Hokies open season with win over Maine
Zach LeDay's 20 points paced four players in double figures in an 80-67 victory
November 12, 2016
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BLACKSBURG – Zach LeDay scored 20 points off the bench to lead Virginia Tech to an 80-67 non-conference win over Maine on Friday at Virginia Tech Carilion Court in the season opener for both squads.
LeDay led a balanced attack for the Hokies, who had four players in double figures. He hit 8 of 13 from the floor and grabbed 12 rebounds for his 13th career double-double.
“I thought that was better,” Tech coach Buzz Williams said of his team’s mentality as opposed to last season when the Hokies lost their season opener. “I think, like any other coach would say after game 1, we did good things, and I think there are distinct ways we can improve. The things that we’ve been practicing came to life, more so than at any other time, whether that be a scrimmage or consecutive days of practice, but obviously, there’s a lot of room for growth, for sure.”
Despite size and experience advantages, Tech didn’t put away the Black Bears until midway through the second half. The Hokies led by eight with around 17 minutes remaining before going on a 15-2 run that was powered by LeDay’s six points.
Seth Allen’s layup with 12:55 left pushed the lead to 59-38. Maine got no closer than the final margin.
Wes Myers led Maine with 18 points.
The Hokies, taller and stronger at virtually every position, finished with a 44-36 rebounding advantage.
RETURN TO ACTION
The opener marked the return to the court for Hill and Ty Outlaw, who both missed last season. Hill missed the year with a knee injury, while Outlaw sat out with hypertensive cardiomyopathy, or a thickening of the heart muscle that makes it harder to pump blood.
Hill hit 5 of 11 from the floor, including a team-best three 3-pointers in 30 minutes. Cleared in mid-June, Outlaw, a junior-college transfer, saw his first action as a Tech player and scored one point in 15 minutes.
“Very thankful,” Williams said of getting the two back on the court. “Not only thankful to have them on our team, but thankful for all that both of them have endured and their maturity to get back to this point. I think it’s a good problem.
“What we’ve got to do is figure out the best ways to utilize those guys to their strengths. Not just Med and Ty, but all of the different combinations that we can play. I think that we have switchable guys on both ends of the floor, but I think we need more game reps to figure out how to play to their strengths the best.
“We need to hurry up and figure that out – not that I thought we’d have it figured out today. But we need to head in that direction at a quicker pace over the next week, for sure.”
DEPTH A STRENGTH
The Hokies expect to be a deeper team with 85 percent of their scoring and rebounding returning. Their depth showed, as Williams played 10 players – and eight of them scored.
WILLIAMS THANKFUL FOLLOWING GAME
Virginia Tech officials announced the game as a sellout, and most fans would agree that the school’s pregame ceremony to honor veterans on Veterans Day was touching. A group of veterans unfurled a 30 foot by 60 foot flag, and players and coaches from both teams helped.
Following the game, Williams made it a point to single out both Tech’s fans and Maine’s program.
“On our path to getting better, I think it’s important that you have enough wisdom to say ‘thank you,’” Williams said. “For Desiree [Reed-Francois, Tech’s deputy AD] and our [external] staff to have done all the work to make sure that it was a legitimate sellout crowd, thank you to them in a genuine way, but also thank you to all the people that came.
“Our guys can’t articulate it, but they don’t have to. But it means a lot to them, and it says a lot about the groundswell of our program and the direction we’re trying to go in. The last thing that I told them was thank you to Mr. [Tom] Gabbard [senior associate AD for facilities and operations who is a Vietnam veteran] and all of our veterans and thank you to Coach [Bob] Walsh [Maine’s coach] for allowing, in an efficient way, for us to honor the veterans in the way that we did. I thought that was incredibly powerful.”
The Hokies play the second of three straight home games to open the season next Tuesday when they take on High Point. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
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