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January 18, 2013
Green Trying To Stay Step Ahead
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You could say it comes with the territory.
Early this season, opponents knew Virginia Tech senior guard Erick Green would be the focal point of the offense, but his torrid pace still might have been a surprise. Now that he's become the nation's leading scorer and stayed near or at the top for well over a month though, opponents are doing their best to make it as tough as possible for him to score.
Still, Green has found a way to score in bunches, which is also exactly what the Hokies have needed this season.
As Green prepares for Wake Forest tomorrow, he is tops in the country in scoring, with 24.8 points per game. But in the past few games, as teams have seen more of him and his capabilities, he's noticed a few defensive adjustments made against him.
"A lot of teams try to wear me down and I'm in pretty great shape," Green said. "I've been watching a lot of film, seeing how teams come of ball screens and are gonna trap me, so I'm kinda prepared. I'm just going out there, people try to double me and my teammates will make shots. That's made not only myself better but my teammates better."
Last season, Green finished with a 15.6 points per game. This season hasn't seen too many more shots as his points have risen, but a few changes by Green have made the difference.
"I don't think he's taking more shots, I think it's a little bit of how hard he's worked on his game," coach James Johnson said. "The young man stayed in the gym every morning this summer. He's in there at seven o'clock, working on his game. He was in here (yesterday) morning at 7:45 and we practiced at 10. He's working on his game and I think the style of play, getting up and down, I think he's just playing a little bit more freed up and with more confidence."
Of course, the wins have come when Green has help. During the Hokies' four-game losing streak, which ended with a win at Georgia Tech Saturday, there wasn't much help. But against the Yellow Jackets, sophomore C.J. Barksdale had 11 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore guard Robert Brown and junior forward Jarell Eddie also had moments of success with 10 and 9 points.
"I always encourage Rob and he's getting better and better each day of practice," Green said. "He's just gotta stay confident. It's big when he hits shots like that because now everyone doesn't have to swarm on me and think I just have to score if Rob and Jarell are scoring. That takes a lot of pressure of myself."
But as teams prepare to stop Green, he's making preparations, too.
"I noticed a lot of teams, when I get the ball, try to play up the gaps so I don't penetrate," he said. "Ball screens are staying with me or doubling me, trying to get the ball out of my hands. Even when I don't have the ball, they're trying to make it hard for me to get it back. It's kinda getting tough, but I like the challenge and I feel like we keep getting better and better."
It's safe to say Green is more than comfortable being in a territory different from everyone else.
CLICK HERE To listen to Green's afternoon teleconference with local media: ERICK GREEN PRE WAKE FOREST