Virginia Tech vs Seton Hall, 7:30PM
Poliforum de Benito Juarez, Cancun, Mexico
Television: ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN International
Radio: 770 WABC
Projected Starting Five:
Jeff Robinson is projected to get the start, however how can we really be sure at this point? Against Navy, Robert Mitchell made his usual start, but was pulled early, only getting 14 minutes of work. The next game against WVU, Jeff Robinson started, but was replaced the following game with Jamel Jackson in an attempt to thwart the 2-3 zone of the 'Cuse. In yesterday's Around the Hall, I lobbied for Robert Mitchell's return to the starting lineup in an attempt to bring some consistency back to the starting five. Mitchell's versatility provides the Pirates with their best chance to win with Jeff Robinson and Jamel Jackson coming off of the bench to create matchup problems. That being said, if Stix has landed himself in Bobby's doghouse there may be little that he can do at this point other than making the most out of the little time he receives.
The Pirates will leave the Rock for the first time since their November 20th contest at Cornell. Seton Hall arrives in Cancun after a rough week and a half that saw them drop three of their last four home games. All three losses came against quality opponents and by an average of 6.3 points. Yes, they're involved in every game against great competition, however, that won't be good enough for the committee come March. The Pirates will need to start compiling wins, quickly. Defeating VT in their last out-of-conference game is a necessity, especially after all the talk of their soft non-conference schedule. Following VT, the Hall will enter a hostile environment in Storrs, CT for the Huskies (Storrs Campus) opener. The Huskies, coming off of a loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday, play at home (in Hartford) today against Notre Dame.
Follow the jump for previews of today's contest from sunny Cancun, Mexico
SHU Athletics previews tonight's action with taking a look at VT's status:
VIRGINIA TECH STATUS
Virginia Tech enters Saturday's game with an 11-1 record and receiving votes in both Top-25 polls. The Hokies lone loss came at the hands of a common opponent, Temple, 61-50, on Nov. 28.
More importantly, VT's status should read: "The Hokies will play without their best player and starting point guard, Malcolm Delaney, after spraining his ankle against Longwood."
The Virginia Tech Athletics preview has more on Delaney's injury:
Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech’s leading scorer and the leading
scorer in the ACC, suffered a sprained left ankle in the opening minutes of the Hokies’ win over Longwood on Dec. 30 ... He was taken for x-rays, which were negative and was scheduled for an MRI later in the day ... His availability for the Seton Hall game has not been established and media will be updated on his condition on Jan. 2, prior to the game.
Delaney has since been ruled out of the game and will be replaced by freshmen point guard Erik Green.
'Piratz,' a PirateCrew.com special contributor, takes a closer look at Erik Green in his preview of VT v. SHU:
Expected to step up in his place will be 6’4" 185 lb Fr. G Erick Green. As a freshman, Green has averaged 13.7 MPG, although he’s averaged 25 in the past two games. Against Maryland-Baltimore County and Longwood, Green shot .588 (10/17) from the field in 50 minutes, and handed out 7 assists with 5 turnovers. Despite the competition level, at least he should have some confidence heading into Saturday’s game. But the Pirates’ strength is in their guard play, and they should have major advantage against the Hokies in that regard.
The Richmond Times Dispatch offers yet another look at Erik Green's development, through the eyes of the injured Delaney:
"He's coming along a lot," Delaney said. "When he first got here, he didn't talk at all on the court. He kind of let people push him around a little bit more. And I challenged him. I told him, 'You're gonna be a good guard. I'm gonna push you.' I've been pushing him every practice since then, fouling him, just small stuff that he's gotta get used to. He's starting to get a lot tougher now. And he's noticing his potential."
These teams will be somewhat familiar with each other. The Pirates defeated the Hokies 77-73 last season in Puerto Rico, when Tech blew a 14-point first half lead. Malcolm Delaney and A.D. Vassallo combined to score 47 points. With Vassallo gone and Delaney injured, it could be very difficult for Tech to produce a lot of points against Seton Hall this time around. They must play good defense, but that's easier said that done against a team that features this many offensive weapons.
Tip-Off is set for 7:30EST and you'll have plenty of options to catch this one on TV. Check back for half-time and post-game notes.