Hok­ies slug­gish in vic­tory

Green­berg says win ‘was about as much fun as get­ting a root canal’

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY MARK GIANNOTTO gi­an­not­tom@wash­post.com

blacks­burg, va. — While Vir­ginia Tech Coach Seth Green­berg will ul­ti­mately be judged on whether the Hok­ies get enough qual­ity wins to make the NCAA tour­na­ment, it’s games like Satur­day’s 70-52 vic­tory over Longwood that wear on him most.

Just 48 hours af­ter a re­sound­ing road vic­tory atMary­land and three days be­fore a game at Ge­or­gia Tech, a non­con­fer­ence bat­tle against a team ranked No. 327 in the RPI was an emo­tional letdown wait­ing to hap­pen.

And fol­low­ing a 7-0 run by Longwood eight min­utes into the sec­ond half, that’s ex­actly the sit­u­a­tion the Hok­ies found them­selves in, lead­ing by just five and play­ing with lit­tle ur­gency.

So Green­berg snarled and glared at his play­ers. He slammed his hand against the scorer’s ta­ble in dis­gust sev­eral times. He even had a testy ex­change with Longwood Coach Mike Gillian as the two teams left the floor for half­time.

At one point in the first half, Green­berg re­mained crouched out­side his team’s hud­dle dur­ing a TV time­out, deep in thought while his as­sis­tants de­liv­ered in­struc­tions. How, he won­dered, could he per­suade his team to play the way it did just two days ear­lier against the Ter­rap­ins?

He never did get an an­swer, even though Vir­ginia Tech used a 20-4 run to pull away late and emerge with its ninth vic­tory in 10 games. Se­nior Mal­colm De­laney led the Hok­ies with 23 points, while sopho­more Erick Green chipped in with 14 points and five as­sists.

“ That was about as much fun as get­ting a root canal,” Green­berg said as he sat down for his postgame news con­fer­ence.

But there were plenty of warn­ing signs that this could be an un­der­whelm­ing ef­fort. Though the an­nounced at­ten­dance was 9,847, there were large pock­ets of empty seats at a qui­eter-thanusual Cas­sell Coli­seum.

Those who did show up may have had their at­ten­tion fo­cused else­where. The Hok­ies’ foot­ball team is host­ing five-star linebacker re­cruit Stephone An­thony on an of­fi­cial visit this week­end, and he made an ap­pear­ance at Satur­day night’s game.

Per­haps most im­por­tant to the bas­ket­ball team’s fu­ture was that it emerged from Satur­day night un­scathed. Last year when Vir­ginia Tech faced Longwood, De­laney in­jured his an­kle. This time, Green­berg winced ev­ery time one of his eight re­main­ing schol­ar­ship play­ers landed on the floor hard.

“We just got through it,” De­laney said. “It’s just good to win the game. We don’t care how we won it.”

The Hok­ies fell be­hind by five early, but used a 12-0 spurt at the end of the first half to grab a 10-point lead at half­time. Vir­ginia Tech held Longwood to just seven field goals in the first half, and the Lancers shot just 37 per­cent for the game.

The Hok­ies, mean­while, found their shoot­ing touch in time for the sec­ond half. They more than dou­bled their firsthalf field goal per­cent­age, shoot­ing 61.5 per­cent af­ter half­time, to put Longwood away down the stretch.

“In the first half, we were kind of frus­trated be­cause they were stick­ing with us,” said se­nior Ter­rell Bell, who had seven points and seven re­bounds. “Af­ter our win over Mary­land, we thought we had things rolling, so the sec­ond half we had to pick it up.”

Green­berg shoul­dered some of the blame for the slug­gish per­for­mance. He didn’t have his back-court play­ers get the ball to for­ward Jeff Allen (six points, 10 re­bounds), even though he had a five-inch ad­van­tage on the Lancers player guard­ing him. Green­berg added that his team “just didn’t have the en­ergy” from the start, the re­sult of tired legs af­ter in­vest­ing so much into theMary­land win.

The Hok­ies will play their third game in six days Tues­day night against Ge­or­gia Tech. Lucky for Green­berg, it means there’s lit­tle time to stew over this one.

“I’m happy it’s over with. I’m happy no one got hurt. I’mhappy we scored more points than them,” Green­berg said. “But that’s about all I’mhappy with.”

MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

From left, Stan­ford’s Sarah Boothe, Kayla Ped­er­sen and Chiney Og­wu­mike form a wall with which USC’s Bri­ana Gil­breath must con­tend.

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