While it wasn't the kind of crisp start Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg was hoping for from his team, there's something to be said for coming out of a season opener against Brown with a victory and plenty to drill into his players' heads.
Tech (1-0) struggled with its low post defense against Brown's patient high-low offense, but the Hokies still managed to get out Sunday with a 69-55 win. Despite his team's defensive issues, the only sign of frustration from Greenberg came with 12:30 left in the game when he shed his sport coat after Brown cut Tech's lead to five points.
Other than the wardrobe change, Greenberg was content to save any lingering vitriol for today's practice.
"They stretched us out, made us guard 25 seconds a possession and basically waited for us to make a mistake," said Greenberg, whose team overcame an injury-plagued preseason to shoot 46 percent from the floor and committed just eight turnovers. "Fortunately, for us, we didn't make that many mistakes, but we showed a lack of discipline surely at the end of the shot clock defensively. We didn't defend the post the way we're capable of."
Tech, which was led by guard Malcolm Delaney's 21 points and forward Jeff Allen's 17 points, jumped out to an 11-3 lead, but couldn't build the advantage to double digits until late in the first half. Brown (1-1) made four of its first five shots from the floor in the opening 51/2 minutes, but then scored just one field goal in the next six minutes as Tech's cushion climbed to 25-14 with 8:44 left in the half.
After Tech went to halftime with a 34-23 lead, Brown started to assert itself in the second half with screens to free up shooters for 3-point shots and mid-range jumpers.
Brown, which was led by forward Andrew McCarthy's 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting off the bench, nailed three 3-pointers in the opening 61/2 minutes of the second half and trimmed Tech's lead to 43-38 on forward Matt Mullery's layup with 12:55 left.
McCarthy scored eight points in a four-minute span, his last basket during the run slicing Tech's lead to 54-47 with 7:53 left. McCarthy and forward Matt Mullery, who scored 13 points, combined to make 12 of 21 shots. Mullery caused the most problems coming off screens.
"They were so hard to guard," said Delaney, who made 6 of 12 shots from the floor, including 3 of 7 from 3-point range. "I think we got too focused on helping. They did a lot with their post players, and not too many teams do a lot with their post players. I think we over-helped a little bit and we kind of went away from what we wanted to do defensively."
Brown, which shot 45 percent from the floor — including 41 percent from 3-point range — and committed 17 turnovers, endured another brief cold-shooting spell, missing three of its next four shots.
Tech responded with a 9-2 run to build a 63-49 lead with 4:15 remaining and the margin never dropped under 12 points the rest of the game.
Forwards Terrell Bell and Victor Davila both started for Tech and made solid offensive contributions, as Bell had eight points, seven rebounds and four assists before fouling out and Davila added eight points using an emerging right-handed hook shot.
Starting guard Dorenzo Hudson chipped in with eight points, six rebounds and a team-high six assists.
Greenberg said he had hoped to play freshman guard Erick Green more, but Green played just three minutes and made his only shot attempt — a 3-pointer with 11:03 left in the first half to put Tech up 21-14.
"We were trying to find our comfort zone, and see what was working for us and why it was working for us," said Allen, who made 8 of 14 field-goal attempts and scored 13 second-half points. "Now, we know we've got to play better defense."
VIRGINIA TECH 69, BROWN 55BROWN (1-1): Taylor 2-3 1-2 5, P.Sullivan 0-6 4-6 4, Mullery 5-10 2-4 13, Williams 0-4 1-2 1, M.Sullivan 4-9 0-1 11, Gruber 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 0-0 0-0 0, Leffelman 2-2 0-0 5, McCarthy 7-11 0-0 14, Herbert-Harris 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 21-47 8-15 55. VIRGINIA TECH (1-0): Allen 8-14 0-1 17, Bell 3-7 1-1 8, Davila 3-6 2-4 8, Hudson 3-7 1-2 8, Delaney 6-12 6-8 21, Green 1-1 0-0 3, Witcher 0-0 0-2 0, Boggs 1-2 0-0 2, Thompson 1-7 0-0 2. Totals 26-56 10-18 69. Halftime—Virginia Tech 34-23. 3-Point Goals—Brown 5-14 (M.Sullivan 3-7, Leffelman 1-1, Mullery 1-2, Williams 0-2, P.Sullivan 0-2), Virginia Tech 7-17 (Delaney 3-7, Green 1-1, Bell 1-2, Hudson 1-3, Allen 1-4). Fouled Out—Bell. Rebounds—Brown 31 (M.Sullivan, P.Sullivan 5), Virginia Tech 33 (Bell 7). Assists—Brown 15 (Mullery 6), Virginia Tech 15 (Hudson 6). Total Fouls—Brown 19, Virginia Tech 16. A—9,693.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times