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Game #11: St. John's vs Virginia Tech Hokies, preview

The championship round of the Aeropostale Holiday Classic tips off after the consolation game; start time should be between 3:30 and 3:45 pm ET.

Virginia Tech’s starting five:

PG Malcolm Delaney FR 8.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.1 to/g

G/F Deron Washington SR 13.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.2 to/g, 2.8 fouls/g

G/F AD Vassallo JR 15.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.8 to/g

F Chieck Diakate JR 1.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.3 blk/g

F Jeff Allen FR 13.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.0 to/g 1.8 stl/g, 1.0 blk/g, 3.1 fouls/g

Virginia Tech Hokies logoJeff Allen is a freshman who has been playing great minutes for the Hokies, pulling down 8.5 rebounds/ contest. Malcolm Delaney received his first start of the season but has played more minutes than his co-freshman point guard, Hank Thorns.

Delaney also gets to the line with great frequency. Deron Washington is famed for his filthy filthy dunks, and he gets to the line even more often than Delaney. AD Vassallo has the inside-outside game that can give teams like St. John’s fits. Diakate, much like our Tomas Jasiulionis, plays limited minutes but blocks or alters quite a few shots.

The team plays slow but deliberate; even though they do not have efficient scorers, their offense and defense, overall, is pretty sharp. Deron Washington likes to try and take players off of the dribble; Anthony Mason Jr and DJ Kennedy will have the task of slowing him down. Virginia Tech plays no one over 6’9", so St. John’s won’t have to worry about getting their shots blocked, they’ll have to worry about getting good, clean looks at the basket. The team has a solid shot in this game against the 7-5 Hokies.

Keys to the Game

Stop Turning Over the Ball. Really. St. John’s loves playing ugly, but last night’s game looked like handball. Play quick but careful, control the dribble. Make the passes and keep the ball moving.

Wright At Them. Larry Wright played 18 minutes last night. But he started off aggressive, looking for his drive and his shot, and making passes. More of that will breed success. Anthony Mason Jr must continue his aggressive play—hopefully playing on back to back nights won’t affect his game. And Rob Thomas must capture the aggressiveness he had in Hawaii. In general, St. John’s must take the fight to the Hokies, and take it up hard, not settling for three-pointers. And no matter what lineup is in the game, maintain the intensity, go at them with the killer instinct and relentlessness.

Defend the Interior. The forwards need to anticipate better, and the guards need to watch for penetration. Washington, in particular is talented but over-aggressive. The team might wish to play zone; AD Vassallo takes the majority of the three-point shots. But don’t try to take the flop against Washington when he has a head of steam. Greg Paulus can tell you all about that.

Don’t be that guy, Red Storm. Don’t be that guy.