[The idea for this post was stolen from Blogger So Dear.]
Since Malcolm Delaney announced he was returning for his senior season on May 7, there has been a lot of excitement for this year's edition of Virginia Tech basketball. The summer hype has been muffled some by the six-game winning stream the football team is on, but there is still good reason to be excited for Hokie Hoops this season.
Picked second in the preseason by the ACC media, the Hokies have a beefed up non-conference schedule and return all five starters from last year. There are plenty of reasons to watch the Hokies on the hardwood this year, but here are the five reasons I'll be tuning in.
1. National attention on Malcolm Delaney
Some people outside the ACC know how good a player Delaney is, but I the best he did last year was a fourth-team All-America selection by the Sporting News. Can Delaney put up a season worthy of first-team contention among the AP, USBWA or NABC teams? It's possible and the Hokies will be on national TV enough this year that he will have plenty of chances to put on a show for voters. His first big chance is No. 2.
2. Nov. 16 at Kansas State
Not just because this is a big-time game against a Top 5 opponent, but because hopefully I'll be there, live and in Thrillovision to see the Hokies in person. Like the Virginia Tech football team, we'll be able to get a good read of how the Hokies stack up against the nation's best right off the bat. This is Tech's second game of the year after they open up against Campbell at home.
3. Young players stepping up
The Hokies have a solid starting five, but need depth to emerge. One of the guys to watch is freshman point guard Tyrone Garland. Garland, out of Philadelphia, could help spell relief for Delaney or at least give him some time at shooting guard so he's not taking as much of a pounding while driving into the paint on as many possessions as he has had to in the past.
4. College GameDay at the Cassell
Hokie fans have quietly made Cassell Coliseum one of the most hostile environments in college basketball and they'll get the chance to showcase that on Feb. 26 when ESPN comes to town for the Duke game. If the K-State and Purdue games are the team's big chances to show off how good they are, the Duke game is the chance for the fans to show how much they've embraced the basketball program.
5. Getting over the hump
As talented as Delaney and the rest of this senior class is, they've still never been to the Big Dance. That's in large part because of the Hokies' inability to win a big resume-boosting game the last three years. The Hokies have won a lot of games in the last three seasons and have even knocked off the then-No. 1 team in the country. However, this team's struggle with consistency and down the stretch have cost them. Will this team take those past experiences and use them to get over the hump, get into the NCAA Tournament and even make a run in it? We'll find out because it's now or never for Delaney and maybe even Seth Greenberg.
What are you looking forward to during basketball season?