Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Short-handed Hokies will run til they can't

Virginia Tech's back-to-back games this weekend will put pressure on its thinly populated roster.

Virginia Tech coach James Johnson may have to change his defensive approach.

Associated Press

Virginia Tech coach James Johnson may have to change his defensive approach.

Virginia Tech Hokies basketball

Berman Courtside

Down to seven healthy scholarship players, the Virginia Tech men's basketball team will have to play games on back-to-back days this weekend.

So is coach James Johnson worried about his players running out of gas during this weekend's Las Vegas Classic?

"I'm worried about it," Johnson said Tuesday on a teleconference. "Guys are prepared to play a lot of minutes, but I am concerned about the minutes being played this weekend, definitely."

Tech announced Sunday that reserve power forward Marshall Wood will be out indefinitely after breaking his left foot in Saturday's loss to Georgia Southern. Johnson had said Sunday that Wood would miss the two games in Las Vegas and likely the Dec. 29 game against Brigham Young. On Tuesday, Johnson said Wood will definitely miss the BYU game as well.

Wood will be reevaluated by doctors after the BYU trip. The Hokies open ACC play Jan. 5 at Maryland.

The Hokies (8-2) will face Bradley (7-2) at 8 p.m. Saturday and either Colorado State (7-2) or Portland (5-6) on Sunday night.

Wood's absence will "impact the team a lot," said Johnson.

Because of Wood's injury and the back-to-back games, Johnson might adjust his defensive approach and substitution patterns. But he won't change Tech's up-tempo offensive style.

"We're going to still try to play fast, try to get up and down the floor," he said. "It plays to our hand to try to get some easy baskets with the bench being thin, as opposed to have to grind it out and take a lot of bumps and bruises and holds ... in the halfcourt offense. And that's what we're going to get as the year goes on.

"That takes a grind on you, the halfcourt offense, ... especially with the teams that we're playing out there in Vegas -- they're big, they're physical. And then you get BYU and then you get into the league, you're talking about big, physical guys. We want to try to get it up the floor and score easily and not to have to take that pounding and that grinding in the halfcourt."

Bradley squashed Georgia Southern 62-43 on Monday.

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