2009-2010 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Miami

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(home games)
  • Date: Sunday, January 31, 2010
  • Time: 1pm
  • TV: Raycom



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Virginia Tech is back on the road again on Sunday. While the Virginia Tech
campus is expected to be covered in snow, the Hokie basketball team is headed to
sunny Coral Gables to take on the Miami Hurricanes. It will be Tech’s second
meeting with Miami this year, and they are hoping this one goes as well as the
first.

On January 13, Miami came into Cassell Coliseum with a 15-1 record and ranked
#23 in the country. The Hokies led by as many as 35 points before dispatching
the Canes 81-66. Now Miami is 15-5, losers of four games in a row. They are 1-5
in the ACC, and rank dead last in the conference standings.

Does that mean this is going to be an easy game? Not at all. The Canes have
talent, and they are a much better team at home than on the road. They’ve gotten
blown out in three straight road games, but they’ve beaten Wake Forest in Coral
Gables and lost a tough game to BC by four.

According to head coach Frank Haith, the problem is the team’s effort.

“Right now, we’re not competitive,” Haith said after the recent
81-59 blowout loss to Maryland. “This team is worse than it was at the
beginning of the year, and we’re going in the wrong direction. We’ve got to fix
it. Right now, we don’t have enough guys willing to put in the effort that we
need to have to win basketball games in this league. It’s my job, and our
staff’s job, to figure that out.”

Haith had a 30 minute meeting with the team in the locker room immediately
following the loss to Maryland. His team will now do one of two things: they’ll
fold up like a cheap tent and tank the rest of the season, or they’ll show up at
home on Sunday with a renewed vigor and play harder than they have all season.

Haith has been mixing up his starting lineups during the losing streak, so
it’s hard to predict who is going to start. Here was the listed starting lineup
before the Maryland game, though Haith’s actual starting lineup looked a bit
different.

Miami’s
Possible Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G
Durand Scott
6-3 195 Fr. 8.4 4.0
G
James Dews
6-4 213 Sr. 12.1 2.6
F
Adrian Thomas
6-7 229 Sr. 7.6 2.6
F
Dwayne Collins
6-8 241 Sr. 12.3 8.8
C
Reggie Johnson
6-10 290 r-Fr. 5.8 4.8

To see a more detailed player report for the Canes, check out our first Miami preview.
Below we’ll go over a few players who may or may not be included in the starting
lineup on Sunday.

Miami has a size advantage on Virginia Tech on the inside, so it would not be
surprising to see them go with their big lineup on Sunday. Dwayne Collins is one
of the top post players in the league, and a very good rebounder. Reggie Johnson
is huge, and though he played just 18 minutes in the first meeting, he gave the
Hokies a lot of trouble. Johnson scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He
was one of the few Miami players to have a good game in Blacksburg.

Adrian Thomas normally plays the power forward position, though he plays it
like a small forward. Thomas is the best three-point shooting “4” in
the ACC with a 41.2% mark from the outside. 42 of his 50 made field goals this
year have come from the outside, so Thomas lives and dies on the outside jumper.

DeQuan Jones (6-6, 219, So.) has started at small forward for most of the
season, though he was held out of the lineup against Maryland. Jones is a great
athlete and was a highly ranked recruit coming out of high school. His
basketball skills have not caught up to his athleticism as of yet. Considering
he did not start Miami’s last game, he could be one of the players that Frank
Haith doesn’t believe is putting out enough effort.


Miami has struggled with turnovers this year, partly thanks to running with
freshman point guard Durand Scott. Scott is a talented player, but it’s tough to
play over 25 minutes per game in the ACC as a freshman point guard. Malcolm
Grant, a solid scorer and transfer from Villanova, could start at either guard
spot.

For the second year in a row, James Dews has put up good numbers in
non-conference play and then seen a noticeable dropoff in ACC play. Dews is
averaging over 12 points per game on the year, but he has not averaged double
figures in ACC play. Also, despite shooting over 40% from three-point range for
the season, he is only 5-of-27 (18.5%) in conference play.

As a team, Miami’s shooting has gone down quite a bit since conference play
began. They are above only the Hokies in overall field goal percentage, and
their three-point shooting is also below 30%. Here’s a look at how the teams
compare in several important categories.

VT
vs. Miami Comparison, ACC Games Only
Category Miami VT
Stat Rank Stat Rank
Scoring Off. 64 ppg 12 68.4 ppg 8
Scoring Def. 73.8 ppg 11 68 ppg 5
FG% 40.70% 11 40.10% 12
FG% Def. 44.90% 9 49.90% 9
3Pt.% 28.30% 9 33.30% 4
3Pt.% Def. 34.30% 9 27.60% 3
FT% 69.30% 9 70.30% 5
Reb. Margin -4.8 12 -0.8 8
TO Margin -2.17 10 +4.4 1
Assist/TO Ratio 0.9 6 0.8 8
Average 9.8 6.3

Miami only ranks in the top half of the ACC in one category, assist/TO ratio,
and they are barely in the top half with a #6 ranking. They rank 10th or worse
in half of the categories, and ninth or worse in nine of 10. That’s how bad the
Canes have been in the ACC. They aren’t doing anything right.

On paper, this game looks like a mismatch for two big reasons. First, Miami
is the ACC’s worst scoring team, while Virginia Tech is arguably the best
defensive team in the league. Miami has also been terrible with turnovers this
year, and the Hokies are leading the league in that category. If the Canes give
Tech extra possessions and struggle to score on the offensive end, they’ll lose
to Seth Greenberg’s team for the fifth straight time.

The Hokies have recently made a habit out of beating Miami, and generally
beating them decisively.

Recent
Games with Miami
Date Result

Jan. 13, 2010
81-66 VT

Mar. 12, 2009
65-47 VT

Jan. 25, 2009
88-83 VT (in OT)

Mar. 14, 2008
63-49 VT

Average Score
74-61

You won’t find too many occasions in the ACC where one team dominates another by
that type of scoring margin over four straight games, especially when there
isn’t a big difference in talent level. For whatever reason, the Hokies have had
Miami’s number recently.

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Each team has been going in opposite directions recently. The Hokies are
rising, while Miami is falling fast. It stands to reason that Tech will win this
game relatively easy, based on the past history between these teams, and how
poorly Miami has been playing lately. However, we know that almost anything can
happen in ACC basketball. Any team in this league can knock you down to earth if
you don’t bring a high level of intensity.

The Hokies need a great effort on Sunday. If they bring that with them,
they’ll have a good shot to start the ACC season 4-2. That would be a great
mark, considering they’ve played just two home games in that six-game span.

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