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For Hokies, Progress is a Process
Written by Ryan Durham   
Thursday, 23 February 2012

By Nick Dalfonzo

Saturday afternoon inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, two teams who find themselves going in different directions will face off.

As a team ranked in the top 10 in both the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and the AP poll throughout the entire season, the Blue Devils have already bought a ticket, picked out a dress, and reserved a limo for the Big Dance. They simply are playing their last few games to earn a number-one seed.

Seth Greenberg, however, is coaching a Virginia Tech team that is playing each game for a victory that could possibly, though slim, help them get a bid to the NIT tournament.

On Saturday, head coach Mike Kryzyzewski and the #5 Blue Devils (23-4, 12-2 ACC) will take on Greenberg and the Hokies (15-13, 4-9 ACC) for the second time this season. Previously, Duke defeated the Hokies 75-60 Duke on Groundhog Day inside Cassell Coliseum and is coming off a victory in Tallahassee over #16 Florida State.

So, to be cliché, this Hokies team will be playing with very little to lose while the Blue Devils are playing with not only a lot to lose, but a lot, in terms of tournament seeding, to gain also.

“We’re just trying to win as many games possible,” said Greenberg earlier today. “I want to get to post-season play. I want to make the NCAA tournament. Until we get eliminated from the ACC tournament, making the NCAA tournament is our goal.”

If Greenberg wants to really bolster his team’s résumé, then a win against Duke would certainly help their futile draft.

Virginia Tech senior forward Victor Davila will not play on Saturday, consequently impacting the way that the Hokies will handle Duke’s twin tandem of Mason and Miles Plumlee.

Davila, who matched up against both Plumlee brothers in the first game, was able to hold the more productive brother, Mason to just 10 points on 4-10 shooting in 29 minutes.

“He played well,” said Greenberg about Davila. “He played really well. He’s played against him a lot of time.

“But Cadarian [Raines] will have to stay out of foul trouble, C.J. [Barksdale] will have to play well and we’ll have to find a way to rebound.”

In Raines and Barksdale, who by most accounts have been impressive in the post this season, exists an implantation of less experienced youth into a role that would otherwise be filled by a more experienced Davila.

Though youth and inexperience is a legitimate reason for a team to struggle, this Virginia Tech squad is pretty far into the season. Greenberg admits that his freshman should have hit their freshman wall about four or five weeks ago.

So when will Virginia Tech truly impress?

Watching the Hokies, you can see why Greenberg adamantly repeats that he likes this year’s team. But despite talent oozing out of every player, there is the expectation that they will slip up and hold their capabilities hostage, especially after doing so multiple times this season.

Not to say that this team isn’t progressing, but at some point a progression needs to become visible on the court.

“When you have this young of a team, you spend less time on special situations,” said Greenberg, “because we have so many other things that we’re doing with them.”

It is late in the season, but if a shift occurs that reveals what this team is capable of, then the Hokies won’t just be playing with little to lose. They too could be playing with a lot to gain, and that mindset could make this Virginia Tech team dangerous in the ACC tournament.

 
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