Both Virginia Tech men's and women's basketball teams took care of business in dominant fashion on opening night inside Cassell Coliseum with #13 VT WBB beating Mount Saint Mary's, a 2022 NCAA Tournament team returning 3 starters, 101-45 to open the evening. VT MBB finished off the night with almost as dominant of a performance as the Hokies beat Delaware State 95-57.
Here's my 3 takeaways from the opening night of basketball for the Hokies.
Grant Basile Shows Similar Scoring Skill Set to Keve Aluma
Replacing Keve Aluma was never going to be an easy task for the Hokies nor one that was likely to be done with only one player. However, Grant Basile has been considered the guy many believe can replace the bulk of what Aluma did for the Hokies.
Game 1 backed that up as Basile had 30 points (plus 10 rebounds) producing both on the interior and from behind the arc as he was 6-7 inside the arc and 6-9 from three-point range. The numbers are obviously great, but there's a lot of different ways that Basile scored those points that were very reminiscent of what Aluma did as a scorer.
We saw Basile get his fair share of touches down on the block as you would expect from a big man with the Wright State transfer showing some good moves and finishes. On the outside, Basile was used plenty on some screens and pick-and-pop plays to get space and then fire away similar to what we saw from Aluma during his time with the Hokies.
Tech was also more than comfortable allowing Basile to work on the dribble from the outside rather than simply be used to either fire away, screen, or run some sort of handoff-hybrid screen from behind the arc. That also fits in the mold of what we saw Keve Aluma's role and allowances look like on the offensive end.
While replacing what Aluma did overall will take more than just one player, Grant Basile showed on Monday night he can replace a whole lot of what Aluma did on the offensive end given his ability to score at a high level at the rim and from three-point range.
Cayla King's Signs Of Growth Raises Already High Ceiling For VT
Virginia Tech may have five players who have either earned All-American or All-Conference honors in their careers, but the best player on this Tech team who hasn't earned one of those honors in her career was the Hokies' biggest star on their opening night.
Cayla King had the game of her career to date making a school record 9 threes on her way to a 33-point performance in Tech's 56-point victory over Mount Saint Mary's to open the season.
King has been a solid role player for a couple years for the Hokies taking on the very NBA-type role of being a 3-and-D wing for the Hokies but it's one thing to do so as a solid contributor, it's completely different when that offensive portion of what you do is showing signs of taking another massive jump forward.
King seemed comfortable on many second half possessions knowing the plan was for her to shoot it from three one way or another given her hot hand, and then she delivered. That takes not only a great level of confidence but also the type of quality that doesn't just come from having a hot hand against a mid-major opponent.
Of course, we'll see if she can keep this level of shooting up but if she can, Tech's already high ceiling for this year has been raised even higher.
Encouraging Signs of Growth From Lynn Kidd
The biggest takeaway from this night may be the fact that in his second year in Blacksburg, former Clemson transfer Lynn Kidd is showing clear signs of growth into being a quality contributor for the Hokies this season.
The fact that Kidd received a start with Justyn Mutts out over guys like Mylyjael Poteat and John Camden is encouraging that Mike Young sees him as a role player even within a deep frontcourt where both Patrick Wessler and Darren Buchanan Jr didn't play in the opener. The fact that neither of those 2 play not only seems to hint at a redshirt potentially for both, but also that Young has confidence in guys like Kidd to produce at a high enough level to allow for that or not feel any pressure to see if those guys would be an upgrade.
Kidd also played fairly well last night against Delaware State with an impressive 10 rebounds including 4 offensive boards to go with 8 points, 3 assists, and only 2 turnovers in only 24 minutes of action. That's a productive stat line especially on the glass that is quite valuable for a team with plenty of capable scorers that mean Kidd is the fourth or fifth option many times when he's on the floor.
Now it's important to note the context of Delaware State being ranked #362 by KenPom currently (though I wouldn't be surprised to see them rise up some from that ranking). However, Kidd wasn't even close to being in the rotation last year for the Hokies playing sparingly in large routs coming in just before the walk-ons at the end of the bench came in. This type of jump clearly into the rotation to the point where he gets the start with Justyn Mutts out is a very encouraging sign of development.
Lynn Kidd may not be poised for a Keve Aluma-like jump in his second year with the Hokies, but Kidd is already showing clear signs of significant growth as a center who can be a quality contributor this season, and a potential quality starter next season.