Preview | NIT Quarterfinal | #2 ole miss (23-10) @ #1 VT (21-13) | Wed., 7 PM | ESPN2

THE SETUP

“There’s a tradition in tournament play, not to talk about the next step until you’ve climbed the one in front of you…” -Coach Norman Dale in Hoosiers.

In case you were wondering what I’m getting at with that quote, the “next step” for the Hokies is a return trip to Madison Square Garden, the self-proclaimed “Most Famous Arena in the World”, and two games in New York City with a shot at VT’s third NIT Championship.  But there is no next step unless the Hokies TCB against the ole miss rebels first on Wednesday night at the Cassell.   

The rebels enter this game having defeated uc-santa barbara 83-68 and nebraska 85-75 in overtime on Monday night.  Both games were at Oxford and the nebraska game didn’t end until 11:30 PM Eastern, meaning the rebels have to travel to Blacksburg and play less than 44 hours later.

FYI: We know this will be Deron Washington’s and Marcus Travis’s final home game at the Cassell, though because it is supposed to be treated as a “neutral site” game, there is no smoke-screen as the team comes out or Welcome to the Jungle during introductions.

THE PREGAME















Expect fans, especially students, to be waiting outside the Cassell hours before gametime. Here’s a photo of the first students in line on Monday before the uab game, braving 30 degree temperatures for hours before getting let in. Zach “Bearfight” was rewarded for his dedication with an honorary arm-curl.

THE GAME

The ole miss rebels jumped out to a 13-0 start this season, including a win at clemson.  Then they hit the SEC schedule, and limped home with a 7-9 record in conference play, killing their NCAA Tournament chances.  The rebels were an impressive 5-3 against RPI Top 50 teams, defeating five different teams, but that wasn’t enough to overcome a losing conference record and a loss in the first round of the SEC Tournament. 

Unlike uab, the ole miss rebels are not a one-trick pony.  They have several options on offense, both inside and outside.  They are led by their court general, freshman #12 Chris Warren.  He is a waterbug on the court that can drive and score (leads the team with 15.5 points per game) or dish (4.5 assists per game) or shoot from the outside (hits three threes per game at a 38% clip). 

Warren’s main target inside is senior #44 Dwayne Curtis, averaging 15 ppg and 9.4 rebounds per game.  The dude is a load, weighing in at 262 pounds (too light for me to arm wrestle).  If Witcher is too slim to handle him, Allen or Diakite will have to pick him up, though that risks putting the Big Donut, Allen, in foul trouble.  Fellow senior #40 Kenny Williams is another big’un inside at 6’8″, 240 lbs.  All he averages is 8.4 ppg and 6.4 rpg.  In other words, Tech will have to do a much better job boxing out on defense.  They gave up several 2nd-chance points to morgan state and uab early in those games.  And hope VT is hot again from the floor since offensive rebounds will be tough to come by.

The rebels have two more players averaging in double-digits.  Both are 6’5″ sophomore wings in #14 Eniel Polynice (10.9 ppg) and #33 David Huertas (10.4 ppg).  Polynice is a slasher but a poor outside shooter (look for him to drive), while Huertas is more versatile, shooting 34% on threes accounting for half his buckets.

This ole miss team scores a lot of points (almost 80 per game) and get a lot of rebounds.  The Hokies must crank up the intensity on the defensive end and force the rebels to play in the half court set, limiting transition buckets.  Then, VT needs to clean the glass and limit second chance points.  If VT can keep mississippi under 70, the Hokies win.

THE NUMBERS:

Series: Tied 1-1; but VT won at ole miss, 61-59, in the 1982 NIT

  • VT is 10-0 all time at the Cassell in NIT play
  • Home teams are 20-6 thus far in the NIT but both home teams (cuse and arizona state) lost in the quarterfinals on Tuesday

Category

VT

VT

miss

miss

2007-08 Record

 

21-13

 

23-10

Points/Game

 

70.1

 

79.7

Scoring Defense

 

64.2

 

 

Leading Scorers

Vassallo

16.9

Warren

15.5

 

Washington

12.8

Curtis

15.0

Leading Rebounder

Allen

7.7

Curtis

9.4

Assists Leader

Thorns

3.3

Warren

4.5

Blocks Leader

Allen

1.3

Williams

0.8

Steals Leader

Allen

2.1

Polynice

1.7

STREAKS:

Cold: Hank Thorns is 1/9 in the NIT

Warm: Senior Deron Washington is 9/17 in NIT play (53%) after shooting just 41% on the season.

On Fire: Since the start of the ACC Tournament, Malcolm Delaney has hit 21/31 (68%) from the field and 12/16 (75%) on three-pointers

En Fuego: A.D. Vassallo is 17/23 (74%) in the NIT including 7/12 on threes (58%)

LINEUPS

Position

VT

Height

miss

Height

Guard

 #23 Delaney

6’3″

 #12 Warren

5’10”

Guard

 #40 Vassallo

6’6″

 #33 Huertas

6’5″

Forward

 #13 Washington

6’7″

 #14 Polynice

6’5″

Forward

 #0 Allen

6’7″

 #50 Williams

6’8″

Center/F

 #21 Witcher

6’9″

 #44 Curtis

6’8″

Bench

 

 

 

 

 

 #10 Thorns

5’9″

 #32 Graham

6’5″

 

 #33 Thompson

6’6″

 #3 Smith

5’11”

 

 #2 Hudson

6’5″

 #0 Parnell

6’8″

 

 #34 Diakite

6’9″

 #23 Gaskins

6’2″

 

 #1 Bell

6’6″

 #21 White

6’9″

VT NIT RECAPS

First Round: The Hokies absolutely pasted the visiting morgan state bears over the final 30 minutes, winning 94-62.  A.D. Vassallo tied his season high of 27 points in just 25 minutes of action.  Delaney (13), Washington (11), and Allen (10) also reached double-digits for the balanced Hokie attack.  Tech played their best offensive half ever in the second half, hitting their first 15 shots from the floor and going 19/23 (82%) for the half.  That’s a VT record for a half.

Second Round: Tech hit their first seven shots from the field and jumped out to a 19-7 lead in the first five minutes.  uab would never get closer than five in the first half or 13 in the second half after that and the Hokies cruised to a 75-49 win over puff the magic dragon. 

VT’s NIT HISTORY

This year marks Virginia Tech’s ninth appearance in the NIT, which used to be the premiere basketball tournament until the 1960s. In fact, the Hokies 1973 NIT Championship is regarded as the biggest moment in program history by many, including me. In that game, Bobby Stevens recovered his own miss and hit a 12 foot jumpshot at the buzzer for a 92-91 overtime win in the championship game. The Hokies won their four NIT games that year by a total of seven points and each of the last three wins were by one point. I watched the tape of the game in the VT library and I have to tell you, I got chills when Stevens hit the winning shot, even 25 years later.

Tech also won the NIT back in 1995, again in dramatic fashion as Shawn Smith hit two free throws with less then five seconds left for a 65-65 overtime win over marquette (for you hoops junkies, William Gates from the movie Hoop Dreams was on that marquette team but did not play in the game). This tournament included one of my favorite all-time VT games, a 64-61 win over new mexico state on a Travis Jackson three-pointer in the final seconds. The win sent VT to New York and nearly sent me to the hospital. I was one of the first to try and jump on the court but one of the cops caught me in mid-air and slammed me down onto the railing right on my twig and two berries. It was still worth it. After the championship game, students flooded Main Street and it had to be closed off.

The Hokies finished third in the NIT in 1984 using an ABA style multi-colored ball. Their last appearance in the NIT was three years ago. VT won at home over temple before falling to a memphis squad that included several of the players they have this year.

THE OPPONENT

  • The university of mississippi is in Oxford, Mississippi
  • Founded: 1848
  • Conference: SEC
  • Enrollment: 17,000
  • Nickname: Got the name “ole miss” from a contest in 1897.  A student suggested the name for the student year book and it stuck for the entire college.
  • Famous Alums:
  • John Grisham – Note: Sandra Bullock plays an ole miss law student in the John Grisham movie A Time to Kill.  But she went to ecu in real life (two real stellar academic institutions).
  • Jim Barksdale, founder of Netscape
  • They have produced three Miss Americas (VT only has one).
  • Senator John McCain’s grandfather
  • Trent Lott
  • eli manning and Deuce McAllister
  • Ron Franklin – the ESPN play-by-play announcer that called the VT/uab game on Monday and likely will be calling the game on Wednesday (uh oh).
  • William Faulkner’s estate is owned by the university.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1232 posts on Tech Hoops.

Niemo is a member of the VT Class of '98. While not a professional journalist by any stretch, Niemo analyzes and breaks down every minute of Hokie hoop action. He also researches topics of interest such as Hokie recruits, program revenue, statistical data on the team, previews VT opponents, and discusses his favorite bourbons/Scotches. In addition to his passion for Hokie hoops, Niemo has attended 126 straight VT football home games (every game since '94), eclipsing the 100 mark in September of '09 and recently attended his 20th consecutive VT/uva game. During the final home basketball game of his senior year, he was brought onto the court and was awarded 2 passes to the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament in Philly during a timeout for being a "Super Fan" during his time at VT. The Hokie Bird made the award on behalf of Athletic Director Jim Weaver. Niemo was known to be in the front row of every home game with his familiar red afro hairdo.

Contact the author | Visit the author's website | Follow Niemo on Twitter

  • vatechhokies50

    http://blog.al.com/offthevine/

    The Birmingham News thought that our last crowd was impressive… let’s hope that we are equally if not more impressive agains the ‘Ole Miss… GO HOKIES… BEAT THE REBELS!!

  • jcsaund

    How did this team manage to do so badly in the sec this year? Also does anyone know how they did against florida?

  • jcsaund

    hell yeah the fans were impressive where is niemo at prior to game time i know some people trying to get arm curled!

  • Niemo

    I can be found (look for the signs). But I’m taking it easy on the arm curls due to back problems.

  • 757Hokie

    im the guy in the picture…its Zach Barefoot haha..thanks Niemo

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2014-2015 Schedule/Results

November

11/14 - Hokies 71, md. eastern shore 46
11/19 - vs. liberty | 7pm, ESPN3
11/22 - vs. appalachian state | 1pm, ESPN3
**********
Cancun Classic
11/25 - vs. n. iowa | 7pm, CBSSN
11/26 - championship/consolation game | TBA, CBSSN
**********
11/30 - morgan state | 3pm, ESPN3

December

12/03 - @ penn state | 7:15pm, ESPNU
12/07 - vs. radford | 3pm, ESPN3
12/14 - vs. alabama a&m | 3pm, ESPN3
12/20 - vs. the citadel | 1pm, ESPN3
12/22 - vs. vmi | 7pm, ESPN3
12/27 - vs. presbyterian | 7pm, ESPN3
12/30 - @ west virginia | 2pm, ESPNU

January

01/03 - vs. syracuse | Noon, RSN
01/06 - @ fsu | 7pm, RSN
01/13 - @ louisville | 7pm, RSN
01/18 - @ unc | 6:30pm, ESPNU
01/22 - vs. notre dame | 7pm, RSN
01/25 - vs. uva | 1pm, ACCN
01/27 - vs. pittsburgh | 7pm, ESPNU
01/31 - @ wake forest | 2pm, RSN

February

02/03 - @ syracuse | 9pm, ESPNU
02/07 - vs. fsu | 3pm, ACCN
02/09 - vs. georgia tech | 9pm, ESPNU
02/14 - @ clemson | Noon, RSN
02/18 - @ miami | 7pm, RSN
02/21 - @ nc state | 6pm, ESPN2
02/25 - vs. duke | 9pm, ESPN2
02/28 - @ uva | 4pm, ACCN

March

03/02 - vs. boston college | 9pm, ESPNU
03/07 - vs. miami | Noon, RSN
**********
ACC Tournament
03/10 - 1st rd.
03/11 - 2nd rd.
03/12 - quarterfinals
03/13 - semifinals
03/14 - championship

Photos on flickr