Last season didn’t end as the Virginia Tech Hokies had hoped. It ended without warning for Maine.
Virginia Tech hosts the Maine Black Bears Tuesday to open the 2020-21 campaign under coach Mike Young.
The Hokies return three of five starters from last year’s team that finished 15-7 overall and 9-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
One of seven ACC schools to make the NCAA Tournament last season, Virginia Tech lost to Florida 75-70 in overtime in a quarterfinal matchup.
Young claimed ACC Coach of the Year honors and forward Keve Aluma make second-team All-ACC, but the club hopes to climb higher in 2021-22.
Aluma will be joined in the lineup by returners Justyn Mutts and Nahiem Alleyne. Wofford transfer Storm Murphy and guard Hunter Cattoor are expected to round out Young’s starting group.
Experience will be a key for the Hokies.
Aluma received the second-most votes for Preseason ACC Player of the Year, while Alleyne was excellent on three-pointers last season, with a 40.8 shooting percentage.
While the talent on the court is a major plus, Mutts said team chemistry should be an equally important asset.
“We have great players and even better individuals,” said Mutts. “These guys are great at basketball, but they’re even better carrying themselves as people. All of that stuff goes into how you perform in the season, especially down the stretch.
“It’s all the small stuff that adds up that builds a great team.”
The Black Bears have never reached the NCAA Tournament, but coach Richard Barron said the evolving landscape of recruiting and shaping programs should help his team.
Stephane Ingo – a 6-foot-9 junior forward from Mississauga, Ontario – is expected to lead Maine and is an example of Barron going outside of regions to find players.
“We want to look for good players wherever we can find them. I don’t know that we’ll just look in the portal or be exclusively looking to recruit a region, but there definitely are going to be programs that will be changing their recruiting philosophies,” Barron said.
Last season, his team finished up with a 2-7 record after opting out of the remainder of the campaign in February following a pair of losses a month earlier to Vermont.
With ongoing COVID-19 concerns and the team not cleared to play, the program decided to shut down.
–Field Level Media