Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
October 16, 2013Sign-up for HokieHaven.com Wireless Text Alerts sent right to your cell phone!
CHARLOTTE -- No, coach James Johnson doesn't have a dominant player he can hand a game to the way he did Erick Green last season.
Green, the nation's leading scorer and ACC Player of the Year last season, graduated in May and moved on to the NBA. He leaves a gaping hole and plenty of question marks for a team picked to finish 15th of 15 teams in the ACC.
But Johnson still has a few things he can tout. He hopes to have a more balanced, hard-working team, as well as a freshman who just weeks into being on campus, was named Virginia Tech's captain. Forward Ben Emelogu has yet to play in a game for the Hokies, but he's already earned more than just the respect of his coach.
"He's just done everything right," Johnson said at today's ACC Media Day. "He's a natural leader, so coming in, I didn't have to put anything on him. He came in, natural leadership qualities, leadership abilities. He earned it with respect of the guys from day one, with his play, with his talking."
Though Johnson chose to bring neither with him to media day, he also has a pair of seniors in forwards Jarell Eddie and Cadarian Raines he hopes will pick up some of the slack left by Green. Of course, Eddie and Raines struggled throughout last season. Eddie averaged 12.3 points per game and Raines 6.6 points per game, but both shot poorly at various points. But Johnson still thinks both have plenty of room to improve.
"With me being a first-year coach last year and them playing under me for the first time, they were kinda like newer guys also," Johnson said. "But they're leading by example, they know what I'm like, how I am. We've had some younger guys step up and take more of a leadership role, which is something that is pleasant to see as a head coach."
Of course, Johnson doesn't expect Raines or Eddie to completely make up for the loss of Green. He doesn't expect that from Emelogu either. What he does expect is for hard-nosed, smart play from his team.
"Obviously, Erick Green was big for us and he did a lot of different things for us, leading the nation in scoring and the ACC Player of the year," Johnson said. "We're not really trying to replace him. I don't know that we have a guy who's gonna lead the nation in scoring. I don't know if anybody in this league will have a guy to lead the nation in scoring. We didn't know that sitting here last year, but we do have some guys, I think that could help fill the scoring void and put the basketball in the hole. I think we'll be a much more balanced team this year and one of the things we're trying to do, we're trying to be a better defensive team and hopefully that'll lead to a better offense."
Virginia Tech NEWS