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February 26, 2001
Tonight's show featured a large cast: Tech trainer Mike Goforth, women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson, baseball coach Chuck Hartman, and assistant men's basketball coach Mark Cline.
TECH TRAINER MIKE GOFORTH
Tech’s head athletic trainer was the first guest of the evening, and he discussed the status of many of the Tech football players who are recovering from injuries sustained throughout the 2000 football season. Following is the status of some of the members of the team:
David Pugh -- He is looking good for Spring practice.
Jake Houseright -- He had an ACL tear in his left knee, but rehab has gone well. He had a small set-back last week, but he is back strong again. He will be out for Spring practice, but will be ready for the Fall.
Ben Taylor -- He is recovering from an ankle injury, but the cast came off last week and he is already jumping rope. He will be out for Spring practice.
Andre Davis -- He was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain during the season, but it turned out that he had a regular ankle sprain as well. He is not yet 100%.
Chad Beasley -- He had surgery on a small bone under his big toe, and should be ready for Spring practice.
Willie Pile -- Goforth said that no one knows how he played through the season with the injury that he ended up having. A capsule in his shoulder pulled completely away from the bone. The fact that he was able to play the whole season is evidence of his toughness.
Luke Owens -- He had ACL revision surgery following an original surgery that he had in high school. He is doing well and has lost some weight. His other knee will be scoped soon and he will be ready for the Fall.
Seth Noonkester -- He had ACL surgery on his left knee.
Browning Wynn -- He had shoulder surgery.
Jacob Gibson -- He has a defect on the end of a bone and it has been corrected, but it is not serious.
Ernest Wilford -- He is out for the Spring after having the middle part of his patella tendon removed.
Both Larry Austin and Garnell Wilds, who each had surgery during the season, will be back at full strength for Spring practice. There may be some residual effects from the surgery at first but they will be at full strength.
Six players are out for the Spring practice: Jake Houseright, Ben Taylor, Carter Warley, Ernest Wilford, Luke Owens, and one other (not sure who it was).
Goforth discussed the new training facility that will be located in Jamerson. It will be more than 4200 square feet, and will have, among other things, an underwater treadmill. The goal of the training staff is to work with the players to keep them involved in the athletic program throughout their careers.
A caller asked about any differences in training philosophies from year to year. Goforth responded that Tech is actually under the national average of 15-21 surgeries each season. He said that Coach Beamer is a proponent of knee braces and that all of the linemen wear them throughout the season. They weight about 16 oz., cost about $1,000 each, and can be customized to serve whatever function is required.
Coach Bonnie Henrickson was on the phone from New York, where the Tech women will play St. John's in their season ending game, Tuesday at 7:30 (no TV). She began by briefly discussing the return of Tere Williams, who returned in six days from her injury. The coach credited the training staff and Tere herself for her ability to come back from the injury so quickly.
St. John's is in last place, but they're playing at home against Tech, on Senior Night. Bill asked if it was a trap. Bonnie said she feels good about it, and she thinks that her kids understand what's at stake.
Henrickson had said at the beginning of the year that the Hokie could finish in the top 4 of the Big East, and they have a chance, if they can beat St. John's Tuesday night. If the Hokies win, it would be Tech's fourth straight 20-win season (11-5 in the conference), this one coming in "the toughest women's conference in the country," as Roth said.
Bonnie said that in the preseason she felt the #4 spot in the Big East was between VT, BC, and Seton Hall. BC hasn't had quite the year everyone expected, but Seton Hall has been right there.
Roth asked for a scouting report on St. John's. Coach Henrickson said that the team was very athletic and that both guards were in the top 20 in scoring. They are a perimeter team that is not strong in the post. Despite being in last place in the league and ineligible for the post-season conference tournament, the team did beat St. Joseph’s, a strong team from the Atlantic-10.
The team felt the pressure of "needing to go 6-0" after the UConn game to get the bye in the Big East Tournament, and then they "messed up," (against Boston College) but fortunately, Seton Hall lost to Syracuse to help out.
Chuck Hartman joined Roth at this time. Roth joked that Hartman more than any other VT coach had lost a lot of players to the pro's over the years.
Roth pointed out that if a kid coming out of high school is good in baseball, not only does VT have to compete with other schools in recruiting, but they have to compete with the professionals.
Hartman said he is excited about being in the Big East, but he is disappointed thus far in the Hokies' record (they are currently 1-3). He related a story of SID Dave Smith telling him, "Chuck, this is the third time you've started off your Tech career 1-3, but the good news is, the other two times, you went to the NCAA's."
Hartman said that hitting has not been as good as he would have liked so far, especially clutch hitting. He joked that the team has "non-contact" bats.
The Hokies have a good pitching staff, though. Hartman said that the Hokies have an experienced staff, but he has also been playing some of the Hokies' young pitchers, which has led to some lopsided losses as the young guys come in, pitched, and gave up runs.
In the Big East, Notre Dame is 5-1 and ranked 8th, while Rutgers got off to a 6-0 start that included a sweep of NC State at State. Hartman thinks VT has enough pitching to hang in with anybody. 24-26 league games are on the slate, which is a lot when compared with the old Metro and Atlantic 10 schedules.
A caller asked about former Hokie players Larry Bowles and Denny Wagner. Hartman said that Bowles will report to the Diamondbacks "when minor league training camps" start next month (a slip of the tongue? Did Hartman mean "major league" camps?). Hartman wasn't sure about Wagner, but he said that he thinks that he is in a big-league camp, but not on a big league roster, and Hartman thinks he will be assigned at the AAA level.
Only four teams make the Big East tournament at the end of the season. Why just four? Hartman guessed that it was because the Big East had dropped the number of teams that can enter the tourney in other sports (softball and others), and they grouped baseball with those other sports. He hopes that it will be bumped up to six teams again soon.
Just four teams made the NCAA tournament last year from the Big East.
Bill and Coach Hartman next talked about Addison Bowman, and agreed that he is an all-conference candidate for the Hokies. Hartman thinks he has gotten off to a good start and is hitting the ball well (although Bowman disagrees with him and wants to do better). He will be one of the better players in the conference.
The home opener for Tech is against ODU Tuesday, 2:30 at English Field. VT has been very successful against ODU in recent years, even beating them a few times when they were ranked, almost like the Hokies have a "hex" on them. Hartman said that he wasn't sure if ODU has ever won at Tech while he has been there.
The Hokies will have a spring break trip to Florida, and Hartman is looking forward to playing baseball six days straight and getting in some other workouts. He said that the team always comes back from Florida "a lot better than when we left."
How much longer will Hartman coach? "God knows, I don't," Hartman said. Two factors determine that for Hartman: his health and whether or not he enjoys it. As long as he enjoys it and his health is good, he will continue to coach.
Bill and Coach Hartman then talked about Hartman's old buddy Mike Martin, the Florida State coach, and Chip Baker, his 3rd base coach. FSU was in California on the expressway, going about 70 miles an hour on the bus, and all of a sudden, the driver "slumped over." Baker sat on the driver's lap, grabbed the wheel and started steering. Martin got the guy's leg off the accelerator, and they pulled the bus over. The driver was dead.
The Big East season begins on March 17th against BC. Every weekend after that, all the way through the middle of May, is Big East baseball.
Assistant men's basketball coach Mark Cline was on next. He is VT's basketball recruiting coordinator, and he came on to talk primarily about basketball recruiting.
Cline talked about the loss of Rolan Roberts and Dennis Mims, and how much that has hurt Tech. He said Dongo, Carter, and Smith should be options 3-5 down in the post, not 1-3.
Roth noted the attrition of the last few years, particularly the losses of Jenis Grindstaff, Roberts, and Mims, who would have been starters this year. Cline talked about how the Hokies had been "three or four" basketball teams this year, with all the injuries, the loss of Mims, Chase being in and out, and the late arrivals in December.
Recruiting goals right now: want to bring in two more post players. Signed C.J. Pigford (6-6, a pretty good athlete, "just knows how to play") and Dimari Thompkins (6-9, 260, needs to drop about 25 pounds, but will surprise some people).
Stokes is recruiting down in Florida right now. He is seeing a big kid (6-10, 265) that Cline went to see play when VT went to Providence. Stokes just finished visiting a kid in Texas who is 6-9, 240. Both are junior college players.
Biggest needs are skill and depth inside. VT needs a player inside that can be a go-to player to break runs and score when they need him. Pointed out that Nova and ND both have go-to guys (Michael Bradley and Troy Murphy).
The Big East has not led to an immediate recruiting windfall, due to history of teams struggling when they first enter the Big East (Miami in particular). That has been used against VT in recruiting. "When you're down, people aren't going to let you get up easy," Cline said. Young players are just now starting to see VT on TV, and it will take time for that to make an impression.
Cline said that the good teams in the Big East right now are the teams that are experienced. He said that it has taken teams like Providence and Notre Dame 6-7 years of recruiting to get to where they are today.
On Saturday, VT faces Pitt at 4:00 in Pittsburgh. The game will be shown on HTS.
Big East Player of Year: Cline picks Troy Bell of Boston College, averaging 22 points a game. Coach of the Year: Al Skinner of Boston College.
Cline and Roth both think that BC is a Sweet 16 team. They played a weak schedule early, which kept them from getting votes, but now they're rolling through the league. Cline says they're the best "team" -- chemistry is there, and they play well together.
Cline thinks BC and Notre Dame and Providence all have good chances to win the Big East tournament. Cline thought that at the time VT played them, G-Town was the best team VT had played, including UVa. But after starting out 16-0, they strung together some losses, and dissention and finger-pointing set in. Then they started to lose (Georgetown is currently 21-6, 8-6 in the Big East, 5-6 in their last 11 games).
Roth asked Cline why the Tech team didn't get better as the year went on. Cline said, "Somewhere along the line, they just got tired." He spoke of the length of the college season versus the high school season, and he just thinks that the players wore down mentally and physically. They came in cocky and confident, but the Big East season wore them down.
He talked about how they were all scorers in high school, and that's how they "got themselves going" in a game -- by scoring. In the course of a game, if their scoring isn't going well, they have trouble working hard at rebounding and defense.
Roth noted that the top three high school point guards from last year are at Seton Hall, UConn, and St. John's, and despite that, those teams are struggling. Is it unfair to expect some VT freshman to come in and play well when players like that are struggling in the Big East?
Cline pointed out that the entire teams at Seton Hall and St. John's are young, not just the point guards. Take those guys and put them on teams with experience at the other positions, and it changes things. Cline again pointed out that the loss of Roberts and Mims really hurt Tech, because it puts pressure on the young guys to be leaders, and they're not ready.
One advantage to having young players is that get older. Cline said that they have to take advantage of the spring, summer, and fall. He said that Bryant Matthews came in at 6-7, 174, and is now 6-8, 199. Said that he works hard and will continue to get bigger. Cline guessed that Matthews might eventually get as big as 220 or 225.
Cline said that the area surrounding Blacksburg has some good young high school talent. Roth asked Cline if VT would have had a chance at J.J. Redick of Cave Spring if VT had already been in the Big East for five years. Cline said the only way that would have happened is if VT had built the type of relationship with him where he just couldn't have said no to the coaches.
Cline said that in order to be successful, Tech has to be competitive in recruiting in the state. He noted that last year, Tech lost out to Virginia for two in-state recruits and to Stanford for another.
Brian in Richmond called next. He asked if Mims was still in school, and if he would play next year for Tech. Cline emphatically said that Mims will not play next year for Tech.
Brian also noted the VT passing game versus the ND passing game while watching the game on Saturday, commenting that Tech's passes were not sharp, but that Notre Dame's passes were like bullets around the perimeter, giving the defense very little time to react.
Cline said that players develop the most between their freshman and sophomore/junior years. VT taught man-to-man principles all year but did not fully learn the man to man principles and therefore had to play a lot of zone, which leads to less pressure on the passer.
Why is it that younger players typically can't grasp man-to-man defensive principles quickly? Roth asked. He noted that Carlos Dixon appears to have pretty good man-to-man fundamentals when compared to Tech's other freshmen.
Cline said that younger players tend not to play good man-to-man defense because they're all scorers in high school and wind up facing a lot of zone and just aren't used to man-to-man defense. The talent isn't as good. Carlos Dixon, on the other hand, played at FUMA, where the competition overall is better, so he's a little more advanced in man-to-man techniques.
How will the team play against Pitt? Cline said it's tough to win on the road. He noted the loss to Villanova, where Tech got up big after a home win, but then lost, and the players lost confidence.
Cline said that the advantages of being in the Big East should start to take hold next fall. "It typically takes a year," he said.
-- Apex Hokie