Wednesday, January 11, 2012

season preview: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Hokies

(I knew there had to be a reason I kept that picture around)

Media prediction: 6th

Last season:

Record: 22-12 (9-7) - ACC 6th seed
Postseason: NIT second round
KenPom: 34th of 345

Returning scoring: 36.7%
Returning rebounding: 29.3%
Returning assists: 36.2%

2010-11 All-ACC:

1st team: G Malcolm Delaney
2nd team: F Jeff Allen
3rd team: none
HM: none
Rookie: none
Defensive: none

(Italics indicate departed player.)

Starting lineup:

PG: Erick Green (Jr.)
SG: Dorenzo Hudson (5Sr.)
SF: Jarell Eddie (So.)
F: Dorian Finney-Smith (Fr.)
PF: Victor Davila (Sr.)


G Robert Brown (Fr.)
F Cadarian Raines (rSo.)
F C.J. Barksdale (Fr.)

Coach: Seth Greenberg (8th season)

ACC schedule:

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

This is going to be so much less fun than in the past.  Literally my favorite post that I've ever done in three and a half years of this blog is the Jeff Allen interview from last year.  Allen was easily my favorite rival player in any sport to lampoon, and I tried to take advantage whenever given the opportunity.  Now he's gone and graduated, and the only real target left on the Hokie basketball team (for now) is the coach.

The more things change, however.  Tech is still the fouliest team in the conference, with more fouls per possession than any other team.  And Seth Greenberg still has the team on a short rotation....although this latter tendency has been freed up somewhat from the absurd levels it reach last year.

Leading that rotation is point guard Erick Green.  Green was forced into more playing time last year when Tech got hit with the injury bug, and he was pretty clearly an improvement over Dorenzo Hudson, the man whose minutes he took.  Green is a dangerous scorer and capable distributor, and Tech's offense runs through him this year.  Hudson is also a scorer, but an inefficient one who shouldn't shoot threes - he's a senior and has been a sub-.300 three-point shooter all his career.  Hudson is also turnover-prone.

Tech doesn't have a true center (that they use) but they tend to play big because they can put a lot of big guys on the court at once.  In some respects they have to, because their guard depth took a hit when Tyrone Garland decided to transfer; outside of Green and Hudson, the only other guard in the rotation is freshman Robert Brown.  They start three guys over 6'7", though, and bring two more off the bench.  Jarell Eddie is a matchup difficulty as a 6'7" three-point shooter - he's taken 48 of them this year and hit on more than half, and Eddie is also the team's best defensive rebounder, though when it comes down to it he's more of a big wing than a true forward.  The offensive glass belongs to freshman forward Dorian Finney-Smith, who gathers an excellent 12.3% of available offensive boards.

The bigs can hold their own in the scoring department; none of them are stiffs, exactly.  But VT's style is to attack with their guards, all of whom are outstanding free-throw shooters.  They'd prefer to either slash to the basket or put threes in the air, and they don't have much of a preference as to which guard does what, as evidenced by the fact that they still let Hudson shoot from downtown.  Eddie and Green can hurt you from deep, though, and all three of those guys are nearly automatic free-throw shots.  Tech is happy to let you hack away, if you wish.  The downside to their game is that it's pretty undisciplined, and they too will hack away.

This tends to lead to underachievement.  VT has established a solid pattern, which they don't appear to have broken this year: they're more than talented enough to beat bad opponents, but not disciplined enough to consistently perform against opponents as good or better than they are.  They began the year in a familiar spot - right on the bubble - and will probably end it in the same place as ever: on the outside looking in, because they can't gather the resume-boosting wins they need to get in.


-- One nice thing about having a snail-paced war crime Tony Bennett as Virginia's basketball coach is that Virginia fans are better than most about picking up on the gospel of the tempo-free statistic.  Certainly much better than Jason King of ESPN, whose list of Wooden Award (basketball's Heisman) candidates omitted Mike Scott but included no less than three Tar Heels, who play the fastest pace in the country outside of VMI.  In the words of the man himself: tragical.  I link you this article not for the article but for the comments section, which turned into a list of Mike Scott Facts that Chuck Norris would be jealous of.  Some of them are even hilarious and original.  Mike Scott is the new poster boy for the cry to End Pace-ism Now.

-- In other exciting news, UVA is gaining a 2012 commit a few months early, as Teven Jones has decided to leave Fishburne Military Academy and enroll at UVA for the winter semester.  This is a very rare thing for hoopsters.  Football players do it all the time because it doesn't start the clock on their eligibility; it does for basketball players because it's the middle of their season.  Jones will join the team immediately and take his redshirt season this spring.  But he'll get the benefit of practicing with the team, and it'll help ease the transition between the current point guard combo of Evans/Zeglinski and the future one of Jones/some 2013 recruit.  Zeglinski graduates after the year, and the way chemistry is on basketball teams, the early addition of Jones is a nice, outside-the-box headstart on 2012-2013.


Anonymous said...

Must be asked: could Jones play this year if absolutely needed?

Somalia State basketball declined to offer a scholarship to Mike Scott. Now they're Somalia State basketball.

Brendan said...

Technically, yes, Jones could play if absolutely necessary. I think the walk-ons - Doug Browman, e.g. - would hit the court first, though.