Virginia Tech defeated Coppin State 74-42 in the first home victory of the Mike Young Era. The Hokies improved to 2-0 on the season, while the Eagles dropped to 0-2.
The story of the game was Virginia Tech’s defense. Coppin State shot just 14-of-71 (19.7%) for the game, including a 6-of-39 (15.4%) mark from three-point range. The Eagles did not make their second field goal until the 6:26 mark of the first half when the Hokies had already built a 27-3 lead. They scored only 12 points in the entire opening 20 minutes.
Mike Young’s first Division I win as a head coach came as a visitor in Cassell Coliseum back 2002. This time around he got his first win on the bench of the home team.
“It means a heck of a lot more for me to win here tonight [than it did in 2002], I can tell you that,” Young said. “It’s great, you know. I walked through that building during the summer, and to think about coaching the Virginia Tech basketball team…for that to come true in here, that feels great. I told you, I can’t express how happy I am to have the opportunity. It’s awesome.”
Nevertheless, Young didn’t think his team played particularly well at times, and thought that his team’s good defensive performance was more of a reflection of Coppin State.
“They struggled offensively. We’re trying. We’re contesting shots, and we are hanging in there. We’re trying to outlast you. But our defense is still getting punctured a little too much with a paint touch.”
Three Hokies scored in double figures, led by true freshman Nahiem Alleyne. Young noted that he started Alleyne on Friday because he played good defense against Clemson on Tuesday, and he was rewarded with 18 points against Coppin State. He was 6-of-8 from the field, 4-of-6 from three-point range, and he made both of his free throws.
Landers Nolley had 11 points and seven rebounds, though he was just 3-of-10 from the field and did not make a field goal in the first half. Redshirt freshman Tyrece Radford came off the bench to add 10 points and eight rebounds.
Junior Wabissa Bede is Virginia Tech’s most experienced player, and though he is not a scorer, he does many other things well. He only scored three points against the Eagles, but he dished out 10 assists and narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds. His numbers in both assists and rebounds were career highs, and he did it in just 24 minutes. He had eight rebounds on Tuesday against Clemson.
Because of Tech’s lack of size in the frontcourt, it’s vital that Bede continue to embrace his rebounding role.
“Let’s be honest, that’s not the Detroit Pistons’ frontline we’re playing with out there,” Young said. “It’s all hands on deck. We’ve got to rebound with five. He’s embraced that and is playing really good ball for us.”
11 total players saw game action for the Hokies, including walk-on Brendan Palmer, who got two minutes at the end of the game. No Tech player played more than 26 minutes.
The worst part of the game for the Hokies is the fact that they committed 15 turnovers against a MEAC team.
“It’s non-negotiable,” Young said. “[That thing] is too valuable in big games.”
Virginia Tech returns to action on Wednesday night when they host USC Upstate. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game can be seen online on ACC Network Extra.