2007-08 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Maryland

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2007-08 VT Roster

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Virginia Tech (14-11, 5-6 ACC) vs Maryland (17-9, 7-4 ACC)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008, 9:00

TV: RLF Split (click
here for station listing
)

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Game Preview: Virginia Tech has lost three games in a row, and they’ll
look to get back in the win column when they take on Maryland in College Park on
Wednesday night. Simply put, it would be a big accomplishment to pick up the win.
The Terps are at least the third best team in the ACC, and they are a completely
different team than the one the Hokies beat by one point in Blacksburg for their
first ACC win of the season.

In that first meeting, Maryland didn’t have starting guard Eric Hayes.
Greivis Vasquez also suffered through a miserable game, scoring just 10 points.
He was 2-of-14 from the field, 0-7 from three-point range (including a potential
game-winner), and committed six turnovers. Hank Thorns did a great job on him,
but don’t expect that type of performance from Vasquez again. He’s one of the
top players in the ACC, and that was perhaps the worst game of his career. He’ll
be ready to play.

Since their 67-66 loss in Blacksburg, Maryland has played very well. They
have lost just two games since that day, both to Duke. They defeated UNC in
Chapel Hill, and haven’t had much trouble dispatching the rest of their
opponents.

The Terps have an extremely tall starting lineup, and that helps them to be
one of the best defensive and rebounding teams in the ACC.


Maryland Starting Lineup

Position
Player
Height

Weight

Year

PPG

RPG

Assists

G

Greivis Vasquez

6-6

190

So.

17.3

5.4

176

G

Eric Hayes

6-4

184

So.

10.4

3.4

117

F

Landon Milbourne

6-7

207

So.

8.6

3.6

20

F

James Gist

6-9

235

Sr.

16.1

7.9

33

F

Bombale Osby

6-8

250

Sr.

11.8

7

18


Vasquez is the heart and soul of the team. He is a very emotional player who
leaves it all on the court every night. Right now, he’s probably playing better
than any point guard in the ACC. Earlier in the season against NC State, he tied
a Maryland school record with 15 assists.

Vasquez can shoot the three-pointer (32.7%), he can get to the glass, he
distributes, and he defends. He is a very good all-around basketball player.

He’ll be joined in the backcourt by Eric Hayes, who missed the first game
against Virginia Tech. Hayes is a 39.6% three-point shooter. He was recruited as
a point guard, and he and Vasquez are both capable of initiating the offense.
They have combined for 293 assists on the season. Compare that to the Hokies,
who have just 321 assists as a team.

That one stat shows that the Terps have a huge advantage in the backcourt.
And although it didn’t seem to affect him in the first meeting, the length of
Maryland’s extremely tall guards and wings could make life difficult for Hank
Thorns. The Terps don’t play anybody shorter than 6-4.

Probably the most improved player on Maryland’s team is small forward Landon
Milbourne. Milbourne played at Oak Hill Academy with Jeff Allen, but was less
than impressive as a freshman last season. This season he has turned it around,
starting 24 games for the Terps. He’s an excellent free throw shooter (84.6%),
and though he doesn’t shoot the outside shot a lot, he can knock it down
(17-of-40, 42.5%). Like everyone else on the team, Milbourne plays very good
defense.

Maryland starts two experienced seniors on the inside in James Gist and
Bombale Osby. Either of those players are capable of having a double-double on
any given night. Gist is the better scorer, and they combine to create a very
formidable defensive presence on the inside. Gist has 58 blocked shots on the
year, while Osby has 57.

The Terps don’t have great depth at this point. Many of their bench players
are freshmen. Only three reserves are averaging more than 10 minutes per game on
the season. Freshman Cliff Tucker is averaging 16.3 minutes per game, and he has
also started six games for Maryland. At 6-6, he is another long-armed wing.

Maryland will play Braxton Dupree on the inside to give Gist
and Osby a rest. Dupree is getting good experience this year, and
will be expected to move into the starting lineup next season.

When you look at the stats, Maryland is a very scary team. They place higher
than the Hokies in nine of the 10 categories listed below.


VT vs. Maryland (ACC Games Only)


Category

VT

Maryland


Advantage

Stat

ACC Rank

Stat

ACC Rank

FG%

41.4%

10

48.7%

1


MD

FG% Defense

44.1%

4

41.7%

1


MD

3-Pt. %

27.8%

12

37.3%

4


MD

3-Pt. % Defense

38.5%

10

35.4%

7


MD

FT %

69.2%

8

74.4%

3


MD

Rebounding Margin

+0.1

4

+1.9

3


MD

TO Margin

-0.64

7

-3

10

VT

Assist/TO Ratio

0.66

11

1.15

1


MD

Scoring Offense

70.5

9

77.7

4


MD

Scoring Defense

75.5

6

75.5

6

Tie

Average

8.1

4


MD

In 11 ACC games, Maryland ranks #1 in the conference in three categories.
They have the top field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense in the
ACC — they shoot better and defend the shot better than any other ACC team. With Vasquez and Hayes in the lineup, they also top the charts in
assist/turnover ratio. Even though Maryland turns it over an average of 15.2
times per game, they are still first in the conference in assist/turnover ratio.
That tells you exactly how good these guys are at finding the open man.

Maryland is also third in two more categories, and fourth in two others.
Their overall average ranking of fourth is the best the Hokies have faced this
season. This is a very good basketball team that is capable of winning the ACC
tournament in March and advancing to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.

As far as the Hokies are concerned, they really haven’t been doing anything
well recently. Their big advantage against other teams has been defense and
rebounding. However, they allowed 74 points at home to Miami and 92 at UNC.
Their scoring defense slipped all the way to sixth in the conference.

In rebounding, they were -15 against Miami, and an unheard of -30 against
UNC. They have been out-rebounded the last three games, all losses. In that
span, their rebounding margin has dropped from +5.6, which was second in the
league, to +0.1. That’s a huge dropoff in production.

As we know, when the Hokies don’t defend or rebound, they aren’t going to
win. They simply do not have the offensive firepower to keep up with other
teams.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the game where Tech has a great chance to get the
momentum going back in their favor. Offensively, the Hokies will likely be
completely outmatched by Maryland’s tenacious defense. Although Tech
out-rebounded Maryland 40-37 in the first meeting, the recent trends suggest
that won’t happen this time. A.D. Vassallo and Deron Washington were doing a
great job on the boards in the first half of ACC play, but opponents are really
starting to focus on boxing them out. Jeff Allen can’t do it all by himself on
the boards.

A win at Maryland would be huge. It would be Tech’s first win in the Comcast
Center, and would provide some momentum heading into a 3-game home stand.
However, with the way the Hokies have been playing lately, and as good as the
Terps have looked, Tech will more than likely have to wait until they return
home against Georgia Tech on Saturday before they can reestablish that momentum.

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