It was just over a week ago when the Virginia Cavaliers completely dominated the Virginia Tech Hokies in Charlottesville. Since then, the Hokies have played just once, losing a close game to Miami. The Hoos, meanwhile, lost to Syracuse before beating Louisville, and while Virginia hasn’t played since Monday, they are beginning a stretch of four games in just eight days. Certainly, another easy win would be nice, as it would keep some guys well rested.
You would think nothing has changed in 11 days, but you’d be wrong. Against the Hurricanes, Hokies head coach Buzz Williams re-inserted Chris Clarke and Ahmad Hill into the starting lineup. Seth Allen moved back to the bench, and played just 23 minutes. Against Virginia, he had played all 40 minutes.
Zach LeDay continues to lead Virginia Tech in scoring, despite coming off the bench. He had a double-double in Miami, in 30 minutes. Against the Hoos, he played 29 minutes and had 12 points and 6 rebounds. Both Clarke and Hill struggled against the Hoos. Clarke had seven rebounds (he leads the team with over seven per game) but only five points. Hill had five points and five rebounds. Against Virginia, they played 31 and 24 minutes, respectively. Against Miami, they played 36 and 32 minutes. The blowout against Virginia may have skewed the minutes, especially for Clarke who has been playing heavy minutes even while coming off the bench.
The lineup changes hurt freshman Ty Outlaw the most. Outlaw played his fewest minutes in almost a month against Miami, getting just 10 minutes. He played 18 against the Hoos, though again the blowout may have contributed to extended minutes for him.
In last week’s preview, I suggested that Seth Allen’s ridiculous shooting percentages may be due to drop. In two games since then, he has shot 8/17 (47%) on 2s and 1/6 (16%) on 3s. The 3-point numbers are low, but the 2-point shooting is much more in line with his career numbers than the 60%+ that he’s been shooting all season long.
As a team, the Hokies are very reliant on the three-ball. Entering the last game against the Hoos, Tech was 22nd in the nation in 3 point shooting. They are now 49th. Still good, but they’ve fallen off quite a bit. In the two games, they’ve shot 7/33 (21%). They have some guys who can shoot, so you expect their percentage shooting to go up, especially returning home. But it begs the question of whether they are truly a 39% shooting team, or if those numbers have been inflated. A number of those shots were taken by the “wrong” players. For example, Clarke and LeDay combined for four treys against the Hoos. Those are shots the Hoos will give all day long, as both are just 25% shooters. But Hill is a 39% career shooter and he’s 1-8 over the past two games and as mentioned, Allen is just one of six. Those aren’t likely to continue. The Hoos need to be strong on the perimeter because if the Hokies get hot from 3 they can absolutely win this game.
Though they start 6’10” Khadim Sy, they most often run with 6’7” LeDay as the “big man”, surrounded by guards and wings. Against the Hurricanes, the lineup was most often LeDay, Clarke and Hill along with PG Justin Robinson and SG Justin Bibb. Robinson played very well in that game, with 15 points on 8 shots. He struggled against the Hoos though. It will be interesting to see how the rotation this time out compares to last time. Will Allen be back in the starting lineup? He was effective against the Hoos. What does that mean for Clarke and Hill?
For more detailed scouting reports, please check out last week’s preview.