Virginia Tech finally got some good news Monday after a week that saw the Hokies lose their first three ACC games of the year.
Injured point guard Erick Green, the team’s leading scorer, practiced Monday and he expects to play in Thursday’s home game against No. 8 North Carolina, both Coach Seth Greenberg and Green said on the athletic department’s weekly radio show, “Tech Talk Live.”
Green missed Virginia Tech’s 61-59 loss at Boston College this past weekend after spraining his left knee in practice last Thursday. He is averaging a team-high 16.1 points, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game this season.
Green “would fight me if I told him he wasn’t going to play on Thursday,” Greenberg told host Bill Roth, adding that it would take “a major setback” for Green not to be in the lineup.
The Hokies certainly missed their starting point guard against the Eagles. Virginia Tech committed a season-high 17 turnovers, and true freshman Marquis Rankin and shooting guard Dorenzo Hudson were forced to play point guard much of the afternoon. Hudson, playing out position, committed seven turnovers, and Greenberg said Boston College got eight easy points off careless miscues in general.
Green has been Virginia Tech’s best – and most consistent – player all year. He has finished in double figures in 18 straight games, the longest current streak in the ACC, and currently ranks sixth in the ACC in scoring.
Perhaps more importantly, his return should help with Greenberg’s desire to push the tempo more. The coach believes one of the big reasons Virginia Tech has been held to less than 60 points and shot worse than 40 percent from the field in its past three losses is because the team hasn’t gotten many easy baskets.
The Hokies have just nine fast-break points total in ACC play thus far.
“We’re not playing fast enough,” Greenberg said on Monday’s ACC teleconference. “We’ve got to get out in transition. Our wing guys aren’t running hard enough.”
Greenberg said the team went through every shot taken during the Boston College game and only “one or two” were bad shots. The Hokies just couldn’t hit jumpers consistently until the last three minutes of the game.
Running against the Tar Heels, though, is a tricky proposition. North Carolina thrives on the fast break, led by point guard Kendall Marshall and center Tyler Zeller, who Greenberg considers the best “rim-to-rim” front court player in the country.
But Greenberg also believes, “it’s hard to grind it out when you’ve got [John] Henson and Zeller, their length.”
Henson leads the ACC in both blocks (three per game) and rebounding (9.6 per game). The Tar Heels average close to six blocks per game, and trail only Florida State in that department among ACC teams. The Seminoles blocked a record 15 shots in a win over the Hokies last Tuesday.
“We’ve played these games over the last three, four years, they’ve always been competitive games and they’ve always been in that 66 to 70-ish range,” Greenberg said. “But we’ve also been able to get some easy baskets. We’ve also been able to have some room and rhythm shots and made some plays in transition. We’ve just got to make good decisions in transition.”