March 5, 2012
Virginia Tech concluded its disappointing regular season with a 70-58 home loss to NC State. However, a bigger story nearly developed after a conspicuous tweet from Erick Green emerged prior, possibly hinting at his departure following this season. Green dispelled rumors after that game, and by doing so, began the march to the tourney for next year.
After various Virginia Tech beat writers asked Green about the transfer rumors, Green denied and then took to Twitter to further deny those rumors. Numerous fans asked him whether he was sticking around, and each time Green replied in the affirmative. Breathe a sigh of relief Hokie nation; Tech will have their star back next season.
The biggest thing, in my opinion, to come from this whole rumor, non-rumor, going, not going thing is Green's declaration that "I got one goal and only goal only before I leave here and that is to make it to the tournament one time." Depending on what J.T. Thompson decides to do, Green may or not be the only senior on next year's team. However, even if Thompson does return, Green will be the undisputed leader of next year's team and him putting that goal out there this early is a solid first step towards achieving it. Now, it's up for Green to get the rest of them to follow him.
How much the freshmen from this year's team develop from now until next November likely will decide whether Green achieves that goal. Can Dorian Finney-Smith develop a jumper? Will C.J. Barksdale be ready to take some of Davila's minutes? How consistent will Robert Brown be offensively next year? Can Rankin develop enough to start? There's all kinds of questions regarding those freshmen, but they all can be guided by Green this offseason, who made a massive leap from his freshman to sophomore season himself.
The Week In Review
Thursday night the Hokies went on the road to Clemson and lost another close one, falling to the Tigers 58-56. Cadarian Raines had a chance to tie the game with two free throws with just a couple seconds left, but he missed the first one and purposely missed the second. Jarell Eddie, Cadarian Raines, and Dorenzo Hudson scored in double figures for the Hokies.
The Hokies played flat and lifeless Sunday night on senior night for Hudson, Victor Davila, Joey Racer, and J.T. Thompson. Tech took an early lead but the potent starting five for the Wolfpack eventually wore the Hokies out. Center C.J. Leslie had 18 points and 11 rebounds, while shooting guard Scott Wood poured in 19 from the perimeter to pace the Hokies. Cadarian Raines continued his strong play with another 15-point performance.
Player of the Week: Cadarian Raines, C
Raines has been Tech's player of the past month basically, stepping up in a big way in Victor Davila's absence. Raines had 12 and eight versus Clemson and then followed it up with 15 and five against NC State, providing even more evidence that he is going to be a real force throughout next season if he can stay healthy.
Trends to Continue
1) Cadarian Raines - As mentioned above, Raines has been on a tear recently and has given Tech a legitimate back-to-the-basket threat.
2) Three Point FG Defense - Tech's three-point defense has been awesome all year and it was again in the final week. Clemson shot 0-of-8 from deep, while NC State hit just 3-of-11 from distance, with all three being from Scott Wood.
Trends to End
1) Green Slumping - Green didn't score double digits for the first time in 30 games against Clemson Thursday night and followed it up with a poor effort that had him on the bench to start the second half. If the Hokies want to make a run in the tourney of any kind, Green needs to recover.
2) Free Throw Shooting - If there's one sign this team slowing lost focus and confidence this year, it was their performance at the charity stripe. The Hokies were making at a 75% clip through January basically, but have completely tanked in the final few weeks. It continued this week, with the Hokies shooting 6-of-11 at Clemson and 9-of-18 against NC State.
Previewing the Week To Come
First Round - vs. Clemson
Thursday, March 8th - 7:00 P.M.
The Hokies and Tigers will tangle for the third time this year and chances are this will come down to the final possession. The teams split the series this year, with both winning by two on their respective home courts. The winner of this game faces Duke Friday night at seven.
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