2009-2010 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at #25 Florida State

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(home games)
  • Date: Saturday, January 16, 2010
  • Time: 6pm
  • TV: RSN (check local listings)

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Virginia Tech certainly didn’t begin ACC play in easy style. On Saturday, the
Hokies will play their third ranked opponent in a six-day span, and their second
on the road. This time they will be in Tallahassee to take on a Florida State
team that needs a big win. The Noles are tall and athletic, and they are coming
off two poor defensive games. They’ll be looking to right the ship against the
visiting Hokies.

Florida State is 13-4 on the season, with a 1-2 record in ACC play. They
don’t have any great wins, but they also don’t have any bad losses. Their resume
at this point is very similar to Virginia Tech’s, but they do have a big road
win at Georgia Tech. However, in their last two games they were beaten by
Maryland and NC State, who do not rank in the Top 75 of the RPI.

The Noles are in definite consideration for the NCAA tournament, but a loss
at home to the Hokies would hurt. It would be their second consecutive home
defeat, the first coming at the hands of NC State.

State Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
Derwin Kitchen
6-4 204 Jr. 8.5 3.9
Deividas Dulkys
6-5 196 So. 10.3 2.4
Chris Singleton
6-9 227 So. 10.9 7.5
Ryan Reid
6-8 238 Sr. 6.9 4.2
Soloman Alabi
7-1 251 So. 12.5 6.8

Thanks to their height, as well as an excellent on-ball defender in Derwin
Kitchen, Florida State has been a very good defensive team this year. Opponents
are shooting only 35.1% against the Noles, and they’ve held 12 of their 17
opponents to 62 points or less. Soloman Alabi has blocked 46 shots, and Chris
Singleton has added 27. It’s tough to get a clean look at the basket from the
inside against this team.

Florida State has not played well defensively over the last two games,
despite their season as a whole. The Noles lost 77-68 at Maryland, and then
dropped an 88-81 home decision to NC State. It was outside shooting that doomed
FSU in both of those games. Maryland was 10-of-16 from three-point range, while
NC State was 11-of-23. Those two teams combined to go 21-of-39 (53.8%), a
completely unacceptable number if you’re a Florida State fan, coach or player.

FSU hasn’t played since Tuesday, so they’ve had one more day than the Hokies
to get ready for this game. You can bet that Leonard Hamilton will have his team
getting back to their defensive principles. This was the #1 team in the country
in field goal percentage defense (before the NC State game; national rankings
have not been updated on the NCAA’s website since then), but they haven’t played
like it in the last two games.

Florida State’s height is impressive, starting in the middle with 7-1 center
Soloman Alabi. Alabi is a future NBA player, and at this stage in his career he
is similar to former Georgetown center Roy Hibbert. His size is outstanding, and
he blocks a lot of shots, but he doesn’t score or rebound as much as one would
expect. However, that’s okay for the Noles, who are a defensive oriented team.
Alabi is the type of player (7-1) who can take Jeff Allen (6-7) right out of his

Perhaps the biggest mismatch is 6-9 wing Chris Singleton. Singleton is a very
athletic player who can play inside or outside. He’s a better rebounder than his
taller counterpart on the inside, Alabi. Singleton isn’t a big scorer, nor is he
a great shooter, but he can knock down the open shot (37.3%) from the outside.

Ryan Reid completes the Florida State starting frontcourt. Reid is a high
energy player who is capable of scoring (17 points against Georgia Tech). He is
the most experienced player on the FSU roster, and he averages 19.6 minutes per
game. Reid will share minutes in the frontcourt with Xavier Gibson (6-11, 240,
So.). As you can see, Florida State’s height doesn’t end with their starting
lineup. It extends to their bench.

The Noles don’t have a big scorer with the loss of Toney Douglas to the New
York Knicks, but their backcourt is still capable. Derwin Kitchen runs the
point, and he is a very good defensive player and a pretty skilled passer.
Deividas Dulkys is having a good year at wing, averaging over 10 points per
game. He is FSU’s top three-point shooter, connecting on 45.8% of his shots from
the outside.

The best player off the bench is freshman wing Michael Snaer (6-5, 200, Fr.).
He is averaging 8.6 points per game, which ranks fourth on the team. Snaer was a
Top 25 recruit coming out of high school, and the Noles have big expectations
for him.

Overall, FSU has solid depth. They will play a nine-man rotation against the
Hokies, and all nine of those players are averaging between 13 and 30 minutes
per game. Fatigue will not be an issue for the Noles. They will keep running
waves of talented, tall players against Virginia Tech.

Again, Virginia Tech enters a game where size on the inside could present a
problem. Soloman is a big-time defensive specialist on the inside, and the Noles
have major height on the wing as well.

Height Advantage
Player Pos. Ht.

Soloman Alabi
C 7-1

Xavier Gibson
F/C 6-11

Chris Singleton
F 6-9

Ryan Reid
F 6-8

Jordan DeMercy
F 6-7

Luke Loucks
G 6-5

Deividas Dulkys
G 6-5

Michael Snaer
G 6-5

Derwin Kitchen
G 6-4

That’s a lot of length and reach, and it’s easy to see why Florida State has
been so successful defensively this year, up until the last two games. They were
certainly successful against Virginia Tech last year. They beat the Hokies 67-65
in Blacksburg, and knocked them off again 63-53 in the season finale in
Tallahassee. Tech had a lot of trouble scoring in each game.

Virginia Tech has also not won in Tallahassee since joining the ACC. It is
one of just two places in the ACC in which Tech has not won a game, the other
being at NC State.

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The Hokies will need a very good 40 minutes of basketball to defeat Florida
State. Expect to see FSU get back to playing tough defense. This game will
likely be in the 60s, and it will come down to rebounding and 50-50 balls. Home
teams with their backs against the wall generally play very well in the ACC, so
a win in this game by the Hokies would be considered a slight upset.

However, we’ve seen enough out of the Hokies in their first two ACC games to
know that a win on Saturday would not be surprising at all.

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