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   Welcome to TSLMail #212 - Friday, February 3, 2006    
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Hokies Closing the Gap, but Winning Fewer Games
by Chris Coleman,

Virginia Techís first year-and-a-half in the ACC has produced many magical and dramatic moments on the basketball court. The Hokies have had their fair share of close wins and close losses in that span. Last yearís team was known for their ability to pull out wins in the closing seconds of games, while this yearís team has lost a number of contests in the final seconds, until Tuesday nightís game against Georgia Tech.

Through 24 regular season ACC games, Virginia Tech has a record of 10-14. The Hokies finished 8-8 last season, started a disappointing 0-6 this year, and have since rallied for two consecutive victories. That 10-14 start is better than the vast majority of fans and analysts would have predicted for a team that had struggled for so many years in the Big East.

While it appears that the Hokies have regressed this season, letís take a deeper look at the statistics to see if this is the case. First of all, everyone knows the off-the-court issues that the team is going through right now, so there is no sense in spending much time discussing them. Weíll just say that the Hokies are short-handed and have no size on the inside, thanks to the injury to Robert Krabbendam and Coleman Collinsí family situation. Tech is 2-6 in the league this year, much worse than their 5-3 mark after eight games last season. But if you dig a little deeper, it looks like the Hokies have closed the gap a bit on the rest of the ACC.

During their inaugural season in the ACC, Virginia Tech lost ACC games by 34, 20, 35, 15 and 20 points. In five of their eight conference losses, the Hokies were blown out and never stood a chance. This year, things have been much different. They have only two wins on the season, but they have been beaten by double figures just once, the 13 point loss to Duke. Tech has been in every other game theyíve played. In scoring margin, the Hokies were -5.8125 per ACC game last season, and this year they have improved that statistic to -3.875.

Generally, teams that have digressed in the win column by three games over the course of one year do not improve in scoring margin, but the Hokies have done it despite not having anywhere near a complete team this season. If Virginia Tech had a full complement of players, that margin would have improved even more.

Virginia Tech has also improved its performance in road games this season. Last year Tech played poorly on many occasions on the road, either getting off to terrible starts that they could never overcome, or playing poor defense for the entire game and getting blown out. This year there have been fewer of those types of performances. Last season Virginia Tech dropped six ACC road games by an average of 14 points per game. Their three road conference losses this season have come by an average of just 5.66 points.

The Hokies have dropped road games to Duke, Florida State and Maryland, but had a chance to win each game. Duke beat the Hokies on a half court shot with 1.6 seconds remaining, while the Florida State and Maryland games were decided on free throws down the stretch. In their first season in the ACC, the Hokies lost by 35 at Duke and 15 at Maryland, so they have made some progress in keeping their composure on the road.

In the short time Virginia Tech has been in the ACC, Cassell Coliseum has become known as a very difficult place to play. But despite that reputation, Virginia Tech is just 7-5 in Blacksburg against ACC teams, and their seven wins have come by an average of just five points. In Techís five losses at home, they have lost by an average of 15 points. They were blown out last season at home by 34 (UNC) and 20 (Wake Forest), lost this season by three to UNC and five to Virginia, and then fell by 13 to Duke.

Meanwhile the Hokies have lost nine ACC road games by an average of 11.22 points per game. Thatís not a great stat, and it has certainly been helped by Techís last four ACC road games, none of which they lost by more than nine points. But it is interesting that the Hokies generally lose by more at home than they do on the road.

Itís also interesting that in road victories the Hokies are beating their opponents by an average of 5.66 points per game. In home wins, Virginia Tech is winning by five points per game, a little less than their margin of victory in road wins. Thatís not to say that the Hokies are a better team on the road. They obviously are not, especially when you compare their overall record at home and on the road.

The Hokies are finished with the first half of this season's ACC schedule, and the second will not be as brutal as the first. Here is a look at the first half of Techís ACC schedule:

VT's First 8 ACC Games
Team Overall Conference
at Duke 20-1 8-0
at Florida State 13-5 4-4
North Carolina 12-5 3-3
Virginia 10-8 4-4
at Maryland 14-5 4-2
Duke 20-1 8-0
at Wake Forest 12-9 1-7
Georgia Tech 9-10 2-6
Overall 110-44 34-26

The Hokies defeated the two weakest teams they played in their first eight ACC games. They also dropped very winnable games at home to North Carolina and Virginia. Here is how the second half of the season looks:

VT's Last 8 ACC Games
Team Overall Conference
Boston College 16-5 4-4
at Clemson 14-7 3-5
at Virginia 10-8 4-4
NC State 17-4 6-2
at Miami 13-8 5-3
Florida State 13-5 4-4
Clemson 14-7 3-5
at Boston College 16-5 4-4
Overall 113-49 33-31

The overall record isnít much different and the conference mark is still solid, but the Hokies matchup better against many teams in their final eight games. Clemson is a poor shooting team that the Hokies are capable of sweeping, and Virginia Tech is a better team than they showed against Virginia earlier in the season. Tech will also get Florida State in Cassell Coliseum and stands a very good chance of winning that game.

Virginia Tech will have a tough road trip to Miami, but the Hokies swept the Hurricanes last season and there is no reason to believe they canít defeat them again this year. NC State is a very good team, but the Hokies defeated them in Cassell Coliseum last January.

There is not a single game the Hokies canít win from here on out. There is also not a single game they canít lose. It should be a fun finish. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week

A Look at VT's 2006 Recruiting Class

February 2, 2006
Virginia Tech finished with a very good 2006 recruiting class, highlighted by the talent accumulated on the defensive side of the ball. Heading into this class, the most pressing needs were offensive line and linebacker Ė Tech certainly landed some quality players at those positions, although adding one more at each would have solidified this class and probably vaulted Tech into a top 25 class in the country. Techís class, rated #31 nationally by and #32 overall by, was a good one. It certainly could have been better considering Tech was in good shape with a lot of 4 and 5-star prospects, but it was still a very good class nevertheless.

TSL Recruiting Report from "Tech Beat With Mike Harris", for 2/1/06
February 2, 2006
With Signing Day closed out, Chris and Mike discuss the Hokie haul of recruits, plus they talk about Tech's in-state rival, Virginia, and how the Hoos did. (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 3.7 MB, 24:08)

2006 Recruiting: Out of State Focus Creates Challenges for Hokies
February 2, 2006
The 2006 football recruiting ride was a wild one. When it became apparent early on that the top-rated players in the state of Virginia were casting their eyes beyond the borders of the Commonwealth, Virginia Tech's recruiting took a more out-of-state focus than usual. The Hokies continued their efforts to build inroads in the mid-Atlantic states that they now consider their recruiting grounds, but they also relearned the lesson that once you get outside of Virginia, the going gets rough for Virginia Tech.

2006 VT Recruits, By the Numbers
February 2, 2006
A collection of facts and stats about the 2006 football recruiting class, crunching everything from heights to weights to stars to states of origin to recruiting coaches. Check this data out, as we look at the class from almost every angle imaginable.

Hokies Sign 19 to Letters of Intent
February 1, 2006
Virginia Tech signed 19 high school players to Letters of Intent on Tuesday. Known for their recruiting prowess inside Virginiaís borders, the Hokies signed just six players from the Commonwealth of Virginia this year. Included in this number is Todd Nolen, who originally signed with Tech last February but spent a season at Fork Union Military Academy and re-signed with Tech. These 19 players join fellow 2006 signees Devin Radford and Aaron Brown, who enrolled in January.

Washington Swats Yellow Jackets, Hokies Win 63-62
February 1, 2006
With so many close losses on the season, the Virginia Tech Hokies finally had one go their way in the closing seconds. With the game tied at 62, Georgia Techís DíAndre Bell missed the game winning shot, but Jeremis Smith grabbed the offensive rebound and scored, apparently winning the game for the Yellow Jackets. But the whistle blew and Smith was called for going over the back of Deron Washington with 0.5 seconds left in the game. Washington went to the free throw line, hit the first free throw, and missed the second on purpose to prevent a long inbounds pass. Georgia Tech was unable to get off a final shot, and the Hokies held on for a 63-62 victory.

Godfrey to Announce Tomorrow
January 31, 2006
According to the Sanford Herald, 6-3, 240-pound tight end/defensive line prospect Dennis Godfrey will announce his decision tomorrow at 1:30 at his high school.

Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes for 1/30/06
January 31, 2006
Monday night's show featured Tech head basketball coach Seth Greenberg, who talked about how great it felt to get a win on Saturday over Wake Forest. He also discussed the performances of A.D. Vassallo and Jamon Gordon, and also gave an update on Coleman Collins and his father.

LeSean McCoy to Announce on Wednesday
January 30, 2006
In what is a change of plans, 5-star running back LeSean McCoy will announce his commitment on Signing Day. Previously, he was thinking about holding off on any kind of commitment or announcement but has changed his mind according to Milford Academy (New Berlin, N.Y.) head coach Bill Chaplick.

Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech
January 30, 2006
Virginia Tech recorded their first ACC victory of the season on Saturday when they downed Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, and they have a great chance to get another when Georgia Tech visits Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday night. The Hokies will not have Coleman Collins, who is in Georgia visiting his ailing father, but they will have the services of Deron Washington. Washington was suspended for the Wake Forest game but will make his return against the Yellow Jackets.

Hall Accepts VT's Offer
January 30, 2006
Earlier today, Lee County (Sanford, N.C.) defensive line prospect Joey Hall learned that Virginia Tech would indeed be offering him a scholarship. As expected, it didn't take the 6-3, 260-pound prospect very long to accept the offer. Only hours ago, Hall became the 20th player to commit to Tech's 2006 recruiting class.

Decision Time for Godfrey
January 30, 2006
Lee County (Sanford, N.C.) tight end/defensive lineman Dennis Godfrey will take the next few days to make a final decision among his final four schools - Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. The Hokies had the final shot in terms of official visits, as the 6-3, 240-pound standout visited Blacksburg this past weekend. How did it go?

Ajiboye Comments on VT Commitment
January 30, 2006
After losing Budd Thacker to Florida State, Virginia Tech was in search for another good defensive tackle prospect to go along with in-state standout Daryl Robertson. The Hokies got what they wanted last week, when 6-2, 290-pound Banneker (College Park, GA) star Olufemi Ajiboye switched his verbal commitment from South Carolina to Virginia Tech.

Gasping for Air, No-Quit Hokies Find Something to Smile About
January 30, 2006
This is why they play the games. Down to six scholarship players, missing their top two inside players, with their on-court leader suffering from a gimpy ankle, the sad-sack Hokies trudged down the highway to Winston-Salem Ö and came away with an improbable win. How Virginia Tech beat Wake Forest is a story of matchups, scoring that came from an unanticipated source, leadership from a player with the heart of a lion, and simple perseverance.

Hokies Out-Hustle Wake Forest to a 76-70 Victory
January 28, 2006
The Virginia Tech menís basketball team has had a lot to overcome this season and has fallen just short in many close games. They had a little more to overcome on Saturday afternoon, playing without both starting post players, Coleman Collins and Deron Washington. Despite this setback, and with no one giving them much of a chance, they went into Lawrence Joel Coliseum and defeated the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 76-70 on Saturday afternoon.

Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Wake Forest
January 27, 2006
Virginia Tech looks to rebound from their loss to #2 Duke on Saturday afternoon when they take on Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. It will be a battle for last place in the ACC between two teams who finished near the top of the conference standings a year ago. Virginia Tech has slipped to 0-6 in ACC play, and the Demon Deacons are off to a surprising 1-5 start, with their only victory coming over Georgia Tech.

Washington, Collins to Miss Wake Forest Game
January 27, 2006
Virginia Tech sophomore forward Deron Washington has been suspended by athletics director Jim Weaver for the Wake Forest game as a result of his role in an incident with Dukeís Lee Melchionni on Thursday night. Washington was ejected from the game for what was deemed by officials as a ďcombative act.Ē He was caught on camera kicking Melchionni in the face as both players lay on the floor under the basket.
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