Wednesday, March 8, 2000
by Will Stewart,

Dennis Mims Suspended Indefinitely

In an announcement that is unexpected but perhaps not surprising, Tech forward Dennis Mims has been suspended indefinitely from the Hokie basketball team. According to what Tech basketball sources have told, the suspension apparently relates to an episode during practice Monday in which Mims "blew up" at Coach StokesÖor a locker room incident after Saturday's Dayton game, depending upon which source you listen to.

Maybe it's both, maybe it's neither. Channel 10ís Justin Ditmore reported that sources told him that Mims was "badmouthing" the coaches after Saturdayís game. In any case, speculation on all fronts is that Mims has played his last game in a Hokie uniform. He will either transfer or be encouraged not to return to the team.

Whether Dennis returns or not remains to be seen, but in any event, the suspension caps what has been an eventful two years for Mims. After a relatively quiet freshman season, Mims talked openly about transferring. At the time, Tech basketball fans were quick to place the blame for that talk squarely on the shoulders of former Tech coach Bobby Hussey, who had lost star guard Jenis Grindstaff to an unexpected transfer the previous year.

The transfer rumors died out when Tech underwent a coaching change shortly after the 98-99 season. Mims seemed invigorated by the hiring of new coach Ricky Stokes, who promised to bring a more up-tempo style to the Hokie basketball team. The players seemed to like Coach Stokes, and Mims in particular seemed excited.

Fast forward one year, and nothing much seems to have changed. If anything, it has gotten worse for Mims. He has been involved in a well-publicized series of on-court incidents, including receiving four technical fouls and attempting to throw a punch at St. Bonaventure's Tim Winn in a road game earlier this year (the fouls and other incidents were chronicled in a HokieCentral column titled What Dennis Giveth, Dennis Taketh Away that ran on February 18th).

In a Randy King article that ran the very next day in the Roanoke Times (Hokies center an emotional leader, February 19th), Mims would not discount the possibility that he might transfer at the end of this season. He was quoted as saying:

"I don't really know (about transferring)... I have to see what's up. I'm not playing little games, but I just don't want to say that everything is great. I don't want to disappoint anybody , saying, "Well, he says he's coming back next year and now he's transferring.""

With that quote, a lot of the public sentiment that rallied around Mims at the end of the 98-99 season turned against him. When a player talks about transferring once, it's reasonable to think that perhaps it's the coach's fault. When the coach is replaced, and the player again talks about transferring Ö well, it starts to look as if the player might have the problem, not the coaches. Especially when that player has racked up four technicals and has been volatile on the court.

Now it appears that Mims's career at Tech may be a done deal. The same sources that reported the suspension to say that Mims's relationship with Coach Stokes has not been any better than his relationship with Coach Hussey was, and that Mims has been a handful off and on in practice all year long. That's why they feel it likely that he will not return next year.

In any event, whether his Tech career is done or not, Mims has fallen out of favor with most Tech fans who follow the program closely, and even those who follow it casually. He puzzles Tech fans, who can't seem to understand why such a talented player from a solid middle-class background would be so volatile. They desperately want to cheer for him and his considerable talents, but are understandably starting to think that he is a liability to the program.

Mimsís behavior baffles me personally. The only time I met him, in the post-game locker room at Duquesne, he was actually very nice and approachable, and almost shy. He is at times very personable, but there appears to be a side to Dennisís personality that those on the outside looking in can never understand, and even those close to him, including Dennis himself, have trouble explaining.

The ultimate trouble with Dennis is that he appears to need his "edge" in order to play well. The times that he has reigned himself in, he hasnít been effective as a player. In any case, that fiery side of his personality appears to have finally worn out his welcome.

Should Mims have some sort of revelation or awakening, make his peace with the coaching staff, and remain at Tech, which doesnít seem likely, he will face an uphill battle against the negative image he has built for himself

If Mims leaves Tech, it will no doubt do considerable damage to the Hokies on the court, but their chemistry and morale will no doubt improve. Whether that adds up to additional points and rebounds from the players left behind, enough to make up for Mims's absence, is doubtful. Only time will tell.

Ironically, this volatile player who seems to have put an end to his Tech career with his own behavior is the son of a reverend and a psychology major, not the type of person that you would expect this from. And he is apparently destined to go his separate way from the Hokie basketball program, forever remaining a mystery to long-suffering Tech basketball fans who asked only one thing of Dennis: to make the Hokies better.

That chance appears to have been lost.

Hokies Tip Off A-10 Tournament Play

In the wake of the announcement of Mimsís suspension, itís interesting to note that it probably didnít change the Hokiesí outlook for the A-10 Tournament one iota.

Tech opens with Fordham today in a noon game that will not be televised. The Rams, who got hammered by Tech 82-61 in Cassell Coliseum earlier this year, have never beaten Tech in eight tries.

Fordham has given the Hokies trouble from time to time, though, and ordinarily, Tech losing Mims would give the Rams hope. But not this year, because colorful Fordham coach Bob Hill, who can always be counted on to provide some choice post-game comments on A-10 officiating, has suspended his leading scorer, Bevon Robin, for the remainder of the season. Hill has also dismissed his fifth-leading scorer, 6-8 junior forward Alejandro Olivares, from the team for good.

Robin and Olivares were responsible for 24.3 points a game between the two of them, so the outlook for Fordham against the Hokies is not good, even with Mimsís suspension.

If Tech makes it past Fordham, the Hokies have another fun date with Temple looming on Thursday. It will overjoy you to find out that the Temple game will be televised, on ESPN no less, at noon. Temple is 6-0 against the Hokies since Tech joined the A-10, winning by an average score of 62-47.

Mims or no Mims, Tech has very little chance against the Owls. Itís likely to be a very short trip to Philadelphia for the Hokies.

HokieCentral Notes

We continue to make small changes and adjustments here at HokieCentral. There have been a couple of additions to the Football Page that you may have missed:

  • HokieCentral has posted the date and time of the Spring Football Game on the home page and the Football Page. In addition, the plans (such as they are) for the annual HokieCentral Spring Game Tailgate are posted on the Football Page. Simply put, the tailgate is BYOE (Bring Your Own Everything) and starts around ten o'clock in the morning. A link to a map is included on HC's Football Page, so take a look there for more details.
  • We have also added a composite football schedule showing all the games for Tech's 2000 football opponents. If you check the Football Page's left hand border under the "Schedules" button, you'll see a link titled "Composite Sched," and that's where you'll find it.
  • Speaking of the Hokies' football opponents for next year, the Links Page has recently been updated with links to web sites for all 12 football teams that Tech will face this fall. There are more quality sites than ever out there, giving you ample opportunity to visit other web sites and get information about VT opponents or mix it up with their fans on their message boards.


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