Greetings from back in Atlanta, where after writing my game story and my sidebar looking at potential NIT foes for VT, I am ready to do some blogging about Tech’s 79-76 loss to UNC.
“That’s … been my career …. at Virginia Tech, just losing close,” AD Vassallo said.
Some may think VT may still have a long shot at making the NCAAs, but it flat out won’t happen in my opinion. Not since they lost to UNC. IF they had won today, they would be in. But they did not. 18-14, 7-9 with no quality nonleague wins and only one win in the ACC tourney doesn’t cut it. The last 7-9 ACC team to make the NCAAs was NC State in 2005, after State made the semis. Even after today’s game I do not think VT will be among the top 50 teams in the RPI.
VT’s resume includes two top 30 RPI wins (at Wake, at Clemson) and that’s it for top 50 wins unless Boston College climbs five spots back into the top 50 after playing Duke tonight. Two wins vs Miami are good wins but not top 50 wins. VT will have only 3 wins against the 2009 NCAA field. VT also has losses to No. 100 Seton Hall and to two sub-100 teams, UVa and Georgia.
Without the UNC win, VT’s resume falls a bit short on top 50 wins. Especially since VT has lost 7 of its last 9 games and 9 of last 13.
VT is a lock for the NIT though. I would guess a 2 seed, not a 1 seed, but we will see.
Will the Hokies be able to get up for the NIT after falling short of their season-long goal of the NCAAs?
“As long as we get to play, we’re going to be fine,” Malcolm Delaney said.
“If we go to the NIT, … we’re still going to play our game,” JT Thompson said. “We’ll be able to bounce back.”
As for the UNC game, Tyler Hansbrough came up big again. After scoring 26 points and grabbing 9 boards in last year’s semi, when he had the game-winning shot in the final second, he had 28 points, 8 boards and 3 steals today.
He helped UNC make up for the absence of injured point guard Ty Lawson. Despite what Seth Greenberg and Malcolm said after this game, there is a huge difference between Bobby Frasor running the show for UNC and Lawson. For UNC to win without Ty, and to win despite shooting just 36.1 percent in the 2nd half, says something about the team’s depth and ability.
UNC did outrebound VT 44-33.
“We just couldn’t get a defensive rebound when we needed to get one,” Greenberg said. “We competed at a very high level. I thought we took great care of the basketball. But we just weren’t tough enough when we needed to (be). We were battling guys six inches taller than us. We thought we were blocking out but I guess we weren’t blocking out well enough because they kept on jumping and getting the rebound.
“But I’m really proud of our guys. I thought we competed really hard. … We put ourselves in position to win. We just weren’t able to finish.”
Hansbrough scored with 36 seconds left to give UNC the lead for good at 77-76.
VT called timeout. Malcolm passed to AD in the corner, but AD was double-teamed. He passed it back out to Delaney, who was fouled by Wayne Ellington. It was only UNC’s 4th foul of the half, so a non-shooting foul.
“I was just trying to catch it and go one on one as fast as I could, and Hansbrough just helped out,” AD said. “I was looking for Jeff (Allen) because I knew if he helped, somebody had to be open. I couldn’t find him and then I saw Malcolm at the top.”
Seth called timeout again with 22.3 seconds to go. Hansbrough fouled Malcolm with 16.6 seconds left.
AD inbounded the ball to Malcolm. The first idea on the play, said Seth, was for AD to get the ball on a quick flare screen so he could go one on one. It just didn’t work, said Seth.
Malcolm drove and tried to pass it out to Dorenzo. But JT intercepted the pass in the lane because he did not know Dorenzo was behind him. JT was going to pass to AD, but Hansbrough got his hand on the ball and UNC got possession on the held ball with 5.2 seconds left.
“I was hoping for a foul but they called jump ball,” JT said. “I did (get fouled).”
” I passed it to Zo but JT was wide open in the middle, so he grabbed it,” Delaney said. “They sinked in to him and AD had the open shot. He was trying to get the ball to AD, but he couldn’t lift his arms up.”
Seth obviously thought on the sideline that JT was fouled.
“What I saw doesn’t count so it makes no difference,” Greenberg said. “What they (the refs) saw is what happened.”
After Hansbrough made two foul shots and UNC fouled again, Tech inbounded the ball with 3.5 seconds left. AD, guarded by Hansbrough, missed a trey at the buzzer.
“I jumped up over him. I had a good look. It just didn’t go in,” AD said.
Hansbrough did not pump his fist and run down the court in jubilation like he did after scoring the winning bucket last year.
“I don’t want to redo that because I took a little crap for it,” he said.
AD had 26 points and 10 boards, but got in foul trouble in both halves. Malcolm was just 5 of 15 from the field and had 17 points. Jeff got in foul trouble in both halves too, and had nine points and seven boards.
Ellington had 16 points and four treys for UNC.
“We tried to take away Ellington and Hansbrough,” Seth said. “We just didn’t do as good a job taking away Hansbrough. We did a pretty good job on Ellington.”
Hansbrough scored the final six points that his team scored.
“He’s just a fierce competitor,” Seth said.
VT was called for 20 fouls to UNC’s 14, and three of those UNC fouls came in the final 40 seconds.
“I guess we foul and they don’t,” Seth said.
After losing to UNC in last year’s semis, Seth made a national splash when he said anyone who didn’t think VT was one of the 65 best teams in the nation was certifiably insane. He wouldn’t lobby for his team this time.
“You guys can have some other village idiot give you a good story,” he said.
It was yet another close game in what has become a great series between UNC and VT.
“We … didn’t have one of our crucial players, Ty, so we had some other players step up,” Hansbrough said. “They’re a tough team. AD’s a really tough player to guard and Delaney and Jeff Allen, those three guys are really good players. They create a lot of mismatches and they’re tough to guard. They’re a legit team.”