No Let Downs.
Bring on BC.
Tonight, we start the first of 2 games away from the Tucker Center, traveling to Blacksburg and then up the coast to Chestnut Hill. This is when we figure out what this team is made of. Sitting at 7-4, amid the log jam at second place in the ACC, the Noles have a difficult stretch to finish the year, playing 3 of 5 games on the road. Pomeroy predicts that we will lose the next four games, albeit by a total of six points. Finishing the year 1-4 would not help us in the eye's of the tournament selection committee.
Here are the current standings in the conference:
W-L W-L Pomeroy/Rnk AdjO/Rnk AdjD/Rnk AdjT/Rnk SOS/Rnk NCSOS/Rnk
North Carolina 24-2 10-2 .9757/2 123.3/2 89.5/16 75.4/4 .7425/12 .5722/118
Duke 21-5 7-4 .9653/5 115.1/18 86.2/7 68.6/94 .7366/16 .6113/87
Clemson 21-4 7-4 .9460/13 116.5/9 90.8/30 69.1/72 .6542/60 .4140/253
Wake Forest 20-4 7-4 .9390/19 110.7/46 87.3/8 74.0/8 .6489/64 .3855/275
Florida St. 20-6 7-4 .8626/45 103.2/130 88.0/9 67.6/125 .7159/24 .5374/145
Boston College 19-8 7-5 .8260/57 114.3/23 99.8/149 67.5/135 .6564/58 .3850/276
Virginia Tech 16-9 6-5 .7862/75 109.7/57 98.0/110 66.5/179 .6707/52 .4535/229
Maryland 16-9 5-6 .7969/71 105.8/100 94.0/52 69.2/67 .6891/37 .4606/219
North Carolina St. 14-10 4-7 .8031/70 112.5/34 99.6/142 64.7/249 .6132/84 .2460/340
Miami FL 15-10 4-8 .9014/30 114.1/25 94.2/56 65.5/223 .7208/20 .4051/261
Virginia 9-13 3-8 .7164/92 104.2/120 96.2/77 68.5/101 .7408/13 .4742/207
Georgia Tech 10-15 1-11 .6678/99 97.3/231 91.5/36 71.7/24 .6545/59 .3691/286
Don't hold your breath folks...it's going to be an exciting finish in the conference. UNC seems to have the top spot all but locked up, with only Maryland, GTech, VTech and Duke left. They should win at least 3 of those four games. Duke finishes with Wake, Maryland, VTech, FSU and UNC...ouch. Clemson has GTech, VTech, FSU, UVA and Wake left, which is a deceptively diffcult schedule as GTech and UVA are playing better as the season has gone on despite their awful stats. Wake has Duke, NCSt, UVA, Maryland and Clemson left. As I have said before, anyone can win on any night in this conference.
Virginia Tech is coming off a two game losing streak to Maryland and Virginia, losing by 10 and 14 respectively. They currently sit at 6-5 in the conference and 75th overall in the Pomeroy ratings. We have finally cracked the top 50 and have one of the top 10 defenses in the country. Has a nice ring to it doesn't it?
Here are the numbers on VTech:
Raw Efficiency : 105.7 ( 98) 100.9 (172)
Adj Efficiency : 109.7 ( 57) 98.0 (110)
Effective FG% : 49.3 (159) 46.9 ( 83)
Turnover Pct. : 19.2 ( 88) 18.6 (281)
Off. Rebound% : 35.6 ( 80) 31.7 (125)
Free Throw Rate: 42.4 ( 37) 32.9 ( 93)
3-Point FG% : 33.4 (197) 32.5 ( 82)
2-Point FG% : 48.9 (131) 45.9 ( 91)
Free Throw Pct.: 70.9 ( 97) 71.8 (309)
Block Pct. : 8.5 (153) 12.5 ( 35)
Steal Pct. : 8.7 ( 67) 9.5 (199)
3PA/FGA : 31.1 (212) 34.6 (237)
A/FGM : 52.8 (208) 55.9 (219)
They play a low tempo game and they protect the ball well. However, their defense lags behind their offensive skill, but not by much. As you can see, they don't force turnovers and they allow you to get to the line. This is a very similar pattern to Miami. The Hurricanes sat in a zone and forced us to shoot them out of the game...and we did. We had our lowest TO of the year against them. The Hokies do a slightly better job of generating turnovers than the Hurricanes, but not by much.
To understand VTech, there are three things with which you have to be familiar...or should I say three player: A.D Vassallo, Malcom Delaney and Jeff Allen. VTech goes however they go. They rarely come out of the game and all three are excellent basketball players with ORtgs over 100 and two of them with ORtg over 110. Having three players of this caliber leads to a "Four Factors" Season Chart that looks like this:
Consistent. There haven't been any significant changes for VTech during the season after starting conference play. We saw the other night that Duke has seen some subtle but significant changes. To me, this means that VTech plays their style of basketball no matter who their opponent is; they don't get bulleyed into playing out of their comfort zone. Sound familiar? That's what we do. That is what Miami did...and we won that one.
Throughout the season, Vassallo, Delaney and Allen have all averaged over 10 points per game. Try to shut down one and the other one's step in.
It's almost as if no one else on the team plays. Two of their starters are listed as "Limited Roles" in the Pomeroy stats. I haven't had the opportunity to see any VTech games this year, so I can't comment much on each of their individual style of play. But, here is the Miami-VTech game point by point in only 8 minutes...it should give you some sense of their style of play. Physical, Athletic play. Miami plays mostly zone defense so they tried to attack the middle as much as possible. Our size will give them trouble if they continue to do that. A lot of their offensive sets start in a base deep 2-3 look. Their defense fluctuates between a man and a match up zone. They bring a lot of pressure from the weak side. We need to be patient to move the ball and not force unnecessary shots. (This is only my quick analysis of the Miami game...so this may not be representative of the entire season. )
In my season preview, I wrote this about VTech:
VTech is a well balanced team who plays hard for 40 minutes on both ends of the floor. They are an experienced team, with only 1 Freshman. They have 83% of returning minutes back on the floor this year. Their only loss was Deron Washington who was able to soar above the rim and Greg Paulus. This year, A.D Vassallo 6'6 Sr has decided to take control of this team. He is leading the team in minutes, possessions, shots, eFG% and assists. This is what you expect from Senior leadership...see Toney Douglas. If Vassallo could decrease his turnover rate, he would be a more effective offensive player. This is a team that relies on tough defense and forcing you to throw up difficult shots. They don't generate a lot of steals and we have discussed this previously. Can the Hokies defense continue to play tough in conference play? Absolutely. Can they generate enough offense to make it to the NCAA tournament...its not clear. If Malcolm Delaney 6'3 So can continue to develop his offensive game, the Hokies might end up higher than 10th in the conference. They may surprise us and end up in the middle tier with a shot at the big dance.
Well, Delaney decided to up his game and to decrease his turnover rate:
This is a busy chart, but you can click on the check mark next to each player's name to remove stat lines, cleans it up nicely and allows to you see any comparison you like. The one major thing going for us is that we are, once again, significantly bigger than VTech. They are 201st in the country in effective height and 62nd overall in average height. However, this doesn't seem to trouble VTech as they have defeated Wake Forest, which is one of the bigger teams in the country. However, that was during Wake's funk, which appears to be over. VTech is also a very young team, like ourselves. They only have two seniors on the team, one of which rarely plays. In a couple of years, this will be a very very strong, experienced team.
Again for completeness sake here are our numbers:
Raw Efficiency : 99.5 (201) 92.5 ( 22)
Adj Efficiency : 103.2 (130) 88.0 ( 9)
Effective FG% : 48.3 (198) 43.9 ( 17)
Turnover Pct. : 22.8 (283) 23.3 ( 43)
Off. Rebound% : 35.4 ( 85) 35.4 (272)
Free Throw Rate: 42.9 ( 35) 36.2 (171)
3-Point FG% : 32.4 (242) 31.1 ( 34)
2-Point FG% : 48.1 (171) 42.4 ( 19)
Free Throw Pct.: 71.7 ( 76) 67.8 (118)
Block Pct. : 7.3 ( 70) 16.1 ( 8)
Steal Pct. : 10.2 (206) 13.0 ( 15)
3PA/FGA : 33.8 (146) 35.0 (245)
A/FGM : 52.9 (203) 45.6 ( 13)
The turnovers are slowly improving. I was really impressed by our lack of turnovers against Miami. Previously in the season, we would turn the ball over no matter what type of team we played, meaning one that generated turnovers or not. Our team is finally "clicking." You would think this would result in a significant difference in points or efficiency...not much has changed in either. Granted this chart looks at averages rather than absolutes and we dug ourselves in a huge hole early in the season with turnovers.
Two final things to notice about the chart: We score about 1 point per possession and our opponents are scoring less than 1 point per possession. That generally translates to wins and a low opponent offensive efficiency.
Here are the line ups from Seminoles.com:
PROBABLE STARTERS FOR FLORIDA STATE
F #31 Chris Singleton (8.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg; First career game against Virginia Tech)
F #41 Uche Echefu (8.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg; 5 pts and 7 rebs vs. Virginia Tech, Jan. 29, 2008)
C #32 Solomon Alabi (8.0 ppg, 2.0 bpg; First career game against Virginia Tech)
G #22 Derwin Kitchen (7.3 ppg, 2.2 apg; First career game against Virginia Tech)
G #23 Toney Douglas (20.5 ppg, 2.0 spg; 22 pts and 2 steals vs. Virginia Tech, Jan. 17, 2007)
PROBABLE STARTERS FOR VIRGINIA TECH
F #0 Jeff Allen (14.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg; 7 pts and 5 rebs vs. Florida State, Jan. 29, 2008)
F #40 A.D. Vassallo (18.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg; 22 pts and 4 rebs vs. Florida State, Jan. 29, 2008)
F #34 Cheick Diakte (4.0 ppg, 1.3 bpg; 2 pts and 0 blkd shots against Florida State, Jan. 29, 2008)
G #5 Dorenzo Hudson (3.8 ppg, 1.2 apg; 0 pts and 0 rebs vs. Florida State, Jan. 29, 2008)
G #23 Malcolm Delaney (18.3 ppg, 3.7 apg; 13 pts and 3 asts vs. Florida State, Jan. 29, 2008)
Vassallo went for 22 against us last year....If he does that again, lets hope his supporting crowd doesn't do the same and we keep them to quiet evenings. Once again, the big men need to control the boards and Alabi and Echefu need to control the tempo of this game.
This is a tough game to predict and I feel like I haven't broken down VTech very well...but nothing jumps out except for those three players. Has anyone else seen them play this year? Any thoughts?
This is a must win game and I think we steal one in Blacksburg.