2006-07 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Iowa

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Virginia Tech will host a game in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge for the first
time in school history when the Iowa Hawkeyes come calling on Wednesday night at
7 pm. The Hokies have a bad taste in their mouth from last weeks’ Old Spice
Classic and should be looking to come back with a big win at home against a
struggling Iowa squad.

Iowa won the Big Ten tournament last year but lost some experienced players,
and they haven’t come out of the game strong in 2006-07. After opening the
season with a 75-53 win over The Citadel and a 78-65 victory over Toledo, the
Hawkeyes have dropped three consecutive games and have appeared to be
offensively challenged in those games.

The first loss came in the Paradise Jam against Alabama. The Crimson Tide
knocked off Iowa 72-60. In their next game against Villanova, which lost a lot
of talent off last year’s top 10 team, the Hawkeyes were crushed 89-60. They
followed those losses with another defeat at the hands of Arizona State 67-64.

Here is a look at Iowa’s starting lineup:

Iowa Starting Lineup




Points Rebounds
Tony Freeman




7.0 ppg 3.8 ppg
Adam Haluska




17.0 ppg 4.4 rpg
Tyler Smith




14.6 ppg 3.8 rpg
Kurt Looby




7.2 ppg 6.8 rpg
Seth Gorney




6.8 ppg 2.6 rpg

Iowa does have some size down low, but like the Hokies, they don’t get much
production. 7-0 center Seth Gorney, who plays 20.4 minutes per game, averages
6.8 points, but just 2.6 rebounds. Rangy power forward Kurty Looby scores 7.2
points per game and leads the team with 6.8 rebounds.

In fact, Iowa may be the Big Ten’s spitting image of Virginia Tech, with
the exception of experience. The Hawkeyes have just one senior on their roster.
They have solid depth at the guard and wing positions, and they get nearly all
their scoring from the backcourt and small forward.

Senior guard Adam Haluska leads Iowa in scoring, averaging 17 points per
game. Haluska has started every single game of his college career, including his
freshman season when he played for Iowa State. His scoring is up this year, but
the rest of his numbers are down. He is shooting just 33.8% from the field,
including 28.9% from three-point range. He has taken 45 three-pointers this
season, an average of nine per game. Haluska could be trying to do too much to
carry his younger teammates.

Freshman forward Tyler Smith is having a great season so far and appears to
be the future of the Iowa basketball program. Smith is second on the team in
scoring, averaging 14.6 points per game. He is shooting 52.6% from the field. At
6-7, 210, Smith is a combo forward, meaning he can play in the paint or on the

The Hokies have a couple of advantages in this game. Number one, the Iowa
offense has been poor against the more talented teams they have played this
year, and they will probably struggle to get a lot of points on the road against
the Hokies.

Perhaps more importantly, despite their size, Iowa hasn’t been a very good
rebounding team this year. Overall, they sport a +1.8 rebounding margin, but
they were outrebounded 39-31, 32-26, and 30-25 in their three losses. Their
frontcourt is tall, but they aren’t very athletic or physical.

Now let’s compare the shooting for both teams. Iowa is shooting 43.5% on
the year, while the Hokies check in at an even 49%. From three-point range, Iowa
is 32.4%, while Virginia Tech is a very solid 37%. The Hawkeyes do have a big
advantage at the free throw line, shooting 76.5% to the Hokies’ 60.9%.

Virginia Tech also has a big advantage in assist-to-turnover ratio. The
Hokies have 83 assists and 62 turnovers. Iowa, on the other hand, has more
turnovers (79) than assists (78). Those kind of numbers should play right into
the hands of Jamon Gordon and Zabian Dowdell.

With their struggling offense, Iowa will try to keep the game low scoring.
They will change defensive sets throughout the game, so the Hokies will have to
be on their toes and know how to attack each type of defense that is thrown at

Virginia Tech is capable of playing much better than they showed in Orlando.
Even without much of a contribution from Coleman Collins (7.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg),
they could have played better. The Hokies are a better team at home obviously,
and I think they’ll get back on track and play pretty well tonight. VT by high
single digits.

B-Street’s View

The Iowa Hawkeyes are something of an isomer (a mirror image) of our own
Hokie hoops team right now. Iowa is a basketball team with better talent than
their overall record (2-3) would suggest, a backcourt heavy team, even though
the Hawkeyes do possess some real skyscrapers up front (7′ center Seth Gorney,
and 6’10” power forward Kurt Looby, who is in only his 4th year of
organized basketball). Reads a bit like a certain orange and Chicago-maroon ACC
team, does it not?

However, despite such mammoth frontline size, the Hawkeyes have been
out-rebounded by precisely seven boards in all three of their L’s this year
and have been out-shot by an average of 9.33% from the field in those three L’s.
Former Indiana star, and brief NBA player Steve Alford is a fine head coach.
Iowa Hawkeye Adam Haluska will remind you of a very impoverished man’s Larry
Bird at the point-forward, or traditional 3 spot.

I view Iowa as a NIT quality team, and this is not an easy game, not even at
home. Steve Alford will mix his defenses; he is a wizard at doing such, and this
will give us a hard way to go. I had this game penciled in as a VT win, but our
lackluster Old Spice effort has changed all of that, though I do like the
insertion of Diakite into our starting line-up. Either way, this one is gonna be
very close.

VT 69 Iowa 67.

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