To say the Virginia Tech men’s basketball season started with a thud, would be an insult to thuds. The Hokies lost their season opener at home to Alabama State, a team that is considered the 281st ranked team, by one publication.
The remainder of the non-conference schedule only improved slightly, as the team lost four more games – three of which were at home – and did not defeat a team ranked inside of the top 100.
With an 8-5 record, it is safe to say the conclusion of 2015 was a disappointment for head coach Buzz Williams. And with ACC conference play beginning in January, the outlook for 2016 didn’t appear to be getting any brighter. The conference is considered one of the top 2-3 in the country and the Hokie’s first two games were against one good team in NC State and one great one in 4th ranked Virginia.
You would have been crazy to pick Virginia Tech to start 2-0 in conference action.
But that’s exactly what they did. Buzz Williams and company knocked of NC State 73-68 in overtime and then upset rival Virginia 70-68.
They are now sitting atop the ACC and their season has gone from a bomb to the bomb (how the kids are saying it these days).
What happened to cause this turnaround? Did they get a new player? No, LeBron James didn’t enroll for classes in Blacksburg. One might argue that they only won the conference games because they were played at home, but let’s keep in mind that they had already lost 4 games at home, including that defeat to bottom dweller Alabama St.
So, what changed. Let’s ask star guard Seth Allen.
“We’re 0-0. It’s a new season,” Allen said when asked if he was excited for the start of conference action.
On Tuesday, I wrote about the fresh-start effect and how a clean slate can do wonders for our motivation. Virginia Tech was given a clean slate when they entered conference play. They may have had a poor non-conference record, but as Allen pointed out, they were 0-0 within the ACC.
This had to make them feel that anything was possible. And now they are playing like it as they have begun 2-0 in ACC league play for just the second time ever.
That is what a fresh-start can do.