Coming into the 2023-24 season, Virginia Tech men’s basketball coach Mike Young wanted his team’s defense to improve after a disappointing 2022-23 season. It’s only one game, but the veteran coach has to be happy with his team’s effort in their season opener Monday night.
The Hokies used a suffocating first-half defense to hold Coppin State to 14 points through the first 15 minutes, 19 for the half, and it set the tone in a 100-55 victory at Cassel Coliseum.
Virginia Tech set the tone on the defensive end
Right from the beginning, the Hokies were all engaged on the defensive end. They were getting their hands in the passing lanes, holding the Eagles to one shot and what was even more impressive and a thing they need to do this season was their defense led to offense when they pushed the ball. Coppin State finished with seven field goals in the opening 20 minutes.
It’s amazing how well defense can lead to offense in basketball. After a slow start offensively, Virginia Tech used their defense to get out in transition and get some easy baskets, which got the offense going and Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla started making shots along with Lynn Kidd. A 14-0 run midway through the half broke the game open.
In the second half, the Hokies offense was flowing both inside and outside. Pedulla did a nice job of getting into the paint and setting up teammates for easy baskets, while the outside shots again were falling for Young team.
Pedulla finished with a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists, Kidd also had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Cattoor had 13 and Brandon Rechsteiner and Tyler Nickel each had 12 points.
It’s going to have to be a nightly effort like the one against Coppin State on the defensive end that the Hokies are going to need every night this season. Last season, defense cost them some key games and when all was said and done, it cost them an NCAA Tournament bid and they had to settle for an NIT bid and a trip to Cincinnati.
Virginia Tech hits the road Friday night and will play South Carolina in a non-conference game at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte in what is going to be a big early-season test against an SEC team.