2006-07 Basketball Game Preview: #16 Virginia Tech at Boston College

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#16 Virginia Tech (16-6, 6-2 ACC) at Boston College (15-6, 6-2)

Saturday, February 3, 2007, 1:00 p.m.

TV: RLF
Split (click for local listings)


Special Preview Items:

#16 Virginia Tech will look to right the ship when they travel to Chestnut
Hill to take on Boston College on Saturday. This is the biggest matchup of the
weekend in the ACC. The Hokies and Eagles are tied for second place in the ACC
with a 6-2 record. Whichever team pulls out a victory on Saturday will take a
giant leap towards the NCAA tournament.

The biggest news of the month for Boston College was the loss of center Sean
Williams. Williams was dismissed from the team before the Eagles’ game at
Clemson on January 20. He was averaging 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game,
and he had blocked an incredible 75 shots by mid-January. Results for Boston
College since the loss of Williams have been mixed.

BC got waxed in their first game without the big center. They lost to Clemson
74-54 on the road. They came back with an 85-82 home win over Florida State in
which Sean Marshall hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Seminoles. The
Eagles then went back on the road and were dispatched with relative ease by
Duke, 75-61. BC beat overmatched Hartford 94-60 at home on Wednesday night.

By the beginning of February, we generally have a good feel for each team in
the ACC. That’s not quite true with BC. We weren’t sure how good they were when
ACC play began, and with Williams gone the mystery is even greater. He was a
player who could record a triple-double in points, rebounds and blocks on any
given night (19 points, 10 rebounds, 13 blocks against Duquesne), so his loss
changed the team quite a bit.

BC has some good wins and some bad losses on the year. They have home losses
to Vermont and Duquesne. They also lost at Providence, and they were completely
crushed 84-66 when they visited Kansas back in December. But the Eagles also
have victories over Michigan State, Maryland, Virginia and Florida State, all
Top 50 RPI teams. They are very similar to the Hokies in that they can lose to
anymore (Duquesne is just 8-11), but they can be very competitive with some very
good teams.

Boston
College Starting Lineup
Pos Name Ht Wt Year Pts Rebs

G

Tyrese Rice

6-1
190
So.
16.3 3

G

Sean Marshall

6-6
212
Sr.
15.7 5.2

F

Jared Dudley

6-7
225
Sr.
18.9 8.7

F

John Oates

6-10
255
Jr.
4.6 3.5

F

Shamari Spears

6-6
245
Fr.
8.6 6.2

In Jared Dudley, Boston College has arguably the best all-around player in the
ACC. Dudley scores in a variety of ways, he rebounds, and he’s a good passer.
With his size and shooting ability, he is a matchup nightmare. He can post up a
smaller player inside, beat a bigger defender on the outside, and get offensive
rebounds.

Dudley gets a lot of close looks at the basket, and he shoots 56.6% from the
field. He doesn’t take a lot of three-pointers, but he’s very efficient from the
outside (22-of-47, 46.8%). He also has 58 assists on the year, second on the
team, so if you double team him when he gets the ball inside, he could burn you.

BC
gets most of their scoring from Dudley and their backcourt. Point guard Tyrese
Rice is a very dangerous player. He has great range on his three-pointer, and
he’ll take a lot of long-range shots, though he doesn’t knock them down with
great efficiency (30.4%). The Virginia native has also dished out 128 assists on
the year.

Shooting guard Sean Marshall is streaky. In some games he appears to be
noticeably absent, but when he’s on he is very good. He is big and physical, and
he can knock down the open jumper. He can sometimes play out of control, but BC
coach Al Skinner will take that because Marshall is a very emotional player and
makes defenders work very hard with his aggressive style of play.

John Oates won’t wow you with his stats, but he’s a very dangerous player.
Despite his size (6-10, 255), he is more dangerous from the outside than inside.
He has a very soft touch on his jumper, and he can routinely knock down jumpers
from the outside if left open. The Hokies can’t forget about Oates. Every point
he scores is an added bonus for the Eagles.

Shamari Spears brings a physical presence to the inside for BC. He is very
similar to former BC star Craig Smith, although he isn’t built as well and he’s
not as talented. But he’s the same type of player. Spears has a pretty good
jumper out to the free throw line, so you have to respect his shot, despite the
fact that he doesn’t look like a shooter.

Let’s see how the teams compare statistically.


Boston College vs. Virginia Tech (ACC Games
Only)

Category

Boston College

Virginia Tech

Stat

ACC Rank

Stat

ACC Rank

FG %
46.0% 6 46.9% 5

FG % Defense
45.5% 6 43.8% 4

3-Pt. %
33.3% 9 38.2% 2

3-Pt. % Defense
34.8% 6 30.6% 3

FT %
72.0% 6 70.8% 7

Rebounding Margin
+4.8 3 -4.2 9

Turnover Margin
-1.75 9 +3 2

Assist/TO Ratio
0.96 5 1.18 1

Scoring Offense
75.2 4 73.8 6

Scoring Defense
71.5 4 72.6 6

Average
5.8 4.5

From a percentage standpoint, BC is an average shooting team and an average
defensive team in ACC play. The Hokies are better than the Eagles in every
shooting category except free throws (and that’s close, in ACC games at least).
The Hokies take better care of the ball and have a better assist-to-turnover
ratio.

The only real advantage BC has over the Hokies is their rebounding. They
average 13.9 offensive rebounds per game in ACC play, so Virginia Tech needs to
concentrate on boxing out.

Boston College may not seem like a very good matchup for the Hokies because
of their strength and rebounding skill. However, consider the fact that both of
Tech’s losses to BC last season came after Zabian Dowdell missed potential-game
winning three-pointers at the buzzer in each game. The Hokies could have easily
beaten the Eagles both times last year. BC is not as good as they were last
year, and Tech is better than last year.

Also, what BC gains in size and strength with Marshall and Dudley on the
court, they lose in ball-handling. Tyrese Rice is their only good ball-handler
in the starting lineup, and Marquez Haynes will fill that role when he comes off
the bench. Virginia Tech needs to take advantage of this, and if they do, they
can beat Boston College.

The Eagles run a very methodical offense. When unchallenged, it is very good.
The key for the Hokies is to mess up the timing of BC’s offense. Bring tough
ball pressure against their half court offense, and mix in some occasional full
court press and traps to throw BC’s timing off and create some turnovers.
Virginia Tech needs to challenge the passing lanes. If they make BC work hard
offensively, things will be easier on the other end of the court as well.

Offensively, Virginia Tech needs to run, and they should have some
opportunities. Despite their guard-heavy scoring, the Eagles’ offense is very
much interior-based. Their offense operates close to the basket, and they like
to crash the boards. That should provide the Hokies with some runouts and some
easy buckets.

When they operate in their half court set, the Hokies should be able to run
their offense the way they want. Boston College doesn’t apply a lot of ball
pressure, and they don’t play the passing lanes. They force an average of 12.6
turnovers per game in ACC play. The only team that forces fewer is NC State.
Like they are on offense, BC is very methodical on defense, almost to the point
of appearing lackadaisical at times.

The thing that Virginia Tech must do in this game is control the
tempo, something they failed to do against NC State. They allowed themselves to
get lulled to sleep in a slow, half court game, and they lost. They need to set
the tempo defensively by applying tight ball pressure and playing the passing
lanes. They need to make Boston College’s players handle the ball in tight
spots, which they are uncomfortable doing.

The Hokies also need to concentrate on boxing out and getting defensive
rebounds. If they do that, they will get some easy baskets on the other end on
fast breaks. Getting fast break points on offense and throwing off BC’s timing
with ball pressure and playing the passing lanes will give Virginia Tech the
tempo advantage. They must get that advantage early, because BC is a very good
first half team, as bourbonstreet points out below. It might not be a bad idea
to come out with some full court pressure and traps at the very beginning of the
game.

Boston College is also a depth-shy team, so getting into a running game could
wear the Eagles down. That is another thing the Hokies failed to do against NC
State.

With a tempo advantage, the Hokies stand a great shot to beat the Eagles and
pick up a huge road win on Saturday.

Bourbonstreet’s View

Jamon Gordon has not topped four makes from the floor since January 13th and
is shooting 32% over that span, Coleman Collins went from slumped, to somewhat
improved, to “Mighty” Casey vs. N.C. State. Only one Hokie averages more
than 11 and change per game, and no one off the bench (except A.D. Vassallo)
contributes more than 3.5 points per game. That’s where Tech is and where they
were coming off of a nifty 12-2 run prior to N.C. State. But where will we go
from here?

It’s really odd to see me declaring any regular season game in the final 3rd
of the year a turning point, but that’s exactly what this Boston College
Flying-Eagles game is this Saturday. Either some leader(s) will step up and turn
this single, but ugly one game schnide around, or it will roll the wrong way. No
matter how this one goes, this B.C. game is gonna snowball the rest of the year.

B.C. is a better team to me than their .700 winning percentage suggests. In
fact they remind me of … well … the Hokies. They dropped a couple of games
they should have easily won, they have beaten several name teams, they have
precious little bench production, and they, like Tech, have morphed into a
perimeter team (due to undisciplined off-court reasons however).

B.C. has a conspicuous +140 aggregate point margin in the first 20 minutes of
play this year, so the Hokies need to “ante up and kick in” a
glorified high octane effort level from the get go this time. Play a full 40
minutes, that’s what I’m talking about, and thereby maintain contact to try to
stave off the 27th scoring team who is the 30th best shooting team in D-1. But
strangely enough, the Flying Eagles plummet to 193rd from down-town on the year.
So the Hokie frontcourt must change the key to the paint, keep B.C. away from
the hoop and make B.C. win from outside. B.C. has topped 51% from the floor in
four of their last six Bean-Town games. That’s gonna be a problem.

Virginia Tech 70, Boston College 74

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