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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
An NBA prospect will be paying a visit to Cassell Coliseum this week.
Maryland sophomore center Alex Len was ranked last week by Chad Ford of ESPN.com as the No. 4 prospect in the nation for this year’s NBA draft.
The 7-foot-1, 255-pound Len, whose team visits Virginia Tech on Thursday, is averaging a team-high 12.7 points. He ranks sixth in the ACC in rebounding (8.2 rpg) and third in blocks (1.9 bpg).
Len, who joined the Terrapins (16-6, 4-5) from his native Ukraine, has improved considerably from his freshman season. He averaged 6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 21.2 minutes for Maryland last year.
“He’s a whole different player,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “He just added strength. He’s added confidence. He understands the language better. … He’s been so much better on the defensive end.
“He’s just 19, so … you know there’s just so much more there, and that’s what’s exciting.”
Turgeon said Len now has a better feel for the game.
“We were like two weeks into practice this year and I was like, ‘Holy smokes, this kid’s never going to get it. … He’s not tough enough,’ ” Turgeon said. “And then something came on.
“He’s much better than I thought he would be at this point.”
Len would likely have a higher scoring average this season if his teammates passed him the ball more often. He has not attempted more than seven shots in any of the past three games.
“Offensively, he gives us a lot,” Turgeon said. “He demands double teams, which opens things up for everybody else.”
Len had 16 points and nine rebounds in Maryland’s 94-71 rout of the Hokies on Jan. 5.
The Hokies (11-10, 2-6) have an NBA prospect of their own, point guard Erick Green. He leads the nation in scoring (25 ppg) but was just 7 of 21 from the field in last weekend’s overtime loss at North Carolina. He had 16 points in 43 minutes.
Tech coach James Johnson said Green, who leads the ACC in minutes (36.4 mpg), “wore down” at UNC.
“He’s playing a lot of minutes, but he’s also getting double and triple teamed,” Johnson said. “I sense a little bit of fatigue, some wearing down in him. … He’s seeing a lot of big, strong bodies now as we go through the course of this ACC season here. You’re looking at guys that are 6-5, 205 pounds that are guarding him and then they’re sending 6-9, 240 [guys] at him, trapping in him in ball screens and bumping him.”
The Hokies, who were outscored 17-5 in OT at UNC, have lost four straight games.
“In the last couple games, I think we’re wearing down,” Johnson said. “The lack of depth is starting to wear on us.”
Johnson said the Hokies, who have just eight scholarship players, might be getting “tired down the stretch” during games.
“Certain guys have played a lot of minutes, and … I think it’s just taking its toll now,” he said.
Ferrum men clicking
In the USA South coaches preseason poll, the Ferrum men’s basketball team was picked next-to-last.
It looks like the coaches underestimated the Panthers. Ferrum is 10-9 overall and is in second place in the USA South with a 7-3 league mark.
“It’s a pretty spirited group,” coach Bill Tharp said.
“They have a pretty good knack for playing hard.”
Lamont King ranks sixth in the league in scoring (15.7 ppg). He is the only one back among Ferrum’s top six scorers last season.
Jamal Pullen is averaging 14.2 points, way up from his average of 4 points as a freshman backup last season. Thanks in part to layups in transition, he leads the league in field goal percentage (57.6 percent).
“He’s learned how to adapt to the college game,” Tharp said.
Freshman guard J.D. Wallace is averaging 9.3 points and ranks fourth in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (42 percent).
“He spends extra time in the gym working on his shot,” Tharp said.
Point guard Marshall Hamilton averages 7.3 points and ranks fourth in the ACC in assists (3.3 apg).
Ferrum has four regular season games left, including home games against two of the USA South teams to have beaten the Panthers — Methodist (on Saturday) and Christopher Newport (Feb. 17).
CNU (15-4, 8-2), ranked No. 21 in Division III in the d3hoops.com Top 25 poll, is in first place in the league.
Ferrum women havebig game tonight
On the women’s side, first place in the USA South will be on the line tonight.
Ferrum and Maryville are both 18-2 overall and are tied for first place in the league at 12-1. Ferrum will host Maryville, the only USA South team to have beaten the Panthers this season, at 7 p.m.
Ferrum is No. 21 in the d3hoops.com Top 25. In the USA Today coaches poll, Maryville is No. 23 and Ferrum is No. 24.
Patrick Henry graduate Ronnie Thomas, who averages 11.8 points for Bridgewater, has missed the Eagles’ past two games with a fractured wrist.
The junior guard is expected to miss four more games, but BC (12-9, 6-6) hopes he will be back for the ODAC tournament, which begins Feb. 19.
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