- The bad news is VT is 0-3 as road favorites in ACC play this year.
- The good news is VT is 6-point ‘dogs in this game and Tech is 1-0 as road ‘dogs (uva)!
It has been all about the u lately, and the hurricanes come into this game riding the gravy train with biscuit wheels. After getting off to their typical slow start in conference play at 1-3, the canes have won 4 straight, 3 of which were on the road and culminating with a win at duke on Sunday. And don’t think that game was a fluke, the canes led by 14 at the half and even after the blue devils tied it in the final 30 seconds and sent the game to OT, the u responded by scoring the first 6 points of overtime and holding on to win 78-74 for their first ever win at Cameron Indoor, sending thousands of nerds home in tears.
The canes will present a formidable challenge for the Hokies. While they have basically zero depth inside (similar to the Hokies last year), they have two extremely talented post players in 6’10″, 284 lbs Reggie Johnson (I think I saw him on Finding Sasquatch last week), and 6’11″ florida-transfer Kenny Kadji. Both are juniors and have been averaging 12.3 ppg and 16.3 ppg in ACC play respectively. Johnson had 27 points and 12 rebounds against duke. Those two guys combined for 42 points against the blue devils, while duke’s four post players scored just 18 points. That’s domination.
miami will have as many as 4 guards on the court at a time. When they sub out Kadji or Johnson, they’ll replace them with a guard, not a forward. So if the Hokies can get either of those 2 bigs in foul trouble, it will help negate their size advantage inside. Swoope and Akpejiori are their backups inside but they play very sparingly.
Speaking of their guards, they love to jack up the 3-pointers. Their 7.4 made 3s per game is 2nd in the league to duke, and they hit a very respectable 36% of those attempts (3rd in the league). Malcolm Grant is in range from the time he steps in the arena and will shoot from anywhere inside halfcourt. He has 135 3-point attempts on the season and makes 33% of those. Durand Scott you will remember from the ACC Tournament two years ago. He torched the Hokies down the stretch. Scott scares you more with his handle than his shot, so you are happy when he settles to shoot from deep. Shane Larkin (37%), Trey McKinney Jones (34%), and Rion Brown (40%) also like to jack it up from deep. Even Kadji will shoot from deep. He is 17/35 from behind the arc on the season, going 4/5 against duke. But I think the Hokies would be fine with him chucking from out there, meaning he isn’t inside to crash the boards or score in the paint. Their 3-point percentage and makes are way down in league play, though. When they are hot, their tough to stop, when they aren’t, they are very beatable. And if you know ‘the streak’, you know how important 3-point % is. Both teams are good at defending the 3, so whomever defends it better will win (shocker, I’m sticking with the streak).
miami loves to run the high pick-and-roll. And imagine this — their screener cuts hard down the lane and they actually feed him the ball! Or, if you collapse on the screener, that leaves the man with the ball open for a 3. The challenge is the defender out on the screener has to flash to prevent the man with the ball from driving or getting an open 3. That means if the screener gets separation, the other post player(s) has to come over to help. That can lead to mismatches if it is Doe Doe or Eddie up against a 6’10″ 285 lbs. guy or a 6’11″ guy. If the Hokies play two bigs (as Ryan points out), that will help with the help defense. But it also can lead to open guys off the ball for open 3s. For the u, it is all about creating mismatches. The Hokies will have to really hustle, and help, on defense and the guards will need to fight through screens, going under will lead to open 3-pointers.
Every year I keep thinking the canes will take a step forward, and most of their guys have 3 years of experience now. The canes of old would lose this game and fall into the lower half of the league. Will this be the year they finally take a leap into the upper half of the league?
HO-KEY TO WINNING: On defense, double down on Johnson/Kadji, forcing miami to beat you from deep (and hope you can rotate in time/they are off). On offense, be aggressive and attack their bigs, trying to get them in foul trouble (Johnson is a foul machine).
- Overall: 10-10
- In ACC Play: VT 9-4 (Tech was 1-6 against the canes in the Big East)
- At miami in ACC Play: VT 3-1
- Last Year: VT 72, miami 68 (@VT)
|Bench||4/5 Jones||6-5/ 6-7||Jr/ Sr||7.0/ 6.6|
Note: these stats are for ACC games ONLY (8 for both teams).
|PPG||60.5 (9)||70.5 (6)|
|PPG vs||65.2 (4)||67.4 (8)|
|FT%||78% (1)||76% (2)|
|FG%||39% (12)||44% (6)|
|3-Pt%||32% (6)||31% (9)|
|Made 3s PG||5.6 (6)||6.3 (4)|
|FG% D||42% (5)||41% (4)|
|3-Pt% D||31% (6)||29% (2)|
|Blocks||3.1 (9)||4.0 (5)|
|Steals||5.1 (9)||7.3 (5)|
|TO Margin||+2.6 (2)||-0.1 (8)|
|Off Reb %||29% (11)||32% (7)|
|Def Reb %||61% (12)||67% (7)|
TRENDING (Freshmen Edition):
- Dorian Finney-Smith – after missing 25 consecutive shots over 6 games, Doe Doe went 5/8 from the floor against clemson, including 2/3 from behind the arc.
- Marquis Rankin – 8/14 from the field over his last 4 games (8/32 — 25% — before that)
- Robert Brown – the freshman is averaging just 4.9 ppg in ACC play and is hitting just 29% of his shots (he averaged 8.5 ppg and hit 40% of his shots out of conference).
- C.J. Barksdale – just 6 total points in his last 6 games, including 4 goose eggs (2/10 from the field over those 6 games).
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
- Invention: Swagger
- Film: ‘The u’, an ESPN 30 for 30 film, is definitely in my top 5 sports movies of all time
- 5 time national champs in football
- Former VT coaching great, Bill Foster, resurrected their basketball program in the 1980s before he came to VT
- Notable ‘people’ (alums/part time students): “The Rock” played football at the u in the early 90s, Ray Liotta, Steve-O, Sly Stallone, Gloria Estefan, Ben Folds (Five), Bruce Hornsby, Enrique Iglesias, Jill Arrington (what happened to her?), Roy Firestone, Suzy Kolber, Ryan Braun, Pat “The Bat” Burrell, Rick Barry, and too many football players to name – Ted Hendricks, Jim Kelly, Jim Otto, and Michael Irvin are in the Hall of Fame, Vinny Testaverde and Gino Torretta won the Heisman.
TANGENT: Deja vu all over again — clemson was down 14 to maryland with 7:30 to go on Tuesday. They had 3 foul shots to tie it with 10 seconds left, but senior Andre Young missed the first 2, and they missed a shot at the buzzer (that in this case would have won the game), and they lost. They are not clutch from the charity stripe with the chance to tie.