2010-11 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Miami

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(home games)
  • Date: Sunday, January 30, 2011
  • Time: 5:30 pm
  • TV: The ACC Network

After stumbling in a road game against Georgia Tech, the Hokies return home
to face the Miami Hurricanes in a Sunday evening game in Cassell Coliseum. Miami
is having a tough year, but they will bring in a very talented backcourt and big
frontcourt, and they’ve lost a number of games in the final minute.

The Canes are 12-8 on the season, with wins over Ole Miss, West Virginia and
Boston College. However, they have suffered some heartbreaking losses in games
that could have gone either way. They have close defeats at the hands of Memphis
(72-68), UCF (84-78), Florida State (55-53), NC State (72-70) and North Carolina
(74-71).

Miami has lost those last three ACC games by a total of seven points. They
could easily be 15-5, with a 4-2 mark in conference play. They would be ranked
in the top 30 in the RPI with that kind of record, and would stand an excellent
chance of making the NCAA Tournament. However, they lost three games that came
down to one play in each contest. That shows the razor-thin margin of error that
most teams have.

The Canes beat the Hokies two out of three times last season, despite playing
a lot of freshmen. The bulk of their team returned this year, and they are still
very young from top to bottom.

Miami
Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G Durand Scott 6-3 200 So. 13.9 4.3
G Malcolm Grant 6-1 180 Jr. 15.8 1.8
G Garrius Adams 6-6 196 So. 7 3.2
F Erik Swoope 6-6 230 Fr. 2.4 1.3
C Reggie Johnson 6-10 303 So. 12.2 10

Miami has good size on the wings, two good ball handlers and shooters at guard,
and the biggest man in the ACC at center. On paper, that’s an excellent starting
lineup. However, starting three sophomores and a freshmen makes this a very
young team despite their talent and matchup advantages. Besides the youth in
their starting lineup, the Canes have also brought several freshmen off the
bench at certain times of the year.

Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant are an exciting backcourt. Both players shoot
over 40% from three-point range, though Grant pulls the trigger on outside
jumpers a lot more often than Scott. Both players can run the point, which makes
them a similar combo to Malcolm Delaney and Erick Green. However, as a duo the
Miami players are better outside shooters simply because Green hasn’t developed
that part of his game as of yet.

Grant and Scott both get to the free throw line a lot. Grant is 75-of-83
(90.4%), while Scott is 78-of-89 (87.6%). Both can shoot, both can drive and
score, and both can drive and dish. Turnovers have been an issue at times, but
as this duo gains chemistry they will be one of the most dangerous backcourts in
the ACC.

They are joined by rangy wing Garrius Adams in the starting lineup. Adams is
a solid offensive player who is capable of knocking down the open jumper. He
plays a little over 27 minutes per game. Freshman forward Erik Swoope has been
starting recently at power forward, but he is averaging only 8.9 minutes per
game.

A couple of experienced combo forwards also see extensive playing time. Sixth
year senior Adrian Thomas (6-7, 226, Sr.) and DeQuan Jones (6-7, 219, Jr.)
combine to play 39 minutes per game. Thomas is the first man off Miami’s bench,
and he is a three-point specialist (38.7%) who is also solid on the boards.
Jones is a former 5-star recruit who is an excellent athlete, but he hasn’t
developed the basketball skills needed to excel. He is a poor shooter, and gets
by solely on his ability to run and jump.

Rion Brown (6-5, 188, Fr.) and Raphael Akpejiori (6-8, 229, Fr.) also see
action for Miami, but they haven’t developed into major threats at this point.

The big man to watch out for is Reggie Johnson, who is the biggest center in
the ACC. Johnson is averaging a double-double, and though he would probably be a
better player if he dropped some more weight, he is already very good. Virginia
Tech would like to use 40 minutes of zone to deny him the ball, but Miami has
some excellent three-pointers who can bury open jumpers.


Stats Comparison, ACC Games Only

Category

Miami

VT

Stat

Rank

Stat

Rank
FG% 41.2% 10 46.1% 1
FG% Def. 44.2% 8 40.6% 3
3Pt.% 36.8% 5 36.4% 6
3Pt.% Def. 33.9% 5 30.3% 1
FT% 75% 4 80.2% 1
Reb. Margin -0.8 8 -1.5 9
TO Margin +0.17 6 +0.83 4
Assist-TO 1.0 6 0.8 10
Scoring Off. 66.8 9 68.5 7
Scoring Def. 70.8 9 62.3 1

Average


7


4.3

Virginia Tech is the much better team, from a statistics standpoint. Through
six ACC games, Miami doesn’t rank higher than fourth in any category. They
haven’t gotten good shots, which leads to a low field goal percentage, but in
general their biggest fault has been failing to find a way to win close games in
the final minute. They are similar to Virginia Tech’s 2005-06 team: much better
than their record indicates.

This is a very dangerous matchup for the Hokies. If 6.5 years of ACC
basketball has taught us anything, it’s that things almost always even out.
Miami has lost three games in a row by a total of seven points, and they are a
much more talented team than their 1-5 ACC record indicates. They are due for a
win, and it’s up to the Hokies to defend their homecourt.

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