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Q & A with Gobbler Country

I would like to thank the folks over at Gobbler Country for participating in a Question/Answer session in anticipation with our game this Saturday.  Please feel free to visit their site for all new V Tech including bball and football articles as well asour responses to their questions.

STS Question:  You mention on your site that a 0.500 record will not get Va Tech into the NCAA tourney.  What record will get them there?  What would a win over Clemson do to boost these chances?

GC Answer:  It’s beginning to look more and more like a 10-6 conference record is a must for the Hokies. The ACC as a whole has proved to be very balanced across the board, but with no real powerful teams. Virtually every team Tech faced in the non-conference slate has a losing record, and most of those teams are at the bottom of their conference standings. Winning at home against Clemson will be very important for their tournament hopes. Coach Greenberg constantly stresses the importance of winning all of your home games, because road wins are hard to come by in this conference. A loss on Saturday would put the Hokies’ backs against the wall heading into the second half of the conference season.

STS Question:  Malcolm Delaney is averaging almost 20 points a game for the Hokies.  What will Clemson need to do to keep Delaney at bay?  Can Virginia Tech win if Delaney can be stopped, or do you suspect another Hokie will be able to step up here?

GC Answer:  Clemson’s full-court pressure will be a tough matchup for the Hokies, because Delaney will have to be the primarily ball-handler. That could wear him down quicker than coach Greenberg would. When Delaney sat out the game in Cancun against Seton Hall with a sprained ankle, Dorenzo Hudson erupted for 41 points. That will never happen again, but Tech has proved they can compete even if Delaney is missing from the lineup entirely. That being said, Clemson is another animal compared to Seton Hall.

STS Question:  VT handled UVa a few weeks ago, giving the Hokies a quality January win.  You then followed with a loss to Miami.  Which team should we expect to see Saturday?

GC Answer:  As was said earlier, winning on the road in the ACC is extremely difficult to do, no matter who you are. The win over Virginia was draining for a few reasons: it involved two double-digit comebacks, a game-tying buzzer-beater by Virginia, and of course an overtime period. The team went straight from Charlottesville to Miami, and they came out very sluggish in the early going against the Hurricanes. It was a taxing road trip to say the least. The Hokies are 9-0 (maybe 9-1 or 10-0 depending on UNC outcome) at home this season, so I expect a strong showing on Saturday.

STS Question:  VT will be coming off a game on Thursday against UNC.  Do you expect fatigue to play a factor for the Hokies against Clemson?  If necessary, how deep can this team get into the bench and still get quality production?

GC Answer:  Because both games are at home, and there is no traveling involved, fatigue should not set in for this team. Greenberg has done an excellent job playing 10 and 11 guys in every game, so that they are ready if called upon in important moments. Realistically, there are five players off the bench that Greenberg would be comfortable putting in a game as important as this one. J.T. Thompson, Erick Green, Ben Boggs, Manny Atkins and Cadarian Raines will all play a decent number of minutes. Raines, a promising 6’9’’ freshman, will have to be used to defend Trevor Booker if Victor Davila and Jeff Allen are both out of the game.

STS Question:  Which unexpected player should Clemson fans be watching for Staurday?  Also, is there some player on the roster who gives extreme effort and playes better than his raw talent?

GC Answer:  J.T. Thompson has emerged over the last few games as the proverbial "starter off the bench". His numbers would indicate he is a starter (6.6 ppg, 4 rpg), and his 17-point performance against Virginia tied a season-high. He followed that up with 14 points at Miami. He has great length for a forward, but will face a tough test if he has to defend the physical Booker inside.

STS Question:  Overall, where does this VT team stand when compared to the rest of the ACC?

GC Answer:  It’s hard to tell, honestly. Nobody in the ACC is bad, but nobody is great, even Duke. The Hokies have the worst field-goal percentage in the league, but have one of the best scoring defenses. They remind me of Florida State from a year ago. Malcolm Delaney carries the team, just like Toney Douglass did, while the supporting cast is full of long athletic players who play lock-down half-court defense. The biggest problem is if Delaney is ineffective, there is not another proven scorer that you can count on to pick up the slack. I would peg the Hokies as the fifth or sixth-best team in the league, but with the ridiculous parity in the league this year, does that really mean anything? The ACC tournament will be as important as I can remember it ever being in determining who goes to the big dance and who doesn’t.