Star point guard Justin Robinson’s foot injury that has kept him out the last few games has put a strain on the Virginia Tech Hokies’ success so far this season, and with the uncertainty of his return, the Hokies have a lot of questions that need answering. Without Robinson running the offense, guards Wabissa Bede and Nickeil Alexander-Walker will be forced to shoulder the load of ball-handling duties. Robinson was an enormous part of Tech’s success, especially on the offensive side of the court, and his presence will be greatly missed by the Hokies.
As we have seen in the last two games against N.C. State and Louisville, Alexander-Walker and Bede have huge shoes to fill without Robinson’s 5.5 assists per game and numerous hockey assists.
“It’s almost like you’ve got to be perfect,” Alexander-Walker said after the Louisville game on Monday night.
Robinson has the ability to move past any man or zone defense thrown his way, creating holes for himself and his teammates within the defense and attacking opposing teams at their weak points. This elite point guard mentality is not something that is taught, but rather a sign of high basketball IQ and talent for the game.
The Hokies got off to a rough start against N.C. State without their starting floor captain, and we saw a very slow and stagnant offense as a result. Eventually, Alexander-Walker and Bede began to find ways to the basket, but they still only had a combined assist count of five. The Hokies were not at their best, ending the game with only 47 points; however, they still got the win because of N.C. State’s poor shooting after shooting an atrocious 16.7 percent from the field and 7.1 percent from three. While N.C. State did not shoot well, a large factor was Virginia Tech’s stellar defensive performance.
In the next game against the Louisville Cardinals, Alexander-Walker and Bede played the game with a much more ball-dominant mentality. They almost doubled their assists with a combined nine dishes, and they moved the ball much more efficiently. However, even with the improvement in their ability to move the ball and score, it was obvious the team was missing Robinson.
“I think all of their roles have changed dramatically and I think we need some more reps to figure out how we can be better,” head coach Buzz Williams said.
The Hokies ended up losing to the Cardinals 72–64, but they played a much better all-around game after their successful performance against the Wolfpack.
Alexander-Walker continued to show development as a point guard after his 17-point showing against Georgia Tech at home last Wednesday. He also contributed seven assists. Still, the team has struggled against far less talented teams without Robinson.
After watching the games in the last week, it’s clear that Virginia Tech desperately needs its star point guard back on the court to have any chance against dominant teams like UVA or Duke.