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Growing into role, Green has stepped up

Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney is quiet and humble off the court. But with the ball in his hand, he is not afraid to take command of the team.

Playing in Delaney’s shadow, freshman Erick Green initially lacked the swagger that distinguishes many point guards, and his coaches and teammates challenged him to take control. But two months into his college career, Green has started to develop a court presence.

“He’s come along a lot,” Delaney said of Green. “When he first got here, he didn’t talk at all on the court. He kind of let people push him around a little more.”

In the past four games, Green has played more minutes and has started to become more productive. While Green has improved as a scorer, Coach Seth Greenberg said Green still needs to do a better job fighting off screens and continue to show aggressiveness.

“He’s getting better,” Greenberg said. “I want him to be more verbal even when he’s in with Malcolm.”

In a win at Penn State on Dec. 12, Green was charged with guarding the Nittany Lions’ star, Talor Battle, who had 32 points. Although Battle put up big numbers, Green used his length defensively and played well keeping up with the speedy, hard-to-cover scorer.

Green played perhaps his best game at Virginia Tech in its 71-34 win over Maryland-Baltimore County on Tuesday.

Green had 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting and added three assists and one steal in 20 minutes against the Retrievers. And in the second half, the coaches tested him to see if he would take the reins of the team by putting him on the floor with his three fellow freshmen.

“He’s starting to get tougher now,” Delaney said, “and he’s starting to realize his potential.”

Greenberg credited Delaney for playing an important role in Green’s development. Green has to guard Delaney every day.

Since Green arrival in Blacksburg, Delaney has challenged him. Delaney said he has pushed him around in practice and has purposely fouled him. He has asked Green: “Are you going to be a good guard?”

Green has started to respond to Delaney’s challenge. But Green still has room to grow into his role with the Hokies.

“Malcolm tortures him, which is good,” Greenberg said. “Malcolm does basically what I ask him to do. I’ll know Erick is clicked in the day he fights back; that’s when I know he’s completely grown up. We’ve played 11 games. We’ve got a long way to go.”

By Mark Viera  |  December 23, 2009; 1:30 PM ET
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