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2008
18
Feb

Blue Hades

Blue Hades

02/18/08

Well, that was ugly. The Virginia Tech basketball team traveled to Dean’s Dome last Saturday. It was a bruised and battered group of Heels and toes awaiting the rested Tech team in Blue Heaven. How did things work out? Not too good.

Tech responded to some early adversity provided by a fired-up Carolina team by not responding. Instead, the Hokies quit. Or, they reacted to the newly found warm and fuzzy feelings being generated these days between Tech and the Hoos.

The Tech team might have noticed the utter lack of effort displayed by the Hoos last week against Clemson and elected to attempt to show some camaraderie with their fellow in-state hoopsters by displaying even less effort. Well, that certainly worked. It sure made that Tech- Hoo love fest seen last November in the Smithsonian seem like a hoot.

As noted by Tech guard Malcolm Delaney during his post-game locker room bitching to the media, the quitting was pretty much across the board. Even Seth elected not to engage in his usual theatrics for the television cameras, instead planting himself on the end of the bench and doing little more than attempting to will the clock to run faster than the glacial pace at which it appeared to be turning. It was a bad day all around. Monday’s practice should be an interesting one.

The losing streak has now reached three with a visit to Maryland next on the docket. The talk of a surprise NCAA bid has ended and instead the Tech coaching staff and team now are looking for solutions to the slide. They may be difficult to uncover.

By February, there is a fair-sized volume of video on all teams. The good coaches will study it, find the weaknesses and spend the month ruthlessly exploiting them. The ACC has some very good coaches. The best of them always seem to have their teams playing better in February, when the season turns serious.

One of the things they are noticing about Tech is the post presence, or lack of one. Lewis Witcher continues to have all sorts of problems at this level and Cheick Diakite is very limited. That forces Jeff Allen into the middle. He is undersized for this role and struggles both offensively and defensively against teams with good inside games, which recently and for the bulk of the remaining schedule includes most. Tech has run out of games against the Hoos.

It is best not to dwell on next year when an influx of talented big men into the ACC means Allen will be going up on a nightly basis against guys even bigger than what he is facing now. Throw in Hank Thorns and Seth has a lot of size to teach during the off-season.

Tech’s losing streak has hit three, the most recent looking a lot like rock bottom. We Hokies, or at least those among us who pay any attention to basketball, certainly hope that it is. The effort, if not the results against a Gary Williams team that looks like it is peaking in February, will be closely scrutinized at Maryland.

Around the rest of the ACC, there are those ACC basketball purists who continue to moan about the loss of the schedule round-robin brought on by expansion. The Hoos’ Fallback Dave is not among them. In fact, Fallback Dave is very likely not only petitioning Little Johnny to not bring back the round-robin, but instead unbalance the schedule even more so as to allow his team to play eight or ten games against Fredo. The Hoos have finally found somebody they can beat on a regular basis. Atta boy, Fallback Dave.

The most interesting and surprising result of the weekend came in the Joel Center in Winston Salem. For those who had been pondering what might happen to Duke on the inevitable night when the three-point shots were not falling, an answer is now available.

There was also some very good coaching exhibited by Wake’s Dino Gaudio. Electing to, from the start, give the Devils their outside shots and instead collapse the defense to take away Coach K’s other method of attack, drives to the basket, worked out pretty well. We can expect to see that tried again very soon.

Wake’s win over Duke was another example of the solid coaching job being turned in this year by Gaudio. He has not only held the Deacs together following the loss of Skip Prosser, he is doing an outstanding job of developing his freshman-laden team. He is proving to be a very strong contender for Coach of the Year honors. There is a group of freshman headed to Deacon Boulevard next year that is considered among the nation’s best. Gaudio is making a very good case for being allowed to hang around and coach them.

There are now three weeks left to go in the regular season. While Wake has won itself into consideration, at least for now and barring some ACC Tournament miracle, the ACC has four teams that have the look of NCAA participants. Two have the look of very high seeds. Tech’s Blue Hades is behind it. It is time for the rest of the games.

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