Last March, Mike Young’s first season as the head coach of the Virginia Tech Men’s Basketball team was prematurely cut short. The Hokies were ousted from the ACC Tournament in the opening round, after a tough slide during the final weeks of the season, and left without even a chance of an at-large bid to the NIT Tournament with the wave of post-season cancellations due to COVID-19.
Fast forward eight months and a lot has both changed and stayed the same. Nearly half of the squad will be new faces to the Hokie faithful watching this season, but expect familiar strong seasons from Wabissa Bede and Tyrece Radford, plus further emergence from Jalen Cone, Hunter Cattoor & Nahiem Alleyne. Toss in experienced transfer players combined with a strong freshman class which gives Mike Young a much deeper and well-rounded team this season. However, COVID-19 still looms large over the nation and college sports. The program and supporters will be hoping the basketball season can proceed as scheduled and through to completion, even if that means an empty Cassell Coliseum through March.
The Hokies open the 20-21 campaign with a name familiar to most fans, even if the two sides haven’t made it a habit to face-off - Radford. This will be just the 11th time the two programs have met and first time since 2017.
Last season Radford finished 22-11 overall with an impressive 15-3 conference record in the Big South. Despite being the top seed and hosting the Big South Tournament they fell in the second round and were headed to the NIT Tournament before it was called off. That squad and the one headed to Blacksburg on Wednesday are not the same.
Like the Hokies, the Highlanders top scorer Carlik Jones has transferred in the off-season, landing at Tech’s ACC foe Louisville. Jones led Radford with 20 points per game, 5.5 assists and was third on the team in rebounds with 5.1 per gmame. In fact their top eight scorers from last season have all departed, leaving Chyree Walker with his 3.1 ppg last year as their leading returner.
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Matchup: Virginia Tech (0-0 | 0-0) vs. Radford (0-0 | 0-0)
Venue: Cassell Coliseum (Blacksburg, VA)
Time: 12 PM ET
TV: ACC Network / Virginia Tech Sports Network
Radio: TuneIn Radio
Live stats: HokieSports
ESPN Favorite: No pick at time of writing, but expect the Hokies to be favored at home.
All-time series: 8-2 in favor of Virginia Tech
* from returning players during the 2019-20
Scoring: Radford (VT - 10.2) & Walker (Radford - 3.1)
Rebounds: Radford (VT - 6.2) & Walker (Radford - 2.7)
Assists: Bede (VT - 5.5) & Morton-Robertson (Radford - 0.9)
It’ll be a nice welcome back to see the Hokies playing in Cassell Coliseum once again. Plus the added bonus of shifting the athletic focus away from the struggling football program. Fans should be exciting about year two for Coach Young and the mixture of experience and young talent he has assembled. Hopefully this can be the start of a regular and yearly series with the Highlanders, something I’m sure the Radford, VA native Mike Young would appreciate as well.