Peter Casey-US PRESSWIRE
Paced by Erick Green's 23 points, Virginia Tech buried Virginia Military Institute, lighting them up from beyond the arc en route to a 95-80 victory Thursday night at Cassell Coliseum. Now 3-0, the Hokies have looked impressive under James Johnson's new system. For an analysis of this game, and keys to look for in the future, keep reading below.
The Hokies ripped a page from VMI's playbook by lighting up the Keydets from beyond the arc, shooting 11 for 25, and beating the visitors on fast break opportunities.
Here are 5 things I have observed tonight:
- Erick Green continues to be the focal point of the offense. He led all Hokies' scorer tonight with 23 points. He made some stunning plays, slashing and dicing VMI's defense, kicking out to open wing shooters, and making a nice left-handed slam that got Cassel roaring.
C.J. Barksdale and Cadarian Raines are going to form a fearsome frontcourt. They combined for 16 rebounds and 25 points. They both are going to need to continue that kind of production to take the scoring load off Green during the season.
- Rebounding was an area that I felt was a big weakness in Greenberg's final season, but tonight, because they forced VMI to jack up brick after brick, the team collected 43 rebounds to VMI's 26. That is my #1 key for all basketball games this season, regardless of who the Hokies are playing. I am a firm believer that the team that controls the boards the most, wins the game.
- VMI's full court press gave the Hokies fits, and I would not be surprised if other teams decide to employ that same strategy during the season.
- Marquis Rankin, a heralded player, clearly had some trouble. According to the stat sheet, he logged only three minutes but committed two turnovers, earning some chewing out from Johnson during a timeout. Rankin, as many of you may remember, had two deaths in the family last week, so he missed valuable time on the practice court. Whether his improvement in practices will translate to his games bears watching.
Clearly, the James Johnson era is off to a solid start. They will travel to Greensboro Monday to take on University of North Carolina Greensboro, their first road game of the young season. It will test how well the Hokies play away from the comfortable confines of Cassel Coliseum.