Categorized | 2012-13 Season, Game Previews

Preview | VT (9-4) @ maryland (12-1) | Saturday at Noon | ACC Network and ESPN3

Spread: maryland by 11.5.

The Hokies open ACC play on Saturday with a 250 mile road trip (after back-to-back 2,500 mile road trips) to College Park, MD. Tech is just 1-7 in ACC openers, losers of five straight. And after being outscored 111-56 in consecutive halves against colorado state and byu, it’s looked like VT would struggle to beat maryland-eastern shore or maryland-baltimore county right now, let alone the 12-1 terps.

While Tech’s struggles are well documented and readily apparent to anyone that has seen their last six games (horrendous perimeter/help defense, poor rebounding, and 3-point shooting that’s been colder than a Colorado ski slope), let’s not anoint maryland the ACC champs just yet. Since playing an overrated kentucky team (#58 RPI) tough in their opener (and losing by just 3 points), maryland has faced just two other top 100 RPI teams — beating #62 george mason and #90 stony brook. They’ve faced just one other top 200 team, meaning 9 of their 12 wins are against teams with a RPI of 200+. They have not faced a team in the top 50 of the RPI (VT is 1-2 vs top 50 teams).

That said, maryland will present some serious challenges to the Hokies and have to be heavy favorites in this game:

  • Turgeon is a seriously good coach and has them a year ahead of schedule — by next year they’ll be one of the top five programs in the ACC, and likely top four, year in and year out.
  • Alex Len is 7’1″ and a good low post scorer and rebounder. Considering VT couldn’t stop 6’9″ Brandon Davies, that’s not a good omen.
  • maryland is VERY deep — they play 10 guys 10+ minutes per game, and no one averages more than 25 minutes per game. That allows them to pick up full court most of the game, forcing VT to use energy just to bring the ball up.
  • Logan Aronhalt has been insanely hot from deep. The albany transfer is nearing 200 made 3s for his career and is 24/43 (56%) on the season from deep. He is just 1/10 on 2-point shots. Let’s hope Tech guards him a little better than they did Mr. Haws, who dropped 42 on the Hokies. No one else shoots even 39% on 3s for maryland though Allen is a threat at 38%.
  • maryland shoots the ball very well. Four of their top six scorers shoot 55% or better from the field, and they shoot 50% as a team. That’s not good news for a struggling defense. The terps will attack the tin regularly and often. Tech must defend the post better, and will have to double Len. Will that lead to open looks for Aronhalt and others? We’ll see.

maryland has 46 fewer free throw attempts than the Hokies, surprising for a team that likes to go inside a lot.

The keys for the Hokies are:

  • Can they rotate on defense to avoid wide open looks
  • Can they make some 3s (Tech is now 11th in the ACC at 32% on 3-pointers)

Rebounding will be important, too, but let’s face it — if maryland doesn’t miss because they are as wide open as byu and colorado state were, it won’t matter. Tech also needs to find ways to get out and run to avoid facing Len (and his 2.3 blocks per game) in the paint. That might mean leaking out a guard or two on defense and hoping the bigs can get the boards. Risky, but possibly necessary.

*Note: I was dead wrong about VT going zone. They tried a 2-3 zone against byu and it failed as miserably as their man, double-the-post defense.

Preview - VT maryland

This post was written by:

- who has written 1216 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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  • goodraisin

    I hate Johnson’s double-the-post defense so much… VT has been so poor at running it, I don’t see why they don’t completely abandon it. I’d rather see what Raines and JVZ can do guarding Len 1-on-1 then let him continue to pass to open shooters all night.

  • Les

    Maryland also has good dribble-drive wings in Nick Faust and Dez Wells.

    After watching Haws abuse VT on the screens, the defensive boards are going to be a very crowded place.

  • Brooklyn Hokie
    • Niemo

      Ha, solid! I’m surprised it didn’t change bourbon to tangueray

  • Chris

    This one will probably get ugly quick.

    • RK in Roanoke

      You were correct. Then a nice comeback, then ugly again.

      • Les

        The decision to play uptempo is an admission they don’t have the bodies to play straight up on D and hope to steal some games from opponents’ mistakes. The risk is that you suffer more blowout losses.

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