Virginia Tech Women’s Basketball Prepared To Compete For ACC Title

Kenny Brooks and Virginia Tech are poised for a great season in 2022. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

In year seven under head coach Kenny Brooks, Virginia Tech has the pieces. Now it just has to assemble the puzzle.

The Hokies have gradually improved since Brooks took over in March 2016, summarized in their third-place finish in the ACC in 2021-22. They finished 23-10 overall and a program-best 13-5 in the league, defeating five ranked teams along the way.

It’s scary, then, to wrap your head around this: Virginia Tech should be even better this season and challenge for the ACC crown. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the program oozes talent.

“When I first got in the league and we were the number one conference in the country, we weren’t ready to be one of those teams [that competed for the ACC title],” Brooks said at the ACC Tipoff in Charlotte on Tuesday. “I think now we are. When you see Virginia Tech, you’re going to have to come out and play because we’re very, very talented.”

To give you a sense of how much experience the Hokies have, let’s do a quick exercise. This roster has:

  • 723 combined collegiate appearances
  • 466 starts
  • 17,477 minutes
  • 6,936 points
  • 2,901 rebounds
  • 1,553 assists
Elizabeth Kitley is back at Virginia Tech for her fourth year. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Tech also has two AP All-Americans in Elizabeth Kitley — she’s also the reigning ACC Player of the Year — and Maryland transfer Ashley Owusu. But of those six statistical categories, Kitley and Owusu only lead one each (rebounding and assists, respectively). The other four are headlined by two graduate students: Kayana Traylor (games played, minutes) and Taylor Soule (starts, points).

That’s without mentioning Georgia Amoore and Cayla King, two staples of this program under Brooks. But it encapsulates the firepower Virginia Tech is playing with in 2022-23.

“It took me a couple years to figure out what we wanted to do,” Brooks said. “That was to bring in players like Elizabeth Kitley, Georgia Amoore and Cayla King, and then all of a sudden the transfer portal becomes something that it wasn’t and you had to evolve to that. … But you also had to stay true to your program and the culture that you wanted to institute.

“Now we’re able to reap the benefits of that. And I’m excited about this group. I think they have a tremendous opportunity to grow and get better and be one of the better teams ever in Virginia Tech history.”

The Hokies score the ball at a high clip, push the tempo and shoot a ton of 3-pointers. King and Amoore made 40% of their attempts from deep last season. Traylor’s quick down the floor, too, and averaged 10.4 points last season.

Meanwhile, Kitley’s a load to handle in the paint — she averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds a year ago.

The new additions of Soule and Owusu are only going to make Tech more dangerous on the court. Amoore said Soule is “absolutely relentless” on the floor, while Brooks said just about every player on the team — which features multiple solid on-ball defenders —has struggled to guard Owusu in practice.

Ashley Owusu transferred from Maryland in the offseason. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

“Ashley had a day where they were coming to me and saying, ‘Well, how do I guard her when she does that?’” Brooks said. “She’s going to be a tremendous addition to our program not only because she’s so talented, but she just wants to fit in. … She came here to play with these young ladies. She knew how good they were and what she could add to our program to take us to another level.”

But Clara Ford’s decision to join the program from Boston College, like Soule, might be the most overlooked. While she’s only averaged 7.8 minutes throughout her career, she’s a culture fit, which is where Tech’s grown the most.

“You bring in Taylor Soule and Clara Ford, both incredible leaders but someone you can go to the off the court, and they get it,” Amoore said on Tuesday. “Liz has grown up, she’s developed. I feel like I’ve stepped into a leadership role. And Kayana Traylor, … she’ll look at me in practice and she’ll demand things of me.

“Everyone’s just holding people accountable. … Our chemistry is really good.”

The depth is also there. Over the past few years, that aspect hasn’t always lived up to the hype for various reasons. For example, the Hokies expected to have a rotation close to nine or ten players last season. After everything settled down, it turned out to be just eight, and it was crushing late in the season when Kitley and King couldn’t play due to injuries.

That’s expected to be different this season across the board.

“I feel like a lot of times you can say depth [is the biggest asset],” Kitley said. “But I feel like every single player brings something special and different to the table and they’re all really good.”

Since Brooks took over back in 2016, Virginia Tech has lost seven consecutive games to Louisville and 10 of the last 11 to NC State. Notre Dame’s claimed six of the last seven in that series. But the Hokies are ready to compete in that upper echelon of the best conference in the country this year.

“We have the experience, we have the depth, we have the talent,” Brooks said. “But more so we have the chemistry. We brought in some amazing players with these young ladies, and all they want to do is blend in. No one’s trying to do something out of their character. They all just want to blend in because they’re all fighting for the same goal, and that’s to become ACC champions.”

12 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Sounds good! But also sounds like a team dominated by seniors and transfers. The article didn’t talk much about underclassmen, or who’s in the pipeline to replace players like Kitley when they graduate. So…does this mean we need to win the ACC this year before the “window” closes? I trust CKB to keep the momentum going; just looking for info.

  2. Brooks is an excellent coach and recruiter. I’m looking forward to this season!

    I made a recommendation last year to TSL and I will echo it here. When football season ends, take that schedule/scoreboard off the home page. Replace it with Women’s BB.

  3. How are the freshmen newcomers? Will they see the court? Have any of them impressed so far?

    1. Carleigh Wenzel & Charlisse Dunn. Yeah they’re good. Wenzel was a McD’s All-American & Dunn played U-19 for silver medalist bball World Cup Australia team & was top 10 international recruit

    1. Cant play better d against superior athletes. We have a few now that will be able to slow down the teams that own us.

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