It’s been three whole decades since a Virginia Tech basketball team has started a season 7-0, but that’s exactly what new head coach James Johnson has spurred the Hokies to do this season.
With the unceremonious removal of former coach Seth Greenberg in the offseason, a little change in the program was inevitable. But no one was expecting that Johnson would be able to so radically alter the direction of the team so quickly.
The stylistic differences between the old Hokies and the new are readily apparent. Greenberg was a proponent of tough defense and a methodical half court offense, while Johnson has implemented a run and gun system, which is mainly predicated on the players having fun by shooting any time they please.
If Greenberg’s offenses had something of a speed limit, then Johnson’s is just one constant green light, as he’s encouraged players to shoot early and often.
No one has responded to this change more vigorously than Erick Green. Greenberg often tried to employ Green as more of a traditional point guard that facilitates the rest of the offense, but Johnson has given Green free reign to pull the trigger whenever he sees fit.
While this approach might not work for some players, the senior has exploded, averaging 24.9 points per game for the season off of 95 field goal attempts this season — nearly 20 more than the next closest player.
Green’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by the rest of the country either. He’s earned ACC co-player of the week honors two weeks in a row and is getting early All-America buzz for his stellar early performance.
But Green isn’t the only player thriving in the new offense. Last season, Jarell Eddie’s role on offense could be generously described as standing around and waiting to shoot.
This year, Eddie’s been encouraged to play considerably more aggressively, as he’s frequently made big plays by taking the ball to the basket.
He’s also been tasked with bringing the ball up the court frequently, even when Green is on the floor, allowing him to blossom offensively. He’s attempted 77 shots on the year, with 36 coming from behind the arc, and his 50.6 percent shooting percentage seems to show that this new system is ideally suited for him.