News With Commentary by TSL Staff
Friday, March 15, 2002
Editor's Note: This material appeared in today's TSLMail.
Football News: Winter Workouts
The Tech football players have been participating in the dreaded 6 a.m. winter workouts this week (an activity that is unanimously chosen by exiting seniors as the "thing they'll miss the least" about Hokie football) and will continue through next week.
The winter workouts come between winter max testing (which occurred before Spring Break and consisted of players testing for different running and weightlifting events) and Spring Football. There are six 6 a.m. workouts over a two-week stretch, occurring on Monday-Wednesday-Friday of each of the two weeks.
The workouts are grueling affairs intended to test (and establish) character and see what players are made of, not to teach or instruct. The drills will lead to improved footwork and stamina, but that's not their focus. Their intent is to push players to the wall to see who responds and to teach each player how to reach deep inside himself for those last reserves of strength. And to find out who the team leaders are.
The coaching staff awards "Commitment to Excellence" T-shirts to players that it feels give 100% effort in a given workout. The player wears the T-shirt to the next workout, and as long as they keep earning it, they keep wearing it.
For a football player, the Holy Grail of 6 a.m. workout achievement is to earn the T-shirt for every workout, a perfect 6-for-6 score. This is difficult to accomplish, not only for obvious reasons, but because the coaching staff always awards just a few T-shirts in the first day of workouts. Last year, only five T-shirts were awarded on day one, and this year, just two.
So who aced it last year, earning a T-shirt every day? Just three players, all rising seniors at the time: Steve DeMasi, Brian Welch, and Emmett Johnson. Lee Suggs narrowly missed it, due to illness on the last day of workouts. It's worth noting that one of the workouts last year was canceled due to weather (they're held inside, so it must have snowed, making it difficult to reach Rector Field House), so DeMasi, Welch, and Johnson "only" earned five T-shirts instead of six.
This year, free safety Willie Pile and walk-on wide receiver Chris Shreve are 3-for-3 on earning "Commitment to Excellence" T-shirts after week one. Barring illness or injury, they're the only two guys who have a shot at going the distance next week.
In Pile's case, it's a perfect example of the leadership needed from a rising senior, and in the case of Shreve, it's a perfect example of a walk-on, a guy who isn't on scholarship and rarely plays (just 39 snaps from scrimmage last year), setting the tone for hard work.
Hokie Women Brace for WNIT Second Round Game
The Tech women's basketball team (19-10) is preparing for a second-round WNIT game against an old, familiar foe, George Washington (21-8) of the Atlantic 10.
GW was an NCAA bubble team. After rolling through the Atlantic 10 with a 15-1 record, including winning 15 games in a row, GW was knocked out of the first round of the A-10 tournament by Xavier. That loss helped cost the Colonials, who have an RPI rating of 69, an NCAA Tournament bid.
From 1995 to 1999, the Hokies were in the Atlantic 10 Conference for basketball with GW, and the rivalry was developing quite nicely. GW was the top team in the conference when the Hokies entered, and Tech, along with Xavier, unseated the Colonials, who did not give up the crown quietly or nicely.
While in the A-10, Tech and GW played 11 games, and the Hokies went 5-6 in those contests. Current VT Coach Bonnie Henrickson, however, is 5-2 against GW. Henrickson was 5-0 against GW, until the Colonials whacked Tech 76-64 and 73-58 in their last two meetings, during the 1999-2000 season.
GW starts no seniors and is led by 5-11 junior forward Cathy Joens (15.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and 6-4 sophomore center Ugo Oha (13.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg). The battle between Oha and Tech's 6-4 Ieva Kublina (15.2 ppg, 7.5 ppg) could very well be the game-within-a-game that determines the outcome of this one.
The winner will move on to play the winner of Vermont/St. Joseph's in the WNIT quarterfinals. Home games are awarded on attendance, so the Hokies, if they win, must outdraw the Vermont/St. Joe's game in Vermont in order to play round 3 in Blacksburg.
That may sound like a slam-dunk, but Vermont turned out 2,933 fans for their first round 70-63 victory over Holy Cross, Vermont's first-ever postseason victory. So they'll present a stiff challenge for Hokie fans in the attendance war that is a subplot of this weekend's games. The good news for Tech is that Vermont plays in Patrick Gymasium, which has a capacity of just 3,228. If Tech can turn out 3,500 fans or more, they'll be guaranteed of outdrawing Vermont, barring any attendance fudging by Vermont.
So, for the Hokies and their fans, two challenges present themselves: (1) beat George Washington; and (2) outdraw Vermont.
The Hokies are playing Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum. Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for children and students. Tickets can be reserved in advance by calling 1-800-VATECH4.