Posted on 26 February 2010.
It’s a White Out, people! And for once I’m not talking about the snow. All Hokie fans are encouraged to wear white on Saturday as the Hokies play host to the second place maryland terrapins at Cassell Coliseum. Tech has lost consecutive games for the first time all season but have to have confidence playing at home where they are 14-0 on the season. They have started 15-0 at home just once before, with that coming back in 1982-83.
The Hokies need this game. They don’t desperately need it, they just need it. Two more wins in the final three regular season games and VT is in the NCAA Tournament, and likely secure Tech a First Round bye in the ACC Tournament. A win over maryland would look great on Tech’s resume (as would a win at georgia tech). And with Senior Night looming next Wednesday against last place nc state, a win would all but assure VT of getting those 10 ACC wins.
ACC Super Punk Greasy Face-quez (a.k.a. Greivis Vasquez) leads a veteran terp team into the Cassell (yes, that’s him getting arm-curled by yours truly). The terps biggest weakness is their lack of bigs in the low post, so they are a good matchup for the Hokies who also are thin inside. The terps start three guards and play Landon Milbourne at the 4-spot. Much like when Tech used to play Deron Washington at the power forward spot, Milbourne is undersized at 6’7″ and just 205 pounds. But like Deron, he is very athletic (not Deron-athletic but still very good) and uses his hops to grab rebounds and block shots.
maryland’s only true big man that starts is a freshman, 6’10″ and 260 pound Jordan Williams. Despite his youth, he has been the real key to the terrapins. Had he not been ACC ready and played well this year, who knows where maryland would be because they simply don’t have any other real quality post players. Williams is averaging 9 ppg, but more importantly, 8 rebounds. Dino Gregory is a decent shot-blocker off the bench, but has very limited offensive abilities and isn’t a great rebounder.
While this team doesn’t have many quality big’uns, they do have good size all around. They only play one guy that is under 6’4″. That is 6’2″ reserve Adrian Bowie. Luckily VT has big guards, too, so the terps can’t just shoot over Tech.
The strength of this terrapin team though is their backcourt. I’d rank their perimeter players as the second best unit in the ACC behind duke, even ahead of Virginia Tech’s.
The leader of this unit is mercurial senior Vasquez who recently passed the 2,000 point mark for his career. Vasquez was picked as an ACC Preseason First Teamer (and would make my all-ugly team). He is second in the ACC in scoring at 18.7 ppg, #1 in assists at 6.4 per game, seventh in 3s made, and 10th in steals. Pretty amazing for a guy that was getting booed at home midway through last season and insulted his own fans, saying fans at schools like “duke, unc, and Virginia Tech” didn’t do things like that. Well, he’ll get to see those fans up-close and personal on Saturday.
Vasquez has a hair-trigger and still has not found a shot he didn’t like. He hits 38% of his threes and can get his shot off extremely quickly. If you go out on him tight, Greivis can beat you off the dribble and has a great mid-range shot, can hit runners, can finish layups, or is a great passer and can dish to the athletic Milbourne or the bruising Williams. Or he can kick it out for a three to…
At shooting guard the twerps feature another senior, Woodbridge, VA’s Eric Hayes. Hayes, like Vasquez, has been a four year contributor so this isn’t his first rodeo. They know how to play and how to play together. Hayes is a three-point specialist and when he drives he is usually looking to dish. More than half his made field goals are threes and he doesn’t get to the line much. But Hayes is deadly on threes, hitting 46% of them (#1 in the league). He had been in a minor slump but has hit 6 of 9 from deep in the last two games, but both of those were at home. Eric is just 6 of 21 (29%) from behind the arc in ACC road games, so let’s hope he doesn’t find the Cassell shooting backgrounds to his liking.
The final starter is 6’4″ Sean Mosley. Mosley is the terps best defender at guard. Hayes is weak defensively and Vasquez is a gambler. Mosley isn’t the scorer the other two are but he erupted for 20 against clemson on Wednesday, by far his highest output in ACC play. Mosley doesn’t shoot many threes but does hit 43% of them (just 12 makes). He gets to the line more than Hayes since he is a slasher. Mosley also has 53 offensive rebounds on the season, a great number for a guard. Considering VT’s troubles with rebounding lately, this could be a key.
maryland has a very deep bench, one of the deepest in the ACC. Since they aren’t big, they find ways to rattle you. They play a full court press a lot. Not to aggressively trap like clemson does, but more to make you rush and take bad shots, they turn that into offense on their end. Because they press, they use their stable of bodies. The terps have nine guys that average 10 minutes or more per game. That allows them to press and still keep guys fresh. Vasquez is the only terp that averages more than 30 minutes per game and he’s at just 33. In contrast, Delaney and Hudson average over 36 minutes.
The terps also have a lot of offensive weapons. They lead the ACC in Scoring Offense in ACC games at 76.2 ppg, 3 points ahead of duke. They are still fifth in Scoring Defense at 68.2 ppg. They are #1 in FG% Offense and Defense in conference games. That’s how they are 10-3, with that combination. They can also kill you from distance – hitting 43% of their ACC three-pointers. Next closest is georgia tech at 38%. maryland has four players averaging in double digits (Vasquez, Milbourne, Hayes, and Mosley) and Williams averages 9 ppg. They don’t get a ton of points off their bench, just around 15 per game, but those are talented. Cliff Tucker hit the three at the buzzer that beat georgia tech last weekend.
I also mentioned they are veterans. They start three seniors (Milbourne, Hayes, and Vasquez) and have three juniors that supply a lot off their bench. So they won’t be rattled by much of anything. They’ll be ready to play and know what they are doing. duke and maryland are two of the most experienced ACC teams, and by no surprise, they sit #1 and 2 in the conference.
SIX PACK OF KEYS TO WINNING:
- Make Vasquez One-Dimensional: maryland is at their best when Greivis is getting everyone else involved by either feeding them easy buckets on the break, or breaking down teams and dishing to open teammates near the hoop. Greivis averages over 7 assists per game in their 20 wins, but under 5 in their 7 losses. The only two times he’s been held under 5 assists in an ACC game were both in losing efforts.
- Get a Dang Rebound! Over Tech’s last six games they have grabbed just 57% of their opponents’ misses. That would rank dead last in all of the 347 Division I NCAA teams if that was Tech’s average for the whole season. Tech has fallen from #1 in the ACC in Defensive Rebounding Percentage to ninth over these six games. Part of the problem is Jeff Allen’s drop in production. He averages just 5.2 rebounds per ACC game, only tied for second on the team with JT Thompson and behind Terrell Bell.
- Save Jeff: I mentioned in my notes the other day that in Tech’s last four games, Allen hadn’t made it more than 8 minutes and 4 seconds into the game before committing his second foul. As a result, he’s had a lot of pine time waiting for the second half. Earlier in the year Greenberg had Jeff coming off the bench to protect him early. At a minimum, Jeff should go out when he get his first foul. And he needs to be smarter, knowing he has a target on his back with officials. While refs won’t give Malcolm the foul calls on offense they used to, they sure as heck will ring up Jeff for illegal screens or reaching calls. Be aggressive, since he’s steals lead to VT fast breaks, but pick and choose your spots to be aggressive. And don’t give up fouls 60 feet from the hoop.
- The Subs: The Hokies will have to get some production from their bench. Since maryland will press, the Hokies will get tired and need to dip into their subs. maryland is a great three-point shooting team and if you are tired, you tend to not fight through screens as hard or get up the court as quickly. Next thing you know they are raining down threes on you. Tech will need to sub in fresh bodies and those guys must give maximum effort on defense to avoid letting maryland have the open looks duke and bc had the last two games.
- The Snub: Malcolm Delaney has a chip on his shoulder because his home state terrapins didn’t aggressively recruit him. I have a feeling he loves sticking it to the terps. While his shot has been inaccurate lately, I’d look for big things from him Saturday. The key is he has to start hitting his mid-range shots. He cannot seem to hit open 15-footers, or runners in the lane of late. I wonder if his ankle injury is bothering him on shots, much like he said it has affected his lift on his three-point shots. But all that needs to get blocked out Saturday and Malcolm needs to play like an All-ACC player.
- Tempo: Tech can’t get sucked into maryland’s up-tempo style too much. VT will tire out. But the dilemma is the Hokies struggle to score in the half court. The Hokies must balance when they push, and when they control things and not let maryland just get out and run all night. And the Hokies must hit their open jumpers, something they could not do at bc and also struggled with at duke. Shooting at home helps due to familiarity, and let’s hope VT can knock down some early threes and JT can hit his 15-18 footers.
- Bonus Shot: Believe in the Magic! The undefeated 7-0 maroon dress jeans will be in the building on Saturday!
||23 Delaney 6’3″
||21 Vasquez 6’6″
||5 Hudson 6’5″
||5 Hayes 6’4″
||1 Bell 6’6″
||14 Mosley 6’4″
||0 Allen 6’7″
||1 Milbourne 6’7″
||14 Davila 6’8″
||20 Williams 6’10″