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Five observations from 'Late Night with the Hokies'

The college basketball season officially got kick started Friday night as the Virginia Tech men's and women's basketball teams held "Late Night with the Hokies," a Midnight Madness-style event at Cassell Coliseum that featured player introductions, skits, tons of free t-shirts and even a little basketball at the end.

However, to call the men's team scrimmage to close the festivities basketball is a bit generous considering nobody played any defense. Even Coach Seth Greenberg was teasing the players about their lack of effort on that end of the floor. Regardless, here are five observations for the coming season based on what we saw Friday:

1) The most important images of the night involved the Hokies big men coming into this season. Senior forward J.T. Thompson was in a full knee brace after suffering a torn ACL while playing pick up earlier this fall. Sophomore Cadarian Raines was still wearing a boot on his left foot after offseason surgery. Greenberg said he won't be cleared to practice until November. And another sophomore, Florida transfer Allan Chaney, could not participate in the scrimmage because there is no timetable for when he'll receive medical clearance for a heart condition he was diagnosed with back in August.

That leaves Virginia Tech with a real shortage in quality interior players. Greenberg has indicated he's planning to play the entire year without Chaney, and there's no chance Thompson returns at any point this season. Raines, meanwhile, has now had two surgeries on his left foot in less than two years in Blacksburg.

The Hokies currently have one player taller than 6-foot-7 -- junior forward Victor Davila -- as they begin preseason practices. This could be the one development that derails what looks on paper to be an NCAA Tournament or bust season.

2) Also in attendance Friday night were three members of Virginia Tech basketball's 2011 recruiting class. Point guard Marcus Rankin, shooting guard Robert Brown and power forward C.J. Barksdale all play at nearby Hargrave Military Academy and have orally committed to the Hokies.

They were joined by four star center Adjehi Baru from Richmond, who was on his official visit to Blacksburg this past weekend. Baru is considered one of the top five center prospects in the country this year and is reportedly deciding between Virginia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina and College of Charleston.

With the signing of Dorian Finney-Smith a few weeks ago, Virginia Tech already has the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation according to ESPN, and grabbing a commitment from Baru would likely launch the Hokies into the top 10. I will say this, though. Baru looked pretty bored Friday night except for when Greenberg was cracking jokes during one portion of the program. Hopefully for Virginia Tech, the visit went well otherwise.

3) Coach Seth Greenberg made a reference to his schedule during his introductory remarks, saying critics had complained the Hokies don't play enough state schools. He then listed off all the state schools Virginia Tech will play as part of its non conference slate -- Kansas State, Oklahoma State in the 76 Classic, Penn State, Mississippi and UNC Greensboro. Of course, the critics were actually referencing schools like Old Dominion, James Madison, and George Mason.

But Greenberg's joke highlighted just how loaded the Hokies non-conference schedule is this season. After missing the tournament largely because it didn't play anybody before ACC season, Virginia Tech looks to have made a conscious effort to ensure the selection committee can't use that as a reason for excluding the Hokies again. The question remains, though, will the plan backfire with so many early season injuries to the frontcourt?

4) Virginia Tech really needs to spice up this 'Late Night with the Hokies" gimmick. I know it only started a few years ago, but aside from a few funny moments, watching basketball players rap and perform skits isn't all that entertaining. What about a 3-point contest between a couple members of the men's and women's team? Or a dunk contest? Or maybe even a two-on-two competition featuring a men's player and a women's player on each team? Whatever it may be, there needs to be some ideas thrown around for next year's event.

5) That said, I still can't get over sophomore Abby Redick -- J.J.'s little sister. She performed a rap, did the worm during a 'You Got Served' style dance off, and in general showed that igniting a college crowd runs in the family. At this point I have no idea what type of basketball player she is, but Redick was definitely the highlight of Friday night.

Virginia Tech's first game of the year against Campbell isn't until Nov. 12, but I'll be down in Charlotte on Wednesday for ACC basketball media day. I'm sure I'll have some interesting stuff from that, and not just Hokies related. Until then, we'll go back to our regularly scheduled program -- the football team.

By Mark Giannotto  | October 18, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
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Next: Frank Beamer on injured RB Ryan Williams, and a banged up Tyrod Taylor


Wow, no comments? Oh, that's right, nobody cares about VT Basketball. Here's to another 22-9 (8-8), first round ACC Tourney exit and Seth G crying to Dickie V about (once again) getting passed over for the tournament.

Posted by: anon7 | October 19, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

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