Update: Erick Green is listed as ‘day-to-day’ (aren’t we all). My money is on him NOT playing Friday, perhaps Sunday.
Spread: VT by 3.5
As expected, both the Hokies and okies took care of business on Thursday and will face each other in the semi-finals of the 76 Classic in Anaheim, CA on Friday at 2 PM EST on ESPN. But both teams had more difficulty advancing than expected, especially the cowboys. VT led by 20 at the half over cal state northridge but looked sluggish in the second half. Tech did win 72-56. oklahoma state stayed perfect, but were tied at the half with depaul, who is 1-35 in the Big East over the last two seasons, and the blue demons led at the under-4 timeout at the end of the game. But Marshall Moses was too much for Oliver Purnell’s team and led osu to victory, 60-56.
Oh, and plenty of good seats still available! If you are in the area, come on out and join King at the game! I think the first two games yesterday had maybe 500 people at them.
HO-KEYS TO THE GAME:
- Don’t Let Moses Part the Paint: Marshall Moses may not be 40 years old, but he was a man on Thursday. He scored a career high 27 against depaul and has tallied at least 16 points in all four games. Marshall is their lone star offensively. He is just 6’6″, but he is thick and will present problems for the Hokies in the low post. Considering how VT looking against cal state northridge’s “bigs” on Thursday, this could be a huge issue. Expect Jeff Allen to draw the assignment, but he will need help to avoid foul trouble. Tech will have to double down on Moses…
- Turn the Page: While Moses is the cowpokes lone star on offense, guard Keiton Page is a good compliment to the big man. Page is the reincarnation of Travis Ford, osu’s head coach. Page is just 5’10” and probably couldn’t leap over a phone book, but he is a deadly outside shooter. Page hit 137 three-pointers in his first two seasons at a 39% clip, but has struggled so far this year. Keiton is just 4/16 from deep this season. But if he gets hot, and often shooters do when playing on consecutive days, he could burn the Hokies if they double down. Tech has to be aware of where Page is and get out on him. He’ll pump-fake, dribble, and pull up inside the arc, but VT can live with that.
- Battle Inside: In addition to Moses, the cowboys have 6’8″, 245 lbs. Darrell Williams. He is averaging just under 11 rebounds per game on the season, including 17 total on the offensive end. The thin Hokies (in terms of depth inside) have to limit the second chance opportunities Moses and Williams get for their team.
- Turnovers (yes, I say this every game): Tech has forced 54 turnovers in their last two games, helping the Hokies to two easy wins. osu should be better than unc-g-spot and csnu with the ball, but they have had at least 15 turnovers in three of their four games, including 25 against Purnell’s crazy press. The cowboys should have tired legs after facing depaul’s press. Tech needs to take advantage and pressure osu. I’d like to see VT use that 1-3-1 half court trap they used some against csnu. okie state clearly didn’t handle pressure well, and have two guards who play a lot that are under 5’10” (Page and Ray Penn). Make them throw over the long Hokies.
- Exploit Mismatches: If Page is guarding Hudson or Delaney, take him off the dribble or post him up inside. Both guards will have a big height advantage. Post up on Penn, also. Tech also should be able to shoot over them.
- Hit Your Open Looks: VT is quite simply not hitting their open shots right now. Tech has shot under 30% from three in all four games and no one other than Malcolm has more than 2 makes from deep. Bell has disappeared from the face of the Earth in the last three games, making just 1 shot. Bell and Hudson are both just 2/9 from behind the arc, Eddie is 1/8, Green is 1/7 (though he may be out with his right calf injury). Atkins is 2/5. Expect him to get a chance and let’s hope he can step up.
Conclusion (Swagger): VT is the better team. Period. okie state lost their two stars. Moses is a big time player, but they don’t have the talent the Hokies do. Tech needs to come out and expect to win. Play hard for 40 minutes, something VT hasn’t done yet this year, and the Hokies can prevail if they force turnovers and limit second chance points. This is a chance against a quality program that was in the NCAA Tournament last year and would good on VT’s tourney resume this season. Tech has to cash in these opportunities.
Starters for osu:
- Guard: 12 Page – 5’10”
- Guard: 21 Gulley – 6’2″
- Guard: 15 Sidorakis – 6’4″
- Forward: 33 Moses – 6’6″
- Forward: 25 Williams – 6’5″