Va. Tech eventually takes down Brown

By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 16, 2009

BLACKSBURG, VA. -- Virginia Tech's basketball players shaved their hair into Mohawks for Sunday's season opener against Brown. But the Hokies' lackluster 69-55 win over the Bears belied that sense of excitement.

"There are certain games you just got to go out and play to win," Coach Seth Greenberg said. "If we don't play with any greater purpose on Tuesday, we'll lose. Plain and simple."

On Tuesday, the Hokies play UNC Greensboro. But Sunday's showing was not unlike recent season openers for Virginia Tech. The Hokies scraped past Gardner-Webb, 65-62, in last year's first game. Two years ago, they beat Elon, 69-64, in Blacksburg.

Although Brown had a final RPI ranking of 307 out of 343 Division I teams last year, Virginia Tech needed at least a game to knock off the rust.

"We were trying to find our comfort zone and see what was working for us and what wasn't working for us," forward Jeff Allen said. "Now we know we have to play better defense."

The Hokies (1-0) had defensive trouble as a result of 6-foot-8 forward Matt Mullery, who created some matchup problems in the lane. Mullery finished with 13 points for Brown.

Brown screened with its post player to confuse the Hokies on defense. And the Bears spread out Virginia Tech as the Hokies' guards tried to compensate for Mullery by providing interior help. What resulted were uncontested jump shots that allowed Brown (1-1) to keep it close.

"I think we went away from what we wanted to defensively because we were so confused on what we wanted to do," guard Malcolm Delaney said. "It was just a weird offense."

The Hokies' led by 16 points shortly before halftime, but Brown trimmed the deficit to five points with 12 minutes 55 seconds remaining.

Delaney's three-pointer with 7:31 left seemed to put the game away for Virginia Tech. He received a friendly bounce off the rim that gave the Hokies a 10-point advantage.

Delaney led all scorers with 21 points and played 38 minutes.

The Hokies did well in transition, scoring 10 fast-break points and 21 points off Brown's 17 turnovers. Virginia Tech shot 41.2 percent from three-point range.

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