#156 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #100 R.P.I. Virginia:
TV coverage: 7pm, ESPNU and ESPN3 out west
Vegas line: VT+14.5
uva has won 6 of their last 7 whereas Virginia Tech has won 2 of their last 12. Talk about two speedboats passing in the night; geez! What really plagues my mind is that despite some mono’ issues of their own, the french have (re)juggled their line-up for the second time this season and suddenly found some offense for their say “ahhhhhhhhh” troubles. As la` squad is averaging 78 ppg since the beginning of this month while holding peeps to a mere 56 ppg since late January. No wonder the french are inline for an opening round A.c.c. tourney BYE as there may not be a hotter men’s basketball club this side of Miami in the Atlantic Coast Conference right about now.
Simply put, uva is playing some damn smart basketball and they are credibly the heavy favorite up inside the John where they will be looking to basically flush any clinging or remaining post-season hopes of coach J’s and company right on down the Commonwealth drain.
Sadly, unless our medium-3 suddenly all heat up at the very same time, logic would aver that the french appear poised to do just that. Ditto the late game condition of one Erick Green who looked every bit the part of a spent-bullet who was emotionally and physically misfiring at the end of the Georgia Tech game on Saturday in what I can only describe as a scary looking camera shot along the O&M bench.
uva at a glance:
- 2nd in defensive points allowed (52.2 ppg)
- 10th in defensive 3-point percentage allowed (28.5%)
- 11th in defensive FG percentage allowed (37.5%)
- 24th in defensive rebounding
- 47th in blocked shots (4.7 swats)
N.B.A. pros= 1, Akil Mitchell, (a 6`8“ 234 lb. Jr. year double-double just looking for a place to happen)
Injuries=1, Mike Tobey (Center, 6`11“, 227 lbs. 6.5 ppg, 2.5 boards, .6 blocks on 53% shooting, out indefinitely with Mononucleosis)
Coach Bennett runs a 3-guard starting rotation, hence the brevity of this section. Now that being said, Darion Atkins is serviceable and Akil Mitchell is a good deal better than that. Atkins is a 6`8“ 222 lb. lengthy power-forward who plays even bigger than he is although he is currently listed as “out indefinitely” with the aforementioned shin-stress-fracture and Coach God bless on that. Right now Evan Nolte has been inserted into the hoo starting frontcourt line-up and they just held Clemson to a gridiron ‘esque 41 points, so there you go on that. Or in other words, the starting hoo frontcourt is not suffering so much as the hoo bench is down low. Mr. Nolte is a 6`7“ 2o7 lb. lean Swing who was the AAAAA Georgia player of the year and two time state champion this time last year give or take. There is a quite a bit of a basketball pedigree in this kids family tree, although you have to be wondering if he is playing starting minutes a year ahead of Coach Bennett’s schedule right now? Note is said to be a quasi big who has some long-range shooting to his game and that gives him the ability to stretch an opposing defense. His team wide second best or 43% clip from downtown confirms his marksmanship indeed. 7 ppg and just south of 3 boards will only improve as Evan is also one of the big-3 freshman class that Bennett just inked last season –the other two are below and sub in off the hoo bench right now. So go ahead and get used to seeing all three.
The real deal upfront however is of course Akil Mitchell. Mith’ is a strong looking 6`8“ 234 lb. kid who is not afraid of improvement. Just ask his 2010 33% shooting that went all the way up to 51% last year! This year Akil only paces uva in rebounding (8.8), steals (1.3), FTA’s (96 on 68%) and FG shooting from the floor at 54% on the campaign. He is also second in scoring up at Charlottesville with 12.6 points per game (ppg) if you need him. That’s a stat-line stuffer or a kid who means more to his team than his raw metrics suggest at first blush. Not half bad for a kid who enjoyed something of a defensive reputation coming outta high school. Darion Atkins, power-forward, 6`8“ 222 lb. sophomore, shot-blocking machine as an athletic forward who coaches basketball in the summer when he’s not shooting 59% from the floor. Darion has now returned from a stress-fracture in his right-shin and he blocks a shot for each 14 minutes he plays! This from a kid who looked awfully promising in limited minutes just last year; this year Mr. Atkins is netting you 6.2 ppg, 4.2 boards and 1.4 swats, all on 49% from the field. That’s not half bad for second-year identical twin that may have been slightly overlooked up in the Metro area in high school.
Association pros=1, Joe Harris, (third-year baller, leading uva in scoring as a 6`6“ 211 lb. 2-guard at 16 ppg, that’s good enough to collect a paycheck, somewhere after recovering from a broken-hand)
Hurts=1, Malcolm Brogdon, (6`5“ 215 lb. sophomore Guard, great FT shooter, AA player of the year in Georgia,broken left-foot)
Joe Harris is a 6`6“ 223 lb. lead-Guard in his third year who is leading Virginia in scoring at 15.9 ppg and Joe has Jessie the Palmer hair that just won’t quit, only sans the comb. That attempt at humor aside, Joe is a bona fide sharpshooter from range as he netted 50% of his league three’s last year and is knocking down 47% of his long-distance shots this campaign so far. Joe is a former Mr. Basketball for the state of Washington, and he also scrapes up 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest in his spare time. Note as well that he broke his off (non-shooting) hand last year as he is an orthodox shooter or a righty in playground vernacular. That’s not great though it’s not as dire as you may think in terms of gripping the ball and getting you fingers in the seams. That’s solid enough for a forth best 3-ball in Atlantic Coast terms at this junction of the 2012-2013 basketball season. That said, you should also note that Joe went right on and balled through said broken left-hand injury for the final nine games last year and that right there gives you a hint at a kid who possess some old-school toughs. You gotta hand it to him for taking one for dear old hooVa like that. Jontel Evans is the only real small-fry in the uva playing rotation as this mighty-mite measures up to 5`11“ in stature and 193 lbs. when he tips the Toledo’s. Evans is also uva’s class rank senior leader via default and just like Chevy Chase as “Fletch” fame he must be at least 5`13“ with his hair-style. Evans was on the all-A.c.c defensive team a year ago and he will surely be on such again. In fact coach J’s just anointed him the best on the ball defender in Atlantic Coast terms so go ahead and look for him to play inside of E.Green’s shirt in this one. Evans is a lotta things, he is a quality floor and lockeroom presence, he is very experienced with 85 career starts under his final year belt, and yet he is also injured. Ditto being a bit tough in his own right –having already played through a screw being inserted in his foot to help nail his fifth metatarsal bone in place and that has cost Mr. Jontel Evans nine games thus far this year and a weekly trip to the X-ray machine. Additionally, Jontel is a home-state Bethel baller, so you just know he is gonna wanna do his very best with a mere 8o minutes remaining in his Commonwealth Cup career. Jontel only rushed for 3,687 yards as a Rb in high school and he leads uva in assists with 4.9 this year despite having very limited range on offense from his point-guard station which shows itself in a mere 3.3 ppg.
Paul Jesperson is a 6 and a ½ foot 197 lb. second-year drink of water. Paul had his r-shirt yanked early last year and he still looks like he could use another year of strength training; maybe two. That being said, Paul is not without talent. Mr. Jesperson is as two time all-state baller and the Wisconsin player of the year; both of which conspire to drop hints at such. As does his 38% from beyond the arc and 83% from the FT-line; even if 38% from the floor could stand some work. Thus far Paul is netting you 4.6 ppg and a couple of boards and an assist to go with that. The name of Jesperson’s game is versatility and yet you have to wonder when a skill-set that is said to be this multipurpose and that did not stay home and BIG-10 in-state ball for Whiskey will finally begin to manifest itself? This kid looks like a keeper to me; he just needs to shed his senior prom body and physically matriculate up into a fully grown power-conference frame.
uva Bench: (1, to sometimes 4 deep)
Mike Tobey and Justin Anderson are the primary caviler substitutes right now; although Coach Bonnet can stretch that out to one or two other guys as foul-trouble mandates spot-minutes as need be. Tobey in particular is a good looking legitimate big who can at least fill out (if not grown into) his role all the more. 6`11“ 227 lbs. worth of PF/C combo post player says so. Mr. Tobey was first-team all-state (Jersey) 12 months ago and right now he is netting you 6.5 ppg and hauling in a couple of rebounds in a mere 14 minutes per game. So go ahead and expect those numbers to inflate as his playing-time does the same. Michael is a big with good touch in the key (53%) and from the FT-stripe (8o%) alike. That means that Michael is a deft big who may lack some strength in terms of power-conference terms at this juvenile stage of his D-1 career. That said, no matter how much Mike may need another year, uva needs him right now and the Pack-Line defense will need his length all the more. Justin Anderson is a 6`6“ rookie year baller with a near N.B.A. 2-guard body already (226 lbs.) even if he projects as a Small-Forward in college. Only thing is that he has been chillier than expected all year long. 37% from the floor and 22% from range says so. Still yet, Mr. Anderson is manufacturing 6.9 ppg, 3.2 boards, a couple of assists, and a block and steal in limited minutes thus far this season. Anderson is the crown jewel of Bennett’s recruiting class and he is known to be a brawny, athletic Wing with a solid mid-range game. He is also a well-built on the ball defender who has the look and feel of Virginia’s next big-time star as this kid is not afraid to attack. He was also the 11th ranked three (S/F) outta high school last year.
Teven Jones and Taylor Barnette also contribute spot minutes with some line-up juggling since we last saw the french. Jones is a 6` 180 lb. freshman point-guard who is tough and defensive by nature. Such even had the Lindy’s pre-season magazine comparing him to Jontel Evans as they appear to be cut from the same old-school cloth. That’s a good thing as his offensive game trails his stopgap measures by no small margin at this infantile stage of his D-1 career. 2.9 ppg on a vague 33% shooting from the floor and 3o% from range says so. That said, this kid is really a gray-shirt –if there is such a thing- in basketball terms as he is 19 years old thanks to enrolling a semester early last year. Jones was a two sport star in high school in North Carolina where he set some school all-time receiving records; so you know he has to have good hands. He also spends part(s) of his free-time working out extra at the gym and that too speaks to his stop-sign prowess. Taylor is a 6` 3“ 171 surprise late-signee who provides extra backcourt depth and a utility insurance policy of sorts as he can swing between both backcourt positions. Taylor is a Lexington, KY. Escapee which does hint-drop in terms of who did not what him if you follow my Adolph Rupp drift. Taylor is a sportsman who has at least some distance on his J, and his sister (Sara Beth) ballers for the uva wimminz hoops team as well. He is also a academician and a kid who likes to church it up –modern day props @Taylor for that. Right now in basketball terms he gets you 2.6 ppg and he does have deep 3-point range at 43% from 3-point land. Taylor has been playing more of late in a season that has been very hit-n-miss as P.T. (playing-time) goes. Taylor has a history of ankle rolls that dates back to his scholastic years and that could very well explain that as this mini-me Seth Curry high-tops that are never quite top enough goes.
Conclusion(s), illation, OPT digits:
The most recent 5-game splits on this one are –yet again- simply mind numbing. uva is +22 in ppg, +15% in FG percentage from the floor, +17% from downtown, and +10 on the glass in terms of rebounding margin. When taken on the whole, there really is nothing here even slightly indicative of a Virginia Tech victory in this one. The odds do favor uva.
“If you play the odds.” –James Bond-
The nearly reliable Forum Guide predicts no less than a 19 point hooVa beat-down for this
one. Likewise the reports of Rankin and Green both are having the Flu; and the recent on-court dust-up involving J.Eddie, his least favorite water-bottle, and the kinetic coefficient of friction; as Ro.Brown found out the hard-way. Ergo, to wit, and therefore, there really is nothing here to calculate a Vah.Tech victory. And yet it remains true, you can’t spell victory without the VT. Just ask the last 3,000 football days!
However, tonight methinks (or even fears) that you can’t spell vomit without VT either. As this one looks bad on paper and will prolly only get worse on court. The odds do favor that and frankly I am inclined to agree. As right now Coach Bennett and company have all the minerals, and accordingly, right now it appears like uva is set to kick our Vitamin-A.
Virginia Tech=56, Virginia=78