Virginia Tech Basketball Preview: #64
Overall Rank: #64
Conference Rank: #8 Atlantic Coast Conference
2008-09: 19-15, 7-9
2008-09 postseason: NIT
Coach: Seth Greenberg (107-85 at Virginia Tech, 320-255 overall)
Virginia Tech has been agonizingly close to the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons. It seems like every game they lose is either really close or a key player was missing due to an injury or a suspension. Coach Seth Greenberg deserves a lot of credit for holding his team together over the last two seasons, but with the loss of A.D. Vassallo, Cheick Diakite and Hank Thorns, it might be another disappointing NIT season for the Hokies.
Key Losses: C Cheick Diakite, G Hank Thorns, G A.D. Vassallo
With the unexpected departure of Thorns, the newcomers will have to play a bigger role than once thought. Most of those minutes should be picked up by guards Erick Green and Ben Boggs. Green is the better ball handler of the two, but Boggs has the potential to provide a spark off the bench with his outside shooting ability. Wing Manny Atkins is also a likely candidate for playing time. Power forward Cadarian Raines, who eventually is expected to be the best player in this class, and redshirt freshman Gene Swindle will provide the Hokies with some much needed depth in the paint.
It will not just be the newcomers who have to help replace Vassallo’s 19.1 points per game. Dorenzo Hudson only averaged 4.6 points per game, but he is a capable outside shooter who will get a lot more opportunities to show his stuff this year. The 6-5 junior can play on either wing spot, although he is not a great rebounder so the team will be better off in most situations if he can play at the shooting guard position. But in order to play there, Hudson has to become a more assertive player and not only hit the long ball, but get to the basket as well. Terrell Bell, a 6-6 wing, is not much of a shooter, but he could emerge as a quality small forward now that he is an upperclassman. His 2.3 point and 2.7 rebound average of a year ago was a little disappointing, but Bell still has a ton of potential.
The frontcourt is full of potential too. Jeff Allen had a superb sophomore season averaging 13.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. The 6-7 forward is not just a back to the basket player and his ability to hit the mid-range jumper can stretch out the opposing defense. Allen will be a major contributor, but Hokie fans are not exactly sure what they are getting out of J.T. Thompson. The 6-6 junior missed part of last season and has yet to reach his full potential. He should be in line for a starting spot and the Hokies will need him to stay on the floor and play much more consistently now that he is an upperclassman. Victor Davila started ten games last year, but only tallied 3.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per contest. If he can improve between his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Davila should be a major contributor.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt may have the most potential, but nobody is going to score more than Malcolm Delaney. Last season the 6-3 Baltimore, Maryland native averaged 18.1 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds. That is not bad at all for a sophomore who had to share the backcourt with Vassallo. Now almost all of the scoring on the perimeter will fall on Delaney’s shoulders and he has the skills to average 20 points per game and still dish out five assists.
Delaney’s outside shooting ability will keep the opposing defense honest. Besides him, a bulk of the scoring will come from Allen and Thompson in the paint. Virginia Tech is going to need to find a few more consistent scoring options, preferably on the perimeter. That is going to put a lot of pressure on Hudson to emerge as a quality shooter or the Hokies will once again find themselves on the wrong side of the bubble.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Malcolm Delaney, Junior, Guard, 18.1 points per game
Dorenzo Hudson, Junior, Guard, 4.6 points per game
J.T. Thompson, Junior, Forward, 6.5 points per game
Jeff Allen, Junior, Forward, 13.7 points per game
Victor Davila, Sophomore, Forward, 3.1 points per game
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