2006-07 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Marshall

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The
Virginia Tech men’s basketball team is on a five game winning streak, and they
are looking to make it six when they travel to Huntington to take on the
Marshall Thundering Herd on Saturday. If the Hokies can win this game and their
home contest with Richmond on January 3, they will be 11-3 heading into the
highly-anticipated game at Duke on January 6.

To be perfectly blunt, Marshall isn’t a very good team right now. They have
losses to the following teams with an RPI of 112 or worse: Robert Morris
(73-69), Hoftstra (73-70), Missouri-Kansas City (79-75), Ohio (84-78), Princeton
(61-45) and Bowling Green (79-78). Marshall is 3-8 overall, with wins against
UNC Greensboro (82-80 in overtime), Morehead State (81-80) and Wright State
(79-72.).

This is a game the Hokies have no business losing, but as we know from past
experiences, it is also a game they are capable of losing if they don’t show up
ready to play. Here is a look at Marshall’s projected starting lineup:

Marshall
Starting Lineup
Position Name Height Weight Year Points Rebounds

G

Chris Ross

6-1
180
Sr.
7.9 3.2

G

Mark Dorris

6-2
175
Jr.
12.9 3.7

G

Travis Aikens

6-4
190
Sr.
13.6 5.2

F

Markel Humphrey

6-5
215
So.
13.6 5.9

F

Jean Francois Bro Grebe

6-9
230
r-Jr.
5.1 4.3

Marshall doesn’t bring a lot of height or bulk to the table. Let’s compare their
average height and weight with Tech’s starting lineup.

Size
Comparison
Virginia
Tech
Marshall
Name Height Weight Name Height Weight

Zabian Dowdell

6-3
200
Chris Ross

6-1
180

Jamon Gordon

6-3
215
Mark Dorris

6-2
175

Deron Washington

6-7
205
Travis Aikens

6-4
190

Lewis Witcher

6-9
220
Markel Humphrey

6-5
215

Coleman Collins

6-9
240
Jean Francois Bro Grebe

6-9
230
Average 6-6.2 216 Average 6-4.2 198

On average, the Virginia Tech starters are two inches taller than Marshall and
nearly 20 pounds heavier. The Hokies should be able to score a lot point points
in the paint, and guards Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon shouldn’t have much
trouble finishing down low against the Thundering Herd’s smaller players.

Travis Aikens and Markel Humphrey are the top players for Marshall. They both
put up very similar statistics. Both are capable of going inside or outside,
especially Humphrey, but they should be outmatched by the bigger, stronger and
more physical Hokies.

Marshall has four players in their starting lineup that are capable of
playing on the perimeter, and as a result, they will take a decent amount of
three-pointers. Unfortunately for the Thundering Herd, they aren’t very good at
making them. Four Marshall players, including backup wing Tre Whitted, have
attempted at least 45 three-pointers on the season. A fifth player has attempted
32. Mark Dorris hits 37.5% of his three-pointers, but that’s as good as it gets.
As a team, they shoot just 30.5% from the outside.

While Marshall doesn’t have anyone who shots over 37.5%, the Hokies have four
players who shoot above that mark from the outside. They are: Nigel Munson
(45.5%), Zabian Dowdell (40.8%), A.D. Vassallo (40.7%) and Jamon Gordon (38.5%).
Tech is 38.3% from three-point range as a team, fourth in the ACC.

Marshall is allowing their opponents to shoot 37.7% from the outside, which
is a pretty high number. With their size advantage on the inside, the Hokies
should be able get some open outside looks as well.

Marshall is a poor shooting team overall, not just from the outside. For the
season, the team shoots just 42.2%. Only two players have connected on more than
50% of their shots. One is starting forward/center Jean Francois Bro Grebe, and
the other is backup seven-footer Robbie Jackson, who has taken just 19 shots on
the year.

The turnover statistics don’t bode well for the Thundering Herd, either.
Marshall has turned the ball over 185 times this season, with just 156 assists.
When ball handlers like Aikens, Humphrey, Norris and Whitted all have more
turnovers than assists on the season, then something is wrong.

This game can be seen at 4 pm on Saturday on CSS. Check the local listings to
see if the game is available in your area.


Bourbonstreet’s View

The dead last team in Conference USA enters the Cassell this weekend, as the
Marshall Thundering Heard comes a holiday calling this Saturday at 4 pm. During
head coach Ron Jirusa’s three years up in Huntington WV the Herd have been
slow, slower, slowest, when it comes to getting started on the right foot to
begin a given basketball season. How slow? Try being 11 games below .500 during
the softer out of conference portion of the Herd’s opening hoops schedule
before the New Year dawns, with only 9 wins in three years over that time frame.
And other than the Memphis Tigers, Conference USA is not quite a D-1 juggernaut
of hoopology.

That typed … if there is such a thing a running a true four-guard offensive
set in hoops, Marshall surely employs such, as the Herd is lead by three ballers
all between 6-2 and 6-5 in height. The best of the bunch is small forward Markel
Humphrey, who had received a few preseason all-Conference USA sniffs from
several national college hoops publications. Humphrey is first in rebounding
(5.9/per) and second in scoring for the Herd (13.6). But when your leading
scorer (G, Travis Aikens) is only checking in at 13.7 per game, I’m not
impressed. Our Hokies enjoy substantial advantages in this game, among them are:
a 266 spot edge in scoring defense, a 201 spot edge in turnovers per game, a 169
spot edge in steals, and oddly enough … Marshall is ranked dead last in
opponents FT% allowed in all of D-1.

I’ve called 12 straight VT vs. state of WV games correctly in both hoops
and football; and I have no Triskaidekaphobia in telling you we will beat yet
another WV colligate team this Saturday afternoon.

Virginia Tech 77 Marshall 65

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