Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
It may be a new era in Blacksburg for Virginia Tech Men's Basketball, but it didn't take long to continue the program's winning ways.
Virginia Tech (1-0, 1-0 ACC) picked up a season-opening win at Clemson (0-1, 0-1 ACC) on Tuesday night, 67-60, in Mike Young's first game as the head coach of the Hokies. It was Young's 300th career victory as a head coach.
After sitting out a year ago due to academic ineligibility, the much-anticipated debut of Virginia Tech redshirt-freshman Landers Nolley went better than anyone could have expected. Nolley led all scorers with 30 points on 12-23 shooting from the floor, showing off an impressive offensive array in the process. Despite the success of Nolley offensively, true freshman Nahiem Alleyne was the only other member of the Hokies in double-figures. He finished with 11 points in his collegiate debut.
The story of the game was the hard-nosed defense by both sides, as neither offense had much success of getting the ball in the paint, especially in the second half. The Hokies finished the game shooting a shade over 38% from the floor, while holding Clemson's offense to 34% shooting overall and 24% from three.
Mike Young's teams have become known for the tough defense that they play, and it couldn't have been more evident that the identity of the Hokies in 2019-20 will reside in the team's ability to make stops. In addition, Young wants his team to fight for every loose ball and every rebound to maximize offensive opportunities. Despite the size advantage that Clemson boasted over Virginia Tech on Tuesday night, the Hokies were an encouraging +8 on the glass, finishing with 44 rebounds to Clemson's 36.
Offensively, it won't always be pretty, especially in year one. Without a superhuman effort from Landers Nolley, there likely isn't enough baskets scored on offense to win the opener on Tuesday night. The offense of the Hokies will need to become more balanced as the season wears on, and most importantly, the number of turnovers will need to be cut down significantly.
Mike Young has preached that he HATES turnovers, and the Hokies committed far more than he would like on Tuesday night, finishing the game with 13 giveaways. Limiting opposing opportunities and making stops defensively will keep Tech in games this year, even when the offense is struggling to get going.
While there is plenty to work on before Friday night's home opener against Coppin State, there is plenty to be encouraged about as well. Going on the road in the ACC to open up the year is never easy, but an early season conference win can be nothing but a net positive, especially with a young team.
Let's see how the team responds on both ends in a game where they are heavy favorites this Friday night at Cassell Coliseum.