Categorized | 2011-12 Season, Game Previews

Preview | VT (2-6) @ miami (5-3) | Thursday, 9 PM | ESPN2

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  • 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).

SERIES:

  • 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)

STARTERS:

VIRGINIA TECH
Pos # Player Height Year PPG
PG 10 Rankin 6-1 Fr 2.8
SG 11 Green 6-3 Jr 15.7
SF 31 Eddie 6-7 So 10.0
F 15 Finney-Smith 6-8 Fr 5.7
C 14 Davila 6-8 Sr 7.5
Bench 5 Hudson 6-5 Sr 11.4
1 Brown 6-5 Fr 7.3
miami
Pos # Player Height Year PPG
G 0 Larkin 5-11 Fr 7.3
G 3 Grant 6-1 Sr 12.7
G 1 Scott 6-5 Jr 13.1
F 35 Kadji 6-11 Jr 12.6
F 42 Johnson 6-10 Jr 11.8
Bench 4/5 Jones 6-5/ 6-7 Jr/ Sr 7.0/ 6.6

STATS:

Note: these stats are for ACC games ONLY (8 for both teams).

VT miami
ACC RANKING IN PARENTHESIS
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):

HOT:

  • 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)

NOT:

  • 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.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1217 posts on Tech Hoops.

Niemo is a member of the VT Class of '98. While not a professional journalist by any stretch, Niemo analyzes and breaks down every minute of Hokie hoop action. He also researches topics of interest such as Hokie recruits, program revenue, statistical data on the team, previews VT opponents, and discusses his favorite bourbons/Scotches. In addition to his passion for Hokie hoops, Niemo has attended 126 straight VT football home games (every game since '94), eclipsing the 100 mark in September of '09 and recently attended his 20th consecutive VT/uva game. During the final home basketball game of his senior year, he was brought onto the court and was awarded 2 passes to the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament in Philly during a timeout for being a "Super Fan" during his time at VT. The Hokie Bird made the award on behalf of Athletic Director Jim Weaver. Niemo was known to be in the front row of every home game with his familiar red afro hairdo.

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  • Ryan C

    Any chance we have Raines and Davila starting? As long as Davila or Raines don’t get quick fouls, it might be our chance to negate the advantage they have low. I imagine we’ll be cross guarding their perimeter guys. I’m not sure Eddie should be on Scott, but his length would be good on Grant. I imagine Green would probably be a better matchup against Scott.

    • Niemo

      Ryan, it is a possibility. Their bigs are only on the court for about 50% of the game together. They try and make sure one is in at all times. So it will be a factor at times (including the start), but won’t be a huge issue all game.

  • Chrishokie

    Curious as to why you don’t list Raines and Barksdale as Bench players for us? Are you just listing the top 2 bench scores or minutes played?

    Miami, UVA, FSU and NCState have all improved significantly this year. And NCState has two 5 star and one 4 star recruit coming in next year. Assuming our team improves next year we will still have our work cut out for us.

  • Hokie-ritaville

    Love what you said about “not going under the high ball screens” and “getting that help defender to agressively hedge out” on that screen…the order of the day is probably “help and recover, and do it fast!”.

    Attacking the rim offensively is something we should, as a general rule, do more often…the first rule of basketball, if you’re having trouble scoring, get yourself to the line…they’re the easiest points in the game. And, we actually do a pretty good job of converting our FTs. Drawing fouls takes a lot of the aggression out of the defense and open looks start to present themselves. I’d like to see Seth drive this home if we end up in one of our patented and prolonged scoring droughts.

    I still like our chances in this game, we seem to play well down there, also, they say first you win, then you get good…well, maybe with the “hold on for dear life” win we got against Clemson, we did just that. Wishful thinking probably.

  • John

    Niemo, you discussed the types of mismatches miami can create. Is there anything we have as an advantage to create mismatches? I think our team tends to adjust to other teams with our lineup rather than playing our style and making the other team adjust. I think there was a game a few years back where Cheick sat the whole game because of this.

  • chuck

    Awful…The U? top 5 sports movie of all time? That wasn’t even one of the top 5 30 for 30s (The Two Pablos was easily a top 5 Sports Doc…maybe #1)…

    I think we can all agree the worst one was the Ice Cube narrated one on the Raiders moving to LA…he should stick to RV movies.

    Sorry but i am real anti-Miami after Golden ran his mouth during Signing Day. I want to win all games Miami more than ever now.

    And I believe Pat Burrell now goes by “Machine”.

  • King

    I don’t like our chances tonight. Anytime a team has legitimate size & skill in the post, along with the ability to stretch our D with 3-pt shooting, that’s a particularly poor matchup for Tech. We can’t bang in the paint so our only hope is to get hot from 3. The worst case is that we go cold & everyone stands around the perimeter, chucking up prayers. I think Tech falls 69-64. They’ll have a cold start, get in an early hole, & battle back late, only to take an ill-advised shot or commit a senseless turnover to come up short in the end. That’s been the story of the season. Prove me wrong boys.

  • HipHop_Hokie

    I think we have a decent shot… the Canes are hopefully going to still be basking in the glow of their big win over Duke, and we might be able to slide into South Beach and grab a W. I hope that we see a good bit of Rankin running the point tonight because I feel like we played some of our best team ball with him handling the rock and Erick sliding over to the 2.

    We definitely need to be aggressive tonight and attack the rim… hopefully getting big Reggie in foul trouble because he’s been very prone to that throughout his career… doing his best Jeff Allen impersonation by picking up at least 4 fouls in most games (although he has fouled out only once this year against MD).

    Stay aggressive boys… and play smart. We can win tonight and keep building momentum.

  • chuck

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