Year 2 of the Buzz Williams era started in Cassell Coliseum tonight as the Virginia Tech Hokies faced an Alabama State team with plans on trying to pull off an upset in Blacksburg. Alabama State gave it everything they could tonight, and the Hokies did not match that energy whatsoever for most of the game outside of Zach LeDay.
Tonight, it proved costly for Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech's effort wasn't good enough till it became too late and it proved costly for the Hokies as they lost to Alabama State 85-82 in what will be seen as an embarrassing loss. For Alabama State, this is reportedly their first-ever win over an ACC team in what has to be a historic moment for their program.
Zach LeDay had an impressive debut despite the loss for the Hokies, and finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds after having a near double-double(10 points, 9 rebounds) in the first half. LeDay brought the type of effort that Buzz Williams expects from his players and that Hokie fans love to see.
Seth Allen may have received most of the talk of the duo of transfers, but LeDay proved to be the star tonight for Virginia Tech. Buzz Williams talked about LeDay's impressive performance and how unheralded guys like the USF transfer seem to have success when coached by Williams more than many of the top guys.
The defensive effort was not where it needed to be tonight for the Hokies and Alabama State took advantage tonight. Virginia Tech will have to close out shooters in their upcoming games or else another disappointing upset could be coming for the Hokies before they travel to Florida to take on Iowa State.
After the game, Buzz Williams talked about how the Hokies need to find a defensive identity while players blamed the defensive issues on both an underwhelming amount of effort and some communication problems. These things will have to be fixed in the next couple weeks, and we will learn about that when the Hokies take on Jacksonville State.
Seth Allen and Buzz Williams both talked about how Alabama State's Jamal Waters made big shots with Waters having 21 points to lead the Hornets. Virginia Tech will face players that are a lot better than Waters in upcoming games, and will have to play better defense against those players.
Virginia Tech also struggled at the free throw line as the Hokies only made 62.5% of their free throws compared to Alabama State who made 76.2% of their free throws. Yes the Hokies still made 9 more free throws, but shooting that poorly from the free throw line will put any team in position to lose games most of the time.
Kerry Blackshear came close to having a double-double in his debut with 7 points and 8 rebounds. Shane Henry started in the frontcourt tonight with Zach LeDay, but it would make more sense for the Hokies to go with Blackshear from the start with LeDay.
Seth Allen had a late three to tie it up that went in and out, but the former Maryland guard was solid offensively in his debut with 13 points (7-8 from the free throw line), 4 assists, and 4 rebounds. Meanwhile, Chris Clarke had 10 points and Justin Robinson had 8 points with both playing meaningful minutes along with Blackshear.
Justin Bibbs had 9 points, and was the one returning player from last season that played consistent minutes. Jalen Hudson's inconsistent energy once again flared up tonight as Hudson had 3 points, and rarely touched the floor outside of the starts of each halves.
Devin Wilson was out tonight due a groin injury with the Hokies still trying to figure out the severity of it. At this point, it seems unknown when Wilson will make his season debut, but Jacksonville State is definitely a possibility on Wednesday.
Virginia Tech suffered a disappointing loss to start the season and will have to play better next Wednesday on the defensive end or else they could be in trouble once again.