The members of the ACC media predictably picked the Hokies to finish No. 15 in the conference today with the new additions of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The rankings went as follows:
3. North Carolina
5. Notre Dame
8. Boston College
9. Florida State
10. North Carolina State
11. Georgia Tech
13. Wake Forest
15. Virginia Tech
While it's certainly disappointing that the Hokies were picked last, frankly, is where the deserved to be picked. Virginia Tech finished last in a less competitive 12-team year ago, and that was WITH the nation's leading-scorer Erick Green, who along with starting shooting guard Robert Brown, are no longer with the team. Perhaps they'll outperform expectations and prove all their doubters wrong. But right now, finishing higher than last place would be an achievement for this team and there was no justifiable way to pick the Hokies anything other than last.
The pre-season conference player of the was Syracuse's C.J. Fair, though as David Teel tweeted, the voting was close:
Duke's Jabari Parker, widely regarded as one of the top if not the top incoming player in the country and likened to the next Lebron James in Sports Illustrated, was named the freshman of the year. The pre-season All-ACC team consisted of Notre Dame's Jerian Grant, Virginia's Harris, Duke's Jabari Parker, Duke's Rodney Hood and Syracuse's Fair.
As for the Hokies, Coach James Johnson had a some complimentary things to say about senior Jarell Eddie, but at the same time, left Eddie, fellow senior Cadarian Raines and C.J. Barksdale (Eddie and Barksdale were scheduled to attend) at home for the event:
#Hokies coach James Johnson says Jarell Eddie "is in the best condition of his career right now."— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) October 16, 2013
JJ will downplay it, but says a lot that seniors Jarell Eddie & Cadarian Raines aren't here in Charlotte as originally planned. #Hokies— Hokies Journal (@HokiesJournal) October 16, 2013
ACC announced last week that Eddie and Barksdale would be here, but that changed this week to Emelogu and van Zegeren for #Hokies— Mark Berman (@BermanRoanoke) October 16, 2013
Nonetheless, the absence of program staples like Eddie and Raines speaks volumes ... even if JJ insists it's not a big deal.— Hokies Journal (@HokiesJournal) October 16, 2013
Usually the event is reserved for the most senior members of a team, if not seniors by class. Eschewing that tradition, the Hokies instead sent freshman and current team captain Ben Emelogu and redshirt-sophomore Joey van Zegeren. As Teel pointed out, this is unprecedented:
The high hopes and glowing praise for Emelogu continued to flow from Johnson, including this bit about his potential this year and Johnson's expectations:
#Hokies coach James Johnson set goal for Ben Emelogu to be ACC Rookie of the Year. Says he thinks Emelogu has makeup to handle the hype.— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) October 16, 2013
That's laying it on pretty thick for a kid that was not heavily recruited and unheralded by many recruiting sites coming out of high school. Let's hope the Hokies have the kind of player and leader that they think they do in him. He did however, steal the show (at least from a Virginia Tech perspective):
#Hokies brought freshman captain Ben Emelogu to ACC hoops media day. Has old soul, sings Sam Cooke's 'A change is gonna come' around campus.— Hokies Journal (@HokiesJournal) October 16, 2013
Ben Emelogu's HS nickname was 'Be Easy.' ... "One game I went off for 30-some points and they told me to be easy on them." #Hokies— Hokies Journal (@HokiesJournal) October 16, 2013
#Hokies guard Ben Emelogu:"It’s going to be full go. We’re looking forward to getting up & down the floor & playing more aggressive defense"— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) October 16, 2013
The first two tweets were just interesting/neat, but the third one, regarding the pace of the Hokies seems all too familiar to the comments we kept hearing last year. While the Hokies did exactly that over the course of the first few weeks of the season a year ago, they wore down and had to play much more half-court ball by the time conference play came around, not their forte. As a result, the offense stagnated and Virginia Tech finished the regular season all alone in last place. But there were factors that limited them, including having only seven healthy scholarship bodies for half the year. Hopefully this year, despite the recent ruling on Malik Mueller's eligibility, the Hokies will have enough players to really run and allow it to be more than just talk.
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