What UVA Basketball fans need to know about Virginia Tech


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Virginia Tech was supposed to take a big step back in 2019-2020 after losing … everything.

Buzz Williams is at Texas A&M. Justin Robinson is in the NBA. Kerry Blackshear Jr. transferred to Florida.

New coach Mike Young, coming from Wofford, was left to figure out a way to make do with the couple rolls of tape the case of Gatorade left behind.

Ain’t done a bad job at that to this point.

The Hokies (10-3) have a win over preseason-#1 Michigan State already on the resume, and a strong performance in a loss to Duke last month showed that earlier performance was no fluke.

Young has done it by going super small. The rotation’s average height, according to KenPom.com, is just 75.5 inches – six-three-and-a-half, if you need to think of it that way.

The biggest guy on the floor the bulk of the time is 6’7”, 225-pound freshman Landers Nolley, who is the team’s leading scorer (17.4 ppg), leading rebounder (5.8 rebs/g), and a 43.5 percent shooter from three-point range on a high volume of long-range shots (6.6 per game).

Young uses a nine-man rotation that uses Nolley at center more than 40 percent of the time, according to KenPom.com, with 6’6” junior P.J. Horne (8.6 ppg, 4.6 rebs/g, 55.4% FG) and 6’10” freshman John Ojiako (4.0 ppg, 2.9 rebs/g) splitting the rest of the time at the five.

Ojiako gets 12.1 minutes per game, which means Young is essentially going five-guard roughly 94 percent of the time, creating matchup problems for opponents across the floor.

Junior guard Wabissa Bede was a rotation guy for last year’s Sweet Sixteen team, and has stepped up as a playmaker (6.4 assists per game) even as he has struggled with his shot (6.5 ppg, 38.4% FG, 20.7% 3FG, 56.5% FT).

He’s really the only one among the guards having trouble from long-range. The Hokies shoot 39.4 percent from behind the arc, 12th-best nationally.

The threats from deep include 6’3” freshman Nahiem Alleyne (10.2 ppg, 39.3% FG, 36.4% 3FG), Horne (43.2 percent from three), another 6’3” freshman, Hunter Cattoor (8.3 ppg, 47.9% FG, 44.6% 3FG) and 5’10” freshman Jalen Cone (6.1 ppg, 45.6% FG, 55.9% 3FG).

One thing you don’t see the Hokies do is get a lot of shots at the rim. Just 24.4 percent of their shot attempts have been at the rim, according to Hoops-Math.com, the fifth-fewest in the nation.

Another thing you don’t see from Tech: turnovers. The 14.2 percent turnover rate is third-best nationally, according to KenPom.com.

The Hokies don’t play too fast – averaging 66.0 possessions per game, 317th nationally, and in line with what Young’s teams did at Wofford (his team last year averaged 65.7 possessions per game, and its high in recent years was 66.7, back in 2015-2016).

The focus is on playing efficiently, limiting turnovers, and hitting threes.

And the early returns are: good.

Story by Chris Graham

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