The Hokies find themselves in a familiar hole on Saturday. For the fourth consecutive year, and sixth time in seven years, Tech is 0-1 in the ACC. But Tech has won five straight since that loss to uva. And VT has answered the bell each of the last three years after losing their ACC opener by winning their second ACC game. While the ACC should be the wild wild west this year where anything can happen, Tech cannot afford to drop to 0-2 in league play with both losses at home and a date with a lady in powder blue in Chapel Hill looming on Thursday night next week. The Hokies don’t need to play perfect, they don’t need to look pretty, they just need to find a way to claw out a victory against a good seminole team. The noles are 1-0 in the ACC, having beaten clemson a month ago in Tallahassee (but that was with Xavier Gibson).
This game will be a match-up of two similar teams. To put it nicely, these two teams wouldn’t win any beauty contests for their style of play. To put it in Head Coach Greenberg’s terms, they play ugly. Both teams have enjoyed success in the ACC lately, but it is the noles that have reaped the benefits. fsu has earned an ACC Tournament First Round bye the last two years, and have made the NCAA Tournament both years while the Hokies have been sent to the NIT the last two times they’ve finished in the top four of the ACC.
Of course the panic button hit fevered pitch when news of Jeff Allen’s groin injury went public. But as Jeff showed Sunday against the mount, he’s playing through it and hopefully a week of no games will help. Quite simply, VT desperately needs him against the big fsu lineup.
To put it mildly, Tech has not fared well against the noles since joining the league. Just like in football, it has been a struggle. Check these records out:
- VT is 2-6 vs fsu in ACC play
- VT is 17-25 all time
- fsu has won 3 in a row
The bad news is Tech has never won at fsu, the only place VT hasn’t won at since joining the league [they also haven't won their in football -- also the only ACC venue they haven't won at]. The good news is this game isn’t at fsu. The bad news is fsu has won three straight in the series and are 11-2 against the Hokies over the last 20 years. The good news is VT is 2-1 against the noles at home in ACC play. And that one loss was a heartbreaker on a late jumper by Toney Douglas two years ago. Tech has not looked good the last two years against fsu, held under 60 both times. The Hokies lost by just five at florida state last year, but that was only because of a late rally in the final minute.
The most famous game in series history was almost exactly 30 years ago when Les Henson launched the famous “Henson Heave” for a 79-77 win at fsu on 1/21/80. THIS was a full court shot.
|Virginia Tech||florida state|
|Scorer||Delaney – 19.1||Singleton – 15.2|
|Rebounder||Allen – 9.7||Singleton – 8.3|
|Assists||Delaney – 4.0||Kitchen – 3.7|
|Steals||Green – 1.8||Singleton – 2.4|
|Blocks||Bell/Davila – 1.4||James – 2.3 (Singleton – 2.1)|
|Position||Virginia Tech||florida state|
|Guard||11 Green – 6-4||22 Kitchen – 6-4|
|Guard||23 Delaney – 6-3||21 Snaer – 6-5|
|Wing/Guard||1 Bell – 6-7||4 Dulkys – 6-5|
|Forward||0 Allen – 6-7||31 Singleton – 6-9|
|Forward||14 Davila – 6-8||5 James – 6-10|
ALL ABOUT f-l-o-r-i-d-a s-t-a-t-e florida state florida state florida state WOOOOOO!
The tables have evened up a bit. By that I mean the injury bug has hit the seminoles and in the one place that helps the Hokies the most – inside. Their 6’11″ center, Xavier Gibson, suffered a knee injury and a broken hand in a Hawaiian tournament around Christmas and should be out another month or so [No, he was not fighting a teammate - it was in a game]. The noles are still big, but don’t have the depth they did.
While the Hokies blew out the mount on Sunday, the noles lost to a very bad auburn team on Monday. The bad news is even the auburn coach called fsu out on their mistake — he mentioned if they had fed the ball inside more instead of launching threes (5/26), they’d have given the tigers trouble. I’m guessing Leonard Hamilton won’t let them make that mistake this game.
fsu does still have 6’10″ Bernard James inside. He’s not going to create his own offense, his points come from offensive rebounds or dishes for easy dunks (he shoots 62%). James is a force inside and blocks 2.3 shots per game (fourth best in the league).
The noles’ star is Chris Singleton, last year’s defensive player of the year and just about a lock for FIrst Team All-ACC this year. He’s eighth in the league in scoring at 15.2, fifth in rebounding at 8.3, second in steals at 2.4, and sixth in blocks at 2.1. But he’s a bit out of position at the 4 in the low post. I would imagine Davila and James will match up, while Allen and Singleton will be paired. Chris likes to drift out and will draw Jeff away from the hoop. He’s always loved the three-point shot way too much, but he’s actually hitting them this year (21/53 – 40%). Chris is a tremendous athlete — he got a triple double earlier this year with points, rebounds, and STEALS. He plays like Deron Washington but with a better outside shot and more bulk to him. I’d expect T-Bell will draw the assignment of guarding him some to protect Allen from fouls and because they are similar athletes.
Derwin Kitchen is a three year starter at point guard after transferring. Normally senior PGs concern me, but Kitchen is a very average player on offense. He does get a lot of steals and has shot well this year, but cannot hit threes.
Deividas Dulkys is out on the floor to shoot first and ask questions later. He’s hit 27 threes at a 36% clip. If he’s hot, you’re in trouble since he’s a bit player. But lately he hasn’t been – he’s scored just 8 points total in the last 4 games and is just 2/20 from deep (he was shooting almost 50% on threes before then).
Michael Snaer was a huge recruit for fsu two years ago, but had a lousy freshman year. He’s producing even less this year – shooting under 35% from the field. He’s also been poor in their last four games, scoring just 25 points and is 7/28 from the field. Snaer can hit the three though.
Their bench doesn’t offer much with Gibson out and Snaer in the starting lineup. They do have a 7-footer, Jon Kreft, who can eat up a few minutes but isn’t very athletic. He has just 2 blocks and 3 offensive rebounds in 6 games which should tell you something.
HO-KEYS TO WINNING:
- Attack the Glass: fsu is #1 in the ACC in offensive rebounds and percentage. They shoot the second most threes per game in the league, which create a lot of long rebounds. Tech must box out and expect them to send four or more guys to the glass.
- Exploit their Aggression: fsu will cheat for steals – they are #3 in the ACC with 9 per game, and will send a lot of guys for offensive rebounds. Tech doesn’t want this to just be a half court game. The Hokies need to take advantage of the noles’ style and secure the defensive rebound, feed it to Green or Delaney to push the ball, try and get easy buckets before fsu can setup their defense. Because if this is a half court game, the noles are #1 in the ACC in blocks (7), FG% defense (35%), and 3-Pt% defense (29%). Easier said then done and Singleton is very good at getting back for blocks in transition.
- Allen-town: Will Jeff’s groin hold up? Will he be able to avoid foul trouble? The answer must be yes to hang in this game. Jeff has 34 career double-doubles, but just 11 of those have been in ACC play despite the fact about half of VT’s games are ACC games. He needs to start being the man, not just against the mount st. mary’s of the world, but against good, big competition. Saturday would be a good day to start.
- Call the M.D.: Malcolm has been willing to take a back seat of late as Erick Green has run the show. You cannot argue with the results – VT has won five in a row. But the ACC’s leading scorer needs to be a star Saturday. He needs to hit some early three-pointers and draw the defense out. I’m not suggesting he change what he’s done that has been successful. Malcolm’s had 27 assists to just 11 turnovers in the last five. That’s great. Don’t do too much against the noles, but do more. Be more of a force. Be aggressive and don’t be afraid to take control of the game at times.
- 40 Marks the Spot: fsu has shot under 40% in all four of their losses and under 35% in three of those four games. They’ve shot under 40% in just two of their 11 wins. They’ve averaged just 55 ppg in their losses and 78 in their wins. Don’t let them get easy buckets. Just like the key to the Hokie offense is finding easy points in transition or by making the extra pass after someone cheats for a steal, Tech has to limit the noles easy points on defense. Get back and force the fsu to beat you in the half court. fsu loves to shoot the three. Tech needs to do a good job of getting a hand in the face of the fsu outside shooter, and then locking down the rebounds. Limit second chance points and the noles have almost no chance to win unless they get extremely hot from deep.
- Six Pack: In honor of what hopefully will be Tech’s sixth straight victory, grab a six pack of Miller High Life, the champagne of beers! Heck, you’ve earned it! Enjoy some (beer) champagne to ring in the new year.
BORING FACTS ABOUT fsu:
- f-l-o-r-i-d-a s-t-a-t-e! florida state, florida state, florida state… WOOOOO! [Sorry, but guys should not be yelling 'Woooo' at the end of your school cheer]
- Established in 1851
- 31,000 undergrads, 8,500 post-grads
- Was an all women’s school from 1906 to 1947 when it became coed. Lee Corso (ESPN Gameday personality) joked that when he went on his recruiting visit to the florida gators, he barely saw any women, but when he went to fsu, he barely saw any men… he went to fsu.
- Burt Reynolds went to fsu.
- Jim Morrison attended fsu for a stretch and got arrested for a prank after a football game.
- Richard Simmons went to fsu (chuckle)
- Ted Bundy killed two fsu Chi Omegans during his serial killing spree back in the late ’70s.
- fsu has 2 titles in football (as Hokies know all too well) and 3 title game appearances in the College World Series, but lost all 3.
- 2 Heismans – Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke
- florida state is the only school VT hasn’t beaten on the road in football OR basketball. 0-1 in pigskin, 0-4 in hoops.