After two weeks of exams and two-a-day practices at "Work Forest", the Lady Deacs finally get a chance to guard someone in a different colored uniform on Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg. The Deacons (5-5) look to start the conference season off on a high note against the Virginia Tech Hokies (4-5) before returning home to finish out the pre-conference schedule. The Deacons are coming off a hard-fought home victory over Seton Hall, while the Hokies most recently fell to Florida Gulf Coast.
Chris Hatcher of Gobbler Country, the SB Nation Virginia Tech community, helped Blogger So Dear preview both teams' conference opener:
Players To Watch:
"There are three dangerous players to watch on Tech's roster, and unsurprisingly they are also the Hokies' top-three scorers in points per game; Monet Tellier, Alyssa Fenyn and Taijah Campbell. Tellier was also Tech's leading scorer a year ago with 13.7 points per game, but doesn't take very good care as she has eclipsed the 100-turnover mark in both her seasons with the Hokies and is on pace to do it again. Fenyn is perhaps the Hokies best all-around player. She has been a fixture on the team since she stepped on campus. She might not be a superstar, but she does all the little things. Campbell missed two of the last four games, but seemed to recover well against Florida Gulf Coast, posting career-high's in points (14) and blocks (4) while adding 7 rebounds. She leads the Hokies in rebounds per game with 6.6 and blocks with 10, but again, was limited in playing time over the last month or so, so those numbers would otherwise be higher. She's a tall, lanky player at 6'3", and is the Hokies most efficient scoring option amongst the regulars, shooting 49% from the floor."
"The biggest departure from a year ago was the loss of Latorri Hines-Allen, a starter at forward who was fifth on the team in points a year ago with 5.5. Hines-Allen transferred to Towson in the off-season. Also, you could make the argument that Aerial Wilson was the biggest loss. Wilson is still on this year's team, but after finishing second in scoring a year ago with 12.1 points per game and leading the team in minutes, she has been relegated to half her minutes from a year ago and is only scoring 2.3 points a game, so for all intents and purposes, she is not the same player. As for additions, head coach Dennis Wolff brought in a class of five, four of which are freshmen. Aside from Campbell, freshmen Alexis Lloyd and Alex Kiss-Rusk are making the biggest impacts. Lloyd leads the team in made 3-pointers and is among the team's best three-point shooters statistically."
"I guess the Hokies biggest strength would be depth. Lots of players contribute for this team and at least eight of them get 17 minutes per game or more. Their biggest weakness? Shooting the basketball. Tech is shooting poor from the field and poorer from 3-point range. This is just not a good shooting team, and when they turn the ball over, that only amplifies things."
On the Wake Forest side of the ball, the Deacons are led by the triumvirate of Lakevia Boykin, Chelsea Douglas and Asia Williams. Together, they are averaging a little more than half of the Wake Forest offensive output. They will likely be joined in the starting lineup by Dearica Hamby, averaging 10 points per game and Lindsy Wright. Wright may be one of the 'X' factors for Wake Forest, as her energy and rebounding prowess has sparked the Lady Deacs more than once this season. An early spark will be key for the Deacons, who haven't played in two weeks.
Coach Jen Hoover said, "It's tough to have not played in two weeks. We're trying to play a little bit up and down (in practice) so we kind of get the flow of the game, still, but that's going to be kind of a big adjustment come Saturday.
"Virginia Tech is a real scrappy team. They play really hard, they play a lot of people. They're very disciplined, very fundamental. We need to push the pace of the game. We want to play at our tempo, and keep them on the defensive. We want to attack them all the time. We're just going to be happy to see another jersey."
The game will be streamed live (for a fee) at www.hokiesports.com, because Gary Petit has yet to take me up on my offer to call away games for free (hint, hint).
Special thanks again to Gobbler Country, your source for all things Virginia Tech. Please be sure to follow them on Twitter @gobblercountry. We hope to return the favor, and soon!