Former college basketball coach Denny Kuiper breaks down Virginia Tech's 61-60 win at Miami.
This was not a pretty game. Both teams struggled offensively. Jarrell Eddie was the reason Virginia Tech won. he made four shots, three of which were 3-pointers in the last four minutes of regulation. He also made a tough 15-footer on the left baseline with 21 seconds to go in overtime, which proved to be the game-winner.
Miami is pretty much a whole new team this year. The Hurricanes have a lot of players trying to figure out how to play and what their identity is. That does not happen overnight. Virginia Tech, on the other hand had a little more edge in experience, especially with Eddie.
Let’s go to the three pointers to take a look at this game.
1) Virginia Tech's Offensive Mentality
Almost half of the Hokies' 69 shots - 34 - came from behind the 3-point line. They made 12 of them, or 34.2 percent. That is a ton of 3-point shots. Four players - Eddie, Adam Smith, Ben Emelogu and Marshall Wood - took all but one of those three pointers. The problem with taking so many 3 pointers is that teams are going to start extending their defenses and forcing Virginia Tech to take long, contested jumpers.
I did see some signs of an aggressive and active player inside for Tech in Joey van Zegeren. While, van Zegeren does not have a developed low-post game, he is a very good offensive rebounder. He had 6 of them Sunday, which led to 8 points.
Miami's Blown Lead
How did Miami lose a 10-point lead with 4:42 to go in regulation? It came down to two factors: bad shot selection and not guarding Eddie well enough. The Hurricanes looked like a young, uncertain team down the stretch. They took four 3-pointers, a forced two-point jump shot and turned the ball over two times.
I give Miami coach Jim Larranaga credit for calling two timeouts in that stretch. I would suspect he was telling his team to take the ball to the basket and try to draw fouls. But Larranag was trying to guide a team that had not been in that situation enough to understand what was needed.
The second factor was even more important. Eddie scored 11 points in the last 4 minutes. First let’s credit to Eddie; he made the shots. But if you are the Canes you have to make someone else beat you. Or, at that least, run Eddie off the 3-point line and make him take two-pointers. He wants to shoot 3s, so force him to do something else.
How Will Each Team Fare In ACC Play?
How will these two teams fare in the ACC this year? I think both will struggle, and that winning close games will be they key to compiling a respectable record in league play. The Hokies can be dangerous to any ACC opponent because of their ability to make 3s. Also, they were missing C.J. Barksdale today, who will give them a needed inside presence.
The best thing Miami has going for them is Larranaga. The Canes will get better and Larranaga will find ways to keep them in games. He did that on Sunday by switching his defense, using zone, a box-and-one on Eddie and man-to-man. The big question for the Canes is will they improve as the season progresses? I think they will, but, they may be looking over their shoulders at all of the guys sitting out this year, who will be eligible next year.