#28 R.P.I. Kansas State @ #48 R.P.I. Virginia Tech:
Virginia Tech is back home after a very underwhelming made for TV showcase roadie that was an opportunity just begging to happen after catching a good Minnesota squad ripe for the picking.
Now a 5-2 Seth Greenberg team catches a 4-zip Kansas State Wildcat basketball team at home after a long cross country flight.
Seth and company know first hand how that can lead to tired legs; just ask Wednesday night. K.State will have to content with that when this one tips-off in what figures to be a sleepy looking post A.c.c. championship Clemson game late Sunday afternoon.
That said, the Wildcats ain’t half-bad; they are indeed within reach of our beloved Hokies as their game is more parts physicality in the backcourt and extended defense in the frontcourt and less parts raw offense or shooting. That’s prolly a better recipe for packing up your Big-12 bags and heading that far east all things being equal.
Ergo, Seth and company have a cranky looking Sunday afternoon test on their hands from a K.State hoops program that may not be great anymore though they could prove good enough come ~8pm on Sunday night.
Kansas State at a glance:
- 4th best in defensive FG% allowed (32.5%)
- 8th best in blocks (7.3)
- 19th in offensive rebounding
- 36th in turnover margin (+4.7)
- 297th in personal fouls (22!)
Kansas State backcourt:
Tied for the lead in scoring would be 6`3“ 170 lb. 2-guard Will Spradling. Will is a home-state sophomore who nets you 12.8 points per nite with a nifty mid-range throwback kinda game. Last years top player who is currently third in scoring would be one Rodney McGruder, a Z.Dowdell look alike who plays stronger than his 6`4“ 205 lb. junior numbers suggest. 12.5 points and 5.8 boards are actually a bit off for Mr. McGruder who has seen his 3-point shooting cut in half and had lead K.State in rebounding last season! Mr. McGruder is just too good of a baller to continue to shoot 26% from beyond the arc, though his scoring has gone up for four consecutive games and he is showing signs of finding his range and shooting his way outta this curious opening season slump. Also starting in the K.State backcourt as part of Coach Frank Martin’s 3-guard line-up is Martavious Irving. Martavious is a 6`1“ 209 lb. slickster who drops 8 points and 3.3 dimes (assists) for you though he does need to work on his shooting range a tad. Chipping in in the Wildcat backcourt would be Jeremy Jones, the much celebrated JuCo 6`2“ 165 lb. speedy lead-Guard who turned down U.N.C. to come ball at Manhattan. Jermey is only seeing limited minutes right now and is therefore only getting you 3 points per night; though he has already shown flashes of his athleticism and raw ability to knock down points. Jeremy is another Wildcat (like McGruder) who appears to be looking for a place for a breakout game to happen.
Kansas State frontcourt:
6`7“ 245 lbs. true-freshman Thomas Gipson is about as welcome of a 18 year old addition as you will find this year in the Big-12 Conference. Thomas was not expected to contribute much of anything; instead, the power-forward freshman is leading the team in scoring at 12.8 and is second in rebounding at 7.3 boards per game. Thomas will also block a shot and nets 53% of his shots from the floor. Not half bad for a kid who was said to be a year if not years plural away. That said, the real storyline up front belongs to 7` 245 lb. true-Center #21 Jordan Henriquez of Port Chester New York. Jordan is leading the Wildcats in rebounding at 9.8 rebounds, leading the Wildcats in blocks at 3.3 and leading the Wildcats in shooting at 57.1%. Mr. Henriquez also chips in with nearly 9 points per game. Such gives Mr. Henriquez nearly a 300% increase in scoring, rebounding and blocks alkie from last year. Can you say: “Most improved Player in the Big-12?” You should as Mr. Henriquez plays with a little bit of mean to his game and will be a tough match-up for Seth and company off the Wildcat bench. Jamar Samuels is another 6`7“ 220 lb. P-F senior year banger on the inside. Mr. Samuels game is rugged and he is a very solid low-post defender likely to draw your toughest Forward cover. Mr. Samuels is a District of Columbia escapee who may be familiar to some of the NOVA crowd on TSL. He gets you 11 points and 6.5 boards per nite, on 40% from downtown, though he has been a little turnover prone this season. Shane Southwell of Harlem provides frontcourt relief off the bench and he too is, you guessed it, another 6`7` 220 lb. junior Point-Forward. Shane gets you 7 points, 4 rebounds and a team leading 3.5 assists as something of an impoverished mans Luke Walton role of facilitator for K.State. 6`8“ 225 lb. tough-guy junior year transfer (Washington State) Forward James Watson is out for at least the first semester with eligibility issues. This does cut into the noticeably rather physical Wildcat frontcourt presence a little bit.
Closer and OPT digits:
Coach Greenberg and squad opened up the year better than I had expected –better shooting (107th in FG% (405.8%)) and better man-to-man defense (27th n FG% allowed, 36.3%)) despite lacking girth and raw muscular physical size. Then they do fairly well up at the NYC N.I.T. and then they leave a real opportunity on the table last Wednesday nite out in Minnesota vs. a very depleted and ripe for the picking Golden Gophers, leaving that bad taste of the he little engine that could (not) yet again in your mouth. I realize that a year after departing Delaney, Allen and Bell might not be the year to do it, however, at some point in time Seth and company really must learn to answer the door when opportunity knocks, and beat the medium to casually good teams that they can. The foil to all of this you ask? Offense and the parallels to Beamerball (prior to O’Cain) are striking indeed. Maybe Seth needs to finally outsource and find himself something of an offensive coordinator. Defense, hustle, Seth typically has, shooting has improved and yet when VT needs to VT can not crack 60-65 points to scrape out a tough enough win vs. stronger Surname based competition that holds the key to VT’s NC2A admittance –or lack thereof- in the future. Defense may wins championships, though offense is sexxy and right or ‘rong, the selection committee is big on Q-score sex appeal. VT under Seth is just not that sexxy, end of story.
Right now K.State is 4-o having opened up perfect vs. two semi decent teams and two teams worthy of the Bum Fighting Network itself. K.State was picked by most to be a middle of the pack Big-12 caliber team coming into this year. If anything, K.State might just be playing a tad ahead of that pace thanks to so much improvement in a bruising style of frontcourt play and a rather extended high-pressure oriented backcourt defense.
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That said, as you can see above, K.State plays some pretty damn vice like or hawkish (pardon the Sunflower State pun) defense; though they will indeed get physical with you and they will subsequently put you on the FT-line. Double-bonus here we come and in a game where points look to be at premium, that tells me that Vah.Tech needs to knock down all the 15` set-shots that they can. Right now VT is 71st best at this in all the land at 71.5% from the FT-stripe; though oddly enough, VT is worse at FTA’s inside their own gym. Go fig’ on that?
Nevertheless, and all that to say, if you like offense you have prolly come to the ‘rong place; if you like defense with some hardcourt contact and maybe even a little chippyness along the way .. then this ones the one for you. This is K.State and Coach Martin’s early-season barometer game, just like our recent trip to ‘Sota was for us. K.State needs to gauge what they really need to work on and this one would likewise be a real good looking name win for VT, even at home. This is also K.State’s first road game of the year and the last time I checked, that’s a 1,010 mile road trip or a 17 hour drive. Take your pick. Yes, K.State will fly though we just saw what flying that far can do to an offensive game last nite when VT sunk like a rock on 37% shooting out in the land of the lakes. So take your pick … either you favor the physical frontcourt edge of K.State or you favor the home cooked non jet-lagged edge of Virginia Tech. Either way, this one just does not have easy on the eyes written all over it.
Virginia Tech= 55, Kansas State=59