Now that we've had ample time to reflect upon the great run the Hokies' basketball squad had in 2016, it's time to evaluate how they did this season. The team has most likely already done their player evaluations for the season, so it's time for us here at Gobbler Country to assess how each player performed through our eyes. First up: the backcourt.
Note: if you think I'm being too harsh, I'll just say that I'm at the point in college where I've forgotten what a good grade looks like. Also, if a player didn't play more than 40 minutes this season, their grades are incomplete (Matt Galloway, Greg Donlon, and obviously Ahmed Hill and Ty Outlaw).
Probably the most skilled backcourt player, the transfer from Maryland finally got to show his talents in Blacksburg after a mandatory year off, and boy was that year off a great investment. He was a very good ball handler and showed an uncanny ability to split double teams or penetrate the middle of zone defenses. Admittedly, Allen had a bit of a rocky start, averaging just 13.9 PPG with a high Usage Rate in the non-conference portion of the schedule. But once he found his groove, Allen was impossible to stay in front of, terrorizing defenses with his ability to get to the rim and/or charity stripe. Defensively, his relatively small stature put him at a disadvantage but his quickness and speed allowed him to make up for that. His 0.9 steals per game ranked second on the team, showing his quick hands and anticipation skills.
The one thing Allen needs to improve on is his efficiency and control. The transfer was very inconsistent with his shooting, hitting just 39.4% of his shots and 28% from three-point range. I liked that his conference never wavered, but sometimes you have to realize that your shot isn't dropping and try to create a shot for a teammate rather than settle for a contested jumper. Turnovers and decision making were also a problem at times. Allen averaged 2.9 TO's per game which definitely needs to go down. Ball security or a lack thereof was the reason for many of Virginia Tech's losses this year.
Overall, Allen figures to continue to be a focal point of the offense in his final year of eligibility. The two things that brought his grade down were his shooting and his turnovers, and I assume that he'll spend most of his offseason working on that in order to become an absolute force on the offensive end.
Highlight of the year:
Grade: Torn between a B+/A-
On the offensive end, Robinson showed great vision, patience, handles, and made some eye-popping passes. On the perimeter, he became more reliable with his shot as the season went on, finishing the season shooting 35.1% from downtown, good for third on the team. His midrange game was consistent as well. The freshman showed his athleticism and quickness when attacking the basket, making a variety of acrobatic shots near the rim over shot-blockers. The Hokies desperately needed a point-guard for the next few years to really be able to control the flow of the game, and Robinson certainly looks like he can become that for Virginia Tech.
On the defensive end, Robinson often looked like a first-year player - he, like a lot of freshman, got beat off the dribble more than Buzz would like. He should definitely improve in that aspect now that he's had a full season under his belt. Robinson also needs to improve his free throw percentage, although that can be said for most of the team. Ideally, your point guard should be close to automatic from the free throw line. Robinson shot 73% from the stripe, a number that should improve as he heads into his sophomore campaign.
Despite Chris Clarke being Buzz's highest rated recruit, Robinson might turn out to be his most important. I think Robinson showed all the tools necessary to become one of the elite floor generals in the ACC. He still has plenty of things to improve on, but it was great to see him capable of competing with some of the best guards in the country as a freshman.
Highlight of the year:
In his second year in Blacksburg, Bibbs became a marksman. He started the year off scorching hot, shooting north of 60% from three-point range. But he eventually cooled off and finished the year hitting 45% of his outside attempts. Amateur. He was an effective scorer from everywhere on the floor. The sophomore showed his ability to blow by the close out and hit some tough floaters and mid-range jump shots. Sometimes his shooting overshadowed what a good athlete he is as Bibbs was deadly in the transition game as well. He also proved to be a solid contributor on the glass by the end of the season.
Early in the season, Bibbs looked lost defensively. While he has the overall length and athleticism to match up with wing players, he didn't look comfortable while playing zone. As the season progressed, Bibbs, with the rest of the team, was much quicker and sharper defensively. He likely won't ever become a lockdown defender, but as long as his offensive contributions make up for his defensive inefficiencies, he'll get plenty of playing time.
One thing I'd like to see Bibbs improve on is creating his own shot. He's best as a spot up shooter, but that also means he doesn't get as many shot attempts as Allen or Hudson. With his scoring ability and shooting touch, his Usage Rate should be higher than 16.6%. He also only shot 1-for-6 from three-point range in both NIT games, and postseason tournaments are where good shooting is crucial (just look at Villanova). Being the only perimeter threat that scared teams didn't help, so hopefully the rest of the team is able to step up and take the some pressure off of Bibbs next season.
Bibbs surely exceeded expectations this year, improving in every statistical category. The Hokies will have a logjam at the off-guard spot next year once Ahmed Hill is healthy (fingers crossed), but Bibbs will be an integral part of the backcourt because of his shooting ability.
Highlight of the year: (Maybe not as awesome as the others. Dunks > threes, unless you're Steph Curry)
As he goes into his fourth year at Virginia Tech, Wilson's playing time has gone down incrementally every year. He hasn't complained, especially since he's seen the growth of the team under Buzz. Wilson's true value is being a very good on-ball defender, and Buzz trusted him to consistently guard the opponent's top ball handler game in and game out. He provided toughness and strength defensively at the one-guard spot.
In Wilson's freshman season, he was one of the team's main offensive threat. He's slowly relinquished that role to other players, averaging just 2.1 PPG this season. However, I don't expect a lot of scoring for him, especially when he comes off the bench. The thing that hurts Devin's grade the most is his turnovers. Wilson had an atrocious 29.3% Turnover Percentage this season, which hurt the team very badly when he was on the floor. The team had a 89.6 Offensive Rating while Wilson was on the floor, a full 16.2 points lower than the Hokies' Offensive Rating for the season.
One way that number can improve for Wilson is if he becomes a better shooter, especially from three-point range. The Hokies faced plenty of zone defenses this season, a well-known fact. They struggled defeating zones because they were unable to space the floor properly. Virginia Tech simply didn't have enough shooters to occupy the "corner three" areas to really stretch out defenses. Wilson often got the ball in those areas with open looks at the basket, but since he couldn't make teams pay from the perimeter (only shot 26.3% from three) he would give up that shot. The Hokies would be thrilled if Wilson could develop his outside shot to at least become a threat defenses had to respect on the perimeter.
Highlight of the year:
*all season stats tables are courtesy of www.sports-reference.com/cbb
Leave your grades for these guys in the comments.