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   Welcome to TSLMail #207 - Friday, December 30, 2005    
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Hokie Starters Logging Major Minutes
by Chris Coleman,

If you pay close attention to the Virginia Tech menís basketball team, you know that head coach Seth Greenberg has been dealing with an unusual rash of injuries and off court problems this season. The Hokies are down to seven healthy scholarship players, plus walkon Chris Tucker. That shows in the stats column, where four of Techís five starters play at least 31.5 minutes per game.

Greenberg and the coaching staff thought they were going to have a fairly deep team during the 2005-06 season. They returned four starters, losing only Carlos Dixon. They brought in four freshmen and returned Markus Sailes, who redshirted last season. With the continuing development of Robert Krabbendam and Wynton Witherspoon, the Hokies had the makings of one of the ACCís deeper teams.

Unfortunately for the Hokies, a total of five players have missed games due to injuries, illnesses or personal matters. Others have played through nagging injuries in games, but missed valuable practice time. The attrition problems reached their peak, so far at least, during the William & Mary game. Tech played nine players during the game, but two for just one minute apiece. Chris Tucker played just five minutes. Freshman A.D. Vassallo, who played 17 minutes, was the only reserve to play more than five minutes. All five starters played 30 minutes or more, and the Hokies were obviously fatigued in the second half when they nearly blew a big lead.

So far this season, four of Tech's five starters are averaging more than 30 minutes per game: Zabian Dowdell averages 34.6 minutes per game (mpg); Jamon Gordon 34.4 mpg; Coleman Collins 33.9; and Deron Washington 31.5 mpg. Only Markus Sailes (26.9 mpg) averages fewer than 30 minutes a contest. Among the backups, A.D. Vassallo leads with 13.3 minutes per game, and Chris Tucker plays 10.8 minutes per game. Wynton Witherspoon averaged 12.2 minutes in five games played, but Witherspoon will take a medical redshirt due to a stress fracture in his foot that has been too slow to heal. (More on that in a minute.)

Itís obvious that the Hokies have some depth issues, and for the most part itís not their fault. Having your best players in the game is always good, but even well-conditioned athletes need rest so they can be at their best at the end of the game. This could be a major problem for the Hokies when they begin a tough ACC schedule. Most ACC teams do not have the depth and injury problems that the Hokies have. Tech is the only team in the conference to play four of their five starters more than 30 minutes per game.

Duke isnít as deep as most Duke teams of the past, and they do keep J.J. Redick (35.6 mpg) and Shelden Williams (32.2 mpg) on the court for most of the game. Sean Dockery also plays more than 30 minutes per game. Freshman point guard Greg Paulus plays 29.7 minutes per game, but the fifth starter, Josh McRoberts, plays just 23.4 minutes. The Blue Devils are able to rest their starters a bit more than Tech, but overall they are not a deep team.

That is in sharp contrast to Florida State and Clemson, who use a lot of players. Vern Hamilton plays 27.6 minutes per game for Oliver Purnell and Clemson, tops on the team. Todd Galloway averages 25.9 minutes per game for the Seminoles. Donít expect this to last throughout ACC play. Purnell and Leonard Hamilton are testing their lineups and figuring out which players mesh well with each other. As ACC play begins, the starters will likely get more playing time.

Frank Haith of Miami is also not afraid to turn to his backups. Star guard Guillermo Diaz plays 33.8 minutes per game, but no other starter plays more than 28.3 minutes. Starting point guard Anthony Harris missed the first seven games of the season due to an injury, so those numbers are sure to change as he gets healthier.

The North Carolina Tar Heels start four freshmen, but they are being given time to adjust to the college game. None of the freshman starters plays more than 28.8 minutes per game. Veteran starter David Noel plays 33.4 minutes per game. Their in-state rivals, NC State, also use a number of players. Engin Atsur leads the team at 30.2 minutes per game, but no other starter plays more than 28.1 minutes.

Georgia Tech is a very young team that lost a lot of talent from last yearís squad, which advanced to the ACC Championship Game and played for the National Championship the previous season. The Yellow Jackets are trying to replace Jarrett Jack and company by committee. Anthony Morrow plays 31.8 minutes, but no other starter averages more than 29.9 minutes.

Boston College is very similar to Virginia Tech and Duke. The Eagles have three starters that play more than 30 minutes, and a fourth plays 29.9 minutes. Wake Forest relies on the trio of Justin Gray (34.7 mpg), Trent Strickland (34.4 mpg) and Eric Williams (31.2 mpg). Kyle Visser and Harvey Hale, the other starters, play less than 30 minutes per game, while Hale getting just 23 minutes.

As you can see, the Hokies are seriously lagging behind the rest of the ACC in depth right now, and it doesnít appear that things are going to get any better. Witherspoon was set to start at small forward for the Hokies, but fractured a bone in his foot in the preseason. He has returned to play in five games, but has not been able to get over the injury. He announced following the William & Mary game that he will take a medical redshirt.

Robert Krabbendam recently returned to practice following knee surgery, but immediately came down with the flu and missed more practice time. He dressed out for the William & Mary game but did not play. He can play in the next three games for the Hokies, but then it must be decided whether or not he will redshirt.

The absence of Witherspoon and Krabbendam changes this Virginia Tech team dramatically. Witherspoon was going to be a starter. Markus Sailes would be coming off the bench in a three-man rotation with Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon at guard. A.D. Vassallo would be backing up Witherspoon at small forward, with Sailes seeing some minutes there if needed.

On the inside, Robert Krabbendam would be a very effective backup for Coleman Collins. They could even play at the same time, with Collins moving to his natural position of power forward. With a healthy Witherspoon and Krabbendam, the Hokies would have different substitution patterns, more rest for the starters, and most importantly, more good players.

Without a full team of players at his disposal, Seth Greenberg has guided his team to a 9-3 record and given #1 Duke all they could handle on the road. What will he be able to do with a full complement of players? Hopefully weíll get to find out next season. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week
TSL Recruiting Report from "Tech Beat With Mike Harris", for 12/28/05
December 29, 2005
Chris Horne returned to the show this week, and he and Mike Harris discussed the commitment of Zach Luckett, the decisions of Percy Harvin and Damon McDaniel for Florida, the loss of Lou Eliades to Penn State, and some guesses as to where a few remaining targets could end up (Jarrell Miller, Brandon Minor). (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 3.5 MB, 23:52)

2007 Offer: Varina Star Davon Morgan
December 29, 2005
Earlier this month, Virginia Tech extended an official scholarship offer to Varina (VA) QB/S Davon Morgan. Only a junior, the 6-0 1/2, 180-pound Morgan is receiving heavy interest from a number of other Division 1A programs but Tech is his first official offer.

One Visit Remains for 4-Star RB
December 29, 2005
Varina (VA) running back Brandon Minor, rated a 4-star prospect and one of the top running backs in the country, has one official visit remaining on his schedule before he will announce his college decision. Miami, Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia Tech make up the final four for the 6-0, 220-pound standout.

Bowl Game Projections, Part 3
December 28, 2005
Santa has been good to me so far this bowl season; Iím currently undefeated in my predictions with a perfect 9-0 record. However, the bowl games get tougher as the holiday season winds down and Iím sure to have some misses soon. In this article Iíll cover the bowl games for the next two days, including two games involving ACC teams: Boise State vs. Boston College in the MPC Computers Bowl and Utah vs. Georgia Tech in the Emerald Bowl.

Gator Bowl Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Louisville
December 28, 2005
Virginia Tech will try to rebound from their ACC Championship Game loss to Florida State when they take on #15 Louisville in the Toyota Gator Bowl on January 2. The game is one of many big bowl games of the day, kicking off at 12:30pm on NBC. The 12th-ranked Hokies still have a lot to play for, despite not playing in a BCS game. They can finish the season ranked in the Top Ten, win 11 games for just the third time in school history and get a jumpstart into 2006.

Georgia Star to Return to Blacksburg
December 28, 2005
Westlake (Atlanta, GA) star defensive back Mario Edwards made an official visit to Blacksburg on the weekend of November 4th, but will make a return trip in January. His parents weren't able to make the official visit, a big reason why the 6-1, 180-pound prospect is heading to Virginia Tech once again next month.

Hokies Sputter to Finish Line Against Tribe, Win 74-64
December 27, 2005
Up by 21 points early in the second half, the Virginia Tech men's basketball team limped to the finish line against William and Mary, letting the Tribe get as close as eight points before finishing them off 74-64 in Cassell Coliseum Tuesday night. Coleman Collins notched his fifth double-double in the last seven games, posting 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Hokies in both categories.

Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes for 12/26/05
December 27, 2005
Monday night's guests were head basketball coach Seth Greenberg, athletic director Jim Weaver, and head football coach Frank Beamer. Greenberg talked about injuries on the basketball team, Weaver discussed facilities and scheduling, and Beamer talked about the upcoming Gator Bowl matchup against Louisville.

Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. William and Mary
December 27, 2005
The Virginia Tech menís basketball team will play their final home non-conference game of the regular season when they host the William & Mary Tribe on Tuesday night in Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies are 8-3 and looking to continue their push towards a possible NCAA Tournament bid. The Tribe is 5-4, coming off a ten point win over UNC Greensboro on December 21.

Bowl Game Projections, Part 2
December 23, 2005
The college bowl season has begun with the typical high-scoring battles in the early games. I am happy to say that I am off to a 4-0 start on my bowl predictions, but the games start to get tougher now. The ACC will have its first participant next Tuesday in the Champs Sports Bowl when Clemson faces Colorado. I have statistical projections for that game and other predictions and tidbits to watch for the next five bowl games. Enjoy the holidays and catch some football with family and friends.

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