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The NCAA Tournament selection committee has spoken and have decided that the “body of work” of the Virginia Tech Hokies is not worthy of an attempt at one shining moment. Don’t expect me to provide any expert insight as to why or how the Hokies were snubbed or what criteria was used in the snubbing, because I, like most everyone else, don’t have a clue.

We’ve heard it all. RPI is not a factor, but then sometimes it is, but only in cases to eliminate teams from consideration. The last ten games are a factor, but not really if you had some good wins in a high school gym in Maui or Puerto Rico back in November, but struggled down the stretch. To me, the most laughable thing I heard from head committee bozo Tom O’Connor, after the field was unveiled, was that conference affiliation was never looked at. What?!? Come again?!? So, there is no difference in the ACC and the CAA? Or the MEAC for that matter? Seriously buddy, c’mon now, what’s more important than that? Uniform color, best dancing mascot, or hottest dance team? Pressed by CBS’ Billy Packer as to how in the world the conference with the #1 ranked RPI, the ACC, could only get four bids O’Connor confusingly mentioned that the criteria discussed above is what was used by the committee to select the participants, but then again, not always, but sometimes though.

Along with the Hokies, arizona state seemed to get the most sympathy after losing out on a bid to a team it beat twice, arizona. I agree that sucks, but how about this though, NEITHER ‘zona team should be in. The sun devils, along with oregon for that matter finished at .500 in the Pac-10 while the ’cats were 8-10 in conference. And this, my friends, includes TWO automatic wins against the lowly oregon state beavers, a spectacular 0-18 in conference, and 6-25 overall. I’ll argue that the last place team in the ACC, n.c. state is capable, on a given night, of knocking off the best team in the Pac-10, powerhouse ucla.

There has been a lot of talk recently, led by Bob Knight on ESPN and coaches like Jim Boeheim, of expanding the tournament from 65 to 128. That seems pretty ridiculous to me, but how about this… Tonight there is a play-in game, errr..”opening round” game between mt. st. mary’s and coppin state, playing for the right to get lambasted by unc. Why just one play-in game? Why not add three more play in games, thus allowing three more deserving teams into the big dance. Usually there are no more than three teams who have legitimate claims of being unfairly left out.

Teams that under the current format are 15 and 16 seeds, would play, on the Tuesday before the normal Tournament begins, for the right to be the 16 seed and in turn play the #1 seed in the region. That way, teams from the less powerful conferences still have “a chance” and access to the National Championship, one of the things that make March Madness the great event that it is, and at the same time bring more teams in the Dance, better allowing the best teams to determine a true National Championship.

For the record, the Balla’s final four picks this year: unc, memphis, georgetown, and ucla, with unc winning it all. My sleeper pick to watch: Davidson and sharp shooter Stephen Curry.

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Featured Columns, Home, The Balla Report1 Comment


Another ACC Basketball regular season is in the books & the 55th annual ACC Tournament gets underway tomorrow from the Charlotte Bobcats Arena. That means that it’s time once again for the Balla’s annual post-season awards. Drum roll please……


Tyler Hansbrough unc
sean singletary uva
Tyrese Rice bc
Jack McClinton miami
James Gist maryland

Second Teamers: A.D. Vassallo, VA Tech, Wayne Ellington, unc, Greivis Vasquez, maryland, K.C. Rivers, clemson, Kyle Singler, duke.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tyler Hansbrough, north carolina – It’s damn near impossible to make any kind of argument for anyone else in the conference, “Psycho T” is the leading scorer & rebounder in the ACC as well as the unquestioned leader of the nation’s #1 team.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Seth Greenberg, Virginia Tech – I’ve gone back & forth between Seth & miami’s Frank Haith for the last week. Both have done incredible work this year with team’s that virtually nothing was expected from. I know the argument for Haith is that the canes played two more games against the league’s top 3 of unc, duke, & clemson, but Greenberg gets the nod simply for managing a 9-7 record in the nation’s toughest conference while relying on SIX freshmen for significant contributions. Haith had more proven talent on his roster going into the season. A tip of the cap to wake’s Dino Gaudio for a job well done taking over for the late Skip Prosser.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Kyle Singler, duke – Statistically state’s J.J. Hickson was better, but in my opinion Singler was a major reason why the devils are back in the top 10 this year while the pack finished last in the standings. Among the league leaders in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage, Singler was the most consistent frosh over the entire season, so he edges out the Hokies Jeff Allen, and the wake tandem of James Johnson and Jeff Teague.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: James Gist, maryland – the terps shot blocking and rebounding presence gets the nod this year as the ACC’s top defender.

Wondering how this year’s tourney is going to play out? Want a quick way to make some extra dough? (take these picks, reverse them, then call your bookie) In a nutshell…

Round 1: wake over fsu, miami over nc state, ga tech over uva, bc over maryland.

Quarters: unc over wake, VT over miami, duke over ga tech, clemson over bc

Semis: unc over VT, clemson over duke

Finals: unc over clemson

Posted in 2007-08 Season, Featured Columns, Home, The Balla Report2 Comments


On Tuesday night the Hokies avenged their most heart breaking loss of the season in big-time fashion, with an 80-58 dismantling of the wake forest demon deacons. Take a second to think back to December 23, 2007. Tech was facing wake in the ACC opener for both squads and the baby Hokies were about to get their first taste of life on the road in the ACC. No problem it seemed as the Hokies led by 8 with 1:22 remaining. But turnovers and mistakes doomed Tech down the stretch as they somehow seized defeat from the jaws of victory and lost on an Ishmael Smith buzzer beater. It was the kind of loss that could take a while to get over and could even affect the rest of the season if the hangover persisted.

Think back to the 2005-06 ACC opener. With less than a second remaining, it appeared as if the Hokies were about to upset the duke blue devils in Cameron, only to have things slip away as sean dockery hit a half court shot at the buzzer. This loss seemed to cast a shadow over the rest of the season, as Tech struggled to a 14-16 (4-12, 10th place in the ACC) record. And this was a fairly experienced team that never could really recover from this heart breaking defeat, especially compared to this year’s team.

I think this says a lot about the job that Seth Greenberg and his staff have done this season. Being able to put the past in the past and recover from a potentially devastating defeat is certainly not an easy thing to do, and is one of the more amazing accomplishments by the Hokie coaching staff and players this year.

There is no doubt that A.D. Vassallo has made the transformation from simply a stand still shooter to a complete basketball player. The 6’6” junior from Toa Baja, Puerto Rico is the Hokies leading scorer at 16.4 points per game, and is making a late season push for all-ACC honors. Though A.D. still has some work to do on his ball handling skills, he has pretty much mastered his runner/floater in the lane and greatly improved on his ability to drive to the hole and get to the free throw line. In addition he has also become maybe the best rebounding shooting guard in the conference.

When the Hokies need a basket, A.D. is definitely becoming our go to guy. Regardless of whether he makes first, second, or third team this year, look for Vassallo to be a strong candidate for first team all conference next year.

Seth Greenberg has compared this year’s clemson team to last year’s Tech squad. The tigers are led by seniors cliff hammonds, james mays, and sam perry. As we all remember, clemson spoiled the most emotional senior day in Hokie basketball history one year ago, upsetting Tech 75-74 in Cassell, raining on the parade of Dowdell, Gordon, Collins, and the rest of the Hokie seniors. Needless to say, we owe them big time payback in Littlejohn on Sunday.

If that’s not storyline enough, throw in the fact that a win will almost ensure Tech of an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament, giving them a much needed “signature” win, and this has easily become the most anticipated game of the season thus far. I think the Hokies match up well with the inside game of mays and trevor booker. Tech must avoid the slow start that has sometimes plagued them, and the x-factor may be freshman guard terrance oglesby. We cannot afford to let him have a matt causey-like performance on Sunday. Expect another thriller. I, for one, can’t wait to get things tipped off!

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Back on the bubble! After three straight victories and a second week off within a month, the Virginia Tech Hokies are right back on the verge of getting an automatic bid to the Big Dance. But then again, who isn’t? By my count, in the six major “BCS” conferences alone, there are 25 teams with conference records within either two games over or two games under the .500 mark, putting themselves squarely on the bubble. 65 teams will go dancing, and right now there are 27 teams I consider locks (you know who you are, I’m not going to list all 27). There are 15 conferences who figure to only receive one bid, but 31 automatic bids will go out in all. What does all this mean? A lot of teams jockeying for an invite, other than that, go ask Joe Lunardi maybe.

What I do know is this, some teams will have their bubble burst on March 16. But for the Hokies, it’s separation time this week. Time to separate the contenders from the pretenders. If Tech can beat wake on senior night Tuesday night, that would push the Hokies to 9-6 in conference, clinching a winning record and drop the deacs to 6-9, guaranteeing them a below .500 conference record and end any hopes they have of entering March Madness. Rarely is a team with a winning record in the ACC not included in the NCAA Tournament and a 10-6 ACC team has never been excluded. As Seth Greenberg would say, the most important thing right now is the next 40 (sometimes 45) minutes. Take care of the next 40 minutes and things will take care of themselves.

Tuesday night will be the last appearance in the Cassell for Hokie seniors Marcus Travis and the human highlight film, Deron Washington. Does it seem like four years already have gone by since the lanky, 6’7” Washington first stepped on the court? During that time, Deron has left Hokie fans with countless gravity defying memories. He has also improved his game from simply being an athletic freak of nature, to a solid player, an excellent rebounder from the small forward position, and a good leader for this year’s crop of freshman.

Here are my favorite Deron highlights from his time in Blacksburg. (Don’t forget to scroll down and vote for yours!)

5. Deron swatting away greg paulus’ weak attempt at a game winning shot, thus preserving the Hokies victory in Cameron last year.
4. Deron’s dunk at ga tech earlier this year
3. Deron soaring through the air & jamming on boston college last year in the Cassell.
2. Deron’s game winning bank against uva, making the Hokies the first ACC team to win at the john.
1. And finally, you guessed it……Deron, over paulus, in Cameron. I still love to check out the astonished looks on the faces over the devil fans/geeks sitting behind the basket as they are watching this transpire. Priceless!!

Thanks Deron!

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Over the years, our broadcasting duo of Bill Roth & Mike Burnop have had many memorable calls, describing the action for both Hokie football and basketball. What they described Wednesday night in College Park, Md. with just under a minute remaining in the first half was nothing short of classic. (Note that I watched the game on television and heard this clip later.)

Bill was in his normal play by play mode describing the action as jason mcalpin, a terp senior from Silver Spring missed the second of two free throws. Then…..

Bill: “Oh my goodness! Hudson is getting sick on the floor”.

Mike: “Wow Bill! That was humongous! That’s going to take a while to clean up”.

Simple, but to the point; everyone knew they had plenty of time to go get a beer out of the fridge. The Raycom television crew of Tim Brandt (terp alum) and Dan Bonner (uva alum) were pretty much clueless at first as to what was going on, thinking that perhaps Dorenzo had been elbowed in the face. If anyone needed a reminder that we have one of the best, if not the best play by play and color commentary tandems in the country, look no further than that.

While we’re on the subject of Hudson’s puking incident, anyone interested in becoming a terp basketball manager should first watch the tape of a scowling more than usual gary williams as he glared at his team manager indicating for him to “Get the hell out there and get it cleaned up!”, without saying a word.

Ok, you can go ahead and fess up now. After last Saturday’s 39 point loss to unc you were starting to count down the days until spring practice begins for that other game with the funny shaped ball that takes the odd bounces. Luckily, Seth Greenberg & crew did not have the same thinking.

Jeff Allen in particular had quite a homecoming in his return to the metro DC area, with an incredible 14 point 14 rebound performance. He had perhaps the game’s most spectacular play as he swatted away a bambale osby shot in the lane that directly led to an A.D. Vassallo three that gave Tech it’s first lead of the game with 3:32 left.

Allen was also involved in what I feel was the turning point in the game. Just as it appeared things were starting to slip away in the second half for the Hokies, kind of like they did in Raleigh against state after the Hokies had battled back to make things close, this time Allen came up huge. The play started with A.D. on the right wing as he drove to the basket as it looked like he had a lane. osby quickly converged on A.D. & blocked the shot into the hands of james gist. As gist turned to outlet the ball, Allen stripped the ball away from gist, one of the strongest players in the ACC no less, and then converted on the layup right over the bewildered gist. We all know how things eventually turned out from that point on.

Kudos to Seth for challenging big Jeff in front of the whole team before the maryland game to play more up to his abilities. This would be a must if the Hokies were to have any chance against the likes of gist & osby, especially with JT Thompson sidelined with an ankle injury. Whatever Seth said it worked. Lets hope it carries over for the rest of the season, as the Hokies are a much better team when Allen is on his “A” game.

Don’t be worried at all that ga tech may have an advantage over the Hokies going into tomorrow afternoon’s matchup in Cassell, after the jacket’s game with uva last night was postponed due to a leaky roof at the Alexander Coliseum, thus giving the jackets a full week to rest. The Hokies are much better off continuing the roll of their performance in College Park on Wednesday night, as opposed to the ga tech’s last outing, a heartbreaking one-point home loss to miami.

The Hokies should be plenty fired up by Greenberg’s comments right after the maryland game, “We will not quit. We WILL keep on fighting”! Bring on the jackets baby!

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The big question amongst Hokie fans this week (other than “How is it possible that Roger Clemens flips into a rage when a chunk of Mike Piazza’s broken bat lands near him but is totally fine with his personal trainer injecting his wife in the butt with hgh in their bedroom?” or “What the hell must Kelvin Sampson’s phone bill look like?”) is have the young ’07-’08 Hokie hoopsters hit the wall in the rough & tumble ACC?

Well, it won’t take long to begin to get an answer to this question. At 5-5, and coming off two straight losses, there is no doubt that Tech is getting a much needed week off this week. But will the Hokies be able to use this rest to their advantage? Any added pressure of making the NCAAs has pretty much been removed at this point. Being well rested will be one of the few advantages Tech has as they pay a visit to #5 unc tomorrow. You’d expect to see rejuvenated play from a veteran team that has been through ACC battles before. With this year’s baby Hokies, one thing we’ve learned this year is to expect the unexpected. The unexpected would be great this week as the Hokies will be big underdogs not only tomorrow but also Wednesday at maryland. Some winnable games follow so lets hope the Hokies make it through this week without being that bug on the windshield.

There are two rules in college basketball that I would like to see changed by next season. One, only players who are on the court and in the game should be allowed to call timeout and NOT the coach. Second, if a player (or coach) calls timeout in the backcourt as his team is facing a 10 second violation, fine, BUT when they inbound the ball they should NOT get another 10 seconds to get the ball over half court.

That way, if an official such as ted valentine somehow decides there are a couple of tenths of a second on the clock even though the 35 second shot clock is showing 25, then the team that has just called timeout and is inbounding the ball will only have those remaining tenths of a second to get the ball over half court. Seems like a simple way to let the game be decided by the players and not a ref who may feel he’s “above the game”.

Speaking of teddy v, there he was again on Sunday night in Chapel Hill for the clemson-unc matchup. Already on the s**t list of Hokie fans, valentine should not expect much fan mail from tiger fans either after the heels went to the line 36 times compared to only 7 for clemson, in a very physical 103-93 double OT unc win. With a disparity in the calls like that, it may be another 100 years before clemson wins in Chapel Hill.

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Remember folks, the 2007-08 Hokies are playing with house money at this point, even after Tuesday night’s 73-63 road setback at the hands of the nc state wolfpack. At 5-4 in the ACC, the Hokies have already eclipsed the pre-season expectations of most so called prognosticators (including this one). I would assume that anyone who predicted that this youthful group would be in this position going into the second week of February also would have predicted back in mid- December that the Giants would beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

It was great to see the grit, determination, and never say die attitude the Hokies showed in Raleigh as they tried to battle back from a 19 point first half deficit. Even though they couldn’t pull this one out, they did make a game of it in the second half, cutting the lead to six, 54-48, on A.D. Vassallo’s three with just over eight minutes to go. Frankly, in season’s past, when the Hokies fell behind early as they did Tuesday, things seemed to snowball into an ugly loss.

Don’t overlook the miami hurricanes, even though they are coming off losses at duke and at home to fsu. The canes feature a tough inside game led by anthony king which will be a tough test for young Jeff Allen and J.T. Thompson. Guard jack mcclinton is one of the best pure shooters in the ACC and is capable of taking over a game by himself if he gets hot. With road games at unc and maryland looming this is a huge game for the Hokies.

No big surprise that tomorrow’s 2:00 tipoff will not be televised since the “experts” picked Tech & Miami 10th and 11th respectively in the pre-season ACC forecast. Memo to Raycom: how about working in some sort of flex-scheduling that would allow surprise teams (like Tech, miami, and wake) to have their games televised over games that feature teams that turn out to be duds (uva).

Some more house cleaning…..

• Expect a different outcome in the carolina – duke rematch in Durham if ty lawson is able to go.
• Talk about your home cooking: nc state went to the free throw line three times (30) than the Hokies (10).
• Looking forward to many more battles between Jeff Allen and state’s jj hickson. You’d better bring it if you’re going to challege one of those two on the inside.
• clemson 82, uva 51, in Charlottesville. ‘Nuf said. The wheels are off that wagon.

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“They’re simply too young at this point to know any different.” That’s the quote we’ve heard from Seth Greenberg several times over the last few weeks, and after Saturday’s 72-65 OT win over a fledgling uva squad, it has never seemed more appropriate. How else can you explain how time & time again, these Hokies somehow re-energize at crunch time, when logic would suggest momentum has all but slipped away. Exhibit A: The previous Saturday at bc, the eagles rakim sanders hit a tightly contested 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime. At this point, even veteran teams usually never recover. No problem for the baby Hokies though — in OT, Tech promptly re-seized control of the game behind Hank Thorns and JT Thompson for a huge 81-73 road victory.

Exhibit B: Saturday’s uva game in the Cassell. As the game wound down in the final seconds, Thompson inexplicably missed from point-blank range on a follow up of a Thorns runner at the buzzer. But did the Hokies tighten up, thinking they had blown their shot at victory? No way. The baby Hokies re-grouped, re-energized, and after scoring 54 points during regulation, torched the hoos for 18 points in the extra session. As Thorns said after the game, “when teams allow us to stay in the game like they did, we know that we’re confident enough that we’re going to win the game.” Well, as long as we can continue to come through in the clutch, who cares if we don’t even seem to realize these are supposed to be high pressure situations.

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The Balla Report 1/27/08

Score a victory for the little guy! 5’9” (maybe with lifts) freshman point guard Hank Thorns came up huge at money time yesterday at the Conte Forum. That was indeed the much maligned Thorns scoring 9 of the Hokies 15 points in overtime, securing an 81-73 road victory over the bc eagles. Defensively Thorns played a huge role in shutting down bc’s scoring machine, tyrese rice, down the stretch. rice was held without a field goal for the final 14:29.

This season, Thorns is giving new meaning to the term baptism by fire. I will be the first to admit that I cringed earlier in the season watching Thorns’ performances against odu and penn state. I’m thinking “how badly is this kid going to get abused in ACC play by the likes of rice & sean singletary, among others?” The lightly recruited Thorns, who wouldn’t even be at Tech without the transfer of Nigel Munson, is now making the most of what could be a bad situation in the Hokie backcourt.

I’m not saying Thorns is the second coming of Spud Webb, but the guy is lightning quick and gets to almost every loose ball. As he showed yesterday he can d it up and hit an occasional three. Most importantly, every quality minute he can give frees up the sharp shooting Malcolm Delaney at his more natural off-guard position.

Kudos also go out to J.T. Thompson. Thompson followed up a 13-point 8-rebound performance against duke with a more than solid 14 and 12 effort yesterday. Thompson’s emergence shows the Hokies have two athletic scoring options down low, giving Seth Greenberg even more options when he decides to go with a big lineup.

Thompson can also throw down a mean dunk and appears to be the heir apparent to Deron in the highlight reel department.
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The Balla Report 3/14/07

Think a run to the Final Four is a long shot for the Hokies? Maybe not as long as you might think. Let’s take a closer look. The Hokies enter the Big Dance with a record of 21-11 and are seeded fifth in the West Regional. Since 2000, four teams with double digit losses have advanced to the Final Four – those being unc (18-13) and wisconsin (18-13) both in 2000, maryland (21-10) in 2001 and indiana (20-11) in 2002.

How have #5 seeds fared recently you might ask? The aforementioned ’02 hoosier team advanced to the final game, before losing to maryland, as a fifth seed. In 2000 the florida gators also made the national finals as a 5 seed. Two season’s ago michigan state made a Final Four run as a 5, and in 1996, the last year the Hokies were in the tournament, fifth seeded mississippi st. made the Final Four where they lost to eventual champ kentucky (just like Tech) in the national semi-finals.

So as you can see, it could happen. The key is to take it one game at a time. In the words of Jimmy Valvano, “survive and advance”.


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The Balla Report 3/7/07

The 54th edition of ACC Tournament gets under way tomorrow at noon from Tampa. What does this mean? That’s right, it’s time for the Balla’s annual post-season awards. Drum roll please……

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The Balla Report 2/28/07

The first place Hokies take a trip to the john tomorrow night for a nationally televised contest against uva. Not only is this game a battle for first place and the #1 seed in next week’s ACC Tournament, but it’s most likely a battle for Coach of the Year honors in the ACC between Tech’s Seth Greenberg and uva’s dave leitao. Since both teams were picked in the pre-season to finish in the 6-8 place range, the winning coach Thursday night will most likely walk away with this year’s hardware.

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The Balla Report 2/21/07

Well, the Hokies continue their up again down again season tonight at the Cassell against the bc eagles. And it’s that time of year again where every fan of college basketball is trying to figure out if their team is going dancin’. And if so, for how long will the slipper fit? Let’s just say, if your team’s not on the bubble then they’re not really trying!

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The Balla Report – 2/17/07

Every fan of the clemson tigers had to be thinking what the f…? as the Hokies left Chapel Hill last Tuesday night with a victory over unc in their first ever appearance in the Dean Dome as members of the ACC. That’s a perfect one for one, batting 1.000. clemson university, on the other hand, is a charter member of the ACC, joining the league at its inception May 8, 1953. In one of the most amazing streaks in all of sports, the tigers have never won a men’s basketball game vs. unc in Chapel Hill. Let me repeat that – NEVER, NADA, el ZIPPO. That’s 54 years of futility by my count and quite an 0-for. How is that even possible? The heels did have some lean years in Dean Smith’s early years and at the end of Matt Doherty’s tenure. You’d think the law of averages would kick in at some point here, but so far no such luck. And sorry tiger fans, no chance of the stars aligning perfectly this season as clemson does not visit their house of horrors, so the streak will live on for at least another year.


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The Balla Report

This time last week, the hottest two teams in the ACC were the Hokies and the UNC Tar Heels. But, as things go in the nation’s toughest conference, things change quickly. Now the hottest duo in the league are……the UVa Cavaliers and believe it or not, NC State. The ‘hoos have won six ACC games in a row (look for that to change in a hurry with road games dead ahead with Maryland and VT) and NC State followed up their unexpected victory over the Hokies in the Cassell with an even more surprising win over UNC in Raleigh. Not even the most die hard Pack fan saw that coming a week ago (with Engin Atsur back at the point, keep an eye on NCSU).

The point is this, for all of those “the sky is falling” attitudes I’ve heard toward this season’s Hokies hoops squad since being beat down by BC last Saturday in Chestnut Hill, realize this: in the ACC, EVERY team is going to go through hot and cold streaks. It’s like that every single year in this brutal conference. Every year or so a UNC or a Duke steps up with a supposed team of dominance and even those teams will drop a conference game or two, often consecutively.

Check your calendars folks, this is the first week of February. No team wants to be peaking right now. Going through a struggle right now, such as the Hokies are, is certainly no big deal. If anything it should highlight some of the things the team needs to work on to get back to playing like they were a few weeks ago. Namely, refocusing our defensive effort, especially on the ball, and simply getting to the boards faster on both ends of the floor. The Hokies were painfully slow to almost every rebound and loose ball against both NC State and BC.

The week off should take care of that, and in that regard it seems to be coming at the perfect time. Remember this is a senior dominated team, and the next few games will speak volumes as to the leadership of this year’s senior class. The re-re-re-emergence of one Coleman Collins certainly wouldn’t hurt either.

This is a very capable team and it’s a must that we protect the Cassell by winning our home games. Remember this team is going to drop a few more games without a doubt, but also remember the stretch run is still a few weeks off. Ride the wave of highs and lows – like every other team in the league. Stay focused mentally, keep the faith, and continue to build to a strong finish.

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The Balla Report 1/30/07

Looking back at the Hokies’ 73-65 victory Sunday at Georgia Tech, it’s quite obvious that Zabian Dowdell’s 23 points and 8 assists (all with just one turnover) along with A.D. Vassallo’s 19 points and 10 rebounds were a key to the victory. One thing that should not go overlooked is Jamon Gordon’s ability to control a game without filling up the scoring column.

Gordon’s defense was on display again Sunday, particularly his work against the Jackets’ freshman phenom Thaddeus Young, who was held five points below his average. Already known around the ACC as one of the league’s best defenders, this season Jamon is taking his game to a new level on the defensive end. Want to find Gordon on the court? A safe bet is to find the opposing team’s best player & Jamon won’t be far away.

Gordon’s stats Sunday (4 points, 7 assists & 5 rebounds) were not eye popping, but his ability to control and handle the ball, along with Zabe, is invaluable to the Hokies. And even though he only shoots in the 60-65% range from the line, Jamon is usually money come crunch time.


A quick shout out to Seth Greenberg and his staff for the halftime adjustments they made to shut down GA Tech’s Mouhammad Faye in the second half. The condor-like Faye, with his 7’5” wing span (according to the television commentators), was all over the place on both ends of the floor in the first half, scoring 13 points. After the Hokies’ halftime adjustments Faye was no factor at all in the second half.


Next up for the Hokies is Wednesday’s 9:00 PM contest in the Cassell with the NC State Wolfpack. Seems like a great time to take a second to look back at one of the all-time feel-good stories in college basketball, the late Jim Valvano’s 1983 Wolfpack squad that beat the University of Houston and Phi Slamma Jamma to win maybe the unlikeliest national championship in hoops history. This was a team that came out of nowhere to win it all and was led by two senior guards as well as a 6’9” senior forward/center.

Hmmm….that sounds pretty familiar. Ok, I know it’s very, very early, but who knows, maybe Jamon and Zabe could play the part of Dereck Whittenburg and Sidney Lowe (the current Wolfpack coach), and Coleman Collins could be the second coming of Thurl Bailey. Well, stranger things have happened I suppose, and the similarities are definitely there. For now though we’ll just focus on win #17. By the way, for you younger Hokie fans who don’t know the story of the ’83 Pack, check it out:

Posted in The Balla Report2 Comments

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