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Going into the first game of the James Johnson era at Virginia Tech, there were a lot of questions that needed answering. How would this team play? How well would they handle the lack of depth? What is this team going to do best? After watching the first 40 minute performance from this team, I'll admit I was impressed. It wasn't a perfect performance and there's a lot of work to be done if the Hokies want to hear their name in post-season contention. But, for the first game of the season, I was pleased with this team's performance.
Erick Green led the team in scoring with 21 points but really, this game was about who other than Green would step up and score. Robert Brown was terrific today, knocking down four of his seven three pointers. He finished with 16 points and five assists, while playing both guard positions. Jarrell Eddie, now playing his more natural position on the wing, chipped in 17 points and 10 rebounds on the day.
The rest of the team had their moments but it's clear there is a decisive talent gap between Green, Brown, Eddie, and the rest of our team. Raines finished with nine points and four rebounds. That's not going to get it done going forward. Raines was out of position on numerous occasions, which allowed ETSU to grab 13 offensive rebounds. With Dorian Finney-Smith gone, Raines needs to become the Hokies top rebounder this season. Since he'll be playing our "center" position (although that position doesn't really exist in our offense), he needs to work on boxing out and staying in position going forward.
C.J. Barksdale was held scoreless and wasn't much of a factor. He still needs to be more aggressive in our halfcourt offense. I think that's something that will improve with each game this season. Joey Van Zegeren chipped in six points, two boards, and one block in limited minutes today. For a player who redshirted last year after only seeing a handful of minutes early on the season, I'll take that statline any day. Joey Z will be used as a minutes eater this season, especially once we get to ACC play. But if he can add some offensive production, his value may increase.
Overall, the Hokies played well in their first game of the season. This squad has enough talent to overwhelm lesser opponents so I don't think the Hokies will lose many here early in the season. But, we won't know what this team is truly capably of until they play a quality team. One thing to remember is the Hokies were without Marquis Rankin today as he's at home dealing with a death in the family. Rankin may rejoin the team on Monday but I am unsure about that at this time.
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For more stats, check Hokiesports.com.
The Hokies will play Rhode Island inside Cassell Coliseum on Monday, November 12th at 7 p.m.
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