#169 R.P.I. Virginia Tech vs. #133 R.P.I. Bradley:
Bradley at a glance:
- 9th most steals per game (1o.6)
- 28th best in FG percentage on offense (48% from the floor)
- 320th in 3-point FG percentage defense (38.6% allowed)
- 33oth in offensive 3-point shooting (26.6%)
At 8 up and 2 down, Bradley is not supposed to be this good. I feel confident saying that as most every single pre-season rag’ has already said that. Being picked dead last or next to last in the Missouri Valley conference and that says that as well. Everyone was saying that, well everyone less Bradley Brave head coach Geno Ford. All Geno did was challenge the bravery of the Braves themselves and he sure did not pull any punches. “We need to do a lot of competitive stuff to get guys used to winning again. We have to develop an attitude where guys hate losing more than they love winning.” Coach Ford said.
This with a Bradley team that won 7 games last year and finished 10th in a race to 10 in the Missouri Valley Conference. That said, this is also a Bradley team with 4 starters back and that means they are experienced enough.
Leading the way is Walt Lemon Junior. Walt is no sourpuss at 13 ppg and 3.3 assist. Walt is a 6`3“ 180 lb. third year baller Walt is better suited to playing out on the Wing; although it is very surprising to see a 92% FT shooter only notch 19% from beyond the arc. Walt was the most improved player in the M.V.C. last year and a two time Honor Roll member for the Bradley Braves.
#20 Ty Picket is the main man up front for the Bradley Braves. Tyshon stands in at 6`6“ and tips the Toledo’s at 215 bls. Tyshon is leading the Braves with 7.1 boards and almost leading the Braves with 12.8 ppg. Ty is also number-one in FTA’s peg game for Bradley and he is a decent looking 71% from the charity stripe. Ty is a JuCo transfer from Dodge City Community College who is not afraid to shoot it out with you near the hoop as he also leads the way in offensive rebounding with 31. Ty however has very suspect range out beyond 15`. One single solitary 3-point attempt from this Wing says so in the modern era. Helping out on the Glass would be Will Egolf. Will is the extremely rare 6-year-senior as he has blown out his A.c.l., not once, twice for the Bradley Braves. Will is a 6`9“ 240 lb. C-P/F combo who has surely left it all out on the court after nuking his right-knee out twice since 2008. Will ain’t no softie, as he manufactures 9 ppg, almost 6 boards and a block in only 23 minutes of play. Makes one wonder what Will could do on two good knees; don’t it? When Will bows out, he gives way to 7`1“ 240 r-freshman Nate Wells. That gives the Braves a decided size advantage down low vs. our depleted frontcourt right away Nate is your prototypical so-called “project” Center upfront who is still getting used to his very own body as he has grown a staggering 10“ since the 7th grade! Not bad for a kid who makes mission trips to Brazil in his spare time.
Dyricus Simms-Edwards is an interesting one, as we may not face a better on the ball rouge defender when it comes to pirating some steals this season. 3.4 swipes per game does not suck, neither does this 6`3“ 200 lb. seniors’ leadership. 9 ppg, 4 board and 4 assists is actually just a little off from where this forth year baller has been in the past; and he does have a history of stress fractures in his left foot.
Right now Coach Geno runs an 8 man rotation and he did recently play #3 Michigan to within 7 points and the Braves did go war-party and raid GA.Southern –who just upset 17 point fave Virginia Tech by 7- by 19 points good and hard.
From what I saw of Bradley vs. Michigan on film, this is a well coached Braves basketball team that truly plays within itself. That means that Bradley does not beat itself and you must go ahead and carpi de-brave. The other thing I saw was a transition defense that had trouble changing ends and that gave Michigan plenty of open looks on drive-n-kicks from beyond the arc. That’s code for 48% for the Wolverines if you are keeping score at home folks from 3-point land.
That said, I am hoping that the Hokie hoops team has put the influenza bug behind it; as that will be the difference between splitting (.5oo or 1-1) and getting Electroluxed or swept as Colorado Stat is just a nastily looking match-up down low on the inside. Right now I like Coach J’s boys to finally shake off their wvu hangover and flu bug alike. Bradley is inviting when it comes to dialing long distance and I’m hoping that Virginia Tech goes Boost Mobile all over all of that.
Virginia Tech=77, Bradley=69
#169 R.P.I. Virginia Tech vs. #51 R.P.I. Colorado State:
TV coverage: 11:30pm, CBS Sports Network,
Vegas line: VT+???
Colorado State at a glance:
- #1 in rebounding margin! (+16.5)
- 22nd est in FT percentage on offense (76.4%)
- 52nd in fewest turnovers per game (12.3)
- 64th in scoring margin (+1o)
- 288th in steals peg game (5.5)
Colorado State was picked mid-range or just a notch or two higher by most pre-season magazines as the Mountain West Conference goes. That’s curious to me coming from a team with 4 starters back that is coming off an NC2A at-large tourney bid just nine months ago. As this is a pretty good basketball team, it may even be a very good team, although it is also a team that has not beaten much of anyone to start the year.
Pierce Hornung is a 6`5“ 210 lb. “monster effort” based rebounder who was given the nod as the Mountain West Conference defensive player of the year pre-season by Lindy’s college basketball magazine. Pierce is leading the way in boards (10.o), blocks (.9), steals (1.5) and chips in with 7.8 ppg if you need him. Can you say team M.V.P. for the final year Ram tough baller? Recall that Mr. Hornung was the #1 small-forward in America according to Scout way back in 2008. Hornung may or may not have ever made it to that level, as he has had a series of concussions and what not. However, he is listed as being worthy of national –not just conference- that’s national defensive honors due to his never stop work ethos. In short, Hornung is one of those guys that nobody wants to guard, because you will be plum tuckered out after having gone 12 rounds for 40 odd minutes vs. a guy like Mr. Hornung.
Pacing the Rams in scoring would be senior year #45 Colton Iverson (no relation – although his dad (Chuck) was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics). Colt’ is a 6`11“ 261 lb. senior who is a Golden Gopher (Minnesota) transfer who automatically transforms yesteryear’s four-guard Colorado State line-up immediately via his raw size. Colt’ has also transformed it immediately because of his team leading scoring clip, checking in at 14.8 ppg and his nearly team leading 9.7 rebounds per game. That does not suck, and neither does his team leading 58% shooting from the floor or his likewise team leading 48 FTA’s from the line. Also pitching a fit up front, is 6`6“ 221 lb. final year Greg Smith. Greg gets you 6.1 boards and 12.6 ppg on a nifty 44% clip from downtown. Do you see a trend here already folks? All three guys are seniors and fully filled out both mentally and physically, and in case you have not looked it up, all three guys have 32 or more offensive rebounds already this year (38, 34, and 32 respectively) from top to bottom inside this preview). And guess who’s coming to dinner as an impoverished defensive rebounding squad (281st at such) who is already a man down (M.Wood) upfront? That’s a problem folks, and that’s not counting 7` Trevor Williams off the bench. Do you see the match-up foible or should I say pitfall big and bold right about now?
In the backcourt Wes Eikmeier and Dorian Green start; and Daniel Bejarano and Jon Octeus sub in. (note Coach Larry Eustachy has no regulation sized frontcourt bench sub). Wes is a pretty fair to middling Mt.West Guard. All he did last year was average 16 ppg and net 88% of his FTA’s. Wes has been a bit off all year and he is now down to 9.9 ppg and only 37% from the field. Though make no mistake, this is an all conference caliber Guard no matter how you slice him. And nobody in the Mountain West is any better in the clutch as Wes has already won 4 games at the buzzer and he was also a two-time Nebraska High School player of the year and a one time State champion, prior to transferring in from Iowa State. Wes has not been bad per se this year, though Wes has not been Wes either. As this kid has the look and feel of a guy about to put a juke-move on the funk and break out any game now. Last time I typed something like that; GA.Southern happened, so do mind the store on this one as Wes finally had a good game last time out vs. Bakersfield. Running alongside Wes in the Rams backcourt would be Dorian Green. Dorian is a 6`2“ 192 lb. last year baller. Dorian is netting you a second-best 12.8 ppg and he also knocks around and drops a team leading 3.8 dimes (assists) in his spare time. Dorian is known for his on-floor efficacious and maturity. Dorian is also one other fine thing; durable. As the senor floor-leader has now started 106 consecutive games! Benanano is an Arizona transfer 6`4“ 202 lb. sophomore guard, who was really brought in to be a one-man practice floor simulator. That said, 6 ppg, 5 boards, and a couple of assists from a Phoenix area gym-rat is no bad thing off the Rams bench. Octeus is a 6`4“ 170 lb. second-year baller from the air station at Mirmiar. He is also a double JuCo transfer (Wabash Valley College by way of Garden City Community College) so a basketball intenerate he be. Jon is a baller who has clearly bounced around and though he does manage to throw in 5.5 ppg despite his limited shooting range from the outside.
As you can clearly see, Coach Eustachy’s team is built to win right away as this Ram program will be experiencing significant senior year departure built-in turnover this time in 2013. This is a team that enjoys surprising inside-out balance due to the addition of Mr. Iverson, after being more than a little backcourt heavy for years. This is also a team that is ahead of the curve after the prolonged Bahamas basketball tour this past summer where they effectively got a spring-ball or bonus training camp in if you will. Such helped advance chemistry, timing and synchronicity regarding Coach Eustachy’s year-1 offensive and defensive formats. As this Ram team already has a late February look and feel to its style of play.
Without a doubt these Rams enjoy a frontcourt advantage, and even if they do not enjoy the backcourt star power routine of E.Green and company, a good game outta Wes Elkmeier brings them closer to such than you might think. Than there is at staggering +16 or #1 rebounding margin advantage in favor of the Rams in all of D-1 men’s basketball, and the fact that the Ram’s simply dominate the offensive glass. Not sure I like that on a 22 hour turnaround after a 1,582 mile roadie. I am sure I like that a lot less after having to play the additional Overtime period in a game that quite frankly we prolly should not have won vs. Bradley on Saturday night.
So I went in and looked that the most recent 5-game splits for this one. Some of that favored C.S.U. and some of that favored Vah.Tech. Namely, the Rams are shooting much better, as Virginia Tech is only 25% from beyond the arc in the Hokies last five contests. However, it is the Hokies who are a penta-choke-point as stop-unit defense goes only allowing 36% of opposing shots to tickle the twine.
Now mix in a 1,582 mile road trip, playing after our third-nite in Vegas, and playing on a 26 hour turnaround after playing an Overtime period last nite. See what I mean? If the L.A. Lakers and vintage “Showtime” basketball is your thing, you might wanna take a mulligan on this one folks. As both benches are short, both teams are tired (C.S.U. is running on 23 hours rest, and that means conditioning (and/or fatigue) or foul-trouble will tell the tale in this one. Last night the C.S.U. starters got to take their foot off the pedal and coast home a bit vs. Portland. Virginia Tech on the other hand had to come from behind to steal one in the final seconds of OT vs. Bradley. I’ll take the superior, and large and in change C.S.U. frontline to ram this one home, in what will be a sloppy, hung-over, and well fatigued basketball game for both clubs. As what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas and I’m staying with the superior rebounding team as rebounding is something that can not go cold.
Virginia Tech=63, Colorado State=69