Cadarian Raines will be one of three players returning from an injury-riddled 2010-11 season with the hope that this year will be different.
The 6-foot, 9-inch forward was expected to add depth to the Virginia Tech frontcourt last season, but a serious foot injury kept him out of all but four games, where he played for a total of 21 minutes.
Without Raines, the Hokies frontcourt spent the entire season trying to compensate for a lack of size and struggled against teams with dominant big men. If healthy, Raines is one of the few big men the Hokies have and will be an important player if Tech wants to succeed.
It is also likely that Raines will move into the starting lineup now that JT Thompson is out for the season.
Showing flashes of brilliance early in his career, Raines had his best game as a freshman against an outmatched University of Maryland Baltimore County squad. Despite playing just 15 minutes in the game, he racked up 8 rebounds, 5 blocks, 4 points and a steal.
But talent has never been the concern for the Hokies. No, it’s Raines’ history of injuries while at Tech that is amongst Seth Greenberg’s biggest worries. At the root of his problems have been his feet, both of which were operated on during his freshman year. However, it seems Raines has finally put these injuries in the past, saying that he feels 100 percent and is confident he can stay healthy.
Although Raines said he had improved his offensive skills during the offseason, Greenberg will most likely use him for his defensive and rebounding abilities — something Raines has no problem with.
“I’m a defensive player first and I take pride in that,” he said. “[I want to be] someone the team can count on.”
Raines will be faced with the challenge of defending the ACC’s most talented big men and you can count on him to log minutes when North Carolina comes to town with its duo of Tyler Zeller and John Henson.
In addition to his performance on the court, Raines must become a leader for a team that is now significantly younger than it was a year ago. The team will rely on many freshmen and sophomores to be successful, so guys like Raines will need to step up in critical moments.