2006-07 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. George Washington

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The
Virginia Tech men’s basketball team continues their tougher-than-usual out of
conference schedule on Sunday when they take on the George Washington Colonials
in the BB&T Classic at 4 pm in the Verizon Center. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsSouth.

George Washington was an NCAA tournament team last season, losing to Duke in
the second round. They are well-coached by Karl Hobbs, and they are used to
winning games. They won’t be intimidated because the Hokies enter the Verizon
Center with “ACC” on their uniforms.

The Colonials are 4-1 on the season, a solid start after losing four starters
off last year’s outstanding team. They have four wins over Boston University,
Dartmouth, Longwood and Kennesaw State. In their first game against real
competition, the Colonials were defeated 86-67 by Providence.

Let’s take a look at GW’s starting lineup:

George
Washington Starting Lineup
Pos Name Ht Wt Year Pts Rebs

G

Carl Elliot

6-4
220
Sr.
15.6 4.2

G

Maureece Rice

6-1
215
Jr.
14.2 3.6

F

Rob Diggs

6-8
187
So.
12.6 6

F

Regis Koundjia

6-8
218
Sr.
11 5.6

F

Dokun Akingbade

6-9
200
r-Sr.
7 6.6

The Colonials have a very strong backcourt in Carl Elliot and Maureece Rice.
Elliot is the lone returning starter from last year’s NCAA tournament team.
The leader of this Colonials team, Elliot is a big point guard, and he is one of
the Atlantic 10’s top defenders. He is physical, and he will probably be
checked by Jamon Gordon, Virginia Tech’s most physical and best defensive
guard.

Elliot knows how to play the game. He can use his size to get to the basket.
He has shot 28 free throws this year, more than any other player on the team. He
has missed just one shot from the charity stripe for an outstanding 96.4%.

Maureece Rice averaged 12.6 points per game off the bench last season, on his
way to being named Atlantic 10 Sixth Man of the Year. He was the team’s
second-leading scorer a season ago, and in reality he should probably also be
considered a returning starter, though technically he wasn’t in the starting
lineup.

Rice has the ability to light it up from the outside. He is 11-of-18 from
three-point range last season, good for 61.1%.

The Colonials don’t have a lot of weight in the frontcourt, but their
players are long and rangy. Rob Diggs is the best scoring forward, averaging
12.6 points per game. He also has 12 blocks in just five games. Dokun Akingbade
is a former walk-on who provides a nice rebounding presence for George
Washington on the inside.

Only two players play significant minutes off the bench for George
Washington. Freshman guard Travis King is playing 22 minutes per game and
averaging 6.6 points. He is shooting 70% (7-of-10) from three-point range.
Sophomore guard Noel Wilmore plays 17.4 minutes and averages 6.2 points.
Freshman wing Damian Hollis plays seven minutes per game in a limited role.

Overall, the Colonials have just eight players who have played in all five
games, with one of those players getting just seven minutes per game. Three of
their starters average over 30 minutes per game. If Virginia Tech can get some
consistent performances from their bench players, this could be a game they
could win late.

Like the Hokies, George Washington isn’t a very good rebounding team. They
are -1.4 in rebounding margin. They also don’t do a great job of protecting
the ball with 70 assists and 68 turnovers. Point guard Carl Elliot has 21
assists and 23 turnovers, a bad ratio for a senior point.

The Colonials make up for those deficiencies by shooting the ball well. Their
field goal percentage is 45.8%, nothing too special, but they shoot 43.8% from
three-point range. They are also a good free throw shooting team with a
percentage of 78.1% from the line. That’s almost 20% better than Virginia Tech’s
mark, so watch for free throws to possibly be a factor.

This would be a big win for the Hokies. George Washington represents one of
the top programs in the Atlantic 10 and one of the most respected mid-majors in
the nation. They are very athletic throughout their starting lineup, and the
Hokies will have to play well to win the game. If Tech wins, they will get a
nice boost in the RPI, since this game counts as a road game.

B-Street’s View

The George Washington Colonials have been a very solid Atlantic 10 hoops
program of late, recording five 18+ win seasons in their last nine years,
including four post-season tourney appearances. But the Colonials did depart 80%
of their starters last spring, and did not look very impressive in getting beat
by perennial middle-of-the-road Big East team Providence last week by 19 points.

This year the Colonials are lead by 2-guard Maureece Rice, who is a scorer
and nothing but a scorer. It takes a pure points wizard to break Wilt
Chamberlain’s nearly 40-year high school scoring mark in Philadelphia.
Point-guard Carl Elliott (GW’s only returning starter) rounds out a very solid
Atlantic 10 backcourt.

Along the front line the Colonials start three players, all of whom check in
at 6-8 or 6-9. So I expect to see a lot of switching in the Colonials’
man-to-man defense down low, as there is no real size disadvantage to be found
on any switch. Traditionally GW loves to score, shoots rather well from the
floor and from downtown (they are 14th nationally in 3-pont% right now). GW is
average on the boards, but the Colonials are now 48th in defensive FG% allowed,
which is quite odd when you see that they are only 193rd in defending the three.

So it would appear that a lot of shots will be made from 19-9 in this one. GW
is not a gimmie, and a sleepy VT effort will get us beat. But I’ll go with the
far more experienced Hokie hoops squad in this one.

Virginia Tech 79 George Washington 70

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