Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics
Could Virginia Tech and head coach Mike Young have pictured a better start to the 2021-22 campaign?
The Hokies (2-0) have played nearly flawless basketball, flexing their muscles to just outside the AP top 25 with a 35-point victory over Maine to start the season, and a follow-up 20-win over Navy this past Friday.
The enthusiasm is through the roof currently in Blacksburg. The excitement level continues to build each and every minute that Virginia Tech takes the floor.
That’ll certainly reign true this evening, as nearby Radford makes the 15-mile trip to Cassell Coliseum for a New River Valley showdown.
Game Day Information
When: Monday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m. ET
Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, VA
TV: ACC Network Extra
PXP: Evan Hughes
Analyst: Mack McCarthy
Series History: Virginia Tech Leads Series 9-2
Last Meeting: Virginia Tech Won 77-62 on Nov. 25, 2020
Line: Virginia Tech -20
A Career Milestone
Monday evening will mark a major career milestone for Young in his coaching career. Tip-off will mark the former Wofford head whistle’s 600th career game as a head coach, and ironically, it couldn’t have come against a better opponent.
The third-year Hokie head coach grew up going to games inside Cassell Coliseum. But he resided across the river in Radford, and graduated from Radford High School after suiting up as a letterman for the Bobcats.
He even made a stop in his coaching career on the Highlanders’ bench, assisting Oliver Purnell for a single season before leaving for Wofford. Now, more than 30 years later, he’ll be coaching against a school he grew up minutes from, a school where his cousin, Robert Lineburg, currently serves as the athletic director, and a school whose head coach, Darris Nichols, coached under Young with the Terriers, and who also happens to be another Radford High School graduate.
For a 600th career game, it couldn’t have been scripted any better for Young.
Radford On the Rise
The Highlanders boast a solid program year in and year out. Out goes Mike Jones to UNC Greensboro. In comes Nichols, who comes to the 540 with a wealth of experience that includes coaching stops at West Virginia, Northern Kentucky, Wofford, Louisiana Tech, and Florida; he’ll look to take his hometown team to new heights after showing flashes the last couple of seasons.
Radford’s coming off a season in which it finished second in the Big South after being picked seventh in the league. The Highlanders will have to do that this year as well, as Nichols’ team was picked fourth out of six teams in the Big South’s newly-formed North division.
The Highlanders may have the pieces to do so. Radford returns four of last season’s starters after losing all five just a season ago, and has been carried by guards Bryan Hart and Camron McNeil so far during the 2021-22 campaign.
There’s not a lot of size on this team, however. Virginia Commonwealth transfer Lewis Djonkam stands the tallest at 6-foot-9, which could create some problems with guys like Keve Aluma, John Ojiako, and David N’Guessan manning the paint down low.
It’s hard to really get a temperature check on where Radford stands at this point in the season. Games against Division II Emory and Henry and then-No. 25 Virginia create quite the contrast in opponents. We’ll see if Monday evening in Blacksburg gives any answers to the trajectory of Nichols’ first season at the helm.
This should be another non-competitive tune-up for Virginia Tech.
Radford has some ability to spread the floor, but the size and athleticism of the Hokies will wear down the Highlanders in another dominant early-season victory.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 81, Radford 58