Basketball is a game of runs. For a few minutes, you can’t miss and you find all the open looks you could ever ask for. Later, you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a cruise ship — you couldn’t do that anyway, all of those are shutdown at the moment.
Virginia Tech basketball embarked on a run already — the Hokies started their season with four consecutive wins, including one over national contender and now No. 9 Villanova. The Hokies were playing exceptional basketball.
The run started to slow just two games later against VMI, when Virginia Tech escaped with a 64-57 win on their home floor. It was a humbling performance, but one that didn’t figure to carry over.
It did, however, resulting in a 75-55 loss to Penn State inside Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday night. Virginia Tech made all sorts of mistakes and the Nittany Lions made them pay for just about all of them.
Tuesday night’s loss was obviously deflating, but it doesn’t change the course of the season. Tuesday’s loss should not induce panic. The Hokies are still on track.
Let’s not sugarcoat things — Virginia Tech played poor basketball vs. Penn State. But in a normal setting, the Hokies probably don’t lose this game by 20 points. The Nittany Lions shot 50 percent from the floor and 52 percent from behind the arc, both of which are well above a normal percentage.
To top it off, Virginia Tech shot just 37 percent from the field, made just six of their 22 three-point attempts and missed nine free throws. Yuck.
Things are not going to be that bad very often. Basketball teams are prone to highs and lows of a season and Virginia Tech might’ve found their low early on, which is a good thing. There’s still a lot to like about this bunch.
Tech has depth at just about every position on the floor. Keve Aluma, who is averaging 15.8 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game, has emerged as one of the more productive big men in the ACC. Alongside Aluma, Justyn Mutts and Cordell Pemsl have solidified the frontcourt. Tyrece Radford and Nahiem Alleyne are still scoring threats from the wing.
None of Virginia Tech’s freshmen are contributing yet, either. Joe Bamisile hasn’t found his offensive rhythm, Darius Maddox is being boxed out of the rotation and David N’Guessan hasn’t done much in his limited time. At least one of these players is likely to breakout and secure significant minutes in the rotation.
The Hokies’ No. 15 ranking was overzealous, for sure. Virginia Tech is a talented team, but a young one still figuring out to play with and through one another. A deflating loss to Penn State doesn’t change Virginia Tech’s ceiling, but it did expose some flaws that Young and his staff can address in the coming days and weeks.