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   Welcome to TSLMail #121 - Friday, March 19, 2004    
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After Long Layoff, Hokie Women Ready for NCAAs 
by Will Stewart,

Virginia Tech's women's basketball team hasn't played a game since March 7th, and they finally get to jump back in the water Sunday in the NCAA Tournament, as a #8 seed going up against #9 seed Iowa (16-12, 10-6 Big Ten) in Blacksburg at noon. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

In the other first round game, #1 seed Penn State (25-5, 15-1 Big Ten) takes on #16 seed Hampton (17-12, 14-4 MEAC).

The sub-regional definitely has a Big Ten flavor to it with PSU and Iowa, so attention immediately turns towards wondering what the strength of the Big Ten is relative to the Big East, and how teams with 12 losses and 5 losses got a nine seed and a one seed, respectively.

While not on par with the SEC and Big 12, the RPI of the Big Ten puts it fourth as a league, ahead of the Big East (#5) and behind the SEC (#1), Big 12 (#2), and ACC (#3).

Iowa has the same in-conference record in their league (10-6) as VT does in the Big East (10-6), and with the leagues being similar in strength, the seedings are comparable, and the teams are comparable. But while VT suffered no losses outside the Big East, Iowa lost five games outside their league.

Three of their losses outside the league were to teams in the top 50 of the RPI: Houston (#7), Kansas State (#8), and Missouri (#45). Their other two OOC losses were to Iowa State (#74) and Creighton (#76).

The Hokies' highest-rated OOC opponent was ODU (#18), whom Tech beat 79-72 in Blacksburg. Other than that, the Hokies didn't give themselves an ultra-stiff challenge out of conference, defeating teams with RPI ratings between 47 (Maryland) and 170 (JMU).

The VT-Iowa matchup should be a classic, competitive 8-9 matchup, similar to their 7-10 matchup with Georgia Tech in the first round last year, which VT won 61-59.

Iowa has three players who all average more per game than VT's leading scorer, Ieva Kublina (13.3 ppg): #52 Jamie Cavey (6-3 Jr., 16.9 ppg) , #22 Kristi Faulkner (5-7 Sr., 16.0 ppg), and #50 Jennie Lillis (6-1 Sr., 15.8 ppg).

Iowa averages 73.3 points per game to 63.2 for VT, and the Hawkeyes shoot a solid 36.1% from three-point range, to 30.9% for VT, so Iowa has the advantage in scoring and long-range shooting.

Iowa has been outrebounded by 1.5 per game, while VT holds a huge +4.4 rebounding margin, so Tech should have an advantage on the boards. Iowa holds an advantage in free throw shooting, 76.6% to 72.6%.

If Tech wins, they'll most likely face Penn State in the second round, and that's where things could get very tough. At 25-5, PSU may sound like a #1 seed with a lot of losses, but they have an incredible nine wins against teams in the RPI top 25, with another six coming against the RPI top 50 (compare that to VT, for example, with three wins against the RPI top 25, and only one more win in the RPI top 50).

PSU's top scorer is #13 Kelly Mazzante, who drops in 20.8 ppg, and three more players average in the low double-figures. One player who will get your attention is 6-6 freshman post player Reicina Russell (#50), who can be seen on an ESPN promo palming a couple of basketballs, her arms extended. Russell averages just 4.6 ppg game but has racked up 78 blocks (Ieva Kublina, for comparison, has 68 blocks, but she plays 11 minutes more per game than Russell does).

Tech coach Bonnie Henrickson appeared on Big Dog Sportstalk with Rick Watson yesterday in the New River Valley and said that ticket sales were at 4,000, as of late Thursday. That sounds a little low, but a good walk-up crowd is expected -- I would guess a lot of Penn State fans will show -- and if the Hokies make the Tuesday night matchup with the Lady Lions, it should be at least close to sold out.

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week

Season-Ending Thoughts on VT Hoops
by Will Stewart,, 3/19/04, 10:25 am
The Hokies' season turned around on January 31st, with 7:22 to go in the first half of the Syracuse game. When Tech visited Syracuse, they were 8-9, 1-5 in the Big East, and losers of six of their last seven. They were coming off a humiliating 96-60 bug-stomping at the hands of Connecticut at home, the worst loss in Cassell Coliseum history.
in TSL Pass

12 Aspirations for the Hokie Men's Basketball Program
by Jeff Ouellet, 3/18/04, 4:25 pm
In a previous column I offered 12 suggestions to the Hokie football program – I am sure Coach Beamer’s thank you card is in the mail – but I don’t want to make Coach Greenberg feel excluded. Understanding, of course, he is in a very difficult spot given the current composition of the roster, scholarship number limitations, and the level of competition, here are some philosophical thoughts on what it will take to become a midlevel program in the ACC over the next three-four years.
in TSL Pass

Smorgasbord of Humility
by Gary Cope, 3/18/04, 9:35 am
So, this is what crow tastes like? Hmmm. Kind of bitter. Oh, and pass me some of that humble pie, while you’re at it. Hopefully, if there’s still room, I can stick both feet in my mouth as well.
in Voice of the Fan

Rookie Diary #5: In Town for Pro Day
by, 3/17/04, 2:55 pm
In this latest installment of Nathaniel Adibi's rookie diary, he gives us a brief update of what's to come on Thursday, and how he views it.
in TSL Pass

A Gym Rat's Notebook #10: Did You Say Four, or Forty?
by Elijah Kyle, 3/17/04, 10:35 am
Ricky Stokes had just completed his first season as head basketball coach at Virginia Tech in the final Atlantic-10 conference campaign of the program. Coming off a 16-15 season under a rookie head coach -- which coincidentally also ended without a post season berth in the NIT, much like this year -- and with fans looking forward to the dawning of a new era in Virginia Tech basketball, as the program would embark upon its inaugural season of Big East membership, Hokie Nation had much to look forward to as the Big East possibilities made one’s head spin in a dizzying frenzy of anticipation.
in TSL Pass

Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes for 3/15/04
by Phil Noftsinger, 3/16/04, 3:25 pm
Roth opened the interview portion of the show with Coach Greenberg by addressing the bittersweet ending to the Hokies' basketball season. The season was obviously sweet in that they accomplished their goal of playing in the Big East Tournament, and even advanced to the next round by defeating Rutgers. However, the season’s bitter part was not being selected to participate in the NIT.
in Hokie Hotline Notes

Beware The Snub, Indeed
by Jim Alderson, 3/16/04, 2:15 pm
Well, they did it to us again. The Virginia Tech men’s basketball season ended rather abruptly Sunday night when an expected and anticipated bid to the NIT did not materialize. It was déjà vu all over again. This was not the first time the NIT has left Tech bid-less. The NIT selection committee got good practice at snubbing Tech back in 1994. Oh, well, that’s the way it goes. I have paid virtually no attention to the NIT since 1995 and won’t have to interrupt my NCAA bracket calculations to give it a look this year, either.
in TSL Pass

Tech Women Seeded 8th in NCAAs
by Will Stewart,, 3/14/04, 10:15 pm
Virginia Tech's women's basketball team will be seeded eighth in the NCAA Tournament and will play ninth-seeded Iowa in a first round game in Blacksburg on Sunday, March 21st. The other first round game will pit #1 seeded Penn State against 16th-seeded Hampton. The winners will square off for a Sweet 16 spot on Tuesday March 23rd. Game times have not yet been set.
in News and Notes

Rookie Diary #4: Adibi's Time in Oakland Winds Down
by, 3/11/04, 2:55 pm
In this latest installment of Nathaniel Adibi's rookie diary, he talks to us about a number of topics, as he prepares to leave Oakland and return to Blacksburg for Pro Day testing.
in TSL Pass

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