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February 9, 2011

Allen eclipses milestone in solid senior season

By: Jimmy Robertson

With his 15 points in Tech’s win over
N.C. State, Jeff Allen eclipsed the 1,500-point mark for his career.

It has taken a while, but Tech forward Jeff Allen is starting to get recognized for his production on the basketball court – and not the extracurricular stuff that has brought him unwanted attention in the past.

Thanks to a string of great performances, Allen eclipsed the 1,500-point mark for his career with his 15-point, 11-rebound outing in the Hokies’ 77-69 victory at N.C. State on Feb. 2. In doing so, he became the 16th player in Tech history to score more than 1,500 career points.

His best work of late came against Florida State and then against Georgia Tech, Miami and the Wolfpack in consecutive games. He had 24 points and 11 rebounds against the Seminoles and then had back-to-back 18-point, 11-rebound outings against the Yellow Jackets and the Hurricanes before his strong outing against the Wolfpack.

“He really took us to the woodshed,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said after a Jan. 8 game. “We had very little answer for him. We’ve normally been able to keep him in check. But he played with a tremendous amount of maturity and executed well. He was very patient in his game and that was one reason why they kept us at bay.”

Maturity and patience haven’t been used to describe Allen in the past. But those two adjectives are big reasons why he ranks among the ACC leaders in several categories.

The N.C. State game marked his 10th double-double of the season – he had nine double-doubles all of last season. He has 38 in his career heading into the BC game on Feb. 5, easily the ACC’s leader ahead of the 25 by Maryland’s Jordan Williams.

“It’s turned out a little better than I expected,” Allen said of his season. “The difference between now and the beginning of the season was we had more people. So now that we have less people, I have more of a role and I have to continue having more of a role.

“I came in with the goal of being a scorer and a rebounder. It’s key right now, though. It has to happen for us to be successful.”

Perhaps more importantly, Allen has been able to stay on the court this season, averaging a career-best 30 minutes per game, and he also has avoided any other sort of trouble. He incurred two separate suspensions in the past for certain incidents, one his freshman year and one his sophomore year.

“Jeff’s got a new attitude,” guard Malcolm Delaney said. “He’s more mature, and he knows he has a bright future. He knows what he has to do. He has goals just like everyone else playing college basketball, and he’s finally realized how good he was. He had to go back to being that player. His attitude has changed and his work ethic has changed. He’s a new player.”

His missteps shouldn’t deter from a career that statistically is one of the best ever by a Tech player. He’ll rank in the top 15 in career scoring at Tech by season’s end, barring injury, and he already ranks in the top five in rebounding, blocked shots and steals.

“The guy’s going to leave here one of the all-time best players in the history of the school statistically,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “Obviously, he’s had some hiccups. But I think he understands this is his last time through these doors. I really believe that he does feel that way and he wants to get the most out of this experience.”

Heading into the final weeks of the season, that certainly does appear to be the case.

Delaney reaches milestone

Delaney’s greatness has been written about many times in this publication, but the senior from Baltimore, Md., accomplished something that only three other players in school history have accomplished – scoring 2,000 points.

Delaney reached that plateau on a jumper with 56 seconds left in the victory over N.C. State. He joined Bimbo Coles, Dell Curry and Dale Solomon as the only Hokies to reach 2,000 career points.

“It’s good to be up there with those guys,” Delaney said on the postgame radio show. “That’s what coming back for your senior season can do. It gives you an opportunity to accomplish what most can’t, so I’m glad to be up there with those guys.”

He finished with 22 points, hitting 7 of 16 from the floor, including 2 of 6 from beyond the 3-point arc, and all six of his free-throw attempts.

Green’s fast start as a starter

Tech hasn’t missed a beat since Erick Green’s insertion into the starting lineup for an injured Dorenzo Hudson, as the Hokies finished 5-3 in the first half of ACC play.

Erick Green entered the starting lineup on Dec. 12 against Penn State and immediately became a more productive player.

The sophomore from Winchester, Va., scored in double figures in his first 10 games. The streak ended when he scored nine points in the Hokies’ 72-57 loss at Georgia Tech, a game in which he made just 3 of 15 from the floor and missed all four of his 3-point attempts.

In that 10-game stretch, though, he averaged 14 points and 3.4 assists per game. He shot 51.5 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the free-throw line.

His best performance came on Jan. 20 when he tallied a career-high 24 points in Tech’s 74-57 road victory at Maryland. He connected on 12 of 16 from the floor.

“I’ve got to thank my team for that,” he said. “They saw me and helped me out. I saw a big basket, and that’s my new goal. I want to see a big basket every time I step on the floor.”

“I think, with Erick Green coming into the lineup, Erick has made Malcolm better and Malcolm has taken a lot of pressure off of Erick,” Greenberg said. “As a backcourt, they’ve really complemented each other well.”

Atkins, Eddie with career games against Wake

The Hokies got major production from their bench in a 94-65 pounding of Wake Forest at Cassell Coliseum on Jan. 15. Paced by sophomore Manny Atkins and freshman Jarell Eddie, Tech’s bench contributed 39 points.

Atkins, who had been bothered by a sore shoulder, scored a career-high 16 points. That performance, which surpassed his previous career high of 12 against Mount St. Mary’s earlier this season, came on the heels of a nine-point performance against North Carolina in which he hit three 3-pointers in 23 minutes.

“Knocking down those shots did build my confidence and let me come into this game and play with more confidence,” Atkins said after the Wake game. “I’m a ball player and I’m coming in to play. Coming out of high school, I was known as a shooter and now I’m getting that back.”

Eddie scored a career-high 12 points – his first game in double figures.

“I just did what I can do,” Eddie said. “I came out and played and was able to make some shots early. That got my confidence up.”

“I want to get his motor going,” Greenberg said of Eddie. “He needs to get his motor going. It’s playing hard on defense, it’s running the floor, it’s putting your nose in there, it’s being ready to play and paying attention to the scouting report … it’s all those things. He’s learning that.”