March 7, 2023
How Georgia Amoore powered Virginia Tech to an ACC championship: An oral history
'It was always about putting us on the map'
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Before Kenny Brooks handed the award over, everyone knew who it was going to. After lifting the ACC Championship trophy on Sunday after beating Louisville, the head coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies wanted to personally present the tournament’s MVP honor to one of his players.
Before ESPN’s Angel Gray could say it, fans in the crowd started shouting her name.
“The Aussie,” Gray announced. “Georgia Amoore!”
Her teammates cheered and a big smile grew across Amoore’s face. The point guard went over to her head coach for a big hug, and then she raised that MVP trophy high.
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Four years ago, when Amoore was just a budding prospect in Australia receiving attention from college coaches in the U.S., she didn’t even know there was an ACC Tournament. Now, all she’s done is lead Virginia Tech to its very first ACC Championship in program history.
And it’s not hyperbole to say that the Hokies wouldn’t have won without Amoore.
Across three magical days inside the Greensboro Coliseum, the junior averaged 21.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while shooting 43% from the floor, 48.2% from 3-point land and 91.6% from the charity stripe. Amoore set an ACC Tournament record for 3-pointers made with 14 in three games. She was often unguardable. She diced her way through presses, put defenders on skates with her stepbacks and let her precision and court vision shine as she led the Hokies to a historic victory.
Virginia Tech looks like one of the hottest teams in the country. The Hokies have won 11 straight games and – with 10 Quad-1 wins – have a legitimate case to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament when the bracket is revealed this Sunday.
And Amoore is a big reason why. Sure, two-time ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley is crucial to the Hokies’ success too, but it was Amoore who stepped up and shined brightest this past weekend.
“Liz has proven that she’s the best player in the league,” Brooks said. “Georgia has proven that she’s the most important.”
Amoore’s three days in Greensboro should long be fondly remembered by Hokies’ fans.
What follows here are the first-hand accounts of the folks who had front row seats to the show the Australian put on for the ACC.
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Entering the ACC Tournament…
Early in Virginia Tech’s winning streak, it played a game on Feb. 6 at then-ranked No. 22 N.C. State. For the Wolfpack fans, the night was a special one, as it was their annual Play 4 Kay Game, which honors the late Kay Yow and cancer survivors. N.C. State had owned Virginia Tech in the head-to-head series with a 26-2 record against the Hokies. And Virginia Tech had never won in Reynolds Coliseum in 12 tries.
But the 13th proved to be different. The Hokies played with a different kind of confidence, exhibited early on by Amoore.
There was a moment in the first half where, before Cayla King had even raised her arms to begin the motion required to shoot a 3-pointer, Amoore knew the shot was going in. Not a half-second after the Virginia Tech point guard used a two-handed chest pass to dish the ball to a wide open King, Amoore declaratively hoisted her right arm high with three fingers extended into the air. “I just had a feeling,” Amoore said later. “And she was wide open, so.”
And indeed, King swished the shot. The made basket counted for one of Amoore’s seven assists that night, and the junior tallied a career-high 27 points as Virginia Tech won in Reynolds Coliseum for the first time, 73-61.
KENNY BROOKS, Virginia Tech head coach: “I thought Georgia Amoore was terrific. Really just leading us, controlling the basketball game and hitting big shots.”
GEORGIA AMOORE, Virginia Tech guard: “I think it just shows the growth of the program. What coach Brooks has done with this team is incredible.”
BROOKS: “It’s a tremendous win for our group… I think it’s a very healthy rivalry. I think if you ask our kids who their rivals are, right now they would probably say N.C. State and UNC.”
WES MOORE, N.C. State head coach: “We were supposed to be trapping pick-on-the-ball and we didn’t get that done. Amoore went off. I should’ve called a timeout a whole lot sooner… I think we went one-on-one a little too much.”
AMOORE: “The 3-ball was working, and just screen, re-screen. They had a tactic. I think they were trying to (isolate me) but they weren’t really executing. I knew I had open shots, so I just kept taking them and trusting them.”
BROOKS: “I work that kid out every day, so nothing that (Amoore) does surprises me. She’s getting better and better. And we knew that when we got her, she was kind of below the radar. You have some tremendous guards in this league – Diamond Johnson, Deja Kelly, Hailey Van Lith – and we just felt like no one knew her, but we thought we had one special. She and I talk constantly. She’s my little mini-me. I texted her last night and said, ‘You’re the best player on the floor. Go out there and prove it.’”
AMOORE: “It was just a big game for our team. We had never won here.”
BROOKS: “When she’s this good, we’re terrific, and we’re hard to beat.”
Virginia Tech won its next five ACC regular season games to close out the season, beating N.C. State again along with notching victories over Duke, UNC and Florida State.
Amoore dropped 25 points on Florida State and 20 points against Duke.
BROOKE WYCKOFF, Florida State head coach: “Under the leadership of Georgia Amoore — she’s at the top of her game and deadly. So, they feed off of that.”
Amoore made the All-ACC First Team at the end of the regular season.
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ACC Tournament Quarterfinals: Virginia Tech 68, Miami 42
Amoore finished with 16 points, four boards and two assists in the Hokies’ 2023 Greensboro debut, the ninth consecutive win for Virginia Tech.
KATIE MEIER, Miami head coach: “You do your job on Kitley, you do whatever you can. You stunt, you double, you make a choice, and then you’re saying, ‘Okay, then what do you do about Georgia?’”
BROOKS: “Georgia Amoore has been playing tremendous the last month.”
AMOORE: “I think we’ve really learned a lot about ourselves and what we need to do to win.”
ACC Tournament Semifinals: Virginia Tech 58, Duke 37
It is inarguable; Amoore was the difference in this game. She was the only player from either team to score in double digits and poured in 24 points, seven assists and five boards.
Virginia Tech entered the second quarter with a four-point lead, but separated itself from Duke with a 17-0 run. During that span, Amoore had eight points, three assists and zero turnovers. She also knocked down a season-high-tying six 3-pointers in the win, which prompted ACC Network broadcaster Debbie Antonelli to deploy her signature call, “Shoot ‘till your arm falls off!”
KARA LAWSON, Duke head coach: “I think when she’s making her three-point shot like that, it’s really hard to guard (Amoore) because she’s obviously quick and can get downhill and so you’re having to guard both things at the same time. So, I thought her ability to make shots tonight was really the difference maker.”
CAYLA KING, Virginia Tech guard: “When she’s feeling it, (Amoore) just has a different look on her face. I feel like every time the ball leaves her hands, it’s going in the goal, and I think everyone on the team has that same feeling.”
AMOORE: “I just knew that we really needed this win. It’s really big for our program. They were hounding Liz and we needed some outside pressure to release from her. That was my thought process, just how can I help Liz?”
BROOKS: “We knew (Duke) were playing so hard and trying to force Liz off of her spot that we just told Georgia instead of setting a back screen, pop out and you’ll be wide open, and she hit two threes right there.”
AMOORE: “(Kitley) getting hounded takes a lot of attention away from a lot of us on the exterior. Just taking advantage of that and thanking her for that once the play is over, because she does take a beating. But it does open us up on the 3-point line.”
ELIZABETH BALOGUN, Duke forward: “She’s obviously a good point guard. We just didn’t contain her really. We’ve proven that we can guard her and we can stop her… It was more of us than her.”
Because she picked up an early third foul, Virginia Tech forward Taylor Soule watched nearly all of the second quarter from the Hokies’ bench, where she had a great view of Amoore’s wizardry and heroics.
SOULE: “Georgia works so hard. She’s dedicated, she’s passionate, and when she’s playing confidently, she’s pretty unstoppable. Not ideal to be on the bench, but when I have teammates that step up and perform like that, it’s fun for me. It was good. Proud of her.”
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ACC Tournament Championship: Virginia Tech 75, Louisville 67
Amoore scored 25 points to lead all scorers. She knocked down a trio of 3-pointers, and each one of them felt like a dagger. She also added four rebounds and four assists to help the Hokies keep the Cardinals at arms’ length.
JEFF WALZ, Louisville head coach: “Amoore was fantastic, just really, really good with that basketball, made some big-time plays, goes 10 of 10 at the free-throw line. Yeah, I thought she played well.”
ELIZABETH KITLEY, Virginia Tech center: “Our offense was a lot smoother today because Georgia played incredible.”
AMOORE: “Our team just wanted it so bad, and we knew that we were going to win it from the start. We were saying we were going to win it, and we just all had to believe and give every single ounce of effort. The effort was just a huge factor. Honestly, the way that Taylor Soule played, the way that D’asia Gregg played, Liz Kitley, Cayla King, Kayana Traylor, all of them, that is all MVP. We’re the best team, so it equals out.”
On the other side of the planet, Amoore’s family watched live via stream around 5 a.m. Australia time.
AMOORE: “I had to send them a Dropbox link… Mom posted on Facebook and I think a lot of people woke up early for that, which was great. But as much as I wish they could be here, seeing all the maroon and orange in the stands was absolutely incredible.”
The victory made Virginia Tech the first No. 3 seed to win the ACC Tournament since Maryland in 2012. And, much more importantly, it made Kenny Brooks the first Black head coach to win an ACC Tournament. Overall, it was the first time the Hokies had won a conference tournament since 1998, when they played in the A-10.
AMOORE: “It’s so good for Coach Brooks. He’s my Coach of the Year. He always will be. He’s done so much for us, so much for the team. Just look at the program. Like it’s just on an upward trend, and I think it’s really solidified what he’s doing and it’s solidified Virginia Tech as a legit contender. And I’m super proud of that because we deserve the respect.”
BROOKS: “I sold (Amoore and Kitley) both a vision, they went out and they executed it. We said we would be here, and we never wavered. It didn’t matter who we were playing, and we proved that we were one of the elite teams in the country. I’m so excited.”
AMOORE: “It really hasn’t sunk in. I’m sure in the next week when we have spring break and we don’t have anything to do, I’m going to be really thinking about it… When I committed, I had no idea really what great things this team could do. (Brooks) sold me on the idea that all this could happen, but all that to me seemed like a fantasy. And when I got here from Day One, it was always about putting us on the map and winning for the team.”
TIM SANDS, Virginia Tech President: “We’re a basketball school.”