2008-09 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at UVA

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Virginia Tech (16-8, 6-4 ACC) vs. Virginia (8-13, 2-8)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009, 8:00

TV: Raycom (check local listings)


Special Preview Items:

Virginia Tech is back in action on Wednesday night for a big ACC game against
in-state rival Virginia. The Hokies defeated the Hoos 78-75 in the first meeting
between these teams in Blacksburg, and they’ll be looking to sweep UVA for the
second consecutive season. Virginia has no hopes for postseason play, but they
can put a big dent in Tech’s NCAA tournament chances with an upset.

The Hokies will have to play this game without Jeff Allen. Allen was
suspended by VT athletic director Jim Weaver for his obscene gesture towards the
Maryland student section during Saturday’s game. Allen didn’t have his best game
in the first meeting with UVA. He finished with just three points and six
rebounds, and was 0-of-7 from the field.

However, UVA has improved since that loss in Blacksburg. The Hoos knocked off
Clemson 85-81 in overtime on Sunday, and played Florida State down to the wire
earlier in the week.

Dave Leitao has been experimenting with lineups recently. As of this writing,
no game notes have been released for the UVA-VT game, but this was the starting
lineup Leitao went with against Clemson.

UVA
Starting Lineup

Pos.

Name

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

PPG

RPG

Assists
G
Calvin Baker
6-2 186 Jr. 7.5 2.4 52
G
Jeff Jones
6-4 200 So. 6 2.1 20
G
Sylven Landesberg
6-6 205 Fr. 18 5.8 55
G/F
Solomon Tat
6-5 223 Jr. 0.7 1.2 4
C
Assane Sene
7-0 234 Fr. 2.9 5.2 6

However, Tat played just three minutes, and Sene was in the game for just seven
minutes. UVA used a seven-man rotation for the most part, with extra guards to
combat the Clemson press. Sene will probably see more minutes against the Hokies
than he did against Clemson, as he’s just not a good matchup against a fullcourt
press.

Also of note is that Mustapha Farrakhan, who scored 17 points against
Virginia Tech in the first meeting, has played just three minutes over the last
three games. His minutes are down, while Jeff Jones’ minutes are up.

Freshman wing Sylven Landesberg is UVA’s best player. He is a strong
candidate to be named ACC Freshman of the Year. Landesberg uses his size and
deceptive quickness to get to the basket and score. He’s not a great shooter
from the outside, going just 9-of-35 (25.7%) on the season. However, he has a
knack for scoring on the inside, and he knows how to draw fouls and get to the
free throw line.

Landesberg is 115-of-138 (83.3%) from the charity stripe this season. As a
team, the Hoos are shooting 74% for the season from the free throw line. That’s
one of the few things they’ve done well all year long.

One of the reasons UVA has been playing better over the last few games has
been the play of point guard Sammy Zeglinski.


Sammy Zeglinski, Last Three
Games

Opp.

Points

Assists

TO

UNC

11

2

1

FSU

7

3

1

Clemson

15

6

6

Average

11

3.67

2.67

Zeglinski had six turnovers against Clemson, but that’s to be expected for a
freshman against that fullcourt press. He did an excellent job breaking the
press at times, showing good court vision and an impressive burst of speed.
Zeglinski can knock down open jumpers, and overall he’s shown a lot of
improvement over the last couple of weeks.

Jeff Jones is also seeing increased playing time in the backcourt.

Jeff
Jones, Recent Games
Opp. Points FGM FGA 3PM 3PA Minutes

Boston College
10 2 11 1 4 28

UNC
19 7 12 3 5 37

Florida State
8 3 11 1 7 31

Clemson
12 3 10 2 6 26

Average/Totals
12.3 15 44 7 22 30.5

Jones probably shoots too much, but he is streaky and capable of filling up the
hoops on any given night. His production has given Mustapha Farrakhan a seat on
the bench.

The best UVA interior player is Mike Scott. Scott is a springy athlete who
gets from the floor to the rim quickly. He’s aggressive and a good rebounder. He
scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the first meeting with Tech.

The “X-factor” for the Hoos is forward Jamil Tucker. In UVA’s two
conference wins, Tucker is averaging 13 points per game and has shot 10-of-14
from the floor, including 5-of-7 from three-point range. In conference losses,
Tucker is just 22-of-60 from the field and is averaging just 7.9 points per
game.

Tucker is big player (6-9, 241, Jr.) who can really knock down the open
three-pointer. Tech will have to go out and guard him. History says that if he
starts connecting on a high percentage of his shots, UVA has a much better
chance to win. Tucker had just five points on 2-of-8 shooting in the first
meeting with the Hokies.

With Jeff Allen not playing in this game, UVA has a big advantage on the
inside. Tech doesn’t have any low post threats, so Assane Sene shouldn’t have
much trouble defending the rim in this game. The long arms of Sene and Mike
Scott gave Jeff Allen trouble in the first meeting. Sene blocked four shots in
the game. Tunji Soroye could also see minutes on the inside.

VT
vs. UVA, ACC Games Only
UVA VT
Category Stat Rank Stat Rank

FG%
40.40% 11 45.30% 2

FG% Def.
46% 11 44.30% 9

3-Pt.%
30.70% 10 34.30% 6

3-Pt.% Def.
38.80% 11 34.80% 7

FT%
74.70% 4 66.90% 11

Reb. Margin
-2.1 11 -1.2 8

TO Margin
-1.4 8 +1.5 5

Assist/TO Ratio
0.8 11 0.9 6

Scoring Off.
69.1 ppg 10 75.5 ppg 3

Scoring Def.
78.6 ppg 12 76.3 ppg 9

Average
9.9 6.6

Virginia ranks 10th or worse in eight of the 10 categories on the list above. On
paper, the Hokies have a huge advantage in this game, but so did Clemson this
past Sunday.

We can also use the table above as an example of exactly how bad Virginia
Tech’s defense is this year. UVA is shooting just 40.4% from the field in
conference play, yet they shot 52.7% in Blacksburg back on January 10. They’ve
only shot better than that in one other conference game (53.1% vs. Clemson).

All road games are tough in the ACC, but this will be even tougher for the
Hokies without Jeff Allen. However, the last time Tech went on the road without
Allen was last season at BC. Tech played the Eagles on a Saturday afternoon,
after playing Duke just two nights before. Despite the quick turnaround, the
long flight, and the absence of Allen, the Hokies won the game in overtime.
Freshman forward J.T. Thompson had a big game starting in place of Allen.

Seth Greenberg teams have a habit of playing better when their backs are
against the wall. In the 2005-06 season, with an 0-6 record in the ACC, Tech
went on the road to play Wake Forest without the services of Deron Washington
and Coleman Collins. No one thought the Hokies would have a chance, but a young
freshman named A.D. Vassallo stepped up and scored 29 points in his first career
start.

Tech has another such game on Wednesday night, and the Hokies will need some
role players to step up if they want to win.

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