#66 R.P.I. Virginia Tech vs. #179 R.P.I. Georgia Tech:
TV coverage: Thursday 9:25pm+ tip-off on the ACC network
Vegas Line: Gah.Tech+5.5, O/U=133, $-Line: VT-27o, GT+195
A pay-side message board poster authored the following on Monday morning:
“Allen and Delaney have appeared to be sulking at numerous times over the past 2 games and that the effort level wasn’t where it should be.”
I almost responded, and then I decided to borrow on some of that as we begin our build-up and coverage of the 2011 A.C.C. Men’s Basketball Tournament down in Greensboro North Carolina.
“The body fuels the mind.”
I have zero doubt that they have got to be wearing thin, if not wearing-down mentally and therefore physically via all of this roster attrition alone. Be clear that my use of “they” goes well beyond just my boy MD-2o-20 and Jeff Allen. They in fact is code for our current starting line-up which has been forced to play approximately 90-95% of the time in 11 of their last 12 outings. Further, more often than not, that has been code for a 6 or 7 man rotation for Seth and company. Such is typically code for tired or even outright dead legs. Delaney is 26% from beyond the arc in the last three weeks. Allen has been held to 8 boards or less in three of his last four. V.D.’s overall play (scoring and rebounding) are down in four of his last five contest’s. Even Bell and Green have been somewhat inconsistent of late.
It is indeed tough to be amped up forever on a diet of pain with an all you can eat buffet of personnel attrition.
So where do they find solace?
And even better, where do they find redemption?
Georgia Tech at a glance:
- 5th in steals (9.5)
- 28th in turnover margin (+2.8)
- 77th in blocks (4.1)
- 301st in offensive FG% (40.8%)
- 318th in offensive 3-point% (30.2%)
- 334th in 3-point% defense allowed (38.2%)
Let’s see, I track 20 major D-1 men’s hoops statistical categories for each and every Techsideline.com basketball preview. This week I am tracking a team that is in triple-digits (read: 100th or higher) in 17 outta the aforementioned statistical categories. That’s not good and when you get right down to fishing or cutting bait, neither is Georgia Tech. The Yellow-Jackets do have two or three talented pieces -one of which has been hurting in recent weeks- and after that they have been stung as raw personal talent goes in say forth best to end of bench individual player terms.
Leading the way for the Wrambling Wreck, would be one #1, 6`5“ 209 lb. junior Point-Guard Iman Shumpert. Iman (right) leads the Wreck in scoring and is forth best overall in the A.C.C. at 17.5 per contest, in rebounding at 6.1 per game and in assists at 3.5 every time he steps out onto the court. I’d say that qualifies Mr. Shumpert as the leading man for the Yellow-Jackets basketball team this year. Iman has chilled out a little bit on his 3-point shooting as his range how stands at 27.4% and he is now third on the Jackets at a nifty 80.3% from the charity stripe this season. This is rather helpful when you get to the FT line a team leading 173 times on the year. To top all of that off, Iman leads GT and the A.C.C. overall in steals at 81 thus far this season; thus making Iman one of the best well-rounded ballers in the whole darn A.C.C. I’d say that is enough to reserve (pun intended) no less than a second-team all-A.C.C. placement for Mr. Shumpert later this year. Kinda like the Jackson kid up at Boston College; you may not be hearing a whole lot on Iman outside the confines of A.C.C. circles; however, Mr. Shumpert has a lot to say and his all-’round game speaks volumes. Not bad work for a guy who missed about a quarter of last year with a significant knee sprain that lead to a very uneven 2009-2010 campaign. Not so in recent terms as Mr. Shumpert is putting the biscuit into the basket to the tune of 19.8 points per game on average since the middle of January. If this kid sticks in the ATL, he is an all-A.C.C. Guard next season; well, unless he kicks it on up to the Association this June.
Second in scoring would be nepotistic legacy baller one #41 Glen Rice Junior. Yes they are related and yes Glen Jr. has some range on his J just like his old-man did from “way downtown, BANG!” Glen is a 6`5“ 185 lb. sophomore 2-Guard who gives GT 12.8 points and 5.6 boards per night even if his 3-point stroke has dropped a staggering 15% since last year and is now down to 29.9% for this season so far – such has declined a further 3% since VT played him a few weeks ago over in the Cassell fortress that is the New River Valley. In the middle the Yellow Jackets enjoy the services of a legit 6`11“ 258 lb. big, #5 Mr. Daniel Miller a red-shirt freshman from Loganville Georgia. Daniel gives you 4.5 and 4.9 per night (points & rebounds) and does lead GT in blocks at 2.2 per contest. Daniel however is a bit raw on the offensive end and is positively offensive from the FT-Line at a lowly 37% on 15` set-shots. #11 6`6“ 220 lb. sophomore swingman Brian Oliver (below) is third in scoring netting 11 points and running down 4 rebounds of his own to go with 82% from the charity-stripe. Well, at least he was, right up until he sustained a busted left-digit (thumb). Mr. Oliver suffered a fracture at the base of his off-hand shooting thumb vs. Klempson on o2.o5. It was said at the time that Mr. Oliver would be on the shelf for at least three weeks and possibly more. That will be 34 days according to my maths which forces me to deduce that this bum thumb has not heal with the rapidity initially expected. As of Monday, Brian was officially listed as “Questionable” for the A.C.C. first round game vs. Virginia Tech. We will monitor Brian’s availability and hope ot have an update before this one tips off Thursday night at 9pm. (EDITORIAL note: an A.J.C. source is hinting that Brian has been cleared to play in Thursday nights game)
Fourth in scoring is #0 Mfon Udofia, a 6`2“ 187 lb. sophomore Point-Guard performer who is a former baseball star turned hoopster. Mfon possess a high basketball I.Q. and gets you 6.9 points per competition; even though Mfon was said to be a bit over-matched in league play last season and he is still not much as a pure shooter goes checking in at 37.9% on the season overall. After that #14 6`5“ 210 lb. freshman Wing Jason Morris leads all Yellow-Jackets at 41.5% on three-pointers and chips in with 6 points overall. This is extremely impressive from a kid said to be the best pure athlete in the six ATL years since Isma’il Muhammad left campus, who was recognized for mostly being a high-flying finisher straight outta high school. Further, note that Jason is the one outside shooter that you must honor or close out on from Georgia Tech as the gap between him and second place 3-point shooter Maurice Miller is a gaping 9% from downtown. After Jason the rest of the Jackets come up a big short as long-distance shooting goes. Maurice “Mo” Miller is a reserve 6`2“ 189 lb. senior Guard who’s minutes and production have been dropping every since his rookie season, right now he stands in at an experienced 6.1 points with a couple of boards and a couple of assists per night to go along with a team leading 87.1% from the FT-Line. #42 6`10“ 218 lb. freshman Nate Hicks provides PF-Center relief minutes off the GT pine as a late summer surprise signee from Panama City Florida. Nate shoots a team leading 56.7% from the floor although he does not shoot very often; he will get you a couple of rebounds and a block or two per game, even if he is only 33.3% from the charity-stripe. #24, 6`8“ 209 lb. freshman PF Kamerron Hosley, sat out last year with a blown A.C.L., and has been plagued with an undisclosed illness this season. Kamerron is a 15 minute per game quality bench-sub, who can have explosive nights in scoring and on the glass when his trick knee is feeling the part. GT sources suggest that Kamerron is feeling better after sitting out vs. france; although his offensive production has been erratic since his return.
#10 6`5“ 221 lb. senior 2-Guard one Lance Storrs has gone from part-time bench contributor to starter in Coach Paul Hewitt’s newfangled 4-Guard offense. Lance is known to be something of a shooter and a physical defender on the perimeter. #4 6`3“ 208 lb. Pt.Guard Nicholas Foreman is a junior year baller from Texas who has been receiving spot-minutes off the Yellow Jacket pine in recent weeks. Nick is known to have a fine handle (dribble) on the rock (ball) and is a fine FT shooter at 83%.
Fourm-Guide, Conclusion(s), Prediction:
So where will this wounded O&M animal go from here?
Some on TSL.com are saying Seth and company are done. Some on TSL.com are saying that Seth and company have one run left in them. We have seen some spirited opinions from both camps on the TSL.com hoop message board and on the Subscriber’s Board alike. Let us recount that we have seen both takes arise since the regular season ended by besting #1 Duke at home by 4 points, and subsequently dropping a 15 point senior night home-standing contest to Boston College; and then by taking a 9 point L right on the bubble bursting chops up at Klempson on Saturday. All three teams are certainly post-season teams in one way or another and no matter how you slice it, that leaves VT at 33.3% vs. post-season teams to close the year. However, overall VT appears to have gone .5oo (8-8) vs. probable 2011 post-season teams during the 2010-2011 regular season. I’d say that sums it up rather neatly as I would deign that Virginia Tech’s chances of rallying to go on a post-season run at this time to be roughly fifty-fifty at this stage of the game.
Barring winning the 2011 A.C.C. tournament championship; Georgia Tech is undoubtedly not a post-season team. This undoubtedly suggests that Virginia Tech is the rightful favorite in this contest as the Hokies should benefit from being +4 on days of rest in terms of getting some fresh-legs back for the A.C.C. opening round of play. Never mind the 20 hour turnaround for round-two on Friday; such is putting the horse before the cart when you split with Georgia Tech (1-1) during the regular season.
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On the other hand, Georgia Tech is 3-8 in their last 11 for a reason. The reason being that Georgia Tech is one of only two A.C.C. 2010-2011 teams poised to finish out this season south of .5oo at 13-17 overall right now – thus most are saying that Georgia Tech’s 2010-2011 season only has 40 minutes remaining in it at this time. That said the Wrambling Wreck did win two in a row to close the show and has been shooting a decent amount better of late since Coach Hewitt switched to a 4-Guard starting line-up. In fact one might even dare to say that Georgia Tech is now playing its best basketball of the season; well, as good as any 5-11 in-conference team can play; let’s put it that way.
So while I do favor Virginia Tech in this one, one must wonder where our collective O&M heads are at this stage of the campaign after 80 straight minutes of a low-octane O&M effort to end the year. Did we leave all of our O&M eggs in the altogether upsetting Duke basket? Or will we rest-up, amp-up and be ready to beat what can only thoughtfully be described as an inferior Georgia Tech basketball team on Thursday night to begin the 2011 A.C.C. single-elimination basketball tournament?
Oddly enough, the Fourm-Guide predicted an 8 point win for Tech — as in Georgia Tech. To be clear I did truncate the Fourm-Guide to only allow for the recent in-season changes that Coach Paul Hewitt has recently made … namely:
- implementation of a 4-Guard offensive attack with legacy Glenn Rice Jr. now coming off the Jackets pine
- a so-called combination or match-up zone based defense
- more Trapping defensive sets
Recall that Seth and company have struggled with match-up Zones in the past. Be that a pure 2-3 match-up zone, or the even more perplexing 1-3-1 match-up zone, or a 2-1-2 match-up zone.
What do I mean by a match-up Zone defense you ask?
Well, basically this is a hybrid defensive set; hence the use of the term “combination” in most descriptions of a given match-up Zone defensive set. The on-the-ball defender basically plays tight, bumping and physical 1 on 1 man-to-man defense on the ball with a more purified true zone defense behind the ball or away from the ball. The match-up Zone defense is designed to create offensive confusion and force a given offense out of their pet offensive sets (or plays). If you are a well-versed basketball X’s and O’s savant, what you will see out of Georgia Tech on Thursday night will remind you of Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 match-up Zone defense up at Syracuse or Coach Lute Olson’s 1-3-1 or 2-1-2 match-up Zone defense of Arizona fame. The way to attack a match-up Zone defense is twofold:
- use of cutters moving without the ball from High-to-Low
- overloading one side of the 2-3, 1-3-1 or 2-1-2 match-up Zone defensive set in order to play a numbers game where the offense is always +1 on the ball-side of the play (i.e. the offense will have one extra body that the match-up Zone defense can not easily cover on the ball-side of the play)
However, here is the kicker, when was the last time you saw Seth and company moving well or cutting well without the ball; and when was the last time you saw Setch and company routinely overload the ball-side of the O&M offense?
On top of that the recent 5-game trends paint the picture of two ships passing in the night. VT’s offense has cooled off by 4% from the floor per game and VT’s defense has slacked off by 4% itself. On the other hand, GT’s offensive 3-point shooting has improved by 6% from beyond the arc since Hewitt went to his 4-Guard offensive set and GT’s rebounding has improved by +5 rebounds to the good per game. The Yellow-Jacket defensive metrics have all improved across the board if only marginally. As you can see VT is getting somewhat worse right as GT is getting somewhat better. Now it is rumored that Coach Paul Hewitt is coaching for his job in his eleventh season down in the ATL and GT is getting third leading scorer Brian Oliver back after an eight game hiatus. Whereas Jeff Allen is rolling his ankle all over the place for poor Seth Greenberg who if not for bad luck would have no luck at all.
None of this encourages me to pick Virginia Tech; and yet I can tell you point blank that the Hokies are the superior hoops team when focused, playing the roll of the hunter, and when playing with fresh legs. By my maths VT currently enjoys one outta those three things and the injury to Jeff Allen is not helping matters, not one iota.
By my count, Georgia Tech is +22 in Turnover Margin since switching to a match-up Zone defensive set(s) and since utilizing more half and full-court defensive Traps as well.
That tells me that this one has “u, g, l, y” written all over at as this one will not be easy on the offensively minded eyes. I’m looking for a feisty game to be played under the microscope of power-conference Tournament pressure that lands somewhere in the high 50’s to very low 60’s. Further, I am looking for Tech to do just enough to steal one down in Greensboro late Thursday night.
(UPDATE: with Jarrell Eddie now suspended indefinitely, and with only 7 scholarship ballers available; fatigue will be a major issue in this one; and O&M foul-trouble could be crippling)