There is Only One Way Virginia Tech Can Contend With No. 14 Miami on Wednesday

By Brian Swanson
Joshua S. Kelly – USA TODAY Sports

The shooting woes of Virginia Tech, and more specifically those of Robert Brown, need to be emphasized by head coach James Johnson if they have any chance of challenging No. 14 Miami on Wednesday Jan. 30.

The Hokies have struggled as of late dropping seven of their last ten games. A large part of this fall-out is the terrible shooting of sophomore guard Brown. I have been on Brown’s case as of late, but for good reason.In Tech’s first 9 games their record was 8-and-1. In those games Brown was averaging 13.2 points, while shooting 43% from the field and 35% from behind the arc.

In the Hokies 3-and-7 most recent 10-games, he has scored 5.9 points per game while shooting 22% from the field and 6.25% from 3-point range. That’s correct just 6.25% shooting the three in his team’s last 10 contests.

Here’s an idea: stop allowing Brown to shoot from deep. Why coach Johnson hasn’t made a point of putting the shooting clamps on Brown is beyond me. I understand that shooters need to shoot their way out of a slump, but it’s been 10 games. It is time for a change in the distribution of shots taken by certain players.

The guys shooting the threes for coach Johnson should, quite obviously, be senior sensation Erick Green, who leads NCAA basketball in scoring, and Jarell Eddie, who is shooting 36.4% from outside. But there’s another sniper in the rotation that Johnson should be utilizing.

Sophomore guard Marquis Rankin is shooting 37% from 3-point territory on the season, and he has made six of his last ten attempts. I say go with the hot hand and let Rankin loose. He has averaged 19 minutes a game while Brown is getting 28. Rankin also makes plays defensively, while Brown has been just serviceable on the defensive end lately.

A good strategy at this point in the season would be to split their minutes down the middle, giving Brown and Rankin each 23 or 24 minutes a game, or give Rankin slightly more playing time. As a sophomore, giving Rankin more minutes could help his development as a player, and as a result help the team in he future. It can’t hurt with the slump they’re in, and clearly something needs to change.

Virginia Tech won’t be able to compete with the Hurricanes’ big bodies in the post, but with efficient perimeter shooting, and Erick Green’s scoring ability, they could make it close down the stretch.

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