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Season Preview: One Month to Go Until the Buzz Era Begins!

On November 14th the Hokies will don the orange and maroon for Buzz Williams for the first time when they play maryland-eastern shore, and almost nothing will resemble things from the previous regime.  A new Athletic Director (well, he did finish out last season), a new coach with no holdovers from the previous staff, and a new team with just 3 scholarship players that have suited up for Tech before.  Programs will be a hot commodity that first month… assuming attendance picks up from the past few years.

Tech will assuredly be picked to finish last in the ACC given that they’ve finished last 3 years in a row and have just 3 returning scholarship players. But there is a buzz in Blacksburg this season that has been missing the last few years.

THE COACH

BuzzBrent “Buzz” Williams blazes into Blacksburg with a 153-86 career record as a head coach (1 at new orleans and 6 at marquette).  He’s posted just one losing season (his only season at new orleans back in 2006-07) while leading marquette to 5 NCAA appearances in a row, including a couple of Sweet Sixteen and one Elite Eight trip.  But he’s not in Milwaukee anymore.  The challenge will be stiff for Tech’s third head coach in four seasons in turning around a Hokie program that has gone 38-58 (10-42 in ACC play including 3 straight last place finishes) over the last 3 seasons.

Of note:

  • Age 42; married with 2 daughters and 2 sons
  • Degrees: oklahoma city university and texas a&m – kingsville
  • 14-17 in one season at new orleans (2006-07)
  • 139-69 at marquette in 6 seasons
  • 5 NCAA Tournament appearances (8-5 Tourney record)
  • 5 20-win seasons
  • 69-39 in Big East conference play and tied for the regular season title in 2012-13
  • 2 Sweet Sixteens and 1 Elite Eight
  • Origin of his nickname: As a freshman at Navarro College, Williams was neither a player nor a student manager. But he was so intent on learning about basketball that he asked to watch practices from the bleachers, where he would keep diligent notes. The coaching staff would joke that Williams was always “buzzing” around the gym, meeting more than 400 other coaches to whom he would write weekly letters.

THE TEAM

[Insert name of any player you remember from last season]… He’s probably gone.  But, based on the aforementioned record of the past few seasons, perhaps that is a good thing.  Tech, for good or bad, will have a fresh start this year.  Here is a list of every returning Hokie scholarship player (guys that weren’t originally walk-ons), their career games for VT, and their career points:

  • Joey van Zegeren (r-Jr): 66 games (28 starts), 306 points (4.6 ppg)
  • Adam Smith (r-Jr): 14 games (9 starts), 154 points (11.0 ppg)
  • Devin Wilson (So): 31 games (all starts), 286 points (9.2 ppg)
  • TOTAL: 111 games (68 starts), 746 points and about 25 ppg

Add in the numbers from walk-ons Will Johnston (63 games and 14 starts with 157 points and 2.5 ppg) and Christian Beyer (51 games with 1 start and 73 points at 1.4 ppg) and we get all the way up to 29 PPG returning!  Here are some numbers/data for each guy that can play this season:

  • 0 – Shane Henry – 6’8″ – Jr. – Juco transfer (1st year at VT) was a stat stuff at georgia perimeter c.c. averaging 13.2 ppg, 12.5 rpg, and 4.7 bpg
  • 1 – Malik Muller – 6’3″ – r-Fr – Redshirted last year because he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA after arriving from Germany
  • 2 – Joey van Zegeren – 6’10” – r-Jr – Tech’s lone returning scholarship big man – averaged 6.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and had 53 blocks last year
  • 3 – Adam Smith – 6’1″ – r-Jr – The unc-wilmington transfer missed 17 games due to injury but averaged 11 ppg and hit 36% of his 67 3-Pt Attempts
  • 10 – Justin Bibbs – 6’5″ – Fr – The JJ signee played for the top prep team in the nation, Montverde (FL)
  • 11 – Devin Wilson – 6’4″ – So – The true point guard set a VT freshmen record for assists (148) and also averaged 9.2 ppg while being named to the All-ACC Freshmen Team
  • 13 – Ahmed Hill – 6’5″ – Fr – Tech’s top recruit thanks to a late flip from marquette to VT by Buzz; is the 3rd-leading scored in Georgia history with 3,024 points
  • 21 – Satchel Pierce – 7’0″ – Fr – Also a late signee by Buzz, he played on two straight state runner-up teams in Pennsylvania (3-star recruit)
  • 22 – Christian Beyer – 6’7″ – Sr – The walk-on played in 28 games with 1.1 ppg and 2.3 rpg
  • 23 – Jalen Hudson – 6’5″ – Fr – No relation to Zo, the JJ signee played at Lebron James’s alma mater (St. Vincent-St. Mary) and was a 3-star recruit
  • 25 – Will Johnston – 6’4″ – Sr – The former walk-on played in all but one game, averaging 3.2 ppg and hitting 27 threes (he only made 2 two-pointers)
  • Isaiah Ford – 6’1″ – Fr – The star football receiver, who was also a prolific scorer at Trinity Christian in Florida (37 ppg as a senior), will join the basketball team after football season is over, likely around the start of the new year.

What all this means is a lot will ride on 2 things:

1. How much the returning guys have developed — there is talent there with an enforcer (JvZ) with an improved offensive game, a fearless shooter (Smith), and a very solid point guard (Wilson) that shattered the freshmen record for assists at VT (148).  JvZ averaged just under 10 PPG in Tech’s final 9 games, Wilson had a stretch of 9 double-figure games out of 13 games but faded down the stretch (probably from playing 37 minutes per game in ACC play), and Smith had games of 19, 27, and 28 early in the season before injuries slowed him and eventually forced him to shut things down in mid-January.

2. How well the new guys adjust to life in the ACC.  Tech was able to land a 4-star and top 100 recruit in guard Ahmed Hill, an athletic JUCO forward in Shane Henry, a 7’0″ big man in Satchel Pierce, and keep two solid recruits from JJ in guards Justin Bibbs and Jalen Hudson.  Plus, after sitting out last season, point guard Malik Muller from Germany will join the rotation and push Wilson for playing time at the point (or relieve him of all the minutes he racked up last year as a freshman — top 10 in the ACC) allowing Smith to play his more natural off-guard position on offense.  Also, while unable to play this year, stud maryland transfer Seth Allen and south florida transfer Zach LeDay will help the team in practice and starting with the 2015-16 season.

But, any assessment here would be purely a guess.  Until we see the Baby Birds under the bright lights of Cassell Coliseum we have no idea.  Freshmen guards tend to struggle in this league (Wilson had an exceptional first year for a freshman point guard) and bigs tend to not be big enough to handle the physical play of some of the tougher ACC teams (i.e. the ACC teams from the Big East) or too slow to handle the skilled teams (read: the unc’s and duke’s of the conference).

THE SCHEDULE

This would be considered a soft out-of-conference schedule for a mid-major school.  In fact, you’ll swear by mid-December that Tech joined the Big South Conference North Division (the Hokies play 4 teams from the South including more than half of the North Division).  Virginia Tech’s out of conference opponents had a combined record of 161-225 last year.  Only 2 (possibly 3 depending on the Cancun Challenge) teams are from Power 5 Conferences (penn state and wvu… maybe northwestern).  Tech faces 3 teams that finished last in their conference (like Tech).  Of the 13 out of conference games the Hokies will play, they will face just 4 teams that had a winning record last year with 2 of those teams within 100 miles (16-15 northern iowa, 22-13 radford, 22-13 vmi, and 17-16 wvu).

In ACC action the Hokies will face uva, fsu, and miami twice, and the other 12 teams once (including newcomer louisville and former VT signee Montrezl Harrell).  uva won the ACC (ugh, that still hurts to type), fsu finished 9-9 and has never lost to VT at home in ACC play, and miami gave Tech both of their ACC wins last year, and almost a third.  So it is a fairly balanced ACC schedule.  Tech gets syracuse, notre dame, and duke at home, and the cuse and uva games are both on the weekend which should help with attendance (can’t remember the last time we actually played uva at home on a weekend).  Ultimately, though, fans will likely take a wait and see approach before the turnstiles really start humming, especially with the soft out of conference schedule.

PROGNOSIS

A perfect out of conference start is about as likely as the McRib being served at the Master’s Winners Dinner next year.  In fact, forget wins and losses.  JJ led Tech to a 7-0 start two seasons ago and we all saw where that led to.  The story of this first season is about progress and growing a program, and our program is underground right now.  This season is about planting the seeds (tough, aggressive defense; solid recruiting with 1-2 top 100 guys; not finishing dead last, or even tied for last in the league even though we will assuredly be picked to finish there; and hopefully advancing past Wednesday of the ACC Tournament).  JJ had a plan but never stuck to it.  You can blame injuries, depth, blah blah blah.  The point is there was no progress.  Buzz needs to do what we all expect him to do — put in his kind of system and ride it, no matter how brutal the results are at times.  Obviously he needs to make adjustments to utilize his players’ strengths, but past regimes have said they wanted to play one way, you’d see it for a half, and suddenly it would be thrown on the junk heap.  Ultimately, that should lead to progress as the season progresses.  Anyone that thinks Tech will make the NCAAs this year is grasping.  Heck, even the NIT has probably a 20% chance at best.  But progress this season and some hope heading to next season will go a long way to soothe this suffering fan base (and hopefully result in increased attendance along the way).

Posted in Home5 Comments

Hokies Land PG Justin Robinson

The future looks bright for the Hokies at the point. Not only does Virginia Tech have 3 more years of All-ACC Freshman Devin Wilson plus redshirt-freshman Malik Muller from Germany, and Sunday they received a commitment from 6’1″ Justin Robinson of St. James School in Hagerstown, MD (and Boo Williams in AAU ball). Robinson was their primary focus at the point and joins forward Kerry Blackshear in the Class of 2015 for VT.

Robinson averaged 15 ppg and 8 apg last season. He was a 3-star recruit by most services, except for Scout.com that has him as a 4-star. Scout has him as the #11 PG and #86 player overall in 2015. 247sports.com’s composite rankings have him as the #22 PG and #124 player overall in his class.

Justin also officially visited creighton, maryland, providence, and unlv before picking the Hokies.

Posted in Home5 Comments

WR Isaiah Ford to Play Hoops for VT

According to THIS ARTICLE from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, freshman wide receiver Isaish Ford will join the basketball team once the football season is over.  He averaged 37 ppg last season and is tops on the pigskin squad in receiving yards and 2nd in catches.

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Hokies Land 2015 Recruit – Forward Kerry Blackshear

Virginia Tech now has a 2015 basketball commit* in Kerry Blackshear, a 6’8″ or 6’9″ forward between 220-225 lbs. from Maynard Evans High School in Orlando, FL.

Blackshear is a great get from the Sunshine State.  247Sports.com rates him the #75 overall player in the Class of 2015 and the #21 small forward (and a 4-star).  Rivals.com ranks him as the #109 player in his class, and a 3-star overall (they cut off 4-stars at #105).  ESPN rates him a 4-star and the #27 power forward.  It will be seen as to whether Buzz plays Kerry at the 3 or the 4 spot (or both), but Kerry seems to have attributes that could work at both.

Tech beat out schools like smu and arkansas, and ACC foes bc, miami, and clemson for Blackshear.

Kerry’s teammate, C.J. Williamson, also has a Tech offer and the Hokies are considered to be a strong candidate for his services.

*I didn’t say first commit of 2015 because Warren Craft of Roanoke had previously been committed to the Hokies, but that changed when Buzz came in and they decided to move on.

Posted in Home, Recruiting News0 Comments

Schedule Released

If you want to boo Montrezl Harrell, a National POTY candidate and former Hokie-signee, you’ll have to travel to K-Y Kentucky to see VT play ACC newcomer and former Metro-rival louisville. Tech returns to the ACC/Big(14)Ten Challenge with a game at penn state. Plus a trip to Cancun just before Turkey Day. And the Hokies play at west virginia (for some reason it is also on a Tuesday afternoon just like last year’s game).

Home games include notre dame, duke, and syracuse. The Hokies play fsu, syracuse, miami, and uva twice in league play.

The out of conference schedule is, well, an opportunity for Buzz to get some momentum (I.e. It stinks).

SCHEDULE LINK

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Denver Nuggets to Sign Erick Green

According to THIS ARTICLE, the Denver Nuggets are poised to sign Erick Green to a multi-year contract.  Drafted in the 2nd Round a year ago, his rights were immediately traded and he played abroad last season.  At the Las Vegas Summer League this past month, Green averaged 16.6 ppg, 2.6 apg, and 1.2 spg in 5 games (27.6 minutes per game) for Denver.

Here’s a DIFFERENT ARTICLE where he talks about his time in Italy.

Green could become the first Hokie to play in the NBA since Zabian Dowdell back in 2011, though signing a contract won’t guarantee he makes the team.  Deron Washington signed a two-year deal with Detroit back in 2009 but got cut before the start of the season and never played in a NBA regular season game.  Let’s hope Erick fares better.

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Next Year’s Team: “Experience”

This coming season, the Hokies will have just four returning players who came to Virginia Tech as scholarship players (so that excludes guys like Will Johnston and Christian Beyer who have played a lot, but were walk-ons).  Those four are Malik Mueller, Joey van Zegeren, Adam Smith, and Devin Wilson.  Mueller redshirted last season, so he hasn’t suited up for the Hokies.  Wilson and Smith were in their first season at Tech last year.  That leaves JvZ as the lone scholarship upperclassman that started his career at VT.

Combined, next year’s scholarship roster has played in just 108 games combined at VT with 68 starts and 742 career points.  Heck, our returning walk-ons have 234 points, so about 30% of our scholarship guys.

Needless to say, program sales do very well in the first month or two of the season.

And I’ll say this — I’ll take it.  Maybe we’d have seen some improvement next year under JJ (could we have won fewer than 2 ACC games?).  But we needed to bomb this program, and that’s what has been done.  We have a great staff on hand in which I trust.  And if they fail, at least we tried and brought in the best we could have hoped for.

Posted in Home2 Comments

Official Announcement on the Bball Coaching Staff

Here is the official Hokiesports.com release about the basketball staff.  I have to say, this is an impressive group.  Heck, our Director of Basketball Operations was a head coach at air force for 5 years.  And we now have an Assistant to the Head Coach (not to be confused with Dwight Schrute as the Assistant to the Regional Manager).  The infrastructure is in place, now it is up to this group to bear fruit.

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C.J. Barksdale Leaving VT

As had been long rumored, C.J. Barksdale will not return to Virginia Tech for his senior season according to this ARTICLE.  This means only one player is left from the highly regarded Class of 2011, and that’s the lowest rate one — Joey van Zegeren.

CJB is the 5th Hokie to decide to leave the program since the end of the season.

Posted in Home4 Comments

Ben Emelogu is Transferring to smu

It is now being reported that Ben Emelogu is transferring to smu, which is close to his home and makes sense given the issues he is apparently suffering from. smu is in Dallas and Ben is from South Grand Prarie, which is southwest of Dallas.

Emelogu becomes the 2nd Hokie to head to smu in the last 5 years, joining Hank Thorns. He will play for coaching legend Larry Brown. We’ll see if the NCAA makes him sit out a year or not.

Here was the original article about him leaving VT: Article

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Marshall Wood to Play for richmond

Wood is a spider according to this ARTICLE.

Marshall will have to sit out this season, then have two years of eligibility left after that.

These two schools do have some history of “trading” players.  Tony Dobbins played a season at Tech back in 99-00 before heading to the Queen City to play three seasons for richmond.  He is still playing professionally abroad (this was a devastating loss to the Hokies — but who can blame him, he’d have played for ricky stokes if he’d stayed).

And A.D. Vassallo was initially inked to richmond, but if memory serves me correctly, he could not be admitted and ended up signing with VT and still sits 6th on the Tech All Time Scoring list with 1,822 points.

Posted in Home2 Comments

Hokies Headed Back to Cancun

Virginia Tech will return to Cancun, Mexico for an early Spring Break this upcoming season, competing in the Cancun Challenge Tournament, November 25-26 (Thanksgiving is the 27th) at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.  The Hokies defeated seton hall back in January of 2010 in Cancun.

The Hokies will compete in the “Group of Death”, the difficult Riviera Division.  They are joined by miami to the north, northern iowa, and northwestern.  Tech will host a team or two from the Mayan Division (elon, liberty, north florida, and morgan state) before heading South of the Border.

Note: this is not the greatest of fields, to put it mildly.  Only northern iowa (16-15) and elon (18-14) had winning records last year.

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Juco Forward Shane Henry Commits to VT

Buzz Williams has kept the fax machines busy in the ‘Burg since his arrival, getting a commitment from 6’8″ forward Shane Henry.  Shane is completing his Associate’s Degree at georgia perimeter community college (no relationship to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College) and will join the Hokies late this summer assuming all goes well.  He will have two years of eligibility remaining after playing two seasons for gpcc.  And I believe he is Tech’s first Juco recruit since Justin Holt way back in Seth Greenberg’s first full class in 2004 (Justin never played for VT before being dismissed).

Shane is described as long and lean (hey, we’re used to that here).  He averaged 13.2 PPG this past season, 12.5 RPG, and blocked an eye-popping 136 shots in 29 games.  That’s a cool 4.7 swats per contest.  Obviously that’s at the Juco level, but still.  That should help lessen the loss of Thompson and complement JvZ in the paint.  Those 136 blocks were 3rd nationally, to go along with his double-double he averaged per game.

In a game against hated rival central georgia technical college, he had a triple double with 20 points (8/12 FGs), 15 rebounds, and 15 blocks in a 79-78 loss.  He also had 7 turnovers, but hey, those are some serious stats.  He had a triple double in his first game of the season, too.

After shooting 58.6% from the field as a freshman (tops in his conference) and averaging 9.4 ppg and 6.9 rpg, his shooting percentage dropped to the mid-51% range last season, still solid.

LINK TO HIS JUCO PROFILE

In all, Buzz has now convinced five players to become Hokies with three eligible to play next year (Ahmed Hill, Satchel Pierce, and Henry plus Seth Allen and Zach LeDay who will sit next year as transfers), kept two existing signees who can play next year (Justin Bibbs and Jalen Hudson), lost three current players to transfers (TT, 3-Wood, and Kirby) and let two signees/verbals move on (Lang and Craft).  So he’s a very solid +2 by my count.

ARTICLE ABOUT HIM WITH QUOTES FROM HIS COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Posted in Recruiting News3 Comments

Zach LeDay Transferring to VT from south florida

In what now completes a 3-way trade, the Hokies have acquired Seth Allen (maryland) and Zach LeDay (south florida) as the players to be named later in the gus “benedict arnold” gilchrist deal*.

LeDay, a 6’7″ forward, played two seasons in Tampa, averaging 4.8 ppg as a freshman and 3.5 ppg this past season in 15 minutes per game.

Zach played on the same AAU team as Ben Emelogu in Texas (Dallas Mustangs), as the two grew up about 30 miles apart in the Lone Star state.  Although LeDay was a year older than Ben.

Zach will have to sit out this season and then will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2015-16 season.

*gilchrist infamously asked out of his signed LOI after the horrific shootings back in 2007.  Many questioned his true reason for asking out, as his stock had blown up after signing.  He eventually went to maryland for a year, but after realizing he’d have to sit another year and lose a year of eligibility, he transferred to south florida and played there (his handler conveniently got a job at usf as a video something-or-other).  Hence the 3-way trade joke, for those of you who had no idea what I was talking about.

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ESPN Ranks Buzz 38th Best in the Nation

ESPN ranked the top 50 coaches in college hoops, and Buzz Williams came in at #38 (although as you’ll see on the right windowpane of this article, Myron Medcalf of ESPN thought this was wrong and Buzz should have been higher on the list).

ARTICLE LINK

They’ve only posted #25-50 so far, but here are the ACC coaches on the list:

  • #45 – Mike Brey, notre dame
  • #38 – Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech
  • #28 – Jim Larranage, miami
  • #25 – Jamie Dixon, (arm) pitt

Posted in Home3 Comments

More Details on Seth Allen

Sure, we won’t see Seth put on orange and maroon and take the floor for another 18 months, but here are some things to get excited about…

Outside Shooting: Seth hit 49 three-pointers this year at a 38% clip.  That would have placed him 2nd on this past year’s Hokie squad in makes and #1 in percentage.

Overall Scoring: Allen’s 13.4 ppg would have led the offensively challenged Hokies this past season (but was 2nd on the terps).  He does not attack the tin a ton — more than half of his 89 made shots were 3s and he only averaged 3 free throws per game.  Seth was a solid 75% foul shooter when he did get to the line.

Handle: Seth had a solid assist-to-turnover ratio of almost 2-to-1 (3.0 apg to 1.7 tpg).  His ratio was actually better than Devin Wilson, who had way more assists but also a lot more turnovers (1.6 ratio compared to Seth’s 1.76 ratio).

Defense: At 6’1″, he doesn’t have the length a lot of Hokies have.  He did average just under a steal per game, which would have led the Hokies, but Tech was abysmal in terms of creating turnovers/steals (Tech was dead last in the ACC in steals by more than 1 per game).

Progress: Seth improved in almost every category from his freshman to sophomore season, showing he was getting better as you’d hope.

FYI: Seth, originally from Woodbridge, was a 3-star recruit coming out of high school in Fredericksburg.

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