Thursday, January 24, 2008

Virginia Tech Preview

Virginia Tech's conference record of 2-2 is better than expected, given that they opened with 3 road games in the first 4. Any win on the road this season by a team not named Duke or North Carolina is unexpected - the gap between the rest of the teams is so small that home court advantage should play more of a decisive role this season than in recent memory. On paper, this one looks like a blowout - the Hokies are without Jeff Allen thanks to an "excuse me" elbow to a referee last weekend, which takes away one of their three primary scorers. Allen, AD Vassallo, and Deron Washington are really the only offense for the team - no one else except Dorenzo Hudson takes many shots. To call the Hokies offensively challenged would be generous. They have centers who don't score, point guards who don't shoot (and turn the ball over), and wings who can't hit from outside (except Vassallo). Put that offense against a Duke defense that has been very, very good all year, and you can expect a low number from the Hokies.

On the other side of the court, the Virginia Tech defense has been extremely stingy. Teams do not shoot well against the Hokies, and Virginia Tech also limits easy points by cleaning up on the defensive glass (70.9% of defensive boards) and not putting opponents on the line. The Hokies also have quick size to match up with Duke on the perimeter - Washington is an especially good defender who will likely be assigned to either Singler or Henderson, depending on Duke's lineup - as essentially the whole team is between 6'5" and 6'9". Duke's ability to shoot over taller players and compete on the offensive glass will be a key to the game.

When all is said and done, the Hokies simply don't have the offense to win tonight. Still, Blacksburg has not been kind to the Devils over the years, and it will be a loud and hostile environment tonight. Duke withstood an angry crowd against a better Florida State team and came out on top, and tonight should be no different.

Around the ACC

Tyler Hansbrough had his first really good game in ACC play with 10-15 from the floor and 15-16 from the line as the Heels cruise at Miami. UNC hit the boards very well, no small feat against the Canes front line.

"Douglas stole the ball" probably won't go down in "Havlicek stole the ball" fame, but his pickpocket of Singletary and subsequent FTs sealed the deal for the Noles last night. Holding court was essential to FSU, who avoided falling to 1-4 in ACC play.

Somebody better throw a bucket of water on Matt Causey, because he's been on fire. After hitting double figures just once in the first 16 games, he dropped 30 on the Hokies and followed up with 18 on the Pack. He's 16-24 from the field, including 8-13 from three, in his last two games. Continuing a year-long theme, Brandon Costner had a disappointing game for the Pack.

Why Wake Forest shoots so many threes is a mystery to me. They're awful from behind the arc - 28.8% as a team, but they chuck them up for over 1/3 of their shots. Their efg% from 3 is worse than their efg% from 2, which is not easy to do. They have effective inside scorers and Ish Smith is a good penetrator - they should take a look down I-40 to Chapel Hill for guidance and stop taking so many threes. In other news, Clemson stinks at the FT line again. Oliver Purnell should offer the guy at FSU whatever he wants to come up the road and teach the Tigers in the off-season.

No comments: