Buzzketball Central: Radford Highlanders (4-3) at Virginia Tech Hokies (7-1) 6PM 6DEC ACC Network Extra (WatchESPN)

GAME INFORMATION
Date/Time: Dec. 6, 2017 / 6 p.m.
Opponent: Radford
Site: Blacksburg, Virginia (Carilion Clinic Court at Cassell Coliseum)
Radio: Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network
Talent: Jon Laaser & Mike Burnop
Internet: ACC Network Extra
Talent: Andrew Allegretta & Mack McCarthy
Live Stats: HokieSports.com
Game Notes: Virginia Tech

No Listing for Sirius/XM Radio

New River Valley Challenge

Buzzketball is now 7-1 on the season, and faces a scrappy Highlander team that has lost several tight games this season. The Hokies had to survive a close finish for the first time this season. Hopefully it will pay dividends once they reach the ACC schedule. They now have wins over three Power 5 opponents on the season.

The Hokies come home victorious from the Ole Miss Pavillion to face a Radford squad with a 4-3 record, having suffered losses to Elon, Vanderbilt and Ohio State. Their victories so far are over Georgia Southwestern State, ECU, James Madison, and VMI. The Highlanders are giving up an average of 68.6 points per game so far. This is the lowest total points allowed by a Hokies opponent so far this year. The Hokies managed to escape in overtime against the Rebels on Saturday but the Highlanders are a much more proficient defensive team than Ole Miss. I still expect to see another game where the Hokies shoot extremely well, especially outside. Radford opponents are currently shooting 37% from outside on 24 attempts per game. These two teams have met nine times, with the Hokies leading the series 7-2.


The Highlanders are coached by Mike Jones. He has been the head coach at Radford since 2011 during which time the Highlanders have gone 97-106, with two trips to the CBI in 2014 and 2015. This is his only stint as a head coach, but spent 21 years as an assistant at VCU, UGA, WVU, Richmond, Furman, Howard, and high school powerhouse Sidwell Friends School. Coach Jones is a heavy follower of Shaka Smart's coaching tendencies in regards to up tempo pace on both ends of the floor but seems like this season has transitioned to a more methodical offense.

Defensively, the Highlanders have historically been a high pressure defense that utilizes the entire court to slow offensive possessions. Jones coaches his teams to be especially aggressive around the mid court line to create turnovers and usually play strictly in a man to man defense in the half court but appear to be using much more 2-3 zone defense this season. His teams over the last few seasons though have struggled in this category and this season they are only turning their opponents over just over 10 times per game which is extremely low for a high pressure defense. As a comparison, The Citadel, one of Tech's earlier opponents is turning opponents over 22.25 times per contest so far this year.

Offensively, Coach Jones puts an emphasis on rebounding on both ends of the court to create offensive possessions. They also seem to utilize the Dribble Drive Motion Offense, although I am pulling that from watching video as I wasn't able to find anything directly attributed to the coach. The premise of this offense is to get your guards consistently driving the ball into the lane to create spacing and open shooters if the primary drive doesn't lead to a shot. The Hokies will need to ensure they protect the paint but are able to defend their assigned shooter. So far this season, the Highlanders are attempting just under 25 shots per game from outside with 8 of those attempts coming from Carlik Jones and Donald Hicks who both are shooting better than 45% from outside. There are six Highlanders that attempt at least 2.4 shots from outside per game.

What does that mean for the Hokies?

The Hokies will be back home in one of the last games before the students leave for winter break. Hopefully it will be a home team crowd but it's not as if Radford fans have far to travel to cheer on the Highlanders here. The team needs to find it inside themselves to come out with the necessary energy to be competitive early. While even with a sluggish start I don't expect Radford to win this, why give them a chance.

Radford is allowing opponents to shoot 37% on 25 attempts per game outside. This plays right into the Hokies hands who are still shooting 4% from outside even after their dreadful performance against Ole Miss.

The Highlanders are not a gigantic team this season with only two players at 6'8. Much like the Hokies they rely on their guard's or stretch forwards to create offense. Radford has found it difficult putting the ball in the hoop at a consistent rate this season. They are currently only managing 69.3 PPG which is lower than the lowest output by Tech this season.

The Highlanders are a team that has solid depth, returning four of five starters from last season and consistently playing nine players for 15 or more minutes per game. There is one Radford starter that is averaging at least 30 minutes. The Highlanders are shooting the ball at 42% from the floor and 69% from the charity stripe. The Highlanders perimeter shooting is managing just 37% on 25 attempts per game.

The Hokies shouldn't rely on getting to the charity line in this contest though as the Highlanders opponents average only 16.4 attempts per game. This was a trend they bucked in the last game against Ole Miss though so it could continue here. None of the Radford players have more than 2.7 fouls per game this season so they play solid clean defense as a whole.

Highlanders Backcourt


Freshman Carlik Jones, #1, 6', 170 lbs is the highest scoring guard for the Highlanders, averaging 10.4 PPG, 3 RPG, and 2.4 APG. He is shooting 47% from the field and 74% from the stripe. He is attempting 3 shots per game from outside, hitting 48% so it's critical that the Hokies close out on him. His role on this team is just starting to develop but currently Radford utilizes his as the sixth man who comes in much the way Allen and Leday did last season for the Hokies. He is also their high energy defender, so if Robinson or Nickiel Walker- Alexander are finding their way down low, they will likely eventually be covered by Jones.


Sophomore Donald Hicks, #5, 6'3, 170 lbs, is having another strong season after a solid freshmen season. So far this season he is averaging 9.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1 APG, while shooting 46% from outside. He attempts just under 5 three pointers per game. He also has managed to shoot 100% from the line so far this season. He has a balanced ability to shoot from outside or work the ball in.


Junior Caleb Tanner, #10, 6'1, 170 lbs is averaging 7 PPG and 1 RPG. He is surprisingly efficient on offense, getting 7 points per contest in only 12 minutes played per game. He is shooting 91% from the line, while also shooting 39% inside and 34% outside. He obviously is getting most of the looks while in the game because his shooting percentages outside the line are not impressive.


Senior Christian Bradford, #3, 6'1, 165 lbs is putting up 5.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, and 2.1 APG. He is shooting 44% from the field but a miserable 50% from the line. He shoots almost as well from the perimeter as he does the line, hitting 41% of his outside shots on 2.4 attempts per contest.

Sophomore Travis Fields, #11, 5'9, 150 lbs is averaging 5.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1 APG and 1.1 SPG. He is just beginning to finally acclimate to Coach Jones style after transferring in from Old Dominion over the summer.

Highlanders Frontcourt


Junior Ed Polite, #24, 6'5, 200 Lbs, is the Highlanders leading scorer averaging 12.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.3 SPG, and 1.9 BPG. This guy does it well on both ends of the court putting an undersized body to use against bigger opponents. He is putting the ball in at 47% and hits from the line at 79%.


Senior Center Randy Phillips, #32, 6'8, 240 lbs. came to Radford last season from East Central Community College. He has managed 5.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 1 APG while shooting 43% from the field. Phillips is a candidate for Hack-a-Shaq since he manages, shooting 48% from the line.


Sophomore Devonnte Holland, #15, 6'7, 240 Lbs is averaging 5 PPG and 3.9 RPG so far. He is shooting 47.2% from the field and a lowly 20% from the free throw line.

What to expect from Radford?

This should have been a fairly experienced starting five since Radford returned four of five starters but this season has had some growing pains as Coach Jones looks to integrate some better talent on the court without upsetting the whole apple cart. There are now nine Highlanders getting at least 16 minutes per game.

This opponent seems to want to be aggressive but slow. They have taken only 414 shots so far this season which is 295th in the country. Much like the Georgia Tech offense on football, they look to chew up the clock to limit the damage their opponent can do and have been relatively successful as opponents only average 68.6 PPG so far.

Radford will utilize some pressure defense beyond mid court in man to man but this season seems to mostly utilize zone in the half court. The guards are quick to the ball handler but have not been generating turnovers consistently. Radford is good at forcing teams to find a good shot and utilizing most of the shot clock to do so.

Radford goes as Ed Polite Jr. goes. If the Hokies can find a way to make him have an off night it will be like removing the engine from a car. The Highlanders will stall and play decent defense but will have difficulty getting anything going on offense.

The Hokies

The Hokies should have a height and size advantage at every spot on the floor and it only gets wider as the teams move down their benches. I do not expect the Hokies will see another team this season that has as many six foot or shorter opponents on the floor.

The other area that is likely in the Hokies favor is their ability to break press defense and drive to the basket. The Highlanders opponents have struggled to get inside which is surprising given their size but I anticipate that the Hokies will be able to get to the rim with their premier athleticism.

Avoid the slug – The Hokies have to find a way to not play down to the speed of their opponents as we have seen multiple times this season, it keeps the opponent in the game way longer than necessary. Press defense, highlight reel antics, score in transition....all these things help the Hokies resist the malaise of playing slow methodical basketball.

The Hokies will rely on their perimeter shooting all season to be the biggest difference, they are currently hitting 45% which is 5th in the nation on 22 attempts per game. They also need to continue to get to the free throw line, where they have attempted the 9th most so far at over 30 attempts per contest.

The Hokies now have five players scoring in double digits with Justin Robinson moving up to 10.2 so far. Bibbs is at 18.3, Hill is at 17.8, NAW at 14.9, and Blackshear at 12.6. Keep up the balanced scoring to make it difficult on any defense to focus on one shooter. The Hokies still lead the nation in shooting percentage overall at 55% although this is a bit misleading since Tech is 213th is shots taken. They have however moved back to #1 in scoring per game at 96.8 PPG.

Highlight of the Ole Miss Game

Team perseverance by methodically getting themselves back in the game after a terrible first half. Definitely showing growth over the St Louis loss earlier in the season.

In Closing

Broken Record time but with the way Radford plays, if the Hokies fall into that quicksand they could have difficulty extracting themselves. They should be leaving Highlanders in the dust all over the court and if they manage to do so, this game is over early.

This may be the one of only two games left in the OOC schedule that the Hokies don't reach 100 points, the other being the Kentucky game. This game will likely be close early on but as the Hokies wake up and start to assert their athleticism this game will quickly move to another big win for the Hokies.

Kerry Blackshear needs to continue to dominate inside and have another good night working on proper positioning for rebounds before the ACC Slate. Clarke will have another double-double. Robinson could get to 10 assists in this game if things go really well.

Hokies 87 – Highlanders 63

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.

Comments

Let's go!

VB born, class of '14, Semper Paratus

Hokies!

30 Minutes to GAMETIME!!

Uggh these commentators are so biased toward the Hokies/ACC 🙄 /ssss

Good start. Guys have come out fast, are forcing turnovers. Quickly 12-6 with NAW going to the line.

As soon as I say something they get sloppy with the ball on multiple trips down.

Looking a little sloppy.

Keep calm, Gobble on

Beautiful pass by Robinson.

VB born, class of '14, Semper Paratus

They basketball in Floyd?

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Yes and really well when Tanner was there.

I had a chance to play against him while he was coming off two straight 59 point games.

Frustrating that we have allowed them to hit baskets essentially as the shot clock expired on three occasions so far.

I feel like we have done this a fair amount this year, playing good defense until 3 seconds left on shot clock and then give up a basket. I'm sure this isn't lost on Buzz and will get corrected.

That's twice that Blackshear hasn't finished an And 1 situation. He has to be able to make that layup when the guy bumps him from behind.

Believe I'll just take a backseat on this thread...

"I'm a Miller Lite guy, always have been, since I was 8." -John Daly

Blackshear hits the three lol

VB born, class of '14, Semper Paratus

Another bad foul followed by an even worse one by Blackshear.

🚨 Wilson drained a 3 🚨

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

Time to chug my beer!

VB born, class of '14, Semper Paratus

Wilson this year has really been looking for a shot more than ever before - driving to the basket and throwing up threes.

He wants to make the most of his 13th and final season.

Sometimes I like to leave off the /s just to mess with people.

Did you know that he played football last year? Learned a lot about being a leader

Guys are raining threes. Eight threes versus nine twos in the half.

Awesome first half. Showing how athletic and fast we are so far. Would have loved for Clarke to finish that oop, but we're shooting lights out right now

BuzzFiredUp@5:24.gif

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-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

Up 25, Tyrie Jackson slides like ten feet on his stomach to tie up a ball, which leads to a Blackshear layup and one on the other end. Love the hustle!

VB born, class of '14, Semper Paratus

Wasn't looking, technical?

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

I just cut the game on. Who got T'd up?

Sometimes I like to leave off the /s just to mess with people.

Jackson. Made a good basket and said something to the guy defending him.

What an alley oop!

VB born, class of '14, Semper Paratus

MedHillAlleyOop.gif incoming

"For those who have passed, for those to come, reach for excellence."

It's pronounced Refford or RAD-Ford!

We put the K in Kwality

I've said it before, Justin Robinson reminds me of Kendall Marshall. Only other person I've seen pass the ball that hard and push it up the floor that fast

Here lies It's a Stroman Jersey I Swear, surpassed in life by no one because he intercepted it.

This can't hurt the averages.

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-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

Believe it or not that score slightly brings down our PPG. Offense is blazing to start the season besides the SLU game

We lost a two tenths of a point off of our scoring average tonight.

It's Radford and hard to gauge anything from this but.......

......I think we are a really good team. We are going to beat some good ACC teams. And we are going to run some out of the gym.

Bilas seems to share your opinion.

His piece on ESPN today ranking his top 68 teams he is at 27, specifically because he thinks we are a good team and will "give Kentucky and many other teams" a really hard time

I know its Radford, but we have never dominated the "preseason" like this before. While I am certain we won't score anywhere close to 97 ppg in the ACC, the current level of play bodes well for conference play.

Just finished watching the game and that Jrob behind the back dribble into a half court alley oop was filthy. Probably the single best 4 seconds of Hokie Basketball since The Teabagging of Paulus.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

It's a close one with NAW's behind the back half court pass followed by the off the backboard dunk from earlier this season.

VT Class of '12 (MSE), MVBone, Go Hokies!

I missed that one, which game?

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

ChrisClarkeAlleyOopvsDuke.gif

VT '17

London Perrantes shot getting stuck on the rim

Outside its night time, but inside its LeDay

OT:UW Huskies beating Kansas by 14 with 2:11 remaining.

Huskies win!

VB born, class of '14, Semper Paratus

That's gotta help that RPI

Wow. They looked terrible against us.

Is Justin Robinson the best passer to ever wear Maroon and Orange? I know he's had some more impressive passes in the past and even in that game last night, but the bullet he shot at Bibbs for a 3 mid/late in the first half was scorching

Justin and Chris Clarke are some phenomenal but risky passers. They make really difficult passes look easy but both are also the main reason we look sloppy sometimes in trying to fit the ball into too tight a window or where there isnt a passing lane.

Yeah, but I enjoy watching JRob take those chances way more than I do Clarke. I just looked these stats up and was pretty surprised.

JRob's TO numbers (2.4/gm) along with AST/TO (2.41) are right in line with the best Assist-men in the ACC and his Assists/40Mins (8.9) is tied for #2 in the Conference.

Robinson would be second to Malcolm Delaney in my book. While it wasnt as obvious his senior year where he was expected to be everything for Tech offensively, prior to that he was a pass assassin, especially with the chemistry he had with Allen, Hudson, and a couple others. If you want to get a feel for what we missed with Delaney just check out his pro stats in Europe.

Robinson will likely pass everyone in assists though because he is surrounded by much better spot up shooters.

Delaney was the only other guy I could think of who I could put in the same conversation. However, if 5 keeps improving over his last season and a half the way he has over the course of his VT career, I don't think there will be much to debate

There are only three other guys in program history that will be in the conversation. I never saw any of them play at Tech though. Bimbo Coles is probably top of the heap. He is statistically at a minimum. Curry and Sensibaugh would be the two others that come to mind. Tough to compare such different eras though.