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Clemson Basketball: Virginia Tech Preview

The Tigers travel to Blacksburg for a mid-week ACC showdown.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament First Round - Virginia Tech vs Notre Dame Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech (9-5 ACC 1-2) - Ken Pom #68

Basic Information

Location: Blacksburg, Virginia

Type of School: Public Land Grant Research University

Mascot: HokieBird (some sort of mutant turkey?)

Head Coach - Mike Young

Seasons at Virginia Tech: 5

Virginia Tech Record: 31-17

Other Head Coaching Jobs:

Wofford - 17 Seasons (299-244)

Overall Record: 381-299

Regular Season Conference Championships: 4 (Wofford - 4)

Conference Tournament Championships: 6 (Wofford - 5, VT - 1)

NCAA Appearances: 7 (1-7)

Final 4 Appearances: 0

Kenpom Style of Play

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Adj. Efficiency: 110.3 (84)

Avg. Poss. Length: 17.5 (196)

Defense

Adj. Efficiency: 98.8 (60)

Avg. Poss. Length: 17.9 (294)

Tempo

Adj. Tempo: 68.6 (202)

Kenpom 4 Factors

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Effective FG%: 52.2 (102)

Turnover %: 17.5 (168)

Off. Reb. %: 27.8 (238)

FTA/FGA:

Defense

Effective FG%: 48.2 (105)

Turnover %: 18.3 (137)

Off. Reb. %: 25.4 (44)

FTA/FGA: 30.6 (138)

Personnel

Virginia Tech Starters

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steal Block
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steal Block
Point Guard 3 Sean Pedulla Jr. 6'1" 190 N/A 27.8 13.4 3.7 3.7 0.8 0
Shooting Guard 0 Hunter Cattoor Sr. 6'3" 200 N/A 31.9 14.4 3.1 1.5 0.9 0.2
Small Forward 23 Tyler Nickel So. 6'7" 220 North Carolina 25 8.2 2 1.3 0.5 0.2
Power Forward 4 Mekhi Long Sr. 6'7" 200 Old Dominion 19.6 4.1 5.2 1.1 0.6 0.2
Center 15 Lynn Kidd Sr. 6'10" 235 Clemson 25.3 15.3 7.7 1.4 0.5 0.4

Virginia Tech Bench

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steal Block
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steal Block
Point Guard 10 Brandon Rechsteiner Fr. 6'1" 185 13.4 2.8 0.9 2.1 0.3 0
Wing 2 MJ Collins So. 6'4" 195 21.6 5.5 2.3 1.8 1 0.1
Power Forward 31 Robbie Beran Sr. 6'9" 215 Northwestern 19.4 4.2 2.9 1 0.7 1.2
Center 34 Mylyjael Poteat Sr. 6'9" 265 Rice 12.1 5.1 2.6 0.9 0.2 0.1

Playing Style

Offense

The Hokies play in two distinct phases: they push the ball in transition, looking for easy buckets. If they don’t find one, they’ll pull it out and run their offense. They play both fast and slow; if that makes sense.

Mike Young’s half-court offense isn’t hard to figure out, but it can be hard to stop. It’s all about floor spacing and playing 2-man basketball. When the ball is at the top of the key, you’ll normally see some sort of pick action (roll, pop, etc.) or Lynn Kidd will flash to the middle of the lane. You’ll have a guard and a forward on one side of the court, and a lone guard on the other. If the point guard turns the corner on the pick, they have 2 shooters in the corner and a shooter replacing the point guard at the top of the key.

When they run stuff on either side of the court, it’s generally a 2-man game with Lynn Kidd setting up on the post and the guard feeding him the ball. The guard that fed the post spots up on the ball side, the backside forward crashes for a rebound or a pass if the defense brings a big-to-big double. One backside guard slides to the top of the key, the other spots up in the corner.

If you didn’t follow that, Virginia Tech usually either going to run pick and roll with the ball at the top of the key or throw the ball to Lynn Kidd on a mid-post duck in. They’re going to feed the post when the ball goes to either side. Then they space to the corners and the top of the key. The other post player crashes, looking for a dunk off an assist or an offensive rebound.

Rinse and repeat as often as needed.

Former Tiger Lynn Kidd is their go-to player in the paint. When he played at Clemson, he was mostly a raw athlete. Now he’s developed a post game to go with that athleticism. He’s weird; sometimes it looks like he could go up for a layup, but instead, he usually goes to his left-handed hook. He’s also good at getting out in transition on turnovers and throwing down thunder dunks. If PJ Hall stands around giving the ref a stink eye after a turnover, Kidd will dunk on one of his teammates.

Hunter Cattoor is their knockdown shooter. He’s hitting 41.5% of his 3’s on the season. Clemson would be well-advised to not leave him open by over-helping on a drive. In fact, Tech wants you to help on drives because their guards are better at kicking out to shooters than finishing at the rim. Clemson needs to make their short guards finish at the rim instead of letting them kick to open shooters.

Speaking of shooters, while Cattoor is the best of the bunch, point guard Sean Pedulla isn’t bad from deep either. He’s not as steady as Cattoor, but when he goes off, he tends to really go off. He put up 26 in their loss to FSU, hitting 3-6. He knocked down 5-7 attempts against Iowa State and went 3-6 in their loss to South Carolina. He’s joined by Tyler Nickel, who is hitting 39% of his 3’s and is generally good for at least 1 a game.

The moral of the story is Clemson defenders need to sit down and defend their guys instead of relying on help. Tech wants to put your defense in rotation and find open shooters. They want to isolate Kidd on a block and either let him attack if a double team doesn’t come, or kick out and reverse the ball to an open corner shooter if the double does come. Again, it’s simple basketball, but sometimes simple basketball is the best basketball.

Defense

There isn’t anything special about the Virginia Tech defense, but it’s decent most of the time. They play straight-up man-to-man and don’t help a ton. The one exception is their high pick-and-roll defense. The big involved in the action tends to hard hedge and then try to recover to the roll man to stop the guard from turning the corner. If the guard is patient enough, the hedge defender will retreat, and he can follow him to the basket. Having a 6’4” point guard like Chase Hunter should be an advantage for the Tigers. He’s long enough to find an angle to hit the roll man despite the hard hedge.

I don’t have much else to say about the Hokies’ defense. In the games they’ve lost, they tend to be undone by balanced scoring. They’re decent at team defense, but individually, you can get at them. Clemson would be wise to create some isolations and let their guards cook. Cattoor and Pedulla are on the floor for their shooting, not their defense.

Matchup to Watch

PJ Hall vs Lynn Kidd

Two former Tigers battle it out in this one. Kidd left Clemson (I assume) because he saw the writing on the wall and knew he was going to be on the bench until Hall graduated. Now he gets the opportunity to show PJ what he’s learned.

I’m a big PJ Hall fan, but he needs to chill out. He’s fouled out of the last two games, and some of those fouls were incredibly stupid. He’s the most important player on this team but was limited to 25 minutes against UNC and 29 minutes against Miami. Not only does his fouling hurt the Clemson offense during the heart of the game, it kills the defense down the stretch because Hall can’t contest shots at the rim.

Hall is going to go at him. PJ needs to wall up, play fundamental basketball, and stop trying to make hero plays that aren’t needed on defense. If Kidd works hard, gets position, and hits a contested hook shot over him...that’s fine. Go get it back on offense. Clemson is going to struggle to win games when Hall spends three quarters of the game in foul trouble.

Predictions

Prediction

KenPom

Clemson: 73

Virginia Tech: 71

Confidence: 56%

Drew

Clemson: 73

Virginia Tech: 71

I’m going with KenPom on this one. I like the Tigers in a close game played in the low to mid-70s. Joe G remembers how to shoot. PJ stops flailing on defense. The good guys win.

Note: This is one of those “turning point” games early in the season. Clemson can’t start digging themselves an 1-3 ACC hole if they want to contend. Virginia Tech isn’t that good. It would be a good idea for them to show up tomorrow night.