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Tech Talk Tuesday (football season only)
When: every Tuesday from 7:05-8:30
Station:  AM 910 in Richmond


Monday, January 7, 2002
by Wandering Hokie

Monday night was the first Hokie Hotline of 2002. Joining Bill Roth for the broadcast were Bonnie Henrickson and Ricky Stokes to discuss the womenís and menís basketball teams as they begin to move into the heart of Big East conference play. In addition, Cory Provus, the Tech womenís basketball play-by-play announcer, participated in the womenís basketball portion of the show.

Coach Bonnie Henrickson

Bill announced that the women were ranked 24th in the coaches poll released Monday, but remained just outside the top 25 in the AP poll. He reasoned that a win over Boston College on Wednesday night would get the Hokies ranked in the latter poll as well. Last weekís results jumped the Hokies from 42nd to 24th in the RPI ratings, which Bonnie said were more important in the business of tournament seeding. She hopes to get an easier NCAA draw this season, as opposed to having to play a top team on the road in the second round like last year.

Bonnie noted that VT and BC split a couple of hotly contested games last year, with each team winning on the road. She expects Wednesdayís game to be one of the best matchups of the current Big East season. Both teams are 11-2 and have a 2-0 record in the conference. Both teams are also protecting eight-game winning streaks.

BC hung with Tennessee in Chestnut Hill earlier this season, ultimately losing by 9 points. They played a lot of zone to shut down UTís post players, and Bonnie expects the same on Wednesday. The Hokies need to knock down the outside shots, win the battle of the boards, and run when possible to expose BCís lack of depth due to injuries.

BC Senior Becky Gottstein has not played the last four games due to a stress fracture of her foot, but Bonnie is preparing the team as if she will play. Gottstein was All Big East last season, averaging more than 20 points and 8 rebounds per game. Bonnie believes her performance in the game at Blacksburg last season contributed in large part to her selection.

Ieva Kublina has been named BIG EAST Women's Basketball Co-Player of the Week following an outstanding performance last week. This is the second time she has received the honor. Bonnie, Cory, and Bill talked at length about Ievaís agility for someone her size. Bonnie especially raved about her developing shot-blocking prowess. On film, Ievaís blocks are captioned "Not in Ievaís House!!!" by the staff.

Bill said the Bonnie had a "heck of a team" this season, and Coach Henrickson agreed that she is pleased with the chemistry. The team has 62 assisted baskets on the season, and everyone seems unselfish and willing to make the extra pass. Everyone is also helping out on defense. In a team effort, the Hokies held Syracuseís sophomore point guard Julie McBride to 5 points on 2-11 shooting. McBride was the Big Eastís leading scorer, and had scored double figures in 14 straight games prior to Saturday. A tough road remains ahead, however, as UConn established themselves as a dominant #1 in the nation with a road win at Tennessee. The Hokies face UConn twice this season. Realistically, Bonnie said the Hokies were in a group with BC, Villanova, Notre Dame, and perhaps another team or two who would be battling for 2nd place.

There was much discussion of freshman Erin Gibsonís emergence as a key player. Bonnie said she wasnít completely surprised by her performance because the older players had been buzzing about Erinís skills after some of their pick up games during the off-season. She needs to continue to gain confidence and Bonnie would like her to shoot even more.

Among former players, Coach Henrickson announced that Tere Williams has made a pro team just outside Tel Aviv, Israel. Former Tennessee star Samika Randall is also on the roster. Tere will be overseas through April.

The team did hospital visits during the holiday break, but many are feeling bored right now because school does not restart until January 14th. Several of the players are reading any book they can get their hands on when they are not practicing. Both Molly Owings and Sarah Hicks achieved perfect 4.0 grade point averages during the first semester, and a total of seven players made the Deanís list.

In addition to the BC game at home on Wednesday night, the team plays at Georgetown on Saturday at 4PM. Bonnie wants Hokie fans to dominate crowd support at Georgetown much like the always did at GW during Techís tenure in the A10. The team will play at McDonough arena at 4PM Saturday, which is to the left after crossing the Key Bridge into Georgetown.

Coach Ricky Stokes

Coach Stokes began his segment by reviewing the recent performance of his menís team. He commented that the team was beginning to get their turnover problems under control, but now shooting woes had become their biggest problem. The team has reduced their turnovers to about 15-18 per game, much closer to their goal of 12-15 per game. Unfortunately, Bryant Matthews has recently been shooting at a 21% clip, while Joe Hamilton has been successful on only 23% of his attempts. Carlos Dixon and Eric Branham are also shooting poorly.

One problem is that the team is not getting any easy points off of turnovers because of injuries in the backcourt, as well as poor team defense. The team is not getting set quickly enough on defense. Roth theorized that mid-season fatigue could be setting in. Stokes said the team just needs a few breaks to get their confidence back.

On the bright side, Ricky said that DiMari Thompkins is improving rapidly, and getting back in better and better playing shape each game.

There was some discussion of the unfortunate altercation between a fan at Oklahoma State and some University of Texas players. The fan reacted because a player accidentally ran into his pregnant wife. Roth pointed out that that would not occur at Cassell Coliseum because the fans are not right at floor level, but it could occur at some Big East venues, particularly West Virginia.

Ricky mentioned recent strong performances by recruits signed in the early signing period. He likes Markus Sailes of Varina because he is a big strong point guard who could contribute next season. Sailes recently was MVP of a tournament where he scored 30 points and pulled down 15 or 16 rebounds in a game. Shawn Harris is also a big strong guard who is playing well in prep school. Allen Calloway was cited as MVP of a tournament in Raleigh. Stokes called him a 6í9" player who is more athletic than players currently in the program. He says VT is gradually closing the talent gap, getting bigger, stronger, and faster both through recruiting and Mike Gentryís training program.

Another recruit that was discussed briefly based on a call from a fan was Winston Robinson. Ricky confirmed that Winston would probably attend prep school next season. Stokes said the coachesí primary focus in recruiting is Virginia, and he would sign all Virginia players if he could. Otherwise the effort will be focused in the border states of TN, NC, MD, as well as Washington DC and the Big East corridor.

Coach Stokes said he told Roth before the FSU game that the Seminoles were much better than their record. They have since beaten Tech soundly and last night they upset #1 Duke. Bill stated his opinion that FSUís recruiting classes were stronger when they were in the Metro, and have slipped since they joined the ACC. He also feels that WVUís classes were stronger when they were in the A-10. This, he said, illustrates that a move to a stronger conference does not automatically mean a recruiting bonus. He theorized that part of the reason might mean that the pool of available players who can contribute at a higher level is smaller. Ricky did not offer a lot of support for Billís theories, and said he thought FSUís current players were pretty good.

In response to a question about the recruiting budget, Ricky refused to discuss dollars, but said that he had everything he needed to be successful. Bill asked him what he would do to improve recruiting if someone gave him another half million dollars for that purpose. After some thought over a commercial break, Ricky said he would hold half court shooting contests with a prize of half a million dollars if fans would fill every seat in Cassell. He and Bill listed a number of facilities improvements that the athletic administration has supported, including $1 million for seat renovation, $1 million for new video scoreboards, a new sound system, two additional practice baskets, and charter flights to get the team back to classes more quickly after road trips.

A fan called to once again question the breakdown of the Big East divisions. Roth agreed it is an issue. He noted that Syracuse does not play its traditional rivals of UConn and Seton Hall at all this season, while Tech plays each of them twice. Meanwhile Tech only plays long time rival WVU once, and does not play football rival Pittsburgh at all this season. Bill said conference Commissioner and Tech fan favorite Mike Tranghese makes up the schedules unilaterally and "arbitrarily." Ricky just wishes his home games were scheduled while the students are on campus, but Bill said that some teams had to compete with hockey and/or the NBA for their arenas, and those teams probably get scheduled first.

On Saturday, the menís team will play Connecticut on the road. Coach Stokes said they will try something "a little unusual" to try and contain Caron Butler, who burned the Hokies for 29 points in Blacksburg on January 2nd. When Tech goes to man defense, Bryant Matthews will draw the assignment of guarding Butler. The next home game is with Miami on January 12th. Stokes says the Hurricanes are playing as well as anyone in the conference right now. They have a big man who was ineligible last season, and superstar Darius Rice returned for another season.

Miscellaneous Football Notes

  • A total of 6 Hokie football players were named to the Sporting News All Big East Freshman Team. This tied Miami for the most players selected. Surprisingly, Rutgers was third with four selections while WVU had none. The VT players named were DeAngelo Hall, Mike Daniels, and Brandon Manning (surprise!) on defense; Jon Dunn and Kevin Jones on offense, and Richard Johnson for special teams.
  • Miami has had three players declare early for the NFL draft and one other is a good possibility. Cornerback Phillip Buchanon, Tailback Clinton Portis, and Tight End Jeremy Shockey have already made their intentions known. An announcement one way or the other is expected from Defensive Tackle William Joseph before the Friday deadline.
  • Monday was Day 828 in Virginia Techís continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

-- Wandering Hokie


          

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