Deep 3 with T.O.: Tigers need a win, take on reeling Hokies

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Deep 3 with T.O.: Tigers need a win, take on reeling Hokies

By Terrence Oglesby

It’s crunch time. The Tigers, in desperate need of a win, go to Blacksburg for a battle against a young, well-coached Hokie team that has hit a slump as of late.

Virginia Tech has lost nine out of their last ten games and Mike Young is struggling to pull his team out of this funk they are currently in. Six Hokie freshmen see significant minutes and they have yet to figure out how to win on a consistent basis.

With the first meeting almost four months ago, both teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of what’s at stake. Clemson has played its way on the bubble and Virginia Tech just wants to go into an offseason with something to build on. While the Hokies are young, they are led by a veteran senior guard in Wabissa Bede who does a nice job of getting them into their offense. He is surrounded by shooters on offense, but on defense, VTech is severely undersized. Clemson needs to take advantage of this with my first point.


Clemson has been on the smaller side of the size spectrum for the majority of the year, but against the Hokies, they are the bigger team by a pretty sizable margin. This presents more opportunities around the rim and Clemson should take advantage. Virginia Tech is 1-10 in games that opponents shoot better than 50 percent from 2. Simply put, if teams attack the rim, Mike Young’s team struggles. So evident is their lack of size that in a halftime interview earlier this year Young was asked what his team needed to do to get better. His response, "Well, we just need to get bigger." This is an area where Virginia Tech can be exploited.


While the Hokies are very small, they do rotate extremely well and do a good job on help-side defensively. Look for Coach Mike Young to trap Aamir Simms when he gets the ball in the post as they did at times against Louisville in their last outing. Clemson has shown its ability to get hot from the outside and that would certainly help open things up for Simms to operate on the inside. (Bonus point: One way to combat good help-side positioning is to do like Louisville did in the Hokies last game and enter the ball to the post from the top of the key. This gives the 5-men the ability to operate without much help side and makes entry passes easier).


There is a reason that Fletcher McGee scored so many points playing for Mike Young at Wofford last season. Young loves to set as many off-ball screens as possible to get shooters open and doesn’t utilize the pick and roll as much as other teams in the ACC. One person to keep an eye on is Jalen Cone. The 5’10 freshman from Walkertown, North Carolina is shooting 50.9 percent from three on 119 attempts. While Landers Nolley has been the most consistent scorer for the Hokies, Cone has the ability to give Virginia Tech a boost in momentum. How do you guard guys like Cone? Communication. Whoever is guarding Jalen Cone needs to do a great job of chasing and not getting screened. There are going to be times in the game when defenders get hit by those screens and communication on switches needs to be very good in order to limit his three-point attempts.

Make no mistake about it. This is an absolute must-win game for the Tigers, and this is a challenging week. Clemson will need to get a win, then fly home and prepare for Georgia Tech less than 48 hours later. The first order of business is going to be a tough challenge against Mike Young’s team who is much better at home than they are way. Look for the Tigers to be locked in and play a good game at 7 p.m. Wednesday (ACCN).

Make sure you follow me on Twitter @CoachTO22 as I will be tweeting the game in real-time from a coach’s and player’s perspective. I’ll also be going back and forth to the Tiger family about the game.

ALSO for a more in-depth pregame analysis of Virginia Tech, take a listen to my podcast link below. I talk about this week's games in the ACC as well as a quick review of the FSU game. Click here to listen.

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