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Next Up - Virginia Tech

Mike Young’s teams, as we’ve learned, will always be dangerous

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 17 Hall of Fame Shootout - St. Bonaventure v Virginia Tech
CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17: Virginia Tech Hokies guard Storm Murphy (5) drives around St. Bonaventure Bonnies guard Kyle Lofton (0) during the game between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the St. Bonaventure Bonnies on December 17, 2021 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC.
Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Remember when Buzz Williams left Virginia Tech and everyone sort of figured well, that’s it, party’s over?

Well not quite.

As things turned out, the Hokies hired Mike Young and the native Virginian has done just fine. He broke even in his first season despite having one of the shortest and youngest teams in the country. Last year the Hokies finished 15-7 and made the NCAA Tournament season. And of course at Wofford he beat UNC and came oh so close to knocking Kentucky out of the NCAA tournament.

There’s no question the guy knows what he’s doing.

He’s built this team around Keve Alum and Storm Murphy, who followed him from Wofford to Blacksburg, Hunter Cattoor, who was originally going to play for Young at Wofford, Nahiem Alleyne and Justyn Mutts. Darius Maddox and David N’Guessan round out the rotation.

Honestly, we didn’t think Aluma would be nearly as good as he has been. He’s been solid from Day One in Blacksburg. This year, he’s averaging 28.3 mpg and hitting 14.2 ppg and 6.1 rpg. At 6-9 and 235, we’re really interested to see how Mark Williams handles him. This is a game where we really hope Theo John doesn’t get into foul trouble. It could turn out that he’s a better counter to Aluma.

We’ve always like Cattoor mostly because he’s got a real knack for moving without the ball. Basketball should be kinetic. It irritates us to watch guys squat on the three-point line and hold their hands out like chicks in a nest waiting for a meal of regurgitated worms. Move!

Cattoor moves. He’s also become a dangerous three point shooter.

Alleyne also shoots well, especially from the foul line: he’s just a tick under 93 percent which puts him in very elite company. Murphy rounds things out at the point where he’s been a pretty good fit. Obviously he knows Young’s system really well.

Mutts is a guy who can do a little bit of everything. You really have to keep an eye on him because he can hurt you in a lot of ways.

The Hokies no longer have Tyrece Radford, which is too bad. Radford got into trouble on alcohol and weapons charges and perhaps decided a change of scenery would be a good idea. He’s reunited with Williams, now at A&M, but who was the guy who recruited Radford to Virginia Tech. He’s teammates now with former Blue Devil Henry Coleman, and beating Coleman on the boards, 5.8 to 5.4.

Do they have enough? Well yes, they do.

The Hokies are currently 8-4 with losses to Memphis, Xavier, Wake Forest and Dayton, all respectable opponents despite Memphis’s highly impressive efforts at self-sabotage. The wins include Maryland and a fine St. Bonaventure team. The Maryland win was the last game Mark Turgeon coached there.

Virginia Tech has had an interesting journey as an ACC member. First Seth Greenberg got his teams playing with a real chip on their shoulder. James Johnson was a blip but Williams was terrific. His teams were smart, played hard and were really fun to watch.

Young has had a tough beginning. His first team was young and small, as noted, and last season it was Covid. He’s still building.

Nonetheless, he has a team that can challenge for the top echelon of the ACC. Draft Kings has Duke at -9 but no one can take the Hokies for granted. They’re very dangerous.

And that’s pretty good for Year Three.