In case you missed it, here is the college notebook I had in today’s paper, with the lead being about Va. Tech and ACC hoops:
Dan Bonner sees depth problems ahead for the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team, but fellow TV analyst Cory Alexander is more optimistic.
Rookie coach James Johnson’s Hokies, who open the season Nov. 10, have only eight scholarship players.
“I just don’t see them having the players,” said Bonner, a color commentator on ACC games for the regional cable package that includes CSN and for the syndicated ACC Network. “Erick Green is as good as there is in the conference, but in terms of depth, … they just don’t have enough guys. There could be John Wooden there [as coach], I just don’t think they have enough guys to compete.”
But Alexander, a former Virginia and NBA point guard, said the Hokies could have a winning season. He expects Green to have a “huge year” and considers Cadarian Raines to be one of the ACC’s best post players.
“The Hokies have too many veteran players that have played significant minutes. I don’t see this as a cellar-dweller year for Virginia Tech,” said Alexander, an analyst for ESPNU and the ACC Network. “They’ll be right there in the middle of the pack in the ACC.”
A winning season is also possible for the Cavaliers, said Alexander, but don’t look for them in the NCAA tournament.
“This year will be a rebuilding year,” Alexander said. “Their best years are after this one. The freshman class they have will be a good class; however, they will be freshmen. … This year they’re going to take some lumps.”
Bonner said UVa will “be better than people think.”
“They have a collection of players that I think fit what [coach] Tony Bennett is trying to do,” said Bonner, who also works for CBS. “They obviously won’t be as strong inside, so they’ll have to try to figure out ways to handle that.”
Both analysts pick North Carolina State to win the ACC title, although Bonner said there are four or five other teams that could also win the crown.
“They’ve got veteran guys, a highly touted recruiting class,” Bonner said of State. “The bad thing is, now you’ve got to blend all that together.”
Alexander is not high on Duke.
“I don’t think they have the superstars,” Alexander said. “Mason Plumlee’s good; I don’t think he’s a Christian Laettner type guy. … I’m not sure if Duke is as good as I think people are saying.”
Tech’s James Johnson is the 13th person who has taken over an ACC men’s basketball team without previous college head-coaching experience. He was previously an assistant to ex-coach Seth Greenberg.
UVa’s Tony Bennett was once a rookie head coach in a major conference himself, back when he was at Washington State in 2006-07.
“Having a good staff around you is so important, and I know James has that,” Bennett said. “Having familiarity with the program will help. It’s similar, because I was at Washington State [as an assistant] and then took over.”
Johnson will now be the one calling the shots during games.
“When you’re an assistant coach, you make a lot of suggestions,” Bennett said. “When you’re the head coach and you’ve got to make the final decision, that’s different. But that’s also enjoyable.”
Down to six
Big South commissioner Kyle Kallender said he does not expect to have a replacement on board next fall for departing member Stony Brook. That means the league will have just six football teams next year – the minimum number required for the Big South to keep its automatic NCAA playoff bid.
Football-only member Stony Brook, the league’s best team, announced in August that it will become a football-only member of the Colonial Athletic Association next season.
Kallender does hope to eventually replace Stony Brook.
“At this point it’s too late to add for next fall, but hopefully we will grow our football membership,” he said. “Our preference would be to add a full member that has football, that’s a current Division I institution. The next option would be to look at potential associate members in football.
“We’d prefer somebody who already has a [football] program, but we would certainly consider others” who want to add the sport.
Virginia Tech will host the ACC men’s and women’s cross country championships at 10 a.m. Saturday at Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg.
The Tech men are ranked 21st nationally, with Florida State No. 14 and Duke No. 18. UVa’s Mark Amirault and Tech’s Will Mulherin are among the contenders for the individual title.
–The ODAC championships will be held Saturday in Harrisonburg. Cave Spring graduate Tim Smith of Roanoke College is the defending men’s champ.
The NCAA has granted basketball player Allan Chaney, who transferred from Virginia Tech to Big South member High Point a few months ago, a sixth season of eligibility. He was already set to play for High Point this season as a graduate student, but now he can play in 2013-14 too. Chaney never played for Tech because of a heart ailment.
–Patrick Henry graduate Jenny Young has broken the Catawba volleyball record for career digs. She has more than 2,000.
–Ex-Hokie Ben Rowen of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans was named the reliever on the Carolina League’s postseason all-star team, while ex-Hokie Ronnie Shaban of Johnson City was named the reliever on the Appalachian League’s postseason all-star team.