2007-08 Basketball Game Preview: Elon

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The
2007-08 basketball season begins tomorrow night for Virginia Tech when the Elon
Phoenix visit Cassell Coliseum. Elon might not sound like much of a threat, but
the Hokies are starting two freshmen, and when you look around the country and
see some of the upsets that have already happened, anything is possible.

There have been three major upsets in college basketball thus far. Last
night, Gardner-Webb blew out #20 Kentucky 84-68. Think you were upset the time
Temple beat the Hokies in football? Try being a Kentucky fan right now.

The other two upsets were just scrimmages, but they were major upsets
nonetheless. Ohio State was defeated by Division II Findlay 70-68. Considering
the players the Buckeyes lost from last year’s team, maybe that’s not all that
surprising. However, Division II Grand Valley State also defeated #8 Michigan
State 85-82 in double overtime. The Spartans are expected to win the Big Ten
this season.

The results of those games show that you have to come to play every night.
The Hokies need to be ready for Elon, who despite going 7-23 last season, return
one of their top players who missed last season with a foot injury.

Elon won both of their recent scrimmages. They defeated Belmont Abbey 70-57,
and then knocked off North Carolina Wesleyan 77-53. They are an experienced
team, with better size than you would expect from a Southern Conference team.
Here is a look at their starting lineup.

Elon
Projected Starting Lineup
Name Position Height Weight Year

Brian Waters
G 6-2 185 Sr.

Montell Watson
G 6-1 170 Sr.

Brett James
G 6-5 185 Jr.

Ola Atoyebi
F 6-8 220 Jr.

Adam Constantine
F 6-8 210 So.

Here is the Tech lineup that they’ll be facing.

VT
Projected Starting Lineup
Name Position Height Weight Year

Hank Thorns
G 5-9 140 Fr.

A.D. Vassallo
G 6-6 215 Jr.

Deron Washington
F 6-7 210 Sr.

Jeff Allen
F 6-7 258 Fr.

Cheick Diakite
C 6-9 220 Jr.

Hank
Thorns should get a solid test in his first outing as Virginia Tech’s starting
point guard. The Phoenix start three guards, two of which are seniors. Montell
Watson is a r-senior who missed last season because of a foot injury. He is a
career 37.7% shooter from three-point range. He is a native of Clifton Forge,
VA, where he was Virginia AA Player of the Year as a senior in high school.

Watson averaged 9.7 points per game two years ago, and will be looking to up
that mark this year. He is Elon’s on-court leader.

Joining Watson in the backcourt will be senior Brian Waters, who started 22
games at point guard last season. He averaged 5.1 points per game, while leading
the team with 94 assists. He has started 51 games in his career, and is a former
member of the Southern Conference All-Freshman team.

Brett James is another Virginia native. He played his high school ball at
Mills E. Godwin High School. He averaged 12.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game a
year ago. He was the second leading scorer on the team. James isn’t a great
shooter from anywhere (39.5% from the field, 31.5% from three-point range), but
he finds ways to score.

Ola Atoyebi is Elon’s top returning rebounder. He averaged 4.7 rebounds to go
along with his 5.9 points per game a season ago. He is joined on the inside by
Adam Constantine, who averaged 2.6 points and 2.5 rebounds last year.

Most Southern Conference teams don’t have the size of Elon. Besides the
starters, Elon has five players coming off the bench who stand 6-6 or taller.
That includes freshman Daniel Watts, who is listed at 7-0, 240.

Despite being experienced and bigger than most small conference teams, Elon
will be outmatched by Tech’s athleticism. Don’t expect the Hokies to overlook
the Phoenix. This will be the first college basketball game for six of the 12
Tech players who will be dressed out. They’ll want to go out and impress.

Elon
Key 2006-07 Stats

FG%
41.7%

FG% Def.
44.9%

3-Pt. %
33.1%

3-Pt. % Def.
34.1%

FT %
67.7%

Assists
334

TO
436

Reb. Margin
-2.8

Last season Elon shot the ball poorly, had over 100 more turnovers than assists,
and lost the battle on the boards by a healthy margin. They lost two of their
top three scorers from last year’s team. This one shouldn’t be much of a game,
but judging from the week’s earlier upsets, you never know.

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