But don’t expect first-year Coach James Johnson to take any solace in that accomplishment, not with his team preparing to face Boston College Wednesday night in the midst of an historically bad three-game losing streak.
In fact, to start Monday’s ACC teleconference, Johnson all but put up a “help wanted” sign when asked why his team has followed up a 7-0 start with five losses in its next seven games.
“Got one guy playing extremely well right now, and got to get some more guys going with him,” Johnson said in his opening statement. “Don’t have enough guys playing well, and not playing consistent basketball on either end of the floor is not good, especially going into ACC play.”
Indeed, the lack of production from anyone not named Green has become a huge issue for Virginia Tech. The Hokies have shot worse than 40 percent in five of their past six games, and shooting guard Robert Brown and small forward Jarell Eddie have largely been ineffective after hot starts to the season.
Brown has hit just 13 of his 57 shot attempts (22.8 percent) over the past six games, watching his scoring average drop nearly four points per game (from 14.4 to 10.6) during that time. Brown blames some of his skid on flu-like symptoms that hindered him last month, but even he concedes, “at some points I was settling for jump shots and that sort of contributed to the slump.”
Eddie, meanwhile, still ranks sixth in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage and remains Virginia Tech’s second-leading scorer at 14.1 points per game, but the same flaw that hindered him last season has been exposed in recent weeks.
Eddie remains a deadly spot-up shooter who struggles once forced to put the ball on the floor. Over the past six games, he has made just 8 of his 35 three-pointers, including an 0 for 6 showing when Maryland held him to a season-low five points this past weekend, now that teams have made his outside shooting a focal point of their scouting reports.
“We were making shots, and when you’re making shots … a lot of things get looked over and looked to the side,” Johnson said. “We’re not making those shots now, so now all the things that we’re doing, the lack of rebounding and the lack of defense, is being manifested … We’re not getting multiple guys playing on the same night.”
Added Brown: “I think we need to get back to how we were playing earlier, get back to running and being aggressive, not just looking to settle and get Erick the ball.”
But right now, Green is Virginia Tech’s only reliable option and opponents have caught on to that fact.
Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon admitted before the Terrapins blew out Virginia Tech that stopping Green altogether would be difficult. So that Green ended up with a game-high 28 points was a moot point since it took him 18 shots to get there while Brown and Eddie mostly floundered.
“Erick’s a great player,” Maryland guard Dez Wells said. “He finished with 28 points, so we made the other guys beat us. We knew he’d get his. He’s just a great scorer.”
Turgeon went as far as to compare Green to former Maryland guard Terrell Stoglin, a dynamic scorer who rarely saw a shot he didn’t want to take. Green leads the ACC with a 30.6 usage percentage, but he’s also shooting a career-high 48.9 percent from the field.
So if anything, it seems Johnson wouldn’t mind if Green took even more shots, noting Monday that Brown took just three fewer shots than Green Saturday in College Park.
“He’s definitely letting it come to him. He’s playing under control, taking good shots. That’s why his percentage is good,” Johnson said of Green. “He’s making the right reads. His assist number would be up if guys around him would be hitting shots right now, which I think will come at some point. It’s just right now we can’t seem to find the basket.”