Basketball Game Preview: Campbell at Virginia Tech

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Virginia
Tech opens its highly-anticipated 2010-11 basketball season Friday night in
Cassell Coliseum against the Campbell Camels, in a rematch of a close road game
played early last season in Buies Creek, North Carolina. In last year’s game,
Campbell battled a sloppy Hokie team closely before Virginia Tech pulled away
for a hard-fought 70-61 win.

That game was played in Campbell’s new Pope Center/Gore Arena, in front of a
record (and greater than capacity) crowd of 3,205. The Hokies led 33-31 at the
half and were up just 52-51 with six minutes to go. Malcolm Delaney drained a
three-pointer to go over 1,000 points for his career and spark a 19-9 Hokie run
that led to the 70-61 win.

J.T. Thompson ignited the Hokies off the bench with 17 points and 6 rebounds.
Delaney had 15 and Dorenzo Hudson 10. Jeff Allen struggled with foul trouble and
played just 19 minutes and scored just 7 points, in a pattern that would repeat
itself many times last year.

The Hokies played the dangerous road game as a favor from Seth Greenberg to
his friend, Campbell head coach Robbie Laing. Campbell went on to go 19-11
overall, 14-6 in the Atlantic Sun, and Laing won Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year.
Campbell finished in a four-way tie for the league championship, and the Camels
were eliminated in the first round of their conference tournament.

Campbell lost leading scorer Jonathan Rodriguez from last year’s team, and
they have a whopping eight newcomers on this year’s squad, but they do return
two preseason all-conference selections in senior point guard Junard Hartley and
junior shooting guard Lorne Merthie.

Probable Campbell
Starting Lineup
Pos Name Ht Wt Yr. PPG RPG APG
G Junard Hartley 6-3 210 Sr. 6.3 3.5 5.9
G Lorne Merthie 6-2 190 Jr. 10.6 2.3 1.7
G Amir Celestin 6-1 185 Jr. 4.6 1.5 2.0
F Preston Dodson 6-6 220 Sr. 6.4 3.3 0.6
F Eric Griffin* 6-8 190 Jr. 8.1 6.5 n/a
* JUCO transfer; played at
Garden City (KS) CC last year

Hartley was last seasons’ A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3 point
guard ranked ninth in the country in assists (5.93) and 12th in steals (2.57),
and he also scored 6.3 ppg. Merthie led the league in 3-point field goal
accuracy (.452) in A-Sun regular season play and was Campbell’s second-leading
scorer at 10.6 ppg. Merthie was the A-Sun Freshman of the Year two seasons ago.

They will present a solid duo against which Hokie guards Malcolm Delaney and
Dorenzo Hudson can kick-start their seasons.

Amir Celestin played 18.8 minutes per game last year and will be relied upon
more heavily this season, as Laing looks to get more consistency from him.

At 6-3, Hartley matchups up well size-wise with 6-3 Hokie point guard Malcolm
Delaney, but 6-5 Dorenzo Hudson and 6-6 Terrell Bell will present height
problems for Campell’s 6-2 Merthie and 6-1 Celestin.

Down in the post, Campbell will match up 6-6 Preston Dodson and 6-8 JUCO
transfer Eric Griffin against Tech’s Jeff Allen (6-7) and Victor Davila (6-8).
Griffin is an athletic player that Laing hopes can step into the role vacated by
last year’s leading scorer, Jonathan Rodriguez.

Dodson spent his first year as a recruited walk-on, earned a scholarship as a
sophomore, and has played in all 90 of Campbell’s games over his first three
seasons. Dodson started 18 games last year, so he’s a very experienced player
for a first-time, full-time starter. Dodson and Hartley are co-captains.

Beyond the five starters, Campell brings back very little experience, and the
14-man roster features eight newcomers, including Griffin. With so many new
players, and playing on the road against an experienced ACC team, Campbell
should have a hard time competing with a Hokie team that brings back all five
starters from last year.

For the Hokies, projected starters are Malcolm Delaney, Dorenzo Hudson,
Terrell Bell, Jeff Allen, and Victor Davila. Other players to watch are backup
point guard Erick Green, who has reportedly been playing very well in practice
after ending last season in a horrendous dry spell, shooting less than 30% for
the season and making just 2 of his last 17 three-pointers. If Green can carry
his newfound practice confidence onto the court during games, it will be a huge
boost for the Hokies.

This game should also be the first action for Tech’s two new freshmen, 6-1
point guard Tyrone Garland out of Philadelphia and 6-7 wing Jarell Eddie out of
Charlotte. Garland is the third-leading scorer in Philadelphia public school
history (2,198 points), who needs to work on his overall game. Eddie is a
strong, gifted inside-outside scorer who may play a major role this year, with
Tech’s post depth problems. Eddie is more likely to play significant minutes
than Garland.

Post player Cadarian Raines will not play in Tech’s first three games, while
recovering from a broken foot.

Unlike last season on the road, the Hokies should handle Campbell fairly
easily in this game. After Friday’s game, Virginia Tech will not play in Cassell
Coliseum again until December 1st, when they face Purdue in the ACC/Big Ten
Challenge.

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