The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team opened its season with an 80-62 victory over East Tennessee State in Cassell Coliseum Saturday afternoon.
It was the first career victory for head coach James Johnson, who took over on May 1 after the termination of Seth Greenberg.
“It means a lot to me to get the win, but it means more to me for the team to come out and play and execute and do the things that we’ve been working on since July 6,” Johnson said. “I like what I saw out there from the team. There’s things that we’ve got to work on, but I meant a lot to me that those guys came out and worked hard.”
After vocalizing the desire to run a more up-tempo offense this past offseason, the Hokies had some success running the floor, but were slowed somewhat by ETSU’s 2-3 zone.
“I didn’t think we played as fast as we should’ve,” said senior point guard Erick Green. “But I thought for a first game, people having butterflies and things like that, I thought we played pretty well.”
Green — who finished with 21 points and six assists — led the way for the Hokies, who beat the Buccaneers to open the season for the second consecutive year.
The Hokies shot 46.6 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from three-point range and forced 12 turnovers.
“(Outside shooting) is critical to the way we want to play,” Johnson said. “We’re playing to our strengths. We’ve got Erick Green and Robert Brown and Jarrell Eddie, all guys that can put the basketball in the hole. And once they get going, that’ll open it up for our big guys down low.”
Eddie finished with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and 10 rebounds for his second career double-double. He also looked much more comfortable shooting off the dribble, something he worked on in the offseason.
“When you see what you work on happen in the game for you, it’s very encouraging,” he said.
Brown also had a big day for the Hokies, scoring 16 points and dishing out five assists. Brown shot 6-of-12 from the field and also drilled a career-high four three-pointers.
True freshman Marshall Wood saw significant action off the bench and looked comfortable in his first collegiate game, finishing with five points and six rebounds.
“I felt pretty good,” Wood said. “At the beginning, I kind of was nervous and stuff like that, but once the game started going, we were playing basketball and it wore off. I feel pretty good.”
The Hokies retake the floor in Cassell Monday night against Rhode Island. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.