Virginia Tech Women’s Basketball Season 2021-22 Preview


Virginia Tech’s women’s basketball has high expectations in 2021-2022. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Earlier this month, editor David Cunningham is broken down the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team post by post. As Tech Sideline’s women’s basketball editor, it’s my turn to do the same for the women’s team, which begins the 2021-22 season with high expectations.

No.24 Virginia Tech opens its season Tuesday at Cassell Coliseum against Davidson. It kicks off at 5 p.m. on ACC Network Extra and precedes the men’s basketball game against Maine at 8 p.m. Connect.

Here is a table with the full roster of Virginia Tech women’s basketball for the 2021-22 season:

# name Pos. Ht. To classify
2 Aisha Sheppard g 5-9 Gr.
3 Chloe brooks g 5-10 rJr.
5 Georgia Amore g 5-6 So.
11 By asia gregg F 6-2 Sr.
15 Azana Baines g 6-1 Jr.
21 King Shamarla g 6-0 rFr.
22 Cayla King g 6-0 Jr.
23 Kayana traylor g 5-9 Sr.
24 Emilie lytle G / F 5-11 Gr.
31 Rochelle Norris VS 6-5 rSo.
33 Elizabeth kitley VS 6-6 Jr.
35 Taylor geiman G / F 6-0 Jr.

We will go position by position, starting with the leader.

Guard point

Virginia Tech’s starting point guard is Georgia Amoore, who is returning for her second season. The Australian started in all but two of her games last season, averaging 4.6 assists and 11.8 points per game with 38.9% shooting.

Amoore now has a year under his belt. She was thrown into the fire last year as a Hokies starter, where she also had to adjust to NCAA rules as she was used to FIBA’s more aggressive playstyle.

She’s a more experienced player now, and that comes with a boost in confidence.

“At this time last year, I was super nervous because I didn’t know what to expect,” Amoore said. “I haven’t had the whole experience, but I’ve had a part where I can go into any game with confidence and play.

“Last year I was afraid of making mistakes, but this year I know what to expect.

Now, with a year under her belt, Georgia Amoore is much more confident now in her second year. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Behind Amoore, and occasionally playing alongside him, is the transfer of Purdue Kayana Traylor. A senior from Martinsville, Ind., Traylor was an All-Big Ten Second nominee last year and led the Boilermakers in scoring with 15 points per game.

One of the many things that head coach Kenny Brooks has praised about her, and the transfer of Liberty Emily Lytle, is their desire to simply help the team. Brooks said they came to Blacksburg regardless of playing time. They just wanted to be part of a winning culture.

And it was seen during free practice on Friday. The interactions between Amoore and Traylor, who have only been playing together for a few months, are fun to watch.

“The chemistry really developed during the offseason between [Amoore and Traylor]”Brooks said.” When deciding who takes the ball from the field, they won’t need to say a word. They’re just going to look at each other.

The two leaders admitted that they learn from each other and make each other better. Two of the fastest players on the field, Virginia Tech has a really solid duo at the same time.

Wing

The Hokies are loaded on the wing, and it starts with fifth-year guard and two-time All-ACC first-team selection Aisha Sheppard.

A Virginia Tech fixture since 2017, Sheppard returns for his final dance, using his extra year of NCAA eligibility granted during the offseason.

Aisha Sheppard is back for a fifth year with Virginia Tech, with huge news. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

“Sweet 16 is our goal and our state of mind,” Sheppard said at the CCA Tip-off in mid-October. “We are thinking of the top five [in the ACC], and the ACC championship. We are high caliber and elite.

Sheppard said she plans to turn pro after placing third in the conference with 17.7 points per game, but chose to return to Tech to write her final chapter on her illustrious career as the Hokie.

She will return at the end of the season as the most decorated player in the history of the program. A selection of the 2020 and 2021 All-ACC First Team Coaches. A 2021 First Team All-ACC Blue Ribbon Board selection. The all-time field goal record holder at 3 points scored in the history of the school. And at the end of the season, Sheppard will likely be the all-time leading scorer, needing just 345 points to beat him.

Junior Cayla King returns as the third starting goalie for last year’s squad that lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament to No. 2 seed Baylor. The junior sniper was one of the best in the ACC in 2020-21, where she had 60 three-pointers, while shooting 38.5% from beyond the arc.

“She’s our Swiss Army Knife,” Brooks said. “Cayla has really matured since she came here. Before, she was a little shy and was afraid of her own shadow. Now, with experience and age, she is much more confident and succeeds in the little things that go unnoticed.

Cayla King is Virginia Tech’s Swiss Army Knife, as Kenny Brooks puts it. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Taylor Geiman also returns to the ground after suffering an ACL tear just eight games ago this season. The junior played 11 games in her first season, which was cut short due to an injury.

Redshirt rookie Shamarla King is set to make his college debut after missing last season with a knee injury. She was the No.78 rookie in the 2020 class and is expected to be full by mid-January, according to Brooks.

Brooks said goalie Chloe Brooks will graduate in December and be part of the roster, but nerve damage to her foot will not allow her to play.

After open practice Friday, Brooks stressed his team could see a plethora of different rosters surrounding guards as the season progresses due to the depth they have.

Both Lytle and Azana Baines can play on the wing to space the ground, if necessary. However, both will likely see the time slowly pass in the Hokies system in 2021-2022. Geiman is also a utility option and can play from one to four, Brooks said.

Virginia Tech has an experienced wing group this year. Combined with two explosive pointers, the Hokies have a dynamic backcourt.

Front yard

Elizabeth Kitley, an All-ACC first team and ranked second in the ACC preseason player of the year vote, is back for her junior season as the leader of a very experienced Virginia Tech team.

The Summerfield, NC native averaged a double-double (18.4 points, 10.4 rebounds) a season ago, but has improved her game even further since the end of last season.

The former five-star recruit was not what the polite junior is now. She arrived as’raw talent who worked hard‘to reach the skill level she is currently at, as described by Brooks.

“You noticed his size, but his skills needed to be improved,” Brooks said of his 6-foot-6 center.

She’s spent the offseason spent at an American basketball camp, where she worked to take out doubles teams and use her vision to find an open teammate – something she admits struggling with her first two. years. She also improved her shot at mid-range, which could make her one of the toughest players to face in the ACC.

His experience and veteran leadership are also needed if Tech is successful in either tournament. The Hokies have struggled with consistency at times throughout the 2020-21 season, in which they finished 15-10 overall and 8-8 in conference last season.

On Monday, ESPN ranked the 25 best female basketball players in the country. Kitley is # 20.

Elizabeth Kitley is one of the top 20 players in the country, according to ESPN. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Senior forward D’Asia Gregg was instrumental when Tech lost some of his players to the portal midway through last season. Having missed out on eight straight games in December and January, Gregg played a huge role for the Hokies until the end.

She has played in Virginia Tech’s last 13 games and averaged 3.4 points and 3.6 rebounds off the bench. Now Brooks envisions his role to be slightly bigger this coming season as a veteran frontman and as a replacement for Kitley.

“We compare her to Draymond Green [of the Golden State Warriors] because he’s not a real center, and neither is D’Asia, but the two can cope, ”said Brooks. “On the offensive side, she’s really cunning and difficult to keep.”

Tech’s depth is shallow behind Kitley at five, especially after Rochelle Norris, a 6-foot-5 transfer from West Virginia, tore her ACL in an “abnormal, non-contact” injury during the summer, as Brooks described it. She will miss the entire 2021-22 season.

At four, the Hokies have two experienced players in Azana Baines and Emily Lytle.

Baines returns for Tech after an eventful start to his career at Blacksburg. After being cleared by the NCAA to play for the Hokies last season, the ACC suspended Duke’s transfer for the first seven games of the season.

When she finally got the chance to play, the junior averaged 6.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in 18 games. Hailing from Blackwood, NJ, she’s a fierce bouncer that attacks glass, and she provides an effective option indoors to balance Kitley.

Azana Baines played a big role for the Hokies last season, but she’s set for an even bigger year in 2021-22. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

This season, she will be working with Lytle, who transferred from Liberty.

A native of Memphis, Tenn., Lytle played for the Flames for three years, scoring 1,153 points and shooting better than 42 percent from the field. She averaged 14.7 points per game per season as the top scorer and was an All-ASUN first-team selection.

She also played three times against the Hokies and knew how good Virginia Tech can be. And, like Traylor, she doesn’t care about playing time – she just wants a role on a winning team.

“Our team are very successful at sharing the ball and making the extra pass,” Lytle said on Friday. “I think we will do exceptionally well. Be able to shoot as [forward], that can add a lot.

Gregg adds experience behind Kitley in the middle, while Baines, Lytle and Geiman can all play forward. Tech might not have the most body, but as Brooks said during the ACC announcement in Charlotte, the Hokies have depth of talent, not numbers.

Next

The Hokies open their season against Davidson before heading to the DC metro area to face George Washington on Thursday and George Mason on Sunday afternoon.

The Hokies fire their five starters from last season after winning seven seeds in the NCAA tournament, only to fall to second-seeded Baylor in the second round. But coming back with Tech’s core this year is the experience as he fires his five starters and adds two transfers that have the capacity to score 20 points on any given night.

“We have eight kids who can start, and there’s no downfall,” Brooks said.

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