Did You Know?
Raise your hand if you have ever heard the phrase "stats do not tell the whole story." Yes, this old bromide may be true at times, but there is also significant importance in understanding and adapting to statistical information.
The 2011 film Moneyball brought the integration of numbers and professional sports to the big screen, and tells the story of Oakland Athletics' manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) employing a Harvard economist to calculate what players would provide the biggest boost to his club, despite their limited budget.
The wave of analytic-based decision making has exploded over the past decade, particularly in the world of basketball: the Houston Rockets are the greatest example of this, after they traded away their 6'10 starting center, Clint Capela, and left 6'5 PJ Tucker in charge of protecting the rim. Their reasoning was that Capela clogged space inside, and since three-point shots are more valuable than twos, all five players on the roster should aim to shoot more threes than twos.
This approach did not totally work out for the Rockets, though they were able to reach game seven of the Western Conference Finals during their focus on a three-point barrage. They did spearhead the evolution of the league as a whole, however, as players must now be able to shoot at every position unless they are an undeniable force on the interior; even then, there are a limited number of exceptions to the rule.
In the following sections, one under-the-radar stat and a short description have been matched with every member of Virginia Tech's presumptive rotation for next season: this is subject to change with the uncertainty of Keve Aluma's professional future, Wabissa Bede's playing status and additional acquisitions in the transfer portal, but includes eight members most likely to grab some minutes next season.
Keve Aluma: Needs to Score
Aluma averaged 17 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 15 Hokie wins last season, compared to 11.2 points and 8.6 rebounds in seven losses. Clearly, the team goes as he goes, to an extent, with one obvious 30-point outlier loss to Pittsburgh.
What should make Mike Young smile is Aluma's effort on the boards in the team defeats, given his production on the glass actually increases when his scoring decreases. Aluma continuing to impact the game despite his offensive woes is exactly what coaches teach their players at a young age to strive for.
Now, there is likely to be less of a disparity between these two scoring averages after Storm Murphy's arrival in Blacksburg; a bonafide second scorer who is capable of leading the team on any given night will place less responsibility on Aluma's shoulders, making him less of a one-man show.
Tyrece Radford: Big-Time Player
Radford has a career line of 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game— yet he has averaged 13.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game against top-25 opposition, making him a player built for the spotlight.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native has an uncanny knack for finding his way to the basket at different angles, and despite not having the typical shoot-from-anywhere ability of a "clutch" player, he has often been the go-to man in the most dire moments; usually, he delivers.
A rising junior, Radford is often thought of as the identity of the team because of his toughness and winner's intangibles: with a retooled roster and another summer to grow as a player, he will have a chance to lead his team far into the postseason next spring.
Storm Murphy: The Space Creator
Putting Murphy's outrageous 46.7% three-point standard against Atlantic Coast Conference teams aside, the impending arrival from Wofford deposited 46% of his mid-range shots last season. This bested the Hokies' leading mark (amongst players with 10+ attempts) of 44% from Tyrece Radford and last year's point guard, Wabissa Bede's rate of 43.2%.
Murphy's ability to pull up in the middle of the lane will cause interior defenders to rise up and leave teammates open under the hoop for dump-offs, perimeter defenders to help off their man to close the lane and leave Hokie sharpshooters open from three, or just giver him easy looks at the hoop moving downhill.
Having a guard that can shoot and create his own shot is invaluable at the college level, and should pay dividends for VT next season.
Justyn Mutts: A Rhythm Shooter
Believe it or not, the Delaware transfer shot a phenomenal 42.9% from beyond the arc in games in which he attempted three or more triples, compared to only 25% in games with two or fewer attempts.
This is not designed to portray Mutts as a perimeter player that is best positioned 25 feet away from the hoop— it is an indication that he thrives off of momentum and could benefit from getting a few early, easy looks at the hoop to start off games and build his confidence.
Coming into the 2020-21 campaign, Mutts had been 17-63 (27%) from long-range territory in his career. Hard work and extra hours in the gym paid off once already, and could make all the difference the next go-around.
Nahiem Alleyne: Three-level Scorer?
Nahiem Alleyne improved upon his freshman average of 38.9% from three to 40.8% as a sophomore, including four in a 28-point outburst against Florida in the NCAA Tournament.
This is not the telling information, though: Alleyne finished second on the team in mid-range attempts with 75 (three short of Keve Aluma's 78) but only converted 33% of his attempts, leaving plenty of points on the table.
Alleyne possesses a wide array of moves off the dribble and can find himself with shot opportunities in the lane, though they are not always the best looks. Heading into next season, the team would benefit from the 6'4 guard figuring out how to slow the game down and demonstrate better shot selection inside the half-court; with continued maturity on the floor, Alleyne has a serious chance to be an all-conference performer as an upperclassman.
Hunter Cattoor: The X-Factor
The Hokies were 9-1 last season when Cattoor reached double-digit scoring, and only 6-6 when he did not: who would have thought?
Cattoor spent most of the season as a key figure off the bench and became the outright sixth man after Jalen Cone was sidelined by an injury, and ended up leading the ACC in three-point shooting percentage.
The rising junior can be scorching hot from downtown on his day and will be a major piece in next year's team: it is incumbent upon him to continue to grow his level of comfort in different areas of the court so that he can mix up his spots and keep defenses on their toes.
Michael Durr: Locking Down Rebounds
Last season, Michael Durr yielded an offensive rebounding percentage of 12 and a defensive rebounding percentage of 23.1; Virginia Tech's highest was 10.1 on offense and 21.3 on defense, both by Keve Aluma.
Rebounding percentage is calculated by dividing the total number of rebounds seized by the player by the total amount of rebounds available and multiplying by 100. The resultant figure indicates that Durr should become the most effective rebounder on the Hokies' roster, an area that Mike Young needed to improve to compete against larger conference foes.
It is assumed that Durr will slide into the starting lineup next season, and his size and physicality inside will greatly benefit the previously smaller Hokie roster.
David N'Guessan: Give Him Minutes
In games where N'Guessan played less than 10 minutes, he shot the ball at a terrible 25% on field goals— in games where he played at least 10 minutes, that figure was upped to a glorious 75%.
The 6'9 freshman came in as a very raw talent but showed improved instincts and understanding as the season progressed. N'Guessan has only scored double-digit points two times, but is capable of scoring the ball efficiently in spurts.
The arrival of Durr could limit playing time for "The Flying Dutchman" next season, though his growth as a player will be imperative in situational opportunities and the future in general.