The Hokies head to the Communist Center on Saturday to take on the maryland terrapins. This marks the fourth straight weekend Tech has been on the road to open ACC play (total BS… that would never happen to unc or duke). We’ll see if the Hokies can build off of their road win Sunday at uva and get the ball rolling as they close out the season with 11 straight ACC games. And the Hokies are getting the terps at the right time — Wednesday night maryland lost to their big rival, duke (as if duke cares about them), while naming the court for former coach Gary Williams. They had a packed house and shot their wad. They will not have a packed house, or that level of energy, on Saturday after dropping their third straight game.
But there’s no reason to fear these turtles, their talent has dropped off quite a bit. That said, the Hokies cannot take anyone for granted, and maryland has exceeded my expectations, largely due to new Head Coach Mark Turgeon. Turgeon is really solid — he was 20+ games all four years he was at texas a&m before this, and won 20+ three of the final four years he was at wichita state before that. He led the aggies to the NCAA Tournament all four years in College Station.
maryland is led by sophomore guard Terell Stoglin, the ACC’s leading scorer at 20.9 ppg. And there’s been no drop-off for him in ACC play, he’s averaging 20.4 ppg in their five ACC tilts. Stoglin shredded the Tech defense in the meeting in Blacksburg last year, scoring 25 points on 7/12 FGs and 10/10 FTs. He regularly blew by the Hokie defense who either had to grab and foul him, or let him go for layups. Stoglin is more versatile this year, becoming a deadly 3-point shooter. He’s shooting 40% from deep with 2.5 makes per game (2nd best in the ACC).
The terps recently added Alex Len, the 7’1″ Ukraine train. He had to wait until the end of the semester to play but has averaged over 7 ppg since. He missed the temple game and only played 12 minutes against duke on Wednesday, so we’ll see how hard and long he can go. We all know how 7-footers give the Hokies fits, so this will be key. Len is good in the post and has a solid midrange game. He’ll drift out and shoot from midrange at times. He’s hitting 62% of his FGs, so you know he’s got a nice stroke and has good post moves.
Other than that, the terps have no one else that concerns me. Sean Mosley is a veteran who averages 10 ppg and 5 rpg, but doesn’t scare you. He can be invisible for entire games. He has improved his 3-point shooting and hits 42%, but doesn’t attempt a ton.
James Padgett would be a role player if they had more depth inside, but instead is forced to play a lot. He averages 9 ppg and 6 rpg.
Pe’Shon Howard reminds me of a Terrell Bell — he’s out there for his defense. But while Bell became a decent outside shooter, Howard hits just 24% from deep.
Nick Faust was their top recruit, but dude is struggling (I know we feel their pain). He’s shooting just 32% from the field, 54% from the line, and 20% from behind the arc.
With all that, I’d say Turgeon has squeezed every drop from these guys to get to 12-7. They are a middle of the pack ACC team at best, and Turgeon has them playing well.
For the Hokies, let’s hope Erick Green continues his dominance of the terps. EG dropped 24 points on 12/16 shooting at maryland last year (he’s sort of from the area so no doubt gets hyped with the extra family and friends). That helped EG snag ACC Player of the Week. Green followed that act with 20 points in the game in Blacksburg.
Dorenzo Hudson has scored 42 points off the bench in three games, and he’ll need to give a similar spark Saturday. It did not work well when Zo had to play the point Wednesday with Rankin out and Green in foul trouble, so let’s hope Marquis is back to spell Green at times and allow Hudson to work off the ball.
The big key is can Dorian Finney-Smith get going. While he’s still working very hard, diving for loose balls as he did at the end of the uva game and getting steals as he did against byu, it seems like the other team has a power play when he’s on the offensive end. Since the start of 2012, Doe Doe has made a field goal in just ONE game. He was 4/9 against florida state, but 0/19 in the other 5 games. He’s tallied just 11 points this calendar year. The Hokies have to find a way to get him going. The problem has been he hasn’t been able to get the offensive rebounds and put-backs he was getting earlier in the year against smaller post players, and he really only has one move to the basket… drive with his right hand straight at the baseline, get forced deep, and have to huck it to the left corner while falling out of bounds. And his 3-point shot has disappeared. We know he can do it, it is just about getting confidence.
Another key freshman, Robert Brown, is also hitting the wall it seems. In 2012, he’s hit just 14/45 FGs (31%), 5/23 3s (22%), and most disappointing, he’s just 4/9 from the free throw line.
The great sign of late has been Jarell Eddie. JE has 20 points and 24 rebounds in the last two games, including his first career double-double against byu (12/14).
HO-KEYS TO WINNING:
- Suck the air out: Like I said, Wednesday was an emotional game for maryland, this won’t be. If the Hokies can get up early like they did last year, they’ll take the crowd out of it… I’ll believe it when I see it as Tech has really struggled in the first half in every game this year on offense except for the unc game.
- Stifle Stoglin: Stoglin is the only guy you really fear. If Rankin is back, he can give you a few minutes on him. But it is going to largely be up to Green, Brown, and Hudson to get out on him on the perimeter, and the other defenders to rotate and help. He’s their scariest player so do what you can to limit him.
- Push it real good: maryland is not a good defensive team. They can be beaten in transition and they get lost on picks. If Tech actually runs some picks, they will have guys open on backdoors or pick and rolls. But we’ll see if VT does this, or just passes around the perimeter. The Hokies also need to drive at the tin early. They get teams in foul trouble and get to the line when they are aggressive. Don’t settle for 3s.
- All Time: maryland 27-10
- At maryland: md 16-4
- In ACC Play: VT 6-4
- At maryland in ACC Play: maryland 3-2
VT swept the twerps last year:
*Alex Len will start if he’s healthy. He missed the temple game and only played 12 minutes against duke while working back from an ankle injury. Len would start over Pankey if that’s the case.
maryland, like VT, has a highly touted freshman who is struggling. Nick Faust is averaging 7.2 ppg, but hitting just 32% of his FGs, 20% of his 3s, and 54% of his FTs.
Note: these stats are for ACC games ONLY (5 for both teams).
|PPG||57.6 (11)||67.2 (6)|
|PPG vs||61.8 (2)||70.2 (11)|
|FT%||76% (3)||65% (10)|
|FG%||37% (12)||40% (9)|
|3-Pt%||33% (6)||36% (2)|
|Made 3s PG||6.0 (4)||5.6 (5)|
|FG% D||41% (3)||45% (12)|
|3-Pt% D||30% (4)||26% (2)|
|Blocks||3.0 (9)||4.0 (5)|
|Steals||6.0 (6)||3.4 (12)|
|TO Margin||+4.0 (2)||-0.4 (8)|
|Off Reb %||27% (11)||35% (4)|
|Def Reb %||61% (12)||66% (10)|
What these stats tell me is maryland is awful at transition defense. Teams shoot low 3-point % against them, but a very high percentage inside the arc. That has to mean transition points, and poor post defense. They also don’t have many steals which means they aren’t taking away what you want to do in the half court (not sure what that is for VT).
Neither team is very strong at rebounding, and if Len doesn’t play big minutes the terps don’t have a height advantage on VT.