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March 14, 2012

Hokies struggle down the stretch, but Raines certainly a bright spot

By: Jimmy Robertson

Following the Virginia Tech basketball team’s loss to N.C. State in the regular-season finale, Cadarian Raines politely begged off interviews, which is certainly his right.

The bashful big fellow may not have felt comfortable talking to hordes of reporters, but his play spoke for him. Quite loudly, too.

Victor Davila’s groin injury put him on the shelf for the final six games of the regular season – and the Hokies went 1-5 in that span. But Davila’s absence provided Raines with an opportunity, and the redshirt sophomore from Petersburg, Va., made the most of it.

Raines scored in double figures in four of the six games Davila missed, averaging 11 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in that span. More impressively, he shot 57.1 percent from the floor.

His best game came in one of the toughest places to play in the country. He scored a career-high 16 points and grabbed five rebounds in Tech’s 70-65 overtime loss to the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He made 7 of 10 shots from the floor and 2 of his 3 free-throw attempts. He also blocked two shots in a career-high 39 minutes.

“I thought Cadarian gave us really good minutes,” Tech head coach Seth Greenberg said. “He continues to get better.”

Raines’ minutes, field goals, field-goal attempts and points were all career highs. His previous career high of 13 points came in the Hokies’ overtime win against Georgia Tech on Feb. 18.

Raines nearly won the game against Duke in regulation. He grabbed an offensive rebound off Erick Green’s miss with just a couple of seconds left, and he launched a quick put-back that bounced off the rim.

He also had games of 12 points (at Clemson) and 15 points (vs. N.C. State). Against the Wolfpack, he hit 6 of 10 from the floor and 3 of 7 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed five rebounds.

Raines easily set career bests in points and rebounds this season, but that comes as no surprise. He only played in four games a year ago before missing the remainder of the season because of a foot injury, and two years ago, he played in 21 games. But again, he was bothered with a foot injury for most of that year.

So his play down the stretch was a pleasant surprise, especially for a team that lost its final four regular-season affairs.

Green, Finney-Smith earn All-ACC recognition

Tech guard Erick Green, a junior from Winchester, Va., was named to the All-ACC second team, as voted on by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA) and released by the ACC office on March 5.

Green started 28 of the 29 games in which he played and averaged a team-leading 15.3 points per game during the regular season, while also averaging 3.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He shot 44.3 percent from the floor during the regular season and 80 percent from the free-throw line.

The All-ACC first team was comprised of Tyler Zeller of North Carolina, Mike Scott of Virginia, John Henson of North Carolina, Austin Rivers of Duke and Harrison Barnes of North Carolina. Kendall Marshall of North Carolina, Terrell Stoglin of Maryland, Michael Snaer of Florida State and C.J. Leslie of N.C. State joined Green on the second team.

Dorian Finney-Smith, a freshman from Portsmouth, Va., was selected to the ACC All-Freshman team. He led the Hokies in rebounding (6.8 rpg), finished second in blocked shots (23) and third in assists (57). He started 28 of 31 games during the regular season.

The All-Freshman team also included Rivers, Ryan Anderson of Boston College, Shane Larkin of Miami and Nick Faust of Maryland.

Hudson with another game winner

Guard Dorenzo Hudson didn’t shoot the ball as well as he would have liked this season, but the senior guard made his share of big shots, including his second game-winning shot when he buried a 3-pointer as overtime expired to swat away Georgia Tech in the Hokies’ 74-73 victory.

On Jan. 22, he hit the game-winning shot with 16 seconds left to lift the Hokies past Virginia in Charlottesville.

Against Georgia Tech, Hudson barely got the shot off in time. The Hokies called a timeout with 3.5 seconds left in the game, and coming out of the timeout, Hudson threw the ball to Jarell Eddie in the corner in front of Tech’s bench. Eddie nearly lost control, but he got the ball back to Hudson, who launched it right before the horn sounded.

The 3-pointer marked Hudson’s only one of the game, and he finished with just five points.

“We can say we drew it up that way, but in the end, it’s just basketball,” Hudson said. “We knew somebody was going to try to double somebody, and I just stepped up and knocked down the shot.”

“That’s not exactly the way we drew it up,” Greenberg said. “We brought Jarell off to the corner, and curled Erick [Green] to the top, with three seconds to drive into a gap and to look to the corner, and we stepped the inbounder in

“I subbed in Dorenzo, not because I thought he was going to make that shot, but because he is our best inbounder. It was good to see him make a shot.”

The shot enabled the Hokies to survive against a Georgia Tech team that played without leading scorer and rebounder Glen Rice, Jr., who was suspended indefinitely by head coach Brian Gregory for undisclosed reasons.

Green finished with 14 points and could've won the game in regulation for Virginia Tech, but his jumper missed as the horn sounded.

Finney-Smith establishes another career high

Finney-Smith’s career high of 14 points lasted all of 12 games before the freshman scored a career-high 17 points against BC on Feb. 12. He made 7 of 10 from the floor, including a 3-pointer, and 2 of 3 from the free-throw line.

His biggest basket, though, came at the end of the game. He tipped in a Robert Brown missed 3-pointer with two seconds left and that led the Hokies to a 66-65 victory.

Everyone knew Erick Green was going to get the ball, but he swung it to Robert Brown, and I had a wide open lane to get the rebound,” Finney-Smith said. “It felt good. My teammates and coaches kept telling me to go to the offensive boards, and that’s what I did.”

Finney-Smith also played well in the Hokies’ regular-season finale against N.C. State. He scored 14 points against a talented Wolfpack front line, hitting 5 of 9 from the floor, including a career-high three 3-pointers. He also grabbed eight rebounds.

Green sees streak end

Green had scored in double figures in every game he had played during the regular season leading up to the Clemson game on March 1 – he missed two games with injuries. The streak stood at 30 straight games, but the Tigers held him to eight points, and the Hokies dropped another close game by a count of 58-56.

The game marked Tech’s eighth ACC loss this season by five points or less.

Green made just 3 of 11 from the floor against the Tigers. He hit a jumper in the first half and then two 3-pointers early in the second half. But he failed to score in the final 5:54 of the game.