I wrote a preview for the Virginia Tech Hokies, I swear. Blame Georgetown for the glitch. The "preview" is moot now, but I really like giving you guys the scoop on the other ACC teams, so here. I even added tid-bits from last night's game for comparison. What did I get right, and where did I totally blow it? Read on:
This preview is dedicated to a dear friend I've known since the age of six. The Syracuse native/Tech alum recently gave me some valuable information: the Hokies despise being called "VaTech." Admittedly, this is something I have done in the past. *It was also all over the Twitters last night, AND in an AP recap this morning.*
So it's "VT" or "Tech," ok guys? If you use "VaTech," it will really get on their nerves. Got it? Don't write or even say it, lest you be subjected to unspeakable wrath. It's like they say: hell hath no fury like a Hokie "VaTech'd."
There. The masses are educated. I'm sure this information will be used wisely.
For thoughts on the rest of the conference, check out previews of Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Virginia.
2012-2013 Record: 13-19 (4-14)
Conference Ranking: 12th
Historical Notes: Even though Tech was in the Big East from 2000-2004, Syracuse hasn't played in the Hokies' arena since 1978. *Which, coincidentally, was the last time the thing was renovated, I bet.* The Orange lead the all-time series, 4-2.
What They're Known For: Having a bit of a resurgence under former head coach Seth Greenberg before the-powers-that-be decided to go in a different direction with the basketball program. With current head coach (and Greenberg assistant) James Johnson, the Hokies are hoping to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.
Season Summary: There was a nine-game losing streak during conference play, and Tech's season ended after its first ACC Tournament game with a loss to NC State. You could say that Johnson's first season as head coach was a little rough.
Jarell Eddie (12.3 PPG/5.6 RPG). The 6-7 forward is Tech's leading returning scorer and play maker. He battled inconsistency last year, but took his gym-time up a notch and it's paying off to the tune of 17.4 PPG/6.3 RPG so far this season. *Last night: 6 pts, 2 reb.*
C.J. Barksdale (5.6 PPG/4.7 RPG). After a 3-game suspension at the beginning of the season, the 6-8 forward seems to have gotten things back on track, averaging 8.9 points and 5.3 rebounds this year. Good thing, too, because, as a junior, he can provide the kind of veteran leadership this young team needs. *Last night: 12 pts, 4 reb.*
Devin Wilson. This freshman is Tech's only point guard, so he'll be crucial to the season. Despite some typical freshman mishaps, he's showing he can handle being thrust into big-time college basketball, and averaging 7.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists, so far. *Last night: 3 pts, 1 reb, 2 ast.*
Personnel Changes: Graduation took last year's national leading scorer, Erick Green (25 PPG/4 RPG/3.8APG). Guard Robert Brown (8.3 PPG/2.4 RPG/2.1 APG) transferred to UAB, and Marquis Rankin (3 PPG/1 APG career) left the team at the end of this semester. Yea, like two weeks ago. He hadn't played this year. As for newbies, the Hokies will put Adam Smith (6-1, guard) on the floor. He sat out last year after transferring from UNC Wilmington. The freshmen are Devin Wilson (6-4, guard), Ben Emelogu (6-5, guard), Maurice Kirby (6-9, forward), and Trevor Thompson (6-11, forward).
2013-2014 Potential: Well, Tech was last in the ACC last year. There's (hopefully) only one way to go from there. I know; this is pretty insightful analysis. *Still better than the stuff we heard last night, right?*
Tech has to fill the huge gap left by Green, but don't be surprised if the Hokies end up doing better this season. Why? Since no single player can make up for Green, the team will have to play, well, like a team. They can't rely on one guy to "save" them this year. They all have to contribute more than they did before. That is a sure fire way to create the sort of team mentality that Tech, or any team for that matter, needs to improve.
Orange Match-Up: Trap alert. The Hokies have been hitting threes at an insane 42.5% clip. If they're able to get out in transition and make some in a row, the all-important momentum will shift in their favor. Tyler Ennis will be key to keeping things controlled, though part of me wonders if this is the first game where he gets a little rattled.
Syracuse's defense will decide the outcome. Getting back in transition to prevent open threes is one part of that, but the other is forcing turnovers. Luckily, the boys from Blacksburg are rather turnover prone, averaging 14+ per game (tied for 287th). If the game looks like it's getting out of hand early on, expect Boeheim to start pressing. Syracuse's length should disrupt Tech enough to create a few momentum-killing stops.
*I should just stop wondering when our freshman point guard will get rattled. With seven assists, one turnover, and 50% from behind the arc, what's left to say? Ennis gonna Ennis.
Last night, VT only had 8 turnovers. How'd they pull that off? Check this out, though: Tech only made 29.2% of its threes yesterday. I'd say the zone had something to do with that. If the students had been on campus, it would have been a different story, though. Syracuse really lucked out, not having to face VaTech again. /Sarcasm.
Bah! I did the "VaTech" thing again! Whatever. We're conference foes now. All's fair in love and VaTech-ing.*