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The nation's leading scorer, Erick Green is also a team player.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
BLACKSBURG -- Twelve shots. Can you believe that? That's all Erick Green took Saturday night. On senior night.
Twelve shots. With the fans -- many of them wearing green T-shirts in honor of him -- chanting his name. With the game against Clemson meaning next to nothing in the standings. With his own mother telling him before tipoff to give them all something they'd remember.
Senior night was the ultimate test of Erick Green's unselfishness. He attempted 12 shots. That tells you all you need to know about Erick Green's unselfishness.
"People were saying 'Go for 40,' things like that, but that's not who I am," Green said. "I've never been that way."
He settled for 29 points after making eight of those 12 shots, powering Virginia Tech to a 69-61 victory. He made 5 of 7 from 3-point range. It was a virtuoso performance for the nation's scoring leader, an efficiency clinic. It was Green being Green.
People who say Green doesn't deserve ACC player of the year consideration because of his team's record haven't watched this guy enough.
And frankly, those people should get a pass on that. This team has been hard to watch at times, even some times on Saturday night. Turnovers, cold shooting streaks, defense lapses - these Hokies can make your eyes want to turn away.
Flipping the channel to something sexier, something with more conference or national significance, is human nature.
But those of us who have watched Green know it's not about the points. Well, not completely about the points. Terrell Stoglin scored points. Last year's ACC scoring leader at 21.6 points per game, Stoglin also shot 41 percent from the field and drove his coach crazy.
After a loss to Virginia, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon famously told reporters: "If Terrell played the point all the time, we'd have 17 possessions where no one else would touch the ball."
There's none of that with Green. He wants them all to get a crack at it, wants them to share in the mission of winning.
On Saturday night, they did. Robert Brown turned his touches into 13 points - his best scoring output since you took down your Christmas tree. C.J. Barksdale turned his opportunities into 14 points, continuing his late-season emergence in the post.
The funny thing is, as good as Green has been, this season really has been about the other guys. That's what happens when teams lose. The focus shifts to what is missing, not what is working.
But Saturday, the date was circled. The focus could be singular, win or lose.
"Everything," Green said, when asked what he'd remember most about this night. "Seeing the green [shirts], that just made me smile. I was like, 'Wow.'
"I just want to thank the crowd. For everything. These four years have been great, just seeing myself grow and having these fans stick with me through it all. It's been a long journey. I'm glad we went out this way."
And make no mistake: Just because he's unselfish doesn't mean Green doesn't have a little showman in him.
He nodded and smiled as he jogged back down court after hitting his first shot, a 3-pointer that gave him an inkling that he'd have a good night. He drained bombs from both corners. He pulled off a crossover that left a defender sprawled on the floor.
When the Hokies needed him most - when the lead had been trimmed to four with under four minutes to play - Green hit another 3-pointer. He performed a quick pirouette and smiled at the crowd.
And that was that. Shot No. 12 of 12. No need for 13.
He'd done all he had come to do.
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