2004-05 Basketball Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Miami

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Men’s Basketball Preview: VT vs. Miami

by Stefan Adams, TechSideline.com,
2/18/05

Virginia Tech (13-10, 6-6 ACC) vs. Miami
(15-8, 6-6 ACC)

Saturday, February 19th, 2005, 7:00 pm

TV:

none

Special Preview Items:

I would not be shocked to find out the Virginia Tech men’s
basketball staff used several pens in drawing a large number of circles around
February 19 on the calendar. The University of Miami is coming to Blacksburg and
will take on the Hokies in a game with gigantic implications.

The Hokies are coming off of a 67-65 win at home against
Duke on Thursday night – you heard about that one, right? – and now stand
6-6 in the conference. Miami is coming off a 68-63 loss to Wake Forest on
Tuesday night, dropping its record to 15-8 overall and 6-6 in the ACC. The two
teams are tied with Maryland for fourth in the league, making this a critical
matchup as all three teams fight to finish in the ACC’s top five and get a bye
in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

Not to mention trying not to fall off the NCAA bubble.

Since the last two teams met on February 2nd (Tech won
73-63), the Hurricanes are 2-1 with wins over Maryland and Clemson. The Hokies
had lost three in a row before pulling off the improbable upset of Duke.

One obvious key for the Hokies against Miami will be the
play of Carlos Dixon. The forward has been inconsistent, and the team has
suffered because of his lack-luster production at times. But they have also
benefited from him stepping up, as he did in leading the Hokies with 18 points
against Duke. In his first outing against the Hurricanes, Dixon was good for 17
points on 6-of-13 shooting. If Dixon can post numbers like those on Saturday, it
will be a huge boost for the Hokies.

On Groundhog Day, sophomore Zabian Dowdell had a career
game against the Hurricanes in front of a plethora of family and friends. The
guard lit up Miami for a personal best 23 points, knocking down five three-point
shots. The Hokies also received solid minutes from freshman forward Deron
Washington; he chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds, shooting 6-of-9 from the
field.

One thing the Hokies were able to do against Miami in the
first meeting was rebound. When the clock struck zero, both teams had grabbed 32
boards. If the Hokies can hit the glass hard against the Hurricanes and stay out
of foul trouble, they could be in very good position to pick up a victory.

It has long reached the point of the season where depth
becomes a crucial factor in determining ball games. The Hokies have not been
able to get many points off of the bench, which has left the starters drained
during the final stretch of games. In the first meeting between the Hokies and
the Canes, Tech’s bench posted just four points–this number must be improved
on Saturday.

Miami’s ebb and flow is pinned on the production of
their guards. High-scoring Guillermo Diaz dropped 15 points back in the first
meeting, but only shot 6-of-18 from the field. The Hurricanes could be in big
trouble in Blacksburg if Diaz has a similar performance.

One thing Miami head coach Frank Haith tried early in the
game was feeding the ball down low. Sophomore center Anthony King started hot
for the Hurricanes, but took just five shots (making all five). It might be wise
for Haith to use King as a way to draw double-teams which result in kick-out
passes so Miami’s guards can work on the perimeter. Tech’s center Coleman
Collins should be busy early in the ball game and will have to limit King from
grabbing offensive rebounds.

The fact that the Hokies drew even with the Hurricanes on
the boards in the first meeting is a very big deal, considering Miami is one of
the best in the conference in rebounding. The Hurricanes have a knack for
getting second chance points, something the Hokies must limit in order to
compete for the whole 40 minutes and put themselves in position to win at the
end.

Diaz has been hot for the Hurricanes in his last three
games, averaging 20 points (including a 27-point performance in the overtime win
over Maryland). Tech head coach Seth Greenberg has addressed the lack of
defensive intensity, something that improved against Duke, and that is an aspect
that must be elevated on Saturday night.

One key note for the game is that Haith had surgery to
remove his appendix and will not make the trip to Blacksburg.

Here is a look at the key stats for Saturday night’s
game:

Key Stats: Miami at Virginia Tech

Stat

VT (ACC Rank)

Miami (ACC Rank)

Points Per Game

69.8 (10)

73.3 (8)

Points Against

68.7 (5)

69.8 (8)

FG%

43.4 (11)

44.0 (9)

3-pt. FG%

34.4 (7)

34.7 (6)

FT%

65.3 (10)

66.7 (8)

Rebounds

33.3 (11)

40.3 (3)

Rebounding Margin

-3.7 (11)

+4.9 (3)

Steals

9.78 (3)

7.57 (8)

Turnover Margin

+5.17 (1)

1.13 (7)


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