Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
After a long offseason post-Sweet 16 run, tonight is the beginning of the Mike Young era with Young looking to build on the foundation of success by Buzz Williams.
Of course, expectations are lower for the first year of the Young era with Wabissa Bede being the only semi-regular starter returning this season. The Hokies also have six scholarship players who are either true freshman or redshirt freshman with Landers Nolley and Hunter Cattoor both included in the projected starting lineup against Clemson.
With that said, our staff makes our predictions for what to expect from the Hokies in the first season of the Mike Young era.
Tim Thomas: Expect a true rebuilding season in year 1 for Mike Young.
The media was right to have Virginia Tech around the basement of the ACC. When you lose as much talent as the Hokies did and have to bring in lots of freshmen to fill out the roster, it's inevitable that you are going to have your struggles.
The Hokies' non-conference schedule is built for a young team that needs time to develop and gel without playing the highest level of competition. Of course, VT will be tested when they go to Maui along with facing Duke in their first game back from Maui. Don't be surprised to see Virginia Tech start out slow once the bulk of ACC play gets underway.
However, the biggest question will be whether this team shows signs of progress both in results and the quality of play? If Virginia Tech can do that, they'll more than meet what the reasonable expectations should be for a team likely to miss postseason play for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
In the end, the media prediction of the Hokies finishing 14th in the ACC is more than reasonable with any run at even an NIT appearance far exceeding reasonable expectations.
Mike McDaniel: The Hokies will overcome tough schedule and low expectations, and will surprise many with a middle-of-the-pack finish in the ACC
After losing a majority of the production from their Sweet 16 team a year ago, as well their head coach, the Hokies enter the 2019-20 season with tempered expectations. There's plenty of optimism given the track record of new head coach Mike Young, as well as he and his staff's ability to recruit in the early stages of their tenure. However, the 2019-20 season will likely bring different results than last season, one that ended a bucket away from going to the Elite 8.
If anything, the Hokies should play hard and shoot A TON of threes. Mike Young's teams always play good defense and shoot the deep ball well, and the same will likely be the case heading into his first season in Blacksburg. Even if the results aren't entirely there in Year One, the Hokies should have a defined identity, and play to its identity no matter the results.
While many expect the Hokies to be bottom dwellers in the ACC, it is reasonable to expect the team to be a handful of swing games away from a middle-of-the-pack finish in the ACC, which is likely the team's ceiling. Anything more than that, even given Mike Young's track record as a coach, is probably unrealistic given what was lost from a year ago.
David Cunningham: The Hokies might be on the bubble to make the NIT towards the end of the season.
I think this season all depends on progression and transformation. I think Tech will start out slow in ACC play and slowly pick things up. With such a young team, it’s all going to be about the development of the players. In Mike Young’s first season, the thing to watch for is: are the players improving? To quote a former coach, are they getting better?
I think the results will come as the talent and productivity increases. Over the course of ACC play, I believe Tech will finally start to find their groove. Whether that comes with winning games or playing teams close is to be determined, but it all starts Tuesday night at Clemson.
Andy Loce: Virginia Tech will surprise many teams this season, but won’t have the resumé to go dancing.
After one of the most successful season of men’s basketball at Virginia Tech, a new era is born for the Hokies from the staff to the players. New head coach Mike Young comes from Wofford, where he has been a part of the coaching staff for thirty seasons; 13 seasons as an assistant and 17 seasons as the head coach for the Terriers. What will be most notable about the Hokies next season is the amount of youth on this roster.
Virginia Tech has faced seveal key departures from last year's core rotation including Justin Robinson, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Ahmed Hill, Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Ty Outlaw.
This year’s lineup is filled with young, hopeful talent including true freshmen Jalen Cone and Hunter Cattoor and redshirt freshman Landers Nolley; all three of whom are expected to see a significant amount of playing time for the Hokies. It is going to be a season of patience for Virginia Tech supporters as the lineup will need to take time to evolve into the team that will make an impact in the ACC.