Tuesday, February 21, 2012
game preview: Virginia Tech
Date/Time: Tuesday, February 21; 9:00
Record against the Hokies: 81-53
Last matchup: VT 47, UVA 45; 1/22/12; Charlottesville
Last game: UVA 71, Md. 44 (2/18); VT 74, GT 73 (2/18)
Opposing blogs: Gobbler Country, The Key Play
UVA: 60.5 (#335)
VT: 63.0 (#304)
UVA: 104.9 (#105)
VT: 106.5 (#81)
UVA: 85.4 (#5)
VT: 97.0 (#101)
UVA: .8915 (#20)
VT: .7225 (#85)
Projected starting lineups:
PG: Jontel Evans (6.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.7 apg)
SG: Sammy Zeglinski (8.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.8 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (11.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (17.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.3 apg)
F: Akil Mitchell (4.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.9 apg)
PG: Erick Green (15.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.9 apg)
SG: Dorenzo Hudson (10.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.7 apg)
SF: Jarell Eddie (9.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.4 apg
F: Dorian Finney-Smith (6.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.8 apg)
PF: Cadarian Raines (4.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.5 apg)
Happy Mardi Gras! As you know, "Mardi Gras" is French for "Fat Tuesday." Here in Detroit we don't have all-out Carnival-type celebrations like in New Orleans or Rio or such, but we do take "Fat Tuesday" literally: today is known as Paczki Day, and for those of you in the 100% of the population that thinks Polish is a language designed to make non-native speakers crazy, I'll reinforce that notion and inform you the word is pronounced "poonchkey." Yes, with an N. Paczki (the word is plural) are basically jelly donuts on steroids. LOTS of steroids. The kind that would make Barry Bonds go "whoa man, ease off on that stuff." They're like little calorie A-bombs about twice the size of your average Dunkin Donuts jelly donut. They don't have to be filled with jelly, of course; could be lemon, or custard, or whatever, and they're almost always either glazed or powdered. If you can't go to New Orleans and drink six Hand Grenades and throw beads at bewbs and wake up face-down on a piss-encrusted streetcurb, going to a Polish bakery and getting yourself a giant sugar explosion is the next best thing.
We are hoping, of course, that the bouncyball team will celebrate Mardi Gras in their own style. This is one of those games that's not really as important on a big-picture level; if we win, the committee will have expected that and award us no points. This is one of those games that, for reasons you should be all too familiar with, is important just for its own sake.
-- UVA on offense
The main difference between this game and the last will be the near-certain absence of Victor Davila from the Hokies' lineup. Davila is a credible player on offense, but on defense, they'll miss him dearly. GT's forward Kammeon Holsey averages 9 points a game; he dropped 18 on VT, a number he hasn't reached since he scored 21 on Delaware State. Davila is one of the few players this season who's been able to really body up on Mike Scott and deny him the ability to post up, as well as not being so clunky (like most of the 7-footers that've tried to guard him) that he can't defend the midrange jumper. Yes. Davila had the ability to sometimes even guard Scott one-on-one. Blasphemy, I know.
Without Davila to worry about, Scott should be poised for another field day. He'll be guarded by the far-less-experienced Cadarian Raines, or at times, C.J. Barksdale. Tech will almost certainly try to double him, a move that'll be countered by what Scott revealed in the Maryland post-game interviews: that he's going to be coming off screens himself instead of only setting them. With Scott being much less stationary and isolated on offense, Tech will find the double-team very hard to execute. And they have no prayer of guarding him all day with one man.
It's also been since the last Tech game (in fact, the last Tech game was something of a catalyst for this) that Jontel Evans has started being much more aggressive to the rim. This new tendency could help to exaggerate one of Tech's biggest: their propensity to get into foul trouble. Tech has been running eight deep even without Davila, so their foul trouble has been mitigated somewhat lately; nevertheless, it remains a weakness.
That cast on Joe Harris's hand has been limiting his minutes, but fortunately, Malcolm Brogdon is picking up the slack nicely. He's less of an outside threat than a healthy Harris, but more of a slasher. What we're learning is that the Sammy-vs.-Brogdon debate is silly; things work pretty well with both of them in the game.
The last game against this team was ugly as sin on the offensive end. Four assists, 12 turnovers, and 1-for-14 shooting from three. It took maybe the worst offensive performance of the year to lose to Tech, and by two points. Things will be better than that, especially with a key VT cog out.
-- UVA on defense
No Davila is less of a thing on this end, though. Davila's a perfectly decent player, but Raines and Barksdale have been getting his minutes, and they're kind of plug-and-go because of how much the VT offense runs through the guards instead.
That means Erick Green and Dorenzo Hudson, and to a lesser extent, Jarell Eddie. Those three take half of Tech's shots, and Green is still the efficient and talented offensemaker he's been. I bagged on Hudson's three-point shooting last time, and of course he was the guy that hit what essentially was the game-winning three, but he's still only a 31% shooter from there. Eddie, on the other hand, is that strange breed who's better from three than from two. He's a tough matchup because he's 6'7"; I'd like to put Zeglinski, one of our best perimeter defenders, on him, but the eight-inch differential is a little much.
If the Hoos can keep Green from creating in the lane, that'll be the difference-maker on defense. We can win if we don't, but we can't lose if we do. Remember, the last time we played these guys was the first game without Assane Sene; the team is much more used to that idea now and has adjusted. Look what they did to Terrell Stoglin: 4-for-17 shooting. Green isn't nearly the ballhog that Stoglin is, but frustrating his ability to get into the lane will force Tech to regress to playground mode, which will never succeed against the kind of in-tune, well-coached defense UVA runs. On the other hand, if Green is allowed the space he needs, he can hurt you in about a thousand different ways.
Just win, man. I don't think I can stomach it otherwise. Fortunately, it took a rock-bottom offensive performance to lose last time; the new wrinkles that've since been developed, and Tech's lack of an antidote to Mike Scott, will be the difference this time. I think Scott has another 18+ points, and UVA grinds out a workmanlike victory on enemy territory.
-- Final score: UVA 59, VT 53