CHARLOTTE — Though they were never able to get Virginia Tech over the hump and into the NCAA tournament during their four years together in Blacksburg, there is no questioning the sheer amount of production former Hokies Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen accounted for during their collegiate careers.
Delaney finished his career among the top five in Virginia Tech history in points and assists, while Allen became the first player in ACC history to finish his career with more than 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 200 steals and 150 blocked shots. Just last season, the duo scored more than 45 percent of Virginia Tech’s 2,390 total points. Both are now playing professionally in France.
So common sense would say that will be a huge void for this year’s Hokies to fill. But at ACC basketball media day Wednesday, neither Erick Green nor Dorenzo Hudson said they see it that way.
“People say Jeff and Malcolm, but I honestly think we’ll be better,” Green said of Allen and Delaney. “I think we won’t rely on just one or two people to score the ball. The ball will be shared and I just think we’ll play so much harder because we really want to get after it this year.”
Green is certainly right about one thing: the Hokies will have plenty of intriguing lineups this season. Though Virginia Tech has eight underclassmen this season, five of those players are part of the most heralded freshmen class to ever come to Virginia Tech. There’s also some experienced pieces like Green and forward Victor Davila as well as Hudson and forward J.T. Thompson, both of whom were key cogs two years ago before missing last season due to injury.
Hudson acknowledged that during these first few days of practice it has become clear those new players “don’t understand what they’re about to get into. We’re just trying to install into their brain that you’ve got to play hard.”
“It’s gonna be a change, but I feel like it’s gonna bring us together a little bit more because we’re not gonna rely on just Malcolm to score 18 to 20 points a game,” Hudson said. “I feel like we’re gonna have other guys who get the job done.”
Coach Seth Greenberg agrees that this year’s team will have more of a “by committee” feel to it, but he countered that the Hokies also had weapons other than Delaney and Allen a year ago. He pointed to Green, Hudson and Davila as players he’s counting on to be consistent contributors in the scoring column even if “on any given night we can have different guys step up.”
Last year at ACC media day, most of the conversation revolved around the Hokies’ perpetual status on the bubble and the pressing need to make the tournament with Delaney, Allen and the rest of the seniors that came to Blacksburg in 2008 set to leave after the season.
This time around much of that talk was on the periphery as the Hokies were picked to finish sixth in this year’s preseason ACC poll. But Hudson, a member of that 2008 class who is back after taking a medical redshirt last season, was adamant in saying, “I have to get to the NCAA tournament.”
So it seems even without its two stars from a year ago, the theme for this season remains eerily similar for these Hokies. Perhaps the fifth time is the charm as Virginia Tech tries to avoid having its bubble burst for the first time since 2007.
“It’s about time we make this tournament,” Green said. “I’m tired of the NIT. I think it’s time for us to make some noise.”