Monday, December 24, 2012

season preview: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Hokies
Media prediction: 10th of 12

Last season:

Record: 16-17 (4-12); ACC 10 seed
Postseason: none
KenPom: 90th of 345

Returning scoring: 63.1%
Returning rebounding: 56.8%
Returning assists: 64.0%

2011-2012 all-ACC:

1st team: none
2nd team: G Erick Green
3rd team: none
HM: none
Defensive: none
Rookie: F Dorian Finney-Smith

(Italics indicate departed player.)

Starting lineup:

PG: Erick Green (Sr.)
SG: Robert Brown (So.)
SF: Jarell Eddie (Jr.)
F: C.J. Barksdale (So.)
F: Cadarian Raines (rJr.)


F Marshall Wood (Fr.)
F Joey van Zegeren (rFr.)
G Will Johnston (So.)
G Marquis Rankin (So.)

Coach: James Johnson (1st season)

ACC schedule:

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

It's a new era of Tech basketball, with no Seth Greenberg to kick around anymore.  I don't even want to kick him around anymore.  It was fun until Tech dicked him around during the firing process.  I have a tough time hating on people that Tech dicks around.  (Although I still think the ESPN segments where he talks about what it takes to get to the NCAA tournament are some of the best unintentional humor that network has ever put out.)

One thing that hasn't changed: Tech still runs a thin lineup onto the court and depends a lot on one player's creation skills.  You've probably heard by now about Erick Green and his prodigious scoring; he's currently second in the country in scoring, just a tenth of a point behind some guy from Lehigh or some place like that.  Green isn't ballhogging Terrell Stoglin-style, though; he also has a 31.5% assist rate and only an 11% turnover rate; the guy's legit.  Remarkably consistent, too; he's scored between 21 and 28 points in every VT game so far this year.

Also dangerous offensively is wingman Jarell Eddie, a career 40% three-point shooter and Tech's most dangerous threat from beyond the arc.  Eddie can score a few different ways himself; he and shooting guard Robert Brown are Tech's other double-digit scorers.  Besides Green and Brown, though, Tech hardly ever plays any other guards.  Will Johnston and Marquis Rankin are the only other guards that get regular time, and they haven't even played every game.  Both are largely invisible on the court in their limited minutes, and it's not uncommon to see Green playing 37, 38, 39 minutes in a game.

The lineup, therefore, is pretty well forward-dominated.  Besides Eddie, Tech starts C.J. Barksdale and Cadarian Raines down low; both are okay, pretty efficient on the offensive end, but contribute less on the glass than you would like.  Raines averages 6.4 boards a game, second on the team, and many are of the offensive variety; Barksdale has been the better shooter so far this year.  Rotating off the bench, the Hokies bring in Dutch transplant Joey van Zegeren, a solid player but a limited contributor.  His minutes are in line to increase significantly, though; VT's leading bench player, freshman forward Marshall Wood, broke his foot last week (in the already-disastrous Georgia Southern game) and is out for the foreseeable future.  By now you know how it is with these foot things; Jontel Evans and Malcolm Brogdon certainly do.

The loss of Wood drops the Hokies to seven available scholarship players (the five starters plus van Zegeren and Rankin; Johnston is a walk-on); you know how that goes, too.  From here on out Tech will be forced to lean hard on their starting five.  That's a talented five players, but they can't afford even the tiniest bout of ill health.  Tech's tournament hopes - and yes, they have them, even after honking one to a really, really bad Georgia Southern team - depend on perfect health.  Their win over Oklahoma State will keep them in the discussion.  And that old saw about the games often being decided by who has the best player on the court - well, in most of their ACC games, Tech will have that player.  So they ought to be able to stay afloat in the conference.  One more turned ankle, though, and things could come crashing down in a hurry.

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