Hokies are favored by 3.
The AP #23 miami hurricanes, ranked for the first time all season, blow into Blacksburg for a Wednesday night ACC tilt. This is an immensely important game for the Hokies. After losing on the road at Chapel Hill, certainly something there is no shame in (or anywhere else on the road in the ACC), the Hokies must guard their Cassell. Tech cannot afford to limp out of the starting blocks at 0-2, especially with a tough road game in Tallahassee looming on Saturday against the noles.
Look for the Hokies to come out and play inspired, intense basketball Wednesday. They know they were in that game at unc Sunday, leading for most of the first 25 minutes and within 5 with 6 minutes to go. Tech played hard and needs similar focus against the rival canes. Even though the students are on break, VT needs a fired up crowd, too, to push them on.
SERIES: 8-8 (Tech is 7-2 against the canes since the teams joined the ACC, VT was just 1-6 in Big East play versus miami)
SIX PACK OF KEYS TO WINNING:
- Defend the Perimeter: The canes love to bomb from deep. villanova transfer Malcolm Grant, senior James Dews, and wing-man Adrian Thomas all shoot around 45% from deep. The canes are #3 in the ACC, hitting 40% of their threes, and are #1 in threes made by far with 140 (Tech has only made 65). The canes are not a great team at penetrating, so Tech must get out on their man and get hands in the faces of the shooters. And Grant will shoot from very deep. Don’t expect much of the 2-3 zone against the canes with their outside shooting.
- Delaney: Malcolm was not able to back-peddle much at all on Sunday and it hurt the Hokies defensively. Luckily, since the canes are not nearly as adept at penetrating as the heels, this shouldn’t be as much of a factor. But Tech’s interior defenders much recognize this issue and help as guys do drive, especially Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant. That will mean the rest of the defense, including Delaney, need to look to rotate and help against Collins in the low post, or three-point shooters sliding along the perimeter.
- Donuts Back in Stock: The Big Donut, Jeff Allen, scored a donut in the second half against the heels Sunday and was all but invisible. He was working hard on offense and at times was flashing hard for the ball in the post, but simply didn’t do enough. He must be a factor – every night – no matter what the size or talent of the other team. Expect Seth to light a fire under him this week and hopefully Allen will respond with a big game. Jeff is now third on the team in scoring – the same place he finished up his first two years at VT. There is no way you can convince me he is the third best player, especially on offense, on this team – this year or in the past. Now is the time for him to show he’s a star, a Trevor Booker-type player. His defense will also be key against Dwayne Collins, a fellow enigma.
- In the Zo-ne: Dorenzo Hudson has hit double digits in six of his last seven games, attacking the hoop and either scoring in transition or getting to the foul line. Even Sunday he was a solid 7 of 16 on two-point shots, but the 0 for 6 from behind the arc really drags things down. And he’s just 7 of 29 on threes over that seven game stretch, under 25%. He needs to establish his game inside the arc first, and with some confidence, then try a heat-check three to see if it goes in. If not, abandon ship and stick with the drive.
- Wet Willie’s: In honor of the canes coming to town, make yourself a frozen drink with grain in it, similar to what they serve in South Beach at Wet Willie’s. If you don’t have a Slurpee-making machine like me, just go pick one up at 7-11 and add some vodka or Everclear or whatever else floats your boat. Sure, it will be extremely cold Wednesday, but let’s just pretend we are on South Beach for a fleeting moment.
- Hunger: Tech needs to win this game, and even though the bright lights of FSN Sunday Night Hoops won’t be on Wednesday (in fact, the game isn’t on TV at all), and they aren’t in Chapel Hill playing the heels, and the students are on break, the Hokies need to realize this is a big ACC game, not umbc or longwood. Same intensity for 16 games, 4 minutes at a time, for 40 minutes. That’s what Greenberg preaches and that’s what Tech needs. This canes team is on par with the Hokies, but you must win at home and Tech must come out and give their best to win.
The canes are coming off a nice 67-66 win over wake in Coral Gables on Saturday. I watched that game and was impressed with the u. I had figured there were be a big drop-off with star Jack McClinton gone from last year, but the new guards, Malcolm Grant and 4-star recruit Durand Scott are both playing well, complimenting senior James Dews in the backcourt.
In the front court, senior Dwayne Collins is back. He is a poor man’s Trevor Booker – has the size and talent to dominate but doesn’t show up every night. But he is averaging 13 ppg and over 8.5 rpg. Dwayne looked fantastic against the mammoth wake lineup, scoring 23 points on 9/12 shooting and grabbing 11 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Collins had 23 points in the VT @ miami regular season match-up last year, but the Hokies made him a non-factor in Atlanta in the ACC Tournament, limiting him to 4 points. That, right there, is the story of Collins’s career – there some nights, no where to be found other nights (similar to Jeff Allen).
The rest of the low post players for the u are just role players: Reggie Johnson has “slimmed down” to 295 pounds but is just a space-eater, Cyrus McGowan and Julian Gamble are just minutes-eaters inside, DeQuan Jones was a big recruit but doesn’t seem to have much game, and Adrian Thomas is exclusively a three-point bomber on the wing (81 of his 93 shots have been threes).
On offense, the canes want to bomb from deep. Three of their top five scorers shoot more threes than two (Dews, Grant, and Thomas) and all are very good shooters hitting around 45% of their threes each. That is fantastic and is the reason why they are 8th in the country in Effective Field Goal Percentage at 56.4%. Their free throw shooting is not great, in fact terrible, coming in at dead last in the ACC (yes, even worse than clemson). Foul them inside the arc over giving up an easy shot.
Thomas will only shoot from deep and Tech does not have to respect his drive, but he tends to drift and get lost on offense until someone finds him spotting up. The Hokies will have to stay on him, and if they leave him, rotate to get a hand in his face. Grant likes to shoot the LONG threes, much like McClinton used to. Dews also is solid from behind the arc.
In summary, this team misses the swagger and clutch shooting of McClinton, but they seem to be a better defensive team with him gone (much like the Hokies not having Vassallo anymore). This game will be a slugfest. Let’s just hope it ends up like the football game this past September, minus the monsoon.
For more on the canes, check our Kartik Krishnaiyer’s thoughts in our Opposing View – miami column.
Expect this game to be in the 60s. miami needs to hit a lot of threes to win and/or have a big game from Dwayne Collins. Tech must find ways to get points in transition like they did in the first half against unc. This can come via live ball turnovers, or getting the ball up quickly after securing defensive rebounds. The Hokies don’t want to have to work all game in the half court, as the canes have an advantage in that scenario due to their solid outside shooting. Whomever can better asert their offensive key (threes for the canes, transition points for VT) will likely win, as both teams play good half court defense.
|Guard||23 Delaney – 6’3″||3 Grant – 6’1″|
|Guard||5 Hudson – 6’5″||23 Dews – 6’4″|
|Forward||1 Bell – 6’6″||31 Jones – 6’6″|
|Forward||0 Allen – 6’7″||20 McGowan – 6’9″|
|Forward||14 Davila – 6’8″||21 Collins – 6’8″|
|Bench||33 Thompson – 6’6″||1 Scott – 6’5″|
|Bench||11 Green – 6’4″||30 Thomas – 6’7″|
|Bench||24 Boggs – 6’4″||42 Johnson – 6’9″|
|Bench||4 Raines – 6’9″||45 Gamble – 6’9″|
|PPG||73.4 (8th)||77.5 (5th)|
|Pts Against||61.2 (5th)||58.0 (1st)|
|FG %||44% (12th)||49% (2nd)|
|3-Pt %||32% (11th)||40% (3rd)|
|FT %||69% (6th)||63% (12th)|
BORING FACTS ABOUT the u:
- Founded in 1925
- Type: Private
- Undergrads: 9.8k
- They have more out of state students than Floridians
- Mascot: Sebastian the Ibis
- Inventions: Swagger
- 5 time national champs in football
- Former VT coaching great, Bill Foster, resurrected their basketball program in the 1980s before he came to VT