#110 R.P.I. Virginia Tech vs. #130 R.P.I. Clemson
TV coverage: ~7pm, ESPNU
Vegas line: VT+2.5
$-line: Clemson is a 1.75:1 fave, VT is a 1:1.55 dog
“There is no education like adversity.”
It was not a pretty evening of senior day Virginia Tech basketball vs. NC.State on Sunday down in the New River Valley –was it men? Poor Joey Racer went o for 2 including a ignominious slap-in-the-face of a block to end the show as the feckless and ready to mail it in looking Hokies never quite found a much needed ignition spark. And then it got worse from there…
The ESPNU talking-heads said that Seth Greenberg benched his favorite verbal whipping-boy one Erick Green for lack of effort at halftime. Subsequently, those round things you witnessed rolling along South Main Street were the wheels that just dismounted the little orange and maroon engine that couldn’t. Seth Greenberg may have just official misplaced this team and you have to wonder how much of a mark all of this will leave upon the seven key returnees for 2012-2013 –presuming no further roster attrition via self-subtraction takes place that is.
In the meantime Seth and company are now facing terminal post-season struggle vs. a (16-14) Clemson Tiger hoops team that they split with during the regular season in a .5oo series that saw each squad score precisely 123 collective points against. It does not get much more even than that in a sport that does not allow for actual sister-kisser scoreboard ties to occur–does it folks?
Virginia Tech does have a shot here; Virginia Tech does indeed have a chance. Providing Virginia Tech finds some fresh legs and some even fresher minds. Such will be the key to overcoming the bare minimum prerequisite 80 odd minutes of forthcoming Atlantic Coast adversity.
Clemson at a glance:
- 26th in scoring defense allowed (60.4 ppg)
- 36th in turnover margin (+2.6)
- 67th in steals per game (7.6)
- 86th in defensive rebounding
- 235th in FT percentage (67.2%)
- 265th in 3-point FG percentage defense (36.2%)
(EDITORs note: both the Tiger Frontcourt and Backcourt sections have been brought up to date; although not much has changed in a mere 5-6 days time)
- N.B.A. pros=1 potential International globe trotter (Devin Booker)
- Injuries=1 (F, Tanner Smith, o4 March, concussion, day-to-day)
Depth is the name of the game for a Tiger frontcourt that although it lacks individual star power it does enjoy some measure of strength in numbers approach to a mix-n-match interchangeable parts kinda game. Leading the G.N.C. N.F.L. combine testing charge upfront is junior year forward/center Devin Booker. Devin goes 6`8“ and a bullish 245 lbs. of stacked right-mass and that makes Devin a man-child and a load down on the low blocks. Devin gives you a team leading and improved 7.0 boards and 10.7 steady points on a sporting 45.9% from the floor and a team leading 100 FTA’s (71% on such) from the at the FT-line. Is Devin a great player? No, he is however a downright reliable low-post player in contemporary terms with a sneaking shot at being a good one in 2013. Booker is an explosive athlete and hoops runs in his blood as his brother (Trevor) balls for the Washington Bullets. Helping out upfront with Devin is Milton Jennings. Milt’ is another junior year forward who stands in at 6`9“ and tips the Toledo’s at 227 lbs. Milt’s is the highest ranked Clemson basketball recruit in 14 years and he has done some smart strength and condition re-sculpting work since his arrival 3 years ago. Milt’ scraps his way to 9.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and a second best .9 blocks and steals per game alike. Milt’s also tends to play better vs. bigger names, so it remains to be seen how much tied for cellar dwelling A.c.c. honors Vah.Tech will do for his ego.
Standing a towering true-Center (see: right) sized 7`3“ in height and 255 lbs. down in the pivot would be one #10, Catalin Baciu. Last year the Romanian born Catalin averaged 1.1 and 1.1 again (points and rebounds); and the joke around the A.c.c. was that he looked good in the Airport and nowhere else. This campaign Catalin is the leading frontcourt reserve for Coach Brad Brownell. Catalin (whose nickname is “bobo” which is Romanian for rookie or freshman) is now getting you 4.1 and 2.2, while blocking a shot, and leading the team with nothing much beyond dunks, put-backs and bunnies at 57.6% from the field; although he does prefer a face-up-game and is said to possess a soft-touch in and around the rim. That said, even if the quad-lingual Catalin is and always will be limited as production goes on the offensive end in his final year of ball, he is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end and a very large and in change vertical specimen of a match-up problem for the undersized and undermanned Vah.Tech frontline that is currently barely going three deep. Also contributing a few minutes per half are 6`6“ 190 lb. K.J. McDaniels and 6`7“ 225 lb. Brad Sullivan. K.J. is an exceptionally athletic freshman year wing who Lindy’s magazine compared favorable to our very own Deron Washington. K.J will dunk and he will dunk straight nasty on you if you let him to take it to the rack. Right now he is at least a year away from being a major contributor, although 4 points and a couple of boards in only 10.2 minutes of p.t. (playing time) tells you just how freaky this 6`10“ wingspan of a guy can be. Sullivan like McDaniels is a rookie year combo-forward who turned down a buncha other big-name offers to attend Clemson. Sullivan’s defense is ahead of his improving offense (37.2%) right now, and he is only netting 1.4 and cleaning the glass for 1.1 rebounds despite his springy 35.5“ vertical leap. That’s just too low for a kid with fundamentally sound drop-steps, jump-hooks and left-handed range out to 18` who can simply jump right outta the gym. Such said; these two have the look and feel of a handsome forward combo come 2015. Wanna be Rap-artist Bryan Narcisse (unexpectedly) broke into the starting line-up 11 games ago and moved Bernard Sullivan to the bench in a non health related measure. The 6`6“ 223 lb. high-light reel dunker had been getting you 2.6 and 2.1 off the Clemson pine, however if his asthma (and God Bless on that) has improved look out, this kid is a major vertical player who finishes well above the rim via his whopping 7` wingspan which is basically unheard of small-forward length.
- Association pros=1 little-league overseas kinda candidate (‘dre Young)
Leading the way in scoring despite his Middle Earth 5`8“ Baggins D.N.A. inspired statue is one #11, Andre Young (no, not Dr. Dre either). On a points per foot basis I’d have to say that Mr. Young’s 13.3 ppg (points per game) and a team leading 82.4% from the FT-stripe is what you’d have to call rising to the occasion as pint-sized diminutive point-guards go. ‘dre’s range is pretty much the gym, as he will jack one up from anywhere inside thereof. Clearly this kid does not want for confidence or self-trust. Quantifiably speaking ‘dre goes 41.7% from the floor and 34.2% from 3-point land, so his shot selection does occasionally leave something to be desired; that said, he is a gunner and he could always get a job as a co-op at Remington this summer as he never met a shot that he did not like or that he was afraid to take. On the other hand, ‘dre’s 2.4:1 assist to turnovers ratio is nothing short (pardon the pun) of exceptional as that’s packing some tight ass handles indeed. Be clear, this is ‘dre’s team and this is his rock when he has the ball in his hands. ‘dre has worked and worked and worked some more, I’d say his 302% increase in scoring since his debut year attests to how much this big-time fan-favorite has worked himself up. Good for ‘dre, he sure is an entertaining thumbnail baller to watch and he sure gave Tech a fit upfront on long range pull-up J’s and off-the-dribble both times that we’ve encountered him this season. ‘dre has been shooting the ball pretty well of late; so look for a fairly sizey performance from the short-stuff baller down in Charlotte even if he can not dunk.
Tanner Smith is a 6`5“ 210 lb. senior 2-guard who is a reliable shooter who just like ‘dre Young has improved his game each and every year. Tanner is second team wide in scoring with 11.1 ppg, 5.0 boards, and a team pacing 4.1 assists per game. That’s what I call a quality all-‘round steady baller who does nothing to hurt you. As Tanner is the kinda kid who does all of the fundamental little things well in an all out attempt to help you. And that’s just ON-court folks. How ‘bout his charity he founded at 12, yes, at twelve years of age! Tanner’s Totes a charitable organization which gifts tote-bags filled with things to help teens cope with long-term hospital stays around the country. All-A.c.c. academic team member as well. Can you say Citizenship or Civics award-winner? WOW! Just wow! God bless this kid — the world can not have too many Tanner Smith’s.
Since we last saw the Tigers a whopping and entire 5-6 days ago, 6`3“ and 175 lb. freshman year Devin Coleman is getting some backcourt love off the Tiger bench. Devin is a left-handed basketball player who is mostly known for being a fine transition finisher as his game is lofty and accordingly is played well above the rim indeed. His shooting however is not right; as he is a chilly 31.5% from the floor and downright arctic 11.8% from range this season. This would be a good kid to sag off on when he subs in on the Tiger perimeter. (Formerly) rounding out the starting backcourt trifecta of guards would be T.J. Sapp who is intent on initializing a combo-guard well rounded four year starting career at Clemson. T.J. is a right-sized guard who can make shots and has nice enough handles alike. Right now the rookie Fort Lauderdale native is getting you 3.6 points and 1.6 rebounds; although he appears to have hit the rookie wall as he has zero points in 8 of his last 11 games and has only made 2 of his last 19 shots since January. That said, T.J. does lead the team in bench-press and is known for his fun-loving infectious personality or lockeroom tonic. Every team needs a straw that stirs the intrinsic chemistry drink, applied sports psych 1o1 in lieu of raw feel good numbers –at least at this stage of his Tiger career. That’s what a kid like T.J. is all about and there are a time when that is every bit as valuable as points, rebounds or assists.
Receiving spot minutes off the bench (pun intended) is 6`2“ 215 lb. freshman season Rod Hall. Rod is a strong all-state caliber wide receiver who surprisingly gave up football to pursue an aspiring career in hoops. Rod is already up to 3.9 ppg and conjures up an assist and a rebound alike as his minutes continue to grow. Ditto his whopping 36.5“ vertical leap and his reputation for hardnosed in your face physical brand of man-to-man defense. Pitching and baseball, defense in hoops, the surefire way to extend your career.
Conclusion(s), illation, OPT digits:
Today’s word is…
1. adverse fortune or fate; a condition marked by misfortune, calamity, or distress: A friend will show his or her true colors in times of adversity.
2. an adverse or unfortunate event or circumstance: You will meet many adversities in life.
1200–50; Middle English adversite (< Anglo-French ) < Latin adversitās.
Allow me to connect the dots for you, in theory, a 15-16 and .483 winning percentage Virginia Tech can still win two A.c.c. tournament games and still make the National Invitation Tournament at 17 up and 17 down. And if my Aunt Kim had nuts and a bolt she’d be my uncle Tim. Or in other words, 15-17 overall and tied for last-place in the A.c.c. is pretty damn adverse.
That said; this is entirely what the game of life is all about folks. This is how you find out who you really are. The good times are wonderful indeed, they are a blessing and accordingly, they are to be humbly and thankfully cherished. Adverse times however are the ultimate Human Litmus Test. They are the petri dish in our culture of manhood. Only under such conditions do we learn who we truly are and if there is anything left to be learnt regarding the 2011-2012 Virginia The men’s basketball squad; we should have all the answers we can stand come 9 o’clock on Friday night down in the ATL.
Welcome to closeville, population, 2. Since Virginia Tech joined the A.c.c. these teams have combined to play 12 game, 10 of which have been decided by 2 shots or less. So the odds are pretty fair to middling that these two middleocore hoops teams will play one more close one –right? That would be correct, in less of course they don’t.
In studying the recent 5-game trends –as the Home/Away splits need not apply for this one- most of these two modest Atlantic Coast teams trends were consistent when held under the regression analysis microscope for further inspection. Almost, all of them were consistent that is –Virginia Tech rebounding and defense on the whole? Not so much. In our beloved Hokies last five games, FT percentage defense allowed has softened-up by a user-friendly and downright staggering 8.1% per game. That is a XL sized move in only 2o5 minutes of combined play men. In fact, I am want to recall another orange and maroon FG percentage swing (either way mind you) that is that severe and unchecked in its very nature. Then we come to the matter at hand, rebounding and this to me is the lynchpin, mainstay and tipping point (see the pun?) in this one. In our last 5 games Vah.Tech’s rebounding margin has swung negative by just a tad under a backbreaking -10 rebounds per game! So, I went back and ran the box score numbers for Virginia Tech and Clemson head-to-head this season. The well trained sporting observer will note that so-called textbook Recency Effect smartly supports all of this as Virginia Tech and Clemson have played twice in the span of a mere 5 weeks. To go ahead and rip the orange and maroon BandAid and yank the Tech-tooth, the Tigers have been great on the glass and hold a nearly linear +18 -or 9 per game compared to the aforementioned 10 above- aggregate rebounding edge over the Hokies in this one. That’s a whole lotta extra shots folks. All the mores when you factor in the +9 offensive rebounding edge that the Tigers held in the first one and the +4 offensive rebounding edge that the Tigers held in the second one.
To compound fracture matters all the more, it looks like poor V.Davilia is done as a Hokie career goes with the always masculine unsavory to a T sports-herination. Ouch and God bless on that, get well soon V.D.; and yet now take a second look at those rebounding metrics I published up above one more time folks. Think that the presence of the absence of our best low-post defender (Davila) and best low-block defensive rebounder who’s rebounding numbers have diminished by 18% while gutting it out and playing in pain all year long might just have something to do with that? Yup me too, and that is too much for a Virginia Tech mens hoops team that is “bingo” fuel to overcome.
Virginia Tech=52, Clemson=6o