The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team began the 2010-11 season with five returning seniors, a national ranking and NCAA Tournament aspirations.
Now, 13 weeks later, the Hokies are left with eight scholarship players, an overall record of 14-6 and uncertain chances of making it to the Big Dance in March.
For Seth Greenberg and company to keep hopes alive, the Hokies must continue to win big ACC matchups, beginning with Wednesday’s test against NC State on the road.
The Wolfpack, 12-9 overall and 2-5 in ACC play, is coming off a tough loss, losing to in-state rival North Carolina this past weekend, 84-64.
NC State was without freshman point guard Ryan Harrow, who did not play because of an illness. Harrow averages 11 points per game. It is still questionable as to whether he will play.
The Wolfpack were also without senior forward Tracy Smith for 10 games earlier this season because of a knee injury. Yet even with Smith, the team’s record has continued to dip.
“The five games we’ve lost were to the top five teams in our conference, four of which have been on the road,” said Sidney Lowe, NC State coach. “The one team we lost to at home was Duke. “
The Hokies come into tonight’s matchup 4-3 in the ACC, having just defeated Miami at home. They head to Raleigh, N.C., needing a win after bad conference losses earlier this season against Virginia and Georgia Tech.
Smith leads the Wolfpack with 15 points per game and must be contained by the Hokies’ big men.
“They’re really a gifted offensive team. You got to start with Tracy Smith,” said Seth Greenberg, head coach. “He is so efficient when he catches the ball around the basket. He can face you, drive you, he’s got jump hooks, he’s got move fades.”
Look for the Hokies to switch it up defensively and apply pressure. Tech has been impressive in the zone, and having the option of both man and zone defenses disrupts opponents.
The Hokies have been inconsistent on the road, losing a heartbreaker to North Carolina early this season, yet bouncing back with a pounding of the Terrapins in College Park, Md.
Just last week at Georgia Tech the Hokies were embarrassed, losing 72-57. Malcolm Delaney and Erick Green were held to less than 10 points each.
“I’m not going to take anything away from Georgia Tech, but I think that was on us. I think it’s really on us,” Green said. “We turned the ball over. Silly mistakes. Not getting back on defense. Not getting in the right sets.”
Injuries have sidelined JT Thompson and Dorenzo Hudson, along with Allan Chaney and Cadarian Raines. Yet this team refuses to give up, tallying an impressive record of 10-2 while playing with just eight scholarship players.
“We’re not surprised at all. We knew we could do it,” Green said. “We just play hard. That’s the main thing: We play hard and get after it.”
So how can Tech capture this crucial road contest?
“With a win on the road, you’ve got to make free throws, you’ve got to rebound. You’ve got to take care of the basketball,” Greenberg said. “Down the stretch, you’ve got to execute. There’s no secret formula.”
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m., and will be televised by ESPN2.