Three Things to Watch for Virginia Tech Against Maine

Three Things to Watch for Virginia Tech Against Maine
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP

TLP: Editor
Nov 09, 2021

Gameday has arrived as the Mike Young era enters year 3 with the Virginia Tech Hokies looking to build on their NCAA Tournament appearance and ACC top 4 finish from last season. The Hokies return most of their main contributors with Tyrece Radford and Wabissa Bede being the only departures while adding a few new players headlined by former Wofford star PG Storm Murphy who should provide a PG upgrade especially as a scorer.

So here are my three things to watch tonight for Virginia Tech against Maine.

1. Storm Murphy's Debut

The debut of Storm Murphy as a Hokie is here with many Hokie fans excited about what Murphy can bring to the table especially as an offensive scorer. Of course, Murphy might not be as good of a defensive player as Wabissa Bede was at the point but Murphy projects to be an upgrade as a scorer and ball distributor.

Murphy averaged 17.8 points in his fourth season as a starter for the Terriers with a shooting efficiency line that you would dream of as he shot 47% from the field overall, 40% from three-point range, and 84.3% from the free-throw line. Combine that with averaging 4.3 assists per game and Murphy has all the offensive tools though his 2.7 turnovers per game will be an area where he needs to grow more transitioning up to the ACC level.

One thing that should really help Murphy compared to just about every other transfer in America is the fact that Murphy should have a deep understanding of the style of play and the offensive approach that Mike Young wants given that Murphy played for Young for two seasons at Wofford followed by his top assistant Jay McAuley the past two years.

The time has arrived for Storm Murphy in Blacksburg as part of an exciting starting lineup that has all five guys who are capable of putting up lots of points in what has the potential to be one of the best offensive teams in America.

2. Depth Development

Virginia Tech's non-conference scheduled is pretty soft for the first five games before the Hokies face Memphis and then either Iowa State or Xavier in NYC. Outside of these first five games, Tech only has one other game against a non-power conference or Atlantic 10 team in Cornell so these first five games will be important for developing the depth.

Specifically, Tech will be able to likely get some of their younger players who will be key backups plenty of playing time to help continue their development before getting into the meat of their schedule.

Any conversation has to start with David N'Guessan who has received plenty of hype from Mike Young and is expected to be the first big man off the bench. N'Guessan brings plenty of versatility to the Hokies at forward after averaging 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in only 9.7 minutes per game last season, proving to be a quality rebounder and efficient shooter making over 58% of his shots.

Meanwhile, Tech's backcourt depth will need to step up starting with Darius Maddox who showed signs of promise as a shooter last year, but was still overcoming some injuries while being farther down the depth chart. With Tyrece Radford and Joe Bamisile gone, Maddox slides into the first guard off the bench role with the Hokies hoping that he can be a sharpshooter off the bench.

Additionally, John Ojiako and Lynn Kidd are both more traditional centers and with Mike Young wanting to use Keve Aluma more at the four at times this season, Tech will need to see whether Ojiako or Kidd can step up as the next center up and produce 10-15 quality minutes per game.

Sean Pedulla should be the backup point guard for Tech though Tech has allowed Hunter Cattoor and Nahiem Alleyne to run the show at times in the past. However, Tech could use a true point guard who could throw in a few quality minutes when Storm Murphy is out and these early games should give Pedulla a great chance to do just that.

Tonight is the start of five-straight games where the Hokies will likely look to get their backups more playing time than usual especially guys like David N'Guessan and Darius Maddox as they build towards the tougher portion of the non-conference schedule and the ACC season that kicks into full gear immediately after.

3. Packed Crowds Return to Cassell Coliseum

There are plenty of other things we could talk about here that we'll see plenty of over the soft start to the 2021-22 season, but there's no doubt that maybe the most exciting part about tonight is the return of fans in full force to Cassell Coliseum after only 250 people inside Cassell last season.

There's no doubt that when full, Cassell Coliseum is one of the toughest places to play in the ACC, and the roars should be back in full swing tonight especially for a lot of players who have never gotten to experience Cassell Coliseum in full swing while playing for the Hokies.

This includes guys like Keve Aluma, Justyn Mutts, David N'Guessan, and Darius Maddox in addition to this offseason's additions of Storm Murphy, Lynn Kidd, Sean Pedulla, and Jalen Haynes.

There's no doubt that sports are better with packed crowds yelling and cheering, and tonight's doubleheader inside Cassell Coliseum is a great chance to celebrate the return of fans to restore one of college basketball's toughest places to play.