UMass 64, Virginia Tech 58
Wednesday, March 4th, 1998

Don't let the final score fool you.  This one was never even close.  UMass bolted out to a 19-6 lead, and with a few minutes to play, still held a 58-42 lead.

Ten minutes into this game, the Hokies had 8 turnovers and 8 points.  UMass was leading 20-8, and with the Hokies struggling, I turned off my radio, took off my headphones, and turned my full attention back to my work.

Tech was able to make it somewhat interesting after that, closing the gap to 8 points in the second half, but the Hokies were never really able to threaten the Minutemen.   Horrible statistics abound:  Tech had almost as many fouls (21) as rebounds (26), and as a matter of fact, rebounding was the story of the game.  UMass had 14 offensive rebounds, and I can report that it seemed like more than that.  It may have been more, for all I know, because in the statistics, team rebounds aren't broken out into offensive and defensive boards.  I do know one thing:  on several occasions, the Minutemen didn't just get two shots at the bucket - they got three or four.

UMass totaled 42 rebounds to Tech's 26.  This is in stark contrast to the first meeting this season, when Tech won the rebounding battle by a slim margin, 30-29.   The punch line?  One of UMass's best inside players, Tyrone Weeks, who had 11 rebounds in the first game, didn't even play in this one because of a sprained ankle and knee.

You get my point.  Here are more stats that detail the anatomy of a loss:

  • Tech had 19 turnovers (roughly one every two minutes)
  • Tech only took 12 free throws, making 8.  UMass took 25 and made 14.  That's a terrible 56% performance by UMass, yet they still outscored Tech almost 2-1 from the line.
  • Tech's starting backcourt, Grindstaff and Dunlop, only had 6 points on 2-8 shooting.
  • If you take away Rolan Roberts, Tech's other starters only had 21 points on 7-16 shooting.

Ahh, Rolan Roberts.  Although his rebounding wasn't anything to brag about (only 4), the freshman had a great line:  21 points on 10-19 shooting, 4 blocks, and 2 steals.  He did turn the ball over a nasty 6 times, though.  Job One next year is to get this guy some consistent help.

So finally, this difficult season ends at 10-17, with some signs of promise, but some clear indications that much improvement is needed.  Bill Foster's first two teams finished in 1992 and 1993 with similar records of 10-18 and 10-18, but in the next three years, set a Tech record by winning 66 games.  Tech basketball fans will now sit and watch and see if Bobby Hussey's Hokies can perform a similar feat.

But hey, Bobby, you can skip the second straight 10-win season that Foster had and get straight to the good stuff, okay?

USA Today Game Summary (includes stats)
The Unofficial Atlantic-10 Basketball Web Site

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