2011-12 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Eastern Michigan

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Virginia
Tech faces Eastern Michigan in Cassell Coliseum on Thursday night in their
final game before a much-needed break. The Hokies have an opportunity to reach
the 10-win mark against the Eagles, with two more non-conference games remaining
against Oklahoma State and BYU.

Eastern Michigan is 5-6 overall, and currently ranks #186 in the RPI. They
have wins over Illinois-Chicago (#284), Arkansas-Little Rock (#300), IUPUI
(#238), Rochester (Non-Division I) and Radford (#298). The Eagles were in
Radford on Tuesday night to beat the Highlanders 52-48, so they won’t be
suffering from any jet lag when they visit Cassell Coliseum on Thursday. They
have been in the New River Valley all week.

Eastern Michigan is coached by Rob Murphy, who spent his previous seven years
on the staff at Syracuse. He picked up the 2-3 zone from Jim Boeheim, and on
Thursday night we’ll see the Eagles play 40 minutes of zone against the Hokies.
Fortunately the Hokies have seen that zone once already this season, when they
played Syracuse in Madison Square Garden.


Eastern
Michigan Starting Lineup

Pos.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

PPG

RPG
G Darrell Lampley 5-10 170 Sr. 15.3 1.8
G Antonio Green 6-3 190 Sr. 5.9 3.3
G J.R. Sims 6-3 180 r-So. 6.5 2.4
F Jamell Harris 6-9 215 Jr. 4.2 6.3
C Matt Balkema 6-10 285 Jr. 5.9 3.3

Rob Murphy is still toying with his starting lineup, so the one listed in the
table above might not be exactly correct for Thursday’s game, but it should be
mostly accurate.

The Eagles have some good size on the inside with Jamell Harris and Matt
Balkema. Off the bench, they can also bring in Kamil Janton (6-10, 230, Sr.) and
Da’Shonte Riley (7-0, 233, So.), so they have plenty of height in the
frontcourt. Riley is a transfer from Syracuse who was once a highly-touted
recruit. However, he struggled with injuries for the Orange. After sitting out
the first semester, he played in his first game against Radford, scoring eight
points and grabbing four rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench. He will be a big
boost to this Eastern Michigan team as the season progresses.

The Eagles are not a good offensive team at all, as the following numbers
show:

  • 55.1 points per game
  • 37.8% from the field
  • 28.8% from three-point range
  • 69.2% from the free throw line
  • 160 turnovers to just 99 assists

This is an offense that doesn’t operate well at all, and point guard Darrell
Lampley is the only true scorer on the team. He can shoot it from the outside
very well, and despite his size he can also score in the lane. However,
sometimes he tries to do too much, as he’s committed 37 turnovers in just 11
games.

Virginia Tech will have to have good ball movement and knock down open
jumpers to enjoy a lot of success against the 2-3 zone. They did a solid job
against Syracuse, but the Orange were just too talented. The Hokies have been
shooting the ball at a very high rate recently, and hopefully that will continue
on Thursday night.


VT
Shooting, Last 4 Games

Opp.

Points

FGM

FGA

FG%

3PM

3PA

3P%

FTM

FTA

FT%
Rhode Island 78 30 55 54.5% 7 16 43.8% 11 13 84.6%
Norfolk State 73 25 59 42.4% 7 15 46.7% 16 20 80.0%
Campbell 85 29 53 54.7% 5 12 41.7% 22 27 81.5%
North Florida 84 32 59 54.2% 7 17 41.2% 13 16 82.3%

Avg./Total

80 ppg

116

226

51.3%

26

60

43.3%

62

76

81.6%

Did you ever think you would see a Virginia Tech basketball team average 80
points per game, shoot over 50% from the field, well over 40% from three-point
range and over 80% from the free throw line over a four-game span? With the
exception of that 42.4% overall game against Norfolk State, that’s exactly what
the Hokies have done.

Those shooting numbers are the perfect formula to beat a team exclusively
runs a 2-3 zone defense. However, the Hokies will have to move the ball
effectively against the zone to put themselves in position to get good looks at
the basket. If their ball movement is good, they shouldn’t have much trouble in
this one, because it’s unlikely that Eastern Michigan will be able to score
enough points on the road to stay in the game.

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