Wednesday, January 19, 2011

season preview: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Hokies

Media prediction: 2nd

Last season:

Record: 25-9 (10-6); 4th in ACC
Postseason: NIT quarterfinals
KenPom: 36th of 347

Returning scoring: 98.2%
Returning rebounding: 89.7%
Returning assists: 98.2%

2009-'10 All-ACC:

1st team: G Malcolm Delaney
2nd team: none
3rd team: G Dorenzo Hudson
Rookie: none
Defensive: none


PG: Malcolm Delaney (Sr.)
SG: Erick Green (So.)
SF: Terrell Bell (Sr.)
PF: Jeff Allen (Sr.)
C: Victor Davila (Jr.)


F Manny Atkins (So.)
F Jarell Eddie (Fr.)
G Tyrone Garland (Fr.)

Coach: Seth Greenberg (8th season)


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

After UVA went into Cassell and beat VT on their own gym, the season looked like three-quarters of a totally lost cause for the Hokies. Since then: 7-1, with the only blemish being a three-point loss to North Carolina. VT is well poised to return to their usual status as a whiny tournament bridesmaid.

Honestly, it'd be a shame, if it were anyone but Tech. (Or, say, Maryland.) The roster is senior-heavy and returned - almost literally - everyone who scored a basket at all last year. Transfers and injuries took a toll, though: lightly used guard Ben Boggs left the team in December, and depth forward Cadarian Raines broke his foot. Seth Greenberg uses an astoundingly short rotation, using his depth players very sparingly, so those weren't huge losses to Tech's usual way of business, but starting guard Dorenzo Hudson also went down around the same time Raines did.

So what you see is what you get, for the most part, when Tech takes the court for the opening tip. As long as they have Malcolm Delaney, they'll compete in every game. Delaney is a do-everything point guard. And if Jeff Allen is in the mood, he can dominate the post on the offensive end. He averages close to a double-double, though he has a tendency to be a lazy liability on the defensive end and is always in foul trouble. Delaney and Allen are most of VT's scoring punch, and with Erick Green replacing Hudson, they actually haven't lost much there. Beyond that, the other players on the roster are pretty pedestrian. They're functional, but not exceptional. Basically, Tech is a threat to win any game as long as Delaney is Delaney and Allen is fired up to win.

As for style, VT basketball games can get ragged. They try to out-athlete you and they have a tendency to lose discipline (Jeff Allen has zero business shooting three-pointers but he's usually good for one or two a game, which are always bricks) and it results in them creating a lot of turnovers, but also turning it over too much themselves, and fouling too much besides.

They've probably blown their shot at the NCAA tournament. A home win over Oklahoma State is the best thing going for their resume; they lost to every other good team they faced outside the conference. A pretty favorable ACC schedule should set them up for a good seed and an NIT bid at minimum, but they really only have two chances left - at Maryland and Boston College - to make a statement to the committee that they can win away from home. I don't expect to hear them called on Selection Sunday unless they can make a tornado-run through the conference schedule - 10-6, like last year, won't cut it.

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