Defense, big men and the first steps to a better '24

The offseason wishlist for Hokies Hoops? Let's start with another Basile and a grade A jerk.

[Virginia Tech Athletics]

The Virginia Tech men's basketball team isn't going to the NCAA Tournament this year. If that outcome was already written in stone, their home loss to Miami encased that stone in crystal so it can be preserved to time forever.

Whatever. I've written too much on this subject, let's look ahead to two bridges this team will have to cross whenever their trip to the NIT ends.

Virginia Tech: a PR firm for small school stretch bigs

Remember way back to the beginning of November when we all thought that the Hokies basketball team would cure all our trust issues with Tech athletics? Well we can chalk up that overeagerness to Grant Basile, who dropped 30 and 10 in a 38-point romp over Delaware State on opening night, pouring gasoline to the speculative fire.

But over the next two months the Wright State transfer was just...fine. Average. The fourth best player on a really good offensive team. He often deferred to guys who had been here longer, letting Sean Pedulla, Hunter Cattoor, Darrius Maddox and Justyn Mutts take more shots, and be a guy who basically settled for spot up threes and the occasional dump off around the rim.

After the onslaught in his debut, Basile averaged a very-decent-but-nothing-crazy 12 points a game over the next two months, occasionally disappearing in a way unbecoming of a central offensive piece, culminating in a stretch where he put up single digit attempts in three of four games at the start of ACC play.

Not so coincidentally, Tech lost all of those games. The offense was perimeter oriented, turnover heavy and three point reliant. The defense...what's defense again?

Basile was called out by Young after a 73-69 loss to NC State in which the big man scored four points on 1-8 shooting and a poor defensive effort that put him in foul trouble throughout the game. The message from his head coach was simple, but effective: Grant needs to play better.

After that moment, he's basically turned into Grant The Conqueror, Destroyer of Worlds and Ender of Losing Streaks. Since January 7th Basile has averaged 22 points, six rebounds, two assists and a block per game. When he's hitting threes, his scoring balloons:

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