Closing in on the end of the first half and holding a 21-point lead, Virginia Tech could have stayed the course going into halftime. Sean Pedulla, rather, had other ideas for how the final minute would go in Virginia Tech’s first 20 minutes of the 2022 season. With time ticking away, Pedulla raced up the court at a breakneck speed. After crossing halfcourt, he ran by the screen set by teammate Grant Basile. Like clockwork, Delaware State sent two defenders to the speedy Pedulla and he made them pay.
Pedulla stopped in his tracks at the free throw line to allow the defense to fully commit before hurling a pass behind him right into Basile’s shooting pocket. Basile had once again burned the Hornets with a simple pick and pop for what was his fifth three pointer of the first half. On the ensuing possession, Pedulla reached further into his bag and pulled out a nasty hesitation crossover into a pull-up three to extend Tech’s first half lead out to 56-31 by the half.
It was a giant lead the Hokies didn’t even think about letting up for the rest of the game. Through the play of newcomer Grant Basile and fan favorite Sean Pedulla, Virginia Tech dominated Delaware State from start to finish.
The Hokies won their opening game in the comfortable confines of Cassell Coliseum 95-57. This is Virginia Tech's largest margin of victory in a season opener since the 2006-07 season when the Hokies beat Coppin State 94-43 to open a season where they went on to earn a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament and reach the second round of it.
In his first game in maroon and orange, Basile marked up the box score for 30 points & 10 rebounds while Pedulla totaled a clean 18 points & 8 assists in his first start as Tech’s lead point guard.
“We looked pretty good offensively because we made a lot of shots, 14 threes,” head coach Mike Young said. “This was a good win but we still need to continue to get better.”
Indeed, Virginia Tech shot the skin off the basketball Monday night. The Hokies drained 14-28 from three point land and 33-60 from the field overall. A 55/50/75 efficiency split is exactly the kind of hot shooting start Virginia Tech needed to kick off their season with a bang.
The offensive onslaught was highlighted by Grant Basile. The 6’9 grad student transferred from Wright State and had no trouble adjusting in game one for the Hokies. Basile 30 & 10 night was enhanced by leading the charge on those high team efficiency marks. Basile himself shot 12-16 from the field and 6-9 from long range.
Tech’s new starting five-man showcased a ton of offensive versatility. He carved up the Hornets defense not only with his threes of the pick and pop but with a bevy of post moves and finishes around the rim.
“Versatility is a strong suit of mine,” Grant Basile said. “It’s been that way my entire career and tonight was an example of that.”
The other engine of Virginia Tech’s offense came from the calm hand of Sean Pedulla. The sophomore point guard not only drilled five three pointers but also dished out eight assists which set a career high. Pedulla excelled at creating his own off the bounce, nailing multiple triples off the dribble from his own exquisite space generation. Pedulla had the ball on a string and manipulated the defense to his will which led to easy offense for the whole squad.
“Tonight was a Sean Pedulla kind of game, he took what was given to him and distributed,” Young stated postgame. “He had an awfully good floor game.”
It was a strong beginning to Pedulla’s next chapter as a full-time starter for the Hokies. Despite it being his first start, Pedulla is ready to fully embrace the role and thrive in it.
“Offseason play with these guys helped me figure out their strengths,” Sean Pedulla said. “Today, that was finding everyone open shots…attacking downhill, and finding the shooters which we have all over the floor.”
The Hokies third leading scorer was Mr. March himself, Darius Maddox. He finished the night with 14 points on 5-8 from the floor but no threes. At first glance, this may seem like an issue that Maddox, known for his long range lethality, made no threes. However, Maddox displayed a healthy diet of tough shots from other spots on the floor.
“He’s a dynamic scorer, you have to really press up on him”, Young stated. “He’s a two level scorer, from three and pulling up from 15 but he’s a talented offensive player.”
While Basile, Pedulla, and Maddox combined to score 65 of Virginia Tech’s 95 points, the Hokies received contributions from other players both in the starting five and off the bench.
Without Justyn Mutts, who served an NCAA mandated one game suspension, the frontcourt depth was tested in game one. Lynn Kidd got the starting nod, the first of his college career and made something of it. The junior scored eight points and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds including four of the offensive variety.
“I can’t tell you how serious he was throughout the summer…every single day, he’s watching film and working out religiously,” Young said. “He’s chomping at the bit and nobody’s given him anything, he’s earned it.”
In addition to Kidd, Mylyjael Poteat came off the bench and provided an extra physical presence on the interior. Poteat finished with nine points, three offensive rebounds and a monster block that sparked a transition dunk. His defense was equally as impressive and has the potential to grow even more.
“He’s got really good feet, he’s like the dancing bear out there,” Young said. “Mylyjael is going to be a great defender for us.”
Not only did the Hokie's role players step up, but the team as a whole nearly doubled the Hornets up in rebounding and assists. Tech dished out 18 to Delaware State’s nine. The Hokies nabbed 42 rebounds to the Hornets 24 on the night. The team hit an offensive rhythm that they must continue to build off in the coming days and weeks.
“When you're an opposing team scouting us, you have to think about so many shooters and contain the drive,” Pedulla said. “We do such a good job moving the ball.”
Virginia Tech will look to carry on the momentum of an opening night win in a few days when they host the Lehigh Mountain Hawks this Thursday night at Cassell Coliseum.