Hokies' Defense Holds Colonials to 36 Points

By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 10, 2007

BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 9 -- Karl Hobbs stuffed his hands in his pockets and pursed his lips, which was all he could do while he watched another stagnant George Washington possession unfold. On the opposite sideline, Seth Greenberg strolled onto the court during timeouts and high-fived his players with both hands, ecstatic about Virginia Tech's second consecutive dominating defensive performance.

Virginia Tech and George Washington appear headed in different directions after Sunday's 68-36 Virginia Tech victory at Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies are establishing themselves with stingy defense, and the Colonials are struggling to find an offensive identity after the loss of point guard Travis King.

The result Sunday set milestones for each coach: 36 points are the fewest the Colonials have scored since Hobbs arrived in 2001 and the fewest the Hokies have allowed since Greenberg debuted in 2003.

The performance buoyed Greenberg, who two games ago questioned his young team's ability to play as hard as he deemed necessary. On Sunday, despite playing four freshmen at various points, Virginia Tech (5-3) held its opponent to fewer than 40 points for the second consecutive game for the first time since 1947, this blowout coming on the heels of the Hokies' 67-39 win over UNC Greensboro. It left Hobbs with a queasy feeling: Where does George Washington (3-4) go from here?

"That's a good question," Hobbs said. "I'm not sure. I know that there's got to be some changes. There were some performances that just aren't acceptable. With that being said, there's got to be some changes."

Afterward, Hobbs became heated during a verbal altercation with a student reporter and was pulled away by Athletic Director Jack Kvancz.

The Colonials beat Virginia Tech last season by one point at the BB&T Classic, the first game between Hobbs and Greenberg. This offseason featured a more contentious meeting. When point guard Nigel Munson sought a transfer to George Washington, Greenberg would not release Munson from his scholarship. (Munson is expected to enroll at George Washington next season.) Starting forward Wynton Witherspoon played two years at Virginia Tech before transferring after the 2006 season.

Still, Greenberg dismissed the notion of the win carrying any extra meaning.

"Just a good win," Greenberg said. "Have to win your home games."

Virginia Tech's fans greeted Witherspoon differently, harassing him from the moment the public address announcer introduced him until the final whistle. Witherspoon, who averaged 12.8 points in the first six games, struggled and did not score until 10 minutes 17 seconds remained. He finished with six rebounds and seven points on 3-of-10 shooting.

George Washington entered averaging 72.2 points per game, but poor shooting and stifling defense held the Colonials to 26 percent shooting, including 5 of 27 (18.5 percent) in the first half. Forward Rob Diggs, George Washington's leading scorer at 13.8 points per game, was held scoreless.

George Washington last had this low an offensive output in the 1994 Atlantic 10 tournament, when it lost 54-34 to Temple, while the Hokies last allowed fewer than 36 in 1997 against Fordham.

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