Skip to content

Erick Green doesn’t need your lousy scoring title

Jan 29, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

Erick Green AP

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Minutes after a disappointing 74-58 loss to arch-rival Virginia, Erick Green walked around the perimeter of the court at Cassell Coliseum, offering daps to loyal fans who leaned over the railing, eager to touch the Hokies’ hot hand.

“Keep your head up, Erick!” shouted one young fan. It seemed like a strange thing to say to an accomplished senior guard who had just scored a career-high 35 points, adding to his already sizable lead in the national scoring race.

“I’d give them all up. I don’t really care about scoring,” Green said after the game. “I want to win. I want to leave a legacy before I leave here. Thirty-five is cool, but I want to win games.”

Green and his Hokies were doing just that early on, reeling off seven straight wins to start the season. Green scored 20+ points in each of the wins, culminating in a 28-point outing in a home win over a very good Oklahoma State team. In that win, Green had ample support from his teammates. Sophomore guard Robert Brown dropped 18 points of his own, and interior players Cadarian Raines and Jarrell Eddie combined for 25 points and 18 rebounds in the paint.

That synergistic performance – the superstar leading a group of highly capable teammates – has not been repeated in any Tech game since. As his supporting cast went through various slumps and off nights, Green’s scoring numbers rose even higher. Out of necessity, backed by eye-popping ability, Green became something of a one-man show in Blacksburg.

Don’t get it twisted, though. Green is no ball hog. He’s Tech’s leading defender (1.4 steals per game) and passer (4.5 assists per game). He puts the ball in his teammates’ hands often; the pass doesn’t become an assist unless the recipient puts it in the basket. Remove Green’s stats from the Tech/UVA box score, and you’ll see his teammates were 8 of 25 on the evening. It’s a fairly common sight these days.

“Rob (Brown) had good shots, Marquise (Rankin) had good shots,” Green said in defense of his backcourt partners. “They’re just not falling.”

Green was supportive of his big men as well, with one major caveat. “When they get the ball, they gotta look to score. They want to kick the ball out all the time. They gotta look to score and be more aggressive. Because if they’re more aggressive, that leads to the double teams and kick outs.” In that way, Green has become somewhat a victim of his own success. He is the type of player who can create his own shot, which can lead his teammates to act like spectators more than participants at times.

It’s tough to blame them when Green is so entertaining to watch. In the rivalry game against Virginia, Green took defenders off the dribble with ease, but on occasions when his defenders were a little more sticky, the flash came out. Late in the second half, as chances to win were dwindling, Green faked a drive left on the perimeter, then engineered a reverse spin move that left him wide open in the middle of the lane for two. Green’s crazy-good handle gets him as many points as his speed and shooting touch. While ace Virginia defender Jontel Evans was resting on the bench, Green wrongfooted backup point Doug Browman so badly that the senior fell flat on his back with legs pretzeled. “I watched his feet when I had the ball. Jab step, and if his feet don’t change, I’d take advantage of it.”

The question is, will it be little more than a sideshow, or can the Hokies gel around their spectacular leader in time to get into the topsy-turvy ACC race and make the Big Dance? Green takes the positive tack.

“This is not all about me. These guys can play, too. They’re just kind of in a slump right now. They’re going to get out of it. If your shot’s not falling, so what? Play defense, get a rebound, get a steal. If it’s not your night, you gotta do something else. That’s what great players do.”

Green ought to know. He is a great player. He’d no doubt love to see his own face alongside the four portraits that adorn the rafters at Cassell Coliseum some day. He seems like a natural to join Bimbo Coles, Ace Custis, Dell Curry and Allan Bristow in that very small club.

But he’d rather be remembered as the guy who got Tech back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007 than for being the nation’s leading scorer. Oppose him at your own risk.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Latest Posts
  1. Shooting guard Maverick Rowan’s junior season highlight video

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:07 AM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Louisville, NC State, St. John’s and West Virginia remain in the running for his pledge.

  2. Three-star guard Myles Powell trims list to eight

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Getty Images Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Getty Images

    Powell’s recruiting profile has risen thanks to the way he’s played throughout the summer.

  3. Power forward becomes Iowa’s second 2016 commitment

    Jul 30, 2015, 6:56 PM EDT

    Fran McCaffery AP

    With Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury being seniors, having two front court commits in 2016 is good news for the Hawkeyes.

  4. Italy trip comes at good time for young Stanford team

    Jul 30, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT

    Johnny Dawkins AP

    The Cardinal need to account for the loss of their top three scorers (and top two rebounders) from last season’s NIT champion team.

  5. Valparaiso star center receives extra year of eligibility

    Jul 30, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Crusaders are getting back the league’s defensive player of the year.

  6. Throwback Thursday: Donnie Tyndall’s only NCAA tournament win (VIDEO)

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT

    Murray St Morehead St Basketball AP

    Tyndall’s one NCAA tournament win sure was memorable.

  7. Steady improvement turning Alize Johnson into valued Division I prospect

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT

    Alize Johnson Alize Johnson

    The cousin of former Pitt forward Chevon Troutman has developed into a quality recruit himself.

  8. Report: SMU’s Larry Brown up against ‘lack of coach control’ charge

    Jul 29, 2015, 11:40 PM EDT

    Larry Brown AP

    According to the report SMU met with the NCAA Committee on Infractions last month.

  9. BYU lands third 2016 commitment in 6-foot-6 guard/forward

    Jul 29, 2015, 10:35 PM EDT

    Connor Harding, Zach Hillman AP

    Harding won’t join the program until 2018 however, as he’ll be taking his two-year LDS mission beforehand.

  10. Marquette coaches discuss daily ‘noon ball’ tradition (VIDEO)

    Jul 29, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Director of player personnel Travis Diener is pegged as the best player in the games, with he and assistant Chris Carrawell trading some good-natured shots at each other.

  11. ACL tear sidelines San Diego State guard Matt Shrigley

    Jul 29, 2015, 8:17 PM EDT

    Matt Shrigley, Grayson Allen AP

    Only Aqeel Quinn, who’s out of eligibility, made more three-pointers for the Aztecs last season than Shrigley.

  12. Four-star power forward names his top three schools

    Jul 29, 2015, 6:42 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/adidas Kelly Kline/adidas

    All three programs made Davis a focal point in Las Vegas last weekend.

  13. Las Vegas Leftovers: Some notes that didn’t make the recaps

    Jul 29, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/adidas Kelly Kline/adidas

    Notes on Vance Jackson, Brendan Bailey and Javonte Smart included.

  14. Isaiah Zierdan one-ups Roosevelt Jones’ trick shot (VIDEO)

    Jul 29, 2015, 3:17 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    I’m OK with this becoming a thing all August.

  15. Another Division I coach loses their job in the wake of the Donnie Tyndall scandal

    Jul 29, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Southeastern Louisiana Southeastern Louisiana

    Tyson Waterman is the latest victim in the fallout from the Southern Miss scandal.

  16. Is Jamal Murray considering skipping classes to play for Team Canada?

    Jul 29, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    150521calipari Getty Images

    That’s now two of Kentucky’s elite freshmen with concerns looming.

  17. Bruce Pearl on his time at Tennessee: ‘I ran a clean program’

    Jul 29, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    150729 brucepearl Getty Images

    Bruce Pearl was fired by Tennessee for lying about a barbecue.

  18. Five-star 2017 center cuts list … to 13?

    Jul 29, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    4_3726139

    See which schools are still in play for one of the top rising juniors