As Virginia Tech lost to a potential SEC cellar-dwelling opponent in Georgia on Tuesday night, the Hokies affirmed, yet again, that it just does not have the heart to compete for forty minutes this season. They are just nine points away from being undefeated but instead sport a 5-4 record.
The team's four losses this season have come at the hands of, arguably, the four best opponents on their entire out-of-conference schedule.
Tech's woes began in the second round of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off when they lost in heartbreaking fashion to Xavier when the Musketeers hit a desperation shot from beyond half court at the buzzer in overtime to win by one. The Hokies then lost to Seton Hall by four in the third-place game of the tournament two days later. A two point loss against No. 22 Wisconsin in a nationally-televised home game that was part of the ACC-Big Tech Challenge followed eight days later. All three games can be considered ‘respectful losses' if there are such things.
But the Hokies hit a new low when they traveled to Athens and subsequently lost to a Georgia team that was destroyed by Illinois, a team that was widely considered to be of the same caliber as the Hokies at the beginning of the season, by 34 points three days earlier.
Prior to Tuesday's loss and in regard to his team's less-than-stellar start, head coach Seth Greenberg stated on his blog that "we do not have a serious injury, we have the common cold. Everything addressed can be fixed."
It is becoming evermore apparent that the preseason expectations for the Hokies were perhaps a bit high and a tad premature.
This is still a very young team as three of its starters are sophomores and one of its most productive frontcourt players, forward Victor Davila, is a freshman. Two of the three starting sophomores - guard Malcolm Delaney and forward Jeff Allen - are currently second and third on the team in scoring with Delaney leading the team in assists and Allen leading in rebounds. Both players have the potential to be first or second-team ACC players before the finish their collegiate careers.
But back to the dim present. The Hokies' play Longwood, Columbia and either Marist or St. John's in the Aeropostale Holiday Festival, and Charleston Southern before being thrown into conference play by going into Cameron Indoor Stadium to face Duke on January 4th. After its conference opener, Richmond is the only out-of-conference opponent Virginia Tech has left on its schedule.
In other words, there are no more chances for a signature out-of-conference victory this season for the Hokies. Even if the Hokies finish with a .500 or better record in conference play, there is still not nothing that they have done outside of its conference to merit attention from the NCAA tournament selection committee and separate Virginia Tech from the rest of the bubble teams. A win against Georgia probably would not have even been received with that sort of reaction but it certainly would have kept the Hokies in the running.
Having all but run out of chances to respectively answer the ‘has this team arrived yet?' question, the Hokies and their fans will set their sights on a new but familiar and realistically obtainable goal - the NIT.
CHN's ACC Player of the Week for 11/30-12/6: Greivis Vasquez - Junior, Guard, Maryland
Vasquez was the reason Maryland was able to put away Michigan at home in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday and a key component in the Terrapins' 23-point romp of George Washington in the BB&T Classic on Sunday. In one of his team's biggest out-of-conference games of its season, Vasquez stepped up and led his team with 23 points, a career-high 12 rebounds, and six assists against Michigan. He then followed that performance up with another double-double against the out-of-conference rival Colonials, producing 17 points and 11 rebounds.
CHN's ACC What to Watch for - week of 12/14-12/20: East Carolina at North Carolina State - Wed. December 17
A matchup of two teams that are currently exceeding expectations. The Wolfpack of NC State gave Stephan Curry and Davidson all they could handle Saturday, hanging with the Wildcats for the entire forty minutes before losing by five points. With senior forward Ben McCauley (15.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg) leading the way, the Wolfpack have not only won the games they are suppose to win this season, they have won them in exclamatory fashion, winning three games by thirteen points or more. They should be 5-1 entering their game with an East Carolina team that recently scored a key overtime victory over VCU and is currently 7-1 after widely being picked in the preseason to finish near to dead-last in Conference USA.