Hello Mike Young and Co.
It’s been seven long months since the Hokies took to the court with a very evenly matched Florida team only to be knocked out of the NCAA Tournament. But, Mike Young and his team are back and looking to take the next step for a Hokie program that seems to be trending the right direction. Let’s give a quick look at what the upcoming season for the Virginia Tech Men’s Basketball Team might have in store.
The Hokies are bringing back quite a bit of the team from last season.
Justyn Mutts looks even more solid than his 230lb 6’7 frame would tell you. The redshirt senior has been getting some good praise for his work in the offseason, adding some extra moves in the paint and getting his shot to be more consistent.
Hunter Cattoor, the 200lb 6’3 Jr, should be allowed to play more in his catch and shoot role this season, with some of his ball handling duties being moved away. If he is still able to get to the rim on offense, he will be a hard man to guard this year.
Nahiem Alleyne, the 6’4 195lb Jr, looks to be ready for a breakout season. His work on the defensive end and with his shooting this offseason, should go well with his ability to get up and down the court and stop on a dime.
Storm Murphy, 6’1 185lb graduate transfer from Wofford, will be taking over a lot of the ball handling duties from Cattoor and what was lost with Wabissa Bede not returning as a grad assistant this season. He is a plus (better than average) shooter. He’s an elite ball handler and decision maker. He also does something that I love, typically, he gets the ball to his teammates in a spot where they immediately shoot, drive, or pass. This triple threat position allows for the ball to move quickly and the team to make faster decisions.
Keve Aluma, 6’9 235lb redshirt senior, is the star for the Hokies. The Pre-Season All-ACC First Team selection is getting well deserved praise. He, more than any Tech player, has the chance to take this team on his back and win games. After averaging more than 15 points and almost 8 rebounds per game last season, he is prime for a national breakout campaign this year.
The returning talent, plus another year of solid recruiting from Mike and the rest of the coaching staff, has left the Hokies in a very positive situation coming into this 2021-22 season. The Hokies are right now tied for 30th in the AP Poll. Duke ranked 9th, North Carolina 19, FSU 20, and UVA 25 round out the ACC portion of the AP Poll.
I was initially frustrated when looking at the poll. It does matter who gets praise in these things, not just for publicity, but there aren’t many teams ranked in the Top 15 in the country that get a 9-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
After the initial frustration wore off, I realized that Tech is not in a bad spot. T-30 means that the voters have the Hokies on their minds, they just want to see something first. The early season is a moderately easy one for a Tech team that should move into the Top 25 quickly.
Do the Hokies deserve more preseason love, yes. Does this situation lend itself to the Hokies being a bit of Cinderella team come March, absolutely!
While the first half of the non-conference schedule looks to be a bit of a walkthrough, the second half does not. St. Bonaventure, Maryland, and Memphis all have a chance to beat the Hokies and get to play Tech either at home or a neutral site. These are great resume builders, but true tests for a team looking to make it back to the NCAA Tournament. I see them losing 2 non-conference games.
In conference, the Hokies really got the short end of the stick. The only games against FSU and Duke are both on the road. They have UNC twice and lowly BC only once, again, on the road where the Hokies tend to have close games. This feels like a 13-7 season in conference to me. I don’t believe that will show how good this team really is, but I just can’t see them running that gauntlet without a good number of losses to their name.
That should leave the Hokies as around a Top-20 team with a 5-6 seed in the NCAA Tournament mostly because of the strength of the resume. Not bad for boys from Blacksburg. An improvement, with the chance at a serious run in the Tourney. This should be a fun ride.