom was really sealed not just by the
slow start, but an inability to put the ball in the basket down the stretch, as
The Hokies were very tentative on offense, committing a sin that they have
often committed since Seth Greenberg arrived in Blacksburg: standing around
watching the man with the ball dribble. The Hokies looked uncertain and
intimidated, playing low-energy basketball that played right into Duke’s hands.
Upon reflection, it’s painfully obvious how much Tech missed Hank Thorns.
Thorns had been ill and was unable to play, and his absence bogged down the Tech
offense completely. At times this year, Malcolm Delaney has been
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