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March 19, 2013

Green's big season leads to accolades

By: Jimmy Robertson

The final week of the 2012-13 regular season wasn’t particularly kind to the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team. The Hokies suffered two road losses and ended up as the No. 12 seed in the ACC Tournament.

But for Erick Green, the end of the regular season saw the accolades start pouring in.

After leading the nation in scoring for much of the season, Green saw all his hard work and efforts on the court rewarded, as he was named the ACC Player of the Year, according to the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association, a group of media members who cover ACC schools.

Green, a senior from Winchester, Va., became the first Virginia Tech player to be named the league’s player of the year and the third to earn first-team All-ACC honors. Zabian Dowdell was a first-team selection following the 2006-07 season, while Malcolm Delaney earned first-team nods during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.

Green is just the third Tech men’s basketball player to win a conference player of the year honor, joining Dell Curry (1986) and Bimbo Coles (1988). Both won Metro Conference Player of the Year Awards.

I am extremely proud of Erick,” Tech coach James Johnson said. “This is an honor that is well deserved. This young man has put in numerous hours and has relentlessly worked on his game to put himself in this position. To have the respect of the media and for people to recognize what he has done for this team, in such a tough conference against very good players and very good coaches, says a lot about Erick as a player. Erick is a great kid on and off the floor, and the award couldn’t come to a better person.”

In addition, Green was named one of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award, which goes annually to the most outstanding player in college basketball.

Green averaged 25.4 points per game during the regular season. He shot 48.2 percent from the floor and 39.2 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. He also averaged 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.

Green’s final regular-season game for Tech resembled what he had done nearly all of the season. He tied a career high with 35 points in a 90-79 loss at Wake Forest. In that game, he hit 9 of 18 from the floor, including 3 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Green’s 35 points enabled him to break Coles’ single-season scoring record. Coles scored 785 points during the 1989-90 season, but Green’s 35 gave him 786 points for the regular season heading into the ACC Tournament.

“It hasn’t even set in yet,” Green said. “But it’s a great feeling to have. It just shows that the hard work has paid off. It’s dedication and hard work. Passing Bimbo, one of the greats, that’s something I’ll always remember. I’ll always take it to my heart.”

Green also moved into the top 10 in career scoring at Tech. He has scored more than 1,700 points.

In the Wake Forest game, Green hit 14 of 18 from the free-throw line. He finished the regular season connecting on 216 of his 256 free-throw attempts (81.5 percent). He led the nation both in free throws made and attempted.

Rankin sets career high against Wake

Tech backup guard Marquis Rankin went into the regular-season finale having scored in double figures in just one game all season. But the sophomore scored a career-high 15 points against the Demon Deacons.

Rankin hit 7 of 10 from the floor and 1 of 3 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed two rebounds and played a season-high 32 minutes.

“Coach is always telling me to play with confidence and be aggressive,” Rankin said. “So I just came out with a sense of urgency, and to be aggressive and to play with as much confidence as possible. I tried to make plays for my team.”

Wood with big game versus N.C. State

On Feb. 16, the Hokies gave ACC preseason favorite N.C. State a run before falling 90-86 in overtime down in Raleigh, N.C.

For sure, the loss couldn’t be pinned on freshman Marshall Wood, who enjoyed his best game of the season. The 6-foot-8 forward scored 14 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for the first double-double of his career. He connected on 5 of 10 from the floor and hit 4 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc. His points, rebounds and 3-pointers were all career highs.

Wood’s double-double marked the Hokies’ seventh of the season. Jarell Eddie and Cadarian Raines led the way with two double-doubles each, while Green, C.J. Barksdale and Wood accounted for the others.

Wood’s 16 rebounds were the most by an ACC freshman in a game this season, and his 14 points were more than he had scored in the seven previous games combined since returning after missing seven games with a broken foot.

Barksdale solid down the stretch

There was little positive that came out of the Hokies’ 88-56 loss to Duke at Cassell Coliseum on Feb. 21, but Barksdale’s play certainly deserved mentioning.

In fact, starting with that Duke game, Barksdale played very well down the stretch for Tech. He scored in double figures in four of the final six regular-season games. Going into that streak, Barksdale had scored in double figures in back-to-back games just once this season.

C.J. Barksdale played well the final six games of the regular
season, averaging more than 10 points and six rebounds per
game in that stretch.

Against Duke on Feb. 21, the 6-8 sophomore from Danville, Va., scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He hit all six of his shot attempts and both of his free-throw attempts in 21 minutes of action.

The performance marked his first double-figure performance since the Hokies’ overtime win at Georgia Tech on Jan. 12 – a span of nine games. In fact, in the six games leading up to the Duke game, Barksdale had scored a total of just 10 points and hit just 6 of 17 from the floor.

“I just played within the game,” Barksdale said after the game. “I let the game come to me. I tried not to force any shots, and when the opportunity came, I knocked the shots down.”

In the Hokies’ win over Florida State, he scored a career-high 17 points, hitting 4 of 6 from the floor and 9 of 11 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed nine rebounds. In the Hokies’ loss at Miami, Barksdale scored 12 points, hitting 6 of 9 from the floor, and he grabbed seven rebounds. In the Hokies’ victory over Clemson on senior night, he scored 14 points, hitting 4 of 7 from the floor, and he grabbed eight rebounds.

Barksdale averaged 10.8 points per game and shot 63.2 percent in that six-game span (24 of 38). He also shot 89.5 percent from the free-throw line (17 of 19) and averaged 6.2 rebounds per game.