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  TSLMail #363- January 2, 2009    
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 Tech Sports News

A Quick Look at Hokie Hoops at the Start of ACC Play
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com

Once more into the breach ... all the attention has rightfully been on VT's Orange Bowl Champion football team, but it's time for ACC hoops to kick into gear for the Virginia Tech men's team. The Hokies open at Duke on Sunday night, and as Seth Greenberg's crew starts ACC play, here's a look at where they stand.

First, the ACC standings, arranged by overall record:

ACC Standings, as of January 1st
(RPI Rank from RealTimeRPI.com)
School ACC Record Overall Record RPI Rank
Clemson 1-0 13-0 4
North Carolina 0-0 13-0 6
Wake Forest 0-0 12-0 41
Duke 0-0 11-1 7
Boston College 0-0 12-2 40
Florida State 0-0 12-2 10
Maryland 0-0 10-2 42
NC State 0-0 9-2 157
Miami 0-1 9-3 34
Virginia Tech 0-0 9-4 62
Georgia Tech 0-1 8-4 179
Virginia 1-0 6-4 78


The ACC is the #1 RPI conference in the country, and you can see why, with three teams in the top 7 and four in the top 10. The Hokies have a solid-but-not-great RPI of 62, and that puts Tech 9th out of 12 ACC teams.

Speaking of VT's RPI rank, the Hokies have some work to do if they want to make the NCAA Tournament. VT has only one OOC game left, against Richmond (#155) on January 14th, so there is no chance to improve the RPI via OOC games.

That means Tech is going to have to climb the RPI via ACC games. The Hokies currently have a strength of schedule rank of 91, which will improve throughout February and March. Unlike last season, when the Hokies mostly dodged the ACC's top teams, playing them just once, Tech will take on most of the ACC's heavyweights twice this year. VT has home and away contests with Clemson, Duke, and FSU, all currently in the RPI top 10. Tech only gets UNC and Miami once, though.

The SOS will improve, but to make the Big Dance, Tech will have to win some of those games. Assuming a win over Richmond, VT will have to win 9 ACC games to get to 19 overall wins, and 10 to get to 20 overall wins. That's going to be a tall order.

How do the Hokies stack up statistically against the rest of the ACC? Looking at stats prior to conference play can be apples and oranges, but that won't stop us. Here's the bad news first.

VT's Bad ACC Basketball Stats
(8th or worse in 12-team ACC)
Category VT Statistic VT's ACC Rank
Scoring Offense 71.4 ppg 11th
Scoring Defense 64.3 ppg 8th
Scoring Margin +7.1 ppg 10th
FG Percentage .437 9th
3-pt Pct Defense .318 9th
Rebounds 38.5 rpg 10th
Rebounding Margin +6.0 rpg 8th
Assists 15.2 apg 8th
Steals 6.7 spg 8th
TO Margin -1.31 per game 11th


That's a lot of statistical categories in which the Hokies are being outpaced by their ACC brethren in OOC play. Admittedly, the 8th-or-worse cutoff point shapes perception here, as four of the ten categories have the Hokies 8th.

What does Tech do well? The answers will surprise you.

VT's Good ACC Basketball Stats
(5th or better in 12-team ACC)
Category VT Statistic VT's ACC Rank
FT Percentage .743 2nd
3 pt FGs made* 6.4 per game 5th
Blocked Shots 5.5 bpg 5th
* The Hokies are 6th in the ACC in 3 pt
shooting percentage, at .349.


That's it, but though it's only a few stats, they are unusual ones for the Hokies to be strong in. Tech shot 68.1% from the free throw line last season but have upped their game significantly from the stripe, now shooting 74.3%. The Hokies are led in that category by Malcolm Delaney (89.6%) and A.D. Vassallo (82.5%). In addition, Dorenzo Hudson is 9-of-10, so those three starters combine to shoot 87.7%. Jeff Allen shoots 64.9%, and J.T. Thompson, in three games since his return, is 5-of-6.

In three-point shooting, A.D. Vassallo (36-of-90, 40%) and Malcolm Delaney (27-of-73, 37.5%) are Tech's big guns. Jeff Allen actually has the best percentage, at 45% (9-of-20).

Those three guys shoot 39.3% from the field, which would put the Hokies #1 in the conference. But the team percentage gets dragged down by the ice-cold (so far) trio of Dorenzo Hudson, Hank Thorns, and Terrell Bell, who have combined for 11-of-55 (20%) shooting from three-point range. Of those three, only Hudson (7-of-26, 26.9%) shoots over 20 percent.

Going into conference play, the Hokies are a solid team that only has two strong points: free throw shooting and three-point shooting (if the right guys are taking them). Tech needs to continue to improve in all phases of the game, because the road ahead is tough, and making the NCAA Tournament is going to be difficult.

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   TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week

Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at #5 Duke

January 2, 2009
On Sunday night, we'll find out exactly how good Virginia Tech is. The Hokies travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on the Duke Blue Devils in their ACC opener on Sunday night. They'll have to play their best game of the season of they hope to walk away with a victory.
more

VT, UVa Continue to Eye Stanton
January 2, 2009
Robinson (Fairfax, VA) defensive end Jordan Stanton, a 6-4, 240-pound prospect with sub-4.6 speed in the 40, took unofficial visits to Virginia and Virginia Tech in November and December. Stanton boasts official scholarship offers from James Madison and Old Dominion, but has either of the two in-state ACC programs come through since those visits?
more

Hokies Dominate Bearcats, Win Orange Bowl 20-7
January 2, 2009
Miami, FL -- Virginia Tech topped Cincinnati 20-7 in the 75th Orange Bowl, behind 153 yards rushing from Darren Evans and four interceptions by the Hokie defense. Tech gave up an early touchdown, then locked down on the Bearcats, and VT had one of their strongest offensive efforts of the season to score 20 unanswered points and notch the win. It is Tech's first BCS Bowl win since the 1995 Sugar Bowl and brings the Hokies their fifth ten-win season in a row, a feat matched by just USC and Texas.
more

Keys to the Game, Matchups to Watch, and Game Prediction: The Orange Bowl
December 31, 2008
Virginia Tech returns to the Orange Bowl as an underdog to the Big East champion Cincinnati Bearcats. The Hokies have a more serious, business-like attitude going into this game with the reputation of the program and the ACC conference at stake. While this game may not have the marquee appeal of the other BCS bowl games, the Orange Bowl may well be the most competitive match up of the major bowl games. So, what should we expect in this year's bowl game?
more

There's Lots to Play for in the Orange Bowl
December 31, 2008
This isn't exactly the most hyped-up Orange Bowl ever. Hardly anyone I know is going, the matchup isn't sexy for the TV guys, and ESPN seems to think the only BCS game being played is the Rose Bowl. Nonetheless, it's important. Here are six reasons why it's important, in no particular order.
more

Top Programs Vie for McKie
December 31, 2008
John Marshall (Richmond, VA) junior forward Travis McKie flirted with the idea of making a college decision prior to the 2008/2009 season. The 6-6, 190-pound prospect is considering seven schools - Clemson, Florida (no offer), North Carolina (no offer), Virginia, VCU, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest - and now seems content to wait before making a pledge to one of them.
more

McCray Headed to Army Junior Combine
December 30, 2008
Brookville (Lynchburg, VA) defensive end/tight end Zack McCray turned in an outstanding junior season, totaling 20 sacks en route to earning first-team all-district, first-team all-region and first-team all-state honors for his play on the defensive side of the ball. The 6-5, 235-pound McCray, one of the top 2010 class recruits in the state of Virginia, now prepares to showcase his talents on a national level at the Army All-American Junior Combine.
more

Hokies Beat Charleston Southern 75-66
December 29, 2008
Virginia Tech got a test from a game Charleston Southern team, but managed to pull out a 75-66 victory in the North Charleston Coliseum on Monday night. The win moves the Hokies to 9-4 on the year, as they head into Sunday's ACC opener at Duke.
more

Football Game Preview: The FedEx Orange Bowl
December 29, 2008
The Hokies are back in South Florida for the second year in a row, and this time they are trying to get it right. #19 Virginia Tech will take on #12 Cincinnati on January 1 in the FedEx Orange Bowl. If the Hokies win, it will mean another 10-win season and a possible preseason Top 10 in 2009. If they lose, it will be the fourth bowl loss in the last five years, and another offseason of grumbling from the Hokie faithful.
more

Worilds, Warren Officially Out for Orange Bowl
December 29, 2008
Linebacker Brett Warren and defensive end Jason Worilds, both of whom have been questionable for Thursday's Orange Bowl, are officially out for the game and will not play. Warren is suffering from a knee he first injured in the Miami game, and for Worilds, a season-long shoulder problem has finally caught up with him.
more

Basketball Game Preview: Charleston Southern
December 29, 2008
After taking Christmas week off, Virginia Tech will take on Charleston Southern on the road on Monday night in their final test before ACC play begins. The Buccaneers may not seem like a team the Hokies should lose to, but this is a classic trap game, with Duke up next on the schedule.
more

Gregory Appears Set for VT
December 29, 2008
Tony Gregory appears headed to Blacksburg next month. The 6-0, 190-pound running back prospect, a 2008 class signee who spent this past fall at Fork Union Military Academy, has submitted all necessary paperwork to Virginia Tech and the NCAA and expects to enroll at Tech on January 12th.
more

VT Scores Important Commitment
December 28, 2008
Back in February, Virginia Tech became the first Division 1A program to extend an official scholarship offer to Deep Run (Glen Allen, VA) athlete Antone Exum. Ten months later, the 6-0, 210-pound senior rewarded Tech's decision, pledging his commitment to head coach Frank Beamer and company.
more
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