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The Opposing View | Fly Like an eagle (bc)

The Hokies host their second eagles of the week on Saturday, facing their ACC rivals from boston college. I interviewed Brian from BC Interruption – a site for the eagles and by the eagles – with a 12-pack of questions.

Also, here is the interview I did with Brian at BC Interruption: Niemo Crashes Bean Town (Note: he capitalized the other schools in my quotes, you know I didn’t)


Q1: Tell me about this year’s bc team…

Brian: It’s been a strange year for BC. Early season suspensions, injuries, strong victories over Providence, Michigan and Miami, soul-crushing, embarrassing losses to mid-major programs like Harvard and Maine, and recently three listless efforts against ACC foes. I don’t know what to make of this team.

This team has all the talent to compete in the ACC this year, but they have come out flat and played up or down to their level of competition thus far this year. Vermont transfer Joe Trapani leads the way for the Eagles, averaging 15.2 per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. On any given night, BC will also get solid performances from Reggie Jackson (13.6 ppg), Corey Raji (11.8 ppg), and Rakim Sanders (10.4). The Eagles run a very tight flex offense. The one weakness this year has been post play, as the BC lineup doesn’t really showcase a dominant center.

Q2: How much do the eagles miss All-ACC Second Teamer, Tyrese Rice?

Brian: We certainly miss Rice’s production, especially with guys like Sanders and Corey Raji struggling to score since ACC play started. However, Rice never struck me as a true leader of the team. That’s something the Eagles’ desperately need this year. We thought that person would be Rakim Sanders but he is going through a serious funk on the court this year. To be honest, I’m really not sure what the cause of his funk is. Increasingly this team is looking to a player like sophomore Reggie Jackson to lead this team and be the vocal leader on the court.

Q3: bc has the third most wins in ACC play (behind unc and duke) since joining the league in 2005.  What do you attribute that to?

Brian: Coming out of the gate strong …

Jared Dudley is one big reason the Eagles have had so much success in the ACC. Dudley only played in the ACC two seasons but was a big reason the Eagles won 11 ACC games in 2005-2006 and came within a bucket of winning the whole thing against Duke in the ACC Championship. In his senior year when he was named ACC Player of the Year, Dudley got the Eagles to 10-6 with an additional win in the ACC Tournament before bowing out to North Carolina. Craig Smith’s contribution to the 2005-2006 also helped.

After a fairly awful 2007-2008 campaign in which the Eagles won only 4 ACC games, last year’s success was one part Tyrese Rice stepping up and one part benefitting from the unbalanced ACC schedule (although BC did beat both North Carolina and Duke).

Al Skinner has had a knack for finding what we like to call “diamonds in the rough” on the recruiting trail. Guys like Dudley, Smith, and Rice get a shot to play at BC when they may have gotten overlooked by their local area programs. I think that puts a bit of a chip on their shoulder when they play for the Eagles. I also think that BC brought to the ACC a very different, more Big East-like style of play that the rest of the ACC might not have been accustomed to facing on a daily or weekly basis.

Regardless, and unfortunately, I think you’ll find BC come back down to earth in terms of total number of ACC wins since 2005 over the next few seasons as programs like Clemson, Florida State and Wake Forest enjoy basketball resurgence.

Q4: BC recruiting has not been particularly strong since joining the league.  According to, bc has not signed a single recruit over 3-stars since joining the league.  Why the struggles?  Is it hard to recruit in Big East territory?

Brian: This is slightly misleading given that BC didn’t bring in a recruit this season. Al Skinner likes to bank scholarships for future seasons. He’ll need those scholarships so that he can reload over the next two seasons. BC will lose 1 player this season to graduation (Tyler Roche) and then have to replace 7 players (and all 5 starters) in 2011-2012.

FOX Sports’ Jeff Goodman has hinted that the coaching staff turnover has contributed to the apparent downfall of BC basketball recruiting. Assistants Bill Coen (Northeastern) and Ed Cooley (Fairfield) have since gone on to head coaching gigs. I’m not sure I completely buy this argument though. Skinner’s teams have rarely recruited well in New England, instead scouring the country for those “diamonds in the rough.”

All hope is not lost though, as the Eagles bring in two 3-star recruits and one 4-star, 6’8” power forward Kevin Noreen out of Minneapolis, MN.

Q5: Speaking of the Big East, do you think the Big East or ACC is the better basketball conference?

Brian: This year, I think the Big East is better. I can’t make heads or tails of what is going on this year in ACC basketball. Duke looks dominant and then NC State shoots lights out and topples them last night. UNC is in a serious funk. Georgia Tech, Clemson and Florida State go in and out of being contenders. At 1-4, I think we are finding that Miami isn’t for real.

I think the Big East has the better programs at the top (Syracuse, West Virginia, Georgetown, Villanova, Pittsburgh, Louisville) but have more deadweight at the bottom (DePaul, Rutgers, South Florida, Seton Hall, St. John’s). The ACC seems a bit better top-to-bottom. That’s the only reason I could maybe be persuaded that the ACC is a better basketball conference this year. However, if you were only comparing the top 12 teams in each conference, hands down the Big East is better this season.

Q6: Is Head Coach Al Skinner’s job in any jeopardy?

Brian: I don’t think so. At least not this year. Much like Paul Hewitt used the promise of a good recruiting class (read: Derrick Favors) to weather the storm that was a 2-14 season a year ago at Georgia Tech, I think you’ll see the same thing at BC with Skinner. Skinner will bring in the aforementioned Noreen as well as Papa Samba Ndao and Brady Heslip (who has already joined the team) next year. As far as BC recruiting classes go, that’s a pretty decent class. I think the AD and the school want to see what the next year or so will bring in terms of success on the court before making a move.

When Skinner’s back has been against the wall, he’s pushed the right buttons to get this team back on track. If anything, I guess he deserves the school’s patience with all the success he has brought to the program.

Q7: Prediction for the game?

Brian: I think the Eagles will put forth a solid effort but I’m not convinced that they will have enough to beat Virginia Tech. I’m interested to see what the Hokies bring because like I asked you guys, VT doesn’t have that marquee win on the early season just yet. I think this game will be close with the Hokies winning by 3. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles can pull out the W.


Q8: bc is VT’s cross-division rival in football and we play twice every year in basketball.  Do you think there is a real rivalry between the schools or is that just because of the Big East ties?

Brian: I think there is a nice rivalry forming between the two schools. Back in the Big East, Virginia Tech used to dominate the Eagles in football, while BC returned the favor in basketball. Now the tables have turned a bit. Virginia Tech has now won 4 of the last 5 against the Eagles in basketball, while the Hokies have probably struggled to put away BC the most of any team in football the last few years (at least in the regular season). I’d like to think that BC has gotten under the skin of Hokie fans just a little bit. Whether it be the 2007 Matt Ryan-to-Andre Callender game (denying VT a shot at the National Championship), or the 2006 regular season game where Tech failed to score a touchdown for the first time in I don’t know how many games. At least I rationalize a rivalry in my head.

Q9: What do bc fans/alums think of Virginia Tech in general?

Brian: Outstanding football program. Average basketball. A general respect for the athletics program. I like to say that without BC and Virginia Tech these past 5 years, ACC football looks more like the MAC than it does a BCS conference. So I think the conference and the other ACC programs should give both schools a little more credit than they currently are.

Q10: How much did those two losses in the ACC Football Championship sting?

Brian: As an attendee of both the 2007 and 2008 ACC Championships, yes, they sting quite a bit.

Q11: What schools in the ACC, and in general, do eagle fans really hate and why?

Brian: Not sure I hate them, but I am generally annoyed at the Tobacco Road ACC purists who want to give BC and Miami the boot and return to a 10 team league where they can play a balanced schedule. I think BC, in particular, has done more in the league than most of those other schools, and we have earned some respect. There’s also the NC State-Tom O’Brien tie, but State hasn’t beat BC in football since TOB left for greener pastures. So really, we just feel bad for TOB for making what in hindsight appears as a lateral move at best.

Outside of the ACC, I personally hate UConn, because they sued Boston College for conspiring to weaken the Big East and UConn football when we defected to the ACC. They then turn around and b*tch about how BC will never schedule them in football. “We were destined to be New England’s college football rivals!” Yeah, ok. Randy Edsall will be waiting for that call for a long time.

Q12: Through a small sampling of bc fans I know, I get the sense eagle football is #1, hockey #2, and basketball is #3.  Is that accurate?

Brian: I think it used to be, but the times, they are a’changin. I really think now its football #1, basketball #2, and hockey #3. With the move to the ACC, I’m assuming that opened up the geographic footprint of students from parts of the south and other areas underrepresented at BC. Given that a lot of kids in the south don’t grow up following hockey, I think hockey’s popularity has waned at the expense of basketball. When BC was a smaller, more New England school, hockey was definitely the #2 sport and maybe even #1 for stretches of time. But with BC taking on more and more students from all over the country, I think hockey has taken a back seat to basketball. That’s a shame because hockey has traditionally been BC’s most successful athletics program.

Bonus Shot: Is BC happy to be in the ACC, or missing the Big East?

Brian: We’re happy in the ACC. I think people have to remember that had Boston College stayed in the Big East, it still would have been forced to expand to programs like Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, South Florida and DePaul. Because of Miami and Virginia Tech bolting, the Big East would never be the same with or without BC. A lot of fans point to the lack of a regional rival or increased travel time and cost, but traveling from Boston-to-Milwaukee or Boston-to-Louisville is just as far and as expensive as traveling to North Carolina or Georgia.

The money is better. The bowl tie-ins are better. It’s easier not to get lost in the mix as you could in a 16-team mega conference in basketball. There’s nothing about the Big East that’s better, other than the Big East basketball tournament at MSG (but even that has changed) and the fact that had BC stayed in the Big East, we would have at least 3 BCS bowl appearances under our belt.

Thank you to Brian for participating in this Opposing View!

Brian is an Editor and Co-writer for BC Interruption, the SB Nation Boston College sports blog. Brian and Jeff created the blog in 2007 as a way of debating and discussing all sorts of topics about BC football, basketball and hockey. Brian is a 2004 graduate of Boston College. His favorite BC sporting experience is wondering why he drove 9 hours in the pouring rain to sit in the Lane Stadium stands for 57 minutes and 49 seconds and not see the Eagles score a single point … [ouch… a tasteless reference to bc’s comeback win in football in 2007 led by current Atlanta Falcons QB, Matty Ice.  Good death blow to finish.]

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The Opposing View | It’s All About The ‘u’

With the Hokies taking on the canes on Wednesday in a big, early game for Tech, I figured I’d check in with our good buddy, Kartik Krishnaiyer. Kartik is Niemo’s favorite u of miami fan. Kartik is the publisher of canes Rising, a web site that is temporarily down but will be back up in February. It provides unique insight into miami football, basketball, and baseball.

Kartik has been attending miami football games since 1981 and miami basketball games since 1986. Despite graduating from the university of florida, he bleeds orange and green, and continues to hold season tickets for miami football and basketball. He is the Host of the English Premiere League Talk Podcast, Editor of MLS Talk and Host of the MLS Talk Podcast, Owner of the Kartik Report, and Manchester City Blog Chief Writer in addition to his work with canes Rising [Davey – you’d love this guy].

Here are the past articles from Kartik:

You can also check out The Opposing Taunt – Niemo Mocks Sebastian the Ibis

OK, let’s get to the questions.  Kartik’s answers are in italics.


Niemo: I wasn’t a believer in the canes and their soft schedule until I saw them beat wake.  They look solid.  What have been your impressions of the canes to date?

Kartik: The team is a mixed bag. James Dews has shown some flashes, but still has not demonstrated the leadership you would expect from a Senior. Dwayne Collins is hit or miss. We’ve seen this since his freshman year. When he’s on, Miami is tough to beat. DeQuan Jones continues to be a disappointment. Cyrus McGowan, also a senior who transferred from Arkansas three years ago is simply taking up space at this point.

The two new guards, Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant have been good. Beating South Carolina and Minnesota were good wins, but the BC loss was terrible and raised some questions that quite frankly may not be answered all season. The team is too inconsistent and the ball movement is often so stagnant on offense, it is impossible to be totally comfortable with the situation. But the two new guards are good enough to perhaps carry Miami to the NCAA bubble. Actually making the tournament is going to be tough. I sense we are going to be in “VT limbo” this year, with the selection committee once again, deciding they have some ratio of teams from the SEC and Big 12 they want to let into the dance instead of picking the best at-large teams.  I truthfully believe the Hokies were a tournament team the last two seasons, and if the selection committee had any common sense, they’d realize losing to UNC in the last seconds in the ACC Tournament both years is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Niemo: Malcolm Grant, the villanova transfer, looks like a real player.  Tell me about him and his game.  Seems to have similar range to Jack McClinton.

Kartik: He’s a good player, a bit rough around the edges though. He is a decent ball handler and defender which McClinton wasn’t and can penetrate. But sometimes, like McClinton, he falls in love with deep threes and unlike McClinton, does not work hard enough to get open looks. But when he does get open he is deadly. He also is a quite cocky player, which is good because some of our seniors seems to lack confidence or the flamboyance to positively affect the team when things go bad.

Niemo: Dwayne Collins had a monster game against wake.  Is he finally showing his promise or is he still terribly inconsistent?

Kartik: The latter as I talked about above. In Miami’s embarrassing loss to Boston College, DC did not even see the floor after the under 12 timeout in the second half because he was so poor and Miami was being out-rebounded about as badly as any D1 team can be. Miami came from 17 back to tie the game before losing by 1 after Collins was benched.

[Note: Collins had a monster game against VT in miami last year and the Hokies need to focus on limiting him in this game.]

Niemo: Are you ready to call DeQuan Jones (5-star recruit of two years ago) a bust?

Kartik: Yes. Another reason we cannot fall in love with recruiting rankings. I’d really like to see the kid turn it around, but he’s an athlete not a basketball player. That is the bottom line and now more than midway through his sophomore year he looks as lost as ever. Quite honestly he does not have the instincts or concentration level to play in the ACC. He belongs at a mid major program, where his athleticism will win him solid playing time and his obvious basketball deficiency can be masked better.

[Note: Sounds a lot like the perception of Dorenzo Hudson at this time last year… or even earlier this year.]

Niemo: Do you think this is a better team than the teams that had McClinton the last few years?

Kartik: Potentially yes. Actually, this team, thanks to Grant and Scott’s ability to handle the ball and defend on the perimeter could be much better. But the inconsistency of the upperclassmen, as described above is holding the Canes back. I expect this team, next year, to be very good.

Niemo: I still think the Hokies are a better team than the canes, even if the pollsters don’t agree (miami had 70 votes last week to just 20 for the Hokies).  Both have had cupcake schedules out of conference.  What do you think of the Hokies versus the canes?

Kartik: I think the Hokies are very good, but sometimes Jeff Allen gets lost in games. I liked what we saw down in Cancun last week, but had he played better in Chapel Hill, the Hokies could have stolen one. Hudson and Delaney are among the best guard combos in the league, and are perhaps the best.

Niemo: Where do you see the canes finishing in the ACC this year?  The Hokies?

Kartik: Both will finish between 5th and 9th in the league, Va Tech likely finishing higher. That puts both on the NCAA bubble again, in all likelihood.

Niemo: How do you see this game?

Kartik: The Hokies win in a relatively close, but sloppy game.

[Note: He ALWAYS picks the Hokies to win.  Reverse jinx!]


Niemo: That whooping VT put on the canes in September in football was my 100th straight Hokie football home game I’ve attended dating back to 1994.  What were your impressions of the game?  Different weather, different result?

Kartik: Miami was riding high and it got to their heads. Add to that the Hokies finally find their running game and the conditions and you had a rout. VT had struggled the previous week against Nebraska with Tyrod Taylor making an incredible play at the end of the game after a poor game. Virginia Tech has Miami’s number and was due for a good performance.

Niemo: Did you know VT has finished as the highest ranked ACC team in the AP Poll 5 of their 6 years in the league (the lone year they didn’t they were one spot behind wake)?

Kartik: I am surprised they haven’t been the top team all six seasons. If I recall, the first season both Miami and VT were in the ACC, VT, Miami and FSU were 10-11-12 in the final AP Poll.

Niemo: How do you see the two football teams next year?

Kartik: VT and Miami are both going to be looking up at Georgia Tech for the next few years if Paul Johnson hangs around. The option that GT runs is difficult to stop, and the Yellow Jackets are going to be able to recruit more and more players that actually fit that style rather than converting players that were recruited by Chan Gailey’s staff to play other positions. I think the Hokies should be challenging them, but haven’t exactly stopped the Jackets recently. The game two seasons ago in Blacksburg was timed well: beginning of the year just as GT was figuring out the offense. Yet, it was still close, 20-17 or something if I recall correctly. That was before the Jackets steamrolled FSU, Miami and Georgia, amassing a ridiculous amount of rushing yards in the process.

This having been said, VT is still “the program” in the ACC. The GT ascendancy could be a temporary situation. Like Wake did, they are going to ride the wave for a few years, but unlike Wake they have the recruiting base and facilities to sustain a high level program.

This season, Miami showed it can run the ball and control the clock while rediscovering the big play downfield. The defense, however is still a major concern with a below average secondary and linebackers that are injury prone.

Niemo: How much do you miss the Orange Bowl and do you think playing so far north will hurt the canes long term?

Kartik: I still cannot drive by the Orange Bowl site, I am so torn up by it. It’s not a matter of playing so far north, because South Florida is a huge metro area, but it’s losing the character and home field advantage of the Orange Bowl that hurts.

Niemo: Man I hate Paul Johnson’s BS offense.  I sure hope VT reviews what miami did to them last year.  Any chance we could work together and get him fired?  Maybe plant some drugs in his office or something?

Kartik: The problem here is the Paul Johnson has an original offense, annoying as it is, that is difficult to stop. What is more scary is Johnson is doing it with Chan Gailey’s recruits. So basically, he has pro set players running the option. Just wait until he recruits the right players.

Stopping it is very difficult. Miami did a great job, with John Lovett putting together a great scheme. Yet, the traditional offensive teams like Clemson and Wake threw and ran all over Miami.

[Note: My beef with the Johnson offense is you can have guys sprinting laterally at full speed, but not at the line of scrimmage (unless you are in the CFL or Arena League).  I know he is doing it legally but I believe it gives the offense an unfair advantage and should be changed.]

Niemo: How awesome was that 30 in 30 movie on ESPN about the ‘u’?  I think I’ve watched it five times.  I sure hope you guys mail that to every recruit.  The intro makes your hair stand up and yell, “c-a-n-e-s canes!”

Kartik: It was so good, I made several DVD copies of it. Great program, telling great stories about Canes history. I think it really told the story of how difficult it was to crack college football royalty in those days and the blowback that came to any outside that crashed the party. In today’s era of nonstop ESPN coverage of the sport, it is different and much more open, but in the early 1980s, the game was about a few elite programs that felt they had a birthright to remain on top indefinitely.

Niemo: Five years from now – who will be better in football – VT or miami?  In basketball?

Kartik: VT will be better in football. That’s not to say Miami won’t return to a high level status, but I think as long as Beamer/Foster are at VT, the Hokies are going to be the signature program in the ACC Football. I do expect Miami to be better than Florida State long term though, but that is a story for another time.

Basketball? It’s a year to year thing. The conference is so competitive and suffers from so many one and dones and early draft entries that nobody really knows. One thing is for sure – both programs have been much much better than the elites in the ACC who said Miami and VT would kill ACC Basketball had believed.

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The Opposing View | nc state

This week the Opposing View takes us down to Tobacco Road, wolfpack style, as we do a little Q&A with a big time (wolf)packer and fellow blogger. For the second year in a row, Niemo interviews Steven from Section Six.

Interviewee – “I’ve been blogging about the Wolfpack at Section Six since 2004.  I graduated from NC State in 2005 with a degree in History.” -Steven from Section Six

Here’s a link to last year’s interview: 2008 nc state Opposing View

Basketball Questions:

Niemo: Kay Yow recently passed away, meaning two nc state legendary basketball coaches have lost their lives to cancer in the last 20 years. What did Kay mean to the nc state community, and how has her passing affected it?
Steven: It’s been tough, obviously, to lose someone who had such an incredibly positive impact on NC State basketball and women’s basketball in general. She was a pioneer in the sport, a great coach and a great person.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Virginia Tech community, which raised more than $26,000 for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund last week. You guys rock.

NOTE: Donations to both the V Fund (Jimmy Valvano) and the Yow Fund can be made through the V Foundation website: Don’t Ever Give Up!
Niemo: What are the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s wolfpack squad?
Steven: Pretty much what they’ve been throughout the Lowe era. At the offensive end, we shoot reasonably well, but we turn the ball over too much. We were offensive rebounding well in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but we’ve slid predictably in conference play. Defensively, we’re among the worst teams in the country at forcing turnovers, and we give up a lot of second chance opportunities.
Niemo: Tell me about your players.
Steven: Brandon Costner has regained much of his form from two years ago, and he does a little bit of everything — he’s a pretty good rebounder and passer, and will block some shots, in addition to scoring. He has a tendency to score 3-4 buckets in a row and then promptly disappear for long stretches though. But some of that is on the coaching staff.

Ben McCauley has also had a bounce back year shooting the basketball, and he is rebounding better than he has at any point in his career. Courtney Fells remains an enigma, scoring effortlessly in some games, while being a complete non-factor in others. He’s prone to poor decisions, be they shots with a hand in his face or lazy passes.

Julius Mays has been a pleasant surprise at the point, playing about as well as could reasonably be expected. But he’s not much of a factor at the offensive end, and neither is Farnold Degand, the other point guard. Both have had turnover problems.

Though not so much of late, Tracy Smith has been an excellent high-energy contributor off the bench. He’s an outstanding offensive rebounder.
Niemo: This might predate most people reading this column, but on the TV show Dallas, I’m pretty sure they had a season without J.R. Ewing (he was supposedly dead), then brought him back and pretended like that previous season was just a dream. For some reason, that’s how I look at this year’s nc state team. It is almost like last year, with J.J. Hickson playing for you guys, didn’t really happen, and now you are back to basically the same team you had two years ago except for Atsur and Grant. Agree?
Steven: In the sense that Courtney Fells, Brandon Costner, and Ben McCauley are once again the team’s primary sources of production, that’s true, but there is one big difference: the lack of a competent distributor at the point. Engin Atsur really complemented those guys well — McCauley in particular — and we’re missing that. 

Niemo: The wolfpack are 11-28 in ACC action over the last three seasons under Sidney Lowe. Fill in the blank: Lowe gets fired after this season if…?
Steven: …he commits a federal offense. Or accidentally sets fire to Lee Fowler’s (ncsu’s Director of Athletics) lake house.
Niemo: If you had to rank the coaches in the ACC, where would you put Greenberg and Lowe?
Steven: I’d put Greenberg behind Roy Williams, Coach K, Al Skinner, and Oliver Purnell, at least, so he’s somewhere in the middle. Lowe has to be in the bottom two or three until he shows some signs of progress. I sure hope I’m not still ranking him near the bottom in another couple of years.
Niemo: The Hokies have the fourth most ACC regular season wins (behind duke and unc, of course) since joining the league five years ago, and have picked up a first-round bye in the ACC Tourney three of the four seasons. What do you attribute their success to?
Steven: I had not realized Tech’s had that much basketball success. Impressive. I’m not sure there’s any one thing I can point to, save Seth Greenberg’s solid coaching. Having a couple of great guards — Dowdell and Gordon — to lean on when the team first joined the ACC was huge. And I give Greenberg a lot of credit for maintaining continuity after those guys graduated. I’d be lying if I said I thought Tech would be a consistent winner in the ACC.
Niemo: Despite all the Hokies’ success in the ACC, they are just 1-6 against the wolfpack in league play, and have lost six in a row. Why are you our daddy?
Steven: I don’t know, but, kids, daddy’s going through a tough time, and he really needs your continued support. You’re all he’s got right now. [Niemo: LOL!  Sorry, but it is time for us to give daddy a little payback.]
Niemo: What will it take to turn the nc state basketball program around?
Steven: Finding a capable point guard would be a start. When Herb Sendek left the program, it destroyed the recruiting class he’d put together, and we’re still recovering from that. There’s a reason an extra year was included in Sidney Lowe’s first contract. If nothing else, Lowe and his staff have proven to be effective recruiters, and they’ve got a pair of good classes lined up. 
Niemo: What’s your prediction for this game?
Steven: Malcolm Delaney is going to do whatever he wants — you can go ahead and mark him down for 25. I think the Pack keeps it close, but the Hokies ultimately win by 7-8. We tend to play with our heads up our asses for at least five minutes a game; that’s enough to do us in on the road. By the way, I noticed that AD Vassallo is listed at 6-6, and I could swear he used to be 6-8. You guys may want to check into this, as a shrinking small forward could be problematic in March.

Fun Stuff:
VT has won three football titles in five years in the ACC, and played for another title. nc state has not won an ACC football title since 1979. In fact, since 1980 the only North Carolina team to win one outright was wake in 2006. duke tied for one in 1989 (Spurrier). Why is college football so darn awful in North Carolina?
Steven: A lot of unspectacular quarterbacks. The league’s just been in a down cycle; that’ll change. Butch Davis is going to win big and NC State will get back to being a consistent bowl team. We’ve found the outstanding QB we’ve been missing post-Rivers (Russell Wilson from Richmond, VA), and I expect we’ll be pretty good sooner rather than later. If FSU and Miami can ever figure their [poop] out, the league will be good to go.
Niemo: Do you see state ever contending for ACC football titles consistently, or just in rare years?
Steven: I like to think so, and I do think (Tom O’Brien) TOB’s staff can get us to that point, but ultimately, I don’t care. I’m okay with competing for the occasional title and winning 7-8 games the rest of the time. 

Niemo: Tyrod Taylor vs. Russell Wilson: Contrast and compare.
Steven: Taylor is a little faster and more elusive. Wilson is a vastly superior passer, in terms of both accuracy and decision making, and in my opinion, that makes him a much more balanced dual-threat QB. 

Niemo: What are your thoughts on having a female mascot to compliment your male one? Seems pretty lame to me. Don’t see too many of them around the nation.
Steven: Lucky for you they haven’t decided to have children yet. I like the fact that Mr. Wuf is in a monogamous relationship; I mean, you look around the country and all you see are womanizing douchebags like Bucky Badger or Herbie the Husker, running from one mid-major hussy to the next. And don’t even get me started on Testudo. I swear, if Miss Pawla calls me in tears one more time…
Niemo: The nc state football stadium is right next to the NC State Fairgrounds. What’s the best thing to eat at the fair? Funniest thing/person you’ve seen there? I tried a pickle-on-a-stick and a corndog at the Shenandoah County Fair last Fall. My bowels are still sending me death threats.
Steven: I went to the fair last fall for the first time in like fifteen years, and aside from your typical carny folk and people wearing an astounding number of McCain/Palin buttons per square inch of sweater, I can’t say anyone stood out. The renaissance fair, which also visits the fairgrounds, is really the better place to be if you’re out looking for the eccentrics.

Just about everything at the state fair is deep-fried delicious, meaning there are no poor choices. I recommend trying a fried candybar or a fried cheeseburger. However, your bowels will absolutely send you more death threats, and may go through with them this time.  [Niemo: I wonder if I could get this fried stuff on a stick since that’s my MO.]
Niemo: Are there any schools other than state you actually like/root for? Who do you hate the most and why?
Steven: I have grandparents from Michigan, so I’m partial to the Wolverines, but I don’t actively follow them. When it comes to the ACC, schools fall into two categories: (1) I hate you, or (2) I don’t totally dislike you (but will find a reason if pressed). Boston College (because of the TOB thing), Maryland (because of certain Rivers-era incidents), and Duke (because [fornicate] them) are in category one, while the rest sit in category two but may periodically move into category one at my discretion.

An example of this would be when Chris Paul punched Julius Hodge in the groin, making Wake Forest provisional category one members. Category one incidents are generally followed by a three-to-six month probationary period, and once my grudge begins to fade — sometime around mid-July, barring a breach of probation — their category two status is restored. Obviously, this is serious business.

[Niemo: 2 things: 1) Who doesn’t hate maryland?  2) Steven is a better man than me for only having a 3-6 month probationary period — I didn’t buy Tostitos for 5 years after the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl screwed VT over on the 2001 Fiesta Bowl for a crappy notre lame team that got blown out by oregon state, and I didn’t shop at advance auto parts for 10 years after they flew a “Congrats tiki and ronde” banner over Lane Stadium at OUR SENIOR DAY in 1996.  Only reason I ever shopped there is I had a dead battery after a VT bball game and was late meeting Miss Niemo back in NOVA for her birthday which I had blown off for said bball game.]

Thanks so much, Steven, for taking it easy on us and helping with this article.  Hopefully nc state will think they are playing someone other than VT on Sunday and let us win one!

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The Opposing View | clemson

clemson @ VT Preview

The Opposing View features our own Niemo interviewing guest columnists who are alums, or at worst, Super Fans of Virginia Tech’s upcoming opponent. Enjoy the perspective from the other side, and don’t be afraid to post your rebuttal in the Comments section at the bottom of the article.

This edition of the Opposing View features an interview of Odum, clemson c/o ‘99.  He also wrote a previous Opposing View for us two years ago: First clemson Opposing View

Basketball Questions:

Niemo: Tell me about this year’s clemson team.  What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Odum: This year’s Clemson team looks a lot like last year’s version, even though we did lose three key seniors from last year’s team (starters James Mays and Cliff Hammonds, and Sam Perry).  The most noticeable loss is Mays at the point of the press.  We have put Trevor Booker there this year, as much to keep him out of foul trouble as anything.  He has done a pretty good job playing interior defense in the half-court and leads the team in blocked shots.  Down low with him is Raymond Sykes, a guy who is 6′-9″ but on the thin side, and very much a raw player.  Sykes isn’t a big threat with the ball in his hands, but he’s a good rebounder and gets a lot of put back points. 
At point guard, we’ve got a second year player in Demontez Stitt.  He’s a slasher by nature, and is very good when he takes it to the basket strong, but he’s not that much of an outside threat.  Terrence Oglesby is still a threat to shoot it from anywhere on the court, but he’s actually gotten a lot better at putting the ball on the floor and creating his own shot; and, he’s improved as a passer this year.  The other starter is K.C. Rivers who can be a tremendous scorer at times, but he tends to disappear for large stretches.  Not coincidentally, our offense suffers when he’s not scoring – it’s critical for us for him to have a big game. 
The bench is deep, and you’ll see our second five before the halfway mark of the first half.  Jerrai Grant is another big guy who has played well lately and he’ll get plenty of minutes in relief of Sykes and Booker.  Andre Young has played well at the point, and Tanner Smith and David Potter are both 6-5 wing players who have been giving quality minutes.  Brian Narcisse (6′-9″) will also play some. 
Overall, we’re going to try to use the defense to force you to play out of synch.  VT can be prone to turning the ball over, and we’ll need that to be successful.  We’ll need to start out strong offensively, and we need to establish Booker on the inside.  On the defensive end, we have to limit your open looks from outside and slow your guards down if they break the press.  As usual, our team free throw percentage is marginally lower than the felony conviction rate for your incoming football recruits, so we need to make the most of our opportunities there, too.  [Niemo: Wow!  Their FT% is below 4%?!]

Niemo: The tigers currently sit at 17-2 after starting 16-0.  We’ve seen this song and dance before – clemson comes out hotter than Seth Greenberg’s daughter, only to fall apart more than Lindsay Lohan in a VIP room once the ACC slate starts up.  Will things be different this year?
Odum: Isn’t Greenberg’s daughter like thirteen?  [Niemo: I was thinking of Paige, who’s in college and plenty legal, but I guess this sick-o likes eye-balling the younger one… perv!]  As for what we’ll do this year, who knows?  I’d say that this team appears to be mentally tougher than some in recent memory, in spite of losing those three seniors from last year.  I don’t think losing to Wake and UNC back-to-back is a harbinger of a collapse.   Don’t forget that included in this team’s undefeated start are road wins at Illinois, Miami (by 19) and South Carolina (by 11) and a neutral site win over a decent Temple team, so it’s not like we’ve just feasted on cupcakes.

Niemo: Dwayne Collins of miami owned VT on Sunday. Trevor Booker is no Dwayne Collins… he’s better. Can VT stop him?
Odum: Yes, it almost appears the most effective way to handle Booker is to just let him do what he’s been doing lately. After establishing himself down low in some key games in December, he has chosen to shoot a lot of fadeaway jumpers recently, and he hasn’t been effective at all. He reached double figures against GT because he made seven free throws. He can be very effective if he’ll be assertive and take the ball right at Jeff Allen and try to get him into foul trouble.

Niemo: What about Virginia Tech scares you in this game?
Odum: Now that Deron Washington’s (and his mom) ugly mug is gone, nothing really… Well, my golden retriever trembles a little at any mention of VT. Seriously, your team’s overall athleticism is impressive, but it’s their guard play from the last two games that worries me the most. With our full-court pressure defense, we sometimes have a tendency to leave guys wide open once the ball advances past half-court. If we do that with Vassallo or Delaney, we’ll be in trouble.

Click ‘Read more…’ to see the rest of the interview.
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The Opposing View | miami

Niemo has once again interviewed his good buddy, Kartik Krishnaiyer, his favorite u of miami fan, for The Opposing View.  Kartik is the publisher of canes rising, providing unique insight into miami football, basketball, and baseball. He has been attending miami football games since 1981 and miami basketball games since 1986. Despite graduating from the university of florida, he bleeds orange and green, and continues to hold season tickets for miami football and basketball. He also hosts the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network which deals with the US National Team, MLS, and NCAA Soccer.

Here are the past articles from Kartik:

You can also check out The Opposing Taunt – Niemo Mocks Sebastian the Ibis

OK, let’s get to the questions:

Niemo: Describe this year’s miami team.
Kartik:  Battle tested: A tough tournament down in the Virgin Islands which the team quite frankly wasn’t prepared for. We came back home and suddenly had to deal with the McClinton incident against Ohio State, and three days later had to withstand a great game from Patrick Patterson to get a great victory at Rupp [miami won at ky-kentucky], but then embarrassing ourselves on national TV against Clemson two weeks later.

Since the Clemson game, the team settled down and is playing at a fairly high level. Wins at St John’s and BC were good signs. But still the team is limited in its inside game. Jimmy Graham has been solid but cannot seem to stay out of foul trouble. Dwayne Collins is good but at times can be tentative. Arkansas transfer Cyrus McGowan was outstanding earlier in the year but seems to be a bit soft: what would you expect from a SEC transfer, and is not making an impact since ACC play began.

The Canes won a NCAA Tournament game last year and that imparted a toughness to get through what has been a year filled with distractions like Jack’s ejection, Hurdle’s injury, and the ongoing Eddie Rios soap opera.

Niemo: How well do you think VT matches up with the canes?Â
Kartik: The Hokies match up well with everyone in the league it seems [he obviously hasn’t seen us play nc state], thanks to AD Vassallo’s unique skill set for a 6’6” guy. Seth Greenberg always has his troops ready for ACC play. The problem with the RPI and Selection Committee is that once again this year they are going to want VT to win 10 games in the ACC, a nearly impossible task. The selection committee can claim they pick the best at-large teams, but they don’t. I still do not accept any explanation for VT’s exclusion last year. In fact I believe Florida State and Maryland had good cases as well. Our league is tougher night in and night out that any other league in America. I just do not understand how Big East teams get credit for playing each other tough, but last year the Hokies took UNC down to the wire in Greensboro, and that was conveniently ignored the next day when the selections were made.

Niemo: What are miami’s keys to win?  VT’s?
Kartik: Miami must establish Dwayne Collins inside early, and not have to chase the game as we did against FSU and Maryland. Miami won both games, but those teams are more mistake prone and less experienced that the Hokies.

For VT, AD Vassallo creates headaches for opponents and Miami doesn’t have a guy that can really match up with him. It is possible we will see Frank Haith start DeQuan Jones, the freshman, or Adrian Thomas simply due to the need to guard Vassallo. Thomas has actually been playing very well since ACC play began after contributing little during the non-conference slate.

The other option for Miami is to play zone from the get go and Haith is not afraid to do that.

Niemo: McClinton and Delaney are both from Baltimore (the Crab Dribblin’ state!) and may be matched up on Sunday.  Think they will have some extra motivation to one-up each other?  Who wins the head-to-head battle?
Kartik: McClinton should win it, but Delaney is quicker and probably will spend as much time guarding Lance Hurdle as Jack. If Delaney gets matched up with James Dews, whose head seems not to be on basketball lately, he’ll explode.

Really this question brings another issue up: the collapse of Maryland from the national elite. I get the sense that for years the ESPN driven Tobacco Road elitism resented the Terps success. Now that Maryland is just another ACC team, they cannot protect their recruiting base and seem to be safely ignored by the national media. That’s good for stealing kids out of Baltimore or DC if you are VT or Miami, but may not be great for the ACC as a whole.Â
Niemo: Seriously, Anthony King is gone?  He should have his doctorate with all the time he played for you guys!  And this is still a very veteran team.  Is that a good thing, or are you ready for some new blood?
Kartik:  Lindy’s Preview issue said 37 years in ACC Basketball for King. It wasn’t quite that long, but it seemed like it was [he actually started out in the Big East with the canes]. Now the ACC has Harvey Hale to celebrate as an ACC lifer.

Back to Miami: this is a veteran team that has been through the ACC wars and is engaged in battle again this season. Next year, Miami welcomes Durand Scott, the top high school player in New York City and three other prized recruits into the program. Frank Haith is recruiting well and the team is benefiting from not having any ties to the failed regime of Perry Clark remaining. Much like VT took off the second the last Ricky Stokes recruits were history.  [LOL — Kartik knows how to play to me — he bashes stokes in every article!]

Niemo: You have a 6’9″ 290 lbs. freshman.  What is the ideal height for someone that fat?  Um, is he in the wrong sport?  Are you trying to sneak in O-Lineman on basketball scholarships?
Kartik: He’s so fat he’s being redshirted. Why? He needs to lose weight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Niemo: The canes aren’t even averaging 4k per game at home, worst in the ACC.  What can we expect for atmosphere on Sunday?
Kartik: It’ll be a good atmosphere. Most of those games were during the winter break from school. Miami Basketball is very student driven, unlike Miami Football which is… well, I’ll skip that, but you know it’s not students who hassle your Hokie fans at the football games.Â
Niemo: If McClinton could girl-slap one Hokie, who would it be?
Kartik: Probably Delaney. Old Baltimore thing. But then again Jack is really a good kid who had a moment of madness. [McClinton basically slapped an ohio state player in the ACC/Big(11)Ten challenge and got tossed from the game… can’t believe Kartik missed the obvious Jeff Allen/referee reference here!]
Niemo: Where do you predict miami finishing in the ACC regular season standings?  VT?  Tourney bound or NIT?
Kartik: 5th or 6th for the Canes and dancing again. VT should be somewhere between 5th and 7th. Florida State will be the other team in the mix for an NCAA bid in the league. Maryland just seems too weak inside and not able to close out games on the road. I think the Terps are staring down the NIT again this year.

FSU has more talent than Miami or VT, but again the Noles have a penchant for collapse at the end of every season when they need one more win to secure an NCAA bid. Should we expect any different this season?Â
Niemo: In 3-5 years, do you see miami’s basketball program getting better or worse?  Where do you see VT’s?
Kartik: This is easy: both programs are emerging. The ACC elites got more than they bargained for inviting these two schools. The real victims I guess are Georgia Tech, NC State and YES, UVA, who now cannot compete year in and year out in the ACC. The Cavs wasted all that money on an arena no one is going to care to play in. The real question is how long until Virginia and NC State completely collapse? I don’t think either program can compete regularly in the current ACC. Think about it this way: Pete Gillen recruited top class after top class to Charlottesville yet UVA has two NCAA appearences in the last ten years? That’s pathetic. Now that they are lacking in talent consistently under Leito I don’t see a way out for them.

Fun Stuff

Niemo: What did you think of that 3rd ACC football title the Hokies locked up this year?  Lessen the joy of your rare win over VT any?
Kartik: Never. These days any win over the Hokies is cause for celebration. I guess you can claim success after scoring 14 points at home against Duke. I’ll give you guys credit for knocking out TJ Yates, otherwise UNC would be celebrating today. Oh wait, they don’t celebrate football wins anyhow.Â
Niemo: Your alma mater just won another football title.  Think about jumping ship back to the gators?  miami sports aren’t exactly on the rise (might need to rename your site).
Kartik: No way. The Gator fans are what drove me from my alma mater in the first place. I actually still support UF in basketball, much as I did when I was in school there. It was lonely being a hoops fan in Gainesville in the mid 1990s. Really lonely. But in football, UF has all the money, the prestige, the power: why would I jump on that bandwagon? It would be like rooting for UNC or Duke in basketball!!!!! (Then again, I did not want to see OU or Bob Stoops win a national title. Did any of you?)
Niemo: Wish you could be back in the Big East?
Kartik: NO! How about you guys? As my co-host on our podcast Nate Skinner said the other night, the Big East is more a collection of teams than a real conference. Seriously does anyone really think of USF as a “Big East school?”
Niemo: Bigger punk: Eddie Rios or Robert Marve?
Kartik: Marve, although you guys have the rare distinction of having lost to him this year, one of only two ACC teams that will ever lose to him. Rios was a real disappointment. Committed to UM as a sophomore in High School but never grew into the point guard role and eventually became one huge distraction.Â
Niemo: Is Wet Willie’s the greatest drink place in the world?  (this is really a rhetorical question)
Kartik: YES!

[For those of you that have never been, Wet Willie’s features drinks that can be only described as “slurpees on steroids” – they are frozen drinks filled heavily with grain alcohol.  They are currently banned by the Weekend Warrior for good reason.]

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The Opposing View | The fairfield stag Party

Niemo used to work with a chick from fairfield university, and since we don’t know the first thing about the school, we decided to shoot her an email to get some more information about Virginia Tech’s first round opponent in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Speaking of work, here is how you can get out of work tomorrow to watch the game at 11 AM EST:

  1. Block off your calendar from 11-1 with a “Coaching Luncheon” (you can be the coach or the coachee depending on your title).
  2. Have another Hokie in the office do the same.
  3. Call around to the local sports bars and see which bars have “the u”, ESPNU – DirecTv Channel 614. There’s a good chance they will have no idea said channel even existed, so just tell them the channel number and have them check it. We actually did a drive-by to verify they got it. Our place even has a buffet, which means 2 hours of stuffin’.
  4. Come 11 AM tomorrow, duck out and enjoy the game! Warning: make sure you set your Bear Fight spread VERY high unless you don’t plan on going back to work.

OK, enough of that, let’s get back to the fairfield interview. Thanks to Lanie (former female co-worker of Niemo’s) and Scott (her friend), two real, live stag alums, for participating!

1. Niemo: Tell me about fairfield university – good party scene or suitcase college?

Lanie and Scott: Great party scene at the beach! Clam Jam/Spam Jam… well known in the NE.

[Niemo: Guess it is near a beach. ‘Spam Jam’? Hmm. I wonder if it was ‘BYOS’ – Bring Ya Own Spam! And what’s up with “the NE”??? Boy, those chowda heads are really letting 3 Super Bowls, 2 World Series, and a NBA title go to their heads. Just like “the ohio state”.]

2. Niemo: How many times per day would you hear, or make, a ‘fu’ joke?

Lanie and Scott: Multiple times a day. I (SM) even had an FU logo on my speedo for swim team and the women’s team had it on their chests.

[Niemo: LOL, that’s pretty solid… minus the Speedo, that is. Apparently Lanie has a picture of Scott in said Speedo but isn’t coughing it up. Hmm, I wonder what she is still doing with that picture after all these years???]

3. Niemo: How many basketball games did you attend as a student?

Scott: 15

[Niemo: I guess Lanie was tied up at Spam Jam and couldn’t make any.]

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The Opposing View | mount st. mary’s

Stop laughing, there really is a blog about mount st. mary’s university basketball.  And Raff from was nice enough to answer some questions about the mount st. mary’s mountaineers (or “the mount” for short).

Raff also interviewed me and here is a link to that interview: Niemo interviewed by the Fan Blog

Bio about Raff: Raff is a sports fan. He’s been a fan of Mt. St. Mary’s basketball since he was seven years old and he fell through the bleachers in the Old Memorial Gymnasium during the final two seconds of one of the most incredible finishes in the history of the South Atlantic Division II regional finals, in a game versus Elizabeth City State. A graduate of Syracuse University, his venom for the Hokies comes from those many years in the 90’s when the footbal rivalry was intense and of course for the way the Tech administration handled the ACC departure. He blogs regularly about the Mount, Syracuse and anything else he feels like writing about at


1. Niemo: Tell me about mt. st. mary’s university.  What is the school like?  Good party scene or suitcase college?

Raff: I was never a full-time student there, although I did take a few classes. So I can’t really clue you in on the party scene. The school is the sixth smallest in Division I, so there is a true sense of community there – and the Mount Maniac student section seems to have a good time at games. I’m guessing that there are worse places to be on a Saturday night than on campus.

2. Niemo: The mount is a Catholic university.  Do the ladies wear those sexy, naughty, Catholic-school-girl skirts?

Raff: This isn’t Southern Seminary or anything. And I take my 9-year-old daughter to the games with me – so I’m usually more worried about what she has on, then what the students are wearing. At least that is what I tell my wife.

[Note to Niemo’s gf if she’s reading this – Daddy likes the Catholic-school-girl skirts!]

3. Niemo: mount st. mary’s won the Northeast Conference (NEC) last year and won the “extra” NCAA Tournament game before being waxed by unc in the first round.  What are expectations for the mountaineers this season?

Raff: Expectations are as high as they’ve ever been with the program at this level. Truly last year’s run came a year ahead of schedule. There was just one senior who got considerable minutes last year, and only two scholarship seniors on the roster this year. The heart of last year’s team were underclassmen. A tough non-conference schedule, as is always the case with the mid-majors, could leave them with a few welts but they should be stronger come conference play and the all-important NEC tournament. Just about every publication has picked the Mount to win the NEC this year and with good reason. But the players seem to realize that without three wins at the start of March, there is no hope to play in the Big Dance.

Click ‘Read more’ for the rest of the interview…

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Guest Columnist | The NCAA Selection Committee: Disrespect for the ACC and Virginia Tech

By Kartik Krishnaiyer

Our good buddy, Kartik Krishnaiyer from miami’s, was nice enough to write an article about his thoughts on the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee and Virginia Tech’s snub. He also participated in an Opposing View column back in February. would like to thank him for taking the time to do this and offer his kind thoughts. And to show our gratitude, in an unprecedented move, we have left other schools’ names capitalized.

Hokie fans, I feel your pain. Everyone in ACC Country feels your pain. Talking to many around the country in the last 24 hours, those who understand the culture around ACC Basketball agree with me. Those who don’t understand ACC Basketball have little use for my arguments. But here is how I see what I consider a completely unjustified and unconscionable decision by the committee to take essentially mediocre teams like Villanova, Kansas State and Oregon over a battle tested winning ACC team like Virginia Tech.

  • The committee needs to watch more basketball

Had any member of the selection committee watched Virginia Tech’s heartbreaking loss at Littlejohn Coliseum to Clemson last Sunday, they no doubt would have decided that the Hokies are not only a tournament team but probably a top eight seed somewhere. The odd call by an official to call a foul with three seconds remaining and put Clemson on the line for two free throws when the Hokies were up one and had shown the grit to make what appeared to be a game winning shot just seconds earlier was inexcusable. Following this heartbreak, Virginia Tech beat Miami, already considered an NCAA lock and team that secured a #7 seed in the tournament. Finally, the Hokies got unlucky not to at least get to overtime against the committee’s favorite team, #1 overall seed North Carolina. How can a team that beat one tournament team and took two other top seeds to the brink in a one week period and who had a winning record in a league which the RPI rated as the toughest in the nation by a wide margin be left out for a team like, say Kansas State or Oregon?

  • Road games in the ACC are not equal to road games in other leagues

Much like the SEC in football, the ACC in basketball features home arenas where the passion is greater night in and night out than in any other league in America. The committee’s failure to understand that Virginia Tech’s road games are more hostile than Villanova’s show they have a fundamental misunderstanding of college basketball. Going 9-7 in the ACC is not like going 8-8 in the SEC or Big 12. It’s a whole lot tougher.

As a Miami fan, I recall we had a team that went 15-2 over a two season period on the road in the Big East. (December 1998 thru March 2000) In this period, Miami had exceptional talent, but not overwhelming talent by any stretch of the imagination. But it was fairly easy for a talented team to go into a large, half empty arena in a city center and steal a road game than to a loud partisan arena jam packed with students near the floor. The SEC in basketball resembles the ACC in football. Students come to games and cheer for their team but the passion the ACC has for basketball is lacking in SEC arenas while the passion the SEC has for football is generally lacking in ACC stadiums.

  • The NCAA should understand traditional in-state rivalries

Early in his tenure as Miami Head Coach, Leonard Hamilton made the decision to discontinue Miami’s series with Florida, Florida State, and South Florida. Why? Coach Hamilton was of the belief that you don’t schedule games against in-state opponents that could lead to defeats that kill your program’s profile both locally and nationally. As Miami improved, Hamilton gradually got aggressive about placing Kentucky, North Carolina, and Indiana on UM’s schedule, but the in-state teams never returned until Perry Clark was the coach. Virginia Tech had three losses held against them by the committee: two were to in-state rivals Richmond and Old Dominion (both on the road): for this the Hokies should have been congratulated for playing these teams, not punished for losing. Miami was for years unwilling to play these games. More and more schools now follow Hamilton’s example. The committee must realize that losing to an in-state rival from a smaller league is not like losing to a team from a smaller league from another region.

  • The NCAA needs to realize that some teams without returning stars need time to gel

Jeff Allen, Deron Washington, and A.D. Vassalo are now all household names in ACC country. But they weren’t in November when the Hokies lost to Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. As the season went on, as was always the case with Seth Greenberg’s teams at South Florida and now at Virginia Tech, the Hokies played better and better. The team game really began to work and as is always the case with Greenberg’s teams the Hokies played great defense. So at season’s end Virginia Tech wasn’t just one of the 65 best teams in the nation, it was probably one of the 30 best. But Arizona’s early season victories with several returning stars were emphasized in picking a team with a losing conference record for the dance, but Virginia Tech’s early struggles with a group of young players was held against them, even though the Hokies finished with a winning record in the nation’s toughest conference. Go figure.

In summary, I feel Virginia Tech’s exclusion from this tournament is one of the gravest at-large oversights by the committee in recent years. For me it is probably the biggest oversight since Vanderbilt was dropped from the bracket in 2000 right before the selection show because Arkansas had surprisingly won the SEC Tournament and the committee needed to make room for them so lazily they dropped a team from the same league. I have no doubt that Seth Greenberg, one of the finest people in the game, will bring Virginia Tech back to the NCAAs next year, but the Hokies ought to be preparing now for a NCAA game, not a NIT one.

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The Opposing View | georgia tech

In this installment of the Opposing View, the real Tech does a Q&A with the other, lesser tech. You know, the one down in the ATL with the not-so-good-looking women (though not many of them), georgia tech. Maybe you’ve heard of them.

Thanks to Mr. Smith from In the Edge – gt for taking time out to let us interview him. His site is all about raincoats; aka: yellow jackets. Mr. Smith is a graduate of georgia tech in Computational Media (’07) and is currently a grad student there.

Q: You said you on your site that you questioned the “classiness” of VT fans at Lane Stadium. Why?

A: Let me start off by saying my two trips to Lane Stadium have probably been my favorite away trips as I love the stadium and atmosphere. Unfortunately, I’ve had to deal with some less than friendly fans. Being down on the field some fans behind our bench have yelled things that went a little beyond heckling in my opinion. I’ve also talked with some other GT fans that have had that experience walking to the stadium. I understand supporting your team and all but some VT fans take it to a level that it shouldn’t be. Although, all schools have fans like this but GT fans just found them more prominent at VT.

Niemo’s Note: Ha! Glad he didn’t see or hear me at the game in ATL this past Fall. I was even worse! No intimidation at all at ga tech, aka: Baby D Stadium.


Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of this yellow jacket team?

A: The strengths of our team are that we play very physical and usually with a lot of energy. If we are playing our best we can frustrate another team very quickly. Also, if our offense is clicking then we can score in bunches very quickly.

The weaknesses are that we are very inconsistent. We were playing well for a stretch of games but have not played so well lately. It’s almost a flip of a coin as to whether or defense plays like it should and on offense we are often caught standing around which is very easy to defend.

Q: What are the key match-ups in this game?

A: I would say it is whether or not the Jackets can shut down A.D. Vassallo. 3-point shooters have killed us in the past, including Jack McClinton this past weekend. If we don’t guard him well and he starts to heat up then it is not a good sign for the Jackets.

Q: gt has stunk on the road over the last few years, including losing something like 19 straight in opponent’s arenas until last season. Is this year’s squad any more resilient?

A: We are actually better on the road than at home this year. We won three straight at UVA, NC State, and Wake and played pretty well at UCONN. However, we played very poorly at Clemson, but I would look for us to at least make it a close game against the Hokies.

Q: Will Matt Causey be giving VT a thank you card for not guarding him in Atlanta and saving his career? He owes us one.

A: I don’t expect him to drop another 30 but he may be in the range of 10-15. I think the ACC is glad he is only here for one year because he can be a very fiery and scrappy player that can annoy the crap out of opposing fans. I would like to see VT fans chant a clever nickname for him (he’s already had ones such as Hobbit, Frodo, and a few others).

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The Opposing View | unc

For the second time in 11 days, the Hokies head down to Tobacco Road to face a NC state school.  This time, it is unc-chapel hill.  So 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.

Basketball Questions:

Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s 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.  I assume a lot of this has to do with the fact he’s the only player most teams know about. 

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!  Another ricky stokes bust!  I love it!  People are going to start thinking I’m writing these articles myself.  (I’m not, I promise)  Now if only we can find someone to bust on Nick Sorensen…

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The Opposing View | miami

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, c-a-n-e-s canes!  That’s right, it is time to head 900 miles south and 40 degrees north of Blacksburg to sunny Miami, Fla.  You can also check out The Opposing Taunt – Niemo Mocks Sebastian the Ibis

Niemo interviewed Kartik Krishnaiyer, his new favorite u of miami fan, who is the publisher of a website covering miami football and basketball. He has been attending miami football games since 1981 and miami basketball games since 1986. Despite graduating from the university of florida, he bleeds orange and green, and continues to hold season tickets for miami football and basketball. He also hosts the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network which deals with the US National Team, MLS, and NCAA Soccer.

Niemo’s Note: LOL!  Another canes fan that didn’t actually go to miami!  If I hadn’t driven through the campus, I might think it didn’t even exist and was just a front to allow quality citizens to play collegiate sports.  Maybe I just saw cardboard, two-dimensional buildings?  Honestly, have you ever met someone that actually went there?

Seriously, though, I like Kartik a lot and this was one of the more enjoyable interviews I’ve done.

Enough sappy-time, let’s get to the questions.  Since this is a rivalry, I’ve put the Rivalry/General Questions first with Basketball Questions to follow.

Rivalry/General Questions
Q: How strong is the VT/miami rivalry from the miami point of view?
A: Massive. You are our biggest conference rival in football, since FSU and Miami fans tend to get along better with one another and have a similar hatred for Florida. Your fans on the other hand are fairly obnoxious, not the genteel, sophisticated types that uva seems to travel with. Miami fans I can safely say dislike VT on the whole a lot more than FSU at this point in time. You can take pride in that.

Niemo’s Note: Honestly, I don’t hate the canes anymore.  We’ve beaten them too much lately to hate them, as Kartik points out below.  My hate level has gone way down since the 2002 VT/miami football game when I stormed out in the 3rd Quarter in a stream of profanities that still hover over the Orange Bowl. But it is good to know the dozen or so canes fans left dislike us.
Q: Back in the mid-90s, the Hokie Bird beat the crap out of Sebastian the Ibis for shooting silly string on him.  It turned out the Ibis was a woman and the Hokie Bird got suspended for 2 games.  Why hasn’t Sebastian ever tried to settle the score?  miami doesn’t usually let people punk them like that.
A: Sebastian was worried the media would get the NCAA to investigate Miami if he retaliated. That is despite the fact that we’ve had less active players arrested in the past ten years than Florida has in the past ten months.
Q: Since joining the ACC, VT is 28-6 in ACC football games, including 2 ACC titles and a division title.  miami has gone 16-16 with not even a division title.  VT has owned the canes by a 7-2 clip in football and basketball combined. What has happened to the mighty canes?
A: The “Mighty Canes” are in a long descent which believe it or not has not hit rock bottom yet. We are going to be even worse next year and potentially EVEN worse the year after. The Empire has fallen. and on the ashes you have a program that will never be great again. We have intense competition in recruiting and inferior budget and facilities to the rest of the league. However in basketball we should ascending which is why this season is so frustrating. We’ve got a great arena, a new practice facility about to open and the attractiveness of being an urban school in the best perceived league in the country. (I say perceived because I am of the opinion that the Big East is MUCH better than the ACC in basketball)

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The Opposing Taunt | um | Niemo as Sebastian the Ibis

(Manually scroll down quickly to intensify the effect)








Special thanks to DuffHokie for serving as the photographer and choreographer. Sebastian the Ibis has nothing on me! Don’t worry, I’m not a traitor. Just try it one time, building up on the “ohhh”, and you’ll be hooked forever. It is a great stress relief, or a great taunt when we are kicking their butts. Kind of like doing the seminole chop when we beat fsu.

Here’s the [cough] real Sebastian the Ibis doing it:

And here’s the instructional video the university puts out to help miami fans learn how to spell (since there’s no actual students or alumni of miami):

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The Opposing View | nc state | Q&A with Section Six

This week the Opposing View takes us down to Tobacco Road, wolfpack style, as we do a little Q&A with Section Six (nc state fan site)

Interviewee – “I’ve been blogging about the Wolfpack at Section Six since 2004.  I graduated from NC State in 2005 with a degree in History.” -Steven from Section Six

As always, we asked a few basketball questions and then got into the hard hitting stuff like “Why do the NC schools stink at football so much?”

Basketball Questions

Q: Can you give us a general overview of the nc state team?  Strengths/weaknesses, etc.

A: NC State lacks outside shooting and relies on the post for most of its offensive production.  The team’s biggest strength lies in the free throw department, both in getting to the line and keeping opponents from getting there.   The big drawback to this style, defensively speaking, is that we rarely force turnovers.  And despite being one of the taller teams in the country, we don’t rebound well at either end of the court, and the defensive end is especially problematic.  
Q: J.J. Hickson is the best freshman in the ACC.  But adding him to your lineup is like adding Percy Harvin to uva’s 2-tight end formation.  He doesn’t fit.  Thoughts?
A:  If we’re speaking strictly about the offensive end of the court, that may be a fair point.  The Costner/McCauley tandem has been a bit more effective offensively than either of the Costner/Hickson or McCauley/Hickson pairs.  But it isn’t that Hickson doesn’t fit into the offense Sidney Lowe is running–he doesn’t fit into the offense that Costner and McCauley run in their “remember when it was just the two of us?” dreamland.  Furthermore, a major reason why the offense looks rougher this season is because we haven’t found an effective point guard.   

The bottom line is that we have been a vastly better team with Hickson on the floor than with him off of it–we have outscored opponents by 75 points with him on the floor and have been outscored by 36 with him off of it.  No Wolfpack player has a higher net positive value than that +111. (McCauley = -79).  Even if his implementation into the offense hasn’t gone smoothly, he has still been a vital component to our overall success, largely because his defensive value, relative to the other two, is huge.  When Costner and McCauley are on the floor together, we play matador defense.  Their effort stinks, their fundamentals stink, and they just aren’t the same caliber of athlete that Hickson is.  Whatever offensive cohesion we gain with Costner and McCauley on the floor (and it ain’t much) is outweighed by what we lose at the other end.

Niemo’s Note: Ummm, net positive what? Pretty big words for a history major. Are we talking hockey or basketball? Are you sure you didn’t go to duke? And Cope-acabana thought I was a stat freak…

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The Opposing View | uva | Q&A with the Chris Graham of The Sports Dominion

uvaThis is a repost of “The Opposing View” from January 14th, right before the VT @ uva game. We interviewed an alum of the hated hoos of virginia, or as I like to call them, “Others Receiving Votes” since they always seem to be on the fringe of actually being good, but not quite getting there.

I’d like to thank Chris Graham of for participating and being a good sport.


Chris Graham (CG) is a 1994 graduate of the university of virginia and the husband of the former Crystal Abbe, a 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech [Niemo: at least he made one smart decision]. The Grahams own and operate the Waynesboro-based Augusta Free Press Publishing, the parent company of The New Dominion Magazine, a quarterly print magazine, two news websites, and, a website that is also the home to “The SportsDominion Show,” a daily sports podcast and weekly radio show covering sports in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

General Questions

Q1: uva has been a member of the ACC for over 54 years now. In those 54 years, how many OUTRIGHT* ACC Championships have they won in Men’s Basketball and Football (ie: the real sports)? *co-championships do not count

CG’s A: The one in ’76 comes to mind. (Basketball, The Miracle in Landover. VPISU was probably playing vmi and washington and lee that weekend. And probably losing.)
Notice how the question is framed by a VPISU booster, though. “Men’s Basketball and Football (i.e. the real sports).” I don’t want to hear you guys claiming later on in this Q and A that you’re all the sudden now good in soccer. You’ve defined the terms in the way VPISU grads are accustomed to doing.

Niemo’s Note: 1 is the correct answer – uva won the 1976 men’s basketball tournament title. They tied for the football title just twice – in 1989 and 1995 – but have never won a football title outright despite the fact the ACC consisted of just seven or eight teams and no fsu until 1992.

Q2: Virginia Tech has been a member of the ACC for less than four full years now. In that time, how many OUTRIGHT ACC Championships do the Hokies have?

CG’s A: Is it two? I would want to count the track and field championship from this year, but again, those sports don’t count in Blacksburg, apparently, so we’ll go with the two from football. Both, by the way, have to be attributed to uva president John “HokieLoveFest” Casteen, without whom you would still be the Beasts of the Big Least.

Niemo’s Note: 2 is the correct answer. That’s right, VT has more in 4 years than uva has in 54. VT has two outright football championships in just four years – 2004 and 2007. And speaking of the Big Least, I should point out the Big East has won their last three BCS games, defeating the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 champs while the ACC has lost eight straight BCS games.

[Many more questions and answers below…]

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The Opposing View | fsu | Q&A with Jeff Johnson of

In our 4th installment of “The Opposing View” for 2008, we do a little Q&A with the garnet and gold. That’s right, our old Metro buddies from Tallahassee.

Niemo interviewed Jeff Johnson, the Sports Director for, a web site that covers everything about our tomahawk choppin’ rivals. We’d like to thank Jeff for being a good sport and for taking the time to answer our questions.

First, Niemo lobbed a few basketball questions before he got into the questions we really want to know, like who’s a worse offensive coordinator: Jeff Bowden or Bryan Stinespring? Then, Niemo adds some classic stories of times he has crossed paths with noles over the years.

Basketball Questions:

Q: What are florida state’s strengths and weaknesses as a team this year?

fsurules: This is a veteran FSU team, led by three senior guards and a very experienced junior. They play really good on-the-ball defense, but struggle on the boards. They win games when they can control the tempo and get to the foul line. When they lose it’s usually because the other team controls the glass and takes FSU out of their offensive game plan because of their lack of depth.

Q: How much has the departure of Al Thornton, and injuries in the low post, hurt the team?

fsurules: While you can look at the numbers in regards to Al Thornton not being on this team, his real value was in the hustle and energy he brought to the players around him. He just brought the players around him to another level. These types of intangibles can’t be replaced very easily — it shows this year when FSU has been prone to long scoring droughts, and when FSU has been in close games. As for the injuries in the low post, it hasn’t been as crippling as some would suggest because it was a weakness to begin with. When you start three guards, you’re going to have problems rebounding the ball.

Q: This Florida state team reminds me a lot of last year’s Virginia Tech team in that fsu is loaded with upperclassmen, especially at the guard position. How good are these guards compared to VT’s Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon?

fsurules: I see a lot to similarities in this team with last years Virginia Tech squad. Dowdell improved every year he was at VTech and they asked so much of him on both ends of the floor, which is very similar to FSU’s Jason Rich. Both guards (Rich and Dowdell) are extremely good defenders and do well on the boards for their size. As for Gordon, he could compare very favorably to Tony Douglas. Both of these players were asked to run their respected teams, but neither is a true point guard.

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The Opposing View | duke #2 | Q&A with Jay Bilas

Since Tech only plays duke once this season, we better milk it by having two opposing views. First up was the “Tech Hoops” of duke basketball – the duke Basketball Report. Next up is former duke player and ESPN Gameday Analyst, Jay Bilas. Jay also did a Q&A about Hokie Hoops during the off-season. Thanks to Jay Bilas for participating in our friendly Q&A.


Jay Bilas is one of ESPN and ABC’s top basketball analysts and is widely recognized for his thorough knowledge of the game and his professional, clever style. Bilas provides expert color commentary form courtside on college basketball games, and serves as a studio analyst and as the co-host of ESPN’s popular studio show College Gamenight.

Basketball Questions

Q1: Educate us on this year’s version of the duke juggernaut. What are this team’s strengths and weaknesses?

Jay: duke is really good this season. It is a team with great perimeter strength, and outstanding team defense. duke really spaces the floor, and uses the three point line as a weapon. Coach K has this team really guarding the ball well, and forcing turnovers. The relative weaknesses are interior scoring and rebounding, but bigger teams have to match-up with duke as well. duke has really good depth, an outstanding senior in DeMarcus Nelson, and one of the nation’s best sixth men in Jon Scheyer.

Q2: What past duke team would you compare this year’s squad to?

Jay: I cannot recall a duke team quite like this one. It is really young, and lacks a consistent post scorer. This team is unique.

Q3: Is there anyone from Virginia Tech that you think could give duke fits?

Jay: I would have said Jeff Allen, but he is unfortunately suspended for the game. That is too bad, because I don’t think what he did was malicious. I understand why the league suspended him, because you cannot have the officials subject to physical contact of any kind. But, I was sorry to see it happen to Allen. He is really a good young player. I really respect his game. Deron Washington is such a good and underrated player. With his athleticism and will, he could really cause duke some problems.

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