Dec 1, 2012, 7:06 PM EDT
We love Oklahoma State here at CBT. We love the team’s grit, the soaring athleticism of LeBryan Nash and the ferocious dunking of Markel Brown. We’re waving the banner of Marcus Smart, who has lived up to his name and his pre-season billing as a fabulous freshman. We haven’t paid much attention to Virginia Tech, a team that fired long-time coach Seth Greenberg and hired relatively unknown James Johnson May 1 of this year. Top recruit Montrezl Harrell fled to Louisville shortly after, and the Hokies seemed to be in full-on rebuilding mode.
Now that Tech is 7-0 with an upset of a strong Oklahoma State team on their resume, is it time to take a second look?
Obviously. Rhetorical questions are so ten minutes ago.
The future does, indeed, still look somewhat shaky for Virginia Tech. The recruiting groundwork laid by Greenberg has been compromised. But Johnson has taken the leftovers and forged a team that could see some postseason play. Maybe not the Big Dance, but still.
The good news in Blacksburg starts with Erick Green. The senior guard stayed put, and has been spectacular for the Hokies. His 28 points against the Cowboys — a season high — included 57% shooting from behind the three-point line. Green can rebound, shoot, handle and pass, and he’s the heart of all the positivity that has clung to the Tech program this year.
Johnson was also able to keep his frontline strong, retaining redshirt junior Cadarian Raines (9.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and true junior Jarell Eddie (17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game) for his maiden voyage on the SS Hokie. 6’5″ sophomore guard Robert Brown is the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging 12.7 per.
According to Kenpom.com, the Hokies are shooting very well (56.2 effective FG%) and controlling the ball. Defensive lapses may yet cost them in a rugged ACC, but for now, the glass is half-full.
James Johnson did the first job any coach has to do when taking over a new team: he retained as many players as he could. It’s nearly impossible to keep everyone in that situation, and Johnson lost some good ones, but he kept some underrated players who give the Hokies leadership and a burning will to win and prove the doubters wrong.
Now, he’s doing the second job a new coach must do: he’s put together the pieces he has, and figured out how to win with them. I was rather impressed when they moved to 6-0 by beating a pretty good Iowa team. Now that they’ve put down a ranked Okie State, I’m very impressed.
With new coach point one taken care of, and new coach point two in progress right now, Johnson is practically playing with house money. If he can keep this team happy and healthy during the upcoming ACC season, and give a good account in televised December games against West Virginia and BYU, he’ll be well on his way to getting a jump on new coach point number three: a dynamite recruiting season that will put his stamp on the program and build a solid future.
That makes him, and the Hokies, worthy of our attention this season.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
May 25, 2013, 5:06 PM EDT
Jesse Morgan had a rough season at UMass last season, to say the least. Morgan, along with teammates Cady Lalanne and Trey Davis, was suspended from a preseason exhibition game for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. Then he went down with a season-ending ACL injury on January 10, in the midst of his strongest season to date.…
May 25, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT
We just found out that Mike Krzyzewski will continue to shepherd America’s elite international basketball squad. Amid a tacit assertion of predictability in the coaching ranks, Coach K paid lip service to the notion that it’s time for USA Basketball to physically move out of its current offices in Colorado Springs. “I think in the near future…
May 25, 2013, 2:05 PM EDT
Former Texas Tech and Santa Clara guard Decensae White was arrested on murder charges stemming from the death of a rapper from Georgia named Lil’ Phat. White played at Texas Tech from 2006-2008 and was a member of the Santa Clara program during the 2008-2009 season. After a hiatus from the sport, White returned this…
May 25, 2013, 1:48 PM EDT
Myles Turner is one of the hottest names on the AAU circuit this spring. The 6-foot-11 center Euless, TX, has the kind of length and athleticism that makes scouts drool, and he just so happens to have a face-up game and the ability to knock down a jump shot in pick-and-pop actions. That’s why he’s…
May 25, 2013, 12:10 PM EDT
EAGAN, Mn. — As the EYBL nears the end of its regular season over Memorial Day weekend near Minneapolis, many of the top uncommitted players in the 2014 class are seeing their recruitments pick up before the summer months begin. One player drawing tons of attention is Alabama Challenge shooting guard Devin Booker. The 6-5…
May 25, 2013, 11:15 AM EDT
Lamar and head coach Pat Knight announced on Friday the signing of three junior college players to add to Lamar’s latest recruiting class. The Cardinals will add a pair of forwards in Octavius Green and Tyran de Lattibeaudiere, and also add potential All-Name Team member and point guard Nimrod Hilliard. Lamar had previously signed junior…
May 25, 2013, 10:34 AM EDT
Oregon State senior forward Joe Burton will graduate from the school in June after a four-year career and over 1,000 points scored. But although many college players with such a pedigree look to play professional basketball after their careers end — as Burton will also do — Burton’s mother said that he could also go…
May 24, 2013, 8:55 PM EDT
With Javon McCrea and Cameron Downing entering their senior campaign at Buffalo, first-year head coach Bobby Hurley can use some additional front court depth that will benefit the Bulls in 2014. Hurley’s numbers received a boost on Friday afternoon, as it was reported by Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com that former Marshall forward Jamir Hanner has…
May 24, 2013, 7:30 PM EDT
According to the Idaho Statesman, Boise State freshman forward Vukasin Vujovic has decided to leave the program. In his one season at Boise State, the native of Serbia saw action in just nine of the Broncos’ 32 games. In those nine games the 6-9 Vujovic averaged just 4.0 minutes and 1.4 points per game. Vujovic’s…
May 24, 2013, 6:00 PM EDT
When it was announced just over a month ago that Central Connecticut State leading scorer Kyle Vinales would look to transfer, the biggest factor in his decision was a desire to reach postseason play. Vinales, who averaged nearly 22 points per game as a sophomore, at one point tweeted his decision to transfer to Toledo only…
May 24, 2013, 4:38 PM EDT
With the recent news that former Purdue forward Sandi Marcius would transfer to DePaul, it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped in this scenario. That would be Donnavan Kirk looking to finish his collegiate career at another institution. On Friday the school announced that it has granted Kirk permission to…
May 24, 2013, 2:37 PM EDT
Last November the organizers of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced its completed eight-team field, with programs such as Florida State, Georgetown and Michigan being confirmed participants. Also among the eight teams: Auburn. But apparently something changed with the Tigers’ schedule, leading to a report from Andy Katz of ESPN.com that Northeastern would be the eighth…
May 24, 2013, 1:40 PM EDT
During the spring multiple allegations surfaced regarding Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle’s treatment of some of his players, and some of the charges went well beyond the use of profane language. In one instance former center Ryan Bross alleged that he was forced to run sprints until ultimately soiling his shorts, despite stating the…
May 24, 2013, 12:45 PM EDT
In an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” this morning, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski discusses topics such as his decision to return as head coach of the US men’s national team for the 2016 Summer Olympics and his future at Duke. Also of note were Krzyzewski’s comments on incoming freshman Jabari Parker, stating that…
May 24, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT
Earlier this week an advertisement for Calhoun’s BBQ done by former Tennessee basketball player Steven Pearl hit the airwaves, and it included a reference to current Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft. But that reference has led to the compliance department at Ohio State getting involved, looking to make sure it’s clear that there was…
May 24, 2013, 10:20 AM EDT
In the aftermath of Sheldon Jeter’s decision to transfer from Vanderbilt it was reported that Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings was blocking Pittsburgh as a possible destination. Some assumed that tampering was the reason for the move, but according to a report by Andy Katz of ESPN.com that may not be the case. Regardless of…
May 24, 2013, 8:52 AM EDT
With the graduation of leading scorers Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, there was a chance that 6-6 forward Myke Henry would see more opportunities to produce for Illinois in 2013-14. However it seems as if the Chicago native won’t be around to realize such possibilities, as it was reported by the Champaign News-Gazette that Henry…
May 23, 2013, 10:50 PM EDT
Head coach Alan Major led the Charlotte basketball program to its first 20-win season since 2008 this past year, as the 49ers won 21 games and received a bid to the Postseason NIT. Next up for Major’s program is Conference USA, and the former Ohio State assistant will make the move with a new contract…
May 23, 2013, 9:30 PM EDT
While the head coaching carousel is the focus every offseason the many changes within a coaching staff can also have an impact. At Colorado, head coach Tad Boyle is fortunate to have led the same staff for each of his three seasons in Boulder, resulting in the most successful stretch in the history of the…
May 23, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT
The eight-team field for the 2013 Cancun Challenge is finally set, with 2013 NCAA tournament participants Saint Louis and Wisconsin headlining the field. The event will feature two four-team fields, with the Billikens and Badgers being joined by Old Dominion and West Virginia in the Riviera Division. The Mayan Division bracket consists of Bowling Green,…
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