Reporting James Sikorski
After upsetting then No. 1 Duke, Virginia Tech has gone on a downward spiral. The Hokies dropped their next two games to fellow bubble teams Boston College and Clemson.
Tonight, Virginia Tech begins its journey in the ACC Tournament against Georgia Tech. The Hokies (19-10, 9-7 ACC) don’t have the best track record in the tournament, losing their first game the past two years.
With a disappointing finish to the season, the Hokies must make a deep run in the tournament to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. If the recent struggles haven’t diminished any hopes from optimistic Hokie fans, news of freshman swingman Jarrell Eddie getting suspended for the rest of the season might be the last straw.
Eddie’s suspension leaves Seth Greenburg’s team with seven scholarship players on his bench. His suspension is a bigger blow to a front court that already lacks size. Eddie and Manny Atkins have been able to spell Jeff Allen and Victor Davila when foul trouble or fatigue sets in, the suspension leaves just Atkins as the only viable front court presence off the bench.
Don’t be surprised to see Greenburg switch up his game plan and try to push Terrell Bell into a power forward role and use a smaller lineup if Allen or Davila are in foul trouble.
Virginia Tech split the season series with Georgia Tech, with each team winning by double digits at home.
Iman Shumpert, Glen Rice Jr. and Brian Oliver form Georgia Tech’s big-three. The three players combine for over 40 points and 16 rebounds a game. They take high percentage shots and are above average from 3-point range (average just under 30-percent). Virginia Tech has struggled against teams that can make shots.
The Hokies will need a strong game from seniors Malcolm Delaney, Jeff Allen and Terrell Bell to advance in the tournament. The three seniors have been on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament each of their three years and should know how important it is to keep winning while on the bubble.
It is now crunch time for Greenburg and company to make their final push to bolster their NCAA tournament resume. Playing the entire regular season with a short bench might mean fatigued legs for the Hokies, but it also has helped Greenburg get creative in utilizing his assets.
Tonight we will see if Greenburg has any tricks left in his bag for a truly depleted bench, or if his team will have to settle for another year in the NIT.