2007-08 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Boston College

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Virginia Tech (11-8, 2-3 ACC) at Boston College (12-5, 3-1)

Saturday, January 26, 2008, 4:00 p.m.

TV: RLF
Split (click for local listings)


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Game Preview: The Hokies have an even more daunting task on Saturday than they did on
Thursday. They must travel to Boston to take on Boston College in the Conte
Forum, less than 48 hours after playing a physical Duke team. Meanwhile, the
Eagles have had the week off and should be fresh and ready to go. This is a very
tough turnaround for freshmen, especially without Jeff Allen.

Despite losing Jared Dudley, Sean Marshall and Sean Williams, two of whom
were drafted, BC still appears to be one of the best teams in the ACC. They are
currently sitting in third place in the ACC with a 3-1 conference record. They
are 12-5 overall, and will likely be back in the NCAA tournament. Al Skinner is
perhaps the most underrated coach of any high-major program in the country.

Calling Skinner the Frank Beamer of ACC basketball would not be inaccurate.
He built a very good program at Boston College with a blue collar, hard nosed
style of play. Guys like Craig Smith and Tyrese Rice weren’t necessarily the
highly-touted type of recruit, but Skinner’s evaluations of them were obviously
very good, and they buy into his system. Like Beamer’s Hokies, they aren’t
flashy, but they’re just very good year after year.


Boston
College Probable Starters

Pos
Player
Ht

Wt

Year

PPG

RPG

Assists

G

Tyrese Rice

6-1

190

Jr.

19.6

3.9

85

G

Rakim Sanders

6-5

225

Fr.

12.3

4.5

32

F

Tyler Roche

6-7

220

So.

5.5

2.4

41

F

Shamari Spears

6-6

238

So.

11.4

7.3

21

C

Tyrelle Blair

6-11

242

Sr.

6.6

5.4

12

Tyrese Rice is arguably the best lead guard in the ACC. He’s a scoring point
guard who can also distribute the basketball. Don’t let his three-point
percentage (33.3%) fool you. He can stroke it from the outside. He has NBA range
on his outside jumper. Shooting so many deep three-pointers leads to a lower
percentage, but he can be a backbreaker when he hits them.

The Hokies can’t play off Rice. They have to extend and guard him away from
the basket. He’s an excellent offensive weapon. He played his high school
basketball at L.C. Bird in Richmond, Virginia.

Freshman wing Rakim Sanders is a star in the making at BC. He is their second
leading scorer at 12.3 points per game. Sanders is shooting an even 50% from the
field, and an excellent 43.8% from three-point rage.

Combined with backup freshman guard Corey Raji, who is BC’s top player off
the bench averaging nine points per game, Al Skinner has found his backcourt of
the future. Raji is shooting 64% on the year, including 47.1% from three-point
range. However, Sanders and Raji haven’t been very good from the free throw line
this year. Raji is 62%, while Sanders is only 45.5%.

Biko Paris is another freshman guard who plays quite a bit for the Eagles. BC
has a good, young backcourt.

BC has another three-point threat in their starting lineup. Sophomore small
forward Tyler Roche isn’t a big scorer, but he’s deadly from the outside when
left open. His percentage so far (33.9%) isn’t reflective of how accurate he can
be from the outside. In ACC play, he is 41.2%. Virginia Tech was involved in his
recruitment.

Shamari Spears starts at power forward for BC, and he is their top rebounded
and third leading scorer. He isn’t overly athletic, but he’s tough, like most BC
big men. Spears isn’t just a post-up man on the inside. He can hit jumpers from
out around the free throw line area. Originally from the Salisbury, North
Carolina area, Spears was once thought to be a Virginia Tech lean during the
recruiting process.


Deron’s sick dunk against BC
last season in Cassell
Watch
it full size

Tyrelle Blair, well-known to Tech fans for being dunked on not once but twice
by Deron Washington last year, starts at center for BC. He has a solid skill
set,
but he is a major playmaker on the defensive end. Blair has 71 blocked shots in
17 games. John Oates is his backup, and even though he is big, he’s a very good
outside shooter. He is 45.5% from three-point range this year.

BC isn’t the deepest team in the world, playing just eight guys. Three of
their four backcourt players are freshmen. However, the one that isn’t a
freshman, junior lead guard Tyrese Rice, gives this team an extra gear. Right
now, BC isn’t that different from Virginia Tech, with the exception that they
have an outstanding point guard.

Since every team is at least a quarter of the way through the ACC season, we
can start taking a look at conference-only stats. We can get a more accurate
comparison of the teams against basically the same competition.

VT vs.
BC (ACC Games Only)

Category
VT BC
Advantage

Stat ACC
Rank
Stat ACC
Rank
FG % 39% 12 48.30% 2 BC
FG % Defense 43.10% 4 40.10% 2 BC
3-Pt. % 27.50% 11 44.90% 1 BC
3-Pt. % Defense 33.30% 6 30.70% 5 BC
FT % 70.10% 7 71.30% 6 BC
Rebounding Margin +5.0 2 -1.0 6 VT
Turnover Margin -4.8 11 -2.75 10 BC
Assist/TO Ratio 0.55 12 1.28 2 BC
Scoring Offense 69.2 10 83.8 2 BC
Scoring Defense 74.8 5 75.2 6 VT
Average 8 4.2 BC

There you have the cold, hard, ugly truth of the matter. Virginia Tech isn’t
very good in all things offensively. They are the only team in the league
shooting less than 40% in ACC games, and BC is out-shooting them by nearly 10%
in conference play. The Hokies are also dead last in assist-to-turnover ratio,
while BC is #2. Tech is good defensively, but if you look at the stats BC is
just as good, if not better.

The one category where the Hokies have a clear advantage is rebounding, but
they’ll be missing Jeff Allen.

The Hokies have been competitive in every game they’ve played this year. Even
last night’s game with Duke was a one-point game early in the second half. Duke
had to work to get the win. Unfortunately, I think this might be a game where
the Hokies are out of it from the very beginning.

BC is a very good, very disciplined team with outstanding point guard play.
They have had the entire week off to prepare. The Hokies must travel the day
after playing a very physical game with Duke. They must do so without their top
player, Jeff Allen. This one doesn’t set seem to be setting up well.

However, there is a glimmer of hope. Two years ago, the Hokies lost a tough
Thursday night game at home to Duke. Two days later, they played Wake on the
road without Deron Washington and Coleman Collins. Washington was suspended, and
Collins was visiting his ailing father. Tech only played seven players, but left
with a 76-70 victory.

The Hokies had two guys step up that day. A.D. Vassallo scored a career-high
29 points, while 6-3 guard Jamon Gordon had 21 points and an amazing 14
rebounds, eight of them offensive rebounds. Tech will need a great performance
or two to pull off this one in Boston.

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