Erick Green, the nation’s leading scorer, joined a unique club Tuesday afternoon after being named ACC player of the year.
The Virginia Tech Hokies senior guard became the only player besides the Maryland Terrapins’ Len Bias to be named conference player of the year despite their teams owning a losing record. Bias took home the honors in the 1985-86 season and now Green joins him after the Hokies’ 13-18 season, which included a 4-14 conference record.
Virginia Tech’s struggles throughout the year were certainly no fault of the talented 6-foot-4 guard, who did a little bit of everything on the court. His regular season averages wrapped up with 25.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.4 steals, all career-high numbers for the fourth-year player.
Perhaps the most impressive part of his stat line was his effective shooting percentages along with his low turnover rate. For someone who had the ball in his hands as much as he did, along with being the number one focus of every opposition’s defensive game plan, the senior did a marvelous job of capitalizing on his opportunities. Green committed only 2.1 turnovers while shooting 48.2 percent from the field, 39.2 percent from three-point range and 81.5 percent from the foul line.
These are the type of numbers guards dream of putting up and Green made them a reality, which explains why voters chose him as conference player of the year. Other players such as Shane Larkin and Mason Plumlee might have had a bigger impact on the standings, but without Green, Virginia Tech might not have even been allowed to post their name on the standings. Without the senior in the line-up, the Hokies had about the same chance of winning a game as if you or I suited up for the school.
For those who failed to see Green in action, he was the definition of scoring machine and only failed to score more than 21 points three times all year long. This included season-high scoring performances of 35 points twice, once against the Virginia Cavaliers in a blowout loss on Jan. 24 and then in the final game of the Hokies’ conference schedule: a 90-79 loss to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on March 10.
Notable non-conference games from Green throughout the year include 28 points and seven rebounds while shooting 12 for 13 from the free-throw line in an 81-71 victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys. That game helped Virginia Tech begin the year 7-0 before they lost in their following contest against the West Virginia Mountaineers, where Green recorded his only double-double of the season with 23 points, 10 assists and four rebounds.
Other notable in-conference games include 29 points on 5 of 7 shooting from downtown in a 69-61 victory over the Clemson Tigers along with 30 points while shooting 55 percent from the field in a 73-64 loss to the Miami (FL) Hurricanes.
Green and the Hokies tip-off their ACC Tournament action on March 14 when they face the North Carolina State Wolfpack. In the two teams’ only meeting this season, it took overtime for the Wolfpack to avoid an upset on their home court before capturing the contest 90-86 after N.C. State struggled to contain Green. The guard finished with 29 points and eight assists in the contest, proving anything is possible when the two teams meet in the rematch later this week.
Given the fact it’s not uncommon for guards to play out of their minds during the month of March (see: Kemba Walker), anything is certainly possible in the ACC Tournament’s first round action.
However, today isn’t about looking ahead. It’s about appreciating what has already been accomplished. Naming Green the ACC’s player of the year was, without question, an accomplishment well deserved.