Archive | Game Previews

The Week Ahead: Nov. 9 to Nov 15 (3 Home Games vs usc upstate, wvu, and w. carolina)

The Hokies open their 2013-14 campaign on Saturday at Noon in the Cassell — consider it an appetizer before the Coastal Division showdown between miami and Virginia Tech that night.  Here’s the schedule for the first week of the Hokies’ season:

  1. Sat., Nov. 9 – usc upstate – Noon – Cassell – ESPN3 (Internet/mobile devices/gaming systems/new Samsung SmarToilets) – Coaches vs Cancer Classic
  2. Tue., Nov. 12 – west virginia – 1 PM – Cassell – ESPN
  3. Fri., Nov. 15 – western carolina – 7 PM – Cassell – ESPN3 – Coaches vs Cancer Classic

Does anything stand out to you on that list above?  Well, for starters, yes, usc upstate is a real college (one of my former players has confirmed the campus does exist — even got me a t-shirt).  Basically, no one in south carolina wants “North” in their name, so they chose to go with “upstate” instead.  That’s about as much as I know about them.  Not even sure who their mascot is.  spartans, maybe?

The other thing you probably noticed is we are playing wvu at home for the first time since we left the Big East 10 years ago… at 1 PM… on a Tuesday… and no, that’s not Veteran’s Day (which is Monday).  So he we take the one interesting home game we have in the first two months of the season (unless you like usc-u, wcu, vmi, furman, radford, winthrop, unc-g-spot, or md-eastern shore), and play it in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday.  Why, you ask?   Well, we are part of the 24 hours of basketball on ESPN all day Tuesday.  I guess it could be worse – hawaii plays at 5 EST (Midnight local), there’s always some East Coast teams playing at 7 AM (florida gulf coast this year… remember them?), 9 AM, and 11 AM, so maybe this isn’t quite so bad.  Looks like I have a “doctor’s appointment” on Tuesday afternoon!!!  So come on down, Huggy Bear. (FYI: This is the recommended game to take a siesta during according to one web site.  No love.  And vcu and uva (both ranked) play later in the night)

Rounding out the week will be another home game versus western carolina to culminate our weird geographic week on Friday night (this is the appetizer for the football game on Saturday).  Note that this game, like the usc-u game, is part of the Coaches vs Cancer Classic.  But, regardless of what happens in these two games, VT will advance to the semi-finals at the Barclays Center (Brooklyn Nets) on Nov. 22 to face #2 michigan state.  We saw a similar situation last year where VT lost to georgia southern, but still went to the semis of the tourney in Vegas to beat bradley in OT, then get throttled by colorado state.  Let’s hope we win both tune-ups this year.

Look for the Hokies to feature their new style of play.  Coach JJ has said all along he wants to play up-tempo on offense and aggressively trapping on defense.  They couldn’t last year because of lack of bodies, but that shouldn’t be an issue this year.  Coach SG would always say we were going more up-tempo, then scrap it by halftime of the first game.  I think JJ will stick with the plan, at least on offense (how tightly refs call hand checking this year will affect the defense).  I mean, it couldn’t be much worse than last year so he might as well see how it plays out over the early part of the season.  Should keep things interesting!  Let’s hope the result is lots of easy transition buckets for VT, and not just making it easier for the other team to score more quickly (i.e. colorado state, byu, maryland).


usc upstate:

  • Last Year: 16-17 (9-9 in Atlantic Sun)
  • Series: VT 1-0 (game was in 2010-11 season, VT won 64-53)
  • Top Player: #23 Torry Craig – 6’6″ senior forward, 17.2 ppg and 6.9 rpg last year
  • Nickname: spartans (I was right!)


  • Last Year: 13-19 (6-12 in the Big(10)12 – 8th place out of 10 teams in the league)
  • Series: wvu 47-29
  • At VT: VT 16-12 (no games at VT since 2004)
  • Last Meeting: @wvu 68, VT 67 – Tech’s first loss last year on 12/8/12 after a 7-0 start
  • Top Player: Honestly, I don’t see one.  They had no one average even double-digit points per game last season and 3 of their 6 guys that averaged between 7-9.9 points per game are gone.  They are offensively challenged to say the least.
  • Of note: They added two 4-star recruits this offseason.

western carolina:

  • Last Year: 14-19 (9-9 in the Southern)
  • Series: VT 3-0 (all in the Cassell with the last meeting in 2005)
  • Top Player: #5 Trey Sumler – 6’2″ senior guard – 18.4 ppg last year including 36% on 3s; 4.5 rpg, 3.6 apg – stat stuffer)
  • Nickname: The catamounts (didn’t even have to look that one up)


I bet we’ll go 2-1 this week.  Anything less would not be a good start to the season and could ensure the bandwagon stays parked.  usc upstate and wcu are middle of the pack Atlantic Sun and Southern teams respectively, so Tech must win those games.  That said, VT lost to georgia southern last year, and I predict these games will be agonizingly close.  wvu isn’t that good, so VT could pull it out at home, but the 1 PM time will basically turn it into a neutral site game unless the students come out in mass (hint hint).  So I’ll stick with 2-1 where I think any of the three could be a VT loss.  No guarantees from me this year, I’ve learned my lesson.

Posted in 2013-14 Season, Game Previews6 Comments

Preview | ACC Tournament First Round | #12 Hokies (4-14) vs #5 nc state (11-7) | Thursday at ~2:30 PM

Spread: nc state by 11.5.

The Hokies try to put an atrocious ACC regular season behind them and make some noise in the ACC Tournament starting Thursday. Their opponent will be another disappointment, the nc state wolfpack, in the second game of the early session on Thursday, tipping off around 2:20 to 2:40 PM.

nc state was picked to win the ACC by the media in the preseason, featured the Preseason POTY (C.J. Leslie) and the ROTY (T.J. Warren, another stud state freshman, is the one who will likely win it). And while they are #28 in the RPI and all but a lock for the Big Dance, they struggled to an 11-7 ACC regular season record. It was partially due to PG Lorenzo Brown missing a few games due to injury, and it is partially due to the fact that they are nc state and always seem to underachieve. You don’t build a team around a guy like C.J. “Derrick Coleman, Jr.” Leslie. I could also call him 50-cent, as in he only plays hard 50% of the time. He ended up just 3rd Team All ACC.

For the Hokies, I say we go for broke and do everything we can to win this game with no regard for Friday. Forget saving guys for the long haul of back-to-back-to-back-to-back games in the ACC-T format. I say we do everything we can to survive this one, especially considering we will be huge underdogs and likely won’t survive to live another day. I’d like to see Coach JJ, fresh off his first ever technical foul, implement the things he wants to do next year, like the full court press. I’d use it from the get-go. He wants to run it next year, so why not put it in during practice the next three days and go for broke with it Thursday. state has no depth (they really only play 7 guys), so picking up the tempo could wear them out in the 2nd half. That said, nc state has a very good offense (12th most productive/efficient in the nation out of 347 teams), so this could backfire, they could shred the press and hit a dozen alley-oop dunks and win by 40… So what? We are huge underdogs and expected to lose. I’d like to see us try something different and start to look to the future in terms of JJ’s “system”. Why not? That’s my 2 cents.

The winner of this game will face the hated wahoos at the same time Friday in the ACC Quarterfinals. uva will look to end their pathetic trend in the ACC Tournament in that contest — the hoos haven’t made it to ACC Tournament Semi-Final Saturday since 1995. That’s a streak of losing in the First Round or Quarterfinals for each of the previous 17 ACC Tournaments. They just have to win one, against VT or state, this year to end that streak.

First Meeting:

The game was a seesaw battle in the first half with neither team leading by more than 5 and Tech took a two point lead to the break. In the second half, the Hokies jumped ahead by 7 twice, including with 7:49 to go. But a 14-0 nc state run flipped the game to a 7-point state advantage with 3:30 remaining. Tech was down 6 with 20 seconds left, but a Rankin layup, Eddie 3, and 2/4 FTs for state gave Tech the ball down 3 with 8 seconds left. Green was intentionally fouled and hit his first FT. The next FT was one of the great Tech plays of the year — Green intentionally missed the foul shot off the right part of the rim, it bounced off the backboard, off to the right side of the lane, where a streaking Jarell Eddie rushed in from beyond the 3-point line (possibly too early), caught the ball, and put it in to tie the score.

In OT, Tech took an 84-83 lead behind two Eddie 3s, but state rattled off 6 straight FTs (they shot 43 FTs compared to 7 for the Hokies) and won 90-86 in overtime in Raleigh. Green had 29 for VT.


Posted in 2012-13 Season, ACC Tournament, Game Previews2 Comments

Previews (2-for-1) | VT (4-12) @ #3 duke (12-4) on Tuesday at 7 on espnU | VT (4-13) @ wake (5-12) on Sunday at 2

Spread: wake by 5.5.

Updated post-duke: #11 is now 11th on the Hokies’ all time scoring list. Erick Green needs just 15 points to make it into the top 10 on the Virginia Tech all time scoring list! He’ll bump Ace Custis from the top 10 when he does.

The loser of the VT @ wake game will finish as the #12 seed (last) in the ACC Tournament. If VT loses, they will finish all alone in last place.

Spread: duke by 20.

The Hokies close out the regular season with two Tobacco Road games, Tuesday at #3 duke and Sunday at wake forest. The blue devils have owned the Hokies of late, winning 5 in a row and 9 of 10. Conversely, Tech has holds the mortgage on the deacons, paid clean and free. The Hokies are 9-3 against wake since joining the ACC and winners of 9 of 11, including earlier this year in Blacksburg.

duke MATCH-UP:

This is the 7th time these two teams will have met in the last 24 months and one week (each of the last two ACC Tourneys and home and away the last two years). duke won the first meeting just two weeks ago by 32 in Blacksburg (Tech’s worst home loss since their very first ACC home game back in 2004 vs unc)… And that was without Ryan Kelly who just scored 36 against the c-a-n-e-s on Saturday. Seth Curry had 19 in the first half and duke led 48-28 at the break on their way to an 88-56 win. At one point duke was 9/10 from 3-point land and finished the game hitting 12/17 (71%). Tech was 1/16 from deep (6%).

But the Hokies did take the devils to OT in Durham last year! With two shots to win it at the end (Green and Raines) before fading in OT. So who knows. Just don’t hold your breath.


wake MATCH-UP:

This might be the last time the Hokies see wake coach Jeff Bzdelik, the worst coach in the ACC. He’s 10-38 in ACC play in 3 seasons (21% win-pct) and 1-23 in ACC road games with a game at nc state pending this week (even Paul Hewitt was better than that… barely – he averaged one road win per year at gt). So Bzdelik is more than on the hot seat.

wake is 0-8 on the road in the ACC this year and Bzdelik is something like 1-42 in conference road games between his time at wake and colorado before that (I’m not making that up). But this game is at wake, where the deacs are 5-3 in ACC play this year including wins over nc state and miami, so this will be a tough draw for the Hokies (aren’t they all?).



Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews0 Comments

Previews (2-for-1) | Wednesday @ #5 miami (13-1) at 7 PM | Saturday vs clemson (5-10) at 8 PM – Senior Night!


Update: clemson lost to unc by a 68-59 margin on Thursday night. Booker had 25 points and 11 boards. The tigers were down 14 at home but battled back to make it respectable. clemson has now lost 6 of 7 and have to play the Hokies less than 48 hours after the loss to the heels.

Spread: miami by 17.

Forget miami for now, Saturday is SENIOR NIGHT at the Cassell! This means it will be the final home game for the nation’s leading scorer, Erick Green, and walk-on Joey Racer. PLEASE – LET’S PACK THE CASSELL! And we are encouraging all fans to wear GREEN. That’s no disrespect to Joey, or the rest of the Hokies, but think it is a fitting tribute to one of the all time greatest in the history of Virginia Tech hoops, who is having one of the five best seasons in school history (more on him later this week). So get out that Kermit the frog outfit or that St. Pat’s shirt and be green for a night!

Ok, back to the games. The Hokies will have an opportunity at revenge against two of the top defense in the nation (miami is 7th in the land out of 347 teams and clemson is also top 50 in defensive efficiency).

Just like last week against duke, miami is coming off a loss – their first in ACC play at wake this past Saturday, so they should be focused and not overlooking the last place Hokies. wake dominated the canes at home, jumping out to a 19-point first half lead and winning by 15 in Winston-Salem. However, they are still #2 in the RPI (behind duke).

clemson will be playing their short turnaround game against the Hokies Saturday. They play the tar holes at home Thursday night, then have to travel to Blacksburg to play the Hokies less than 48 hours later. The tigers have lost 6 of 7 heading into the VT game. Obviously this is a great opportunity for the Hokies to jump on the tigers, who should be tired and more focused on their contest with unc.

Here are all the goodies from the first meetings with each team:

miami 73, @Hokies 64 (January 30th):

  • The Hokies stunned the 6-0 (in the ACC) canes by jumping to a 28-16 lead with less than 6 minutes left in the first half, but a 7-0 run to close the half by miami closed the gap to 3, 32-29 (Marshall Wood missed 3 FTs and a dunk and Green missed a layup). miami continued their run in the 2nd half, starting it with a 9-2 run to go up by 4. They took the lead for good with 11:14 to go as a 10-0 run in the middle of the 2nd half put them up 9. The Hokies were down 4 with 2 minutes left but could get no closer. Shane Larkin, who is Green’s stiffest competition for ACC POTY (and Barry Larkin’s son), paced the u with 25 points and Kenny Kadji added 18 (VT has no one that can guard the 6’11” inside-outside threat). Erick Green had 30 (11/20 shooting and 5/8 on 3s) to lead VT. Eddie had 14 (4/5 FGs, 3/3 on 3s) and Raines 10.

@clemson 77, Hokies 70 (January 27th):

  • Unlike the miami game, Tech fell behind big early in this game. clemson was up 12-0 before the Hokies scored with over 6 minutes and 30 seconds gone. Tech battled back to tie the game at the half (33-all). The second half was back and forth but after VT took a 1-point lead with 4 minutes left, clemson took the lead for good with 3:20 to go. Milton Jenning led all scorers with 28 points (20 in the 2nd half including 16/18 from the line). Erick Green had 25 for Tech. clemson, the 2nd worst 3-point % shooting team in the ACC, hit 10/21 from deep including 5/7 by K.J. McDaniels (just a 32% shooter). Note he had 5 dunks at VT last year, he’s a freak athlete.


Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews0 Comments

Previews (2-for-1) | florida st (6-7) @ VT (2-11) on Sunday at 6 PM on ESPNU | #6 duke (9-3) @ VT (2-10) on Thursday at 9 PM on ESPN

Spread: fsu by 1.

Update: florida state lost by 18 at nc state on Tuesday while the Hokies will look to snap their 9-game losing streak (all ACC games) on Sunday.

Spread: duke by 13.

The Hokies should be well rested for their two home games this week, having played just once in nine days. Obviously the Hokies have a tough road to hoe on Thursday night, though, taking on the duke blue devils. duke is currently #1 in the RPI and are #6 in the polls since their loss at maryland on Saturday (so you know Coach K will have them focused on this game). But duke is, in my opinion, not the first or second most talented team in the nation by a long stretch. They aren’t the most talented duke team of recent years, either. And this game is in the Cassell, where Tech took down the dukies in 2005 and again in 2011. duke will be without Ryan Kelly, a good inside-out threat. So it is possible (and Curry has struggled in the home where his dad’s jersey hangs).

The Hokies can beat florida state. No, I’m not guaranteeing a victory, but this is the worst fsu team in about five years. They are tall, as always, with three 7-footers on their roster, but they are SOFT. I said it — pillow soft. They are last in the ACC in rebounding margin at -7.5. So their bigs are not a force. But if the game is close at the end, look out for Michael Snaer. He’s hit 5 game-winning shots in the final 5 seconds, including 3 at the buzzer, in the last 13 months. And we all remember the 3 he hit last year in Tallahassee that sunk the Hokies (VT still has never won there).

VT has to travel to duke in a few weeks but this will be the only regular season meeting between VT and fsu.

Hopefully Thursday will be a great atmosphere instead of the typical 6,000 fans of late, and Sunday will probably have plenty of good seats available, but I’m predicting (not guaranteeing) a VicTory.


Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews4 Comments

Preview | VT (2-9) @ nc state (6-5) on Saturday at 2 PM on ESPN2

Spread: nc state by 15.

If you asked most people who the biggest disappointment in the ACC is to date, they would tell you nc state. That’s because while Tech was picked to finish in the lower third of the league anyway, nc state was picked to win the ACC, C.J. Leslie was tabbed to be the ACC Player of the Year, and Rodney Purvis was slated to be the Freshman of the Year, a clean sweep in the preseason. They feature three 5-star and three 4-star recruits on their roster, half from the Sidney Lowe days and half under second year coach Mark Gottfried.

Yet, if it wasn’t for a Scott Wood 3-pointer with 1 second left at clemson last Sunday, the wolfpack would have a losing record in the ACC. As it is, they are just 6-5 and 5th place in the league. They got trounced by 20 points by oklahoma state earlier in the year and have lost to maryland, wake, uva, miami, and duke in ACC action.

Despite all this, the wolfpack are poised to go to the NCAA Tournament for the 2nd year in a row after never making it under Lowe. They are ranked 17th in the RPI, thanks in large part to the nation’s 8th toughest schedule. They’ve played 4 top 25 RPI teams (1-3), 3 more 26-50 (2-1), and 5 more in the top 100 (3-2).

At least Tech would have to worry about being outnumbered on Saturday. The wolfpack basically only go two deep on their bench. Vandenberg plays a minute or two here and there, but I’m not counting him. nc state lost three straight while stud point guard Lorenzo Brown was out, but he’s back now (played 32 minutes in the win over clemson) and should start Saturday. He is a devastating slasher.

C.J. Leslie has played well, but he will likely not be the ACC POTY. He’s averaging 15.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and gets to the line a ton (6.5 attempts per game), but I wouldn’t even call him their MVP.

Richard Howell has improved night and day, and if you played fantasy sports, he would be a #1 seed in the ACC. Howell is in the top two on his team in points, rebounds, blocks, assists (as a big man), and steals. He leads the ACC in rebounding. Howell’s ppg have improved by about 2.5 ppg each year since his freshman year, and he now looks like a NBA player.

Don’t forget about Scott Wood. The beanpole is still around, and dropping 43% of his 3s (63 makes). And he’s automatic at the line, hitting over 90% but he doesn’t get there much since he’s soft.

Purvis, the preseason pick as FOTY, has been decent, but hasn’t lived up to the 5-star hype. T.J. Warren, another 5-star freshman, has played better (averaging 11.4 ppg to Purvis’s 9.3). Purvis is a better than 40% 3-point shooter, though.

Stat to Watch: nc state is #2 in the ACC hitting 41.2% of their 3s in league action. But they are 11th in the league with 5.1 makes per game (behind VT’s 5.4). Given nc state’s size advantage at almost every position, the Hokies have no prayer of winning if nc state is hot from deep. Given that 10 of VT’s 11 ACC opponents have shot a higher 3-point % than normal and made more than normal, that’s not a good thing. Tech must hope nc state missed from the outside, VT can hit some (like the 2 3-pointers they got from Marshall Wood against uva), and do a good job on the defensive glass (they held uva to just 6 offensive rebounds). Both teams have a similar turnover margin, but if the Hokies can cause misses, get the rebounds, and force turnovers, who knows.

Tech has won two straight at nc state. Since joining the league, this series has been a series of runs. VT won the first meeting, nc state the next 6 (we were the only team Lowe could beat), and then VT 4 in a row until state throttled Tech in the regular season finale last year at the Cassell. In that 70-58 win, Wood had 19, Leslie 18, and Brown 10. Raines had 15 and EG 12 for the Hokies.

Preview VT nc state

Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews0 Comments

Preview | VT (2-8) @ uva (7-3) | Tuesday at 7 PM on ESPNU

Spread: uva by 14 (ouch).

Sure the Hokies have lost six straight ACC games for the first time ever, but let’s not give up on Tuesday night just yet.  It is a rivalry game so you can throw out the records!  Or as they say south of the border, expulsar a los tocadiscos!  After not winning in ch’ville between 1968 and 2008 (although the two teams didn’t play on campus for 24 of those years… thank you, uva), a streak of nine straight losses, Tech has won 3 of 5 in wahoo land since, including a 47-45 victory there last year.  Let’s just hope Erick Green is fully recovered from the bout with dehydration he suffered on Saturday, though I am sure his minutes will be down since this is Tech’s third game in six days (Green leads the ACC averaging 38.2 minutes per conference game, two minutes more than #2).

This is the second meeting of the season between these two rivals, and it is very much a ‘then and now’ situation.

  • Then: VT and uva were both 2-2 in league play, with the Hokes on a 2-game win streak
  • Now: VT has lost 6 straight and are tied for last in the ACC with bc while uva won 5 of 6 and are alone in 3rd place in the ACC

In this case, stats don’t lie.  If you look at the numbers below, it is pretty easy to see why uva is 3rd in the ACC and VT is last.  While uva is 10th in the ACC in PPG, that is because of their molasses-like pace.  They are 340th in the nation out of 347 teams in terms of tempo.  But they are very efficient as an offense — they are #2 in the ACC in FG%, #1 in 3-Point% and #5 in terms of offensive efficiency.  They also are #2 in turnover margin at +2.5 per game.  Tech, meanwhile, is 11th in the ACC in FG% and 3-Point% and 10th in Turnover Margin at -1.4.

Defense is another matter — uva is #11 in the nation in defensive efficiency (3rd in the ACC – miami and georgia tech are in the top 10) and #1 in PPG allowed.  Tech is last in the ACC in PPG allowed and 232nd nationally in defensive efficiency.  Numbers like that all add up to 2-8 versus 7-3.

Here are all the articles from the first meeting.  uva won that behind a career high 18 points from freshman twig Evan Nolte, including 5/9 from behind the arc.  This game included a 24-2 run by uva which included 6/7 on 3-pointers from the hoos (it was raining 3s and curse words as I watched) and 5 VT turnovers.  That run turned a 17-10 Hokie lead with 9:30 to go in the first half into a 34-19 deficit with 2 minutes left in the first half and was pretty much all she wrote — Tech trailed by double digits the final 19:12 of the game.  Erick Green had a career high 35 points for Tech (of their 58 points) and 9 rebounds.



Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews2 Comments

Previews (2-for-1) | maryland (4-5) @ VT (2-6) – Thursday, 9 PM | ga tech (2-7) @ VT (2-6) – Saturday, 1 PM

Spread: maryland by 4.5 (seems low but Vegas usually knows what they are doing).

The Hokies have a tight slate this week, with two games just 38 hours apart on Thursday and Saturday (both are at the Cassell).  Let’s skip Thursday’s contest for now, because I’m GUARANTEEING A HOKIE VICTORY on Saturday against ‘Groupon’ Udofia and the georgia tech yellow jackets!  How can I do that with a VT team that is 2-6 in the ACC this year and 6-20 in their last 26 ACC regular season games?  Easy…

  • VT is 7-0 all time against georgia tech in the Cassell, including 5-0 in ACC play
  • The Hokies are 8-1 in ACC short-turnaround games (games played less than 48 hours after VT’s last ACC game), including this buzzer beater over gt last year – DORENZO HUDSON BEATS THE buzzER
  • The lesser tech is 8-52 in their last 60 ACC road games.  Paul Hewitt was 7-41, and since winning his first ACC road game at gt, Brian Gregory is now 1-11 away from the ATL.
  • gt is coming off a devastating loss at home as un-bee-lievably they let Michael “Walk-Off” Snaer hit his 5th game winning shot (one thing he could do… is finger roll) in 13 months to sting the jackets 56-54.
  • So, there you have it, I am guaranteeing a Tech victory (just kidding)… a VIRGINIA TECH victory on Saturday*

*Offer not valid in the continental USA and cash value of guarantee is $0.00000001

As for Thursday, well, we shall see.  One thing that always impressed me about Coach Greenberg was his teams got better between Game 1 and Game 2 against an opponent.  For example, VT lost by 35 at duke in 2005, but beat the devils later that year.  In 2008, the Hokies lost by 39 at unc but lost by just 2 on a late Hansbrough putback in the ACC Tourney.  Last year, VT lost by 15 at home to duke, then took them to OT later in the season at Cameron Indoor.  On Thursday we will find out if Coach Johnson can also rally the troops and be more competitive against a team that pasted them by 23 points at maryland just a month ago.  I think we will play them tougher and keep the margin in single digits, but I do expect 7’1″ Alex Len to be too much for the Hokies.


  • Then: @md 94, VT 71 – RECAP – OPP HALL OF FAME – LAYMAN – PLUS MINUS – maryland led 34-31 with 6 minutes to go in the first half, but a 15-2 run helped the terps go into the break up 53-37 behind 18 first half points from Jake Layman (he hit 4 three-pointers).  Green had 28 for VT, including 10/11 FTs.  Brown had 11 but on 4/15 shooting and JvZ tied his career high with 10.  C.J. Barksdale did not play (coach’s decision).
  • Since: After exploding for 53 first half points against Tech and 94 for the game, the terps scored just 92 combined first half points in their next 4 games (23 per) including just 14 points at miami.  And they were held to 52 points or less in 3 of those 4 games (i.e. less in a full game 75% of the time then they had in one half against VT).  maryland had lost 5 of 7 before thumping wake forest 86-60 on Saturday to get to 4-5 in the ACC.
  • The Match-Up: Tech gave up 4 offensive rebounds that resulted in 8 second chance points for maryland in the first 4 minutes, allowing maryland to go up by 9.   The terps would also hit 7 first half 3-pointers.  In this game, the Hokies must do a better job on the defensive glass (having C.J.B. will help) and defend the 3 better.  Given Tech’s improved defense of late (66.5 ppg given up in regulation in their last 6 games after giving up 91.3 in their previous 4) and 3-point defense (unc was just 21% on 5/24 three-pointers… albeit just one game) I expect a much closer game.  Tech must stop Len.
  • Ho-Key: maryland is last in the ACC with a turnover margin of -6.4 (I should point out VT is next to last at -3.1).  If Tech can limit their turnovers as they did against clemson and create live ball turnovers that lead to transition buckets, the Hokies will have a fighting chance.
  • Stat to Watch: maryland is 3-0 in ACC action when Layman, who had a still career high 20 against the Hokies, scores in double digits, but they are 1-5 when he doesn’t.

georgia tech:

  • Then: VT 70, @gt 65 (OT) – RECAP – HIGHLIGHTS – PLUS MINUS – The Hokies trailed the entire second half but overcame an 11-point deficit with 14 minutes to go to tie the game with 24 seconds left.  In overtime, VT jumped out to a 7-point lead and then held off the jackets thanks to two baskets from Robert Brown and 4/4 from line in the final minute.  Erick Green had 28 points, 24 in the final 26 minutes of this 45 minute game.  Barksdale chipped in a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Brown had 10 although he was 0/9 from the field in regulation.
  • Since: gt started 0-5 in ACC play but have since won 2 of 4 (both at home – 82-62 over wake and then shocking uva on Sunday 66-60, outscoring uva 18-3 in the final 8 minutes to come back from 9 down).  But the jackets just lost a heartbreaker on Tuesday night at home to florida state as Michael “Walk-Off” Snaer scored on a finger-roll as time expired to give fsu a 56-54 win.  It was Snaer’s 5th buzzer beater to win a game in the last 13 months (all ACC games).  fsu jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the game but gt battled back to take a 5-point 2nd half lead thanks to an 18-4 run before the noles battled back to win.
  • The Match-Up: Virginia Tech has owned the jackets in football and basketball since joining the league.  While the jackets are an improved team this year, they still can’t win on the road, and until they do, I’m picking against them.  Robert Carter can be a force at times inside but then gt forgets about him for a while.  Plus, I don’t see gt making 8 three-pointers in this game – they are the worst shooting team in the ACC from the field and deep, and aren’t much better from the line.  VT has a pretty good offense, gt has a really good defense.  VT has a horrible defense, and gt has an atrocious offense.  Whichever teams’ weakness steps up should win, and I think it will be the Hokies and their improved defense.
  • Stats to Watch: VT is 8-1 in ACC short-turnaround games, VT is 7-0 all time at home vs gt, and georgia tech has lost 11 straight ACC road games.

Note: Tech clinches a winning home record with just one more win in the Cassell this season.  Despite losing 4 of 5 at home, VT is 8-4 in the Cassell with 5 to play.  The Hokies have had just one home losing record in 51+ years in the Cassell.  That came in 2001 under ricky “program bomb” stokes, as Tech went 6-9 at home.

Preview-md gt VT

Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews1 Comment

Preview | VT (2-5, 11-9) @ unc (4-3, 14-6) | Saturday at Noon | ACC Network

Spread: unc by 14.5.

In every game there must be a winner and a loser (except in soccer). And the Hokies have been quite hospitable of late, losing 9 of 13 overall and 5 of 7 in league play. But enough of that, Virginia Tech is going to win Saturday. Let me say it again — THE HOKIES ARE GOING TO WIN SATURDAY! Ah, that felt good.

Yes, I realize the game is at unc. Not unc-g-spot, or unc-charlotte, or unc-pembroke. It is at Chapel Hill. I don’t care. Am I guaranteeing a win? Well, no. That never works for me anyway. But I really do think Tech will win this ballgame, and I’m 51% sure of it! Here’s why:

  • Noon kickoffs stink. heels will come out flat, VT will come out fired up playing in the Dean Dome. Green’s played there twice already so he won’t be in ‘awe’ and Raines and Eddie have also already played there.
  • Minds elsewhere. unc watched a scary injury happen to their teammate at bc on Tuesday (more on that later) and might not be totally focused. Plus, they’ll be shorthanded.
  • unc ain’t that good… by unc standards. They’ve lost 3 ACC games and 6 overall already. Remove their third leading scorer, and they are even weaker.
  • unc ain’t that big (see below – just one guy over 6’9″ and he only averages 11 minutes).
  • The heels love to push the ball — heck, Tech can finally get out and run and gun more! unc has the third fastest tempo in the land. Let’s see if JJ’s style can win out.
  • We are due. WE ARE DUE! It’s time to go out and kick some butt and get a big win! We may just be 5-28 at unc all time, but that’s 5 wins better than clemson (0-for-fifty-something at unc). I’m tired of being negative. I believe, and expect, we can win this game!

P.J. Hairston suffered a concussion in the game at bc, getting run into by a teammate and then hitting his head on the court. After being helped up, he collapsed again onto the floor. He had to be taken off on a stretcher and is doubtful for this game (he won’t play, I guarantee it in this age of concussions). P.J. was Pretty Jacked up after it happened and not having him costs unc their third leading scorer (12.4 ppg) and second best 3-point shooter (38% and 43 makes).

Chaz Michaels Michaels, a.k.a. James Michael McAdoo from the 757, has developed into a heck of a player, scoring 14.7 ppg and snagging 8.7 rebounds. But the sophomore also turns it over a lot and is just a 58% foul shooter.

We’ve documented VT’s problems guarding the 3-point shot. Well, enter Reggie Bullock. The junior guard is 19/46 in his 7 ACC games on 3s (41%). He had 22 at the half against maryland. He’s made at least 2 three-pointers in 8 straight games, including 5 against mcneese state. He could score 30 on the Hokies if they don’t stay out on him and fight over screens (instead of going under).

Leslie McDonald is also a decent 3-point shooter (43% but only 25 makes) and Marcus Paige, their freshman PG, has 20 made 3s at a 30% clip (he’s the one to watch out for if recent trends continue). The heels get a lot of assists (almost double what VT gets). Limiting turnovers will be key against unc (VT had 17 TOs vs miami).

This is not your typical heels squad in the post. They have just one player over 6’9″ and that’s Joel James, who is a freshman that plays just 11 minutes per game. McAdoo is 6’9″ but just 230 lbs, and Brice Johnson, another frosh, is 6’9″ but just 187. Hairston was a physical guard, but that doesn’t matter now. Tech shouldn’t be dominated in the post and match up much better than they did against miami.

So there you have it — Hokie victory. Get the good Scotch ready. We’re winning in Chapel Hill.

Preview VT unc

Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews3 Comments

Previews (2-for-1) | uva (2-2) @ VT (2-2) – Thursday at 8 PM | VT @ clemson – Sunday at 1 PM

clemson Update: Spread – clemson by 10.5. clemson lost to fsu by 3 on Thursday 70-67 on a shot at the buzzer by Michael Snaer (we can relate). The tigers fell to 2-4 in the ACC.
They are near the bottom of the ACC in terms of 3-point % and 3s made per game, which is good for Tech. VT beat the #9 and 10 3-point shooting teams in the league, wake and gt. Expect to see the Hokies play zone and dare clemson to beat them from deep (gotta guard Jennings out there). The tigers are good at blocking shots and have a very turnover margin, so we’ll see if Tech can get points inside and protect the ball.

Spread: uva by 4 (at our place?!). FYI: It’s a Maroon Monsoon, people! Greenberg could never figure out we should wear ‘maroon’ for this game (or black for the blackout), but JJ’s got it figured out already! Maroon it up, peeps!

The Magnificent Seven (plus two walk-ons) have won two in a row but will face two stiff challenges this week. If you were hoping to watch some fun, exciting ACC contests, this is not the week for you. Tech takes on two of the most boring, offensively averse teams in the nation this week, with uva coming to the Cassell on Thursday and then heading down to Littlejohn on Sunday for a match-up with the c-l-e-m-s-ohhhhh-n tigers. Watching these two teams play is a lot like going to the dentist – and you should opt for the eye protection to shield your eyes.

I guess another way to say it is that both uva and clemson are really good on defense (and not pushing the ball). Both rank in the top 10 in the NATION in terms of points allowed per game (uva at #2, giving up just 50.6 ppg, and clemson at #9). uva is also in the top 10 in terms of defensive efficiency – allowing just 85.8 points per 100 possessions for their opponents (VT is 18 points higher).

In ACC play, no one has reached the 60-point mark against uva and they held florida state to 36 (yes, you read that right) this weekend. 15 in the first half, and the noles ‘exploded’ for 21 in the 2nd half. The wahoos have held opponents to 45 or fewer points 7 times this year, and in the 30s on four occasions.

clemson held uva and wake to 44 points each in back-to-back wins and have held three other teams in the 40s. clemson beat uva 59-44 at Littlejohn a week ago.

But, part of being a good defense also means taking the air out of the ball on offense (along with good transition defense). uva ranks 344th out of 347 teams in Division 1 in terms of tempo (less than 60 possessions per game, which is 10 less than Tech averages) and clemson checks in at 325th at 62 possessions per game. So don’t expect a shootout at the OK Corral, these are much more likely to be a drag’em out, sock’em game.

In the Post: Luckily for Virginia “what’s a defensive rebound” Tech, neither uva nor clemson has much size in the post, which will help the rebounding-challenged Hokies. uva does not have a single starter over 6’8″ and clemson’s only starter over 6’8″ (Milton Jennings – 10.1 ppg) is as soft as they come. He’s even more of a perimeter player than Jarell Eddie. He has just 22 offensive rebounds. More on him below in the 3-point shooting section.

uva does have a 6’11” freshman in Mike Tobey, but he has all the athleticism of Tobey Keith. He gives them 6 ppg but not many rebounds or blocks.

The real threat inside for uva is 6’8″ junior Akil Mitchell. With Mike Scott gone after seemingly haunting the Hokies for 10 years (it was actually five — yes, five — and more than 100 career points vs VT), Mitchell has really blossomed. He’s tripled his PPG from 4.1 last year to 12.3 this year, and his rebounds have more than doubled from 4.4 to 9.1 per game. Akil does all his work in the trenches and shoots 54% from the floor. He grabs a lot of offensive rebounds, too.

Darion Atkins, a 6’8″ sophomore, is their best shot-blocker inside, though he didn’t play against fsu due to a shin injury. Not sure of his status for this game.

For clemson, 6’8″ senior Devin Booker has seen the light switch go on this year. He’s playing a lot tougher inside, and leads clemson with 13 ppg and 8 rebounds. He had 27 points in their close loss at nc state, and 12 points and 15 rebounds at duke recently. Still, he is just a shadow of his brother.

The most dangerous ‘big’ for clemson isn’t even a big man. 6’6″ sophomore K.J. McDaniels has Dominique Wilkins-like hops. You may remember him from his dunk contest he put on in Blacksburg last year, scoring 14 points on SIX DUNKS and blocking 5 shots. Against wake last week he had 14 points, 9 rebounds, and SEVEN BLOCKS. He’s like Josh Smith in that he’ll come from across the arena out of nowhere to reject a shot. McDaniels puts up 10.6 ppg, 5 boards, and 2.2. blocks per contest.

3-Point Shooting: Tech has had issues defending the three-point shot of late and both teams present challenges for the Hokies. For uva it is junior Joe Harris (who has torched Tech in the past). He’s leading uva in ppg at 15.2 and is shooting 46% from behind the arc with 37 makes (more than 2 per game), second best in terms of 3-point % in the ACC. For clemson, more than half of Jennings’s shots and makes are 3-pointers, and. That said, he is a deadly outside shooter, hitting 45% of his 60 3-point attempts.

Bench: clemson really only goes two deep on their bench (in terms of meaningful minutes), so they have the same depth issues as Tech. Filer will give them 8 points off the bench, though, and Roper is a good 3-point shooter as a 6th man. Anderson is a decent scorer off the bench for uva and Jones has some quickness to contend with.

Other Factors: Senior Jontel Evans missed the first part of the season with injury and is missing in action right now. He’s averging just 3 ppg over the 8 games he’s played. Jontel is probably the only PG in America that hasn’t attempted a 3-point shot all season (he’s never been a good 3-point shooter anyway). His game is to drive to the hoop, and he is still averaging almost 4 assists per game. Mitchell has been a big beneficiary of that, and another fear is him driving and kicking out to Harris. I’d dare Jontel to beat Tech and force him to finish off the drive. That said, Tech’s guards (including EG) are not good on-ball defenders (Rankin is the best), and Evans likely will beat them like a rented mule off the dribble. Tech will need better help defense after he gets by the first line of defense with quick rotations and not leaving Harris.

Other than Harris and Mitchell, no one is averaging even 7 ppg for uva. Not a surprise since they only score 62 per game. Harris and Mitchell account for 44% of that.

Rod Hall is another mighty might for clemson and is their playmaker. He puts up almost 4 assists per game, just like Evans. He is also a pass-first guy who never shoots the 3 (just 2 attempts all season).

Erick Green is still the nation’s leading scorer — 0.5 ahead of McDermott from creighton barrel.


Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews4 Comments

Preview | VT (9-6, 0-2) @ gt (10-4, 0-2) | Saturday at 2:30 | ACC Network and ESPN3

Spread: ga tech by 9.5 (yikes!)

Tech did not get their ‘easy part of the ACC schedule’ off to a good start, losing at home to the team picked to finish last.  Saturday will mark the 2nd of 5 straight games against the other 5 teams picked to finish in the bottom half of the ACC.  And in case you didn’t know it, WE OWE THE OTHER tech.  Check this out…

  • VT is 13-4 all time against georgia tech
  • The Hokies are 9-3 in ACC games vs the jackets
  • VT is 3-2 at gt in ACC play, though those games were at the old Thrillerdome (or dump is more like it), not the brand newly renovated Hank Mccamish Pavilion (same site but complete face lift)
  • Oh, and in case you forgot, the Hokies are 7-2 in ACC play in football against the lesser tech (at least now we won’t have to hear that stupid ‘the winner of this game wins the Coastal’ stat anymore which was so dumb because we have so many more Coastal titles than them)

But I digress.

Now, I would normally say the Hokies have a favorable match-up because gt is the worst shooting team in the ACC – dead last in FG% and 3-Point%.  But we all know that hasn’t mattered for squat, especially behind the arc.  So I’m just going to keep my mouth shut (the jackets are 2nd to last in FT%, too — VT is now 1st).

The key stat to watch is turnover margin — VT was -12 against bc and that led to a 29-0 advantage in points off turnovers for bc (they had 9 steals to 0 for VT — live ball turnovers are much easier to turn into points).  gt is 3rd in the ACC with an almost +2 turnover margin, while VT is -1.4.  The Hokies must clean that up, and hope the jackets are their typical ice cold from the field.

Another interesting discrepancy between the teams is offensive vs defensive efficiency.  The jackets are 2nd in the ACC in PPG allowed and 20th in the nation in defensive efficiency (87.5 points per 100 possessions, compared to 103.9 for VT (253rd nationally)).  But gt scores just 96.8 points per 100 possessions, 215th in the land, as you’d expect from a poor shooting team that is just so-so on the offensive glass.  Can the Hokies find some ways to get easy buckets?  That will be key… but hasn’t happened much lately.  And Paul “Let’em by on defense” Hewitt isn’t there anymore.

Scoring nuggets:

  • gt has no one in the top 25 in the ACC in scoring – 6’5″ freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt is their only scorer averaging double digits (10.9)
  • Erick Green is still #1 in the nation at 24.6 ppg
  • Momo Jones in now #3 in the land in PPG at 22.7


Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews0 Comments

Preview | bc (0-1, 8-6) @ VT (0-1, 9-5) | Wednesday at 7 PM | RSN & ESPN3

Spread: VT by 3.5.

Stat: The Hokies are 4-4 in ACC home openers.  They’ve only opened the ACC slate at home 3 times in 9 years in the league.

This is a critical game for the Hokies to win in conference play.  I’m not talking about in terms of making the NCAA Tournament, that ship set sail after the georgia southern loss.  I’m not talking in terms of finishing near .500 in the ACC, because that likely isn’t a realistic goal for the Hokies, either.  I’m saying that if Tech wants to avoid possibly going 3-15, or 2-16, or (gasp) 0-18 in the ACC, they need to win this game.

Do I really think VT could go 0-18 in an ACC that is not very good at all this year (with just two teams ranked and only one team higher than #23)?  No.  But this is the worst team in the ACC coming to our floor, who were picked to finish dead last in the league, and are off to just an 8-6 start on the season.  They have the least individual talent in the league.  And this is the only shot the Hokies get at the eagles this regular season.  Between this game and wake home game in a few weeks, those might be the only times VT is favored the rest of the way.

Will I guarantee a win?!  NO!!!  I’ve learned my lesson with betting against eagles.  I had to wear homemade uva gear to the VT@uva game last year because I had guaranteed a VT win at bc (I was wrong), and I had to donate $5 to an eagle fund because I had guaranteed a win over the eagles of georgia southern a month ago.  No bets this time.

Don’t forget the eagles always give the Hokies fits.  Tech had lost four straight to the eagles before pulling a win out of their rear on a Doo-Doo tip-in with 2 seconds left last February in Blacksburg.  Tech had trailed most of the game and needed 7 points in the final 3 minutes from Doo-Doo to overcome a 6-point deficit.

Tech suffered an extremely embarrassing loss in Chestnut Hill in the first meeting last year, falling 61-59 after I had guaranteed a win, forcing me to wear uva gear to the VT/uva game a week later as my humiliation.  Erick Green was out with an injury in that first meeting.

bc was led by Matt Humphrey, Dennis “The Big Red Zit” Clifford, and Ryan “Pass the Proactiv” Anderson.  Those three scored in double digits in both games and return this year.  Seriously, this team has more pimples than fans at most home games (granted they only draw 3,600 to their home games but you get the point).  I wonder if one of their coach’s philosophies is rubbing bacon grease and Crisco on their faces before practices and games.

For the second year in a row, the eagles are extremely young.  They might be the youngest team in the nation – with their top 8 all freshmen or sophomores.  And for the second year in a row, bc had a rough out of conference slate.  They lost to quality teams in baylor, dayton, and college of charleston in their Thanksgiving tournament, but they lost to bryant university at home, and later getting blown out by harvard also in the Conte Forum.

But, the eagles have turned it around since starting 3-5.  They had won five in a row before dropping a heartbreaker to #23 nc state on Saturday in the ACC opener.  They led most of the 2nd half before nc state went ahead with 6 minutes to go and held on for a 78-73 win.  Ryan Anderson, their best player, had 22 points and 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season.  He’s averaging 16.4 ppg and 9.8 rebounds.

bc coach Steve Donahue has not been a very strong recruiter.  He signed lightly regarded Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon last year.  The 3-star guards have been surprisingly good, averaging double digits in points.  Donahue seems to be a guy that gets the most out of his players and teaches great team basketball.

Clifford, who would be on my all-ugly team, is 7-foot and will provide the Hokies challenges in the post.  But he’s averaging just 5.3 ppg this year and has taken a step back as a player. In fact, the eagles really struggle with their post play.  They’ll likely start four guards (since losing 6’10” Andrew Van Nest) and have as many as four guards on the floor a majority of the time.

Look for the eagles to slow down the pace and make this a boring game (so maybe VT won’t lose by 20+?).  They don’t have the athleticism to get into an up-tempo game and rank near the bottom of the NCAA in terms of pace.  Both teams are awful in terms of defensive efficiency, ranking in the mid-200s nationally giving up more than a point per possession on average.

The eagles also slow it because, if you thought VT had a short bench, bc’s is just as bad.  Only six guys played more than six minutes against nc state.  Foul trouble or an up-tempo pace by VT could be devastating to the eagles.

And 3-point shooting?  bc isn’t a great 3-point shooting, but if you read my recent posts, you know that doesn’t matter.  But they do shoot a lot of 3s and average 7.1 makes per game (4th most in the ACC).  So if the trend of the last seven games holds up of VT allowing teams to shoot a blisteringly high 3-point percentage well above their normal pace in terms of % and makes, the Hokies could be in real trouble  Tech must avoid doubling in the post, especially given Clifford’s struggles this year and bc’s lack of post players, and play straight up man to avoid open looks from deep.  If bc wins this game via dribble penetration and points in the paint, so be it.  But the Hokies must try and slow the tsunami of 3-pointers they’ve been giving up, especially against this team.

Note: Erick Green is back on top of the NCAA D1 scoring list.  C.J. McCollum of lehigh suffered a broken foot and will be out 8-10 weeks (he fell to #2 on Saturday).  Not sure what the rules are on number of games needed to qualify.  Who’s #5?  Momo Jones of iona.

Preview - bc VT

Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews11 Comments

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

Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews7 Comments

Preview | VT (9-3) vs byu (9-4) in Salt Lake City, UT | Saturday, 2 PM | espnU

Hey, the Hokies have a better winning percentage than the cougars! So you’re sayin’ there’s a chance! Well, yes and no.

This game is not a good match-up for the Hokies in many ways. First, it is in Utah. And Frank, the story is Utah. byu is 8-0 in their home state (although all eight were at home, not in Salt Lake).

Next, byu is a solid program. They’ve made the Big Dance six years in a row and are a top 40 RPI team this year despite their four losses. How? Their four losses are to RPI #43 baylor, #55 iowa state, #74 notre dame, and #130 florida state. They’ve beaten four teams in the top 120 of the RPI (VT has beaten just two). And they’ve played the 13th toughest schedule in the land.

Third, they have 6’9″ senior Brandon Davies. He had 17 last year at VT and is averaging 20 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.4 steals, and 1.8 blocks. He is a real stat stuffer. He has tremendous low post moves and gets to the line a lot, which could put the depleted Hokies in foul trouble. Quite frankly, the Hokies can’t handle him alone. They will have to double him despite the disaster that was colorado state. The key will be releasing the double team if he drifts out from the basket (I’m fine giving Davies 16-foot jumpers — he can make them but this takes him away from the hoop in case of a miss and is a lower percentage shot) and rotating better than VT did against the rams. Tech should NOT double 6’11” Nate Austin in the post. He’s not a scoring threat (3.9 ppg and just 3.6 shots per game).

One good thing is byu is not a great 3-point shooting team (I know, I know, I said that against wvu and bradley and they torched us from deep). But, can that really keep happening? Third times the charm? Maybe, if Tech doesn’t rotate well and play good help defense. The Hokies will need to double Davies, have the oppo-side defender drop down to pick up the other big, and then rotate well with the two remaining perimeter defenders to avoid giving up wide open 3s and at least get a hand in byu’s face. Quite frankly, VT quit in the 2nd half Sunday, tired or not, they quit.

Another good thing is the cougars do like to push the ball. Don’t think just because they are a bunch of mormons (well, not all of them) that they’ll slow the pace. They have the 13th fastest tempo in the nation. Even on makes they’ll inbound the ball quickly and push it up the floor, trying to beat you up the court in transition. Tech must get back on makes or misses and look to push the ball themselves. Hopefully the altitude won’t be a factor and take the wind out of the Hokies.

The fact byu likes to run should help the Hokies. Let’s face it. VT’s offense has been offensive… smelling… of late. Getting more transition opportunities would be a huge plus. Guys like Brown and Eddie who have been in horrible slumps of late could get some confidence if they can get some easy early buckets. And JvZ is great at cleaning up junk on the glass for dunks or putbacks. The problem is Davies is a great shot-blocker if he gets back in time.

Davies is a great rebounder and Haws, a 6’5″ guard, also does a nice job on the offensive glass. But this is an average rebounding team. They only have two guys over 6’7″ that play significant minutes, so they don’t have their usual stable of tall mormons. Perhaps the Hokies will actually show some signs of life in the rebounding game and hold their opponent to a low Offensive Rebound %. Tech has allowed their opponents an average of 16 offensive rebounds per game over the last 5 games.

Also, byu played Thursday night at home against northern arizona (an 84-54 win behind 27/10 from Davies). That means they’ll only have about 41 hours between games. They don’t have a deep bench (they’ll only play around 7 or 8 guys significant minutes), so maybe the cougars will have tired legs on Saturday instead of the Hokies.

Plus, Tech got a much needed break after that woodshed blowout in Vegas. They got a chance to put that behind them with Christmas, and I’m sure are hungry to get back out there and play better, and finish the out of conference schedule on a high note.

The two teams are pretty even in most other stats including FG%, FT%, and Rebounding. As you see below, their Adjusted Offensive numbers are pretty even (~105 points per 100 possessions). The problem is that is trending WAY down for the Hokies (they were #3 in the nation with 109.0/100 going into wvu). And Tech’s Adjusted Defensive numbers are trending up (from 96.9/100 going into wvu to 99.7/100 in this game). But it is time to stop the bleeding and get back to knocking down 3s, pushing the ball, and playing what we thought was Hokie basketball. Let’s turn the calendar back to November.

Expect byu to use some full court man-to-man defense, and they’ll also run some zone in the half court. They’ll give the Hokies different looks which will challenge Tech to read and attack the defenses.

FYI: Erick Green, the nation’s leading scorer, will look to set a VT record with his 13th straight 20+ point game. Here’s hoping someone else gets close to 20 with him.

Note: the graphic below does NOT include stats from byu’s game on Thursday.

Preview VT byu

Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews9 Comments

Preview | VT (9-2) vs colorado state (9-2) | 11:30 PM | CBS College Sports

Spread: colorado state by 5.5.

A pair of 9-2 teams will meet very late on Sunday night for the Las Vegas Classic Championship.

colorado state knocked off portland by 18 to advance to the title game, 73-55.

In case you were concerned about the Hokies playing on back-to-back days with a short bench, fret not. The rams go just three deep so they will be tired, too. Although they did have a less stressful game on Saturday.

The rams, like bradley, have great balance. All five starters average 9.7 ppg or more. Colton Iverson, a 6-10 senior, leads the rams in scoring with 14.3 ppg and also gets 9.3 rebounds.

Pierce Hornung averages over 10 rebounds for csu and had 24 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday, despite being just 6-5. So Tech will have to do a good job on the boards.

The rams two losses came at rival colorado and ill-chicago, but did blow out washington on the road.

The game will be on CBS College Sports at approximately 11:30 PM EST after the consolation Scotch game at 9.

Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews4 Comments

Game Recap | Hokies Rob the braves | VT (9-2) 66, bradley (8-3) 65, OT


The Hokies absolutely stole a victory from the jaws of defeat in Vegas on Saturday night, capturing a 66-65 win in the Las Vegas Classic Semi-Finals. Tech will face the winner of cal-state-northridge and colorado state (just assume it will be colorado state) on Sunday night at 11:30 PM EST in the Championship Game.

When I say VT stole this win, I mean it. The Hokies took a 2-0 lead to open the game, then trailed for the following 34 minutes. With just under 5 minutes to go, Erick Green put the Hokies on top 53-51 from the foul line. The final 5 minutes were anything but pretty, but Tech led 55-53 with 20 seconds to go. With the shot clock running out, Erick Green was stripped of the ball and Lemon, Jr. outran the Hokies for a layup to tie the game with 9.7 seconds left. After a timeout, Tech’s Robert Brown passed to Erick Green for a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer but just as with the wvu game, it was not meant to be and we were headed to overtime.

In the extra frame, bradley took a 65-60 lead after a wild sequence. VT stole the ball down 63-60 with 50 seconds left but Marquis Rankin committed Tech’s 24th turnover of the game and instead of having a chance to tie the game, bradley converted to go up 5 with 40 seconds left. After Joey van Zegern made 1/2 free throws, VT trailed 65-61. The braves missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Erick Green drove and got a 3-point play to make it 65-64 bradley. Then, an unexpected hero took center court. Walk-on Christian Beyer stole the ball and passed to Erick Green to put the Hokies ahead 66-65 with 18 seconds left.

After bradley’s final timeout, Lemon, Jr. missed two free throws but Tech fumbled the ball out of bounds with 9 seconds left. Lemon, Jr. had another shot to win the game but missed, and after a scramble, VT had their victory.

Erick Green recorded a career high 31 points and 8 rebounds. The 31 points marked his 11th straight 20+ point game to start the season, but his first time ever reaching 30 points in his career.

I mentioned Tech’s 24 turnovers. bradley came into this game as one of the leading defenses in the nation in terms of steals and turnovers caused, and VT committed 16 first half turnovers (while compiling just 1 assist). That’s, uh, not good.

And stop me if you read this after the wvu game — but a bad 3-point shooting team lit up the Hokies. bradley averaged less than four made 3-pointers per game and shot just 27% from deep… they had six made threes at the half. After starting 5/9 from deep, they cooled off considerably, finishing just 8/23 (35%) from deep. They had their typical balanced scoring with Simms-Edwards leading them with 15.

Tech trailed by as many as 13 in the first half and were behind 35-25 at the break. And of those 25 points, Green had 11 and Raines 10. Raines, who had been held scoreless in the last two games, responded with 16 points (tying a career high) and 9 rebounds. Jarell Eddie, who had just 2 at the half, finished with 12 but was just 2/8 from deep. Robern Brown tallied just 2 points on 1/6 FGs, his second straight rough game.

Tech was just 25% on 3s, meaning for just the 2nd time this season the team that shot a higher % from deep (bradley in this case), lost.

MAJOR PROPS to walk-on Christian Beyer – he had 3 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals (including the game-winner) in 27 minutes. We’ll see you tomorrow night on CBS College Sports! Late night, baby!

Posted in 2012-13 Season, Game Previews12 Comments

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