Jan 3, 2015; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Buzz Williams instructs forward Shane Henry (0) during the game against the Syracuse Orange at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies came very close to pulling off a massive upset this past weekend, but came up just short against the Syracuse Orange. However, the Hokies pulled off a huge comeback just to get back into the game, and played with about as much energy as Buzz Williams has on the sideline.
However, the biggest issue for the Hokies that will hurt them throughout the rest of the 2014-2015 season is their lack of frontcourt depth.
The suspension of Joey van Zegeren left the Hokies with only two regularly used big men in Shane Henry and Satchel Pierce especially with Christian Beyer and Greg Donlon not being used regularly or at all in the case of Donlon.
This issue was quite big against Syracuse as the Orange had 15 offensive rebounds in this game and 42 overall. Syracuse’s three big men also dominated the glass with Tyler Roberson having 17 rebounds(8 offensive), Rakeem Christmas having 9 rebounds, and Chris McCullough having 7 rebounds.
From what we know, the Hokies will also not have van Zegeren against Florida State which doesn’t have the most talented frontcourt, but has plenty of depth. Virginia Tech had foul trouble issues against Syracuse with Satchel Pierce and Shane Henry both fouling out of that game.
Henry and Pierce also struggled against Syracuse on the glass in general with the duo only having 6 rebounds combined. The Hokies can’t rely on Justin Bibbs having 11 rebounds consistently, and need Henry and Pierce to improve their play on the glass.
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The matchup against the Florida State Seminoles will be a very interesting test to see how big of an issue Virginia Tech’s frontcourt depth is against weaker ACC teams. Florida State has five players with regular playing time that are at least 6’8” while the Hokies only have two available players that fit in that category.
Henry and Pierce still have only played one ACC game, and that experience could be valuable going on the road to a Florida State team that has had some success in the past. This would probably be a different story if van Zegeren was not suspended, but that suspension hurts an already small frontcourt for the Hokies.
The biggest key for Henry and Pierce is to not to lose control and pick up a lot of early fouls. Pierce had 3 fouls in the first 10 minutes of the Syracuse game, and it proved costly down the stretch as he fouled out with over 5 minutes left.
Shane Henry and Satchel Pierce are currently the Hokies’ only big men, and Virginia Tech will need them to step up against Florida State, and in the four straight games against ranked opponents that follow.
Hopefully, Joey van Zegeren will also be back as soon as he serves the right amount of suspension time for whatever he did in practice.
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