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   Welcome to TSLMail #217 - Friday, March 10, 2006    
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Putting a Bad Season to Bed and Looking Ahead
by Chris Coleman,

Now that the final results are in, we can take a look back at the 2005-06 basketball season and see exactly how close the Hokies were to winning a lot of games. With Tech's 60-56 loss to Virginia in the books, VT finished the season with a 14-16 record. 13 of those 16 losses have come by six or fewer points or in overtime. Nine of their 30 games were decided on a last second shot at the buzzer.

Tech's struggles in close games date all the way back to November 2 in the second game of the season. The Hokies led Bowling Green 71-70, and Bowling Green's John Floyd missed a shot off the front of the rim for the win, but Tech's A.D. Vassallo accidentally tipped the ball in the opposing team's basket as the buzzer went off, giving the Falcons a 72-71 win.

ACC officials have since admitted that the call was wrong. Since Vassallo was a defender, the ball had to be in the basket before the buzzer went off rather than just in the air. Vassallo touched the ball, then the buzzer sounded, and then the ball went in the basket. According to NCAA rules, the shot should not have counted, and the Hokies should rightfully have won the game.

Of course the most famous loss was back on December 4 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Hokies had #1 Duke on the ropes on the road. The Blue Devils led the Hokies 74-63, but VT ran off 12 consecutive points, including a tip-in by Coleman Collins with 1.6 seconds remaining, to take a 75-74 lead.

Duke threw a hail-mary pass the length of the court, where Sean Dockery caught it and heaved up a prayer from about 40 feet away. The shot went in, and with the way Tech's season has gone, if that play happened ten more times, Dockery would probably make that shot seven or eight times.

More frustrating losses came against Boston College. Both times the Eagles were ranked in the top 15 when they played the Hokies, and both times Zabian Dowdell missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have given Virginia Tech a much-needed victory. BC escaped Blacksburg 74-73 when Dowdell's wide open three-pointer clanked off the rim, and again came away with a narrow win in Chestnut Hill by a final score of 59-57.

Virginia Tech knew they had to get North Carolina this year, or it would be quite some time before they would have the chance again. Back on January 10, the Hokies got the chance in Cassell Coliseum. With Tech trailing 64-61 with half-a-second left in the game, VT inbounded to Deron Washington in the corner, but his three-pointer bounced off the front of the rim.

Throwing out the 13 point loss to Duke in Cassell Coliseum, the Hokies lost four games to the top three teams in the league, Duke, UNC and Boston College, by a total of eight points. The Blue Devils knocked off the Hokies by two points, UNC won by three, while BC won by one in Blacksburg and two in Chestnut Hill. The Hokies had six point losses to the #4 and #5 teams in the league, NC State and Florida State. That's six losses to the top five teams in the ACC by a total of 20 points.

But perhaps nothing was as frustrating as Tech's three losses to Virginia this season. Each game was very close, and each could have gone either way. The Hokies dropped all three games by scores of 54-49, 81-77 in overtime and 60-56 in the ACC Tournament. Despite getting numerous open looks in all three games, Virginia Tech made just 11-of-58 shots from three-point range for a mark of 18.9%.

Next season, things could be different for the Hokies. They return all five starters, as well as key reserves such as Wynton Witherspoon, Cheick Diakite, Markus Sailes and Chris Tucker. They will get Robert Krabbendam back from a redshirt season, and his size on the inside could prove to be a big boost for next year, if he rebounds aggressively, plays solid defense, and can contribute at least 10-12 points a game. Terrance Vinson redshirted this season and could help out on the inside as well.

The Hokies also have what appears to be a good recruiting class coming in. All are ranked among the top 100 players in the country by at least one publication. Nigel Munson (6-0, 170) is a pass-first point guard who shot 47% from three-point range and 91% from the free throw line as a junior in high school. Tyrone Appleton-Miller (6-3, 180) is a combo guard in the mold of Jamon Gordon who could see early playing time. Lewis Witcher (6-8, 215) is a homegrown product from Rocky Mount, VA who was recruited by Maryland and Wake Forest, but chose to be a Hokie.

With nearly all of their contributors from this year's team returning, plus getting players back from redshirt seasons, and the incoming recruiting class, next season's team looks to be one of the deepest in Virginia Tech history, if not the deepest. Seth Greenberg will have a number of different lineup options to choose from.

The Hokies will also have one of their most experienced teams ever, and perhaps the most experienced team in the ACC. Jamon Gordon, Zabian Dowdell and Coleman Collins will return for their senior seasons, and they each have been full-time starters since their freshman season. Deron Washington will be a junior, and he has started every game since he arrived in Blacksburg. Markus Sailes, another senior, started every game his sophomore year and part of his junior year. Wynton Witherspoon has two seasons under his belt, while A.D. Vassallo and Cheick Diakite got valuable playing time as freshmen this year. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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-- Will Stewart Updates From the Past Week
Hokies Drop One Final Heartbreaker, 60-56
March 10, 2006
In a fitting ending to its season, Virginia Tech suffered yet another close defeat to in-state rival Virginia. The Hokies lost to UVA 60-56 in the first round of the ACC Tournament, and Tech's final record stands at 14-16. In three meetings with Virginia this season, the Hokies lost three games by a total of 13 points. UVA advances to the second round, where they will face #2 seed North Carolina.

On the Road: Stone Bridge High School
March 9, 2006
Heading out around the state, I traveled to Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Virginia, yesterday. I met with head coach Mickey Thompson as well as offensive line prospect Andrew Nuss and quarterback/athlete Terence Glenn. Check out Q&A's with the players who helped Stone Bridge to a 12-2 overall record and a state championship game appearance in 2005 and who will be counted on to contribute in a major way next season.

2007 Recruiting Needs: Offense
March 8, 2006
It’s just a little over a month after Signing Day 2006, and the Virginia Tech coaching staff is already hard at work at putting together their target boards for the Class of 2007. At this point all lists will be tentative and will change many times, depending on things such as development of current players, transfers and more film study of high school players. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make some educated guesses as to what the Class of 2007 will look like.

Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Virginia
March 8, 2006
Virginia Tech will take part in their second ACC Tournament on Thursday night when they take on in-state rival UVA in the Greensboro Coliseum at 7 pm. The game will be televised by ESPN, and winner will advance to the second round against the North Carolina Tar Heels. This will be the third meeting of the season between the two schools, with Virginia winning two tight games in the regular season.

2006 ACC Tournament Preview
March 8, 2006
The 2006 ACC Tournament tips off on Thursday, and here's your quick reference guide to the tournament and all 12 teams. Here, you can find information about the brackets, TV coverage, and Greensboro Coliseum seating. Then we examine the teams and let you know who the top players for each team are, take a look at their seasons, run down their best wins and worst losses, and give you their tournament outlook. All you need to know to get ready for the tourney is right here.

Alvarez to Make Spring Visits
March 8, 2006
6-5, 305-pound Hylton (Woodbridge, VA) standout offensive lineman William Alvarez is starting to garner more and more out-of-state attention according to head coach Lou Sorrentino. But the local schools – Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech – are certainly doing a good job early of showing interest. All three have offered scholarships.

Inside the Numbers: TSL's 2005 Defensive Player of the Year
March 7, 2006
We wrap up our coverage of the 2005 football season (don't laugh) with one of our favorite analysis articles, the one in which we hand out the Defensive Player of the Year award. We'll tell you right up front: this year's winner ran away with the award and even posted one of the best-ever seasons for a VT defender. Who was it? Click, and ye shall find.

Torrian Gray Returns to Virginia Tech
March 7, 2006
The Virginia Tech coaching staff is now complete. Torrian Gray was announced as the Hokies' new defensive backs coach on Tuesday afternoon, replacing Lorenzo Ward, who accepted a job with the Oakland Raiders. Gray will join Mike O’Cain, Curt Newsome and Kevin Sherman as new coaches on the staff.

Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes for 3/6/06
March 7, 2006
Seth Greenberg was Monday night's guest, and he discussed the upcoming ACC Tournament, the progress of building the basketball program and his technical foul against Clemson.

Hokies Recruiting T.L. Hanna High School
March 7, 2006
T.L. Hanna (Anderson, S.C.) head coach Scott Parker boasts at least two, maybe three Division 1A targets for the 2007 class. Of these kids, Virginia Tech has officially offered one – big, versatile running back Brian Maddox - and verbally offered another – talented athlete Cameron Ford.

Talent Continues to Flow at Highland Springs
March 6, 2006
Highland Springs, which went on a roll in the second half of the regular season to capture the Capital district title, returns a large group of talent for the 2006 football season. And, the Springers roll of producing Division 1A talent will continue into the 2007 class as head coach Scott Burton has two prospects who have already received 1A scholarship offers.

Hokies To Face Hoos in ACC Tournament
March 5, 2006
Virginia Tech will get a third chance to knock off Virginia on Thursday night. The Hokies and Cavaliers will play each other in the first round of the 2006 ACC Tournament in Greensboro. Tip-off will be at 7 pm on Thursday, and the game will be televised by ESPN.

Hokies Lose Heartbreaker to #12 Boston College
March 4, 2006
Virginia Tech’s regular season came to an end on Saturday afternoon in Chestnut Hill in a way that is all too familiar for Hokie fans, players and coaches. Tech played #12 Boston College down to the wire, but Zabian Dowdell’s three-pointer at the buzzer fell just short, and the Eagles held on for a 59-57 victory. BC improves to 24-6 and 11-5 in the ACC, while the Hokies fall to 14-15 and 4-12 in conference play.

Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at #12 Boston College
March 3, 2006
Virginia Tech will play their final regular season ACC basketball game on Saturday afternoon when they travel north to take on #12 Boston College at noon. The Hokies are coming off a tough loss to Clemson. Tech blew a seven point lead late in the game and lost to the Tigers by five. The Hokies are 14-14 overall and 4-11 in ACC play, and a loss to the Eagles would put them below the .500 mark for the first time this season.

Gilchrist a Nice Addition for 2007 Class
March 3, 2006
Seth Greenberg's search for a low post presence in the 2007 recruiting class got a big boost with last week’s commitment from Augustus Gilchrist, a 6-9, 235-pound power forward/center prospect out of Friendly High School (Fort Washington, Maryland). Gilchrist is a solid looking prospect who also received very serious interest from Miami, Pitt and Virginia, among others.

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