Fifth Down Basketball Special: Atkins energy, Delaney’s shooting helps Hokies cruise past Bucs

As will appear in Monday's edition of the News & Record in South Boston, VA:

Virginia Tech freshman Manny Atkins describes himself as an “energy guy”.

The 6’7’’ forward was true to form Saturday night, making plays all over the Cassell Coliseum floor in the Hokies’ 73-50 win over Charleston Southern.

In 18 minutes of action, Atkins made three steals, two assists, and scored six points, in a performance that a box score cannot do justice. He also came up with a jump ball and deflected several passes that led to turnovers.

“If anything, I’m a hustle player, and I like making things happen when I come in,” Atkins said.

In a game where 16 inches of snowfall kept all but about 2,000 fans away from the arena, the Hokies needed their energy to come from within. That’s where Atkins, who had only played 31 minutes total prior to Saturday, came into the mix.

Tech burst out of the gates with a 27-6 run in the game’s first 12 minutes.

Towards the end of that spurt, Atkins intercepted a Buccaneer pass inches from the sideline in front of the Tech bench. He managed to launch the ball ahead before falling out of bounds to a streaking J.T. Thompson, who finished the play with a sweet right-handed dunk.

The early onslaught sent the openly loyal crowd into frenzy.

Malcolm Delaney, the ACC’s leading scorer, found his shooting touch yet again Saturday night, draining six three-pointers en route to a 26-point performance. The more important number in Delaney’s stat line, however, was his seven turnovers, a season high.

Head coach Seth Greenberg was not pleased with that figure.

“The way we handled the ball was just careless,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg’s demeanor on the sideline, in a game that was never closer than eight points after the first media timeout, was that of a coach who knows his team has plenty of work to do.

Of the Hokies’ nine wins, six of them have come against teams with a losing record. The schedule will not be so forgiving in three weeks, when ACC play begins.

 “We’ve got to get better, plain and simple. We’re not at the level we need to be,” Greenberg said.

The defensive end of the floor was the brightest part of Saturday’s win. Buccaneers’ leading scorer, Jamarro Warren, was held to a mere two points. He was Delaney’s responsibility most of the night.

“We are starting to get a lot of stops on defense, and that gives me a good feeling.” Delaney said.

Jeff Allen was also very active on the defensive end of the floor. Allen, who’s been dealing with foul trouble in recent games, managed to have five steals, two blocks, and seven rebounds in 20 minutes of action.

Dorenzo Hudson added 14 points in what was, according to Greenberg, one of his better games of the season.

There are flaws to be worked out, but energy like what Tech brought to the floor Saturday night can cover up many weaknesses down the road.


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