NCAA appearance and 22 victories tell only part of the story
In the upward trajectory of the Virginia Tech men’s basketball program, the 2016-17 season will stand as a benchmark against all other seasons. Despite fighting injury issues, this year’s team continued to grow and learn, both on and off the court.
Team is as much a concept as a unit, and the Hokies displayed the former in a unique and glorious form. The season was never about an individual. The Hokies played for one another and made their university and fan community proud from the first day of practice until well past the final horn.
This team began the season without guard Devin Wilson, who had joined the football team and eventually took a redshirt year for basketball. Also, promising post player Kerry Blackshear Jr. missed the season because of a leg injury, and freshman Tyrie Jackson took a redshirt season as well. Senior post player Johnny Hamilton suffered a hand injury before the New Year and missed the remainder of the season.
Perhaps the greatest loss, though, came in mid-February when Chris Clarke tore his ACL. All the injuries served to make what the Hokies accomplished this season that much more significant. A lot of teams, already on a short rotation of available players, tend to lack focus and struggle as a result. Not this group. The phrase “Next Man Up” was taken to heart, and the team thrived at the end of the season.
Tech accomplished many things this season. The Hokies made their first NCAA appearance under head coach Buzz Williams – hopefully the first of many. A terrific 11-1 non-conference record led the Hokies right into the conference slate.
A second consecutive 10-win mark in the ACC represented one of the more outstanding achievements. The ACC is arguably the best conference in college basketball each year, and for sure, this season. Nine teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament, led by eventual national champion North Carolina. The league provided tough competition every single game. For the Hokies to win 10 games in the conference was perhaps the biggest testament to their strength.
Senior leadership is always evident on good teams, and four Hokies blessed the team with great leadership. Seniors Zach LeDay and Seth Allen led the team in scoring and in most statistics. Putting the team first, the duo made their mark unselfishly by coming off the bench. They also shared honorable mention All-ACC acclaim and even shared the league’s Sixth Man Award between a voting of both the coaches (LeDay) and the media (Allen). Matt Galloway and Greg Donlon, former walk-ons who epitomized the team first mantra, joined this duo as seniors. All four will be missed.
Key team points from the 2016-17 season:
• Tech was 22-11 overall and 10-8 in ACC play.
• This season marked the second consecutive one in which the team reached 20 wins and double figures in ACC wins.
• The 10 ACC wins tied the school record for most ACC victories.
• The 22 wins were the most by Tech since the 2010-11 season.
• The Hokies advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.
• The Hokies made the postseason in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.
• The Hokies finished 10th nationally in 3-point field-goal percentage, 11th in field-goal percentage and led the ACC in both categories.
• The Hokies defeated three nationally ranked teams for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
• The Hokies defeated a top-five team for the second consecutive season. This is the first time that has happened in school history.
• The Hokies had five sellouts this season and averaged 7,476 in attendance – up more that 750 people per game.
• The Hokies were 15-2 at Cassell Coliseum, 7-2 in ACC home games.
Key individual points from the 2016-17 season
• Zach LeDay was named ACC Sixth Man of the Year by the media.
• LeDay was named second-team All-ACC Tournament – the only player not to reach the semifinals on that list.
• LeDay was named All-Tournament at the Wooden Legacy.
• LeDay scored his 1,000th career point at Virginia Tech in the loss to Wake Forest.
• LeDay finished his career 38th in career scoring at Virginia Tech.
• Seth Allen was named ACC Sixth Man of the Year by the blue ribbon panel.
• Allen and LeDay each earned honorable mention All-ACC.
• Allen scored his 900th career point at Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament win over Wake Forest.
• Justin Bibbs scored his 1,000th career point in the win at Boston College.
• Bibbs moved into first place in career 3-point field goal percentage at Virginia Tech. He is fifth all-time in ACC history.
• Bibbs is 43rd in career scoring at Virginia Tech.
• Justin Robinson was named to the All-ACC Academic Team.
• Robinson dished out his 200th career assist at Pitt.
• Ty Outlaw set a new school record with eight made 3-pointers in the win over Miami.
• Chris Clarke recorded Virginia Tech’s first ever triple double in the win over The Citadel.
• Buzz Williams earned his 200th career coaching victory in the home win over Boston College.
— Courtesy of VT Athletics