2008-09 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Mount. St. Mary’s

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Virginia Tech will have another early season challenge on their hands on
Monday night when Mount St. Mary’s comes to town. The Mountaineers were in the
NCAA tournament last season, and they are the preseason pick to win the
Northeast Conference again this year.

The Mount will be quite a bit different from the Gardner-Webb team we saw on
Friday night. They are a more traditional team, despite being in a small
conference. They play two post players, and they don’t make a habit of shooting
a lot of three-pointers. They will play the Hokies straight up.

Here is a look at the Mountaineers’ starting lineup.

Mount
St. Mary’s Starting Lineup
Position Name Ht Wt Year PPG RPG Assists
G
Jean Cajou
6-3 180 So. 9 0 4
G
Jeremy Goode
5-9 170 Jr. 25 4 4
F
Kelly Beidler
6-5 205 Jr. 17 12 2
F
Markus Mitchell
6-7 245 Sr. 6 6 2
C
Sam Atupem
6-7 240 Sr. 10 2 0

Four of those players hail from the state of Virginia. Jean Cajou is from
Fairfax, while Kelly Beidler, Markus Mitchell and Sam Atupem all hail from the
Tidewater area. Overall, seven players on Mount St. Mary’s roster are from
Virginia. They will have a lot of incentive to play well in their home state.

The Mount knocked off Loyola (MD) 84-76 in their first game of the season.
They were very efficient shooting the basketball, going 29-of-54 (53.7%)
overall, 6-of-9 (66.7%) from three-point range and 20-of-29 (69%) from the free
throw line. As you can see, just because the Mountaineers don’t attempt a lot of
three-pointers doesn’t mean they don’t have the ability to knock them down.

Mount St. Mary’s has an excellent backcourt which is led by First Team
All-Northeast player Jeremy Goode. Although Goode lacks size, he still averaged
14.5 points and 5.5 assists a season ago. He attacks the basket relentlessly and
draws a lot of fouls. He attempted 256 free throws last season. It will be
imperative for the Hokies to keep him out of the lane, because he can score as
well as create for other players.

Jean Cajou was the Northeast Conference Tournament MVP last season as a
freshman. For the season he averaged 7.1 points per game, and is looking for a
breakout sophomore season. Cajou is very dangerous from the outside. He shot
46.4% from three-point range last year.

Kelly Beidler is in his first year as a starter, but he appears to be a solid
wing player. He recorded the first double-double of his career against Loyola
(MD). He is another Mount St. Mary’s player who can hit the open three-pointer.
He converted at a 37.8% clip last season.

The Mount’s post players don’t score as much as their guards and wings, but
they are capable. Markus Mitchell and Sam Atupem are both returning starters,
and they combined to average 13.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last season.

Mount St. Mary’s biggest problem is depth. The Mountaineers had just seven
players in their rotation in their opening game, with Jeremy Goode playing 38
minutes and Kelly Beidler playing 34. However, considering the Hokies wore out
down the stretch against Gardner-Webb on Friday, Mount St. Mary’s depth isn’t
likely to be an issue in tonight’s game.

If you watched Friday night’s game, you saw Gardner-Webb give the Hokies all
they could handle. Mount St. Mary’s is probably a better basketball team than
Garnder-Webb. They are bigger and more athletic.

Keep your eye on several different Tech players tonight. The Hokies have
three proven players in Jeff Allen, A.D. Vassallo and Malcolm Delaney. Tech
needs Dorenzo Hudson and Terrell Bell to step up and provide quality minutes on
the wing, and Cheick Diakite, Lewis Witcher and Victor Davila to be solid on the
inside.

However, Hudson and Bell combined to score four points on just 2-of-12
shooting. Diakite, Witcher and Davila combined to score six points and grab four
rebounds. In the first half, the three inside players combined for two points
and zero rebounds. That production simply has to get better.

VT teams under Seth Greenberg are always known for their slow starts and
strong finishes. This team is hampered by the loss of J.T. Thompson, who is
Tech’s most versatile, energetic player. Still, there were things from the
Gardner-Webb game that make you pause for concern. We’ll have our second look at
this Tech team tonight, and hopefully it’s better than the first.

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