178 R.P.I. East Tennessee State @ 115 R.P.I. Virginia Tech:
Vegas Line: TBA
Out is Seth Greenberg and his often effective yet seldom personally skilful approach to hoops.
In is former Greenberg assistant coach one James Johnson (or J.J.).
J.J. was something of the players choice and it has been said that his hiring had about as much to do with latent lack of availability in the D-1 coaching ranks; and his real or perceived ability to retain his inherited Tech Roster while simultaneously not forfeiting any recruits. And then there is the fact that Jim Weaver inked J.J. to a contact that basically brought J.J. in on the cheap.
Either we lucked out and got a good up-n-coming coaching bargain; or we made a relatively minor investment in a stop-gap measure or a seat-warmer after the fiery departure of the equally fiery Seth Greenberg. Take thy pick…
I really don’t have the answer to that right now; however with five games in the first 13 days of the inaugural 2012-2013 J.J. season, the answers will come soon enough…
Right now the Bucs are a Guard heavy basketball team, so go ahead and expect them to employ some 3-Guard sets as they really only have two true posts and neither of them did much of anything last season. Senior Lukas Poderis (6`8“ 230 lbs.) and sophomore John Walton (6`7“ 208 lbs.) neither one of which has ideal size to play upfront in D-1 terms. Last year Poderis got you 4 points and 4.5 rebounds off the Buc’s bench and could not make more than every other FTA (51%) in the process. That’s not a whole lotta production from this Lithuanian who seems to lack the typical Euro skill-set as an all around on the ball game in imported terms. Poderis was a fairly nice prep scorer in his time down in Florida; however, that has yet to demonstrate itself at the D-1 level where the inherently greater physicality may be knocking him off of his game. Walton (no relation) is an athletic Swing who has a history of broken wrists and high flying finishes. However last year he only gave the Buc’s 0.7 points and 1 rebound on 15% shooting!
Likewise, when you examine this Bud’s roster the one thing you will not find is much verticality. As try as you might, you still “can’t coach height.” The Buc’s only field 3 guys north of 6`5“ and nobody above 6`8“! It’s not that the Virginia Tech frontcourt is that sky-scraping in its own right; although the Hokies really should have some frontcourt advantages down low in the post in this one. The vibe outta Johnson City is that Charles Hammork is a player. The 6`6“ 186 lb. Coffeyville C.C. JuCo transfer has yet to play this pre-season. The New Orleans native is not even listed on the latest ETSU roster that I could find. That would be hurtful indeed if the Buc’s will debut the 2012-2013 season without the services of their #1 play-right-away recruit.
r-freshman Lester Wilson is said to have had a big pre-season despite only standing 6`4“ in height as a very undersized yet slashing good Small Forward. Les’ gets a whole lotta looks from 10` inward and was a very proficient high school scorer turned engineering major at ETSU. Les’ also has the look and feel of a clutch player as he has a reputation for being willing to take and knock down the big-shot late in the game. Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard has chipped in well enough upfront as rebounding goes this pre-season and that’s not half bad from a 6`5“ 255 lb. rugged looking bowling-ball of a power-forward with some authentic courtside skills. He is said to be a fine junior season passer off the low-blocks and he did enjoy a 42% stroke from 3-point land at the JuCo level.
The Buc’s have one 4th team all-Atlantic Sun selection (#23, G, Marcus Dubose) a couple of other Guards and not a whole lot beyond that in backcourt terms. Sheldon Cooley and Marcus Dubose do return in the ETSU backcourt. 6`2“ 180 lb. senior Marcus is the better of the two as he did give you 11 points last year after putting up 25 ppg at the JuCo level. Marcus has some measure of range on his J though I would not call him a pure shooter at only 28% from downtown. Marcus can dribble-drive to the hoop which gives him a decent inside-out kinda blended game. Marcus is also something of a streaky baller who lit it up at times with seven 20+ point games last season. If he should suddenly experience an “on” game this Saturday; ETSU’s chances to pull a significant upset go way way up. 6`3“ 180 lb. senior Shellly Cooley has a flavorful surname and he does give Coach Bartow some interchangeable mix-n-match backcourt parts. Shelly is a high-energy versatile backcourt baller who can rebound a bit and he is also the Buc’s best backcourt defender. Look for Mr. Cooley and his team leading 2.48 steals per contest to attempt to lockdown E.Green on Saturday afternoon. Shelly is good for 9 points and 3 rebounds per game and he too is a fairly gifted athlete who can play a little bigger than he looks. t-freshman Petey McClain is another youngling to watch out for according to Coach Bartow. Pete is a 6` 185 lb. pure point-guard who is said to be brilliant off the dribble and possess outstanding speed baseline-to-baseline. Petey is prolly gonna be a good one, as you do not get named to the first-team AAAAA all-state squad in Alabama via mistake.
Sources suggest that Coach J.J. and Virginia Tech will be facing some zone looks most likely of the 3-2 variety due to the imbalance between the ETSU backcourt and frontcourt respectively; although Coach Bartow has favored the 2-3 zone in the past. ETSU only has 8 returning players, 3 rookies, 2 JuCo’s and a walk-on ex ball-boy at this moment. Or in other words, even if Virginia Tech is not particularly deep; neither is ETSU and it does not appear that the (few) players that ETSU does return are all that. At least not on paper; as I could not find a single starting Buccaneer who could beat-out their Hokie counterpart at this time. Dubose is pretty decent;and he’d make for a very quality bench sub’ for Coach J.J. in the A.c.c. Not so much after that. ETSU coach Bartow went so far as to say that Virginia Tech would have beaten him by 20 points after the Carson Newman scrimmage just last week.
Nobody seems to know (quite) what to make of J.J.’s debut team down in the New River Valley. However, I have picked up the following tidbits of information
- They are in damn good shape as their pulmonary conditioning drills have been said to be brutal yet effective –they will need this as the 2012-2013 starters are gonna get all the playing-time they can stand.
- J.J. likes a tight man-to-man defense, and he will press/trap in order to increase the tempo and attempt to generate easy baskets (foul trouble permitting of course)
- J.J. is not very deep. Some might say 6 deep, maybe more like 6.5 if you favor the 6`10“ Heineken Light beer otherwise known as Joey Van Zegeren; with the long-n-lean small-forward Marshall Wood set to help out upfront off the Vah.Tech pine (bench).
- Foul-trouble will be critical, and any starting-5 injury issues could prove downright terminal.
- Timeouts must be used to allocated spacing and rest for said starting-5 in lieu of pure game stoppages in scoreboard terms.
Right now I simply like a noticeably more experienced Virginia Tech starting-5 to simply over-power and out-play a younger and far leas experienced ETSU 10 deep hoops team. The top-5 or Top-6 players out on the count will all be in Chicago Maroon and burnt Orange on Saturday; although after that; things thin and even out in a hurry.
Virginia Tech=74, East Tennessee State=61