#16o R.P.I. Saint Louis vs. #22 R.P.I. Virginia Tech:
Virginia Tech men’s basketball returns to the court up in NYC at well fabled Madison Square Garden to face the improving and now 2-o St.Louis Bilikens of Atlantic 10 fame.
The Hokies sure have looked impressive beating the damn breaks off of DET-Mercy and The Citadel by a whopping and Vegas junk-kicking 71 combined points if you are keeping score at home. As the best revenue sports team on campus right now plays roundball, not oblong spheroid. As coach Buzz has done a Jerry West G.M. type of job of rebuilding this Hokie hoops squad and it sure was nice to see that many O&M butts in that many Chicago Maroon Cassell Coliseum seats on Sunday night. Though who will win on Thursday night in this 7pm made for ESPN2 national TV tourney? Read on to find, out…
St.Louis Head Coach: Travis Ford: age=47, 358–278 overall, 13-21 at St.Louis. Has a rep’ for: program architecture, then wearing a bit thin, and a lack of post-season success (once admitted); kinda a slower tempo/defensive S.Greenberg if you will.
$7.200,000.oo remaining from OK.State and 2.3 mill from the Golden Arch!
(wow, great, lawyer!!!)
Baller Ford balled at Madisonville North Hopkins H.S. (Kentucky). Then Ford entered the University of Missouri in 1989. He played basketball for the Missouri Tigers and was named to the Big Eight Conference All-Freshman team. The following year, Ford transferred to the University of Kentucky and sat out the 199o–91 season due to NCAA rules on transfers. After playing sparingly his sophomore year, Ford was a starter during his junior and senior years, and set school records in single-game assists (15), single-season three-point field goals (1o1) and consecutive free throws made (5o). Ford was named to the All-S.e.c. team his junior and senior years, and was recognized as the Southeast Region’s Most Outstanding Player in the 1993 NCAA Tournament.
After an unsuccessful attempt at an NBA career, Ford landed the role of Danny O’Grady in the 1997 movie The 6th Man, starring Marlon Wayans and Kadeem Hardison.
Coach Ford broke in immediately -i.e. a rare 1st-stepper- as a full blown big whistle head coach at Campbellsville University. Mid-South (Conf.) coach of the year and 29 wins in the 1999 season later and he was gone to Eastern Kentucky University where his famously nearly beat his Alma (Kentucky) in the NC2A’s. After that he was off to UMass and then to a very successful stint at OK.State. Now he has spread his wings and flown the Cowboy coup to the St.Louis Billikens. This all after only collecting 1 gold medal, a O.V.C. and an A-10 title; with no less than 10 post-season banners secured in the rafters his coaching home(s).
Billikens at a glance: (last years)
- 344th in scoring O (61.4 ppg). (fourth from last!)
- 326th FG percentage 40.4%.
- 312th in turnover margin (–2.2 tpg).
- 3o9th in offensive rebounding.
- 1o1st in scoring D (61.3 ppg allowed).
THIS YEAR: (early stats)
- 6th in scoring D allowed (48 ppg).
- 39th in FG percentage D allowed (33.7%).
- 271st in scoring (68 ppg).
- +19.5 in rebounding margin!
St.Louis Returning Starters=4, (12-21 last year).
- No less than five (that’s 5) eligible transfers and 2 VHT recruits have St.Louis fans excited. And a couple previews I read hinted this may be a NC2A team. If you can believe that.
- Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French are your Very Highly Touted recruits here. The 6′3″, 215 lb. Goodwin has a fair to middling chance to be the A-10 rookie of the year. ESPN ranks Goodwin 55th nationally: the highest A-10 recruit -for the entire conference mind you- in the class of 2o17. He’ll immediately contribute to what’ll be a dangerous SLU backcourt this year and he was a AAA Illinois state-champion in hoops and a Te in football with multiple D-1 offers for such. As this is a tough, gridiron hardened, S/F or off-G who prolly brings more lead-G traits; albeit from a suburban environment. Though he rebounds nearly Westbrook well to go with Pt.G type numbers as assists go. In point of fact, if/when his shooting comes around you have to wonder how long his all-around game will remain.
- Javon Bess is a 6′6″, 220 lb. r-Jr. banging S/F Wing at the 3-spot. Javon is a Michigan State transfer who shoulda turned west in East Lancing as he never quite meshed in Magic Johnson’s backyard. Bess is a rarefied throwback mid-range inside the arc type baller who hits the boards and a lotta elbow J’s or penetrating type runners. 91st according to ESPN and is said to have a soft touch in and around the basket. Whispers say he has added 3-point range to his game is is ready to (finally) be the breakout scorer everyone thought he’d collegiality be.
- 6′ 18o lb. r-Sr. Pt.G. Aaron Hines is a ironman P.T. guy who has a longstanding defensive rep’ as a backcourt stopper and as a thief (3 spg). Hines was a self-made Community College guy who has worked his way up the D-1 ranks and is the glue-guy every coach craves. Though he too is said to have worked on his previously streaky scoring and averaging the team lead at 18 ppg early on would seem to agree with this.
- #5, one 6′4″, 200 lb. final year shooting-G Davell Roby is the leading returning scorer for the Billikens (12.7 ppg) and Lindy’s lists him as one of the top 3-point shooters (42%) in the A-10 and unlike most marksmen he does get to the charity-stripe as well. Very streaky scorer this Roby (no Rick relation); tho’ not a kid you wanna see get hot from downtown.
- 1 starter graduated, 2 guys transferred and 1 guy just flat gave up on hoops altogether. C’est la new coach these days. (though this did free scholies is another way to put it) Though 11 ppg senior stabilizing G Mike Crawford will be missed.
- With Michigan State, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Boston College transfers, and two rookies in the rotational mix… gelling may have to wait until the month of December as it may take a minute to sort all of these new faces and newcomers out.
Billikens Bench: (depth=4 or 5)
French is a 6′7″, 22o lb. Massachusetts native who brings size and finesse to the Billikens post. Coach Ford scooped this talented newcomer right off UMass’ front porch. A 3 star according to Rivals, French should immediately augment a SLU frontcourt that was poor on the boards last season (318th in offensive rebound %). In point of fact, Lindy’s dared to list French the top rebounder (already) in the A-10. French -who looks like he’s a late Greg Oden 20’s- was the 90th ranked baller according to ESPN and he’s said to be closer to a muscular 235 lbs. already. Another very street-wise baller; brings toughs, physicality, rebounding, defense, shot-blocking, and more toughs to the post be that as a 3 or as a smaller 4 ultimately.
The rest of the Billikens bench has okay though not epic size and is mainly refugee ballers who have been pushed down the rotational basis due to the Ford importees. Lotta role type players here beyond whatever French can give them right away.
Illation, conclusion (s) and OPT digits:
Number of Billikens who could start @Tech=2 maybe 2.5.
The takeaway here is… the Billikens are a tough team to peg. As I read previews that tabbed them all the way up from 11th (last year) to 5th or even all the way up to 1st in A-10 2018 terms.
As surely the blue-ribbon A-10 team would be a tough out for us every bit as much as I’d like to think a mid range or the fifth best A-10 team is a team we could handle.
No matter where you slot St.Louis in Atlantic Ten terms, clearly this is a much much deeper hoops squad that it has been in past seasons as Coach Ford has hustled his arse off to try to rebuilt this once pretty decent hoops program via instantaneous transferring help. Thing is, 60% of your 2018 starting five was playing or even sitting somewhere else last year | ditto 88% of your top-8.
Accordingly, there is little doubt in my mind that the March version of St.Louis should be a much more settled down version of hooping Bilikens and they dang well may be some level of a post-season version of Billikens at that. (Although my personal call would be more on the C.B.I./C.I.T. level, with a modest look at getting into the N.I.T. here).
As when you look up above, the Billikens had NO national ranking better than 1o1st best outta 351 schools in the 32 team metrics that I track. Or in other words making the NC2A’s seems a Bridge Too Far to me as this particular season goes.
…as for this individual game itself, -and yes, I know it is O&M early- though Blackshear Jr. and Alexander-Walker sure look legit to me.
As in very and extremely respectively —and if we hold that to be true… what if Buzz finally has a downright solid BIG and then he finally has a bona-fide star on his hands? And not even all-in-one as this is two guys, yes, t-w-o separates that I’m typing about here folks. And since half past Curry or Solomon have I said that?
So unless the Hokiebird lays a chilly shooting night egg, or unless St.Louis is further along more quickly than I expect; I just do not foresee Virginia Tech hoops getting beaten here.
The Billikens may hang a round a spell on good shooting; nevertheless, coach Buzz and company are a notch or notches plural above as overall program conditioning goes at this stage of each programs ongoing rebuild.
As the early totally nubile stats go… Virginia Tech is out-scoring St.Louis by a never seen before 61.5 ppg on ave. and out shooting them by 26% and 17%!?!
Can’t go against that, right?
(82% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech=85, Saint Louis=69