#22 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #186 R.P.I. Miami:
Virginia Tech men’s basketball now turns nearly due south or a little So-by-So-East for what amounts to an Association -esque, or a mere 1,184.2-mile (prop plane) roadie.
The Hokies will find out what they have left in the tank before catching a nice/needed nearly one full week off (F.S.U. cancelation, St.Nikephoros bless!) That being squarely said… they need not hold back any as they do catch that extra O&M R&R post-haste post-Miami. Miami who checks in at a modest-looking 7 up and 10 down (3-9 or a triskaidekaphobic 13th place in the A.c.c.). The ‘Canes have also gone a mind-boggling to the point of being unique o-o-o and played a full 2020-2021 docket sans any/all postponement(s) or cancellation(s). Dang, that Ponce de León H20 has mad-game indeed, in spades. As Eye’ve not seen that movie (at all) this year. Nonetheless, you wanna know who is gonna win and by how much, right? So, read on to find… out!
Miami Head Coach: James Joseph Larrañaga: Age=71, 667–457 (.593) overall, and
197–123 (.616) 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: USA Today).
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:
- 14th most personal fouls ‘whistled’ against/game!! (now: ⇓, down to 94th, i.e. not as handsy!)
- 18th in Swat-Team work (bpg)!! (now: ⇓ to 55th!)
- 24th in the defensive glass. (most are 1-n-done here!)
- 43rd in scoring D allowed. (now: ⇓⇓ to 153rd, wow!!)
- 45th in FG percentage D allowed. (now: ⇓⇓ to 179th, wow!!)
- 310th in 3-point percentage allowed!!
- 323rd in 3-point percentage… thus far!!! (now: ⇑, a little better at 3o8th).
- ROUGH looking M*A*S*H until type of training room report. Coach God Help^4!
…and oh yes, Coach God Bless, Miami (now) has (as of Mon.nite), five that’s (5) significant injuries listed for this one!
- Da U is ‘posed to be pretty backcourt thick this year.
- Very experienced squad in modern early early-entry terms.
- 5′7″, 16o lb., mini-me, mighty-mite, (found 12 squat lbs. of musculature; then he cut another 5 lbs. of sinew) supercalifragilistic as he can vertically be. As one #2, Chris Lykes, was the alpha swagg on offense for da U with a now second-best 15.5 ppg on a slumping 36.4% from the floor, and yet a saltwater 45.5% deep and now a sharp-looking and near A.c.c. leading 90.9% FTA’s. Lykes is leading da U in dimes dropped (5.5 apg) and the blue ribbon in swipes (2.o spg) and his highly impressive short-stuff 4 rpg ain’t hurting a team that needs a lotta helping (1ι) one-iota either. Although Chris’ handles -or lack thereof- at a moderate looking 1.5 tpg shows you just how much Lykes is trying to do for Miami this year. i.e., too much even for a pretty slick street-baller to go Atlas try to carry upon his B+ caliber although type A-game inner-city 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-A.c.c. Academic Team and A.c.c. 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. 1st-string All-A.c.c. per Lindy’s preview mag’ as well if you need him. (UPDATE: poor Chris, is suffering from a turned left-ankle St.Phillip bless! He has missed the last four contests and is listed as: “QUESTIONABLE” here. This after suffering a grounded landing on a 3-point attempt vs. Stetson ballers foot, yikes!) (NEXT UPDATE: numbers did not move as he has not played… “OUT INDEFINITELY” is the new word here… one whisper called this a ‘dehabilitating'(sp), ankle-roll and that’s not a good look. Dang… the really bad ankle-sprains (Class V) are brutal, multi-month or lifetime get overs just like that).
- Oklahoma transfer, Kameron McGusty is a pretty useful looking 6′5″, 19o lb., r-Sr. off-G by way of Katy, Tx. He of 11.6 ppg, 2.1 apg, 1.2 spg, and 3 rpg. McGusty has some scoring gusto indeed… 42.% long-range and formerly being ranked as the no. 46 prospect, including the No. 10 Shooting Guard, by ESPN says so. As does Kameron’s sporting-family tree which blossoms roundballs this time of year. McGusty is whispered to have snubbed V.Tech who (seemed) to have a fair-to-middling shot at him at the last minute. As this kid was a 40% boomer-bomber from deep for OK-U. So, he can make it rain from 3-point-land once he gets it going— (although when studying his game-log, I was left wondering if this is the rarefied Michael Cooper kinda kid who is more comfortable in relief as a highly-coveted 6th-man type role? As his 3-pointer digits have noticeably regressed per starting minutes) (UPDATE: “QUESTIONABLE” with a right ‘leg-injury’ that has sat him for the last two-games; St.Nikon bless!) (UPDATE2: Eye’d have to say that adding a staggering +12% and change to your trifecta efficacy is most efficacious indeed… a lotta other metrics were up as well and this kid is just starting to get well (physically) speaking to boot. Ergo, worthy of a rare ⇑⇑ up grade here).
- Isaiah Wong (now) only Wangs Miami’s Chung… what with being the gold-medal scorer at 17.3 ppg and a nifty looking 5.4 rpg to top-shelf all of that. This Wong goes 6′3″, 18o lbs., as a r-Soph breakout Two or off-G. Isaiah was the 78th Rivals kid nationally two years back and Wong’sanity may or may not be sweeping So.Beach as I type. That said, he went to the same H.S. as 1973 Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti; so, there is that. And he was something of an outburst scholastic scorer in/around Philly then over in Jersey. “Zay” as he likes to be called… is living at the charity stripe and he lives okay here at 77%. Lindy’s calls this kid a: “dynamic scorer” and thus far 2020 is calling that bet square enough. As Wong did have a histrionic of late-game scholastic heroics, he was said to be a ‘breakout’ scorer by several other mag’s and if/when he lengthens his range and tickles the twine fo’ mo’ than 31.9% long? Look out! As this kid can put the mid to short-range biscuit in the basket. (UPDATE: curiously enough, his metrics/tallies are down, and yet his shooting (efficiency) is up… don’t see that too late season much, ⇔, or a very strange breakeven or equilibrium grade for it).
- Da U is ‘posed to be pretty frontcourt thin this year.
- Miami is only missing 13 ppg Dejan Vaselivic and a frontcourt sub. Not real bad as departures go.
- Tho’ to be so heavily backcourt forecasted nobody predicted this chilly of a shooting front to set in for a 1 through 3 heavy roster. Maybe that will change… or blow, over, tho’ right now the U’s backcourt barometer is reading… lowly as MB’s of Mercury goes.
- Reserve New Zealander Sam Waardenburg is done for the duration with a ‘substantial’ left-foot injury. St.Sebastian help! As the 6′10″, 226 lb., r-Sr. year Kiwi was only Miami’s leading rebounder a year ago and his 7 ppg and 7 rpg on 68% hurts a thinning set of paint-players all the mo’.
- Quad-“ouch”! With four that’s (4) different ‘Canes pretty well caned for the remaining 2021, duration. (Godspeed!)
Miami Bench: (depth=2-n-change most nites)
Nysier Brooks C, is a 7′, 240 lb., r-Sr. year Five by way of Philly Pa. by way of Advanced Prep International (Texas) and they by way of Cincy. And oh, by the way… he leads Miami in rebounding as a 7 rpg and in blocking 1.3 bpg as a 6.3 ppg bullpen relief pitcher upfront down-low. 44% seems a bit low from the floo’, tho’ Brooks is a big Five and he clogs the lane and cleans-up pretty well enough for only 25 mpg. And this is about 72-strokes or par for the course for the 207th recruit nationally courtesy 247Sports. (and ‘Nas keeps a smile on his face, he stays on the Dean’s List and wants to be a child-psychologist… there are worse things…) (UPDATE: ⇑ has shot well, defended and scored just a bit mo’ since saw him last).
True-C, Rodney Miller Jr., is a bulked-up looking 6′12″, 255 lb., a space-eater by way of basketball factory Oak Hill Academy who decided to finally wear his r-Shirt last season. Also, haberdashering (this is a slick-dressing kid) would be a lotta size, a few 6.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, and greater expectations to finally step-forward per his 6o% shooting in the paint (pardon the frontcourt, pun). Which is now down to a (slightly) toe-stubbed 51.8% in the key. As Rod’ cut nearly 20 lbs. during off-season workouts this summer and looks the better/fitter man for it. More active on D what with 1.o bpg to boot. That said, being on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll (3.2+ G.P.A.) is a non-issue in this case so hopefully, r-Sr. year Mister Miller figures things out this year or next. As he was first seen dunking at a downright nutty age 12 and he was only the 90th ranked scholastic hardwood baller from Scout. Tho’ the 56% Free-Throwing is orange paint chip friendly. So, more has been expected from this likable student-athlete athletically speaking to be sure. doghouse? (UPDATE: out fo’ the year: right-knee-rip, St.Nikon bless!!!)
r-Soph., 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); were done for the year last time we saw Miami. Also done for the year were his just south of 3 points, 4 boards, on 64% with and a swat as a back-up Four or frontcourt sub’. 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 was 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. (UPDATE: Gak is now back after a torn right meniscus in his knee last season. St.Nikon help! Tho’ he is now down to 2.6 ppg and 3.o rpg on 50% this year) (UPDATE2: …kinda mixed since we saw him last… ⇔, kinda gotta wonder how his body is doing at this stage of the season?)
Harlond Beverly is a 6′4″, 186 lb. nugget or rookie year voter from the Motor City. He was only the 42nd recruiting in America and 9th best S/G according to rivals last year. During which he was a Michigan Class D state champion while his team merely finished 4th in the whole dang USofA. That’s “Wolverines!” all… in the meantime whoever… Beverly is hilling his way to 7.2 ppg, a somewhat improved 4.8 rpg, and likewise uppity 3.4 apg. Although his 15.6% from behind the arc is less than tempting, the book here says that Beverly is more of a Combo-G who can lead a team and penetrate to the basket. He is known for his versatility and his freaky athletics as well. Full name is Harlond Terrill Beverly… and he likes to go by “H”. So “H” it is as “H” is from one of the rarefied really good-looking full family homes. Really wish I could type that out mo’ often too— I really do. Tho’ this is not your typical recruit… something of a 2020 G.Hill playing lead-G. “Thanks” @Coach God on that. (UPDATE: …nearly every single vital is down, ⇓ for it here).
All that being said… the pine-squad just cut down to Matt Cross and Earl Timberlake with everyone else (pretty much) shelved post (pardon the sporting punny), after FLA.Gulf.Coast.U massive upset. Earl is a 6′6″, 215 lb. strapping Freshmenic looking kid with a “sleepy” Sam Perkins set of eyes (left in particular; St.Helen bless). Earl was only the #1 Maryland baller last year, and a consensus Top-40 kid nationally by all four major recruiting services. ‘easy’ as he has glossed himself… is a rarefied S/G who looks the really physical part. He courts the names of deceased fam’ on his sneaks and calls his grandma-maw every pre-game who Prays’ for him— and is an Honor Roll kid to boot. Said to be a kid with “toughness” and “rim-crunching” dunks. A DeeCee/DeMatha area street-star. And frankly he and his blow-out ‘fro look the streety/toughie part(s). Third, in scoring at 12 ppg already married to 5 boards with 2 dimes on 60% overall does not suck. Nor does 50% long and 85% on the FT-line. Tho’ make no misQ, this S/G has range though he’s more parts punch and less parts counterpunch. Interesting kid this Mister Timberlake, with no word from Justin yet… and yet this t.Lake is prolly an overseas pro’ already, “easily” at that. He just needs to get his trying to do too much 4.o tpg roped-in and tied-down. (UPDATE: Timberlake just sprained his right-ankle and is now “OUT” 3-5 weeks… St.Philip bless!) (UPDATE2: Timberlake is now also listed as: “out INDEFINITELY”, dang again…)
Matty is a 6′7″, 225 lb. play right away rookie year baller from New Hampshire. Cross crosses you over for 6.9 ppg to go with 5.3 rpg and is said to have a tag that reads: Mister Versatile. Or that of an all-around Wing at a handsome 40% from behind the arc and 87.5 charity-work (FTA’s). 86th kid in America per ESPN, where he mainly (get the regional, pun?) played P/F. So, Matt Cross can prolly bang enough slotting as more of a collegiate Three. Ditto having played: played Te and De on the football field before breaking his right leg (St.Culbreth bless!) Tough kid, who looks like he will get carded well into his 30’s… this after notching a National Prep’ School championship bling. Interesting kid… will be even mo’ interesting to see how his all-around 2024 floor-game develops. (UPDATE: ⇔, just a little off box score-wise overall, tho’ shooting is still an accuracy calling-card).
m.s. (mid-script): Matt Cross and Deng Gak were both held outta practice two weeks back.
m.s.2. (apparently Matt Cross has been: “DISMISSED” from the squad. Yikes!)
Stony Brook transfer lead-G: (6′5″, 2o5 lb., final0-year) Elijah Olaniyi has recently cleared eligibility standards; and so have his mucho needed 18 ppg and 6.5 rpg at S.Brook!
As this backcourt kid was all-American East 1st-string last year.
Accordingly, his 10.4 ppg and 4.3 rpg, and 45% are welcome.
His clanking 24.3% deep and not so much.
Tho’ Miami is short-handed and it is;
so, “all hands on deck” for it.
(🌋🏀🔥 HOT of late!)
Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:
Number of Hurricanes who could blow @Tech=4'ish.
The takeaway here is… the All Coaching Conference road is a place where even good-looking intraleague teams can get… took.
And as we just saw, an erstwhile good-looking preview truly spit the bit —even with three good scoops; (like X going off from Pitt). That’s on me too!
As there are precious few -if any- lay-ups when you are the visitor in the All Championship Conference house.
Is it the same non-O&M road warrior drill here Eye ask you?
Or in other words, who wins between Pittsburgh vs. Miami (on a neutral court)?
Our handy-dandy friend the so-called Forum Guide of Graham Houston fame is calling for an oddball-looking 16-point VicTory dance down on So.Beach. (due to the Deacon’s skewing effects). When taken pro-rata however the Forum Guide is calling for a more normalized looking 3.2-point Tech Triumph. As less Wake, these two clubs scaled very competitively when taken head-to-head in a common opponent round-robin comparison format. (again, less the outlying Wake Forrest contest).
The annualized year-to-date vitals say that… V.Tech is up +2% in shooting percentage margin (evenly split between betterment in O & D); with Vah.Tech up a noticeable +10% in 3-point percentage margin (again, and curiously enough, evenly split between betterment in O & D alike), and V.P.I. is up +3 in rebounding margin as corralling caroms go year-to-date (although Miami is modestly positive off the backboard in seasonal terms). (da U is better on the D-glass than on the O-glass as well).
However, the most recent 5-game metrics say that… the Hurrying Hokies are now up a sharp-looking +8% in shooting percentage margin (nearly all on D as Miami has really halt-unit slipped here); with the F’n Gobblers nearly up the same +8% in 3-point percentage margin (fo’ the same lack of stop-unit MIA reasons), and the Techmen are now up a very visible +9 in rebounding margin in Windex Wipes the last fortnight of runs (as Miami is nearly 10 boards/game way way off here of late, big fiberglass deficit building here).
Barometric pressure(s): …the Hurricanes are 5-o when they hold opposing teams to 64 points or fewer and 2-1o when opponents exceed 64 points. The Hokies are 12-o when they hold opponents to a field goal percentage of 43.6% or worse, and 1-4 when opponents exceed that percentage. These are your in-game measures of Hg. (i.e., millibars Mercury).
In the last couple of seasons, Big Jim is only 1 outta 3 on average vs. ranked opponents. Additionally, the Canes assisting is way way down of late… showing some individual in lieu of Together Everyone Achieves Mo’ signs here. Finally… in their last fortnight of runs… Miami has averaged only 61.2 points per game over its last five games. The Hurricanes have given up 75.6 points per game over that span. i.e., this is a team starting to slip.
(the A.c.c. spies hint that Coach Jim feels like his team has had its best week of practice this very well and likes the vibe that is now/finally coming-together!)
VeeTee is up +4% at the charity stripe for the year.
Miami is up a useful +4 in R&R in the last few weeks.
Miami is a .545 host; whereas VeeTee is .4oo as a guest.
No.38 Net Ranking Virginia Tech @ no.152 Net Ranking Miami:
Unlike last time out up @Pittsburgh, Miami is a hardwood club in at least some measure of decline. Whereas Pitt had been showing at least a few signs of sparky enough offensive output life of late.
That being legitimately struck… Miami did upset Duke and put an end to a mid-January 4-game schnide last time out. As the ‘Canes had looked pretty well slumpy until they went 5♣’s and 🂡 (5-of-clubs & Ace of Spades) upside coach-K’s head to begin February play proper (on Monday night).
Which really throws a monkey wrench in the whole OPT digits calclus…
The pre-Duke Miami would not worry me so much… as Eye kinda thought they were on the way down even further to be frank.
Because, unlike their early 3-game L’ing streak… where they got beat by exactly and precisely three total shots (i.e., 2-points, 1-point, and 2-points again) —Da U was really getting beat of late.
Like a rented chain-link playground net or a cord0-lacing plastic tubular 1980’s cost-cutter net. As the Hurricanes has been category negative-one what with a harsh looking –72-point cumulative deficit spread across nothing better than an 11-point L in their most recent four non-winning contests.
i.e., this sure had the look-n-feel of a Shamu or SeaWorld team about to go belly-up and quite possibly seasonally, tank.
Then big Jim -to his big ole credit- pulled a wining rabbit outta Shamu’s hat and banjaxed the analysis trend(s) of the whole shebang. A seasonal offensive tallying high mind yah!
Eye’ma just not so sure?
Eye am want to (still) modestly favor VeeTee here…
…though it is only as a modest A.c.c. road favorite.
…and rather modestly, at that.
(42% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech=63, Miami=67