Wanders in and taps mic.
Is this thing on?
Hi guys! I'm sure you've noticed me around TKP leaving witty comments and being annoying about Cole Beck. But now, it's time for me to be a real contributor — something I never thought I would be doing as a sophomore in college. Let me introduce myself, tell you what you can expect to read from me, and then we'll jump right in. Buzzketball is just around the corner!
To start off, I'm a lifelong Hokie. No, seriously. I was born in Montgomery Regional Hospital and I've lived in Blacksburg my entire life. I know no other college team besides Virginia Tech. I grew up playing any and all sports, including varsity basketball throughout all of high school. I just wasn't good enough to play in college (obviously, I'm just a discount Steph Curry and didn't even deserve an offer from Davidson), so I had to figure something else out to do for a career. I didn't want to give up my love for sports, so I turned to journalism, broadcasting, or just about anything that would let me be around sports. Virginia Tech has a growing sports journalism department, so it was a no-brainer. I've had the opportunity to learn and become friends with Bill Roth (the voice of my childhood), cover Virginia Tech football and basketball during my freshman year, and I'm even a Hokie Ambassador here on campus. I rep the TKP brand strong on my tours, by the way.
Okay that's great, cool life story Henry, why am I still reading it?
Fine. Let's move on.
Basketball has always been my strong suit. I wanted to expand my ability to cover it as a journalist, and Joe has given me a great platform to do just that! Every week, hopefully on a Tuesday if I can keep my schedule, you're going to read a recap of the previous week of Buzzketball games and a look ahead to the following week's slate of contests. I'll be attending as many games as I can (read: all home games and maybe a couple of the highly anticipated road games), so I can give you an in-depth read into how the basketball team looks in person.
I think I've stalled enough. Let's talk about the South Carolina exhibition game, and take a look at the season opener against Detroit Mercy, along with the Citadel game (spoiler: there will be a lot of points in that game).
Virginia Tech at South Carolina (86-67)
Alright, let's get this out of the way. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is the best player on this team, Kerry Blackshear Jr. is the best post player ever, and Virginia Tech is going to the Final Four.
Great. Now let's actually talk about the game. Exhibition? Game? Exhibition.
Here's the rundown — South Carolina was a Final Four team last season. Did they make a bit of an impressive run to get there? Absolutely. But they were there. And then the Hokies went out on the Gamecocks' home court on Sunday and won by 19. I know that it was an exhibition and that it doesn't count towards total wins and losses, but this was a win in my eyes.
True freshman Nickeil Alexander-Walker looked phenomenal. His first shot in a Hokies jersey was a contested deep three pointer, and he DRAINED it. The next time down the court? He attacked the rim and made a tough layup in traffic. We've all heard the hype about this kid ever since he signed, but to actually see him on the court showing off his skill set, it's exciting. NAW finished the exhibition with a game-high 18 points, five rebounds and only one turnover.
Other high points from the exhibition included the return of Kerry Blackshear Jr., Devin Wilson, and Chris Clarke. All three of those players are crucial to this team being successful this season. To see them all out on the court competing on Sunday calmed a lot of my worries ahead of the season.
Blackshear Jr. is easily Tech's best post player. No argument. The Hokies desperately needed him last year at points to grab at least a couple offensive rebounds, and I will continue to believe the Hokies would've beaten Wisconsin had he been in the lineup for the NCAA tournament. Don't at me. He put up 12 points (including a three pointer?) and eight rebounds in 26 minutes of action.
Devin Wilson, while being approximately 37 years old, is a welcome sight on defense. He's the scrappy, annoying guard that will harass an opponent for an entire game if needs be. Sure, he's not a serious threat on offense (two points in 20 minutes of play), but he's disruptive on the defensive end. He snagged three steals, and committed four fouls — not that ideal, but come on, it was Ted Valentine reffing.
And to finish off this recap, remember when Clarke tore his ACL in the UVA game and everybody started saying that he might be able to be back for ACC play next season? Yeah, no. He's on a minutes restriction — 15 minutes in the exhibition game — but he's more back than Miami's football team. Too soon? Yes? Oh well.
Five points, four rebounds, and three assists in 15 minutes while still wearing a knee brace just once again shows why he's the most valuable player for Virginia Tech.
November 10: Detroit Mercy
The good: I'm pretty sure Tech's going to win this game.
The bad: It's not a resume builder.
Detroit Mercy lost to a D2 school last week. So.... take that as you will. The Titans are 289th in the RPI right now, and I really question why Tech's playing teams with such a terrible ranking in that precious metric. Win? Congrats, you were supposed to and honestly it probably hurts Tech's strength of schedule. Lose? Kiss the dance goodbye. That might be a little dramatic, but I think you get my point.
The Hokies have no business losing this game, and I don't expect them to. I'm looking forward to seeing what type of rotation Buzz uses early in the season. Justin Bibbs sat out the South Carolina game due to being in Buzz's dreaded doghouse.
Had been told pregame that Bibbs was hurt, but not the case,. did not play because Buzz was not happy with him— Mark Berman (@BermanRoanoke) November 5, 2017
I'm curious to see if he plays or whether it's a more lengthy benching.
Hopefully, next Tuesday, I did not write about how Tech should remember the Titans moving forward.
November 12: The Citadel
The good: The Hokies scored 73 points in a half against them last season.
The bad: The Citadel is only marginally better than Detroit Mercy.
Here's another head scratcher of a matchup. After a 113-71 blowout win last season, Buzz mentioned that he didn't like scheduling the Bulldogs. Partly because the Hokies don't match up well for such a different style of play (fast, faster, and fastest), and partly because it won't help RPI.
The Citadel is sitting pretty at 283rd in the RPI, a mere six spots ahead of Detroit Mercy. No offense to the Bulldogs, but the only reason I'm looking forward to this game is because I think it's fun to see a lot of points scored. Again, there's no point in playing these types of game. It's frustrating that Tech's always having to justify its strength of schedule, but schedules two really meager contests, and I will die on this hill.
That's all for this week! I look forward to talking with TKP every week until the middle of April.