The Virginia Tech Hokies entered this season with one major injury concern as Kerry Blackshear had offseason surgery on his foot to fix a condition that had affected him for a long time. It was hoped that Blackshear could return for this season but by the start of this season, but now that seems extremely unlikely as Blackshear seems certain to follow the Ahmed Hill template and redshirt this season.
Then, the Hokies lost some more frontcourt depth when Johnny Hamilton went down with a season-ending thumb injury and while Hamilton wasn’t playing often, it did take away an additional security blanket especially for a frontcourt that had already lost Kerry Blackshear.
Despite that, the Hokies did enter ACC play with a strong eight-man rotation that definitely is good enough to make the NCAA Tournament comfortably, but after yesterday’s game in Raleigh, the Hokies may have some serious depth problems at least in the short-term.
The first came before tipoff as Khadim Sy rolled his ankle during the Hokies’ afternoon shootaround and was unable to play against NC State. Sy hasn’t played a large role, but losing Sy left the Hokies with only one true big man in Zach LeDay while also losing a guy who had been averaging 5.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks in only 13.1 minutes per game while also having 6 rebounds in only 9 minutes in his ACC debut against Duke.
While his impact is not that big and he was definitely not a main reason whatsoever for Virginia Tech’s blowout loss at NC State, not having that additional size to bring in for some stints proved to be an issue against a NC State team full of big men.
The Hokies also gained another injury concern during the game as Seth Allen was sent to the locker room twice and didn’t return before the end of the game the second time with Buzz Williams being concerned about a possible concussion for Allen. Now there wasn’t anything I saw in last night’s game that stood out as a hit that would cause a concussion, but the fact that there is some concern from Williams about Allen having a concussion is definitely not ideal.
Also, we still haven’t heard anything in regards to Allen’s status with results from his concussion tests likely to come out either tonight or tomorrow before the Hokies travel to Tallahassee.
While an eight-man rotation is reasonable, it does provide a lot of risk when injuries comes, and the Hokies don’t have a great safety net of guys either that they can bring in and have play. With Tyrie Jackson redshirting, the only two guys that could possibly play are Devin Wilson, who just returned from playing football and has barely practiced, and former walk-on Matt Galloway, who appeared in the final minutes against NC State and likely would only be a guy Buzz Williams would use for a few minutes in each half.
If Allen and Sy are unable to play Saturday, the Hokies may be down to a six-man rotation with the same starting five as normal outside of Zach LeDay starting instead of coming off the bench while Ty Outlaw would be in line for a larger role as the Hokies’ sixth man. While that is a talented group of six, that depth would be a serious problem and the Hokies would likely play Devin Wilson some especially if the Hokies were down from two point guards to one.
Virginia Tech could also be in an especially perilous position Saturday if both Allen and Sy are out; and one of the players in their six-man rotation got injured. At that point, Buzz Williams would likely be forced to play Devin Wilson or Matt Galloway or both for at least some minutes. That would definitely be a far from ideal position at this point as Galloway hasn’t really been able to earn a rotation spot while Wilson has barely practice since returning from the football team after the Belk Bowl on December 29th.
Virginia Tech definitely has depth concerns given that they only really have an eight-man rotation but if they’re without Khadim Sy or Seth Allen for a prolonged period of time or suffer any other long-term injuries, those concerns will become a serious problem in a tough, loaded ACC where the Hokies’ depth will truly be at a premium.
It will be of the utmost importance not only for the Hokies to stay healthy but also to develop a little more depth whether that be from Devin Wilson or Matt Galloway so that the Hokies’ depth concerns can at least be slightly lessened.