The day many Hokie hoops fans have been waiting for, in some cases for over a year, is almost here. You’ll need a program Saturday to recognize this squad, as the Hokies welcome several diaper dandies and also welcome back a couple of guys from injury (assuming they don’t get hurt between now and then).
We’ve dubbed this squad Hokies 3G.1, the third generation of players/major recruiting classes under Head Coach Seth Greenberg. And like with gadgets, this new release promises to be the best bet. That’s high praise compared to the senior class that just wrapped up their orange and maroon days, winning 87 games (tied for the most ever in a 4-year span), but also failed to get a NCAA Tournament bid. This game reminds me a lot of that first game in the 2007-08 season – lots of excitement and promise. But the guys will still be getting to know each other and likely this Beta version will have some bugs.
- VT 13-3
- At Home: VT 9-1
- Trend: VT has lost 2 of 3, but the teams haven’t played in 10 years (yes, ricky “program bomb” stokes was the coach for one of those losses)
|Guard||11 Green 6-3||5 Cooley 6-3|
|Guard||5 Hudson 6-5||43 Sollazzo 6-6 or 2 Jones 6-2|
|Wing/Forward||15 Finney-Smith 6-8||13 Hubbard 6-4|
|Forward||31 Eddie 6-7||41 Brown 6-8|
|Forward||14 Davila 6-8||34 Poderis 6-8 or 44 Ward 6-6|
- Erick Green, Tech’s starting point guard and (IMO) their best player, may miss this game with an Achilles injury. VT is already without freshman point guard Marquis Rankin, whom Seth called the team’s best on-ball defender. And forward JT Thompson is out the year (again) with an ACL injury. Tech could have Dorenzo Hudson play point, as he did in relief of an injured Malcolm Delaney two years ago (all he did was score 41 points in that game). Sophomore Tyrone Garland will also see minutes at the point. Garland, to be frank, did not demonstrate the ballhandling skills necessary to run the point last year, but does have confidence and is strong off the dribble drive. And if you need a 3-pointer banked in, he’s your man. Tech could use Hudson, and freshman Robert Brown, at the same time at the guard position.
- Both the Hokies and the bucs return less than 40% of their scoring from a year ago.
- VT can, and needs to, dominate the glass. etsu is not a good defensive rebounding team, a by-product of their press (see below). The Hokies need to limit turnovers via the press, something they always did really well against clemson’s Purnell press (though those guys are gone), and extend possessions with second chance opportunities.
- etsu was without three key players in their final exhibition game this past Saturday: two projected starters, Adam Sollazzo (9.2 ppg) and Lukas Poderis (1.3 ppg), and a Juco transfer that averaged 24 ppg last year and had 30 in their first exhibition game – Marcus Dubose. Their status is unknown for Saturday but having Sollazzo and/or Dubose would be a big lift to the buccaneers.
- etsu likes to use a very aggressive full court press. We’ll see how the Hokies respond to this. etsu outscored their first exhibition opponent 40-6 in points off turnovers. This has been a key stat to Tech in the past and they must protect the ball Saturday, while also exploiting their press. With Green possibly out for this game, the Hokies will have a lot of question marks at the point. This will be the key for VT if Green cannot play — can they limit their turnovers and advance the ball into their offense?
- etsu lost their top three scorers from last season, who combined for 42 ppg. That was over 60% of their scoring. So similar to Tech, they will be rebuilding to an extent.
- Cooley averaged 16 ppg and Brown 15 ppg in their two exhibitions. Brown is their leading returning scorer.
- Isiah Brown is a Preseason First Team Atlantic Sun pick.
- etsu is picked to finish 4th in the Atlantic Sun this year.
|Conference||ACC 9-7 (t4)||Atlantic Sun 16-4 (2)|
|Final 10-11 RPI||62||91|
|% of Pts Returning||37%||39%|
|Scorer||Green 11.6||Brown 10.3|
|Rebounder||Davila 5.1||Brown 7.2|
|Assists||Green 2.7||Sollazzo 4.0|
|Steals||Green 1.8||Sollazzo 1.3|
|Blocks||Davila 1.2||Brown 2.0|
Hokies win, but it will be sloppy. Tech will turn the ball over more than we’d like and fall into the bucs’ game of run and gun too much. In the end, Tech has too much talent compared to the also inexperienced etsu team, and will get lots of second chance points. I see a win in the range of 8-12 points.
BORING FACTS ABOUT etsu:
|Location||Johnson City, TN|
|Enrollment||10k undergrad, 2k post-grad|
|NCAA Tournament Appearances||9 (most recently 2009 and 2010)|
|Famous Alums||Kenny Chesney, Mike Smith (Falcons Head Coach), Timothy Busfield (thirtysomething actor), Besse Cooper (115 years old and the current oldest living person in the world)|