The Virginia Tech Hokies have had an up-and-down season so far in their second season under Buzz Williams with some big wins against a weaker opponents and a couple of tough losses. The Hokies have shown a lot of promise largely due to the influx of new faces.
Unfortunately, one of those new faces may now be done for the season.
Freshman SF/SG Chris Clarke suffered a fifth metatarsal injury to his right foot and is having surgery this week. At this time, Virginia Tech has said that the freshman will be out indefinitely with more to be known about the length of his absence after surgery though most believe that Clarke’s season is over.
Clarke was playing fairly well for the Hokies averaging 10.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while being a starter for the Hokies. Clarke’s toughness and rebounding ability allowed the Hokies to go with more lineups that included only one true big man.
Clarke was not a great shooter and not a threat from beyond the arc, but the freshman forward was aggressive in attacking the rim and drawing fouls. Clarke’s injury also will force Buzz Williams to change his rotation some especially with Clarke being a talented rebounder and solid defender.
With Clarke out, the Hokies may go to a more traditional lineup with three in the backcourt and two in the frontcourt with Johnny Hamilton making his return from suspension against Saint Joseph’s. However, Clarke will not be an easy player for the Hokies to replace and his loss puts a dent in Virginia Tech’s backcourt depth.
One player that could make a significant difference if he is healthy enough to play this season in Ahmed Hill. Hill is known for having a great work ethic and bringing toughness, while also being a very good defender. However, Hill’s return has been up in the air for awhile, and a redshirt seems very possible.
Justin Bibbs may also be used more on defense as Clarke was as someone that has good size and length along with being a solid defender when the Hokies go with one big man. Walk-on Matt Galloway received some playing time earlier in the season and may start to get a few more minutes if depth becomes a bigger concern.
Chris Clarke is a tough loss for the Hokies that will force Buzz Williams to make some adjustments. Virginia Tech will need to step up as a team to replace the rebounding, defense, and toughness that Clarke brought to the game, or hopes of going to the NIT or NCAA Tournament could disappear.