2011-2012 Virginia Tech Hokies Men’s Basketball Preview

Is this the year Seth Greenberg and the Hokies finally breakthrough and get to the NCAA Tournament? If you ask me and the NCAA Selection doesn’t, then you can’t convince they didn’t deserve a bid at least one bid since 2007. How do they look for this year? Contributing writer @HokieGuru has written an outstanding preview of the Virginia Tech Hokies basketball team for the 2011-2012 season. Enjoy the article!

2011-2012 Virginia Tech Hokies Men’s Basketball Preview from @HokieGuru

I want to thank @SCACCHoops and @TalkinACCSports for allowing me to cross-post this Virginia Tech men’s basketball preview.  If you are not following them on Twitter or reading the SCACCHoops or All Sports Discussion blogs, you need to immediately.  They always have great Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) content on their sites.

This will be one of the deepest teams that Virginia Tech has had in my four years as a season ticket holder.  At the same time, this is a very young team with only three returning starters.  But we’ve hit a milestone at Virginia Tech… our men’s basketball recruiting class was rated #12 at ESPNU… the first time our basketball recruiting class was rated higher than our football class.  The Hokies have a lot of questions that need to be answered.  Let’s take a very brief look at what’s in store for the upcoming year, including the projected starting lineup, our bench, some offseason news, and some of the questions that needed to be answered about this team:

Projected Starting Lineup Coming:

Hokie Players:

Victor Davila (Senior) – 6’8” 242 lb. Center and returning starter.  Has steadily improved his defense every year… a liability at the free throw line… needs to be a consistent double double guy for the Hokies to be successful.

J.T. Thompson (Senior) – 6’6” 225 lb. Small Forward and former stud off the bench, now starter.  He was recovering from a torn ACL in 2010-2011 and my understanding is that he is back at 100% strength. He will provide a much needed presence and toughness in the post… a high-energy guy.

Cadarian Raines (Sophomore) – 6’9” 238 lb. Power Forward.  All reports are that he is healthy for the first time in years and will provide a much needed post presence.

Dorenzo Hudson (Senior) – 6’5” 220 lb. Shooting Guard and returning starter. The Hokies missed his offense in 2010-2011.  When he drives to the hoop, there are not many teams that can stop him.  If he comes back to his form from 2009-2010, he might be the scoring leader for the team.

Erick Green (Junior) – 6’3” 185 lb. Point Guard and returning starter.  Green is the undisputed team leader.

Jarell Eddie (Sophomore) – 6’7” 218 lb. Small Forward (plays the wing in the @HeadHokie offense).  Had some difficulty towards the end of the season and was suspended, but recent reports are good.

Tyrone Garland (Sophomore) – 6’1” 180 lb. Point Guard.  He will learn when to take good and bad shots.  He will provide some valuable minutes off the bench to relieve Erick Green.

C.J. Barksdale (Freshman) – 6’8” 232 lb. Power Forward.  I am very, very intrigued… I think he will get a long look at a lot of bench minutes.  And the kid has confidence… he thinks he’ll be the ACC freshman of the year.

Dorian Finney-Smith (Freshman) – 6’8” 192 lb. Small Forward.  The next Deron Washington?  I can’t wait to see him on the court… again, here’s a guy that will get a lot of minutes very soon… and might even start (yes, I said might even start) in some lineups.  He was the Virginia State Class AAA player of the year.  Yahoo Sports’ Jason King has Dorian listed as one of the top newcomers in the ACC.  This is the best player Seth Greenberg has recruited in Blacksburg.

Robert Brown (Freshman) – 6’5” 190 lb. Shooting Guard (Has the look of a Jamon Gordon?).  The guy can shoot the three… he’ll provide some valuable depth off the bench.

Marquis Rankin (Freshman) – 6’1” 165 lb. Point Guard (Has the look of a Zabian Dowdell?).  Unfortunately, Rankin is going to be out 6-8 weeks with knee surgery@HeadHokie has high praise for Rankin’s defense… says he might be our best on the ball defender.  His game reminds me of former Wake Forest baller, Ish Smith.

Joey van Zegeren (Freshman) – 6’10” 206 lb. Power Forward. The Hokies last recruit of 2011-2012 is a 6’10” forward from the Netherlands.  We don’t know much about him, but his YouTube video looks pretty good. This is a guy that Rob Ehsan brought in… he’s one of the new Hokies Assistant Basketball coaches who spends time recruiting Europe.

Erik Sorenson (Sophomore) – 6’3” 175 lb. Point Guard. Will only see the court during practice time and garbage time.

Offseason News

I’m always of the mind that the Hokies will have a quiet offseason… sometime… but that time is not now…

  1. Allan Chaney will not be a Virginia Tech uniform this year.  It saddens my heart, but I know we made the right decision.
  1. The Hokies have men’s hoops staff had come coaching vacancies.  The men’s basketball director of operations, Dennis Wolff, was hired as the Virginia Tech women’s basketball coach and Adrian Autry has accepted an assistant coaching position with his alma mater, Syracuse.   James Johnson, however, was promoted to Associated Head Coach and Robert Ehsan, former Maryland assistant, has been hired for the same role at Virginia Tech.  Word is that Ehsan is a great recruiter with many connections in the DMV.   Seth Greenberg also hired Jeff Wulbrun as men’s basketball director of operations.  It seems that we are replacing coaches every year.  On one hand, that’s a good thing because Seth Greenberg has quite a coaching tree out there (for example, with Bill Courtney as the head coach at Cornell).  And Autry’s move is more about going home because he’s a Syracuse alumnus.  On the other hand, successful basketball programs have continuity on their coaching staffs.  We’ll see how this all shakes out, but the guy I’m most excited to have on staff is Rob Ehsan… because it sounds like he’s already having influence on the types of offensive sets that we might run… a dribble-drive offense.
  1. A player I thought would start next year, Manny Atkins, has transferred to Georgia State University.


Questions that Need To Be Answered

And here we go…

  1. Who will be the go-to scorer in the starting lineup next year?  We need to answer that question now that Malcolm Delaney has graduated.  This is the guy that you know you can depend on at crunch time when you need a bucket (or when you need to get to the foul line).  This is also the guy that can put 30 points on the board when you need it or someone can get everyone else involved.  We have some good players in the starting lineup, but I can’t identify that guy now (it might be Dorenzo Hudson or Erick Green… if Erick Green takes that next step to be a high level player, we could have a better than expected season in Blacksburg… as I said earlier, if we see Hudson in 2009-2010 form, he could be that go-to scorer).
  1. Where does production come from in the frontcourt?  With Jeff Allen gone, we need answers.  We need to improve our rebounding immensely.
  1. There’s always a guy on Seth Greenberg’s teams that’s willing to do the dirty work… to play hard defense on the opposing team’s offensive wizard… to run for all the loose balls… and to dedicated themselves to rebounding.  In 2010-2011, that guy was Terrell Bell who graduated and is now playing EuroBall in Finland.  Who is that guy in 2011-2012?
  1. Really, how healthy are Dorenzo Hudson, J.T. Thompson, and Cadarian Raines?  Initial reports are that all have recovered from injuries (I regularly tweet all three guys on Twitter).  I guess @HokieGuru needs to see for his own eyes in one of the games.  Godspeed to all of them.
  1. With this deep team (and playing in the ACC), we need to make sure that we get players the rest they need… do we go outside of Greenberg’s traditional rotation of more than seven players?  In the past, Greenberg’s teams have worn down by the end of the season.
  1. The 2011 recruiting class is the best in the history of Virginia Tech… can they play?  We will find out this year.  If they are good, some of the guys will get the chance to play right away.  For the record, I think they can play.  This team has the look of the 2007-2008 Hokies that many in the media had as the 8th best team in the ACC and were drastically underestimated.  You trust me… these freshman are ballers… they can play.
  1. Will this team get up for every game?  It’s easy to get up for certain games, but we have to get up for every game.  No way can you get swept by your rival (dirty Hoos owe us a few Ls for hiring their alumnus, Ricky Stokes lol).  Can’t lose to those teams (cough, cough, Georgia Tech) that you’re supposed to beat.  Somehow I think we will this year because when Seth’s teams are counted out, they do better than expected.
  1. Is this the year we make the NCAA tournament?  I don’t know yet.  The schedule is very challenging.  The Hokies will be part of the 2011-12 Pre-Season NIT and, quite frankly, I’m glad that we will most likely be playing George Mason University in our pod. Two wins in Blacksburg and the Hokies could potentially take on Syracuse in the famous Madison Square Garden venue.  The Hokies also have a challenging non-conference slate, including Kansas State, Minnesota, BYU, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, East Tennessee State, and Oklahoma State… and others.  In the ACC, the Hokies have home games vs. Florida State, North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Virginia, and NC State.  The Hokies have road games vs. Wake Forest, Boston College, Virginia, Maryland, Miami, Florida State, Duke and Clemson.   There are opportunities for high RPI wins, so if we don’t make the tournament, it won’t be for lack of a challenging schedule because the games are there.  And the thing that is different this year with the ACC is that Virginia is going to be much improved and will be a great addition in the RPI column.  For the record, our friends at the NBA Draft Blog think Virginia Tech will get a bid this year.  Although, I’m not sure we’ll be #3 in the conference J (even the @HokieGuru isn’t that much of a homer).

To close, I’m looking to big things for 2011-2012 Virginia Tech men’s basketball team and I’m really looking forward to ACC hoops!!!  GO HOKIES!!!

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