Virginia Tech’s First Men’s Basketball Practice Under James Johnson – Q&A With @HereGoJayAgain

Good evening.  We’re happy here at All Sports Discussion to interview @HereGoJayAgain, who is a blogger at Sports Words of Wisdom. Jay Anderson was also a manager for the Men’s Basketball team from 2006-2010. Anderson attended the first Virginia Tech men’s basketball practice under new head coach, James Johnson, on October 12, 2012.  We are here today to get his reaction.

@HokeGuru:  Give us your initial impression of the first practice under James Johnson.

@HereGoJayAgain:  Initial impressions on the first practice under James Johnson was one of optimism. There’s a different vibe Coach Johnson has with these players that was, in a word, lacking in the past. With this group, these guys actually push each other and play well together. I liked the energy on day one but this group has little room for error. I will say, however, Hokie fans will learn to love a walk-on by the name of Christian Beyer. Beyer is a tweener who can play the 3 or 4 and considering how thin this team is in the post, he should definitely see some time, lets think Jeff King 2.0 here. I also liked what I saw from Jarell Eddie. He’s put some size on since I’ve last seen him and it looks like he might buy into being this team’s defensive stopper this year.

@HokeGuru:   Many in the media say that we didn’t really have too many set offensive packages that were run under Seth Greenberg.  Did you get any clues on a James Johnson operated offense?  Did you see Erick Green running the point guard the majority of the time – or was Rankin getting some ops, too?

@HereGoJayAgain:  Considering its the first day, there wasn’t much offense aside from the fast break offense that was put in on day one. The thing with this team and even past Greenberg teams is they are going to have to put a body on somebody and set screens to get open, every time. You can have all the offensive packages in the world, but if you don’t work to get your teammates open, your offense is going to struggle. Granted in practice some guys cheat the play because they know what’s coming but so will our opponents. In order to be good, we’re going to have to limit turnovers, get back on defense, and run, run, run.

@HokeGuru:  James Johnson says he wants to run this year – wants some up-tempo play – I, however, am skeptical about this notion in that we have limited depth – tell me where the flaws are in my arguments – in other words, help me open my mind to the possibility.

@HereGoJayAgain: The thing about the ACC that makes it one of the top conferences in college basketball is that a lot of teams have an up-tempo style of play. Duke, UNC, NC State all those teams love to run and get up shots quick. In order to be successful, this team is going to have to run and convert on every fast break opportunity. It’s possible for any team to accomplish this when you have the right group of guys. In my opinion, this is the right group of guys. With Raines patrolling the middle and a guard like Erick Green who sees the floor really well, they have the pieces to play 7-8 guys and run like crazy. Coach Johnson won’t run many plays where the ball sits in one spot but he will put these players in the best positions to score, every time.  Marshall Wood is going to surprise some teams this year because for his size, he can shoot the heck out the ball. Erick Green will be Erick Green, he looks like he’s been ready to play since last season ended.

@HokeGuru:  Give us your initial impression of Cadarian Raines (who is healthy for the first time in a long time) and C.J. Barksdale – how do are our post guys look?

@HereGoJayAgain:  Raines and Barksdale looked good for the first day. Sometimes you tend to forget about Barksdale out there but for his second year, he has the game experience to make plays for this team whether it’s from the high or low post. I really liked how he and Raines played when they scrimmaged towards the end of practice. You could see a different chemistry between them.

Cadarian Raines, I always tell him he’s my favorite player and he is. I love watching this kid play and he’s finally healthy. He’s still trying to get into game shape but they’ve got plenty of time for that. He’s got a lot of pressure on him this year though to stay out of foul trouble because like I said, this team has little room for error.

@HokeGuru: How do the guys look together on the court?  Would you say there a sense of cohesion?

@HereGoJayAgain:  Raines and Barksdale looked good for the first day. Sometimes you tend to forget about Barksdale out there I liked this team’s demeanor practicing. They pushed each other the whole time with little input from their coaches which was huge. One instance a guy got tired and was gassed and they all said the same thing “Come on man, get up, we’re all tired!” These guys have an opportunity to be good but they’ve got to buy into the philosophy of what they want to do. We’re not a very big team so we’ve got to play smarter than everybody else. We’ve got weapons to use on offense whether inside with Raines or stretching the floor with Green to drive and kick. Robert Brown and Jarrell Eddie have to be ready to shoot every time. In order to do well, they’ve got to perfect the little things. What hurt me the most about our past teams is the sense of animosity you could just feel walking in the gym. These guys all communicate, they all hold each other accountable on the court including the coaches and it showed this first practice. They believe in each other and know what they all do well. I wouldn’t go out on a limb here and say this team will be a top 5 ACC team but they have a chance to surprise and upset some teams if they continue to get better and push each other every day.

We thank @HereGoJayAgain for participating in our Q&A at All Sports Discussion!! 

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