Series: Hoyas lead 2-0
Where/When: Verizon Center, Saturday noon
TV: FS2 ( a channel some people get in HD)
We made it.
Our long national nightmare is over as for the first time since Tyler Adams Day on March 7th, the Hoyas will be back on the court - albeit a new one - at the Verizon Center this weekend.
While we have to get used to not seeing Jabril, Mikael, Aaron, Joshua, and even Tyler celebrating on the sidelines it's time to welcome in a new Era of Excellence with Jessie, Marcus, and Kaleb. Will this be the group that helps push the program back into its rightful place beyond the first weekend of the Dance? No, it's never too early to start talking about that. And, yes, I feel really good about it.
As mentioned above this will be just the third time that the Hoyas and Highlanders will be playing. So what goes into some of these mid majors early in the season? I asked JT3 about that earlier today.
Said Thompson III: "Scheduling, you've heard me say 30 times, is an inexact science but you try and look at teams that may do something similar to someone you'll see later. You try to look at teams that you anticipate will do well in their conference because of end of season RPI. I think we've been pretty good with that at that playing tough teams not necessarily from your power conferences but by the end of the year you look at say oh they're pretty good."
It's really hard to argue with the JT3 schedules unless you are still dreaming of a local tournament that will probably never ever happen.
Ok so here's some basic Radford info:
Last time out: For the second straight season the Highlanders won a postseason game before bowing out in the quarters of the CBI. Coach Mike Jones - now entering his 5th season - has done a phenomenal job in breathing life into a program that won just one game the season before he took over.
RPI: Radford actually turned out to be a pretty decent opponent last season for strength of schedule purposes. They finished tied for third in the Big South and wound up going 2-1 vs Top 50 teams which helped them earn a respectable 151 RPI. I think we would take a similar RPI from the Highlanders. Only two teams - High Point (92) and Coastal Carolina (127) - had better seasons in the Big South.
Who to watch for: Radford, despite being picked to finish fourth in the Big South, doesn't have a player on either the first or second preseason all-conference.
In last season's 76-49 Hoyas win, guard Rashun Davis was an efficient 5-of-7 from the field for 12 points in 33 minutes. He also had four of Radford's SIX assists.
Cameron Jones turned out to be a threat from long distance over the course of the season but was held scoreless in 11 minutes.
Yaya Anderson, who holds a first name near and dear to Hoya faithful everywhere, returns as the leading scorer after the graduation of both Javonte Green and R.J. Price. Anderson basically averaged double figures (9.3).
Ok let's talk about the Hoyas.
Starters: The most info we got today out of a media avail was that D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera will, in fact, be a starter.
DSR revealed part of the lineup...he'll be starting pic.twitter.com/21KE6g2Qgl— Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) November 12, 2015
Last season DSR leaked out a lineup during a similar availability but it's unlikely that happens again. Hayes said he wasn't sure what his role would be - as a starter or off the bench - and JT3 would only confirm to Ben Standig that Hayes was going to be in the rotation which, as you know, isn't exactly top secret information.
Well let's try and figure it out. The guards will remain the same so that's DSR and Peak.
Copeland is going to start.
It gets tricky with 4 and the 5 spot. You could go Derrickson or White at the 4 while you could go Hayes or Govan at the 5. I think JT3 - with such a tough schedule right out of the gate - goes White and Hayes. We'll see
Super Frosh: Marcus Derrickson has been receiving praise since the Hoyas went to Europe this summer. That continued today when JT3 was asked if the frosh has exceeded his expectations heading into the start of the season
JT3: "I wouldn't say he's exceeded but he hasn't disappointed either. Marcus physically is ready to play. He's able to do a lot of different things in that he can go inside and be a presence on the block but he's a lights out shooter."
Lights out shooter at the 4 in this offense? Let's get delusional!
Seeing the press: JT3 expects to see the press out of Radford as does DSR. In fact look for most teams to give at least some token pressure all year long with the shot clocking going from 35 down to 30 seconds.
If anyone has the right attitude with the shorter shot clock it's DSR with his more - "More shots, more buckets" - slogan.
More quotables from today:
JT3 on facing Mike Jones from across the bench: "We're friends. We're not going to be friends for the next 24 hours but we've known each other since playing against each other in high school so I've known him for a long time. He's done a very good job down there."
DSR going down memory lane for his first college game: "I don't think I missed a shot my first, first game. Hopefully I can come out shooting like that again." Fact checker points out that DSR actually went 6-of-7 but he made all four of his shots from deep to lead the team with 19 points.
DSR on Derrickson the rebounder: Derrickson is probably the best rebounder on the team, probably by far and Kaleb Johnson is a tremendous rebounder for his size and he can defend the ball really well.
JT3 upon hearing that DSR said Derrickson was the best rebounder on the team: "He didn't say he was? He normally tells me that he is." Laughter naturally ensued.
More DSR on Johnson: "He looks thin but he's strong. He can defend from anywhere. Definitely pay attention to him."
Reason to be delusional: It's the first game. DSR is back. Last year' freshman will be better and did you see Bradley Hayes against Eastern Washington? If you can't get delusional for the opener what are you doing?
Reason to be cynical: I guess you're just waiting for the trip to College Park and can't be bothered with possibly a SD version of FS2 on Saturdayafternoon.
Final Thoughts: It's a long season and this one starts off with bang in terms of scheduling but the ceiling is high with this group. Settle in and don't overreact either way over the next 10 days.