Furman will bring a very young basketball team to Blacksburg on Tuesday night. The Hokies are coming off two consecutive losses in the Barclays Center to Michigan State and Seton Hall, and they’ll be looking to get back on track.
The Paladins enter the game with a 2-2 record after only winning seven games all of last season. Here’s how their season has gone thus far:
66-49 W vs. Sewanee
75-64 W vs. Gardner-Webb
70-69 L vs. Florida Gulf Coast
89-55 L vs. College of Charleston
Furman is coached by Niko Medved. He is a former assistant at Furman before moving on to Colorado State as an assistant. The was on the Colorado State staff last season when the Rams blew out the Hokies.
Medved has a big rebuilding job ahead of him, and he’ll bring a very young team into Cassell Coliseum tonight.
G Stephen Croone (6-1, 170, So.): Croone leads the team in scoring, averaging 21 points per game. However, he’s only shooting 14.3% from three-point range.
G Aaron O’Neill (6-0, 180, Jr.): This is O’Neill’s first season in the playing rotation. At just 2.3 points per game, he is not a threat to score. All three of his field goals this season have come from behind the three-point line.
G Larry Wideman (6-4, 190, So.): Wideman started as a freshman last season. He averages 11.3 points per game and he’s a very competent outside shooter.
F Keith Belfield (6-6, 205, So.): Belfield is the type of undersized forward that you typically see in smaller conferences. He can step out and hit the outside jumper, but he should have trouble inside against the bigger Hokies.
F Kendrec Ferrara (6-9, 235, So.): Ferrara is Furman’s biggest player. He is averaging 7.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Furman starts those four sophomores, and a pair of freshmen will also see major playing time.
William Gates, Jr. (6-1, 180, Fr.): Gates comes off the bench to average 11.8 points per game. He is shooting 55.6% from three-point range.
Kris Acox (6-6, 215, Fr.): Acox isn’t much of a scorer at 1.3 points per game, but he is pulling down 5.3 rebounds per contest.
Besides their lack of size, Furman has had a big issue in assist/turnover ratio. They have just 32 assists in four games, while they’ve turned the basketball over 46 times.
Meanwhile, the Hokies have had their own struggles with turnovers. In six games, Tech has 74 assists and 86 turnovers. Even worse, while committing 86 turnovers themselves, the Hokies have forced only 47 turnovers. That’s one of the worst marks in the country. The Hokies also dropped off the map in defensive efficiency once they played a couple of power conference teams.
Defensive efficiency: #171
Opp. Turnovers per Possession: #348
Only two teams in the country are worse than Virginia Tech in forcing turnovers: UAB and Weber State. The Hokies need to get a lot better defensively, in both forcing turnovers and forcing bad shots.