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September 30, 2013Sign-up for HokieHaven.com Wireless Text Alerts sent right to your cell phone!
There's no nation's leading scorer this season. There's no player who has taken the team on his back, who no matter the situation, is the one player without question Virginia Tech would want with the ball in his hands.
Such is life after guard Erick Green, who led the country in scoring last season with 25 points per game. Green has moved on to the NBA, leaving a cast of players looking for something to fill the massive void left by Green.
With Green's departure, plus the off-season transfer of Robert Brown, the Hokies have been widely picked by pre-season publications to finish last in the ACC. But with a few pieces from last season, in addition to some new ones, coach James Johnson hopes to certainly make a bigger impact.
And while there might not be a superstar in this bunch, the fast-tempo and high-intensity play is still there.
"Losing a guy that scored 25 points a game and that you're able to put the basketball in his hands and say, 'go get a basket,' any time he wanted to against any type of competition," Johnson said. "Every year, you can't say that and not a lot of teams in the country can say that. We're gonna miss that, but we're gonna be more balanced. I don't know if we'll have a guy that will average 25 points a game, but sitting here last year at this time, we didn't know we had a guy at that time. But we do have four or five guys who can score 25 points on a given night."
Among those returning are junior forward C.J. Barksdale and senior forward Jarell Eddie. The latter went through a shooting funk at times last season. Still, he's Virginia Tech's leading returning scorer, with 12.3 points per game.
And then there's transfer Adam Smith, who sat out last season after leaving UNC-Wilmington. He'll be expected to play a big role as a shooting guard, especially with the loss of guard Robert Brown, who transferred to UAB last spring.
"He's a guy that can put the basketball in the hole," Johnson said of Smith. "He has not done it in competition yet for us, dating back to last season. During his sit-out season and working with the scout team, he was able to put up points at a high number and he's continued that on. He got a lot out of his sit-out year, is always in the gym working on his shot and it's carried over to our practices."
Of course, aside from Smith, Johnson is still figuring out plenty. Which of the freshmen will be able to contribute immediately? Will Barksdale break out? Will Eddie get out of his funk?
"We've got a lot of unknowns right now," Johnson said. "We've got a couple of juniors that have played but are gonna need to have bigger roles. I'm not sure what to expect from this team, but I do expect to get every day."
There's no Green, but that doesn't mean there can't be some type of success.
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