The first half of Virginia Tech’s third game of the 2023-2024 season redefined the term stagnant, or as Mike Young called it, “a tractor pull offensively.”
As the buzzer sounded at the end of the opening 20 minutes, the Hokies led 26-16 despite a relatively ugly performance. Both teams had not shot the ball well, with Tech going 10-for-28, and the Campbell Camels shooting just 4-of-21. Each team had made just one three-point field goal, with Campbell having a 21-11 rebound advantage despite a significant height advantage in the starting five for the Hokies.
The lone bright spot in that first half - and the biggest star in Wednesday night’s affair - was Lynn Kidd.
The senior (with one more year of eligibility remaining) center had ten points in the first half, on his way to a 24 point-15 rebound career best night in Tech’s 60-44 bounceback victory over Campbell, who dropped to 1-2 on the season.
Kidd was phenomenal for Tech, and one of two double-digit scorers for the Hokies. The other was Hunter Cattoor - who had 12 points on four three-pointers last night and is now seven away from Virginia Tech’s all-time record set by A.D. Vassallo in 2009.
Kidd’s 15 rebounds were the most of the Mike Young era in Blacksburg, and the most any Hokie has had since Kerry Blackshear Jr. grabbed 16 boards in Tech’s infamous Sweet 16 loss to Duke back in 2019.
Mike Young raved about Kidd after the game, citing confidence and taking care of his body as the main contributors to Kidd’s growth as a player.
“Confidence. Feels good about himself because of the work he’s put in. He should feel good about his game…he takes great care of his body. He gets a proper amount of rest. Serious player - wants to continue doing it and he’s on his way,” Young said.
Something, or rather someone missing from Tech’s rotation on Wednesday was North Carolina transfer F Tyler Nickel, who was dealing with an illness per a pregame press release.
While freshman guard Jaydon Young ate some of the minutes Nickel would have played, Young addressed Nickel’s absence, noting that the coaching staff may have underestimated his impact in games.
“We’re down a man, and you know the twist and turns the season can have, he’s playing well,” Young said on missing Nickel last night. “He wanted to play…I thought he looked a step off, so we’ll have him back for certain on Sunday [against Wofford].”
One thing to note on the Hokies slow first half was a lack of shot making ability from the outside, as well as a hesitance to get more shots up on the inside. That could be partially attributed to an off night from Sean Pedulla.
The Hokies' best scorer, coming off a career-high 26 points in last Friday’s loss to South Carolina in Charlotte went two-of-nine from the field, going zero-for-three on shots beyond the arc, scoring just five points, being forced to sit out key minutes late in the second half with four personal fouls.
In those late minutes, a player who stepped up was freshman guard Brandon Rechsteiner, who posted two assists and zero turnovers in 14 minutes of action last night, executing the offense to a tee.
“He did [take another step],” Young said after the game. “He just managed the game…didn’t try to do too much, hit singles, wasn’t trying to hit one over the left field wall. That’s encouraging to see from him.”
Speaking on how to limit these slow starts, Young emphasized the need to feed the paint more, with the Hokies' centers Kidd and Mylyjael Poteat combining for 32 points, comparing it to a run game in football.
“You want to establish a running game, which sets up everything else. If you can establish that interior, that’s a big deal…he [Kidd] will continue to get more opportunities. You ring the bell, we’ll load you up," Young said.
Hokies fans can look forward to more Lynn Kidd in 2023 and 2024, with the big showing the nation that he will be one of the most improved players in the ACC.
Through three games, Kidd averages 16.7 points and 10.7 rebounds, the type of numbers that could have him on an All-ACC track if he can maintain that production.
We’re also officially on record watch, with Cattoor in striking dustance of Tech’s all time three-point record with games against Wofford - Young’s old school of which Cattoor was originally committed to, and the ESPN Events Invitational kicking off in the senior guard’s hometown of Orlando on Thanksgiving.