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Speaking with the Enemy: Q&A with Gobbler Country

The Virginia Tech blog Gobbler Country took time out of a very busy week preparing for the ACC football Championship game to talk some basketball with me today. Here are his responses to my questions, while I answered some for him at his site.

Hammer & Rails: What did you learn about your team from playing a solid Kansas State squad?

Gobbler Country: We learned we have the same problems we had last season. We're not very deep in the front court so we can't afford for guys to get in foul trouble. We're not a very good jump shooting team so we need Malcolm Delaney driving to the basket and we need to make our free throws. Offensively things just aren't clicking right now when we face good teams. What we can do, though, is play solid defense and force turnovers. That will buy you a lot of time as far as waiting for the offense to come around.

H&R Do you see fatigue as a factor after the 76 Classic last weekend?

GC: It may have been. We had a tough, physical game with Oklahoma State, but we did have a day off between that game and against UNLV. The Rebels put a lot of pressure on us and our lack of depth showed as we kept turning the ball over. I know our guys won't blame fatigue for the loss, but there were a lot of forced jumpers and lazy turnovers Sunday night.

H&R: How much scoring outside the big three do you expect the Hokies to generate against a tough Purdue defense?

GC: I'm hoping the return to their home gym will help a lot of these guys' shooting. Jarrell Eddie looked like he was going to become one of our best jump shooters until an abysmal final two games in Anaheim. I just don't think you're going to see a lot of scoring period in this game. Both teams play tough defense and unless one team gets hot from behind the arc the winner might be the first one to 50.

H&R: How do you expect to defend someone like JaJuan Johnson?

You hope he has an off night. Johnson's the kind of player that will give us trouble. He's tall, long and has good post moves. Marshall Moses of Oklahoma State isn't as tall as Johnson, but had very polished post moves and we had a tough time against him early. I imagine you'll see a lot of zone. We've been forced to play a lot of 2-3 and 1-3-1 early in the year because we have no depth at forward due to injuries. Couple that with the fact Purdue's jump shooting has struggles recently and I think that will lead to more zone, which Seth Greenberg hates playing.

The problem with trying to guard Johnson man-to-man is that the best big man we have to put on him is Jeff Allen. Unfortunately, Allen can never seem to stay out of foul trouble and Johnson's quickness would lead to early foul trouble for him. The best man for the job is probably Terrell Bell, who I think is our best lock-down defender. He has length, but doesn't have Johnson's size so it's a tough matchup all the way around.

H&R: Finally, What are your thoughts on all the "experts" picking Virginia Tech?

GC: I was really surprised by it. I think they're reading way too much into the game you guys played against Richmond and betting that you guys just aren't the same team without Robbie Hummel. But at the same time, the game's in our barn and I expect our crowd to be fierce. If the teams are evenly matched, like I think this game is, conventional wisdom is to go with the home team.