Our new pal Neimo, who's the Senior Writer for TechHoops.com, a web site solely focused on Virginia Tech basketball, sent us his impressions of his team.
A quick synopsis of the Hokies:
The Hokies will be extremely short-handed with two-time ACC Rookie of the Week Jeff Allen suspended for the game Thursday. He is VT's leading rebounder, leader in steals, second leading scorer, and second in blocks. Jeff was Tech's only offensive threat in the low post. Expect the Hokies to go small and use another guard, likely freshman Dorenzo Hudson, to replace Allen.
Tech has gone from a senior-laden back court last year in All-ACC guard Zabian Dowdell and ACC Defensive POY Jamon Gordon to a baby lineup. Both of Tech's point guards, Malcolm Delaney and Hank Thorns, are freshman.
In the front court, Tech returns A.D. Vassallo, Deron Washington, and Cheick Diakite. Vassallo is the Hokies' best offensive threat. He is Tech's best three-point shooter and can also score off the dribble, but he commits way too many turnovers. Deron is familar to Greg Paulus, who watched Deron fly over him, literally, in the VT win last year at Cameron Indoor. Washington also blocked Paulus's three-point attempt at the buzzer that would have won the game.
When Allen is around, VT regularly goes five deep on their bench. Tech is so young (they play six true freshmen), that they really just plug in whomever is hot that night. Since the Hokies are already tapping into their bench to replace Allen, don't expect many points from the bench. Tech as it is only averages 16 bench points.
Hank Thorns will sub at point, but he is just 5'9" (in heels). The devils may have a power play with him on defense. J.T. Thompson and Terrell Bell are energy guys, while Lewis Witcher will back up Washington and Diakite inside.
As I said on TechHoops.com, the Hokies must hit eight or more threes in this game (they average much less than that). Also, Tech must win the turnover margin by five or more. VT cannot keep pace with the devils scoring. Tech is a defensive-oriented team that needs to find a way to get stops. I'm just not sure how that will happen since Tech has been susceptible to good three-point shooting teams.
Virginia Tech is 7-0 at home this season and 1-1 against the devils at Cassell Coliseum since joining the ACC. VT is 2-3 overall against the devils, even with that Dockery miracle.