A Look Back At The Week That Was

by JustinC on February 15, 2013 · 13 comments

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628x471 A Look Back At The Week That WasIt’s been a rather slow week on the collegiate news front. Surprisingly, this off-season hasn’t been filled with constant speculation about conference expansion nor has the Hokies been all that active on the recruiting trail of late. Although I think that will change very soon. Instead, this week featured another loss to UVA in basketball and James Johnson picking up a talented point guard out of Germany. I’m going to discuss both of those items below.

Another Loss to UVA

As dominant as Virginia Tech has been against UVA in football, it seems the exact opposite holds true in basketball. The Hokies have now won just once in their last six meetings with their in-state rival. Part of that demonstrates two programs who seem to be going in opposite directions. Now in his fourth year at the helm, Tony Bennett has transformed UVA from a basement dweller into a team only the Big Ten could love. Virginia slows the game down, uses solid execution in their halfcourt offense to score points, and forces the opposing team to hit tough shots. Really, it’s Big Ten basketball at its finest.

The Hokies on the other hand are a bit of a mess this season but that was to be expected. Tech isn’t deep nor are they particularly good. Jarrell Eddie is struggling mightily with his shot. He’s barely shooting over 30% from the field in ACC play. Robert Brown has been ice cold all season. Cadarian Raines is hit or miss on any given night. That only leaves Erick Green as the consistent scorer and even though he’s been amazing this season, it just hasn’t been enough.

At this point, I don’t see the Hokies pulling out any miracles and knocking off a Duke or a Miami. We just don’t have the horses to do so.

If the Hokies were to lose out, we would finish 11-20. That isn’t too far off my 15-16 prediction at the start of the season. Although if you had told me that we would have started 7-0, I probably would have upped the ante on my prediction.

Still, this season was all about making the best of what we had. After all, the Hokies lost quite a bit from last year’s team including a highly ranked post prospect in Montrezl Harrell who is suiting up for Louisville now.

With eight games left this season (seven in the regular season and one in the ACC tournament), I’m just hoping that Tech shows a slight improvement down the stretch. Maybe that won’t correlate into victories but losing a 72-70 game to Miami this year would be nothing to cry about. Staying within five of Duke at Cameron Indoor would be a successful night. The Hokies just need something to build a little momentum going into next season.

Malik Muller commits to Virginia Tech

Under Seth Greenberg, the Hokies went after a lot of highly ranked prospects. In a way, that excited the fanbase since at the time, our football recruiting left a lot to be desired. However, a lot of those players either fizzled out or never lived up to their AAU buzz.

Since James Johnson took over, he’s gone a different direction. Instead of recruiting more athletic guys, Johnson is going after guys who fits his system and can play the game of basketball at a high level. Enter Malik Muller.

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I’m not a huge fan of recruiting Europe very often but with Johnson as head coach, you can expect us to recruit more overseas from here on out. If you haven’t yet, read this Roth Report from about a year ago. Johnson mentions Florida State’s recruiting tactics and how he wanted to plagiarize them to a certain degree at Virginia Tech. With this commitment, I think you’re seeing that thought process in action. Here's an except.

That night on the plane, Johnson described recruiting as his passion, how he loved to work at it. Find kids, recruit kids, and develop kids. How it’s a year-round, non-stop, 365-days-per-year process for him. That’s what it took to get players at Penn State, he said. It’s that way at Virginia Tech. It’s that way at Florida State.

I told him, “You sound like Leonard Hamilton.”

Hamilton, of course, is the no-nonsense, single-purposed, non-stop recruiting head coach at Florida State. He won in the Big East at Miami when he took the ‘Canes to the Sweet 16 back in 2000, and he’s winning again at FSU, where he coached the Seminoles to the Sweet 16 in 2011 and the ACC championship this past year.

J.J. smiled at the comparison, and our conversation turned to recruiting, specifically how to build an ACC championship-caliber team outside of Chapel Hill or Durham. Hours earlier, I had visited with FSU associate head coach Stan Jones, who has spent the past decade with the ‘Noles working under Hamilton.

“We can win the ACC this year and that’s really remarkable to do here at Florida State,” Jones had told me two hours before the Tech-FSU tipoff. “We take kids from winning programs. We get kids with great length and athleticism who are tough. And when it comes to recruiting you gotta dig under rocks. That’s what we do. That’s what Leonard does. He digs.”

Johnson certainly dug for this one. I reviewed over half of Muller’s highly film, available here, and I have to admit I liked what I saw. He’s not an overly big guy although he is listed at 6’3” but he has a pure shooting stroke. He has good court awareness and can make some difficult passes. He seems to be a pass first player with the ability to hit jump shots when needed. Honestly, he’s what Virginia Tech needs in a point guard. For the last six years, our PG has led our team in scoring. That needs to change.

There’s a good chance Muller is our starting point guard next year with Adam Smith starting at the “2” position. Unless Robert Brown improves, the Hokies need somebody else out there with some scoring potential. Smith showed plenty of that during his one season at UNC-Wilmington. He averaged 13.7 points per game as a freshman.

This commitment isn’t one that’s going to register on a Richter scale from a fan excitement perspective. But, it’s a good pickup at a major position of need for the Hokies.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

jp_daddi0 February 15, 2013 at 11:14 am

Muller was the MVP of the Jordan Classic in 2010 as a 16 year old. Hopefully he’s a good prospect that sticks around. Ever since Robert Krabbendam, I get nervous with the European prospects because they’re so far from home. Van Zegeren seems to be working out though; I think in two years, he’ll be a capable starter in our program.

This is an interview Malik did at the Jordan Classic and shows a couple more of his highlights from that game. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJPztc1eBwo
He is definitely a stong guy. Not a lot of height but can muscle around thinner guards. I wouldn’t peg him as a starter just yet though; I think the nod will go to Rankin because of his experience (and he’s been playing much better ball the last 5 games) but I’m sure Muller will get some burn. Follow him on twitter at @MM_U1L

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69HOKIE February 15, 2013 at 11:27 am

Good article. I really don’t see Brown playing much next season with Smith and Clark coming in. Poor shooter with too many TO’s. JJ needs to get in Eddie’s head and get him back in the game.

I saw a comment somewhere yesterday that Thompson is saying he is now 7-0′ and 225 pounds.

Let’s hope we can get this shipwreck turned around.

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JustinC February 15, 2013 at 11:41 am

I saw that as well. If nothing else, it will be nice to have four total “bigs” we can use next year with Raines (R-Sr), Joey Z (R-So), Trevor Thompson (Fr), and Maurice Kirby (Fr).

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killerkeith February 16, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Marshall Wood?

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bp February 15, 2013 at 11:41 am

Justin,
Gosh I started looking back and an article you had in march 11, where you listed like our top 11 for the the 2011-2012 season and we only have like 6 of the kids and none graduated, i think this emphasizes how good it was that greenberg is gone, he was doing something wrong.

Then i saw that momo jones is the #3 scorer in the country, could you imagine if we had him, finney smith, hazzell, and would augstus gilchrist still be playing, and i am not even counting role players like garland and atkins, unreal That would be like a top ten team in the country, if greenberg just knew how to keep kids on campus?

i know there is alot of attrition in college basketball, but is it this bad for everyone else?

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JustinC February 15, 2013 at 11:45 am

I do think there’s more attrition in basketball and it’s also magnified more because you only have a 13 man roster rather than an 85 man roster in football. But, no. I don’t think any other major conference school can equal us in attrition.

You have to give Greenberg props for being able to recruit but most of our recruits never panned out. Some never even made it to campus. That’s why we’re in this mess.

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bp February 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Hahaha and wow i left off Chaney, JT, and Boggs.

I also just feel like there was something that was making it really easy for them to go, idk hopefully it will get better now.

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69HOKIE February 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm

I think there were multiple issues with Greenberg. Attrition with assistants, with 2012 being the worst incident. Couldn’t keep recruits committed. Too many transfers once the kids signed on. Several big recruits never developed like they should have. Passed over good recruits to chase after kids that didn’t enroll or couldn’t enroll. He also rubbed too many people the wrong.

Combine that with Weaver’s handling of the coaching change and you get this mess. I’m an optimist and pulling for JJ.

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Les February 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm

A number of recruits or players were poached by other programs during his tenure.

He had a large number of key players get injured in his last year. Raines, Van Zegeren, Davila, JT Thompson, and Chaney all were out for significant periods. Rankin was out. Hudson was playing hurt for a quite a bit. Even Green missed a game or two.

He had a most of his transfers in his last two years when he brought in the heralded class with DFS. Players left because they were recruited over.

The biggest problem he had was never getting the depth at the power forward and center positions. When it looked like he was going to get the problem licked, almost all of them went down with injuries.

Muller looks like another reach. Remember the other two off-guards were also sold to the fanbase as point guards. He doesn’t appear to be quick enough or handle the ball well enough for a lead guard. He certainly doesn’t fit the mold for someone to play in a transition-oriented offense. He seems purely suited for a deliverate half-court offense with less emphasis on putting the ball on the floor (he does have the European 4-step down tho).

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bp February 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Hey man did you see Midget got hired as a secondary coach at Penn State.

That is good news right, another prospect in case we loose someone?

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JustinC February 16, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Yea, I did. I’m glad to see him getting some opportunities and that could pay dividends down the line if Torrian Gray were ever to leave. I’m sure Midget would love to get back to Blacksburg.

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Bluto February 18, 2013 at 9:24 am

I don’t see a fr beating out Rankin. I see Rankin as a guy who will blossom with Green gone. He is explosive, a great passer and has a pure shooting stroke- not to mention a great defender. He will surprise the naysayers.

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Vhokie February 19, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I have not seen a pure shooting stroke from Rankin. Honestly, I was expecting more.I have seen several really bad airballs from him however…

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