Jan 7, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Adam Smith (3) shoots the ball over Syracuse Orange guard Tyler Ennis (11) during the second half at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Last night seemed to have the potential at some moments for the Hokies to take down the Syracuse Orange but like Michigan State did against the Hokies earlier in the season, the Orange pulled away and by the end it was a 20-point blowout loss at home for the Hokies. There were some things that were absolute disappointments that this team will have to fix but there were plenty of positives for the Hokies. Most players for the Hokies did struggle and you have to remember that Syracuse’s zone defense is known as one of the best in college basketball and has suffocated the best offenses. So, what we did learn from last night’s game about the Hokies?
1. The Free Throw Shooting Must Improve
The Hokies missed way too many free throws throughout last night’s game and that has been somewhat of a theme for this Hokies’ team which has shot 68.5% overall which could use improving. Last night, the Hokies only made 9 of 17 free throws and the Hokies can’t afford to miss that many free throws especially when they are playing closer games against the non-elite ACC teams. Two of the key players of the future for the Hokies, Ben Emelogu and Joey Van Zegeren, made only one of their six total free throws on the night. Virginia Tech has the young players to get better over the next few seasons but they are going to have to start making more free throws to reach their max potential.
Jan 7, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Ben Emelogu (15) shoots the ball over Syracuse Orange guard Tyler Ennis (11) during the second half at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
2. The Backcourt of the Future Avoided Turnovers.
Syracuse is known for having a suffocating defense that forces turnovers and inexperienced players usually struggle to hold on to the basketball. The young backcourt trio of the future of Adam Smith, Ben Emelogu, and Devin Wilson only had a combined three turnovers with all three playing at least 27 minutes and none of the three having all three of those turnovers. These three are a big part of the core of this team in the future and the fact that they avoided a high number of turnovers against a Syracuse zone defense that has been one of the best for a while is quite impressive. The future is bright for the Hokies and the fact that they are avoiding turnovers is a big positive for the Hokies.
3. The Hokies Lack A Consistent Lead Scoring Threat.
The Hokies may not have had as much talent last season on their roster as they do this season but the Hokies lack a consistent lead scoring threat like they have had in the past with players like Malcolm Delaney or Erick Green. Jarell Eddie has been very inconsistent while Ben Emelogu has had a lot of struggles over the last few games. Adam Smith has also showed some potential to be that while C.J. Barksdale became the latest Hokie to lead the team in scoring for a game. If Eddie or someone can’t step up soon, then the Hokies might miss out at any chance to play in a postseason tournament once again.