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Recapping '05 and Lookin' Ahead -- Virginia Tech

I really thought the Hokies were in for a cold reception to the ACC this season. And when they looked terrible getting blown out by North Carolina in their first conference game, I thought, "wow, these guys are horrible."

Were they bad? Yeah. But they were also lucky.

They finished the year 16-14 (8-8), falling in the NIT to Memphis. Despite being outscored 1168-1075 in conference play, VPI managed a .500 record, and they had members of the media talking NCAA at-large berth. The Hokies were a losing team in disguise. An eighth-place also-ran masquerading as a fourth-place conference-contender.

Conference ranks in the Four Factors:

AdjFG%: 11th
TO Rate: 3rd
O-Reb Rate: 8th
FTA/FGA: 10th

Hokies 2004-2005PlayerO Rtg% PossMin/GPPGFG%3FG%Floor %Pts Prod/GPPFGAZabian Dowdell11021.9%32.614.444.942.30.4713.31.14Carlos Dixon10821.9%31.313.844.641.20.4712.51.12Coleman Collins11020.5%29.811.445.233.30.5511.41.02Jamon Gordon9621.6%33.910.941.626.40.4611.90.94Deron Washington10119.3%24.17.947.6600.507.91.04Marquie Cooke7918.2%16.73.631.319.10.374.00.76Shawn Harris10919.4%7.42.95038.50.512.61.21Wynton Witherspoon8616.4%10.12.432.725.80.392.40.84Chris Tucker10712%7.41.545.814.30.531.61.05Allen Calloway9012.8%9.31.436.100.451.80.80

There is cause for some optimism, as only Carlos Dixon and Marquie Cooke are gone. The team's core--Dowdell, Collins, Gordon--was made up entirely of sophomores in 2004-2005. If those guys get better next season, the Hokies should have a more efficient offense.

Losing Carlos Dixon is tough, but the team shouldn't miss Marquie Cooke at all. Cooke, who was dismissed from the team for an unspecified reason, had a difficult go of it as a freshman. He was simply awful from three-point range (9-47) and not much better from inside the arc; his numbers reflect that.

I like the balance displayed by the Hokies last season, but they didn't have much depth to speak of (Marquie Cooke was the freakin' sixth man). Without question, their biggest task is to find a player on the roster who can serviceably replace Dixon's production in the starting lineup...they also need some quality depth.

It'll be interesting to see where the "experts" pick the Hokies to finish in the ACC next season. I'm thinking Virginia Tech will find its conference slate a lot less forgiving in '06.