UNC forwards to test Hokies in paint
When asked about Ed Davis and Deon Thompson, North Carolina’s talented big men, Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg said a lot in few words.
“They’re pretty good. They’ll make a little money,” Greenberg said, referring to the players’ bright professional futures.
When the Hokies (12-1) play the ninth-ranked Tar Heels (11-4) on Sunday, they will meet two of the nation’s top post players in Davis and Thompson and future NBA draft picks. But with a cast of interior players who are still developing, Virginia Tech could be facing a mismatch on the blocks.
With their athleticism and physicality, Davis and Thompson each average more than 15 points and seven rebounds per game. Davis, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, is a likely lottery pick if he enters the NBA draft after this season. And as for Thompson, he is a senior and the most experienced player on North Carolina’s roster.
“The biggest thing about guys guarding their interior people is guarding them early; if you defend them late, you’re dead,” Greenberg said. “You’ve got to get them off their spot and understand what they’re trying to do.”
While the Hokies will try to get bodies on Davis and Thompson before they can get inside for easy buckets, Virginia Tech does not have a post player like either of them.
Jeff Allen (12.6 points, 8.5 rebounds per game) is one of Virginia Tech’s best players, but he is inconsistent; he has the skill to dominate on offense or defense, but has often fallen into foul trouble or receded quietly into the background in games.
Victor Davila (7.5 points per game) can be a talented offensive presence but sometimes lacks grit on the defensive backboards. And Cadarian Raines, a 6-9 freshman, has tremendous upside but his development was slowed after missing the first six games with a broken left foot.
Although the Hokies appear over matched inside, Greenberg said two keys to Sunday’s game in Chapel Hill would be his team’s ability to defend the post and pick up offensive rebounds.
“We’ve got to put a body on people,” Greenberg said. “We’ve got to cut people off the glass. We’ve got to be physical in our block outs. We’ve got to check them off early and can’t let them get a run to the rim.”
But when facing talent like Davis and Thompson, the Hokies might find that task is easier said than done.
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