Virginia Tech Hokies (Last Year: 25-9, 10-6 in ACC)
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
F/C: Jeff Allen (Sr)/Cadarian Raines (So)
F: Victor Davila (Jr)/Alan Chaney (So-out for season)/J.T. Thompson (Sr-out for season)
G/F: Terrell Bell (Sr)/Manny Atkins (So)/Jarrell Eddie (Fr)
SG: Dorenzo Hudson (Sr)/Ben Boggs (So)
PG: Malcolm Delaney (Sr)/Erick Green (So)/Tyrone Garland (Fr)
Gone: F-Lewis Witcher, C-Gene Swindle (injury)
All five starters return from last year's team that had their bubble burst on Selection Sunday despite finishing third in the ACC. Because of that, the Hokies should be nowhere near the bubble this time around.
Leading Virginia Tech will be senior point guard Malcolm Delaney who was the conference's leading scorer last year. He tested the NBA Draft waters this offseason but chose to return to school which is a huge lift for the Hokies which had to bring an enormous smile to head coach Seth Greenberg's face.
Delaney will be joined in the backcourt by Dorenzo Hudson. Neither guard shot the ball really well from the outside last season and will need to be more consistent with their perimeter game to complement their ability to get to the basket. Sophomore Erick Green will be the top guard option off the bench while Ben Boggs and freshman Tyrone Garland will battle for limited playing time off the bench.
Up front, Jeff Allen is an undersized but bruising big man. He is a 4-year starter who knows how to get results but finds himself in foul trouble too often. Junior Victor Davila will be asked to take on a bigger role as the Hokies' starting power forward because depth inside is a serious concern.
Injuries have riddled what was once considered a strength for Virginia Tech. Senior forward J.T. Thompson is out for season after suffering a torn ACL this summer. Florida transfer Allan Chaney was supposed to be an impact player after sitting out last season, but has a heart condition that will sideline him for the entire year and could ultimately end his basketball career. Plus, Cadarian Raines has been battling nagging injuries all offseason that has Greenberg worried about his durability. These circumstances will put extra pressure on Allen and Davila, and force the wings to play bigger at times.
Luckily for Greenberg, starting small forward Terrell Bell is a terrific rebounder and can help fill some minutes at the four. The injuries and Bell's likelihood to see more playing at power forward will open up opportunities for 6-7 wings Manny Atkins and Jarrell Eddie who could also see some minutes at the four.
Due to the talented guard combination of Delaney and Hudson, Virginia Tech should overcome the injury bug that has bit the frontcourt and finish a notch below Duke and North Carolina in the ACC. The primary goal though is to just make the NCAA Tournament and not end up falling short for a fourth straight year.
Player to Watch: Malcolm Delaney, PG
An ACC Player of the Year candidate, Delaney can do it all from the point guard position. He is exceptionally talented off the bounce, and at 6-3 is not afraid to draw contact as he got to the free throw line 273 times last season. What is puzzling is his streaky shooting from the outside.
At times, he lit it up from beyond the arc but has seen his three-point percentage drop from 40.2 percent during this freshman season to 30.6 last year. Part of it his trying to do too much for his team. If Delaney can limit his forced looks and rely more on his ability to attack the basket and get his teammates involved, it will help him become a better player and help the Hokies become a better team.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 at Kansas State
11/26 vs. DePaul/Oklahoma State (76 Classic)
11/28 vs. Murray State/Stanford/UNLV/Tulsa (76 Classic)