March 19, 2008
Greenberg wins 300th as Hokies cruise to open NIT
By Jimmy Robertson
12F
Morgan State (22-11, 14-2 MEAC) 253762
Virginia Tech (20-13, 9-7 ACC) 405494
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 9,628
  • High Points: 27 - A.D. Vassallo
  • High Rebounds: 9 - Deron Washington

Showing no emotional letdown over not making the NCAA Tournament, the Virginia Tech men's basketball set season highs in points, shooting percentage, and 3-point percentage, and head coach Seth Greenberg recorded his 300th career victory as the Hokies rolled to an easy 94-62 victory over Morgan State in the opening round of the NIT on Wednesday night at Cassell Coliseum.

The 32-point margin of victory was the largest by Tech in its postseason history, surpassing the Hokies' 17-point win over Jacksonville in the NCAA Tournament in 1979. Tech improved to 20-13 overall on the season and 19-6 in the NIT.

Morgan State, which won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season crown, wrapped up its season with a 22-11 record.

With his milestone win, Greenberg improved to 300-239 all time in 18 seasons as a head coach. That includes an 87-69 mark in five seasons at Tech.

"I've done this for a long time," he said. "I've had great coaches with me and great players. I've had a lot of people give me opportunities. I feel very fortunate that I have a team to coach and that I get to do what I love to do.

"I've had very good players and these kids here are as good a group as I've been around as far as staying in the present and just working at it. It's really been fun. I know everyone's question was 'Are you going to be ready to play?' They basically embraced our concept of playing the next 40 minutes and trying to get better today. They've done a great job of that and not every team would."

Continuing its month-long trend of playing solid basketball, Tech shot 51.5 percent in the first half and used a 26-9 run to close the half and take a 40-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.

But the Hokies really broke it open in the second half when they made their first 15 shots from the floor. Tech's first miss from the floor in the second half came with only 5:07 left in the game when Terrell Bellmisfired on a 3-pointer.

Tech ended up shooting 81.8 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes, hitting 18-of-22, en route to a season-high 65.4 percent evening.

A.D. Vassallo, a junior from Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, paced the Hokies with 27 points and just missed his career high by two points. He hit 11-of-14 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from beyond the 3-point arc.

"Guys are doing a great job of making my life easier," Vassallo said. "They're giving me the ball in great spots where I can score ... I'm just taking advantage of situations and letting the game come to me."

Behind Vassallo, Tech made eight 3-pointers in the game - just two off its season high. The Hokies hit 8-of-14 from beyond the arc, setting a season high in percentage (57.1 percent).

Malcolm Delaney added 13 points and he, too, hit three 3-pointers. Shrugging off a slow start in which he did not score a point in the first half, Deron Washington bounced back in the second half to finish with 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Jeff Allen chipped in 10 points.

"We're just happy to be playing," Delaney said. "We weren't predicted to be in the NCAA Tournament anyway, so when we didn't get picked, we didn't hang our heads down. We don't have to worry about all those questions about the NCAA now, so it's like a new start for us. We've got the NIT now and I think we can win it. We've just got to continue playing hard."

Next up for the Hokies will be a Monday night game with the Blazers of Alabama-Birmingham, who went on the road and dispatched of VCU in the first round Wednesday night. The tip-off time is to be determined. 

For updates on Virginia Tech men's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MBBall).

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