Virginia Tech’s highly touted freshman class put up good numbers on Saturday afternoon and helped their team to a 64-53 season opening win over East Tennessee State. The Hokies are 1-0, and get Sunday off before beginning the NIT Season Tip-Off on Monday night in Cassell Coliseum.
Dorian Finney-Smith, one of the most prized recruits in school history, flashed a well-rounded game in front of the home crowd. The true freshman finished with 10 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and four blocks. Known for his all-around game, Finney-Smith certainly impressed in his first college action.
Robert Brown, another highly regarded freshman, had 12 points and was 3-of-7 from three-point range. He played 26 minutes off the bench, and all of his points came in the second half. Freshman forward C.J. Barksdale had five points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
Freshman point guard Marquis Rankin missed the game while recovering from knee surgery, and freshman forward Joey Van Zegeren got just two minutes of action in the first half. Junior point guard Erick Green also missed the game with an achilles injury, and Tyrone Garland had a team-high 13 points in his place. However, Garland also had seven turnovers and didn’t look particularly comfortable running the offense.
With seven of the nine players who saw action being freshmen or sophomores, the Tech offense struggled to execute at times. However, the defense was very good for the most part. East Tennessee State shot just 29.7% from the field, and were only 2-of-17 from three-point range. The longer Hokies blocked nine shots and had seven steals.
Though the Hokies struggled at times, the three key freshmen all played at least 18 minutes in this game, with Finney-Smith on the court for 36 minutes. So much experience early in their careers will help them as the season progresses.
The NIT Season Tip-Off begins on Monday night, and the Hokies will host Monmouth in their opening game at 7pm on ESPN3. If Tech wins, they’ll face the winner of the George Mason-Florida International game on Tuesday night at 6pm on ESPNU.