Virginia Tech fans hopeful to see at least one of Hunter Cattoor or Rodney Rice very soon won't like to hear the news that their returns may be further delays following setbacks as Mike Young shared with the media following the Hokies' 68-65 loss to Clemson.
"He (Hunter Cattoor) had a little setback, so did Rodney Rice," Young said.
Unsurprisingly, you could hear some frustration and exasperation in Young's voice when asked about the status of Cattoor and Rice. In many ways, it feels like the Hokies have been Charlie Brown with Lucy yanking the football away given the continued delays for both Cattoor and Rice.
Tech has definitely missed having Cattoor over their past two games given the shooting, defense, and offensive spacing that he provides. With Cattoor out, the Hokies have been forced to go to a bigger two-guard, three-forward lineup which has not been the way the Hokies have gone during most of Mike Young's tenure but have to out of necessity given that they only have three healthy, scholarship guards currently.
While the Hokies are showing signs of progress in adapting to that, it's clear that Tech's offense is suffering with less spacing that you lose without arguably their best spot-up three-point shooter in Cattoor along with the defensive stalwart he is. The offensive rhythm has also felt off over the past couple games especially tonight against Clemson when the Hokies shot 31.3% from the field including 27.9% from inside the arc.
Now we could see Tech go with more balance against teams not as big as Clemson and run more three-guard, two-forward lineups with MJ Collins as the third guard, but the lack of backcourt depth will force the Hokies to lean heavily on those two-guard, three-forward lineups.
Meanwhile, Rodney Rice's debut continues to be delayed due to an injury that he just can't seem to shake. He has warmed up for the past couple games but still remains not healthy enough to make his debut. Without Rice and Cattoor, the Hokies currently only have two guys they can consistently rely on as the offensive initiator in Sean Pedulla and Justyn Mutts who acted as a point forward (and kind of a true point guard) at times against Clemson.
If Rice's absence continues much longer, you have to wonder if the Hokies will consider simply shutting him down and redshirting him this year. If so, he would be the third freshman to do so along with forward Darren Buchanan Jr and center Patrick Wessler.