Photo Credit: Liam Sment
Virginia Tech stunned the college basketball world last night when they upset #3 Villanova in an 81-73 overtime thriller to improve to 2-0. Now, the Hokies have a chance to pick up another solid victory against a South Florida team looking to bounce back after a loss to Rhode Island last night.
With that said, here are our three things to watch for the Hokies and Bulls.
1. Will Tech Get Caught Sleeping?
After a long, tough game last night; Virginia Tech doesn't have an exactly easy follow up game in a South Florida team that hasn't looked great but will be seeing a chance to possibly catch the Hokies sleeping.
While Tech might have enough talent to get away with getting caught sleepwalking, this game will be a test to see if the Hokies can build off that high and keep their focus. Mature teams shouldn't have a hangover and this team looks more mature both physically and mentally.
That mental toughness showed last night when the Hokies rallied from down 11 in the second half to pull off the comeback victory against an experienced, national title contender in Villanova. Additionally, this team has plenty of veteran leadership with guys like Wabissa Bede, Cartier Diarra, and Justyn Mutts which should be greatly beneficial.
Of course, we saw last year how this team wasn't able to back up their upset against Michigan State with any more wins in Maui though they faced an elite Dayton team followed by a very good BYU team. However, last night's win against Villanova showed much more maturity and mental toughness than the Michigan State win last year where Tech was in control of that game for most of the second half.
This game should give us good insight into the maturity of the Tech basketball team but signs are that this team has the maturity to avoid an upset.
2. More Playing Time For Freshmen?
One thing that any college basketball coach is looking to do during non-conference play, especially against weaker opposition, is to get their freshmen some playing time. Last night, saw Joe Bamisile as the lone freshman to play for the Hokies with the Richmond native receiving only 6 minutes.
While USF isn't as weak as some of Tech's non-conference opposition, this game should serve as an opportunity for Tech to get their freshmen more experience.
Joe Bamisile seems like the top candidate to receive more playing time as there has been plenty of hype about him but so far, Bamisile has struggled to find his rhythm in his first two games and could use more playing time to get the experience needed to where things start to slow down. Tonight's game followed by Wednesday's against VMI present perfect opportunities for just that so don't be surprised to see more of Bamisile in the next two games.
Additionally, David N'Guessan should see some minutes in this one after not playing against Villanova while this could be an opportunity for Darius Maddox to make his collegiate debut.
Keep an eye on the freshmen with the Hokies likely to try to work those guys in even more in this game.
3. Wabissa Bede Building Confidence in His Shot
Wabissa Bede struggled immensely shooting the basketball last season but through two games, signs are that Bede is back to the 2018-19 version of himself who shot 35.4% from three-point range. It's only two games but the fact that Bede is 3-5 from three and 7-16 overall from the field is an encouraging sign.
One thing that may be helping Bede is that he doesn't have nearly the same amount of pressure to be a featured scoring guy with the breakout start for Keve Aluma plus the growth of Nahiem Alleyne along with the offseason addition of Cartier Diarra. That pressure taken off his shoulders is likely part of the reason for that growth.
Additionally, Bede also seems to be more comfortable in Mike Young's system while the addition of Diarra also allows Bede to work more off the ball offensively as he did in 2018-19 with Justin Robinson at point guard.
The question that remains is can Bede keep this shooting up going forward? If he can, it makes the defense first lineup featuring Bede, Diarra, and Tyrece Radford one that can do enough to stretch the floor offensively as well beyond what the bigs can do to create those lanes to attack the rim.