Hokies prepping for season opener Friday night

Virginia Tech Basketball Preview by Niemo
www.techhoops.com

niemo.jpgtechhoops_144x216.gifHey, Hokie fans, hit I-81 a little early on Friday and head on down for your FSU weekend appetizer: The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team makes their 2007-08 debut when they take on the elon fightin’ Christians … er, I mean Phoenix, at Cassell Coliseum. In all likelihood, VT will welcome their 4 millionth fan to Cassell during this game!
If you haven’t been reading TechHoops.com (shame on you), you might want to buy a program because there will be a lot of new faces for the Hokies. The last time the Hokies walked off the Cassell Coliseum in the spring, VT said goodbye to over 4,500 points, 1,500 rebounds, 1,000 assists, and 500 steals. Tech lost five seniors (Dowdell, Gordon, Collins, Sailes, and Tucker) along with two transfers/deportations (munson and krabbendam). Baby Hokie Roster.

That said, the Hokies welcome their biggest and arguably most talented recruiting class ever, and that’s even without gus gilchrist or Darrion Pellum. [Note: Gilchrist has recently verballed to the communist party, aka, the Maryland Terps.]

The baby Hokies will feature an all new backcourt with mighty-mite Hank Thorns (5′9″) and top 100 recruit [Rivals.com] Malcolm Delaney. That’s pretty much it for the backcourt. Expect A.D. Vassallo to play a good bit at the shooting guard spot in this game. A.D. and Deron will man the three position, which is a hybrid of wing guard and small forward.

In the post, back are role players Lewis Witcher and Cheick Diakite. Witcher needs to come out with some intensity in this game since his minutes shrunk greatly as last year went on. Otherwise, he might be left in the dust by new teammates Jeff Allen and J.T. Thompson. Terrance Vinson, a redshirt sophomore, might also see some minutes. He needs to prove he belongs on the court.

Opponent

Elon has played two exhibition games so far. Now, you may be sitting there saying, “So what, they beat Belmont abbey and the North Carolina Wesleyan Battling Bishops [I’m not making that up, that’s their nickname]”. But let me tell you, throw out the records when those teams get together. OK, enough tomfoolery.

The Phoenix lost two of their top three scorers from last year on a team that went 7-23. They were outscored 70-63 on average and out-rebounded by three per game (even worse than VT). They only return one player that averages double digits scoring per game, so they are similar to Tech in that manner — except they didn’t bring in the horses VT did.

Elon’s top returning scorer is #10 Brett James. He averaged 12 per game last year, and 16 in their two exhibitions this year. #3 Montell Watson also averaged 16 in the two exhibition games. #5 Devan Carter is the likely other starter at guard.

Elon does not shoot the three well, but they do hit the boards hard, dominating their two opponents on the glass. #32 Adam Constantine had a whopping 18 rebounds in their second exhibition. Like the Hokies, elon has no player over 6′9″ on the roster. But their two low post starters are 6′8″+ and over 220 lbs, in #23 Ola Atoyebi and #33 Scott Grable.

The Phoenix will run a three-guard similar to VT. Like the Hokies, their wing player is a lanky guy (James who is 6′5″, 185).

Elon is a member of the Southern Conference, VT’s home from 1921-1965.

Elon features six players from the Commonwealth.

Mildly Interesting Fact – Elon was known as the fighting Christians until 1999. That year, they entered Division I athletics and decided they wanted a more universal appeal. Phoenix was picked since the school had suffered a horrible fire in the early 1900s, but they “rose from the ashes” like a phoenix. And there’s some religious ties to a phoenix.

Prediction

Pain. For the Phoenix. This team went just 7-23 last year, and lost by a combined 59 points to Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. That’s Ricky Stokes-esque! Elon didn’t crack 50 in either ACC contest, and they lost their top two scorers. And Seth Greenberg knows defense. Even if it takes the baby Hokies a while to figure out where their points are going to come from, they will play some D.

This game is a glorified exhibition for the Hokies. This is a chance for the four newcomers (that are healthy and qualified) to show their stuff, and for role players to earn their minutes. Expect the guys to play hard to jockey for minutes in bigger games.

Gambler’s Delight

If you bet on this game, you must be on medication for Restless Leg Syndrome [Note: one of the side effects of RLS is excessive gambling! You can’t make this stuff up! Expect to see this joke a lot this year…] With all the new faces on the VT roster, there’s no telling how this VT team will do, especially in their first game. I’ll check back once I see the line…

Next Game: Thanksgiving Day in Anchorage at 1:45 a.m. vs. Eastern Washington in the Greak Alaskan Shootout

TechHoops.com is a news partner of The SportsDominion.

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