ACC Summer Recess: Virginia Tech HokiesPosted by mpatton on July 17th, 2012
Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Virginia Tech.
Where They Stand Now
Virginia Tech surprised most people last year. The Hokies were picked in the middle of the pack by pretty much everyone. It was supposed to be a “down year” in the sense that people expected Seth Greenberg‘s perennial bubble team to not be one of the last teams out on Selection Sunday. Non-conference play went as expected: the Hokies lost all three games they played against tough competition and won the other 11. Then the ACC slate hit like a dump truck.
Virginia Tech started 1-6 in conference play with losses to league cellar dwellers Boston College and Wake Forest. Until beating Clemson by five in their final regular season match-up, the Hokies’ three wins came by a total of five points. No conference team played opponents as consistently close (Virginia Tech saw all but four of its conference games decided by single figures), but no team saw fewer conference wins either. It was the last straw for the athletic department brass, which waited until April 23 to let Greenberg go.
In his stead is last year’s Assistant Head Coach, James Johnson. Johnson is a great choice for the job, though he failed his first assignments. Top recruit Montrezl Harrell de-committed from the program to go to Louisville, and rising star Dorian Finney-Smith transferred to Florida. Still, Johnson knows the Virginia Tech team well and he knows the program.
Long story short: a lot of people. The Hokies lose Dorenzo Hudson and Victor Davila to graduation; they lose Allan Chaney and Finney-Smith to transfer; and they lost Harrell’s commitment along with their head coach Greenberg.
Hudson and Davila were the team’s second and fourth-leading scorers, respectively. They combined to average 18.4 points and 7.0 rebounds a game. While Finney-Smith was still very raw offensively, he contributed a lot on defense and by crashing the glass. He was highly rated coming out of high school (#18 by ESPN, #27 by Scout and #31 by Rivals), largely thanks to his potential.
Johnson has a solid core returning to Blacksburg this fall. Erick Green is the team’s bona fide star. He’s an elite scorer with the potential to average close to 20 points a game next season. Add in sharpshooting big Jarrell Eddie and rising star Cadarian Raines, and you’ve got the beginnings of a good team. Johnson will need to find a way to make Robert Brown more effective and get the most out of lone signee Marshall Wood though, as the roster is very slim.
In particular keep an eye on Raines. He’s a sneaky effective big man, who played some very good games last year. His consistency isn’t there yet, but assuming the Hokies can get him the ball on the low block, he has All-ACC potential. Raines has soft hands, a big body, and a couple of solid post moves. The biggest key to his success will be how much he touches the ball.
The head coaching switch left Virginia Tech’s cupboard bare for the time being. Still, Johnson picked up UNC-Wilmington transfer Adam Smith, who averaged 13.7 points and 3.2 rebounds his freshman year with the Seahawks. Smith will be eligible to play in the 2013-14 season. The Hokies’ sole scholarship recruit, Marshall Wood, is 6’7″ but only 200 pounds, which probably means he will need a year or two of college strength and conditioning before he’s ready to bang at the ACC level. Because of Virginia Tech’s lack of depth, he should get significant playing time this season.
The Hokies will struggle with depth in 2012-13, but don’t overlook some of the talent at new coach James Johnson’s disposal. Senior Erick Green should be preseason first team All-ACC.