To get you ready for tonight's much(?)-anticipated NIT second-round game with Virginia Tech, we enlisted the help of the Hokies' SBNation representative, Gobbler Country, for some answers to our probing questions. (My answers to their questions should be up over at their site soon.)
The Hokies, of course, went 23-8, finished tied for third in the ACC, and missed the NCAA Tournament (thanks to a non-conference strength of schedule that ranked somewhere between 300 and infinity). A pissed-off bunch of Hokies smacked down Quinnipiac in the NIT's first round. They play our beloved Huskies tonight (7 p.m., ESPN) for a spot in the NIT's Relatively Elite Eight.
On with the Q&A:
1) Which more accurately describes your feelings on Selection Sunday? (Sadness, disappointment, beat-up-a-puppy-ness)
It was disappointment. I didn't think we had the resume to justify inclusion into the tournament, but when you're that close to being in the field you realize that if one or two games during championship had gone your way (UTEP, Utah State, Cal, UNLV) you would have been in, so that part is pretty disappointing. I don't think Tech would have done much in the tournament because of how it was playing going in, but it would have been nice to see them in the field for the first time since 2007.
2) Va Tech only lost once at home this year. Is Cassell Coliseum going to be all intense-like for a (meaningless) tournament game against an opponent with a familiar name?
I don't know. This is our seventh home NIT game in the last three seasons and the attendance has slowly declined for them. We averaged over 9,600 for the 2008 tournament and over 6,300 for last year's. The game against Quinnipiac saw the place half-full. I hope that will change for the UConn game because it's UConn. They're doing their best to get as many students into the game as possible, including having season ticket holders donate tickets to students. I wouldn't be surprised if the place is a mad house, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's a tomb, either.
3) Neither team in tonight's game shoots the 3 much (or well). We haven't recruited anyone who can shoot the ball in four years (save Nate Miles, but we don't talk about him). What's Va Tech's reason? And should we remove the shot clock tonight, just to give the game the late-1970's feeling it deserves?
Since A.D. Vassallo exhausted his eligibility last year, Tech has been left with no reliable three-point shooter. Usually someone will have a good game from 3, but all of them (Hudson, Bell, Delaney) have been inconsistent this year. I think the slashers fit Greenberg's style more.
4) How are Virginia Tech's guards at containing dribble penetration by opposing teams' guards? Because that's, like, all we do on offense.
Terrell Bell has done a good job against the other team's ball-handlers most of the year. He'll need to have a solid game against Kemba Walker for the Hokies to win this game. Bell has developed into our best on-ball defender and when he's at his best teams need to get hot shooting in order to beat us.
5) Will Malcolm Delaney and Seth Greenberg be coming back next year? How are the Hokies looking? Good enough to finally get in the tournament?
It looks like both will be back. Delaney has said all along he has no intention to turn pro and Nathan "Tommie Frazier" Warters of the Lynchburg News-Advance reported last week that Greenberg told Delaney he was staying. Tech will return all of its starters next season, but will need to find consistency in order to make the tournament. If they play another horrendous non-conference schedule they may win 28 games and still get left out.
This year's NCAA at-large field was pathetic and the Hokies still missed the tournament. That really speaks to how unacceptable our scheduling was this year. This team was good enough to make the Tournament this year, they just choked down the stretch again and left it in the committee's hands. You can't do that if you don't have any signature wins.
6) When UConn wins the Big East this year and goes to the Orange Bowl, can we expect to see Virginia Tech on the other side of the field?
I think so. The winner of the VT-GT game has won the Coastal Division every year since it was established and we get the Jackets at home on Thursday night this year. Hopefully we can find our way to the Orange Bowl for the third time in four seasons.
The fact that he did not laugh at the notion of UConn winning the Big East is just reason #1957 in favor of UConn winning the Big East. Science.
Good luck to the Hokies tonight, and thanks to Gobbler Country for helping us out. Make sure to check them out for all your VPI-related needs.