#123 R.P.I. Miami vs. #25 R.P.I. Virginia Tech:
Virginia Tech men’s basketball sojourns 173.4 miles down to the Queen City where Buzz and Co. hope to win three consecutive games in order to be crowned as the eventual Atlantic Coast Champion king-bee.
The Hokies have an extra hour of daylight, they finished about as good as they could sans their star Pt.Guard, and now as the no.5 seed, they face a familiar opponent in the Miami Hurricanes. checks in at 14 up and 17 down (and 5-14 inside the A.c.c.). As the seasonal balance-sheet tilted in V.Tech’s favor by a combined 2-o margin in sweeping the ‘Canes overall. Virginia Tech is a seven-and-half opening line betting favorite— nevertheless, what you wanna know is who is gonna win this Atlantic Coast Conference championship round #2 contest as these two teams face off for the third time this year. Read on, to find… out!
Miami Head Coach: James Joseph Larrañaga: Age=69, 641–423 (.603) overall, and
171–89 (.659) at Miami.
$1,300,000.oo base (w/ $700k for retention)
6′3″ 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, tho’ he did ball overseas for Geronemo Basketball Club (Belgium), 1976; then he opted 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 quiet and 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 field of Management since arriving at Mason in 1997.
There were i-net whispers that Larrañaga is “coach-3” in the college basketball corruption probe earlier last year (per: USAToday).
Daddy Larrañaga is married to Liz’ and they have two sons and four grandchildren. Their son Jay played for his father at Bowling Green, was the head coach of the NBDL’s Erie Bayhawks, and his now the top assistant coach with the Boston Celtics. Jon was a member of his father’s George Mason teams from 1999-2003, earning first-team academic all-American honors
for NCAA Division I-AA school
Miami at a glance:
- 5th fewest personal fouls “whistled” against (∑=424). (⇔ same ranking, exactly, shockingly).
- 62nd fewest turnovers (∑=345). (⇓ 17 spots worse).
- 94rd most 3-point makes per game (8.5 3’s splashed). (⇓ by one whole entire spot).
- 299th in rebounding margin (–3 rpg). (⇓ 16 spots or a ½ rebounding of margin/game).
- With a staggering 27 rankings between about 117th and 265th nationally or an extremely average hoops team in statistical terms. C— to C+++ everywhere you go, folks.
- 3 or 4 injuries listed. i.e. a really beat-up looking team. Godspeed!
Returning Starters=1, was 2.
- Melbourne Australia import third year 6′3″, 184 lb. Dejan Vasiljevic nets you 11.3 ppg and snags 4.4 caroms on 37% deep. He is said to be a pure spot-up shooting off-G who has range though is something of a defensive liability, and his offensive sets are said to lack diversity. “DeeJay” is of Serbian descent and he put up some smart looking FIBA World Championships and lesser FIBA tourney numbers; plus he is the G.P.A. team leader; great on that. (UPDATE: Dejan shed nearly 20 lbs. of weight since we saw him last spring and seems to be more nimble and mobile for it. Not quite fast-twitch sparky, although testing agility better if you will | Vas’ is also omitted from my pre-season magazines; so I’d presume they did not expect him, back) Additionally, Miami shooting-G DJ Vasiljevic had hit at least one 3-pointer in 33 straight games, the longest former streak among Ac.c. players and tied for the third longest in Hurricane history (which broke the game after we played Miami last). (UPDATE: Dejan is pretty flat other than 3-point shooting which has dropped by 5% since we saw him last, ⇓) (2nd UPDATE: scuttlebutt says: “bad back” here, may St.Wolfgang help! status=UNDISCLOSED) (3rd UPDATE: seemed to move well enough @Charlottle and dropped a team-leading 21 to help ‘cane Wake; while flashing way more all-around game of late)
- Anthony Lawrence II has taken over as the lead Wing with good ballhandling skills and the ability to get to the basket, and he chips in with a well improved 12.5 points and 6.3 boards. Lawrence Jr. is a 6′7″, 21o. lb. Sr. year Swing with a leaping rep’ for scoring inside per staring in the high jump in T&F in high school. Law’ is said to be a jack of all trades: he can hit the J (on 46% and 35% long), defend (1.2 spg & .8 bpg) and pass (3.o apg). That’s sum quite reasonable stat-stuffing all-around work folks— as Lawrence could have started at least 50%+ of the rest of D-1 the last few years. (UPDATE: A.Law’ really improved rebounding and assisting and a little scoring to boot, ⇑ and the rebounding improvement is nearly 1 board and that’s nearly unheard of this late in the year on tired legs) (2nd UPDATE: four double-doubles in a row and a career high last time out vs. Pitt says so!) (3rd UPDATE: has been warmer of late and @Charolette; as he now has five double-doubles across the last six games; and averages 15 pts. and 10 rebs vs. V.Tech)
- 5′7″, 157 lb., mini-me, mighty-mite, supercalifragilistic as he can vertically be, one #2, Chris Lykes, is the alpha swagg on offense for da U with a team-leading 16.2 ppg on 41% from the floor, 32% deep and 76% FTA’s. Lykes is also first in dimes dropped (3.1 apg) and second in swipes (1.3 spg) and his short-stuff 2.6 rpg ain’t hurting a team that needs a lotta helping (1ι) one-iota either. Although Chris’ handles -or lack thereof- at a “slippy” or butterfingers looking 2.9 tpg shows you just how much Lykes is trying to do for Miami this year. i.e. too much even for a pretty slick streetballer to go Atlas try to carry upon his R.A.T.T. B+ caliber though type A-game innercity back. That being said, on an inch-for-inch or lb. for lb. basis… who is doing Atlantic Coast dynamo more? Be that on-court or off-court in All-ACC Academic Team and ACC Academic Honor Roll terms. This from the ESPN no.45 baller in America who is yet another District escapee who did not wanna run ball for VeeTee. As Lykes was only the 2016 Washington, D.C. Gatorade Player of the Year. As the book here reads: “Lykes is a skilled ball handler with a dynamic combination of quickness and shooting ability who can finish in traffic with contact or hit long-range threes. Chris nearly netted 50% of his threes in scholastic terms even if he does appear to palm the ball a bit on tape. In particular upon his inbounds reception initial bounce. (note: Lykes O has sprung a scoring leak of late). (UPDATE: poor Chris, every single metric fell, with some falling more than a scosche and that’s a telltale sign of an E.A. Poe or wearing down type baller ⇓, who has not even been hoisting them up or shooting itself, of; late)
- Zach Johnson is a 6′2″, 192 lb., r-Sr. year off-G who has been around for a minute or more or so it seems. As Florida Gulf Coast College -so-called: dunk city- g-transfer terms go, as Zach’ has been in college nearly as long as Eye was. Zac is actually second in point-production what with: 12 ppg per 29% when dialing long-distance is (now) marginal enuff output— this all on a declining 38.5% overall. Zacharia is Miami’s best stop-unit backcourt defender at 1.8 spg with 2.5 apg thrown in. He was also the no.1 recruit in Florida a few years ago and easily a top-100 baller wherever you looked. So the talent (seemingly) was there and there are three Miami Norland High School threepeat AAAAAAA (hexa-A) State Championship rings here to boot. Although ZeeJay is having the best year of his colligate career… as he can jump, he is supposed to be a pure-shooter and Zach seems a fluid fun to watch guy upon breaking tape. Maybe he is finally rounding into final-last-chance forum? As this kid has been Buster Poindexter: “hot hot hot” of late. (UPDATE: ZeeJay is ⇓ down close to everywhere, tho’ not as off as Chris was up above) (2nd UPDATE: tho’ he has trumped double digits for three straight games in a row and may be breaking outta this late-season funk)
- Ja’Quan Newton, Dewan Huell, Bruce Brown, Lonnie Walker IV and a bunch production (30 ppg and 15 rpg) and experience— all, gonzo!
- 6′11″, 235 lb., third-year, Dewan Hernandez and his eligibility concerns are taking a classroom break for the moment. Also broken would be his 11.4 points and 6.9 rebounds (14th A.c.c. best last year) and several Coral Gables shot-blocking records in addition to all of that. As Dewan -who just legally changed his surname to Hernandez (to honor his mother) in October 2018- was prolly gaining ground on being at least a fringe overseas pro’ and possibly Miami’s best-returning frontcourter for 2019. May St.Catherine bless. (UPDATE: or maybe he will “PEACE-out” Miami.edu.now! And just Association, early-entry, declare. Godspeed at the next level(s)!)
- 6′10″, 211 lb. P/F and Foster’s Beer by way of Cairo, Egypt hommie, Deng Gak and his surgically repaired left-knee (St.Nikhon help); are done for the year. Also done for the year are his just south of 3 points with 4 boards and a swat as a back-up Four or frontcourt go. This from a protein shake guzzling kid who got to Miami at 195 lbs. as the no.91 ranked recruit in America per ESPN.com. Gone also are his absurd 7′5″wingspan, his gazelle floor running game, and his defensive acumen. As this is a name to remember, as this rare P/F mid-range oriented Gak kid (appears) to have a pretty high ceiling with some headroom to grow through indeed.
- True-C, Rodney Miller Jr., 6′12″, 257 lb., a space-eater by way of basketball factory Oak Hill Academy decided to finally wear his r-Shirt, this year. Also haberdashering off would be a lotta size, a few ppg, and rpg and greater expectations to finally step-forward in the paint (pardon the frontcourt, pun). That said, being on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll (3.2+ G.P.A.) is a non-issue in this case so hopefully, Mister Miller figures things out next year.
Hurricane Bench: (depth=2’ish)
Sam Waardenburg and his 5.6 ppg and 3.3 rpg on 36% from 3-point-land and 41% from the floor are paint chips galore. As this ‘Cane pine-squad ain’t exactly confused with the word… deft… as in touch… as in makes. As takers, they gots… makers? Not so much. (UPDATE: Sam’s extra minutes/extra looks have helped; he’s moved ⇑ upward noticeably, especially from behind the arc)
Final year, 6′10″, 232 lb. reserve frontcourter and Lagos, Nigeria native Ebuka Izundu has been forced into picking up some slack and he’s taken up a downright sharp amount. What with 11 ppg and 8 rpg surging display. 65% from the floor and 33% from long-distance do not suck. And neither does 1.4 bpg. As this kid and f0rmer no.70 ranked scholastic baller and high school sprinting star in the 100m and in the 200m’s as well has finally come alive. As this much latent careerist O from a kid with a defensive and rebounding tag is a most pleasant surprise. (UPDATE: ⇑ and away of late, and he is from a homecoming Charlotte area high school)
UPDATE: the ‘cane bench had one guy make more than one shot (for 2 points) vs. very so-so Wake Forrest. An epic pine-squad this just, ain’t’.
Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:
Number of Hurricanes who would catagory @Tech=2'ish.
The takeaway here is… the only thing that I know about Tournament basketball?
Is that I know nothing regarding Tournament basketball.
Well, that is; except for the following couple of things that I do know about Tournament basketball…
- The first thing that Eye knows about Tournament basketball is… the better team does not always, win. C’est la match or such is the nature of one-n-done or so-called single elimination formats. Cue 1984’s Villanova champion ring(s) and insert the same (____), here.
- The second thing that Eye knows about Tournament basketball is… that defense and rebounding should never ever, ever never, go; cold. As these are industrious, heart, needy, or Fosterian “want too” driven metrics that are all about just how bad do you want it. And oddly enough, for a program and a coach not entirely know for their defensive -much less their fiberglass- acumen, our very own 2018-2019 hurrying Hokies just finished 12th -outta 351 D-1 men’s teams mind yah- our Hokies just finished 12th in scoring D (62.2 ppg allowed), 37th in defensive FG percentage (40.9% allowed), 110th in defensive 3-point percentage (33.2% allowed) and a surprisingly spry +3.1 rpg in rebounding margin. So that all checks out here.
- What we hope checks in is our very own shooting overall; and in extreme particular, our 3-point shooting from downtown Charlotte. And just the very, exact, same as whatever NC2A bid we draw, in whatever gym, in whichever part of the country— this is a brand new gym to us. So who knows how our shooters will take to the (allegedly) loose or tight rings, the springy or soft floor, the lighting and lines-of-sight and the depth or recess of the seating behind the clear fiberglass backboards. All of which have been known to spark or to spook shooting or exterior clubs since well before Gene Hackman measured the height of the basket (10′) in Hoosiers way-way back in 1986. So quite honestly… who knows how well our shooters will shoot on Wednesday at ~2:30 pm? (although this should give us a salient heat-check for Thursday; or so we all hope).
Virginia Tech was 4-nil on neutral courts and Miami was 3-2 this year when neither home or away.
Our handy-dandy friend the so-called Forum Guide of Graham Houston fame is calling for a 7 Hokie triumph as try as you might you still can not spell VicTory without the Vee and the Tee. When filtered down the head-to-head Forum Guide says V.Tech by 13.
The annualized year-to-date vitals say that… V.Tech is up +9% in shooting percentage margin (½ on O and ½ on D), V.Tech is up +6% (nearly all on O) in 3-point percentage margin and surprisingly up a nifty +5 boards in rebounding margin for the season.
The most recent 5-game metrics say that… V.Tech is up +5% in shooting percentage margin (all on D), V.Tech is now up +12% in 3-point percentage margin (all on D) and now up +8 boards on the glass in rebounding margin.
(THOUGH: do observe… V.Tech’s O is noticeably down in efficiency whereas Da U’s D and rebounding really dropped off of late on efforting!)
With V.Tech is up +3% at the charity stripe for the year.
- Virginia Tech has -per Chris Coleman- head-to-head outshot Miami by +10% in FG percentage margin overall and by a whopping +22% in 3-point percentage margin from behind the arc in 80 minutes this season. i.e. Miami does not check Buzzketball very well at all.
- Virginia Tech (23-7) tied a school record for regular-season victories this year | and they also notched a team-record 12 A.c.c. wins. BRAVO!
- That on a season with right at ⅔’s of 5’s availability on tap.
- Buzz Williams now owns 250 career wins.
- Virginia Tech earned an A.c.c. first-round bye for the fourth consecutive season.
- Virginia Tech has won at least one game in three of the past four A.c.c. Tournaments’.
- And the Hokies have won five of their last seven sans “5”.
- The Hurricanes have at least one victory in A.c.c. Tournament play in seven of eight seasons under Larranaga. A “big game” James is a Worthy post-season coach indeed.
- There are five (5) nationally ranked teams in this years A.c.c. free-for-all.
- Although, the Hurricanes do not own a triumph over a nationally ranked team in 2018-19.
On Tuesday, Miami slowly, steadily and surely outplayed the Deacons of W.Forrest to advanced to A.c.c. round #2 on right at 21 hours of rest compared to ~120 hours of rest for V.Tech.
The Hokies should win this one. As the Hokies would nearly for sure advance in an Associative best-of-seven (first one to 4 wins) format.
However, this is one-n-done basketball. There is no L’ers or refund bracket either.
Win to stay in, L and go home.
And with a shooting and/or finesse-oriented team -that has had to reinvent its O around its second or third option physically limited PF gone mini-me Qb or Point-F facilitator- stranger things have happened. Like NC.State vs. Hakeem.
And Miami clearly took a shine to this first-time admittance Atlantic Coast Championship hosting Spectrum Center gym. 51% from the floor and 44% long says so. As that’s some fair to middling marksmanship folks— and we don’t yet officially know how well -or how not- our shooters will take to this strange looking three-tone-floor. (lane wood stain=lightest, out-of-bounds=darkest stain, and someone $pent some real live bucks on some borderline Astectic Coast Conference yucks).
Still yet, gotta favor the -7.5 Vegas big-board tabbed favorite Hokies to win here. And Eye liked this little nugget from Buzz -the kaleidoscope- Williams…
“The one thing that I have learned from this (is) you never know who you are until you’re completely backed into a corner and are desperate.“
pressure makes diamonds >>> pressure bursts, pipes
Or so we all hope as the post-season Owens Dining Hall old-school pressure cooker is just about to heat, up.
Let’s all hope Buzz and Co. “put baby in the corner” stat, and do NOT let Miami hang-around in this one.
As that’s what it takes if you really do wanna show-out at the upcoming so-called: Big Dance…
as we need that to be as fresh as possible for a testy ~21 hours F.s.u., turn.
(74% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech=77, Miami=66