After being one of the biggest NCAA tournament snubs of the 2007-08 season, Virginia Tech is ready to start a new chapter in Hokie basketball.
Seth Greenberg has been working tirelessly to prepare his team for the season opener Friday against Gardner-Webb; The same team that upset Kentucky early last season.
Senior AD Vasallo will be looking for to leave Virginia Tech after a good season. Vasallo started reaching his peak during the home stretch of last season when Tech was making its last effort to be recognized by the selection committee and get an invite to the NCAA Tournament.
Vasallo averaged 20 points in the three games Tech played in the National Invitational Tournament and was the leading scorer in two of those three games.
Whether he is at the two-guard or running the point, Malcolm Delaney will be the leader of this team both on and off the court. Delaney took this spot last February after Tech suffered its worst loss of the 2007-08 season, a 92-53 drubbing at North Carolina.
Delaney told the media certain players on the team needed to change their attitudes. The Hokies won seven of their remaining 10 games after Delaney's statement.
When Delaney is on the court with fellow sophomore guard Hank Thorns, look for the team to push the tempo more than they have in past years.
The Hokies can go small this year with Thorns, Delaney, AD Vasallo, JT Thompson, and Jeff Allen on the court at the same time. In the typically fast-paced ACC, this will allow Tech to keep up with their opponents' fast breaks.
Virginia Tech will be without forward JT Thompson for the first four to six weeks of the season. Thompson is suffering from an inguinal hernia that will require surgery Friday at Montgomery Regional Hospital.
After a solid freshman year, Thompson will be ready to fill the void left by departing senior Deron Washington as the team's rebounding forward who can stretch the offense and make an occasional mid-range jump shot.
Junior Lewis Witcher and freshman Victor Davila will need to step up in Thompson's absence. The biggest game during Thompson's abscense will come Dec. 1, when Virginia Tech plays host to Wisconsin for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Although Brian Butch is no longer at Wisconsin, the Badgers have a solid core of underclassmen big men ready to step up in his absence.
After starting 32 games last season, sophomore Jeff Allen will need to step up and play the post game he displayed during his freshman campaign. Allen averaged 11.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game last year. Greenberg will look to Allen to have a similar performance this year.
There are four newcomers to the Virginia Tech team this year: Davila, center Gene Swindle, forward Chris Panneton, and guard Evan Synstad. Davila will likely be the only one of the bunch to get any significant playing time at all.
Panneton and Synstad are walk-ons just joining the team this year and there had been talk of redshirting Swindle.
Davila is a 6'8" forward with great post moves who will rarely step out and hit a jumper. He should turn out to be a player along the lines of Coleman Collins. Davila is a three-star recruit from Hamptonville, North Carolina.
Virginia Tech's starting lineup is expected to be Delaney at point guard, Vasallo at two-guard, Allen at forward, and Witcher at the other forward. The third guard position is still up in the air, but fans may see sophomore Dorenzo Hudson there, especially while Thompson is sidelined with the injury.