Virginia Tech will be looking to improve to 4-0 when they take on UNC-Greensboro in the Greensboro Coliseum on Monday night.
Wes Miller and UNC-Greensboro
You might remember Wes Miller from his playing days at UNC. He made 64 three-pointers during the 2006-07 season, and won a National Championship with the Tar Heels. He was originally a scholarship player at James Madison, but left to be a walk-on at UNC.
Miller was the youngest head coach in Division I when he got the full-time job at UNC-Greensboro. He took over the program on December 13, 2011 as the interim head coach of a team that had started the season 2-8. From that point on, the Spartans went 11-11 and won the Southern Conference North Division title, and Miller was named the Coach of the Year in his league. Shortly thereafter, the interim tag was removed.
The UNC-Greensboro staff has a bit of a UNC flavor. Besides Miller, Jackie Manuel is also an assistant coach. He was a defensive standpoint for the Tar Heels under Roy Williams. Director of Basketball Operations J.B. Tanner was also a walk-on at UNC, and he has a National Championship ring to show for it.
UNC-Greensboro is 1-2 so far this season. They lost to High Point 81-73 to begin the season, and then knocked off Winston-Salem State 81-65. In their most recent game, the Spartans were defeated by East Carolina 76-73.
Here’s a look at the UNC-Greensboro players that the Hokies will face on Monday night.
G Drew Parker (6-1, 178, Jr.): 5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 17 assists, 5 TO’s. Parker is UNC-Greensboro’s starting point guard. He’s never been an offensive threat, though he has a high number of assists. He’s a very experienced player, having been in the playing rotation since he was a freshman.
G Korey Van Dussen (6-1, 175, Sr.): 8.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 11 assists, 4 TO’s. Van Dussen has been a solid player for UNC-Greensboro for his entire career. He doesn’t average in double figures, though he’s capable of exploding. He’s had a 33 point game in his career, and he has also scored in double figures against ACC competition three different times.
G/F Trevis Simpson (6-4, 185, Jr.): 21 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2 assists, 8 turnovers: Simpson is an excellent natural scorer. He averaged 11.8 points per game two years ago as a freshman. Last year he was First Team All-Southern Conference while averaging 18.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Simpson has a tendency to take a lot of shots, but when he gets hot he is a very dangerous player to deal with.
F David Wiliams (6-6, 205, Jr.): 7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4 assists, 6 TO’s: Williams is an undersized power forward and the type of player that is very common in the smaller conferences around the country. Virginia Tech needs to take advantage of this matchup.
F Kelvin McNeil (6-8, 230, r-Sr.): 3.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg. McNeil is UNC Greensboro’s biggest starter, though he only plays a little over 14 minutes per game.
Wes Miller has an effective bench that includes Derrell Armstrong (6-4, 205, Sr.), who is a very effective sixth man. Armstrong averaged in double figures last season, despite starting just three games. He hasn’t started this year as of yet, but he’s still second on the team in scoring, averaging 13 points per game. He’s a big wing, and Robert Brown and Jarell Eddie will both likely defend him at some point.
Kayel Locke (6-5, 240, Fr.) averages 27 minutes per game. He is off to a good start in his career, averaging 12.7 points and 4 rebounds per game. He will be the top inside player off the bench for the Spartans.
Miller will also play Taylor Hoffer (6-5, 210, Jr.), R.J. White (6-8, 280, Fr.), and Nicholas Paulos (6-7, 185, So.). Hoffer is not an offensive threat, while White is averaging just 0.7 points and 1.3 rebounds in about seven minutes per game. Paulos is a capable outside shooter who can provide quality minutes off the bench.
A Road Test
Virginia Tech is 3-0 this season, with all three wins coming in the friendly confines of Cassell Coliseum. This time the Hokies will have to play on the road in the Greensboro Coliseum, and they’ll be facing a team that seems to be well-coached. The Hokies have a talent advantage in this game, but it is still their first game on the road. Just about any road win is a solid win.
While Tech is 3-0, it’s a common theme for the Hokies to trip up early in the season with a loss to a non-conference opponent from a smaller league. That has been the trend for Tech, no matter who has been coaching them. If VT wins tonight’s game, and they also beat Appalachian State on Friday, it will be their first 5-0 start since the 1984-85 season. Chew on that one for a minute.
It might be easy to overlook UNC-Greensboro as fans, but take a look at some of the non-conference losses the ACC has suffered this season:
George Mason 63, UVA 59
South Alabama 76, FSU 71
Delaware 59, UVA 53
Florida Gulf Coast 63, Miami 51
Iona 94, Wake Forest 68
College of Charleston 71, Boston College 67
UNC-Greensboro is very capable of pulling the upset, particularly since they get the Hokies outside of Cassell Coliseum.