season ended the same as the last two, with a trip to the wrong side of the NCAA
bubble and a home loss in the NIT. But the similarities between the 2009-10
Hokies and previous editions end there. This year’s Hokies bought into Seth
Greenberg’s vision, accepted their roles, had better team chemistry, and, oh yes
… won a lot of games.
Last November, before Malcolm Delaney led the ACC in scoring, before Dorenzo
Hudson dropped 41 on Seton Hall, before Terrell Bell became a rebounding
machine, before the Hokies finished tied for third in the ACC, and before VT
tied a season record for wins, we were worried.
At the end of the 2008-09 season, the Hokies had faded down the stretch. They
won just three of their last eleven ACC games, plunging from a 4-1 league start
to a 7-9 finish, eighth in the conference. Tech fell hard off the bubble, then
lost a second-round NIT game to Baylor by 18 points. Once 14-5 (4-1 ACC), the
team limped to a 19-15 (7-9) final record.
Scoring leader A.D. Vassallo, he of the 1800+ career points, exited stage
left, one year after Deron Washington finished his career. The Hokies hadn’t
found suitable replacements for either one. Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen were
returning, but where was the production to replace Vassallo going to come from?
As good as Delaney and Allen were, and as good as sixth man J.T. Thompson
was, their fellow rising juniors were nearly invisible. Terrell Bell only
averaged 12.6 minutes per game, and highly-recruited Dorenzo Hudson shot a
horrid 36.4% from the field and averaged just 4.6 points per game.
As we have detailed before, the word we got last fall through sources is that
the 2009-10 Hokies had a long way to go to be a decent team. The juniors that
needed to step up, primarily Bell and Hudson, hadn’t improved a bit. This team
was going to struggle to score, and an NIT bid would be “Seth Greenberg’s
best coaching job ever.”
Early-season games did nothing to improve that outlook. The Hokies won four of
their first five games, but they looked bad doing it. Their one loss was a 61-50
setback to Temple in which the Hokies shot less than 30 percent from the field,
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