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   Welcome to TSLMail #163 - Friday, February 18, 2005    
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   Tech Sports News

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Turnover Battle Tells the Tale for Hokies ... Most of the Time
by Chris James,

When the Virginia Tech Hokies were in the middle of their 4-game ACC basketball winning streak, many basketball fans were asking how in the world this group of no names was managing to beat teams such as NC State and Georgia Tech. Hokie fans pointed to a stat that was Tech's downfall under Ricky Stokes, and their savior under Seth Greenberg: turnover margin.

After starting 0-2 in ACC play with losses to UNC and Florida State, the Hokies won four consecutive ACC games to move to 4-2 in conference play. After dropping a game to Duke, Tech went on the road to beat Miami, putting them at 5-3 in the ACC. The Hokies were on a roll, winning 4 out of 5 games, and it was simple to see how they did it. They protected the basketball and forced turnovers.

The Turnover Battle in VT Wins
(prior to Duke win)
Opponent Turnovers TOs Forced TO Margin
Clemson 17 23 +6
NC State 10 17 +7
Georgia Tech 12 13 +1
UVA 11 22 +11
Miami 14 15 +1

The table shows that Virginia Tech averaged a +3.33 in turnover margin for the games that they won in the first half of ACC play. To the average fan, that may not sound like much, but in hard fought, close games that the Hokies barely hung on to win, they make all the difference.

With three empty possessions per game, VT opponents missed three chances to score. Let's say that under normal circumstances, without a turnover, they would have scored on two of those possessions. That's four points they did not score because of turnovers . Now let's go out on a limb and say that Tech converts two of those turnovers into layups for a total of four points. Add that up, and that's eight points in Tech's favor, and with one-point victories over NC State and Georgia Tech, a two-point victory over Clemson, and a six-point win over UVA -- well, you see what I'm getting at.

Overall points off turnovers were also huge in Tech's first five ACC victories. The Hokies are +27 points off turnovers in their five ACC wins this year.

Points off Turnovers in VT Wins
(prior to Duke win)
Opponent VT Points Opp. Points VT Margin
Clemson 19 11 +8
NC State 21 17 +4
Georgia Tech 13 13 0
UVA 18 2 +16
Miami 19 18 -1

Clearly points off turnovers played a critical role in three VT victories this year -- the two-point win over Clemson, the one-point win over NC State, and the six-point win over UVA. If Tech isn't forcing a lot of turnovers and turning them into points, chances are they aren't winning basketball games.

The tables above show the winning statistics for VT basketball -- now let's take a look at some statistics that aren't as good. First off, turnover margin in ACC games that the Hokies have lost.

The Turnover Battle in VT Losses
(prior to Duke win)
Opponent Turnovers TOs Forced TO Margin
UNC 20 22 +2
FSU 19 28 +9
Duke 16 10 -6
Wake Forest 11 18 +7
Maryland 18 13 -5
UVA 10 9 -1

While these numbers aren't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, they are not up to par with the numbers above. The odd statistic is the +9 turnover margin in the loss to Florida State. FSU has been an inconsistent team this year, with a win over Wake Forest but losses to nearly everyone else. It's pretty shocking, considering the Hokies forced 28 turnovers, that the 'Noles were able to beat Tech that night. The Hokies led late, but couldn't finish strong. Tech turned the ball over 19 times themselves, their second highest total of the year, so that had a lot to do with it. And while Tech whipped Wake in turnover margin, the Demon Deacons had too much talent for the Hokies to overcome.

Turnover margin in the Maryland and UVA losses did not help the Hokies. Out of all the VT losses this year, turnover margin meant more in these two games than in any other. The Hokies were -5 against Maryland, which is a huge difference from the +5 margins that they were seeing in their winning streak. And while the -1 turnover margin against UVA is very small, it is quite significant when you consider that Tech was +11 against the 'Hoos when the teams first met in Blacksburg.

The most obvious sign that the Hokies are losing games is to look at the points off turnovers battle. Except for the FSU game, Tech has gotten killed in this statistic this season.

Points off Turnovers in VT Losses
(prior to Duke win)
Opponent VT Points Opp. Points VT Margin
UNC 18 21 -3
FSU 25 17 +8
Duke 6 18 -12
Wake Forest 12 20 -8
Maryland 15 24 -9
UVA 8 11 -3

Obviously, this Virginia Tech team has too many deficiencies for the Hokies to overcome when they fall behind in the turnover department. The only conference game that the Hokies won this season in which they lost the points off turnovers battle was against Miami, and they were outscored in that category by a mere one point.

The two things that have really hurt Tech's turnover statistics in the past two games is the opponents that they have been playing, rather than their own play. Maryland is led by a great point guard in John Gilchrist who takes care of the ball, and Pete Gillen slowed UVA's offense down to a crawl in an attempt to take better care of the ball, which obviously has worked. So have the Hokies lost their mojo, or are teams learning to take better care of the ball against Tech?

All that said, the Duke game last night represented the opposite of everything already written in this article. The Hokies lost the turnover margin battle by 6, and were outscored in points off turnovers 14-12. However, they more than made up for it in rebounding, winning that battle 49-32. They also beat Duke in 2nd chance points 14-2. The amazing thing is that Tech is dead last in the ACC in rebounding. The Hokies can still win games by dropping the turnover battle, they've just got to find another statistic in which to excel.

Win an Actual VT Game Football, Signed by the Coaches and Players!

Brain Injury Services of SWVA and Brain Injury Services, Inc. in Northern Virginia are offering Hokie fans a chance to win a truly unique prize: a "game-winning" football signed by the Virginia Tech football coaching staff and players.

The football up for grabs is the football being carried by Cedric Humes in the picture above, during Cedric's game-clinching 37-yard TD run against Virginia this past season. The ball was taken from the field -- "It still has dirt on it," yours truly was recently told -- and later signed by Virginia Tech coaches and players.

The ball is now being raffled off. Only 600 raffle tickets are being sold, and each ticket costs $100. To make things even better, the cost of your raffle ticket is tax-deductible as a charitable donation to Brain Injury Services of SWVA and Brain Injury Services, Inc.

These two organizations are the only two case management programs serving kids with brain injuries in the state of Virginia. The services needed by brain injury survivors are scarce, and these two programs make a difference in people's lives. Proceeds from the raffle will be used to fund desperately-needed case managers at these two organizations.

Interested? Here are the details:

  • Prize: One Signed Game-Winning Virginia Tech football from the 2004 Virginia Tech/UVa football game.

  • Raffle Ticket Cost: $100

  • Drawing Date: April 16th 2005 (you do not need to be present to win)

  • Tax-Deductible Amount of Raffle Ticket Purchase: $100 (unless you win, of course!)

  • How to Purchase: Call or email Brain Injury Services Inc. of Northern Virginia (703-451-8881, email [email protected]) or The Jason Foundation in Radford, Virginia (540-633-2225, email [email protected]) for details on how to purchase a ticket. When you purchase a ticket, you'll receive a ticket stub and a receipt for tax purposes.

The Virginia Tech football program and head coach Frank Beamer (click the link to see a letter written by Beamer) are behind this effort to raise much-needed funds. Buy your ticket and get your chance at winning the football pictured above! Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week

Quieting the Weary Ghosts of Cassell
by Will Stewart,, 2/18/05, 12:00 pm
Thursday night, in the wild minutes after Virginia Tech's historic 67-65 victory over Duke, I stood in the stands and watched the students celebrate, packing the floor with the Hokie players and cheerleaders. My eyes roamed to the rafters, where ACC banners now hang, and for a moment, I thought I saw ghosts. And as I watched, they slowly faded away. Had I really seen them? I continued to stare into the rafters of 44-year old Cassell Coliseum, and though the vision didn't return, I decided that yes, I had seen something.
in TSL Pass

Hokies Rock the ACC, Knock Off Duke 67-65
by Will Stewart,, 2/18/05, 2:00 am
Blacksburg, VA -- On January 30th in Durham, the Virginia Tech Hokies scored 65 points and were pounded by 35 by the Duke Blue Devils. Thursday night in Cassell Coliseum, Virginia Tech scored 67 points … and won by two. Zabian Dowdell hit a three-pointer with 14.6 seconds left to put the Hokies up 67-65, and Tech made it stand up, beating #7 Duke in a shocker.
in Men's Basketball

Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. #7 Duke
by Chris James,, 2/17/05, 11:30 am
* Includes roster card in PDF format *
Losers of four of their last five, the Virginia Tech Hokies (12-10, 5-6) return to Cassell Coliseum on Thursday night to take on the 7th ranked Duke Blue Devils (18-3, 8-3). This is the second meeting this season between the two schools. The first meeting saw Duke beat the Hokies 100-65 in Cameron Indoor Stadium in a game where Duke hit more free throws (30) than Tech did field goals (24). While there have been some big games in Cassell Coliseum this year, such as UNC, Wake Forest and Virginia, this is the game that most Hokie fans have marked on their calendars.
in Men's Basketball

2005 Recruiting Grades: The Defense
by Will Stewart,, 2/15/05, 11:00 pm
It seems that a number of subscribers had some issues with part 1, which graded the offensive recruiting. Most readers understandably want to see higher grades. If that's the case, you'll be pleased with the way I view this defensive recruiting class, which is deep and talented at almost every part of the defense. As with the offensive grading article, I attempted to project needs, then evaluate how those needs were met.
in TSL Pass

A Gym Rat's Notebook: Regaining the Mental Edge
by Elijah Kyle, 2/16/05, 3:50 pm
With a key game coming up on Thursday night with the Dookies of Durham, and coming off a disappointing road loss in Charlottesville last Saturday against the University of Virginia, the Virginia Tech basketball team is looking to recapture their earlier glory within the conference, while still harboring postseason hopes. With a conference record of 5-6, the Hokies have fallen below the .500 mark in the conference for the first time since they were 1-2 following their win over Clemson on January 15th. And in doing so, they also have fallen into a tie for sixth in the conference with Georgia Tech, their lowest placement in the conference since their second game of the season.
in TSL Pass

Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes for 2/14/05
by Phil Noftsinger, 2/16/05, 11:00 am
Hokie basketball coach Seth Greenberg comes on the show, and the hot topic is whether or not the team is running out of gas. Plus, you may have heard there's a game against Duke Thursday night.
in Hotline Notes

Bryan Randall Rookie Diary #1: The Combine is Almost Here
by, 2/15/05, 3:00 pm is pleased to once again bring you a "Rookie Diary" series covering one VT football player's efforts to make the NFL. This year's Rookie Diary subject is Bryan Randall, the 2004 ACC Player of the Year and Virginia Tech's all-time total offense leader. Randall is currently in Georgia preparing for the NFL Combine, which starts on February 23rd in Indianapolis.
in TSL Pass

Rivalries are Fun
by Jim Alderson, 2/15/05, 11:40 am
It's not easy being a Hoo. There's the exhaustion of being forced to maintain that attitude of condescending arrogance towards those wretches not fortunate enough to have trod the Grounds during their undergraduate days. Then there's the taxing physical demands caused by attempting to pat one's self on the back for one's academic accomplishments while simultaneously holding a glass of wine and a wedge of brie. It must be tough learning that toughest of admissions requirements, the reciting of Mr. Jefferson's lineage from Thomas on down to the present day, then convincing the admissions officer how the candidate might be related to the great Founder.
in TSL Pass

2005 Recruiting Grades: The Offense
by Will Stewart,, 2/14/05, 1:10 am
You know what I can't stand? I can't stand it when someone writes something like, "The Hokies graduated three defensive backs this year, so they were looking for DB help in their 2005 recruiting class." No, you twerp, if three DBs were slated to graduate after the 2004 season, the help was needed earlier than the 2005 recruiting class. I promise not to make dopey statements like that in this article, but other than that I make no promises about this, my attempt to grade the recruiting for the Hokie offense.
in TSL Pass

Cavaliers Come on Strong, Down Hokies 65-60
by Will Stewart,, 2/12/05, 3:10 pm
Charlottesville, VA -- Gary Forbes had 21 points, including 17 second-half points, as Virginia used a 20-6 run late in the game to pull ahead of the Hokies for a 65-60 win. Virginia Tech was led by Zabian Dowdell with 20 points and Coleman Collins with 19. The loss is Virginia Tech's third straight and fourth in their last five games, dropping the Hokies to 12-10 (5-6 ACC). Virginia has won three straight and improves to 13-9, 4-7 in the conference.
in Men's Basketball

Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Virginia
by Stefan Adams,, 2/11/05, 2:15 pm
* Includes roster card in PDF format *
Bragging rights take a back seat to other implications for this Saturday’s matchup between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Virginia Cavaliers. The Hokies need to notch at least two victories in their final six games in order to be postseason eligible when the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament arrives in March. Similarly, the Cavaliers sit in the same exact position as the Hokies with respect to postseason play. Both teams are 12-9 overall, but the Hokies are ahead in the ACC standings with a 5-5 record, compared to Virginia’s 3-7 conference mark.
in Men's Basketball

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