#18 R.P.I. uva @
#23o R.P.I. Virginia Tech:
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 spit the bit and 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.
Now that being said, we did finally break the seal and get up off of the 46 day L schnide! So we/Virginia Tech finally have at least a little big-Mo’ on our side heading into this Commonwealth Cup rivalry game. Although one could argue that #13 ranked uva has even mo’ big-Mo’ riding a 9 game win streak into this one; as these hoo’s have not been bested in their last 30 days either.
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 12.3 ppg and does chip in with a smart looking 5.8 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 82 times already this season. A (now) fiery 39% 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. Though he has improved since we saw him last, gotta give him that round 10-8.
- 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 4.1 ppg and 2.2 rebounds and has occasional range (29%) 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 (11.8 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 43.5% 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. Nor is his recent 3-point shooting binge, as 52% from beyond the arc in his last couple of weeks is at least some heavy petting on the first date.
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 7.2 ppg, 4.2 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 shoot 43% to play that close to the hoop to begin the year, which tells you something about his offensive skill-set at the moment –or lack thereof. However, Tobey is now up to 45.7% overall and even though that could be a bit better when you consider the distance -or lack thereof- on most of his shots; it is an encouraging positive slope of a trend. This kid is getting better folks, slowly, yet surely.
- Akil Mitchell, 6.9 ppg and likewise 6.8 rpg on 51% 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 8% 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: 9 and 3.5 (ppg and rpg respectively) from “Mister Anderson” 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. 28% 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 62% 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. 3.4 ppg and 2.7 rpg in limited minutes (12.o 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 34% 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. Now kicks in with 2.7 ppg and a rebound; singular.
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.
A couple of enlightening things occur when you update a basketball preview the second time around. You get to generally, broad-brush, big-picture see if a team is level, dipping or improving. My word for uva upon revision? Efficient, as in more efficient on the offensive end by and large. Coach Tony’s team is a smarter looking bunch in possession of the rock right now and NOT a tourney team you wanna face on the 48 hour turnaround compared to the 4-5 days in between for film study for game#1 of the potential two game weekend in March Madness. As this pack-line defense is already a bear and as each of these new(er) front-line ballers gets more and more ensconced in the same, this pack-line defense is morphing into a true grizzly!
uva is 3o3rd best in FT-shooting that is Tony’s teams Achilles Heel. The longer this one stays closer, the uglier we can make this one, the better for the under-dog or Virginia Tech. Let big time favored uva be the one to feel the noose-knot of pressure tighten around the sporting psykie of their cavalier necks for a change.
Now we see that the hoos have been glued to between 61-63 for the last couple of weeks on offense. Virginia Tech has scored precisely 52 points in a game five times this season! Why I do not know? However, I do know that we need a little more kick in our start, or an early lead, or a hot shooting night overall to have a credible shot (pardon the pun) in this one. uva’s visiting metrics do drop a little (about 2%) out on the road; though that’s not that much. And with an incoming Virginia Tech men’s hoops team that is only netting 34% of their shots in their last give games … that’s not enough.
(87% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech=52, uva=63