Yesterday, Virginia Tech’s season got off to a fast start as they beat East Tennessee State 80-62. This brought in the James Johnson era. Here are my thoughts on the game below:

Much was talked about how the Hokies would be up tempo on offense and create the majority of their points off of the fastbreak. A lot of people I noticed were saying how they didn’t think we ran very much. Every time we got the ball, we passed the ball up the court and sprinted after. No, we didn’t get a lot of fast break points but we were certainly playing at a faster pace. Another thing that neutralized our ability to get up the court fast was ETSU started to full court press. This slowed down our offense and ultimately effected how well we scored. The first half the Hokies shot 51.9% and the second they shot 41.9%.

Our offensive sets looked much better, and this team looked extremely unselfish (unlike the Greenberg era). We had a near 2:1 assist to turnover ratio, which is excellent. Everyone remember that play last year where Erick would use a pick and then pull up from just inside the three point line? Well I only recall seeing that once yesterday, showing how much more we were spreading the ball out. That could also be due to the fact that ETSU mainly played a 2-3 zone yesterday. Tech struggled mightily against the 2-3 zone last year, but performed well against it yesterday.

Johnson wasn’t afraid to play his walk-ons, either. In non-garbage time, Tech used both Will Johnston and Marcus Patrick. Johnston played 13 minutes and looks like he will be used throughout the year. Tech played without Marquis Rankin yesterday due to deaths in his family, So Robert Brown ended up at point guard for a fair amount of the game, he didn’t do too bad either, having five assists and one turnover.

I heard throughout the off season that C.J. Barksdale was a completely different basketball player this year. I didn’t see that yesterday. Honestly, you could hardly notice he was on the court. I predict we will see Marshall Wood taking over his starting spot by the end of the year. Which leads me to Wood; he is going to be a star for us. In the two open practices I attended before the season, he was incredible on the offensive side. Many have discussed how well he’s rebounded for a freshman, but boy does that kid have a stroke. He only shot 1-6 yesterday, and 0-3 from three, but I attribute that to it being his first ever college game. After he gets the bugs out, I could see him becoming a featured part of our offense. He literally can shoot over anyone and can do it from any range, so don’t be surprised if he starts lighting it up later in the season.

Cadarian played a pretty poor game yesterday. He was almost nonexistent on the boards, having only four rebounds, and struggled to get his left handed hook to work, finishing 3-9 from the field. He also had zero blocks, surprising considering how dominant he used to be at that. We got killed on the boards today by a team that has no players over 6’ 8”, which is quite concerning. Wonder if that was just a one-time thing or not? If not, look for that to be our downfall in ACC play. We allowed 36 points in the paint yesterday, further proving the issue.

Erick green led all scorers with 21 points, with Jarell Eddie and Robert Brown finishing with 17 and 16, respectively. Robert still took a few ill-advised shots, but his stroke was like butter today. Jarell Eddie struggled to get his shot going in the first 15 minutes or so, but really lit it up after that. He ended up with 10 rebounds and a double-double. The team finished 10-25 from behind the arc, so an excellent 40%. I wouldn’t be surprised if the three point shot is an important part of our game, considering the great shooters we have this year. Joey van Zegeren played solid and provided a nice spark off the bench. If he gains confidence throughout the year, he could provide some valuable time for us to rest Cadarian Raines.

Overall, this was a good opening performance from out team and new coach. One of the best parts of the game was just watching how much our players enjoyed playing under Johnson, it looked the exact opposite of the Greenberg era. For those who saw the game, I’d love to hear what you guys thought in the comments. Go Hokies!

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I'm looking specifically for Eddie to improve his midrange game.

He didn't have one last year, he needs that part to balance his shooting like ADV developed midway thru his career. For Eddie, that's the difference between a 9 ppg scorer and 15.

The Front Court

Our back court looked very good, but the front court concerns me a little bit. The rebounding margin in particular is a cause for concern, but that is something that comes down to effort a lot, so hopefully playing hard can atone some for the size differences we will face this year. I noticed that the guys are more decisive when they shoot. Some were bad decisions, but more often than not the shots taken were good ones. And pushing the pace definitely helped us wear them down in the long run.
Overall I was pleased and excited to see the new era. We will definitely need Rankin to play well to facilitate when Green takes a breather.

"This is just spectacular... These people are losing their mind. This is beautiful." -Mike Patrick


I was really expecting big things from Cadarian Raines this year, figured if he could stay healthy he might be a bit of a surprise on a team that was lacking scoring inside. The offense seemed to be trying to get him involved (he had more touches down low than I remember our de facto center ever getting last year) but seemed lost when he got the ball. His shooting line was 3-9 but by my count at the game (which I would have to go back and watch replay to confirm) there were 4 shots that he seemed to just throw the ball up because he was close without getting anything that looked like a high quality attempt. If I remember correctly, he made one of these but they seemed like very low percentage shots despite him being deep in the paint.

to the heart of cygnus' fearsome force we set our course

I felt like he had a couple looks but from what I noticed he couldn't finish with his left hand. I saw 2 or 3 shots that he missed with his left and I know he can make with his right. It's just one of those things that he really needs to work hard at, it's only gonna come with practice.

Rip his freaking head off!

He looked rusty

My guess is since he isn't practicing against an ACC quality big man (no offense JVZ), he just came out a little rusty... After the end of last season though I'm not too worried, he will pick it back up

I hate to see what has become of ETSU's program after being a top 25 team during my formative years. Guys like Mister Jennings, Calvin Talford, Greg Dennis, Rodney English, Trazel Silvers, and Jason Nibblet lead them to 5 or 6 NCAA tournaments in a row and a top 10 ranking and coverage by Sports Illustrated (the Scott Norwood field goal Super Bowl Preview.) The move from the Southern Conference, required because of the decision to drop football, and into the Atlantic Sun (where they have no regional rivals) has decimated a program that routinely put 6000-10000 people in the Minidome during the early 90's. Sad indeed.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

My thoughts

Greenbergs teams have always struggled against any zone play. While i didnt catch the game, i am not shocked by the editor's thoughts above about playing better against the zone. Some of this has been coaching (just swinging the ball around the paremeter constantly which only really works in the high school level) and other has been the lack of a caliber point guard that can penetrate and kick, and in sequence knock down the open shot. Last year i felt we were pretty decent against teams that played us man. Then anytime they went to a zone we were done. I questioned why didnt teams just play zone all game verse us and some eventually did (with the exception of excellent man/help defenses like Duke and UNC).

I hope JJ uses these out of conference games as conditioning tests. I feel we can beat almost anyone we have on our out of conference slate, but once we get into ACC we could lose just about every game because of our lack of depth. I feel this team will put in the work to be in good shape come ACC play and we need to rally behind and support their efforts.