Virginia Tech hosts I-81 rival VMI in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday night. The Keydets won’t be the typical high-scoring, three-point shooting team that we are used to. A new coaching staff was put in place in the offseason, and as a result they now run a totally different offense.
Dan Earl was hired to coach VMI. He was the associate head coach at Navy since 2011-12. That’s a good hire for the Keydets, as Earl obviously knows what it’s like to recruit to a military school.
Through two games, VMI is 1-1. They were defeated by Penn State (Earl’s alma mater) 62-50, and then they knocked off Tusculum 88-76. Here’s a look at their projected starting lineup…
G QJ Peterson (6-0, 190, Jr.): 16 ppg
G Tim Marshall (6-3, 185, Sr.): 2.5 ppg
G Julian Eleby (6-3, 190, Jr.): 14.5 ppg
F Phillip Anglade (6-5, 210, Sr.): 10 ppg, 5 rpb
F Trey Chapman (6-6, 205, Jr.): 8.5 ppg, 6.5 rpb
The Keydets feature their usual small starting lineup. The bench isn’t any bigger. Not one player on the VMI team is taller than 6-6, and nobody weighs more than 210. Just like the first two games of the season, the Hokies will possess a huge size advantage. They didn’t take advantage of their size against Alabama State, but they were able to do so against Jacksonville State by outrebounding the Gamecocks 54-29.
VMI’s top player is guard QJ Peterson. The guard averaged 19.6 points per game last season, and he was an 82.2% free throw shooter. He was the state Rookie of the Year in 2014-15 when he averaged 19 points per game as a freshman. He scored 22 points against the Hokies last season, and 14 in 2013, though he shot poorly in both games.
Tech’s defense has not been good through the first two contests. They need to focus on containing Peterson, and taking advantage of their overall size advantage over the Keydets. If they can do that, they should be able to improve to 2-1.