Before tomorrow's meeting with Virginia Tech, we wrote back-and-forth with staff from Gobbler Country, the SB Nation Virginia Tech Hokies site. Here's our exchange on the game with GC's Charles Workman. Click the link above for the other end of the conversation:
TT: The Hokies are a dismal 8-12 to date. What's been the source of their struggles?
GC: The Hokies turn the ball over a ton. They are in the 330s nationally in turnover margin. Freshman point guard Devin Wilson has been forced into way too minutes due to attrition and injury eating into our backcourt depth. He is 5th from the bottom in turnover ratio per SCACChoops.com. The Hokies also lack cohesiveness in both their offensive and defensive half-court sets. On offense the movement is wasted, as the ball doesn't swing in tandem with the cuts. Guys come open and the ball is on the other side of the floor. It's a train wreck. Defensively we seem to get lulled to sleep far too easily. The more patient a team is, the better chance they have to score on the Hokies.
TT: Any time you lose an elite scorer like Green, I'm sure there are challenges. Aside from the loss in raw points (25 per game last year, in fact), how has his departure impacted Virginia Tech?
GC: Erick Green was not only a volume scorer, he was among the most efficient scorers in the country. Honestly though, the team is actually deeper this year, though you wouldn't know it with the way we feature former walk-ons in the starting lineup. Naturally, Green had blossomed into a leadership role, and battled through exhaustion at times, and the example he set was a good one. But I'm not sure I'm going to say he couldn't be replaced by three or four other players just improving their games, or a couple ready-to-play recruits.
TT: Va. Tech has a deep rebounding squad this year, with eight different players averaging between three and six boards per night. Why haven't they been able to convert a reasonably good rebounding effort into success on either the offensive or defensive end?
GC: The instructions from the bench can dictate rebounding margin more than you might expect. Opposing coaches just send three back on D on every miss, and send just two or even one at times to the offensive glass. Because why risk giving the Hokies the only points they know how to get: Threes above the break in transition or threes from the corner on a sort of bastardized secondary break (it's shaky to call it that). If the opposing defense has four back by the time the VT PG receives the outlet pass, it's about a 30% chance we'll turn it over muddling through the halfcourt.
TT: Are there any particular match-ups you think Maryland can exploit on Saturday? How about Virginia Tech?
GC: Dez Wells would be wise to attack the tin early and often and try to generate a little foul trouble on the freshman who is likely to be guarding him (Ben Emelogu). Emelogu is the only player VT has on the wing that can stay with Dez in a footrace. The other two swingmen are soft and would rather play out on the wing. I like Wilson's chance to have a bounce-back game against Seth Allen, he has a size advantage, and Allen isn't very physically imposing. The post battle is going to be a monkey _____=fight. Lots of interior bricklaying and missed FTs. I think the more you can free Allen up to get a little dribble penetration the easier it will be to get the kick-outs to Layman in the spots he likes.
TT: What's your game prediction?
GC: Prediction? Now keep in mind that last week I had UVA to beat VT 67-45, and the Wahoos couldn't get that last basket and only won 65-45, which made me bitter. So all eyes are on me so to speak. Is the kid for real? I'm going to call it in favor of Maryland, 71-60. Jake Layman with 22, Dez Wells with 18.