March 31, 2023 

Don’t overlook Virginia Tech or LSU

Hokies and Tigers offer plenty of must-see talent

DALLAS — While the lion’s share of attention this week has been focused on Iowa and South Carolina, and for good reasons — Iowa guard Caitlin Clark‘s historic season and a chance for Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks to repeat and go undefeated — Kenny Brooks, head coach of Virginia Tech, wanted to remind everyone that his Hokies are anything but plucky underdogs ahead of Friday night’s 7 p.m. ET national semifinal against LSU at the 2023 Women’s Final Four.

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

“The No. 1 seed means we belong here,” Brooks said Thursday during his media availibility. “We’re not a No. 6 seed who’s made a match or a run and it’s very surprising. We should expect to be here. A lot of people should expect us to be here. Because of the name on the front, because it hasn’t had a history like a Tennessee or a UConn had, people are really quick to doubt you.”

Brooks continued, pointedly: “Our kids have seen that.”

The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom

The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff and dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.

And yet, it remains the case that a national television audience is going to get to know the Hokies, and the remarkable combination of guard Georgia Amoore and big Elizabeth Kitley, as the duo take on a familiar face around these parts in LSU coach Kim Mulkey.

Amoore not only comes from a great distance, she picked Virginia Tech before ever even visiting the school, with Brooks recruiting her remotely.

“My story was definitely different because I was international, and I never met Coach Brooks in person until I was in his office pretty much committing,” Amoore said Thursday. “So I think he did a really good job recruiting, selling his vision online. I had a lot of other coaches recruiting me, and I didn’t feel that connection or that vibe.”

What’s followed is a building of the program that Amoore made possible. The run to the Final Four concluded with Amoore scoring 21 points or more in each of the past six games, even as she’s dished out 23 assists over that time running the show.

As for Kitley, who remembered committing five years ago, and has become the dominant post player in program history?

“So, yeah, it worked out pretty well,” she said with a smile.

<a rel=
Angel Reese cuts down the net under in the Final Four confetti after LSU’s Elite Eight win over Miami on March 26, 2023 at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, SC. (Photo credit: Gabriella Lewis)

For Friday night to work out pretty well, she’ll need to find a way to slow down the force that is LSU big Angel Reese, who is deadly from the field, at 52.6 percent, but can crush opponents even when she doesn’t — she leads the nation in free throw attempts and offensive rebounding percentage. All part of the plan, according to Reese.

“Just focusing on finishing around the basket,” Reese said of her focus coming into the season. “I think coming to LSU I’ve gotten in way better shape and I’ve gotten much stronger… I think that’s helped me a lot… So just trying to stay together, and I think my teammates and coaches are putting me in a really good position where they give me the ball a lot. And whenever they miss a shot, I try to get the rebound as best I can.”

And for the well-traveled LSU guard Alexis Morris, she’s got the assignment of slowing down Amoore, but of course, Amoore and company need to find a way to do the same thing to Morris, who has scored 20 points or more in five of her last eight games.

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

It’s about more than a game for Reese, who has fond memories of meeting Seimone Augustus, a legend in bronze at LSU now, even as she charts a course that has brought the LSU program back to heights not seen since Augustus’ days.

“When I came to LSU, I told Coach Mulkey, I wanted to bring this program back to where it was,” Reese said. “And Coach Starkey was already here with them on the Final Four run. Just being able to do it for the fans, they waited a long time to see this program get back to where they want it to be. So just being able to do it for them and making history again, just coming back to what Alexis said. I’m excited.”

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.