#195 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #22 R.P.I. uva:
The team you love to hate is on tap next. Hooever, will it be a depleted Virginia Tech men’s hoops team who gets to tap out?
Well, consider this … uva has 2 pre-season all-A.c.c. candidates per Lindy’s preview magazine. One 1st-team (Joe Harris) and one 2nd-string (Akli Mitchell); neither one of them is even having an honorable mention regular season, and yet uva is a mere ½ game outta first-place in Atlantic Coast Conference standing’s terms. You do the maths.
As my calculus shows that that is what is better known as coaching, the verb otherwise known as head coach Tony Bennett. This from what is factually said to be the biggest (front-line wise), and speculatively said to be the deepest and most talented roster that coach Bennett has ever courted up at C’ville Va. Or in other words, if you like offense, in particular O&M offense, you might wanna look somewhere else. As our O/U on team points might as well=5o in this one. As it does not take a whole lotta points to beat uva, though it may take you 1.5 games to score enough points to beat uva on a nightly basis in the first place.
uva Backcourt: (returning starters=1 of 3)
- Malcolm Brogdon: coming off a broken left-foot that brought an all right 2012 to a premature close; after which he subsequently r-shirted last season. Malc’ is currently second in scoring at 11.2 ppg and does chip in with a smart looking 5.2 boards as right-sized Pt-guard (6’6’’ 217 lbs.) AA Georgia state Player of the Year. Nets a superb 90.2% of his FTA’s and he has gotten there 64 times already this season. 34% from downtown is not hurting anything either. Though Brogdon still somehow does not strike me as a pure-Point Guard; at least not yet; seems like he could easily slide over as a lead-Guard if need be.
- London Perrantes: this however is the truest Point-Guard on this years Cav’s hoops club. As London leads the way with 3.9 assists per game in what is now a 3-Guard line-up. London also antes up 4.5 ppg and 2.1 rebounds and had decent enough range (33%) himself. First team all-State at California his after his senior scholastic season. More of a Ginsu or slicing and dicing One who can still yet knockdown a perimeter shot. L.A. native who got away from the big City two (U.c.l.a. and U.s.c.); was a pretty good Qb in high school as well, so leadership and running an offense come naturally to him.
- Joe Harris: former leading scorer who was tabbed all-A.c.c. pre-season by nearly everyone. Still does lead uva in scoring (11.6 ppg) which however is a far cry from his 18.4 ppg during A.c.c. play last year. Hurt his foot this past June; this after breaking his left-hand vs. U.n.c. last year. Ergo, has talent and injuries alike. Enjoys the deepest range on the team; and is knocking down 43% of his 3’s thus far this season. Makes you wonder what Joe could do if his body was ever put 100% back into full-service? Coach’s son who knows the game, Gatorade Washington Boys Basketball Player of the Year, has started basically since he arrived. Experience is not a problem.
uva Frontcourt: (starters back=2 of 2)
- Mike Tobey, 25 lbs. to the good is the real news here! As this Pack-Line #10 defensive anchor surely needed a few more links in his formerly weak-link chain. Now however? Although I’m not sure what kinda offender this kid will ultimately make, he sure looks like he is gonna make good on being the next stud defender for coach Bennett. That said, I supposed finding some right-mass to the good is to be expected after struggling with a nasty broken nose and an even nastier case of mononucleosis. Team U.S.A. <19 gold medal winner last off-season. All-state Jersey guy hoo gets you 7.4 ppg, 4.6 rebounds, and a team leading 1.2 swats per contest. Finally looks the part after hovering in the two-hundred teens all of last year weight wise. Only shoots 43% to play that close to the hoop, which tells you something about his offensive skill-set at the moment –or lack thereof.
- Akil Mitchell, 6.7 ppg and likewise 6.7 rpg on 47% shooting from a powerful P/F whose offensive numbers have been in a bit of a retreat this season. This off of 13.1 ppg and 8.9 boards last year; that’s not the direction you wanna go if you are a senior with 2 earrings in your team photo, who wants to ball on the next level, be that overseas or in Association terms. Ditto an 11% drop in FG percentage from last campaign on top of all of that. Unless of course you consider last year being a most improved player in the A.c.c. aberration; and wish to say that Akil played above himself for the duration? Mitch’ did bust (break) his shooting (right) hand at the LeBron James Skills Academy last July. So there could be a doctor’s excuse in play here and that’s too bad –as Mr. Mitchell appeared to be flirting with some Professional dollars coming into this pre-season.
- Justin Anderson: 10 and 4 (ppg and rpg respectively) from “Mister Andersron” not of Matrix movie fame does not suck. When you add that to Gill’s numbers below, you suddenly have a all-conference quality sub split between two frontcourt ballers on you hands. Anderson is a elevator, as he tends to elevate his game on the bigger stage. Just ask his N.I.T. run last spring. Anderson also mixes in a blocked shot and he did lead uva in the same last season. 32% from beyond the arc and the ability to produce offensive outburst on any give night. Has been scoring more since the first week in December as you have to wonder what this kid could do with a freer hand or simply with more P.T.? As he was Maryland’s Gatorade Player of the Year (’12) with good reason.
- Anthony Gill: South Carolina Gamecock transfer and former teammate of Akil Mitchell in high school. Started nearly all of his rookie season at USC-East; gives you basically 8 and 4 off the bench on a nifty team-leading 63% from the floor. The book on Tony says he does enjoy 3-point range; though he has yet to lift up a 3 at uva this season. Did drop 39% of his 3’s at S.C. so the book would seem to be literate indeed; although that may not be part of coach Bennet’s offensive set(s) for a Four either.
- Darion Atkins and Evan Nolte contribute a little bit, here and there. Darion is a former starter with a history of right-leg (shin) injuries who has a nice soft touch as a burly big man. 3.6 ppg and 3.1 rpg in limited minutes (12 mpg) is not half-bad. Evan is yet another big (NOTICE: all of the uva sub’s are P/F’s less their one Wing) man off the hooVa pine. Evan is more of a stretch-Forward with true 3-point range with 38% on the same; has filled out physically this off-season as well. Was the penta-A Georgia state Player of the Year outta high school.
Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:
6’11” 253 lb. second-year Mikey Gill is not one of the more elite pack-line defensive anchors that coach Tony Bennett (no relation) has ever deployed; at least not yet. Though he is better suited to this than Armani and I ever dreamed up. And yet uva is (still) 4th best in scoring defense and 11th best in FG percentage allowed at 56.6 ppg and a merger 37.8% per contest. In the Nation folks! As that pretty much says all you need to know in this one. As uva is prolly gonna flush Virginia Tech good and hard in their very own John. Or in other words, hoo-Va is the favorite here and rightfully so. I saw per Chris Coleman that Virginia Tech has a 4% chance to win this one away and an 11% chance to win this one at home. That seems a little thin to me. As hoops is a streaky game and Virginia Tech is due for a good shooting streak. And even more importantly Virginia Tech is overdue for some injury report health. Although reports suggest that that will have to wait for another fortnight or 2+ weeks, as coach J’s squad is better than it has recently shown. Just ask the O&M training room. Accordingly, we/Virginia Tech will have to wait about 3 more weeks for a homecourt rematch with arch rival uva to have much of a shot in this one.
Or in other words, now we all know how it feels to be uva and have to go up against our very own Bud Foster year after year; and Tony Bennett=Bud Foster in basketball stop-unit terms. Dude is that much of a defensive vice with his much vaunted so-called Pack-Line defense mastermind that I for one thought might (finally) take a step backwards this season. Though, same as Bud, Coach Bennett simply plugs the next generation of defenders in and his Pack-Line defensive set seemingly goes humming right along between a rock and a hard place. Gotta give Coach Tee Bee all the credit in the world, he is truly one of the elite men’s D-1 basketball defensive minds. Some might even say Top-1 or Top-2 at that.
uva is 9-2 at home and Virginia Tech has only played two true roadies (1-1) this season. That being said, the uva home-metrics are, daunting. 50 ppg allowed, on 36% overall and 26% from 3-point land are indeed a tough row to hoe. Ditto or should I say tritto, the fact that the Forum Guide is predicting a 29 point total pistol-whipping of a game in the boo-hoos favor for this one. The hoo’s are also +2 on rest and were only 2 shots removed from being perfect in the A.c.c. thus far. That’s a far cry from where Virginia Tech and coach J’s are right now with Smitty out for at least 2 weeks and medium-Ben and his rolled ankle both listed as “QUESTIOABLE” and likely to sit for this one. Ergo, to wit, therefore, there is little question in my mind hoo should win this one, and there should not be much O&M doubt in yours. Hopefully we get our Top-3 right for the rematch.
(93% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech=52, uva=73