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   Welcome to TSLMail #205 - Friday, December 16, 2005    
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   Tech Sports News

This week's Kroger "Pro Challenge" winner is...

David Haskins, who won at Level 1. David won a $50 gift certificate to Kroger, just for playing the Kroger "Pro Challenge" football game on our web site.

You can play Kroger's "Pro Challenge" football game for a chance to win $1,000. Hurry, because time to play is running out!

Each skill level lasts two minutes. Score 21 points at the HIGH SCHOOL level to move on to COLLEGE LEVEL. Score 14 points there to move on to the PRO LEVEL.

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Kroger's "Pro Challenge" football game

VT Basketball Players Ranking High in the ACC Stats
by Chris Coleman,

The Virginia Tech menís basketball team has gotten off to a solid 7-3 start and appears to be peaking earlier in the season than Seth Greenbergís first two teams. In the past two seasons, the Hokies ranked near the bottom of the Big East and ACC in many major statistical categories, but overcame these deficiencies by winning the turnover battle. Tech is winning that battle yet again this year, but they have also improved in several important elements of the game.

The Hokies have been playing great defense for the most part. They rank fourth in the ACC and 45th nationally (out of 326 teams) in scoring defense, allowing just 60.3 points per game. Opponents are shooting 40.1% against Tech, which is sixth in the ACC, in the middle of the pack. However, they do rank 69th nationally, ahead of teams such as Duke, Maryland, North Carolina and Boston College.

Virginia Tech is flashing their superior athleticism by blocking shots. The Hokies block 6.2 shots per game, which ranks second in the ACC, behind Wake Forest. Tech ranks 17th nationally in this category.

The Hokies are also shooting the ball much better this year. While their 47.6% from the floor only ranks eighth in the ACC, it ranks 60th nationally. Tech also ranks 47th nationally in scoring margin, outscoring their opponents by an average of 12.2 points per game.

And of course, Tech is getting it done in the turnover stats as well. The Hokies rank first in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio and third in turnover margin. They also rank fifth in steals. They are an impressive ninth in the nation in turnovers, committing just 11.5 per game. They are second among BCS conference teams in this category.

Itís also time to dispel the myth that Seth Greenberg is "doing more with less." Greenberg is doing a great job, but he certainly has some very good ACC-caliber players on his team. Coleman Collins, Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon could start for many of the teams in the conference.

Collins, a 19-yeard old junior, ranks sixth in the ACC in scoring at 17.1 points per game. He is also seventh in rebounding, averaging 8.1 points per game. Since his return from home to visit his ailing father, Collins is averaging 18.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He looks to be Techís top threat offensively at this point. He has a good jump shot and good range, and he can also do the dirty work inside.

Zabian Dowdell is having a great season as well, especially after moving from point guard to shooting guard. Dowdell is averaging 15.9 points per game, which ranks 14th in the ACC. Both Dowdell and Collins have recorded career highs of 25 points in games this season. Dowdell has also tied a Tech record with seven three-pointers in one game. He is fifth in the ACC in steals.

Jamon Gordon is having a great year "filling up the stat sheet" as Seth Greenberg likes to say. He averages 5.5 assists per game, which ranks first in the ACC. He also leads the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio. Gordon does it all for the Hokies. He grabbed ten rebounds in one game earlier in the season, a remarkable feat for a 6-3 guard.

So itís time to kill the theory that Tech lacks talented players. The only thing the Hokies lack is another inside player to complement Coleman Collins. Deron Washington has done a great job at power forward, but he is more suited to the small forward position. That problem could be solved if Robert Krabbendam is able to come back effectively from his injury. We should know by the William & Mary game on December 27th.

In what has been a rare occurrence throughout the years, the Hokies will head to Las Vegas to take on a west coast team on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Tech will face the Stanford Cardinal at 12:30 am on ESPN. Meetings with west coast teams have been few and far between for Tech. The game will serve as another nationally televised game for the Hokies and will also increase their exposure in another region.

In the 1996-97 season, Tech flew west to Hawaii where they faced off against Hawaii-Hilo, Colorado and Illinois in the Big Island Invitational. The Hokies defeated Hawaii-Hilo, but were defeated by the Buffaloes and Illinois. Tech went on to finish the season 15-16 in Bill Fosterís last season.

In the second game of the 1991-92 season, the California Golden Bears traveled east, taking on Virginia Tech in Richmond. Cal beat Tech 68-59 and the Hokies went on to a miserable 10-18 season.

The most recent home-and-home series with a west coast team came against the USC Trojans. Tech traveled to Los Angeles during the 1985-86 season, where they beat USC 90-81 in a season that saw the Hokies go 22-9 and take a trip to the NCAA Tournament. In the 1987-88 season, USC returned the favor by coming to Blacksburg, where they were blown out by Tech 101-73. The Hokies finished 19-10 that year but did not make a postseason tournament because they were on probation.

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week
TSL Audio: "Tech Beat with Mike Harris" Interview With Will Stewart
December 15, 2005
TSL's Will Stewart appeared on "Tech Beat With Mike Harris" Wednesday night, and Will and Mike discussed a number of topics related to VT basketball and football: an early-season assessment of Seth Greenberg's 7-3 basketball team, including the biggest suprises of the season so far and whether or not the loss to Duke was a valuable "moral victory"; plus the reasons why there's a general lack of excitement over VT's upcoming Gator Bowl matchup with Louisville. (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 4.2 MB, 27:51)

Luckett Announces Decision!
December 15, 2005
Virginia Tech went to the state of New Jersey to land commitment #14. Zach Luckett, a 6-3, 205-pound athlete out of Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, chose the Hokies today over Boston College as well as offers from quite a few schools from the ACC, Big East and Big Ten, respectively. He announced his decision on ESPNU earlier this evening.

Round Table: Assessing the Season
December 15, 2005
Recently, we had our TSL football columnists respond to a list of questions about VT football's regular season Ė its highs, lows, in-betweens, and MVPs. Each columnist answered the questions without being privy to what the other columnists were saying, and we have compiled the answers into one "Round Table" on the season. Participants are Will Stewart, Chris Coleman, and Phil Martin.

Audio Interview with John Graves
December 15, 2005
On Wednesday, December 14th, Meadowbrook defensive end John Graves appeared on the "Tech Beat With Mike Harris" radio show to discuss his commitment to Virginia Tech. Graves talked about where he projects at Virginia Tech, how difficult the process of choosing between Tech and UVa was, and more. (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 1.1 MB, 7:18)

TSL Recruiting Report from "Tech Beat With Mike Harris", for 12/14/05
December 15, 2005
This week on the "Tech Beat With Mike Harris" radio show, the Recruiting Report featured Chris Horne and Mike Harris discussing the commitment of John Graves, as well as other VT football recruiting issues. (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 3.3 MB, 22:18)

Phillips Lands Offers from UVa, VT
December 15, 2005
Itís safe to say that Rashad Phillips made the right decision this fall. After choosing not to play football last season as a junior, the 6-4, 205-pound senior decided to give it a go this year and has seen tremendous results. Because of his outstanding performance at the wide receiver and defensive end positions, Phillips has received a handful of Division 1A scholarship offers.

Minor Makes Second Official Visit
December 14, 2005
Varina (VA) running back Brandon Minor headed back out on the recruiting trail last weekend, making an official visit to the University of Michigan. The 6-0, 220-pound 4-star recruit had a good visit to Ann Arbor and has an official planned this weekend to another of his four finalists.

Is Tech in the Race for McDaniel?
December 14, 2005
4-star Landstown wide receiver Damon McDaniel has two official visits lined up for the month of January and those visits will be the final ones he makes before coming to a decision. The 6-0, 195-pound standout is down to four schools at the moment as has taken official visits to two of those programs.

Hokies Hope Surging Hoops Team Can Keep it Up
December 13, 2005
Ten games into the season, Virginia Tech's men's basketball team is 7-3, which isn't appreciably better than either of Seth Greenberg's first two Hokie teams. But this year's Hokies seem to be gelling earlier, establishing an identity earlier, and coming on strong earlier than previous editions. That bodes well for a team with NCAA Tournament aspirations, though the road to the Big Dance is long and hard.

Graves Commits to VT!
December 13, 2005
Earlier today, Meadowbrook standout defensive end prospect John Graves made a verbal commitment to Virginia Tech. The 6-3, 245-pound 4-star prospect chose Virginia Tech over Virginia in what was a closely contested in-state recruiting race. In the end, the feeling he had at Virginia Tech was the primary reason in how he came to his final decision.

Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes for 12/12/05
December 13, 2005
Monday nightís show featured athletics director Jim Weaver, menís basketball coach Seth Greenberg, running backs coach Billy Hite and wide receivers coach Tony Ball. Conversation ranged from the Gator Bowl and football recruiting to the progress of the basketball team over the last two weeks.

Hokies, ACC Sit Atop Defensive Statistics
December 12, 2005
Everyone knew coming into the season that the Virginia Tech defense would be good this year. No one was sure how good, because there were some holes in the secondary to fill, but the general consensus was that this would be one of defensive coordinator Bud Fosterís best units ever. They did not disappoint, finishing first in the nation in total defense.
Also: TSL now offering gift subscriptions; Louisville links added to Links Page.

Hokies Knock off Red Storm 73-64
December 10, 2005
The Virginia Tech menís basketball team continued their streak of good play on Saturday, knocking off the visiting St. Johnís Red Storm 73-64 in a rematch of former Big East rivals. The Hokies placed four players in double figures, including Coleman Collins who scored a game-high 21 points. Tech moves to 7-3 on the season with the victory, while St. Johnís drops to 5-2.

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