2011-12 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Norfolk State

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Virginia Tech will take on a very big and very experienced Norfolk State team
in Cassell Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. The Spartans are 6-3 on the season and
#36 in the latest RPI. Though that number will drop as the season progresses,
this has a chance to be a solid home win for the Hokies.

Norfolk State is 6-3, but as far as the RPI is concerned they are 5-2. The
Spartans beat a non Division I school, Randolph Macon. They also lost to
Division II Elizabeth City State 69-57. Former Virginia Tech point guard Marquie
Cooke, who is still playing college basketball at the ripe old age of 27, scored
18 points for Elizabeth City State.

The Spartans have two losses that count, both to Marquette. The first game
was at Marquette, and it was a 99-68 beating. The second meeting was on a
neutral floor, and the final score was 59-57, with Norfolk State nearly pulling
the upset.

State Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G Pendarvis Williams 6-6 195 So. 10.6 4.4
G Chris McEachin 6-6 195 Sr. 12.2 2.6
G Rodney McCauley 6-5 190 Sr. 3.9 3.0
F Marcos Tamares 6-7 210 Sr. 7.2 2.9
C Kyle O’Quinn 6-10 240 Sr. 14.4 10.8

This is a very capable team that will likely win their conference this year.
They have good height across the board, especially for a small conference team,
and they play a lot of seniors. They defeated 7-2 TCU by 13 points earlier this
year, and the Horned Frogs are #33 in the RPI and are the only team to beat UVA
this year.

Virginia Tech’s post players will have to come to play this week. Kyle
O’Quinn is averaging a double-double for the second season in a row, and he
would be a starter for the Hokies if he were wearing Orange and Maroon. Last
year’s MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, O’Quinn averaged 3.4 blocks per game,
and this year he already has 27 blocks in nine games.

O’Quinn has great height and he is in his third season as a starter.
DraftExpress.com ranks him as the 53rd best senior in college basketball. He had
17 points and 12 rebounds in the win over TCU, and 10 points and 13 boards in
the narrow loss to Marquette. O’Quinn will arguably be the best player on the
court on Sunday.

Norfolk State also has great height in the backcourt with Pendarvis Williams,
Chris McEachin and Rodney McCauley. Williams is a combo guard who was on the
MEAC All-Freshman team a year ago. He’s bigger than just about any guard he
faces, particularly in the MEAC.

It’s the same story for Chris McEachin, who averaged 8.7 points per game for
Radford in 2008-09, helping the Highlanders reach the NCAA Tournament. McEachin
is Norfolk State’s top three-point shooter at 33.9%, but overall the Spartans
are not a good outside shooting team, coming in with a mark of 30.9%.

Rodney McCauley is not a good scorer, but he is one of Norfolk State’s best
defenders. We could see him on Erick Green on the perimeter. Marcos Tamares is
the fifth starter, and the transfer from UMBC is a solid scorer.

Overall, Norfolk State and Virginia Tech have similar lineups. Both teams
basically start four perimeter players and one true post player. The Virginia
Tech post players will have to bring their A-game, because they will have their
work cut out for them with Kyle O’Quinn.

Right now, Norfolk State is a top 50 RPI team. Though they aren’t likely to
stay there, a win on Sunday would be a decent victory, and certainly wouldn’t
hurt the Hokies in the computer ratings.

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