#35 R.P.I. Miami @ #39 R.P.I. Virginia Tech:
Virginia Tech basketball returns to the court down in the New River Valley Monday night after a very N.b.a. ‘esque looking one day turnaround after running vs. Boston College on Saturday.
The Miami Hurricanes enter this one standing in at 2o up and 8 down overall and a climbing 1o-6 or fifth place in Atlantic Coast Conference play. Or pretty much the same as Virginia Tech hoops (2o-8, and one game back of Miami in the A.c.c. (9-7)). Accordingly, this is a very needy looking game for both squads Big Dance or March Madness slotting chances in terms of reppin’ from the A.c.c. Though The U had been hot of late; and currently holds the longest active win streak inside the A.c.c. having just upset #18 uva and #1o Duke. Conversely, Virginia Tech hoops has also been hot of late as well and as there are no ties in roundball, so someone has gotta win this one, though who will win this one? Read on to find … out…
Miami Head Coach: James Joseph Larrañaga: Age=67, 6o3–398 (.6o2) overall, and 133–64 (.675) at Miami.
Baller Larrañaga came up in the hard-hitting Bronx ‘hood of N.Y.C, as one of six children; Larrañaga attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, where he starred under Coach Jack Curran, graduating in 1967. He went on to play basketball at Providence College. He was the basketball team captain as a senior in 1971, leading Providence College to a 2o–8 record and an N.I.T. birth. He graduated as the school’s 5th all-time leading scorer with 1,258 points and was the team’s top scorer as a sophomore and junior, being named New England’s Division I Sophomore of the Year in 1969. After Providence, baller Larrañaga was 5th round of the 1971 N.b.a. Draft by the Detroit Pistons. However, baller Larrañaga never sought an NBA career, opting instead to go into coaching. Jim’s grandfather was born in Cuba of Basque parents, and was part of the Por Larrañaga cigar company in that country.
Coach Larrañaga prior to his time at Miami, he served as head coach at Bowling Green (1986-1997) and more notably at George Mason University (1997-2011), where he coached the Patriots to 13 consecutive winning seasons and became a media sensation during the Patriots’ improbable run to the Final-4 in 2006. Coach Larrañaga has ten conference titles to his claim and he won four different National Coach of the Year awards in 2o13) to pair with one other in 2oo6, and five conference Coach of the Year awards -from three conferences (A.c.c., C.A.A., and M.A.C.) along the way. Coach Larrañaga is a man who reads books by the Dalai Lama, quotes Confucius, Aristotle and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the locker room, starts practices by giving players a “Thought of the Day” and uses quotes and themes from movies such as “Drumline” and “You Got Served” for his pregame speeches. He has a butterfly release program for his baller’s each pre-season and is a quietly a highly mercurial sort. He is known for being meticulous -he carries his very own: 1o8-page coaching guide compiled from years of taking notes- and industrious in his approach to hard-nosed defense and rebounding, with a slashing attacking O on-court. Coach Larrañaga took Sun Tzu’s Art of War apart and re-wrote it for basketball purposes, turning it into what he calls “The Art of War for hoops. WOW, and far out, alike!
Professor Larrañaga was appointed as an associate professor in the George Mason School of Management (2oo6); specifically in the school’s Executive M.B.A. program. Although his basketball schedule only allows him to teach part-time, he is a frequent presenter in classes on leadership, management, and team development, and also often speaks at Management School sponsored seminars. He had been a guest lecturer in the the field of Management since arriving at Mason in 1997.
Hurricanes at a glance:
- 18th fewest fouls whistled against (16 pf/pg).
- 23rd in Rebounding Margin (+6.8 rpg)!
- 32nd in scoring D (64 ppg allowed).
- 44th in FG percentage D (40.8% allowed).
- 80th in Blocks (4.2 bpg).
- 3o7th fewest 3-point attempts (395 three’s).
- no injuries listed | thank you Coach God.
‘Cane Returning Starters=2.
The U Strengths:
- Davon Reed is one smart cookie. Not your stereotypical “dum’ jock” as I tallied 19, that’s nineteen freaking academic awards on his Hurricane bio’ page! And yah; me three, I’ve never ever seen that one before either; –though Prof’ God bless! And oh by the way, Mister Reed is said to play a little hoops when he’s not holding court in the classroom. 6’6”, 220 lbs. worth of senior year Miami basketball 2o17’s leading scorer at 15.2 ppg, chipping in with 4.6 boards on 43% overall and 4o% from deep is something you see from a student sporting 19 classroom honors, oh about, half-past-never. And did I mention his grades yet? Okay —the book here describes Reed as a versatile scorer who can hit the 3, or score off the dribble, rebound and defend (1.3 spg). This from the 78th player outta high school from ESPN.com and New Jersey Payer of the Year (2o13). As this is a well rounded S/G who could dunk in Jr.High and still pen-pal corresponds with elementary school kids. Or a fb.com ethos millennial breath of sporting fresh-air if you ask me. Not too shabby from averaging 6.6 ppg as a rookie; and probably about as homeopathic a fit with his head coach as you will ever find. And his team leading 82% from the charity-stripe only helps augment his trustworthy late-game mantra all the more. (UPDATE: just a little ↓ since we last faced him)
- One #0, 6’2”, 187 lb. junior year Philly playground Pt.G Ja’Quan Newton is the one that most were penciling in as being the alpha-scorer for Da U pre-season. At 14.7 ppg ‘Quan is pretty close, as a classic and confident lead-G. ‘Quan has a rep’ for being a tough cover off the dribble and finishing hard at the rim. His J is said to be so-so and 46% from the floor and yet a paltry 28% from range seems to speak fluently to that. Newton also has a tag as not playing under control at times, although he was also tagged as 2nd or 3rd string pre-season all-A.c.c. honors by a few publications as well. As ‘Quan does pace the ‘Canes in dimes dropped at 3.5 apg, and he by far and away leads Miami in FTA’s at 117 on a decent looking 71%. This from the Philly Catholic School all-time leading scorer who did win State in 2o14 accordingly; along with being recognized as the 14th ranked G outta high school from ESPN. God Bless, as both parents is already reposed; nonetheless, his old man (Joe Newton), was the 1998 N.A.B.C. Division II National Player of the Year out of the University of Central Oklahoma. As his mum passed on the eve of his winning the Pennsylvania state title (breast cancer); of all calendar things. So there is little doubt that this kid has been through a lot in his two decades worth of breathing and you’d have to think his sense of perishables and therefore (legit) mental-toughness is rather highly developed in Piaget terms for it. This is pretty decent work from one of the formerly best 6th men in the country now turned starter; if you can get it. (UPDATE: his play is ↓ a bit in the last few weeks; ditto his behavior, per having served a 3 game suspension)
- Bruce Brown is a 6’5”, 19o lb. nugget or rookie year baller from Boston Mass., with a big-time high level athletic call-sign in scholastic terms. Brown can do a lot for you as a combo-G, with a shooting and defensive stopper rep’, two things the Association never seems to run out of, either. Brown was only ranked #30 this time last year by ESPN and he only won one state title ~10 months ago. B.B. was a multi-sport athlete at Wakefield High School as he stared at Wr and Ss on the gridiron and he also started in baseball and Jay Vee soccer. So his hand-eye coordination is probably 1970’s adroit. Bruce also boasts a whopping 6’10” wingspan and that only aid and abet his team leading defensing (1.7 spg). Right now Brown is third in scoring at 12 ppg and second best in rebounding at 6 caroms at 46% overall and 36% from downtown; which makes you wonder what Brown will do for to you come 2o2o? (UPDATE: off a bit from range; though he has carried Miami overall in their last offensively challenged two, ↑)
- 6’8”, 22o lb., r-Sr. P/F Kamari Murphy leads the U in rebounding (7.8 rpg) and he nets you 7 ppg albeit with a limited put-back type of 53% offensive arsenal. As K.Murph’ is a droning worker-bee who creates industry and leaves sweat and 1 blocked shot behind in the paint as a former Oklahoma State transfer baller who did need some academic work coming outta high school and yet who already has one full collegiate degree confirmed while working on degree no.2; good on him! (UPDATE: just a scosche ↑ since last time)
- Brown, Huell and
Muhammadare supposed to conspire to be one of the best Hurricane recruiting classes in the last decade.
The U Weaknesses:
- I suppose one way to say it is to say that Miami is very balanced on O. Another way to say it is to say that Da U does not court a true alpha-scorer and therefore (some) nights points are at a premium.
- The ‘Cane backcourt is noticeably thinner for the departures of Angel Rodriquez and Sheldon McClellan (29 ppg combined).
- r-Jr., S/G, 6’6”, 16o lb. bantamweight, though star transfer San Jose State Rashad Muhammad -the younger brother of the N.b.a.’s Shabazz Muhammad- has been dismissed from the team for: Violating Team Rules. 14 ppg with 3.3 rpg and a marksman like eye from a true Wing who could score from all over, are all, gone.
- Not the most experienced ‘Cane team coming into 2016 –in particular with Rashad now done.
Miami Bench: (depth=2 or 3)
Anthony Lawrence Jr. has taken over as the lead sub’ of late for Miami with 7 ppg and 4 boards in relief. Lawrence Jr. is a 6’7”, 21o. lb. second year Swing with a leaping rep’ for scoring inside per competing in the high jump in T&F. Though his 41.5% overall hints at the raw athlete organic approach to his game. (UPDATE: virtually identical or ⇔ since our game)
Dejan Vasiljevic is a 6’2”, 195 lb., t-freshman year One (Pt.G), who can shoot from range and Qb the team. Dejan is actually from down under (Aussie) albeit of Serbian decent and he brings a collection of F.I.B.A. medals to Florida with him. Right now Vasiljevic drops 5.6 ppg although his shooting (36%) overall has yet to adjust to the more physical American brand of ball. (UPDATE: same or flat ⇔ in his last several games)
6’10”, 21o lb., soph., Ebuka Izundu and likewise 6’10”, 220 lb. first year Dewan Huell give Da U close to 14′ of post help off the Hurricane pine. The Nigerian born Izundu gets you 4.7 ppg with 3.2 rebounds and leads Miami with one block and at 57% from the field. He was the 19th ranked Center from Rivals in 2o15 and he stared in the 100m’s and the 200m’s in high school, so you know the gazelle like speed in the open-court is truly there from this highly nimble big. Huell is more of a leaner mid-range scorer who is more comfortable further away from the basket offensively. Huell gives you 6.2 ppg and 3.4 rpg on 52% and was the very lofty 21st ranked high school baller overall last year from ESPN.com. He is also the cousin of Miami Rb Duke Johnson. (UPDATE: both U bigs are just a bit off or ↓ since Coral Gables)
Illation, conclusion (s) and OPT digits:
Number of Hurricanes who could start @Tech=2'ish...
“The takeaway here is… that Virginia Tech basketball is possibly playing one of its two or three most winnable remaining games; and that Miami basketball is probably saying the very same, thing…”
^That’s^ what I wrote a few weeks ago and yet that no longer holds sway. As da U has been on a tear of late and one could rightly argue that they have been doing it like Smith Barney or “…the old fashioned way” vs. more severe competition than Virginia Tech has faced of late; i.e. they have been doing it by earning it on, D.
The caveat is, Miami is a three-headed offensive monster and yet these are no better (or bigger) than three medium sized scoring heads. The aphorism or catch-44 however is, The U has not allowed anyone to tally more than 50 points in the last few games. So it may not take as many Hurricane points for the U to come into the 24o6o and steal this one as you’d think.
Which is to say that coach Jim -to his credit- has had Miami trending upwardly or more sprite on defense this time, for a fortnight now; even if this remains a mostly cloudy or starless offense night that manufactures scoring via committee.
Nonetheless, what do our pet analytics sagaciously say for Wednesday night?
- Rest: both teams balled two days ago. EDGE=push.
- Miami is a respectable .5oo on the road, however VT is .933 @home. EDGE=VT.
- Season long and Miami is now +2 in scoring margin, neutral or basically even in FG percentage margin, 3-point shooting margin and free-throwing are virtually dead even, although rebounding margin is +7 boards in Miami’s favor. EDGE=slightly The U.
- The Home/Away splits however are pretty favorable indeed: Tech is +1o in scoring margin, +6% in FG percentage margin, +4% in 3-point percentage margin and yet –6 in rebounding margin. Nice EDGE=VT.
- The most recent 5-game trends actually have Miami up +1 in scoring margin, even in FG percentage margin, with Tech up +5% on 3-point percentage margin though the Canes are +7 in rebounding margin. Small EDGE=Da U.
- Our handy-dandy friend the so-called Forum Guide of Graham Houston fame says that Miami should win by 3 & ½ points. EDGE=The U, modest.
All of that science fact being objectively stated… when I reviewed the most recent 5-game trends we see one very efficacious offensive team (Virginia Tech); and one very starchy defensive halt-squad or a…Miami, Vice. We also saw that although Virginia Tech does hold a homecourt advantage; it is not quite as distinct some some Home/Away split statistical disparities that we have studied here before.
So this one is very much a clash of diametrically opposed hoopster styles and that is typically code for throttle or pace. A lower meat-grinder type of tempo favors Miami and a more liberal or free-flowing tempo favors Virginia Tech.
According to me? Well, according to me, even though I am (very) favorably disposed to citing a VicTory for the homesteading Atlantic Coast host team, way more often than not; I’m just not so sure, here?
Because I can tell you the following… this game could easily come down to 3-point shooting, as coach Buzz and company have been scorching hot of late when dialing long distance at 21% better than the U has been in each teams most recent five-games. However, the U has been 16% better in defense of the three of late; including recently holding stellar Duke and uva to a combined 31% from the floor. Our beloved Hokies on the other hand lead the A.c.c. in FG percentage at 49.1% and in 3-point shooting at 4o.6%. With four players: Allen, Outlaw, Bibbs and Hill all netting between 4o.1 and 47.9 percent from beyond the arc —ergo, therefore, to wit; something has gotta give here.
As one could easily opine that Miami does not court enough offense to beat Virginia Tech every bit as much as Virginia Tech does not dunk enough defense (or rebounding); to stop Miami. (UPDATE: did not like hearing about the VT hoops plane having trouble getting back to Blacksburg, with the team not getting back until Sunday afternoon after all; though thank God nothing serious, happened)
“They’re playing with great, great spirit, their togetherness and the chemistry at which they’re working is at an all-time high. It’s very inspiring to me. I don’t think anybody could have predicted that what has transpired has transpired.”
Take your pick as each take is pretty well spot-on and let your pick reflect the associated tempo on the scoreboard accordingly… though me? In addition to being extremely fenced on this one… I’ma predicting Virginia Tech to somehow, transpire…
(57% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech=69, Miami=63