For the second time in 11 days, the Hokies head down to Tobacco Road to face a NC state school.Â This time, it is unc-chapel hill.Â So TechHoops.com also heads back down to the First in Flight state to do a little Q&A with the heels.
Turner Walston. Born in Goldsboro, NC to UNC grads. Always felt like I ‘owed’ an allegiance to UNC since my parents met there. Met my wife in the same room my parents met, at the Baptist Student Union on campus. Graduated in 2003 with a BA in Communications. Completed a Master’s in Sport Management from East Carolina University in December 2007. Currently a Physical Education researcher and contributing writer to Tar Heel Monthly magazine and TarHeelBlue.Com.
Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of this year’sÂ unc team?
A: The strengths are Tyler Hansbrough (everybody’s All-American) and the speed at which this team is able to play with Ty Lawson. Lawson makes the team go, and, as you have probably seen, without Lawson, it’s almost as if the ‘heartbeat’ of the team is missing. They can run, but don’t have the finisher in Lawson that they usually do. It’s been a struggle without him, to say the least.
Weakness: They don’t commit to defense like they ought to. Great defensive teams can get away with taking a few plays off, whether you like it or not. This team is not a great defensive team, and thus must commit 100 percent to defense. When they don’t, they get burned. Also, the half-court offense leaves something to be desired. Lawson gets down the floor so quick that they often don’t even fall back into the half-court. But otherwise, it can easily be ‘get the ball to Tyler and stand around.’
Q: What are the key match-ups in this game?
A: Deron Washington is kind of a ‘tweener’ that will be difficult for this Tar Heels team to match up with. You give up height if you put Marcus Ginyard on him; you give up mobility and effectiveness if you stick a guy like Deon Thompson on him. He may see Danny Green off the bench most of the night. I think A.D. Vassallo vs. Hansbrough, if they guard each other, will be big. Alex Stepheson will probably play more minutes than average, if he can stay out of foul trouble, to help out with the big forwards that VT plays.
Niemo’s Note: I think it is interesting every Opposing View subject says Deron, yet he’s probably only been Tech’s third or fourth best player this season.Â I assume a lot of this has to do with the fact he’s the only player most teams know about.Â
Q: Do you think the tar heel players have some additional motivation in this game after being swept by the Hokies last year?
A: Maybe, but I doubt it. I think that is pretty much forgotten about. If this team is thinking about last year, then they are going to continue to get caught on their heels (no pun intended).
Q: What will it take for the Hokies to upset the heels for a third time in a row?
A: Double or triple Tyler and don’t let him pass out; Take away someone else because you know Tyler is going to get his. Maybe don’t let Ellington get his shot going. If Ty doesn’t play, then it’s a whole new ballgame.
Q: What’s your impression of Coach Greenberg and the VT program?
A: I respect Seth very much, and I think most if not all Tar Heel fans do. Anyone that can come in the Smith Center and have the kind of success he’s had, and coach and play the right way, deserves that. Also, for standing up to Duke and the Cameron Crazies, he deserves a pat on the back. But, as I stated above, I went to East Carolina for grad school. Any coach that comes after Ricky Stokes is going to look like a winner. Stokes’ bio in the ECU media guide listed this as an accomplishment: “Laid the foundation for ACC Coach of the Year Seth Greenberg.” That’s a Stokes accomplishment? That means he made it so bad that the next coach had to be coach of the year..
Niemo’s Note: Winner, winner, chicken dinner!Â Another ricky stokes bust!Â I love it!Â People are going to start thinking I’m writing these articles myself.Â (I’m not, I promise)Â Now if only we can find someone to bust on Nick Sorensen…
Q: unc and duke are going to be up there in the ACC every year. What does VT need to do to at least compete in the upper half every year? Do you see VT being like the other football schools (clemson and fsu) and not being very competitive except for rare years?
A: I think VT is going to battle the football-school perception. May need to upgrade basketball facilities. I’ve been to Cassell, and I love Cassell, but it’s not going to compete with some of the newer facilities. The program doesn’t have the history that (gag) Duke does, to be able to have a facility like that and remain top-tier.
Q: If clemson had finally beatenÂ unc in Chapel Hill, would the sun still have risen on Monday? Or would the sky have turned orange instead of sky blue?
A: The sun would have risen. It rose on Thursday after Duke won here. But writing like I do, being close to the locker room after the game, I am not as emotional about wins and losses as I used to be. I can’t get upset and then go talk to Danny Green and ask him why he was terrible. I hope that makes sense.
The streak against Clemson has almost become a burden. It’s a nice fact, but now the pressure is on like never before. I think that pressure contributed to the sloppy play early Sunday night.
Niemo’s Note:Â If the streak had ended, Billy Packer said he would retire.Â That would have been the sweetest gift of all.Â Oh, well.
Q: What was your opinion on ACC expansion four years ago?
A: Umm…that it was a football move? I like the idea of an ACC championship game, but loved even more playing everybody every year once in football, and twice in basketball. I don’t know the players on other teams like I did then. I had to go look at the VT roster to answer your above question about matchups. Used to know everybody on every team, at least the first 8 or 9. I remember Harold Deane, Craig Dawson, Kenny Inge, Curtis Staples and Tim Pickett. It’s hard to keep up with other players now.
Q: Did you want Virginia Tech in the league?
A: More than I did Boston College, which stretches the league geographically so much that the ACC circle logo has become a weird-looking oval. No, I like the idea that UVa’s primary rival is in-conference now, and their games have those implications.
Q: What do you think of Virginia Tech’s addition today?
A: Going to make the league much better in football, and make it easier for everyone to recruit. Pretty good in basketball as they seem to always be around and able to beat anyone on any given night, and making the league better in football.
Q:Â unc has not won, or even shared, an ACC football title since 1980. Does anyone care?
A: Yes. With the renewed commitment to the sport, we hope to crawl out of the cellar and compete. Butch lost 6 games by four points or less last year. Turn that around and we’re in the ACC Championship game (I think. The only team in conference that crushed us was Wake).
Niemo’s Note: LOL… if only those six games had just gone the other way.Â So close!Â That’s like when an announcer says, “He almost took that to the house.Â He only had 8 more men to beat!”
Q: How much do you think Butch Davis can really do with the program?
A: Give him another recruiting class and watch us compete for the conference title in 2009. Hopefully we can be a perennial top 20 team by 2010.
Niemo’s Note: I think it is interesting that he says VT will struggle with the “football school” perception, yet claims unc will be competing for ACC football titles in another year.Â Guess they won’t struggle with that “basketball school” perception.Â Heck, it took Butch SIX TRIES at miami to finally beat the Hokies.Â That’s right, he lost his first five against Tech from ’95-’99 (and fsu for that matter).Â Yet at unc he’s going to be competing for an ACC title in his third year, a school that hasn’t won an ACC title since 1980??? Hmm.Â I think he’s got sky blue glasses on…
Q: I was at the VT @Â unc game four years ago and I have never seen 60k people so quiet. I thought it was sad they had to show video clips of players begging fans to make noise on opponent’s 3rd down plays. Have your fans learned to make noise for the defense yet?
A: Only on third down. And they haven’t learned to be quiet on offense, either.
Q: Walk me through how much, and why, you dislike duke.
A: I don’t dislike them. I hate them. OK. I guess I can give you a quick rundown. Only about 15 percent of their undergrads are from NC, they built their campus with faux-gothic crap to make it look all historical, Krzyzewski complaining about refs favoring Dean Smith and then enjoying the same treatment a few years later, jobs for players’ parents, recruiting bigmen and then stashing them on the bench, the Cameron Crazies and their cheer sheets (honestly, if you have to refer to a cheer sheet, then you’re not clever, you’re a poseur), fans not knowing the rules of basketball (calling for 10 seconds in a women’s game), Wallace Wade Stadium (like a county fair with none of the charm), the flop, the nervous breakdown in 1995, having Pete Guadet’s record wiped from K’s win-loss total (was he not the head coach?), slapping the floor, the fact that their post coach is Steve Wojciechowski, Johnny Dawkins not shaking hands with the Carolina coaches in 2003, Crazy Towel Guy . . .
Q: On the night before the VT/uva football game, I rarely sleep. What is it like the night before, and day of, a unc/duke basketball game?
A: Pensive. You know you can’t do anything about what happens, but you’re interested. You just try to enjoy the game and its highs and lows, knowing you can’t score any points or block any shots. Someone is going to win, and someone is going to lose. Their is definitely a buzz on campus, and you can tell that the rival is in town. The cheers are louder, the boos are more intense, but it’s college basketball at its finest.
Q: Better villain on 24: Christian Laettner or J.J. Redick?
A: Redick, I guess. I don’t watch 24, but he could be lethal with his nose projectiles.
Q: I want Fox to create a reality show where they take a florida state fraternity and move them to duke for a semester. What do you think would happen? Would it be like the Alpha Betas and Tri-Lambdas in Revenge of the Nerds?
A: It would never work. Duke doesn’t have a football program.