User ID: Password:

January 11, 2011

Injuries leave Tech short on numbers as Hokies enter New Year

By: Jimmy Robertson

With his strong play this season, Jeff Allen now ranks in the top 20 at Tech in career scoring and the top five in career rebounding, career steals and career blocked shots.

On a recent ACC teleconference, a reporter asked Tech head coach Seth Greenberg to comment on Evans’ performance.

The question caused Greenberg to pause for a moment, considering that the Hokies do not have a player named Evans on their roster.

“You mean Erick Green?” Greenberg asked. The reporter apologized and said yes.

“Don’t worry, if I had an Evans, I’d play him, too,” Greenberg joked.

The joke epitomizes the state of Tech’s basketball program after Greenberg recently saw two more players go down with injuries, including an All-ACC player in Dorenzo Hudson.

Hudson, a senior, underwent surgery for an injury to his right foot – one he initially injured last season – and will miss the remainder of this season, leaving Tech without a double-digit scorer. Also, Greenberg and the sports medicine staff agreed it is best to shut down Cadarian Raines for the rest of the season. Raines, a sophomore, suffered an injury to the fifth metatarsal on his left foot last season and has undergone two surgeries, including one last April.

Both players will apply for medical hardship waivers from the NCAA and should receive them. These waivers would enable them to preserve a year of their eligibility. So, though a senior, Hudson could return next season.

The two join JT Thompson and Allan Chaney among those lost for the season.

Perhaps surprisingly, Tech won five straight heading into a stretch of ACC games without those integral parts.

“We’re still a work in progress,” Greenberg said. “We’re not the same team we were a few weeks ago when we thought we’d have Dorenzo and Cadarian. But I like our team. We’re developing a chemistry, we’re unselfish, we’re taking care of the ball, and we’re making shots.”

The injuries forced Greenberg to shuffle his lineup. He moved Malcolm Delaney over to Hudson’s vacant shooting guard spot and inserted Erick Green as his point guard. The move has freed Delaney, Tech’s top scorer, for more scoring opportunities and he continues to make the most of them, averaging 19 points per game and shooting 46 percent from the floor entering a Jan. 8 game against Florida State.

“This was an opportunity to get him off the ball,” Greenberg said. “We can get him out in transition more.”

Where the injuries affect Tech possibly even more is with its practices. Greenberg shortened his practices and doesn’t force his team to go up and down the court as much.

“It really affects us,” he admitted. “We can’t go up and down and we’re really limiting reps. It’s hard to simulate Florida State’s [Tech’s first January ACC opponent] size and quickness when you’re practicing with two or three walk-ons.”

Still, the Hokies headed into their ACC stretch with a 9-4 mark and wins over teams like Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and Penn State. According to Greenberg, the team hasn’t become demoralized over the injuries.

“It’s a concern, but we haven’t had a bad practice yet,” he said. “We’re in a good place. I like the way we’re playing. Winning has put us in a good place and we’ve got to find a way to keep winning.”

A record-setting night against Mount St. Mary’s

In the Hokies’ final game before ACC play continued, they destroyed Mount St. Mary’s at Cassell Coliseum on Jan. 3 in a record-setting performance. Tech won 99-34 and shot a school-record 69.2 percent from the floor. The Hokies held Mount St. Mary’s to 17 percent shooting from the floor – the lowest ever by a Tech opponent.

I am very pleased with the way we’ve handled this series of games, pre-Christmas, post-Christmas, and post-New Years, which I think are the toughest for all basketball teams to handle,” Greenberg said, referring to the St. Bonaventure, USC Upstate and Mount St. Mary games. “After the first three minutes of the game, I thought we handled ourselves with poise.”

The 65-point margin of victory marked the second largest in school history, as the Hokies beat Washington & Lee by 81 points in 1959.

“I’m not sure how great our defense played today, I’ve got to be honest with you,” Greenberg said. “At times, we did some nice things. We were good on ball screens. We were better on the ball. I just wanted to get some energy from our guys.

“I watched Mount St. Mary’s on film and Penn State had to make a buzzer shot to beat them … So, I didn’t expect this, but we made shots.”

Green paced the Hokies with a career-high 17 points. All 10 Tech players who dressed scored in the game.

Green excelling as a starter

Speaking of Green, the sophomore from Winchester, Va., entered the Florida State game having scored in double figures in five consecutive games (Penn State, Mississippi State, St. Bonaventure, USC Upstate and Mount St. Mary’s). His best performance came against Mount St. Mary’s when he scored a career-high 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line. He also dished out four assists.

In that five-game span, Green averaged 14 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game – which coincided with him moving into the starting lineup after Hudson’s injury.

“He knows he’s going to play a lot and he’s not afraid to make mistakes,” Greenberg said. “He’s playing well. He’s shooting it well, he’s attacking the basket and he’s been good defensively. I’m proud of the way he’s embraced this opportunity.”

Greenberg said he never contemplated keeping Delaney at the point guard position and inserting Green at the shooting guard spot. He wanted Green to play his more natural point guard spot.

“Erick can play the shooting guard spot, but we thought if we put him there, then he’d just be Malcolm’s caddy and just defer to Malcolm,” Greenberg said. “We thought the only way to get Erick to attack would be to put the ball in his hands. That was our mindset.”

Allen continues assault on record books

Jeff Allen continues to move up the charts in several different categories. The senior from Washington, D.C., had 14 points and 12 rebounds against Mount St. Mary’s for his sixth double-double of the season and the 34th of his career.

Allen moved into the top 20 in all-time scoring at Tech and he ranked fifth in rebounding, steals and blocked shots as of Jan. 8.

It feels pretty good to know that,” Allen said of his numbers. “I think my quickness and my length and the way I can anticipate helps me do a lot of that. I think it’s special to be in the top five in steals as a power forward.”

Delaney now holds free-throw record

Malcolm Delaney’s ability to get to the free-throw line and to make them has enabled him to become Tech’s all-time leader in free throws made.

In Tech’s win over Mississippi State, Delaney made six free throws and that enabled him to surpass Bimbo Coles for the most free throws made in school history. Coles made 593 free throws during his career. Delaney had 606 made free throws for his career as of Jan. 8. Delaney also currently ranks as Tech’s all-time leader in free-throw percentage at 84.5 percent.

With his 19 points in the win over St. Bonaventure, Delaney also moved into the top five on Tech’s all-time career scoring list, surpassing A.D. Vassallo. He should be able to move past Perry Young (1,899 points) into fourth place, but catching Dale Solomon (2,136 points) will be challenging.