ACC TIPOFF: No. 8 Hokies face lofty expectations following historic Final Four run

Virginia Tech preps new playmakers behind veteran trio of Kitley, Amoore and King.
Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 7:04 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WDBJ) - After a season of historic achievements, expectations in Blacksburg are sky-high for Virginia Tech women’s basketball.

“I think our fans want us to come out and be undefeated,” said Kenny Brooks at Tuesday’s preseason media event in Charlotte. “We could have the Lakers on our schedule and they think we’re supposed to beat them. And that’s fine. You want that expectation. I’d rather have that than the opposite. But we understand it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

Time for this version of the Hokies to figure out their identity.

Only Liz Kitley, Georgia Amoore and Cayla King have any experience playing at Tech before this season, but after a summer trip to Greece, Kenny Brooks says his group is meshing well in the preseason.

“It’s a day-by-day process,” he said. “We can’t just say, ‘Hey, we’re going back to the Final Four.’ We can’t just say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna’ win the ACC Championship.’ We have to take it day-by-day and they understand that.”

They also know what it takes to accomplish those goals.

Kitley and Amoore return as one of the top tandems in the country entering this year.

As extensions of the coaching staff, they are tasked with catching transfers Matilda Ekh, Rose Micheaux and Olivia Summiel up to Brooks’ system.

“Every team’s gonna go through this process, getting transfers, freshmen,” said Amoore, who was named ACC Tournament MVP in March. “But I think the best thing about our group, number one, is that I think the three of us [Kitley, King and herself] are very mature, and I think we know exactly what [Brooks] wants, borderline to the point where he can blow the whistle in practice and he goes to speak and we speak up and speak out for him. But I think we have a really solid, unselfish group who is willing to learn so quick, and that’s kind of helped speed up the process.”

“We went through very similar things last year,” said Kitley, a two-time ACC player of the year. “Taylor Soule coming in, yeah she had a role from the start, but it took a while to figure that out. So I think that’s reassuring and I think that’s helping us this year, kind of take a step back and realize that, even though we’re making strides now, we won’t reach our final form until February, March, and that’s OK as long as we’re getting better along the way.”

At Virginia, year one under Amaka Agugua-Hamilton began with a 13-game win streak, but the Hoos went just 2-15 to close out the year.

Coach Mox on finding consistency:

“I think people are very, very excited and our players in practice every day are like, ‘We’re gonna’ be good. We’re gonna’ be good.’ I’m like, yeah we have a lot of talent and we’re coming together as a team, but I don’t want them to put that expectation on themselves. I just want them to take it one day at a time, one game at a time. Focus on being consistent. Of course, I’m optimistic about what we have and what we could be this year, but I’m just more so focused on checking off small goals along the way.”

The Hokies open the season at home on Monday, Nov. 6 against High Point, while the Cavaliers open on Nov. 8 against Maryland Eastern Shore.