Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Comings and Goings: Virginia Tech 2016-17

We continue to work our way through the state with a look at Virginia Tech. Coming up next in the series: VCU

The series:

George Mason: Comings and Goings
William and Mary: Comings and Goings
Richmond: Comings and Goings
Virginia: Comings and Goings
James Madison: Comings and Goings
Liberty: Comings and Goings

Hannah Young: Started all 31 games; her 31 mpg was tops on the team; averaged 10.3 ppg and 4.5 rpg
Taijah Campbell: Started 24 games; averaged 4.8 ppg and 5.2 rpg;
Samantha Hill: Started all games and averaging 4.5 ppg, shooting 38 percent from  3
Alana Gilmer: transferred to Marist after scoring just 21 points all of last season
Khadedra Croker: no longer on the roster after two seasons as a Hokie; transferred to Norfolk State and will sit out the 2016-17 season
Kelly Koshuta: the sparingly-used forward has transferred to JMU; a five-star recruit from James Madison High who played in seven games
Tara Nahodil: scored just eight points last year and has graduated
Heidi Brown: the walk-on is no longer on the roster
Jaiden McCoy: Freshman from Knoxville, Tenn., was reportedly at school to start the fall semester and has left

Kenny Brooks: the architect of a dynasty at James Madison starts his first season as head coach at Virginia Tech, replacing Dennis Wolff
Jen Brown: Brooks' longtime assistant at JMU remains by his side
Shawn Popple: an assistant to Brooks who comes to Tech from Furman
Dianda Darosa
Tim Clark: Another purple and gold alum followed Brooks to Blacksburg
Diandra Darosa, 5-7 junior guard: Coveted by Louisville and Syracuse, the point guard led ASA College to the national championship and averaged 14.1 ppg and 5.4 apg last season; played alongside Cheridene Green at ASA; Green has signed with Tennessee. Scored 22 with four assists and six steals in championship game loss to Hartford Community College
Kendyl Brooks, 5-8 freshman guard: Kenny's eldest; will redshirt the 2016-17 season; led Spotswood High to a state title her senior year
Kaela Kinder, 5-10 freshman guard; 3-star recruit from Christ the King High
Erin Garner 6-3 forward: Transfer from Georgia Tech is eligible for this season after attending Florida International; set record for blocks at Trenton Catholic High in Philadelphia
Genesis Parker, 5-9 Freshman guard; 4-star ESPN recruit ranked 62nd in her class; from Stonewall Jackson High
Michelle Berry, 6-2 sophomore forward: transfer from Cal Fullerton who will sit out 2016-17 season due to NCAA transfer rules

If you're in Blacksburg, it must feel like Christmas. What Brooks did 140 miles up I-81 is nothing shy of remarkable in his 14 years there. The Dukes earned 11 postseason berths and six NCAA bids under the JMU alum and boast two players in the WNBA in Tamera Young and Jazmon Gwathmey. But his greatest asset is developing talent. Consistently, players entered JMU's program -- Kirby Burkholder and Nikki Newman, for example -- with modest expectations and graduated as star performers for an NCAA tournament team. Year after year we saw Brooks transform recruits many schools shied away from into top-notch talent, including Gwathmey, who ended her season a starter for the WNBA's San Antonio Stars.

Can you tell we're excited to see what he'll do in the ACC?

We're not expecting earth-shattering changes just yet at Tech, but a core group returns that looks to build on last season's big wins against Tennessee and Virginia (twice). Hokie fans saw flashes of brilliance from players including Vanessa Panousis (21 points on 5-of-8 3-point shooting in Knoxville),  Sidney Cook (23 points, 14 rebounds at Virginia) and Rachel Camp (29 points against Elon in the WNIT). Finding consistency will be the challenge this season for those players learning under a new coach. Brooks will also look to create more long ball looks for Panousis to create the kind of sizzling numbers she put up against the Lady Vols.

Darosa is a likely contributor, and though she's walking in a boot now due to a stress fracture in her shin, Brooks is hopeful she will mend quickly.

Brooks see scrappiness and experience but notes Tech lacks depth in the post, though Berry will be able to provide a body in practice while she awaits eligibility.

Expect redshirt sophomore Regan Megarity to see good minutes after an injury-plagued career thus far.

"She'll be a focal point of what we'll do. We'll utilize her size and quickness," Brooks said.

Tech's X factor? Brooks singles out point guard Chanette Hicks, who started 27 games last year as a freshman and averaged 4.1 assists with a single-season school-record 91 steals. (She also set a rookie single-season school record for assists with 134.)

"She looks like a young Muff Mickens," Brooks said, high praise indeed. JMU's Angela "Muff" Mickens finished her career in Harrisonburg last season ranking second all-time in assists with 669.

Season opener: Nov. 11 vs. UNC Asheville

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