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January 8, 2010

Hudson enjoys career night in Cancun as Hokies win without Delaney

By: Jimmy Robertson

Dorenzo Hudson’s 41 points against Seton Hall surpassed his previous career high of 24 set earlier this season against VMI.
Tech men’s basketball coach Seth Greenberg kept raving about Dorenzo Hudson’s work ethic in practice and expected to see that work pay off with a big performance at some point.

The performance came at the perfect time.

On a night in which the Hokies played without injured star Malcolm Delaney, Hudson pumped in a career-high 41 points in leading the Hokies to a 103-94 overtime victory over Seton Hall in a non-conference game played in Cancun, Mexico. Behind Hudson, the Hokies won for the ninth straight time and moved to 12-1 on the season, matching their best start since the 1996-97 team opened with a 12-1 mark.

“I told you he was practicing well,” Greenberg said on the postgame radio show. “Goodness gracious, he played so well.”

“I had to come out and step my offensive game up because I knew our leading scorer was out,” Hudson said. “I came out and performed like I thought I could.”

The 41-point performance marked the best by a Hokie since 1990 when Bimbo Coles scored 42 in a game against Rutgers.

Hudson’s big game came largely because the Hokies played without Delaney, who injured his ankle in the win over Longwood. Tech’s sports medicine staff performed both X-rays and an MRI on Delaney’s ankle and both came back negative, but the junior from Baltimore – who led the ACC in scoring at press time (19.8 ppg) – was unable to go against the Pirates.

Hudson did most of his damage at the free-throw line. He made 20-of-21 from the stripe, tying a school record for free throws made in a game. In 1957, Terry Penn made 20 in a game against the Citadel.

“I feel like I’m a great free-throw shooter,” Hudson said. “At the beginning of the season, I probably wasn’t concentrating enough. The last couple of games, I’ve been knocking them down. The free throws came easy to me.”

Hudson hit 9-of-22 from the floor, including 3-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc, and he dished out five assists. His lay-up to start the overtime session gave the Hokies a lead they never would relinquish. The junior from Charlotte scored six points in the overtime period.

Tech opened up a small lead in overtime thanks to a 6-0 spurt that began with 44 seconds left in overtime. They led 92-90 when Manny Atkins got free for a breakaway dunk and then Jeff Allen and Ben Boggs drained two free throws each to give the Hokies a 98-90 lead. Seton Hall got no closer than six the rest of the game.

Allen had a huge game as well for the Hokies, finishing with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Seton Hall got 24 from leading scorer Jeremy Hazell.

Tech shot 47 percent from the floor, but more impressively, hit 36-of-43 from the free-throw line (83.7 percent). Coming into the game, Delaney led the Hokies in free-throw shooting at 86 percent and the rest of the team was a combined 60 percent.

“This will pay huge, huge dividends for our basketball team in terms of gaining confidence and a better feel for ourselves,” Greenberg said. “It wasn’t always artistic, but it was a win we needed to have. I’m really proud of our guys. We grew up as a team.”

More on Delaney’s injury

Delaney injured his left ankle very early in the Longwood game. In fact, only one minute, 22 seconds had elapsed when he rolled it and he never returned.

“When Malcolm went down, obviously that kind of makes you a little sick,” Greenberg said. “But I thought our kids really rallied. We defended pretty well and we had a lot of different guys contribute.”

Delaney’s injury allowed freshman Erick Green to get extensive minutes and he did not disappoint, scoring a career-high 15 points and dishing out four assists in the 85-50 Tech victory. He went 6-of-10 from the floor and was part of a Hokie bench that scored 47 points.

“I thought Erick Green did a nice job,” Greenberg said. “He was put into a very difficult situation because, let’s face it, one minute into the game, he’s not expected to go in. But I thought he showed good poise.”

Allen tops 1,000-point plateau

On a free throw with 36 seconds left in regulation against Seton Hall, Allen scored the 1,000th point of his career. He became the 41st Hokie to do and joined Delaney as the only current 1,000-point scorers.

Allen finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season and the 23rd of his career. He hit 7-of-15 from the floor and 9-of-12 from the free-throw line.

“I give big ups to Jeff Allen,” Hudson said. “The second half, he was unbelievable.”

His double-double marked his third in a six-game span. He enjoyed a field day inside against the diminutive VMI Keydets, scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. He hit 10-of-13 from the floor.

Allen then came up with another double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the Hokies’ 66-64 victory over Penn State. He hit 4-of-9 from the floor, including a 3-pointer, and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line.

Motion on the backburner

Before the season, Greenberg had plans of implementing some motion concepts to the Hokies’ offense to free up a couple of players – most notably, Delaney. The thought process behind this was to keep Delaney moving and keep defenses honest while guarding him.

But Greenberg has decided to shelve the motion offense for the time being.

“The motion is democracy and we weren’t ready for democracy,” Greenberg said. “We weren’t getting the right guys the ball in the right areas. We weren’t posting enough. We weren’t getting guys freed up that we need to get freed up. We were tentative.

“It’s not ditched forever. But it’s ditched for a while.”

At least one player – Delaney – hopes it stays that way. Greenberg went back to using more called sets following the Temple game and Delaney has benefited, scoring at least 20 points in four games.

“Honestly, I’m glad we’re back to running sets,” Delaney said. “I didn’t really like the motion. It’s a good way to spread the court and keep the defenses guessing. But I think we’re better at what we do, which is running sets and getting out in transition. That’s what we’ve gone back to and we’ve been getting easy buckets.”

’Zo’s first career night

Speaking of career nights, Hudson established his first career high in the Hokies’ easy 98-73 victory over VMI at Cassell Coliseum on Dec. 9. He scored a then-career high of 24 points, and also set career highs in field goals, field-goal attempts and rebounds. He hit 10-of-18 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line, and he also grabbed seven rebounds – all on the offensive end.

Hudson’s previous career high of 15 came last season in the Hokies’ double-overtime victory over Duquesne in the NIT.

“We had no answer for him,” VMI coach Duggar Baucom said of Hudson. “He had a great game.”