2006-07 Basketball Game Preview: Coppin State

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Editorial Note: TSL will provide basketball roster cards this season, but
only for in-conference matchups. There may be a few exceptions to that, but we do not plan to
provide roster cards for out of conference games.

Virginia
Tech will begin its 2006-07 basketball season on Friday night at 7:30 when they
host visiting Coppin State in Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies have high hopes for
the upcoming season, but if they want to reach their goal of an NCAA tournament
berth, they’ll need to fare well out of conference, and that begins on Friday
night.

This appears to be a very good matchup for Virginia Tech. Coppin State doesn’t
shy away from out of conference challenges. Last year the Eagles went 0-12 in
out of conference play, before finishing 12-6 in MEAC play. They managed to
finish in second place in the MEAC despite the poor start to the season.

Coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell has decided to play another tough schedule this
year. The Eagles will face Virginia Tech, UConn, Alabama, Okahoma, Kansas State,
Missouri, Hawaii, Tennessee and Ohio State on the road. They are a battle-tested
team, but they just don’t have the talent to compete with squads from
conferences like the ACC, Big East and SEC.

Coach Mitchell is aggressive in his scheduling, and he is also aggressive on
the basketball court. The Eagles will play a lot of tight, full court defense.
Virginia Tech has the guard play to counter that strategy, as Jamon Gordon and
Zabian Dowdell have faced a lot of full court defenses in their time in
Blacksburg.

Mitchell has a career record of 330-261 in 20 years as Coppin State’s head
coach. He has done a very good job at the small MEAC school in Baltimore. He
generally finds ways to get the best of his players.

Like many teams from the smaller conferences, Coppin State doesn’t have a
lot of size. They have no player taller than 6-7 on their team, so Coleman
Collins and Robert Krabbendam should be able to have good games on the inside
for the Hokies.

The strength of “Fang” Mitchell’s team lies in the backcourt, where 6-2
junior guard Tywain McKee is the top player. McKee averaged a team-high 15.4
points per game last season. Some analysts see him as the best player in the
MEAC, and he will try to carry the team on his shoulders in 2006-07.

McKee is the backbone of the backcourt, which is the strength of the Coppin
State team. Joining McKee at guard is 5-9 Darryl Roberts, who averaged 10.5
points and 2.5 assists last season. With his lack of height, he doesn’t match
up well with Tech’s physical guards, especially Jamon Gordon. 6-2 Talmadge
Ball also starts at guard, and he averaged 6.8 points per game last season.

The fourth starter is 6-3 guard/forward Antwan Harrison, who averaged four
points per game last year. With four guards in the lineup, this is one team the
Hokies should be able to outrebound.

At this point it is unclear who will start for Coppin State on the inside.
6-7 Robert Pressey, 6-6 Julian Conyers and 6-7 Ethan Kennedy will all compete
for playing time on the inside. They will be asked to rebound and play defense.
The majority of the points scored by Coppin State this year will be recorded by
their backcourt.

Finally, here is a chart that shows some key Coppin State statistics from a
year ago, and their national rank in each category.

Key Coppin State Stats (2005-06 Season)
Category Number NCAA Rank
Scoring Offense 64 ppg 270
Scoring Defense 68.8 ppg 174
Field Goal % 40% 310
Field Goal Defense 46% 279
Rebounding Martin -7.8 323
Turnovers 13 per game 55
Steals 8 per game 71

As you can see, Coppin State plays the turnover game very much like the Hokies.
They have good guards who can handle the ball, and they can create some
turnovers. That said, they don’t have the size, talent or depth to threaten
the Hokies on Friday night.

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