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And Then We Turn Ourselves Around: A Virginia Tech Basketball Preview

Last Year: Virginia Tech was a depressing 14-16, and only managed a 4-12 record in the ACC. Their postseason ended in the first round of the ACC Tournament. What went wrong? The steady losses of players for a game or two at a time didn't help a team already low on depth. Their offense showed all the hallmarks of a perimeter-oriented team, with abysmal offensive rebounding, practically no turnovers and drawing amazingly few fouls from opposing teams. And yet the shot among the fewest three-pointers of any team in the league. This less than optimal point production, coupled with a league-worst opposing team field goal percentage, left the Hokies, simplistically enough, just scoring less than their opponents.

Comings and Goings: The good news is that almost everyone's back from last year's team. The Hokies lost three seniors, of which one, Shawn Harris (2.4 ppg, 0.5 rpg) saw any playing time. (Harris saw 5.9 minutes a game as a shooting guard.)

The senior-laden team that remains is lead by a powerful backcourt in the hands of Zabian Dowdell (16.5 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Jamon Gordon (11.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg). Gordon in particular is an impressive defensive player, and the combination of a senior-laden backcourt in a league of unexperienced point guards will make them a tough combo to top. The frontcourt can also handle itself - Coleman Collins (14.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) the third senior in the staring five, will get to play his height at power forward instead of the center position where he spent last year, and Deron Washington (10.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) brings his athleticism back to impress for another year at small forward.

The reason for Collins' move and the fifth starter on the Hokies is center Robert Krabbendam, who had minor playing time two seasons ago and spent the last year on a medical redshirt. His improvement - which hasn't been evident in the two games so far this season - will separate an average Tech team from a good one. If he fails to deliver, the only other real option down low is Cheick Diakite (1.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg) who although not much of a scorer, has been pulling down rebounds like a madmen this year so far. Also look for small forward A.D. Vassallo (6.9 ppg) who spent last year under the radar despite twice being ACC Rookie of the Week.

There's not much room on the roster for freshmen this year, and Tech only has two on the roster, Nigel Munson and Lewis Witcher. Munson is the next Hokie point guard, and so will spend the season baking up Dowdell while Witcher plays power forward. He could easily play himself into significant playing time, especially if the team decides to go with a smaller Witcher/Collins frontcourt combo.

The Outlook: Seth Greenberg has obviously been preparing for this senior-heavy squad for a couple of years now, and he's put together a good schedule for them to face, including December games at Seton Hall and George Washington. With depth for the first time this year, experience in the starters, and a coach that has done nothing but surprise since he joined the ACC, this team is going to go a lot farther than many expect. The Tech fans will annoy over this, but the Hokies will make the NCAA's, and stick around for a round or two as well. They won't beat UNC though, the only ACC school they've yet to top.

  • Preseason Poll Finish: 6th, a bit too low.
  • Carolina March Forecast: 11-5 in the ACC, and a host of articles on how they've turned around in one season. They'll also nab a Sweet 16 slot come March.