Thanks to aznew for letting me guest post the 2009-2010 Virginia Tech Men's Basketball Preview. The Hokie Guru is an editor for VT Fan Focus's Men's Basketball section, and was one of the founding members of Fire Bryan Stinespring. He's a season ticket holder, and definitely has his finger on the pulse of the program right now. Here it goes:
This is my 2nd year as a season ticket holder (and I’ve watched Hokie Men’s hoops since the mid 1980’s...I remember the big upset of Memphis in 1985). We’re looking to build on a 2008-2009 season that had our Hokies finish in a three-way tie for seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Jason King from Yahoo Sports has it right when he says talent wise, we were an NCAA tournament team last year, but inconsistency kept us out of the Big Dance. Subsequently, we had to settle for a second round appearance (and quick exit) in the National Invitational Tournament. This year, the ACC media picked the Hokies to finish in 8th place considering that our big time scorer, A.D. Vassallo graduated. The Hokies will definitely miss Vassallo for his offense, but definitely not his defense.
Reports from Practice
Reports from 2009-2010 practices are limited, but tweets from Malcolm Delaney on Twitter (@foe23) show that Virginia Tech beat Charlotte and GEORGETOWN in official scrimmages. While it’s hard to take much from those results, this is a good sign. Further, there's quite a bit of buzz that our D is stronger this year. There has been an increased emphasis on overall team defense with Greenberg's squad, not unlike the mentality of our football team.
Arguably the biggest news of the offseason was the completion of a brand new $21 million basketball practice facility in Blacksburg. Seth Greenberg expects the facility to provide a “wow” factor that will help level the playing field in terms of recruiting against the traditional ACC powerhouses. The building is impressive, and certainly improves the perception of the program with respect to recruits as well as rivals. Hokie fans will also enjoy the fact that we pay homage to Greg “Teabag” Paulus in the form of a two-story poster in the entrance of the facility. From what I’ve heard, the players LOVE the facility and the current players have had more opportunity for practice shots this year than in the last three years combined.
A New Assistant Coach
Seth Greenberg made what many in the media say was a great off-season hire in assistant coach, Bill Courtney. Courtney is considered an excellent recruiter, especially on the East Coast, which is particularly important in the ACC. When he was an assistant at Virginia, he recruited Sylven Landesburg, the Cavaliers' best player. While at George Mason, he recruited every player on the Patriots' Final Four squad. You can see more about Courtney here. I'd say we’re lucky to have him. Welcome to Virginia Tech, Bill.
The knock on our Hokies in previous seasons is that we did not have enough quality wins (non-conference and ACC) to make the Tournament. This year, we have an opportunity to pick up some strong wins before the ACC season begins. The highlights include Temple in the Philly Hoop Group Classic, Iowa in the Big 10/ACC Challenge, Georgia at home, Penn State on the road (when I first heard that game announced, I thought it was for football and I was massively excited). Hokie fans should still be excited about the basketball matchup, and I will be travelling to Happy Valley to witness it in person. The Hokies will also take on Seton Hall south of the border in Mexico. In ACC play, we have a pair of home and road games with North Carolina, Boston College, North Carolina State, Miami, and Virginia. The Hokies have single home games against Clemson, Wake Forest, and Maryland. The Hokies go on the road for games against Florida State, Duke, and Georgia Tech. I wish we could play Maryland and Duke twice (so I could boo both teams off the court and yell “Teabag Paulus” and “General Greivis Vasquez” for the hell of it), but this is the way ACC scheduling works out this season. In short, we have some good opportunities for quality non-conference and conference wins. If we come out of the blocks hard, we should have a good chance to be undefeated by the time the ACC season begins.
- Malcolm Delaney (Junior, G, 6’3”, 190 lbs) – The best player we’ve had at Virginia Tech since Dell Curry (some would argue that Ace Custis should be rated higher than Malcolm… I disagree). He is the undisputed team leader and we need him to be more vocal this year. Delaney is preseason First Team All-ACC and is the leading scorer among all returning players in the conference. Malcolm is listed in Rivals.com Top 25 Point Guards as well. Delaney is a combo guard (e.g. he can play point and shooting guard) but his natural position is shooting guard. To improve his game, Delaney participated as a player and counselor at LeBron James’ Nike Summer Basketball camp in Cleveland. Delaney has the best jump shot (think rainbow) I’ve seen at Virginia Tech. Towards the end of the season last year, fatigue might have been a factor with Delaney...let’s hope that’s not the case this year. Look for him to have A GREAT YEAR that might bounce him into the NBA draft.
- Dorenzo Hudson (Junior, G, 6’5”, 220 lbs) – A possible candidate for third scorer on this team. Towards the end of the season last year, Hudson starting scoring a bit more, averaging 6.8 points per game in the final two months of the season. We need him to step up and be a defensive stopper.
- Terrell Bell (Junior, G/F, 6’6, 205 lbs) – A player who is “challenged” offensively...but on this team, he won’t have to score points. We'll need him to be our defensive shutdown guy this year, which could include a major role off the bench.
- Erick Green (Junior, G/F, 6’4, 185 lbs) – One of the new recruits...a pure point guard and someone I have high hopes for. We need him to eat up 15-20 minutes per game by the middle of the season so that Delaney can move to the shooting guard (and get some rest on the bench). Erick can run the offense and can play solid defense (he’s also a taller point guard). He won't play Deron Washington defense (ha), but pretty good defense nonetheless. Green can score when he’s asked to, but he’s not a Delaney-type in that area of his game. I’ve heard reports from practice that he is very athletic, but needs to be more aggressive. Green’s development could be the key to our season. If he progrresses, he could take over a starting role by January. He is the first true "pass-first" point guard that the Hokies have recruited in the Seth Greenberg era.
- Ben Boggs (Freshman, G, 6’4”, 200lbs) – A guy who will be asked to spell Delaney and Green...if he plays good defense, he will see some time on the court.
- Paul Debnam (Senior, G, 6’3”, 195lbs) – A fan favorite who will never see the court, except in mop-up duty.
- Jeff Allen (Junior, F, 6’7”, 250lbs) – Perhaps the best front court player we’ve had a Virginia Tech since Ace Custis. The Hokies will count on Allen for major scoring and rebounding this year. Allen has worked hard in the offseason and we need him to be a force this year. Allen is listed as one of Rivals.com Top 25 Power Forwards. He was also a counselor at LeBron James’ Nike Basketball Camp with Delaney.
- Lewis Witcher (Senior, F, 6’9”, 218lbs) – Lew is only senior on the team. He's a guy who we are going to need strong leadership from this season, along with scoring points and being aggressive on the boards. He's a borderline starter, but if he is not aggressive on the boards, he will be coming off the bench for his final season.
- J.T. Thompson (Junior, F, 6’6”, 210lbs) – J.T. is always that player who can provide a spark off the bench...the problem is that he isn’t big enough to handle most strong forwards and isn’t quick enough to hang with most speedy forwards, but he's got the work ethic. He is a fan favorite because he plays hard to the whistle every time he is on the floor, and he is a leader. He may or may not start this year considering his size, but he’s beast on the boards. It would be nice if he could be third scorer, but he does many of the little things well (like working for loose balls) so I’ll take that for now.
- Victor Davila (Sophomore, F, 6’8”, 245lbs) – A guy that was originally on Rivals' list of top 125 players that was also recruited by Wake Forest. When Davila gets the ball down low on the block, he’s pretty hard to stop from scoring (he could be a great one). He needs to be more aggressive in defensive transition and active on the boards, which are two things that might keep him out of the starting lineup. He’s a young, talented player that I hope we see some aggression from this year. He has a very good chance to be a starter, especially against teams in the ACC where we'll face off against bigger, more physical power forwards.
- Cadarian Raines (Freshman, F, 6’9”, 238lbs) – A big guy who is going to take up some space down low, but it will take him a while to get back in the swing of things because he fractured his foot in the offseason. We’ll need his big body for the ACC season.
- Manny Atkins (Freshman, G/F, 6’7”, 200lbs) – One of the new guys…reports are that he’s a lights-out shooter. We need one of those in Blacksburg.
- Gene Swindle (Freshman, C, 6’11’, 260lbs) – A center project who will never see the court, except in mop-up duty.
- Allan Chaney (Sophomore, F, 6’9”, 235lbs) – A transfer from the University of Florida who figures to fit well in Seth Greenberg’s scheme of one post man, two wings, and two guards. Chaney will be eligible in the 2010-2011 season and will likely play the “three spot.” Unfortunately, he is undergoing shoulder surgery and cannot practice with the team as a result.
Projected Starting Lineups
The Hokies will likely have two different starting lineups: one against small teams (that will require our quicker players on the floor) and one against bigger ACC teams (to provide a little more physicality). Here are my projected lineups:
Projected Starting Lineup – vs. Small Teams
- Malcolm Delaney
- Dorenzo Hudson
- Lewis Witcher
- Jeff Allen
- J.T. Thompson
Projected Starting Lineup – vs. ACC Teams
- Malcolm Delaney
- Dorenzo Hudson
- Lewis Witcher
- Jeff Allen
- Victor Davila
- Offensive and defensive rebounding must improve this year. We must get better on defense.
- Virginia Tech needs a third scorer in every game, even if it’s by committee.
- Our front court guys Witcher and Davila, really need to be more aggressive this season.
- This might be the last year we see Malcolm Delaney (and maybe Jeff Allen) at Virginia Tech. I’m selfish though, and would love to see Allen and Delaney stick around for another year.
- Hokies still have season tickets available, so grab them here.
I believe that we’re going to do better than the ACC media predicted. That’s generally the way things work with Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball…when expectations are high, we have some issues, and when they are low, we do well. This is an experienced team who has fought in the ACC trenches and knows what to expect in key ACC road games. If the team plays with consistency on defense night-in and night-out, we should finish in the top half of the ACC and grab a bid to the NCAA Tournament.