One shot, two teams in different directions

Story by Chris Graham
sportsdom@ntelos.net

One basket, at the buzzer. A one-point margin.

Razorthin, that one was.

And the two teams left headed in the most opposite of opposite directions.

“I think we’re real dangerous. We came in, and everybody called us an underdog, basically. Everybody think we’re just a team on the schedule, but we’re trying to make a statement that we’re a team that can play and win, also,” Virginia Tech freshman forward Jeff Allen said after the Hokies’ 70-69 upset win at Virginia Wednesday night.

It was the second one-point ACC win in a row for Virginia Tech – which defeated Maryland 67-66 in Blacksburg last weekend.

“We’ve got a lot of talent here, so we can’t hang our heads down. We’ve just to continue to play hard,” said Virginia guard Sean Singletary, after the Cavs’ third consecutive loss following a nice 10-2 start that had UVa. fans thinking NCAA Tournament.
“You just go through slumps, and unfortunately we’re going through one right now. But like I said, if we have enough character, we’ll come out on the side of adversity and find a way,” Singletary said.

But something obviously isn’t right in Charlottesville – and while fans are having a hard time putting their finger on what it might be, coach Dave Leitao seems to have a good idea.

“I told the guys and I told my staff, I told everybody, I’m not, probably less than anybody, not as upset, for the simple fact of, you practice for a particular reason, you practice to get habits, and when it comes time for the game, you get an opportunity to display those habits. And from top to bottom, there are many, many times during timeouts or wherever when we’re talking about simplistic mistakes offensively, defensively, boxing out, transition defense. And part of it is not learning the proper lessons every day in practice,” Leitao said after the game.

“Part of it is the fact that we don’t play with enough swagger and confidence – and we rely on things that other teams can and do take away. And so when that happens, you get down to final stages in games, and you’re hoping for things to happen as opposed to expecting things to happen. And that’s what happened tonight,” Leitao said.

Reversing that kind of negative momentum can be easier said than done. But at the same time, the good feelings emanating from the Virginia Tech locker room after the game can be dangerous in and of themselves.

“The next game is a totally separate entity. The next game has nothing to do with this game. The next game is all about Georgia Tech and our matchups,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said after the UVa. game.

“In this league, you’ve got 16 separate entities. Now we’ve got 13 separate entities. And one really has nothing to do with the other – except if you get too high or too low, the league will suffocate you,” Greenberg said. “So if you think you’ve got it fixed, you don’t, and if you let one loss affect you, then you could go into a tailspin and never come out of it. So you’ve really got to compartmentalize things and make sure that your guys understand, This is great,alright, let’s come back tomorrow, get a little better, a little smarter, and let’s try to get better. Because if you don’t, you’ve got no chance.”



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Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

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