Virginia Tech guard Erick Green once again led the Hokies in scoring Wednesday night when they ended a two-game losing streak by beating Rhode Island, 78-67. But Green, the team’s captain this year, started the game on the bench, and Coach Seth Greenberg confirmed Thursday that it was for disciplinary reasons.
“Erick is a terrific kid, but there’s a certain behavior I expect of him as a junior leader, and he wasn’t fulfilling his obligation,” Greenberg said.
The coach declined to go into further details about why Green was benched, but the move seemed to spark the former Paul VI standout. After hitting just four of his 17 shot attempts in Virginia Tech’s loss to Kansas State last Sunday, Green scored a game-high 24 points on 10 of 14 shooting at Rhode Island.
Perhaps more notable than Green’s hot shooting was the offensive turnaround from the entire team. The Hokies entered Wednesday night having shot below 35 percent in three of their past four games, and then scored just 28 points in the first half against the Rams. But after halftime, Virginia Tech shot 65.4 percent from the floor.
Forward Jarell Eddie added 15 points, while freshman Dorian Finney-Smith added 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
But Greenberg may have a dilemma down low after a second-straight impressive showing by his two reserve big men. Sophomore Cadarian Raines scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds and freshman C.J. Barksdale contributed six points and seven rebounds.
Both received more minutes than starting forward Victor Davila. The 6-foot-8 senior from Puerto Rico was held without a point, had just one rebound and played a season-low 13 minutes even though he wasn’t in foul trouble.
Against Kansas State on Sunday, Davila only scored one point and snagged one rebound in 17 minutes. But Greenberg said one slump isn’t going to convince him to just give up on Davila , even if his young reserves are starting to round into form.
For the season, Davila is averaging 6.2 points and four rebounds per game, both of which are below his numbers from a year ago.
“We just keep on trying to empower him, give him opportunities,” said Greenberg when asked how he planned to get Davila back on track. “We won a lot of games with Victor Davila playing a lot of minutes. Everyone wants you to discard him, but he’s been extremely loyal to us and works very, very hard. . . . We just got to support him and get him through this.”