Posted on 20 November 2008.
Posted on 20 November 2008.
The Hokies (3-0) advanced to the semi-finals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with a 74-57 win over the fairfield (CT) stags. Tech will face missouri or xavier tomorrow at 1:30 PM EST, or 2:30 if you made the trek to Puerto Rico.
For a while, this game appeared eerily similar to the gardner-webb game. Tech jumped out by as many as 15 in the first half and led 40-31 at the break, only to see the lead trickle down to 4 (51-47) with 12:30 to play. But VT went on a 9-0 run at that point, fueled by a Jeff Allen three-pointer to start the streak and an Allen flush to close it. The stags never got closer than 9 after that point and the Hokies cruised down the stretch and opening up leads of as much as 21 points.
Tech did a much better job of using their transition game, getting out and pushing the ball at every opportunity in the first half and later in the game. They had two lazy spells on offense and defense that almost cost VT their lead. The Hokies continued to struggle at times against a zone defense. fairfield used a 2-1-2/2-3 zone at times. Tech would just pass the ball along the perimeter instead of passing to the free throw line and running backdoor cuts, or penetrating the zone and having the other perimeter players slide along the three point line for kick-outs or dump passes to weak-side post players going towards the rim. But the Hokies did shoot very well from the outside in the half court set.
Welcome to the Jeff Allen Show (again)! Hope you enjoyed the ride. The Big Donut (or Dunking Donut as one clever student called him on Monday) hit two early threes and had 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, including a beautiful drop-step along the baseline for a layup. He set career highs with 4 three-pointers (on just 5 attempts!) and 5 blocks. But for the third straight game he just missed a double-double, ending with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 3 assists (what a fantasy line).
A.D. Vassallo had a strong game back in his native land of Puerto Rico. A.D. knocked down 12 points in each half. He hit 9/16 from the field, including several nice runners, and 3/8 on threes.
The third member of the Big 3, Malcolm Delaney, struggled to find shots in the first half and had a donut at the break. But in the second half he hit his first three-pointer and finished with 10 points.
Tech held Jonathan Han, the stags best player, to just 5 points.
After 60 minutes of poor offensive play, the Hokies came out hotter than an August day in Puerto Rico in the first half. Tech hit 8 of their first 9 shots from the field and jumped out to a 19-8 lead. Surprisingly, Cheick Diakite had 6 of those points on 3/3 shooting. VT increased that lead to 15 points at 36-21 late in the half, but fell asleep and gave up a 10-2 run late in the half. The Hokies finished the first stanza shooting 55% from the field (4/12 on threes) and outrebounded the stags by a 19-15 margin.
The Hokies finished the game shooting 54% from the field and 43% (9/21) on threes. That is great news heading into their semi-final game against mizzou or xavier.
Another encouraging sign for VT was the play of Terrell Bell. After starting the season 1/8, Bell hit his first two shots and continued to play suffocating defense. Expect him to possibly take over the starting spot (at least until J.T. Thompson returns) at shooting guard, as Hudson continues to struggle, finishing 0/2 from the field with 3 fouls. Both played similar minutes.
Freshman Victor Davila continues to improve. He scored a career high (yes, I realize this is just his third game) 9 points and was aggressive near the rim. He hit all three of his shots from the field and line. Lewis Witcher saw just 5 minutes of action, and has to be concerned about what his role is as Davila’s minutes increase.
Tech’s defense was not as good defending the three as it was in the first two games, but the block party continued for VT. The Hokies had 8 blocks for the game and 22 now on the season. Allen led Tech with 5. The ‘Pow! Right in the Kisser’ block of the game went to Cheick Diakite, who stuffed 6’8″ Anthony Johnson on a dunk attempt with 5 minutes to play.
Recap of the Key to the Game: Put the ‘O’ in Guard – Virginia Tech’s guards (Delaney, Hudson, Bell, and Thorns) were 5/16 from the field for 16 points and 8 assists. Delaney had 10/4 of those. So once again, outside of Malcolm, the Hokies are struggling at the 1 and 2 spots, though Bell showed some improvement.
Key Stat: The Hokies had just 10 turnovers for the game after averaging 17.5 giveaways in their first two games.
Posted on 19 November 2008.
Niemo used to work with a chick from fairfield university, and since we don’t know the first thing about the school, we decided to shoot her an email to get some more information about Virginia Tech’s first round opponent in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Speaking of work, here is how you can get out of work tomorrow to watch the game at 11 AM EST:
OK, enough of that, let’s get back to the fairfield interview. Thanks to Lanie (former female co-worker of Niemo’s) and Scott (her friend), two real, live stag alums, for participating!
1. Niemo: Tell me about fairfield university – good party scene or suitcase college?
Lanie and Scott: Great party scene at the beach! Clam Jam/Spam Jam… well known in the NE.
[Niemo: Guess it is near a beach. 'Spam Jam'? Hmm. I wonder if it was 'BYOS' - Bring Ya Own Spam! And what's up with "the NE"??? Boy, those chowda heads are really letting 3 Super Bowls, 2 World Series, and a NBA title go to their heads. Just like "the ohio state".]
2. Niemo: How many times per day would you hear, or make, a ‘fu’ joke?
Lanie and Scott: Multiple times a day. I (SM) even had an FU logo on my speedo for swim team and the women’s team had it on their chests.
[Niemo: LOL, that's pretty solid... minus the Speedo, that is. Apparently Lanie has a picture of Scott in said Speedo but isn't coughing it up. Hmm, I wonder what she is still doing with that picture after all these years???]
3. Niemo: How many basketball games did you attend as a student?
[Niemo: I guess Lanie was tied up at Spam Jam and couldn't make any.]
Posted on 19 November 2008.
SEMI-FINAL OPPONENT – xavier (Friday, 1:30 PM EST – ESPNU)
Finally, the Virginia Tech Hokies will face a team that, according to preseason rankings and expectations, is on par with them. xavier is sitting at 29th in both polls while VT is 33/39. This game is a resume builder. A win here will look great come March selection time, considering xavier is picked to win the A-10 and has made three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, going 4-3 in that time. In reality, the Hokies would be happy with one quality win in this tournament. That just got a little harder since seton hall stunned #19/20 usc last night. That means if Tech loses to xavier, they would likely play seton hall, which wouldn’t necessarily be a quality win even if the Hokies beat them in the 3rd place game. So I guess there’s only one thing left to do – win the whole [darn] thing!
Both teams are coming off seasons in which they made the final eight of a postseason tournament – the difference is for the musketeers, that tournament was the NCAA (30-7 overall) while it was the NIT for Tech. But while VT returns eight of their top nine players, xavier lost three of their top six scorers (including #1 and #3) and their top two point guards.
The Hokies must exploit xavier’s inexperience at guard. Tech needs to really put pressure on them on the perimeter and keep the musketeers from feeding the ball inside. Dante Jackson will start at the point, but he is more of a shooting guard. Terrell Holloway, a freshman, will spell Jackson or Dante will shift to the 2. Holloway is more of a true point but will be playing just his fourth collegiate game Friday. He did break out with 12 in their 75-71 win against mizzou.
Unlike VT, who gets 75% of their points from their Big 3 (Vassallo, Allen, and Delaney), xavier’s strength is their balance, especially on the wing and inside. Derrick Brown (PF) and C.J. Anderson (G/F) were both All A-10 Preseason selections and are averaging 11.3 and 9 points per game respectively. Another wing, B.J. Raymond is averaging 11 points per game. Four other players are averaging between 6 and 9 points per game. That means everyone, even A.D. Vassallo, must chip in on the defensive end.
Keys to the Game:
Probability of a VT Win: 40% (I’d have called it 50/50 if VT had J.T.)
01/07 vs. syracuse, 9 p.m., ACCN
01/11 vs. boston college, noon, RSN
01/15 vs. clemson, 7 p.m., RSN
01/19 @ notre dame, 6 p.m., ESPNU
01/22 vs. wake forest, 7 p.m., RSN
01/25 @ virginia, 3 p.m., ACCN
01/29 @ boston college, 7 p.m., RSN
02/01 vs. maryland, noon, ACCN
02/05 @ florida state, 9 p.m., RSN
02/08 @ pittsburgh, noon, RSN
02/15 vs. miami, 6 p.m., RSN
02/18 vs. virginia, 9 p.m., ACCN
02/22 vs. nc state, 2 p.m., RSN
02/25 @ duke, 7 p.m, ESPNU
03/01 vs. north carolina, 2:30 p.m, ACCN
03/04 @ maryland, 8 p.m., ACCN
03/08 @ georgia tech, 2 p.m, ESPN/ESPN2