Tuesday, February 17, 2009

game preview: Virginia Tech

Virginia Cavaliers (8-13, 2-8) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (16-8, 6-4)

Possible starters:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (9.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.5 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (7.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.5 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (18.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.6 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (10.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C: Assane Sene (2.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg)


PG: Malcolm Delaney (18.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.6 apg)
SG: Dorenzo Hudson (3.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.2 apg)
SF: A.D. Vassallo (18.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.8 apg)
PF: Victor Davila (3.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.2 apg)
C: Cheick Diakite (3.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.3 bpg)

I say Jeff Allen wasted his suspension. As you probably know, he won't be playing in tomorrow night's game at the JPJA, because of this. In fairness to Mr. Allen, if ever a fanbase deserved to be flipped off, it is indeed Maryland's. That being said, flip it like you mean it, Jeff! That's the bird you use to tell your lazy and equally drunk roommate to fuck off and get his own goddamn PBR, not the one for showing your contempt for an arena full of hostile fans.

Regardless, mission accomplished: fully 20% of Tech's scoring will be in street clothes on Wednesday. Plus, like, all of their rebounding: VT is already 10th of 12 in the league in that department and Allen pulls down almost 9 a game. Of the three musketeers that Tech relies on almost entirely, Allen has the fewest points per game, but he leads the team in myriad other stats besides just rebounding: steals, blocks, field goal %, etc.

So, a big blow to their hopes for winning. Which is nice, because our guys ought to be coming in on a season-high in confidence levels after pulling off a win against a ranked team. Dear Old UVA has a big I-told-you-so for you following the Clemson win, and I'm happy to be told so. So now is our chance to build. Tech will be vulnerable tomorrow.

Not that we can just show up motivated, pass the ball to Mike Scott a lot so he can abuse whichever not-Allen scrub is guarding him all night, and expect to win. Tech has to know this is their last chance at playing an ACC bottom-feeder. After this it's all winning teams, either ones who've pretty much stamped their ticket to the Dance or ones trying just as hard to. It's not inconceivable that a loss here could send them into a death spiral for the rest of the season. Players aren't supposed to look ahead, but they surely know what their schedule says: Clemson, Duke, and UNC sandwiched by fellow bubble resident TFSU. That kind of pressure - the kind that demands you win in a hostile gym against a team you're supposed to beat - can work either way. Seth Greenberg is not a chump, however, and the smart money says he'll have his team ready. The typical wisdom about winning in a hostile road environment says you need to weather the initial emotional storm and then once the crowd settles down, you can settle down too and just play the game. We need to turn that around. We're still not the most talented and experienced team, and getting into a slugging match with A.D. Vassallo raining threes is going to end badly. Our best shot is to punch them in the mouth - hard - in the first five minutes of the game. Feed off a big block or a steal. If there's a breakaway opportunity, don't just lay it up, slam it home with authority. Coach Leitao should draw up an alley-oop play. We're not going to win if we just expect them to be a worse team without one of their stars, we're going to need to play with that edge that's only recently found its way into the first half of our games.

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