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On the heels of huge wins this past week over Villanova by the womenís squad and St. Johnís by the menís, head coaches Bonnie Henrickson and Ricky Stokes discussed their teams. Also joining the program briefly was womenís radio announcer Cory Provus.
WOMENíS BASKETBALL NOTES
Bill Roth and Coach Henrickson began by discussing the come-from-behind victory over Villanova last week. Despite the ball-control/clock-management style of Villanova, the Hokies were able to score the final 13 points of the game and pull out the victory -- their third consecutive conference win. As a result of her performance in the game, Tere Williams was also named Big East player of the week.
The win puts the team in sixth place in the conference overall, with games against some of the closest competition still to come. The next two games will be at Syracuse on Wednesday and at Providence on Saturday.
The latest RPI rankings were released, and despite not being ranked in the most recent polls, Virginia Tech is #19 after being in the low to mid-20s last week. The RPI ranking is much more important, because the seedings for the post-season tournament are based on these rankings rather than the weekly polls.
Coach Henrickson said that the team had shown tremendous poise to gain the much needed victory. Roth asked what the team had done to improve their play. She responded that they had improved on both sides of the ball, including increased pressure defensively.
A caller asked how ODU is able to be so successful at recruiting. Each of them responded that, among other things, they had been successful recently at recruiting internationally, and that ODU was one of the first schools to place a major emphasis on womenís college athletics.
A member of the audience asked if Lisa Guarneriís hand injury was still bothering her and contributing to occasional poor passes. Coach Henrickson attributed it more to reliance on her strong hand, decision-making, and lack of poise. She said that she is continually improving in these areas and that the coaching staff is working with her. Time and experience will also be keys to her continued improvement.
Cory Provus, the womenís basketball radio announcer, joined the program for a little while. He mentioned the victory over ODU as a turning point in the season. He said that in that game, Tech was able to get the ball inside, and it has helped round out the offensive attack. Coach Henrickson pointed out that the Tech bench has outscored the opponentís bench by an average of about 25-9 recently. Finally, Roth added that free throws are also playing a role in the teamís success.
Provus discussed Crystal Starling, who will be making her first trip back to her home town of Syracuse this week. He said that she had been recruited by her home town school, but that the city of Syracuse was a factor in her decision not to attend school there. She had said that she also liked the way that Virginia Tech had recruited her. Coach Henrickson mentioned as a side note that the team is not concentrating on the fact that this is her home town. Instead, they are focusing on the importance of the game itself.
On the injury front, Davina Simmons had her knee scoped recently. Originally, the surgery was only to cover two tears in the knee itself, but two other conditions were uncovered, including a pothole in the femur, which required attention. She will be out for the remainder of the season, but the prognosis is good and she is expected to be able to return for Spring and Summer workouts.
Coach Henrickson discussed two of the recruits that had signed with Virginia Tech. One had had a very good game when she had gone to visit her recently. She was described as having a lot of talent on the court, and is expected to play a lot of minutes next season. The other had called recently to tell her that she had passed the 2000 point mark in her career.
The keys to the Syracuse game are to rebound well, limit the offensive turnovers and give good defensive effort. Providence is a team that shoots well, so the Hokies will have to pressure them on defense and cause turnovers.
MENíS BASKETBALL NOTES
Regarding the St. Johnís win on Saturday, Coach Stokes commented that the team had played very hard and that the crowd had been one of the keys to the victory. Most of the St. Johnís staff had never been to Cassell Coliseum, and were amazed by the amount of noise that 6000 fans were able to make. Bill Roth pointed to four plays that had made the difference. Two were charges taken by the Hokies, and the other two were breakaway layups that Tech had swatted away from the Red Storm. Coach Stokes added a banked shot under pressure that one of his assistants had pointed out during the game.
Roth mentioned that the game may have been won in the week leading up to the contest. There had been no game during the week, and the team had been given a day off for basketball on Tuesday. Coach Stokes said that they had worked on conditioning that day and had good practices on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Hokies, following their win and some of the other action in the league, are now one spot up in the division standings. Their goal is still to make it to New York City for the conference tournament. However, the newest rankings show five teams in each of the two weekly polls, so the competition will be great.
Coach Stokes discussed the two signees for Tech for next season. One is a 6í-9" player (Dimari Thompkins) from Florida. He needs to lose some weight, but the coach is encouraged by his size. The other (C.J. Pigford) is 6í-6" and is very athletic and plays hard. He said that he hopes to have each of them in Blacksburg for the summer under an NCAA rule that allows that school to pay for their summer school.
A member of the audience asked about the up-tempo style of the team. Coach Stokes said that he has been putting more into the playbook following the addition of several players since the end of the first semester. He said one of the encouraging things about this team was that all of the players would be coming back for next season, so all of the work they were putting in would pay off down the road. Earlier, it had also been discussed that Danny Gathings was beginning to come on strong. In his last two games he had scored in double figures off the bench. Coach Stokes said that he likes the prospect of having an impact player coming off the bench like that.
The same caller asked about a play in which Mike Jarvis, the St. Johnís coach, had come onto the court to argue a call. The play was described as a potential goal-tending call in which Jon Smithís hand may have gone through the rim to prevent a shot from falling. Coach Stokes said that he had not seen it that way, and expressed dismay over the fact that Jarvisís actions had been allowed to occur. Though the Big Eastís Supervisor of Officials had been at the game, he said that he had left the game prior to the incident. Roth speculated that the video may be sent into the league office for review.
The next three games for the menís team are all on the road. The team will be in Boston to play BC on Wednesday. They will play Connecticut on Saturday and finish with Miami on Tuesday of the following week. BC is currently #20 in the country in both polls and have a 14-2 record overall. Connecticut is struggling this season, but the are still among the ranked teams in the country. Miami, it was pointed out, draws very small crowds to their arena, including just 2000 for a game earlier in the season against Providence.
Coach Stokes made an interesting comment at the very end of the show about the upcoming road trip. It was something like "Boston to Miami -- how about that?" Nothing more was said, but I took that as a comment on the incredible distance between two of the schools in Techís division.
-- Apex Hokie