Virginia Tech coach Mike Young approached guard Hunter Cattoor before the Hokies’ most recent game to ask him how he was dealing with an elbow injury that has been plaguing him over the past month.
Cattoor noted he was about 80-85 percent healthy, which was music to Young’s ears.
“I’ll take you wherever I can get you,” Young told Cattoor.
Cattoor is averaging 10.4 points and shooting 43 percent from 3-point range this season and will look to continue progressing through his injury when Virginia Tech travels to Coral Gables, Fla., for a meeting with No. 20 Miami on Tuesday.
The Hokies (13-8, 3-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) are 0-4 when Cattoor sits, which underscores his value. Cattoor is on pace to finish with the best scoring average of his career, while his 3-point percentage is just higher than his career average of 41.9 percent.
Cattoor plays a big role for a Hokies team that had lost seven straight games — all in ACC play — before beating Duke and Syracuse at home last week.
In the Hokies’ 85-70 win over Syracuse on Saturday, Virginia Tech set a program record for most assists in an ACC game with 26. The Hokies attempted 32 3-pointers — their highest total since December of 2020.
However, Hokies guard Darius Maddox, who has started 19 games this season, missed the Syracuse contest due to what was called a family emergency. Maddox, who averages 8.5 points, is questionable for Tuesday’s game against Miami.
Fortunately for the Hokies, their top four scorers will all be ready to take the court. Sean Pedulla leads Virginia Tech with 15.5 points per game, with Grant Basile (14.8 ppg), Justyn Mutts (12.8) and Cattoor trailing close behind.
Mutts nearly had a triple-double against Syracuse with 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. For the season, he is averaging 7.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists, which are both team highs.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes (16-5, 7-4) — who started the season 13-1 — have slumped lately.
Miami is 3-4 over its past seven games, alternating one win with one loss for the past month.
In Saturday’s 71-68 loss at Pitt, Miami led 68-60 with just 2:26 remaining. But the Hurricanes went scoreless the rest of the way, missing all three of their shots and turning the ball over three times.
“We obviously don’t want turnovers,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “A couple of times we thought we had great opportunities to finish the play and we didn’t.”
A concern for Miami is its lack of interior size relative to its competition. Against Pitt, for example, Miami got just one offensive rebound.
The Panthers finished with 12.
Still, while size is an issue, the Hurricanes have a lot of weapons. Isaiah Wong, who faltered in the final two minutes against Pitt, leads Miami in scoring (16.2 ppg), assists (3.6 per game) and steals (1.4 per game).
Jordan Miller, Miami’s 6-foot-7 wing, ranks second in scoring (15.0 ppg) and rebounding (5.6 rebounds per game). Norchad Omier has been ferocious inside, averaging 13.5 points and 10.4 rebounds.
Miami’s other double-figure scorer is Nijel Pack, who is averaging 12.0 points. He has been the best free-throw shooter in the Hurricanes’ starting lineup, making 84.2 percent of his shots at the charity stripe.
–Field Level Media