Coaches in Va. Tech-Radford matchup share some history

When Radford travels 11 miles northeast to challenge Virginia Tech on Monday night, the matchup will feature head coaches who attended the same high school a generation apart and have found their way home.

Mike Young, now in his third year at Virginia Tech, returned to his stomping grounds after guiding Wofford (S.C.) for 17 years. Darris Nichols, in his first year at Radford, came home after 10 years as a college assistant.

Young, 58, and Nichols, 35, both members of the Radford High School Hall of Fame, know each other well. Nichols served one season (2013-14) as an assistant at Wofford, helping guide the Terriers to one of their five NCAA Tournament appearances under Young’s watch. Last year, Nichols was on the staff at Florida when the Gators edged the Hokies 75-70 in overtime in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Nichols will have the taller task on Monday when Radford (1-1) faces Tech (2-0). While the Highlanders are coming off a never-in-doubt 73-52 loss at No. 25 Virginia, the Hokies are on a high after dominating formidable Navy, 77-57, in the Veterans Classic.

“I thought we did a really good job defensively in limiting them from the arc,”

Young said of his team’s defense which allowed the Midshipmen to hit just 3 of 25 treys.

Tech thrived Friday with a trio of players Young originally recruited to Wofford as Keve Aluma, Hunter Cattoor and Storm Murphy combined for 50 points and 15 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Radford struggled against the vaunted pack-line defense of Virginia. During a decisive 15-0 run in the first half, from which the Highlanders never recovered, they committed four of their 15 turnovers and missed four shots.

“It was a tale of two halves. The first half, we didn’t move the ball as much as we would have liked,” Nichols said. “The second half we did a better job of it.”

Radford is trying to find its identity. Five of its top seven scorers from last season are back. But those players, who averaged a combined 38.8 points and 26.3 rebounds per game last season, are producing just 22 points and 14 rebounds per game so far.

The Highlanders are getting most of their scoring from their backcourt as Bryan Hart (11.0 ppg), Camron McNeil (10.5 ppg) and Josiah Jeffers (10.0 ppg) are the leaders.

–Field Level Media


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