The Hokies open their 2013-14 campaign on Saturday at Noon in the Cassell — consider it an appetizer before the Coastal Division showdown between miami and Virginia Tech that night. Here’s the schedule for the first week of the Hokies’ season:
- Sat., Nov. 9 – usc upstate – Noon – Cassell – ESPN3 (Internet/mobile devices/gaming systems/new Samsung SmarToilets) – Coaches vs Cancer Classic
- Tue., Nov. 12 – west virginia – 1 PM – Cassell – ESPN
- Fri., Nov. 15 – western carolina – 7 PM – Cassell – ESPN3 – Coaches vs Cancer Classic
Does anything stand out to you on that list above? Well, for starters, yes, usc upstate is a real college (one of my former players has confirmed the campus does exist — even got me a t-shirt). Basically, no one in south carolina wants “North” in their name, so they chose to go with “upstate” instead. That’s about as much as I know about them. Not even sure who their mascot is. spartans, maybe?
The other thing you probably noticed is we are playing wvu at home for the first time since we left the Big East 10 years ago… at 1 PM… on a Tuesday… and no, that’s not Veteran’s Day (which is Monday). So he we take the one interesting home game we have in the first two months of the season (unless you like usc-u, wcu, vmi, furman, radford, winthrop, unc-g-spot, or md-eastern shore), and play it in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday. Why, you ask? Well, we are part of the 24 hours of basketball on ESPN all day Tuesday. I guess it could be worse – hawaii plays at 5 EST (Midnight local), there’s always some East Coast teams playing at 7 AM (florida gulf coast this year… remember them?), 9 AM, and 11 AM, so maybe this isn’t quite so bad. Looks like I have a “doctor’s appointment” on Tuesday afternoon!!! So come on down, Huggy Bear. (FYI: This is the recommended game to take a siesta during according to one web site. No love. And vcu and uva (both ranked) play later in the night)
Rounding out the week will be another home game versus western carolina to culminate our weird geographic week on Friday night (this is the appetizer for the football game on Saturday). Note that this game, like the usc-u game, is part of the Coaches vs Cancer Classic. But, regardless of what happens in these two games, VT will advance to the semi-finals at the Barclays Center (Brooklyn Nets) on Nov. 22 to face #2 michigan state. We saw a similar situation last year where VT lost to georgia southern, but still went to the semis of the tourney in Vegas to beat bradley in OT, then get throttled by colorado state. Let’s hope we win both tune-ups this year.
Look for the Hokies to feature their new style of play. Coach JJ has said all along he wants to play up-tempo on offense and aggressively trapping on defense. They couldn’t last year because of lack of bodies, but that shouldn’t be an issue this year. Coach SG would always say we were going more up-tempo, then scrap it by halftime of the first game. I think JJ will stick with the plan, at least on offense (how tightly refs call hand checking this year will affect the defense). I mean, it couldn’t be much worse than last year so he might as well see how it plays out over the early part of the season. Should keep things interesting! Let’s hope the result is lots of easy transition buckets for VT, and not just making it easier for the other team to score more quickly (i.e. colorado state, byu, maryland).
- Last Year: 16-17 (9-9 in Atlantic Sun)
- Series: VT 1-0 (game was in 2010-11 season, VT won 64-53)
- Top Player: #23 Torry Craig – 6’6″ senior forward, 17.2 ppg and 6.9 rpg last year
- Nickname: spartans (I was right!)
- Last Year: 13-19 (6-12 in the Big(10)12 – 8th place out of 10 teams in the league)
- Series: wvu 47-29
- At VT: VT 16-12 (no games at VT since 2004)
- Last Meeting: @wvu 68, VT 67 – Tech’s first loss last year on 12/8/12 after a 7-0 start
- Top Player: Honestly, I don’t see one. They had no one average even double-digit points per game last season and 3 of their 6 guys that averaged between 7-9.9 points per game are gone. They are offensively challenged to say the least.
- Of note: They added two 4-star recruits this offseason.
- Last Year: 14-19 (9-9 in the Southern)
- Series: VT 3-0 (all in the Cassell with the last meeting in 2005)
- Top Player: #5 Trey Sumler – 6’2″ senior guard – 18.4 ppg last year including 36% on 3s; 4.5 rpg, 3.6 apg – stat stuffer)
- Nickname: The catamounts (didn’t even have to look that one up)
I bet we’ll go 2-1 this week. Anything less would not be a good start to the season and could ensure the bandwagon stays parked. usc upstate and wcu are middle of the pack Atlantic Sun and Southern teams respectively, so Tech must win those games. That said, VT lost to georgia southern last year, and I predict these games will be agonizingly close. wvu isn’t that good, so VT could pull it out at home, but the 1 PM time will basically turn it into a neutral site game unless the students come out in mass (hint hint). So I’ll stick with 2-1 where I think any of the three could be a VT loss. No guarantees from me this year, I’ve learned my lesson.