2006-07 Basketball Game Preview: #23 Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

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#23 Virginia Tech (15-5, 5-1 ACC) at Georgia Tech (13-6, 2-4)

Sunday, January 28, 2007, 3:30 p.m.

TV: FSN (check local listings)


Special Preview Items:

A road game against a talented team that is desperate for a win. That will be
the situation for the #23 Hokies when they travel to Atlanta to take on the
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Sunday afternoon. Virginia Tech is 2-1 against Georgia Tech since
joining the ACC, including a 70-69 win in Alexander Memorial Coliseum two years
ago. But can
they repeat that feat this weekend?

Georgia Tech is coming off two tough losses on the road to UNC and Maryland.
They didn’t compete well in either game, falling 77-61 to UNC and 80-65 in
College Park. In fact, the Yellow Jackets are so poor on the road that they’ve
lost 16 straight games on opponents’ home floors.

Unfortunately for the Hokies, they aren’t hosting Georgia Tech. They have to
travel to Alexander Memorial Coliseum, where Georgia Tech is 11-0 this season.
Their most recent home games saw them knock off Duke 74-63 and Florida State
88-80. But with two losses in a row, the Yellow Jackets are in a near must-win
situation if they want to keep their slowly fading NCAA tournament hopes alive.
The Hokies will get Georgia Tech’s best shot on Sunday.


Georgia Tech Starting Lineup

Pos

Name

Ht

Wt

Year

Pts

Rebs

G

Javaris Crittenton

6-5

198

Fr.

13.4

3.5

F

Thaddeus Young

6-8

217

Fr.

14.9

5.1

F

Mouhammad Faye

6-10

208

r-Fr.

4.6

3.5

F

Jeremis Smith

6-8

236

Jr.

8.7

5.6

C

Ra’Sean Dickey

6-10

250

Jr.

8.9

5.9

Three-guard and even four-guard lineups can be seen throughout college
basketball but this is a truly unique starting lineup for Georgia Tech. This is
by far the tallest and lengthiest starting lineup Virginia Tech will see this
season. It is also one of the youngest.

Javaris Crittenton was one of the top point guard recruits heading into the
season, and he has not disappointed. He is Georgia Tech’s second leading scorer,
and he has dished out 106 assists on the year. He will develop into one of the
top point guards in the ACC, and he is a good player now. However, like most
freshmen, he will turn the ball over. He has 72 turnovers on the season, and in
ACC play he barely has a positive assist/turnover ratio (25 assists, 24
turnovers).

Fellow blue chip recruit Thaddeus Young also has a spot in the starting
lineup, and he is leading the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game. Young
has the game of a wing, but he is big enough and strong enough to present a
physical mismatch at whatever position he plays. He is shooting over 50% for the
season, including 41.4% from three-point range.

Georgia Tech has two very capable inside players, although they aren’t
putting up the numbers that they did a season ago. Jeremis Smith plays the power
forward position, and his nine double-doubles in 2005-06 was the second most in
the conference. But his numbers have dropped this year, and they’ve dropped even
further in ACC play (6.3 points, 4.2 rebounds). Smith is a bruiser, and the
Hokies need to keep him off the glass.

His partner on the inside is center Ra’Sean Dickey. Like Smith, Dickey was
also having a down year. But since ACC play began, he has picked it up. He is
averaging 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds since ACC play began.

Georgia Tech’s best player off the bench is wing Anthony Morrow. Morrow was
an honorable mention All-ACC player last year, and he was the only player for
Georgia Tech to start every game. He averaged 16 points per game and led the ACC
in three-point percentage (42.3%). This year, Morrow hasn’t started a single
game. He is averaging just over 17 minutes off the bench, and his scoring
average has dropped to 8.8 points per game.

Morrow is still a very dangerous player. He can spot up from the outside and
nail the three, hitting at a 40.2% clip from the outside this season. Morrow is
Georgia Tech’s version of A.D. Vassallo coming off the bench.

Georgia Tech got a tough break early in the season when shooting guard Lewis
Clinch was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules, and he has not
played a game since the Winston-Salem State game on January 3rd. He was averaging 13.2 points
per game and was shooting 47.6% from three-point range. After Clinch, a 6-3
guard, was suspended, Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt made the decision to go
with a bigger lineup.

The Yellow Jackets are a good team. Let’s see how they rank in the ACC in our
usual key categories. These statistics are for ACC games only.


Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech (ACC games only)


Category


Georgia Tech


Virginia Tech


Stat


ACC Rank


Stat


ACC Rank

FG %

50.0%

2

47.5%

4

FG % Defense

47.2%

9

44.0%

5

3-Pt. %

34.3%

8

40.9%

2

3-Pt. % Defense

37.0%

7

30.8%

3

FT %

69.4%

8

70.6%

7

Rebounding Margin

+0.5

5

-3.8

10

Turnover Margin

-4.00

12

+3.33

2

Assist/TO Ratio

0.67

11

1.14

1

Scoring Offense

74

8

76.3

4

Scoring Defense

77.5

10

74.3

6


Average


8


4.4

That’s not very impressive for Georgia Tech. They only rank in the top
half of the ACC in two of the 10 categories. With such a big starting lineup,
they should arguably be higher in rebounding margin as well.

Their stats in two home ACC games, both wins, tell a different story.


Georgia Tech Home
ACC Games (2-0)

Category

Stat

FG %

55.2%

FG % Defense

46.9%

3-Pt. %

51.5%

3-Pt. % Defense

33.3%

FT %

77.8%

Rebounding Margin

+3.5

Turnover Margin

-5.0

Assist/TO Ratio

0.75

Scoring Offense

81

Scoring Defense

71.5

Georgia Tech shoots better, rebounds better and plays better defense at home.
Their free throw percentage is also much higher. However, they still struggle
with turnovers.

Virginia Tech is 2-1 in their last three games, and they have not won the
turnover margin battle in any of those three games. To beat Georgia Tech on the
road, that has to change. The Yellow Jackets shoot the ball extremely well.
Smith and Dickey are nearly automatic on the inside, both shooting over well
over 60% for the season. Once Georgia Tech gets the ball inside, they are nearly
impossible to stop.

The Hokies need to deny the basketball to the inside, exactly what they did
to Tyler Hansbrough when they beat then-#1 UNC. Make Georgia Tech try to force
tough passes, as the Yellow Jackets are dead last in the ACC in turnover margin,
and next-to-last in assist/turnover ratio.

Turnover margin will likely be more critical in this game than any other
Virginia Tech game. If the Hokies can get a big advantage, they can come out of
Atlanta with a win, but it’s going to be very tough against a team that has
played great at home.

Bourbonstreet’s View

Our 29th RPI ranked Virginia Tech Hokies travel to the land of Phil
Donahue’s hair to play Coach Bobby Cremins’ old team, the 36th RPI ranked
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets down in the ATL. By all accounting, the Rambling
Wreck is a perfect hoops team; they are a perfectly good at home, winning 12
straight in their own building, but a perfectly bad 0 for their last 16 road
games when visiting. All things being equal, that’s usually a sign of a pretty
talented squad which lacks the mental maturity to dig in their heels and play
lockdown defense on the road. In other words, a team that is only able to play
one end of the court at a time, and that end tends to be offensive in nature.

The top of Georgia Tech’s roster resembles that remark, as the Yellow Jackets’
three leading scorers are all underclassmen (one sophomore, two freshmen). The
Rambling Wreck can indeed score, checking in at 12th in the nation in points
(which makes the Yellow Jackets the second highest scoring team the Hokies will play all
year) and 6th in national in field goal percentage. But Georgia Tech’s
defensive production drops to 158th best … clearly, if you are 12th in scoring
you have some very solid talent, but when you fall 146 spots in scoring defense,
you have not figured it out. This is also an indication that with a little
seasoning Georgia Tech will be a very tough ACC hoops team in 2008 and 2009, but
you want to hear about 2007.

Can the Hokies beat a perfect-at-home Georgia Tech while wearing their visiting
Chicago Maroon gear? “Yes.” I answer in the affirmative because VT holds the
Greenberg-ball recipe for success in the form of a 251 spot edge in turnovers.
As an up-tempo hoopster myself, you won’t normally see me typing this … but I
say try to amplify that turnover edge by taking some air out of the ball and
slowing the game down when our Hokies are on offense. Make Georgia Tech make the
extra pass, which will help keep the Yellow Jackets’ young superstars from
falling into an offensive rhythm, and simultaneously maximize the Hokies’ turnover edge.
Finally, crash the defensive glass in a further attempt to limit any Georgia
Tech offensive synchronicity by forcing the Yellow Jackets to play an offensive
game of one and done when it comes to shooting. If our Hokies win it won’t be by
much, but I’m siding with the older team here.

Virginia Tech 77, Georgia Tech 75

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