Friday, November 13, 2009

Freshman Class Brings Talent, Size to Replace Seniors

The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team will rely on significant contributions from a new crop of talented freshmen this season.

Tech has four true freshmen in Manny Atkins, Ben Boggs, Erick Green and Cadarian Raines, who are looking to make an impact on the team coming off the bench.

Head coach Seth Greenberg believes several of the freshmen will receive playing time early and often this season.

“I think the biggest challenge for freshmen is to play at the pace you need to play at to be successful at this level,” Greenberg said.

Atkins, who will split time at guard and forward, hails from Stone Mountain, Ga. Like many freshman players, he’s having a difficult time making the transition to college ball in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Right now, Manny is competing for playing time, but he’s got a great work ethic and great attitude and does have the ability to take shots,” Greenberg said.

Boggs, a 6-foot-4-inch graduate of Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke will receive significant playing time. After missing the majority of his senior year with a broken leg, Boggs has impressed Greenberg and his teammates in practices.

“He’s a really smart basketball player that understands the game,” Greenberg said. “He’s got toughness about him. He’s got a great work ethic, and he’s actually a solid defender.

“He’s definitely hitting shots, he’s tough on defense, he’s going to help us out a lot,” said junior guard Malcolm Delaney.

Green, a 6-foot-4-inch guard from Winchester, may receive the most playing time out of the entire freshman class. Green will be a key player both on and off the floor for the team.
“Erick Green has the potential to be a great leader,” said junior forward Terrell Bell.

“He’s very unselfish, and he looks for other players,” said Tech small forward J.T. Thompson.

Green’s primary role will be as a backup at point guard.

“He’s got a really good feel for the game,” Greenberg said. “He sees the game and the floor really well. He should be an outstanding defender.”

Raines, a forward from Petersburg, will look to help the team out only after he gets healthy. He broke his fifth metatarsal in his left foot, more commonly known as a Jones fracture, early in preseason practice.

“Hopefully when he gets healthy he can come back and get up to speed,” Greenberg said. “He’s missed four weeks now and will miss at least an additional four weeks or more.”

Raines is still in the process of rehabilitating his foot, but upon his return, he will be a tremendous force for the Hokies lineup at 6 feet, 9 inches.

“He’s a big physical guy that can block shots and rebound the ball,” Greenberg said.

“Cadarian, right now you know he had the foot surgery, but he’s a big body in the post, physical under the basket,” Bell said.

For now, Atkins, Boggs, Green and Raines are still making the adjustments necessary to be successful in the ACC.

“They’re talented, but they still don’t know what’s going on sometimes,” Thompson said. “Like, defensive mess-ups — like we switch all the time and they don’t know when to switch, when not to.

“So, just being at practice and letting them know when’s a good time to do it, when’s a good time to go to trap. ... You’ve got to be here to see that and see what’s going on, so just little stuff like that.”
Although the freshmen will experience growing pains, the team hopes the incoming freshmen will pay off with a bright future.

- from my article published to day in The Collegiate Times ( )

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