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ACC Roundup - Virginia Tech Loses Again

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We’d still bet on them long-term though.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 04 Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech
ATLANTA, GA FEBRUARY 04: Georgia Techs Jose Alvarado (10) dives for a loose ball during the NCAA basketball game between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on February 4th, 2020 at Hank McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, GA.
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ACC reality has hit Virginia Tech: after being picked 14th and starting 10-3, one of the nation’s youngest and smallest teams has come down to earth: the Hokies are now 14-9 and have lost four in a row and five of their last six. The one win in that streak was over UNC but otherwise the last victory was over Wake Forest on January 14th.

Wednesday’s ACC Action

  • Pitt @ Notre Dame || 6:30 || ACCN
  • Clemson @ Virginia || 7:00 || ACCNX
  • NC State @ Miami || 8:30 || ACCN
  • Wake Forest @ Louisville || 9:00 ESPN2

Tuesday’s Results

  • Duke 63 BC 55
  • Georgia Tech 76 Virginia Tech 57

ACC Standings

Same story vs. Georgia Tech Tuesday but with a twist: Jose Alvarado exploded.

The Yellow Jacket’s point guard outscored Virginia Tech by himself in the first half, 20-18 to help Georgia Tech to a 38-18 lead and really, that was about it.

When things are going well, the Hokies are lethal from outside.

Not this time: the team shot just 4-23. We love - we can’t say how much - how well this team plays when the offense is clicking. Mike Young clearly knows what he’s doing.

However, there’s no getting around small and inexperienced. His team will take some hard knocks and it’s a good thing. They’ll appreciate it later.

Just not now.

After the game, Young said this: “When we’re rolling and we’ve rolled for much of this season we’re up on our toes and our shoulders are back and we’re engaged. We’re back on our heels a little bit now.”

True, but Young has already made his point. He’s an outstanding coach. We really like the fact that he’s not throwing his team under the bus and instead expects them to rise to the occasion.

By the way, possibly by the time you read this but certainly very soon, Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado will become a father.

Wake Forest has had a tough run under Danny Manning.

Andrew Carter has a piece up about the decline of the program. It’s a pretty good read even though it’s a bit depressing. Wake Forest...we don't really pull for them but we like for them to succeed. We certainly prefer them to be a tough out.

Manning opts not to talk about his future - “I have blinders on” he says - but he’s got a tough argument to make to his new boss.

We’re going to keep repeating this because we think that if anyone in the ACC has an opening this year and fails to talk to this guy they should be sued for the athletic equivalence of malpractice: anyone who is hiring should put Ben McCullum at the top of the list.

Over the last four years his Northwest Missouri team is 120-6 to date and that’s far, far beyond any college coach we’re aware of. His overall career record, all at NWMSU, is 261-76.

If you subtract his first two (losing) seasons when he was getting his program going, his career record at NWMS is 239-45 over roughly 10.5 seasons.

Coach K’s career record at Duke over a similar period is 249-112.

We’re not saying he’s the next Coach K and obviously he’s not facing ACC level competition. What we are saying is the guy has a superb record, he’s coached at a school that’s a similar size as Wake Forest, he’s made the D-II tournament every year but one since 2011-12, and he’s made at least the Sweet 16 every year since 2013-14.

The year he missed though was 2017-18 and the sting was somewhat lessened since he won the D-II tournament the year before and the year after.

With the track record the guy has you’d have to be a complete idiot not to at least look. And when he was his team at Cameron this year, we saw a group that was considerably less talented but cohesive, smart and that never quit. And they put themselves in position to nearly pull off a shocking upset.

Given his rather unfortunate experience at Tennessee when he tried to hire football coach Greg Schiano, only to lose his own job shortly thereafter, we expect new Wake A.D. John Currie won’t repeat those mistakes and in fairness, the Wake fan base is not exactly the same at Tennessee’s.

If he ends up hiring he’ll probably hire a search firm, which will mean a conservative search and one that’s hard to screw up too much. Let’s say he got, for argument’s sake, a candidate list of Mick Cronin, Shaka Smart, Chris Collins, Yale’s James Jones, Anthony Grant and LeVelle Moton.

Any of those guys would probably be a solid hire and would at a minimum have a winning record and make postseason play.

None of them have shown the potential McCullum has.

In Carter’s article, former Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio says that Manning had a tough rebuild: “When Danny got the job, it definitely was a five- or six-year rebuild after what Danny inherited. What he inherited, he just had a tremendous disadvantage where he had a lot of work to do.”

That’s probably fair - other than the timetable. Consider Pitt as a counterpoint.

At Pitt, Jeff Capel inherited a program that had recently changed conferences, had declined under Jamie Dixon before his departure and completely collapsed under Kevin Stallings.

When Stallings was finally fired, remember, virtually every player on the roster planned to transfer. Mike DeCourcy predicted that Pitt would never be competitive in the ACC at least partly because it could no longer get players from Dixon’s traditional recruiting base, New York City, since the Panthers were no longer in the Big East.

Capel just went south and found his guys. Two years later, Pitt is in the bubble conversation.

Again, situations are unique. You can’t compare NWSM to Duke or its conference to the ACC.

However, the right guy in the right situation can do things no one else would believe. Remember, Coach K came to Duke after a losing season at Army. And not just losing - 9-17 losing.

No one can predict how McCullum would do in Winston-Salem but you can look to his record, how his teams carry themselves, and think....do I go with a safe pick from a search firm? Or do I swing for the fences and try for Wake Forest’s Coach K?

Correction: we misrepresented what Mike DeCourcy said. This is much closer to what he said as quoted on another site. Our apologies for the error:

“I’ve said in the past that it was a delicate balance and that they’d found a formula that worked and that leaving for the ACC would wreck that formula and they’d have to find a new one and I’m not going to argue that they did the absolute best job of trying to find that new formula. I also know and realize that it’s just not that easy to reinvent this.”