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 #28 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #150 R.P.I. Miami:

Virginia Tech men’s basketball sojourns 805 miles down to So.Beach. Bikinis, exotic drinks, and exotically totally lit {sic: up} clubs and bars.

The Hokies head south during the middle of Winter to play a fair to middling Atlantic Coast Club. At least in terms of the U’s moderate looking seasonal standings thus far. As da U checks in at a very even looking 9 up and likewise 9 down or .5oo for this Atlantic Division match-up. The U -as you will read below- is an exceptionally streaky team this campaign. The weaker U is a likely Hokie win—although the stronger U is a dicey roadie that can and possibly will sneak up on you if you are not leadership and tradecraft careful enough. Nonetheless, what you wanna know is who is gonna win. So read on, to find… out!

Miami Head CoachJames Joseph Larrañaga: Age=69, 640–422 (.603) overall, and
170–88 (.659) at Miami.
$1,300,000.oo base (w/ $700k for retention)

(antediluvian) swagg.

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 schools.

Miami at a glance:

  • 5th fewest personal fouls “whistled” against (∑=275).
  • 45th fewest turnovers (∑=232).
  • 93rd most 3-point makes per game (8.7 3’s splashed).
  • 284th in reboudning margin (-2.4 rpg).
  • With a staggering 27 rankings between about 130th and 280th nationally or an extremely average hoops team in statistical terms. C— to C+++ everywhere you go folks.
  • 3 injuries listed. i..e a really beat-up looking team. Godspeed!

Cane Returning Starters=1 (was, 2)

The U Strengths:

  • Melbourne Australia import third year 6′3″, 184 lb. Dejan Vasiljevic nets you 11.6 ppg and snags 4.5 caroms on 42% 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 has hit at least one 3-pointer in 32 straight games, the longest current streak among Ac.c. players and tied for the third longest in Hurricane history.
  • 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 12.1 points and 5.4 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 (1.4 spg & .9 bpg) and pass (2.7 apg). That’s sum quite reasonable stat-stuffing all-around work folks— as Lawrence could have started at at least 50%+ of the rest of D-1 the last few years.

    Leaking out 1o1…
  • 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 17.5 ppg on 45% from the floor, 34% deep and 79% FTA’s. Lykes is also first in dimes dropped (3.6 apg) and second in swipes (1.6 spg) and his short-stuff 2.9 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 3.6 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).
  • 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: 13.3 ppg per 32% when dialing long-distance is okay enuff output. Zacharia is Miami’s best stop-unit backcourt defender at 1.7 spg. 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.

The U Weaknesses:

  • 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!)
  • 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=1’ish, very short bench right now)

r-Fr., 6′10″, 210 lb., springy S/F P/F ‘tweener, Deng Gak and his 2.5 ppg are not that shiny, although 4.4 rpg in and 1.1 bpg in limited minutes is more like it. 33% overall, however, is more like a Knights Templar went masonic convention. Illuminati at shooting-touch this kid who plays in the dark; just; ain’t. (UPDATE: now out for the year. St.Nikhon bless, with a left-knee tear. Dang/yikes, ouch).

Sam Waardenburg and his 4.8 ppg and 3.6 rpg on 23% from 3-point-land and 37% 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.

Learning to win on the A.c.c. road vs. beatable A.c.c. team(s) is all about, what???

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Illationconclusion(s) and OPT digits:

Number of 'Canes who could start @Tech=2, maybe 2.5.

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is... do you remember a 1970’s yellow disc insert artist named: Ray Stevens? The guy who sang: “the streak”?

Because that’s what coach Jimbo’s team is thus far this year… check it out…

  1. 5-o to start. Right as rain.
  2. Then a stumbling bumbling o-4 to just a game >.5oo.
  3. Then 3 up followed distinctly by 3 down and now a 2-game-L-streak to boot.

As this is a very hot and cold running version of Miami Vice.

Don Johnson catches a wheel or pops a tire.
Take thy… pick.

 ***

Virginia Tech is 25% as a visitor and the U is 63% as a host. V.Tech is +4 on rest and R&R in the last forthnight of play and even with the necessity of travel, the Hokies seem the fresher team here.

The suddenly hawt like the Sun so-called Forum Guide says… that V.Tech wins by an astounding 47 points -due to opposite Syracuse ends, mostly- in this hump-day early evening Coastal divisional match-up and Eye will eat these words if/when we do.

The annualized season to date metrics paints the picture of… V.Tech is +8% better on shooting margin overall, +6% better on 3-point margin overall and actually up a nearly unheard of +4 in rebounding margin for the season.

The most recent 5-game makers tell us that… V.Tech is now up a defensively decreasing +4% in shooting margin from the floor, +1% on 3-point margin and although both teams have recently posted negative rebounding returns in absolute value terms, V.Tech is 2 rpg less bad in rebounding margin of late.

  • Miami is off to its worst ACC start in nearly a decade (9 yarns) or 1-7 in the A.c.c.
  • The Hurricanes’ 17-point halftime deficit (last game) vs. Florida State was their largest all season and Miami failed to hold a lead in the second half for only the third time all season.
  • Miami has won four of the last five meetings with Virginia Tech, including a sweep last season, and the Hurricanes own a 22-14 series advantage.
  • The Hokies J.Rob’ is sizzling hawt of late… what with being the V.P.I. alpha-assist leader (548 dimes) and also going 12-for-17 from beyond the arc and 13-of-19 from the field last week.
  • 13 times this year Buzzketball has hit at least ten 3’s in a game.
  • 23 of the Hokies’ last 25 field goals came off assists.
  • VeeTee has only busted 62 ppg once @Away.

the call

7 pm kickoff!

Balling at Miami always makes me nervy, either Miami is tuggy frontcourt bunch or they are run-n-gun. This year they are more up-tempo and that does seem O&M friendly enough at first blush.

They are also illin’ upfront and on the bench so that’s not the worst match-up for us down low in the key. (unlike many other A.c.c. squads).

Miami is, however, better at home— whereas Virginia Tech is worse, much worse. VasTly, nearly at that… as Hokie overall shooting drops by virtually ~10%  and Hokie, halt-unit work softens by 9%. Or right at whopping 20% shooting margin from the floor swing against us to the ‘rong. Via the very same Home/Away splits… 3-point shooting moves against us by 14% 3-point margin to the bad as well. (comparatively Miamis Home/Away splits only moved by a more pedestrian +2% to the slightly better in each category).

Or in other words gents… this one is all about VeeTee.

We are the better basketball team, and yet we appear to be (still) learning the final step of systemic or team-wide greatness which is defined by coach Riley in: The Winner Within, as learning how to win (on the regular) out on the, road.

Honestly?

Eye am dubious that we are (officially) there, yet.

However, I am even more dubious of what a downright lame/hurting Miami has left.

Looks like our not entirely road-warriors are catching them at the right, time.

(63% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech
=78, Miami=64

LETS GO!

Hokies!

 bourbonstreet**

4 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Great stuff BStreet, as always! I appreciate your hard work and publishing your time. Thanks!

    1. 10-4. Never ever covered one like that.
      Dr. Tom Izzo, and a few others… though Jim is Ralphie Waldo Emerson of hoops.

      b.street

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