I was pretty nervous heading into this season. Losing Malcolm Delaney, Jeff Allen, and Terrell Bell, the undeniable leaders of previous season, had the potential to crush any hopes of a successful season for this new group of starters. Throw into the mix of JT Thompson rubber band ACL's and you have the makings for a nerve-wracking, nail-biting season.
However, this new group of starters, led by veterans Dorenzo Hudson and Victor Davila, stepped up and showed that they have the potential to develop into a star-studded group yesterday against East Tennessee State University. Hudson, Garland, Finney-Smith, Eddie, and Davila tipped off for the Hokies in front of a half-filled Cassel Coliseum. Slow to start, the Hokies needed the first half to adjust on defense (guard Erick Green was a game-time decision with an Achilles injury and did not play) and start rebounding both defensively and offensively. Freshman forward Finney-Smith shined on defense, amassing 12 defensive rebounds, far and away the leader (though being 6'8" tends to help, I'm sure).
The Hokies trailed ETSU throughout the majority of, struggling to contain ETSU but slowly they gained more momentum and were able to develop a smooth flow of play that allowed them to pick away at ETSU's lead. Most impressive, at least to me, was freshman guard Robert Brown, who sank three three-pointers within five minutes, giving the Hokies crucial leads when necessary. It's fitting that he wears Terrell Bell's number, who was notorious for sinking threes for the Hokies. He only had three rebounds, all defensive, but he made his presence known on offense and has the potential to develop into a star shooter.
All in all the Hokies put up an average game against a team I'd never heard of before. Two of ETSU's starters, guard Tommy Hubbard and forward Isiah Brown both fouled out in the second half, making it a bit easier for Virginia Tech to maintain the lead they grabbed with 2:00 left in the first half and never relinquished. While that's sufficient for a team like ETSU, it won't cut it against Duke, UNC, and K-State. The Hokies need to rise above their inexperience and come together to put together a good season. I want a winning season, dammit.