2004-05 Basketball Preview: Virginia Tech vs. #7 Duke

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Men’s Basketball Preview: VT vs. #7 Duke

by Chris James, TechSideline.com,
2/17/05

Virginia Tech (12-10, 5-6 ACC) vs. #7 Duke (18-3,
8-3 ACC)

Thursday, February 17th, 2005, 9:00 pm

TV:

ESPN2

Special Preview Items:

Losers of four of their last five, the Virginia Tech
Hokies (12-10, 5-6) return to Cassell Coliseum on Thursday night to take on the
7th ranked Duke Blue Devils (18-3, 8-3). This is the second meeting this season
between the two schools. The first meeting saw Duke beat the Hokies 100-65 in
Cameron Indoor Stadium in a game where Duke hit more free throws (30) than Tech
did field goals (24).

While there have been some big games in Cassell Coliseum
this year, such as UNC, Wake Forest and Virginia, this is the game that most
Hokie fans have marked on their calendars. The Hokies were introduced to what
many perceive as home-cooking officials in their trip to Cameron. Virginia Tech
was called for 34 fouls in the game, and Duke had 49 free throw attempts.
Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with the Hokie Nation, and as a result
Cassell Coliseum is going to be very loud and very crazy for at least as long as
the Hokies manage to stay in the game.

Duke is led by All-American J.J. Redick, who is regarded
as the best pure shooter in college basketball. He is leading the ACC in
scoring, averaging 22.5 points per game. He has hit more three-pointers this
season than any other ACC player, with 80 on the year thus far. He shoots 41.7%
from downtown.

Redick isn’t Duke’s only weapon. In fact, he is only
part of Coach K’s triumvirate of All-ACC players. Guard Daniel Ewing and
forward/center Shelden Williams are both big time players in their own right.
Williams dominated Tech in the first meeting this year, scoring 25 points and
grabbing 17 rebounds, including 5 offensive rebounds. Coleman Collins must stay
out of foul trouble if the Hokies want any chance to limit Williams’
opportunities down low. For the season, Williams averages 16.3 points per game
and 11.9 rebounds per game. Ewing is a dangerous player who ranks 10th in the
ACC in scoring, 6th in steals and 9th in assists. He is also 13th in the
conference in 3-point shooting percentage and he averages 15.9 points per game.

Statistically, the Hokies don’t match up very well with
Duke, but who does? The Blue Devils do just about everything well. They score
(82.4 ppg), they defend (opponents score 65.8 ppg), and they shoot well (46.1%).

Key stats, Duke at VT

Stat

VT
(ACC Rank)

Duke
(ACC Rank)

Points Per Game

69.9 (10)

82.4 (4)

Points Against

68.9 (6)

65.8 (2)

FG%

43.7% (10)

46.1% (5)

3-pt. FG%

34.3% (7)

39.0% (3)

FT%

64.8% (10)

72.6% (2)

Rebounds

32.6 (11)

38.7 (6)

Rebounding Margin

-4.7 (11)

2.5 (7)

Steals

10.09 (3)

9.62 (4)

Turnover Margin

+5.68 (1)

‘+2.95 (2)

Offensively, Duke has everything a team needs to be
successful. They have a great 3-point shooter (Redick), a guard who can drive to
the basket (Ewing) and a big man down low (Williams) who will get a
double-double just about every night. Tech is going to have to play very
disciplined basketball to keep up with Duke. There can be no mental breakdowns
and the Hokies must play hard for 40 minutes.

A few things must happen for the Hokies to have a chance
in this one:

  • Be efficient offensively. Don’t miss easy shots. Tech
    must play offense like they did in the second half against Maryland, when
    they shot over 60%. They must take advantage of everything that Duke gives
    them.

  • Limit Shelden Williams’ second chance opportunities. He
    will get his points, but the Hokies have to box him out when Duke misses.
    Coleman Collins’ play will be critical in this area. After playing only
    two minutes in the first half in the first meeting with Duke, Collins held
    Williams to 4 points and 6 rebounds in the 2nd half.

  • Play with composure. Tech doesn’t have to play
    perfect. No team in the history of sports has played a perfect game. There
    will always be mistakes. The Hokies must keep their cool if Duke threatens
    to take over.

  • Get lucky. Every loose ball, every whistle, and every
    bounce must go the Hokies’ way in this one.

Tip off in this contest is scheduled for 9 pm. The game
will be televised by ESPN2, with Mike Patrick and Len Elmore serving as
commentators.

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