Earlier Tuesday, I talked about how Dorian Finney-Smith is faring in his freshman year at Virginia Tech. But what about the other members of the Hokies’ celebrated freshmen class? Well, they too have had their ups and downs. Here’s a rundown of their progress:
Guard Robert Brown
With senior Dorenzo Hudson coming off the bench the past two games, Brown has moved into the starting lineup. He’s averaging 7.8 points per game and has shown flashes of becoming a prolific scorer later in his career. But right now, he needs to work on his shot selection and defense.
Brown is shooting 37.7 percent from the field this season, and since a 13-point showing at Minnesota back in December, he has finished above 50 percent shooting just once (when he scored 14 points and threw down a thunderous dunk in a win over North Florida). That’s not a good sign for a player who is averaging more shot attempts per minute (.33) than anyone on the team besides leading scorer Erick Green. In addition, during Brown’s two starts against North Carolina and Virginia, the Hokies were outscored by a combined 18 points when he was on the floor.
Forward C.J. Barksdale
When he has gotten on the floor, Barksdale has proven he’s ready to contribute this year. The 6-foot-8 forward has held up increasingly well inside, averaging 3.4 points and 3.1 rebounds even though he is receiving just 12.5 minutes per game. Greenberg credits his hustle down the stretch for helping the Hokies escape with a 67-61 victory at Oklahoma State last month, and Barksdale was one of three players to finish with a positive plus/minus rating in Virginia Tech’s loss to North Carolina last week.
If anything, Greenberg needs to find a way to get Barksdale more minutes. He has a better plus/minus rating (plus-66) than both Victor Davila and Cadarian Raines, and his post game has shown promise even after Tar Heels forward John Henson blocked him at least three times in the paint last week.
Guard Marquis Rankin
Rankin missed the first seven games of the season after undergoing fall surgery on a torn meniscus, but he has taken on a more prominent role recently, starting in place of an injured Green at Boston College. Rankin has struggled shooting the ball this year, hitting just 27.3 percent of his shots — the lowest among Virginia Tech’s regular contributors. He did, however, drain a huge jumper from the top of the key with less than four minutes remaining at Virginia after Green picked up his fourth foul.
“I think he’s getting there,” Greenberg said recently. “He’s healthy, but I think human nature, he planted off of that [left] foot really hard, that’s when he hurt [his knee]. I think he’s still afraid to jam that foot into the ground to get behind the shot as well as he needs to.”
Rankin is averaging just two points and 1.3 assists per game currently, but Greenberg has always lauded the defensive intensity he brings off the bench.
Forward Joey Van Zegeren
Though Van Zegeren, 21, is the oldest freshman on the team, Greenberg has decided to redshirt him this year after he appeared in three games early in the season. A late signee from the Netherlands, Van Zegeren is the tallest player in the program at 6-10.