Sunday, December 14, 2008

season preview: Virginia Tech

No logo for this one. Like I'm gonna put the VT thing on the front page here when I don't have to.

Media prediction: 6th

ACC schedule:

Twice: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Virginia
Once: Georgia Tech (H), Maryland (A), Miami (A), North Carolina (H), NC State (H), Wake Forest (A)

2007 All-ACC:

First team: None
Second team: F A.D. Vassallo
Third team: None
Freshman: F Jeff Allen
Defensive: None
HM: F Deron Washington, F Deron Washington (def.), F Jeff Allen (def.)

(italics: returning)

Projected starters:

PG: Malcolm Delaney (So.)
SG: Dorenzo Hudson (So.)
SF: A.D. Vassallo (Sr.)
PF: Jeff Allen (So.)
C: Cheick Diakite (Sr.)


F Victor Davila (Fr.)
G Hank Thorns (So.)
G Terrell Bell (So.)
F Lewis Witcher (Jr.)

(italics: returning starter)

Coach: Seth Greenberg (6th season)

Were the preseason predictions a little premature? VT looked like a very dangerous team in September. The Hokies lost Deron Washington to the NBA draft, but the figuring was that point guard Malcolm Delaney and forward Jeff Allen, with a year of seasoning under their belt, would be able to step up and help A.D. Vassallo shoulder the scoring load, and the Hokies would be just as strong, if slightly inconsistent due to their youth.

Mostly this has happened. Delany and Allen are well above their scoring pace from last year, and Allen is a boardmonster besides, grabbing nearly 10 per game. These are going to be the three guys you have to stop. You have a pretty fair chance of beating the Hokies if you can do this, because they're getting very little help from other quarters. Top reserve Victor Davila is good for a quality game here and there, but is inconsistent. Davila is a freshman - you'd expect this. Starting shooting guard Dorenzo Hudson isn't carrying his share of the load either. Hudson is not an especially good shooter, and is hitting on just 28% of his shots this year.

So increasingly it's looking like Tech is a three-man show. They're incredibly young - only three upperclassmen in the rotation - and that doesn't help. Pick a stat category - seriously, just about any stat category at all - and Vassallo, Allen, and Delaney are 1, 2, and 3, in varying orders. Literally the only exception is blocks, in which defensive specialist center Cheick Diakite noses in there, second on the team and bumps Delaney to fourth.

It'll help when they get forward J.T. Thompson back from hernia surgery, which ought to be in time for the ACC season. Even with Thompson, the depth will be a sticking point for this team all season. Teams that can key in on any one of the three stars should usually be able to stop the Hokies, and they'll have a rough ride in the conference on nights when Vassallo, Allen, or Delaney don't have the shooting touch. Tech doesn't look like a March Madness team; it appears likely they'll slip to the NIT this year.

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