Miami leads the all time series 13-10.
If UM hopes to have a competitive season in conference play, getting off to a good start is critical.
In preparation for this contest, we caught up with Chuck Workman (flyers13) from Gobbler Country, to discuss VT, the ACC, and the game.
Here's our Q&A:
Chuck: I consider 2 of the 3 Hokie losses avoidable if not downright bad. Our coach had a bad substitution pattern and offensive game plan vs USC-Upstate, a game which we should never lose at home.
And we had a late lead against Seton Hall until turnovers and a critical missed front end of a one-and-one. Seton Hall was 3-15 in the Big East last year. We had a tremendous size advantage, and we shot well. We just continue to defeat ourselves. We rank 6th from the bottom in all of Division I in turnover margin. One really bad game and we could be in last.
I wouldn't put too much into beating WVU these days. The talent level isn't there. Huggins looks tired and is not imposing his will on his team to impose their will. The typical Huggins brand has been missing since they made the Final Four. We had to come back from 17 down in that one though, so for VT that was kind of nice. We usually are the ones blowing those kind of leads.
The Hokies are certainly a work in progress. But they definitely aren't the worst team in the ACC as predicted in the preseason. They are presently 6-3 (should be 8-1), with 2 games OOC at home against winnable opponents, and then we have to face VCU in Richmond, so I count that as a loss. So I think we're 8-4 going into conference play. So 7-11 gets us to a must-win play-in game in the ACC tournament to make the NIT (The VT Invitational). With VT only having Duke once, UNC once, and Syracuse once, that is a tremendous boon. I think 7-11 is manageable, which would improve on last years 4-14.
Chuck: The Hokies play a brand of offense i have named "Panic." Our goal is to get up our first shot attempt before the defense gets set. So the main thing the 'Canes will need to do is get a made basket, or just cede the offensive rebound and get back to get set. We have very few solutions in the halfcourt.
The Hokies will regress on three-point shooting when they begin playing in other gyms. They haven't played away from home except for the Coaches vs Cancer classic at Barclay's in Brooklyn. The sight lines are unique in Cassell, and it takes a while to master them. We have had extremely good three-point FG defense due to this. Not to mention the teams in the Big South and Southern conferences are under some sort of mandate to shoot 5 for 20 in the first half from three, and shoot early in the clock.
Our key sharpshooter is Jarrell Eddie, coming off a 34 point game against Winthrop (49th RPI). He is very silky off the catch and shoot, and is shooting far better from distance than he is in the painted area. I compare him often to Allan Houston.
Chuck: Please don't make the mistake of grouping Erick Green in with Victor "Can't Reada" Page or any other indiscriminate gunner. For being as high usage as he was, Green was one of the nation's most efficient players. He created points at the FT line, he limited turnovers, and he converted at a high rate from 2, 3 and the charity stripe. It's a shame the work he did leading us to the few meager victories we had will never be celebrated as it should.
That said, for the past decade since Greenberg took over, in about half of those years we somehow wound up with just 7 or 8 players at our disposal due to attrition, injury, or whatever crazy reason you can come up with. We had to take some chances in building up the program, and as a byproduct we always lacked depth, particularly up front. This is not longer a problem. We have 10 players who can all contribute, and three of the guys are 6'9 or taller, a rare luxury. We are 6th in the nation in blocks per game (going into last week, but we had 8 in the Winthrop game, so I don't expect a drop-off)
Chuck: The ACC will be top heavy, and beyond that there will be a kind of the usual maelstrom of 9-9, 8-10, 7-11 quality clubs. With some severely challenged clubs (BC, VT, Wake, GT, Clemson, NC St). I have a piece where I am going to break that down coming up so i won't get into that too much here. But i think you can count on Duke, UNC, Syracuse at the top....Notre Dame, Pitt, UVA, UMD, FSU ....with the rest of the clubs scrambling for NIT bids. If i had to guess i see 6 bids coming out of the ACC, with Duke, UNC, Cuse, Notre Dame, Pitt, UVA making it to the dance.
Chuck: Miami has not been a difficult place for VT to win at, unlike FSU. But from what I am reading, Larranagga is going to zone defense because his young squad isn't playing man to man the way he wants it played. Good for Miami that VT hasn't seen more than a few possessions worth of zone D this year.
We can shoot Miami out of a zone, but it won't be with a good zone offense, it'll just be because guys are knocking down the three pointer above the break in transition. If we don't knock those down, Miami will have success with that defense.
We don't defend particularly well, we rely on funneling to the bigs and having them alter shots. None of these lesser schools have the finishers at the goal that the ACC will have, so it'll be interesting to see if we slow it down just a little bit in order to compensate. Our pace factor cost us two games. I think it's in Miami's favor to shorten the game and work the shot clock and get our shooters frustrated. Miami also doesn't have the horses to run at this point, especially losing Larkin. It appears to be a rebuilding year for Miami after having lost so many key players that helped you guys win the ACC regular season title last year.
I have this pegged as a win for the Hokies, I think we have a lot of balance and can win enough different ways. I think it will be close. Mid 70s to low 70s. We have excellent FT shooting from everyone not named Joey Van Zegeren or Trevor Thompson, and they aren't being allowed to shoot them late in games.
If Jim L has a little press he likes to use after made baskets, I might suggest that. We didn't look good against Radford's press (which is a spin-off of the VCU Havoc press).