Archive | ACC Tournament

No Sting, All Gobble | Recap | #6 VT 59, #11 georgia tech 43


The Magnificent Seven rolled to victory, 59-43, against georgia tech on Thursday.  Virginia Tech did what they had to do — take care of business and win on Day 1 of the ACC Tournament (which consequently is Day 14 of the Big East UEFA Cup round robin double elimination Tournament — I haven’t seen a tournament this confusing since Base-ketball) in a near Bear Fight at the Greensboro Coliseum .  The Hokies locked up their 20th win of the season, and 10th ACC win.  The current senior class is now 11-1 in tournament openers (3-1 at the ACC Tournament).

In what was Paul Hewitt’s final game as coach of georgia tech, the jackets laid an egg.  The Hokies played like a team on a mission to get to the NCAA Tournament (where was this last week???) and sent the jackets, along with most of the crowd, home early.

The Hokies dominated this game from the start.  Tech jumped out to an 8-0 lead and pushed it to 15-2 shortly thereafter.  The yellow jackets had their fans feeling yellow — they had just 2 points 7 minutes into the game.  A Terrell Bell triple blew the doors open with 8 minutes to go in the first half, putting the Hokies up 27-9.  VT got 7 points each early from Delaney and Green (who struggled mightily in Atlanta against gt) to build the lead.  Tech led by as many as 18 in the first half, and after a sluggish start for both teams offensively in the second half, VT leaped out to a 20-point lead five and a half minutes into the second half.  When I say this game was all Hokies, I mean it was ALL HOKIES.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, YES, the stat of stats held true: for the 15th straight VT game, the team that shot a higher percentage from 3-point range won.  georgia tech couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat tonight.  They shot just 22% from deep (5/23) while the Hokies knocked down 27% (4/15).  georgia tech started just 3/21 from behind the arc and that sunk their ship.  Shumpert, who had a triple-double in Atlanta and 27 points in B’burg, finished with a pedestrian 12 points, 4 steals, 2 assists, and 1 rebound.  And Brian Oliver, who torched the Hokies in the gt win in Atlanta, did play for the first time in over a month tonight but was just 1/8 from the field.

VT shot 47% for the game compared to just 32% for the jackets.  The jackets, a poor shooting team on average, had no answer for the VT 2-3 zone (which they stayed in the entire game).  Tech also dominated tech in the paint as expected — beating gt 28-14 in points in the paint.  The Hokies even got 9 points from their ‘scholarship’ bench (all two of them) — Atkins had 6 while Garland had 3 — and Paul Debnam also added a free throw in garbage time.

The good news is this: Malcolm Delaney’s shot looked good tonight for the first time in a while, and Jeff Allen still had that sweet, sweet mid-range jumper.  The two combined to shoot 10/17 from the floor (a low shot total but I’ll take the efficiency).  Delaney tallied 15 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals on the night while Allen added 14 points and 11 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season and 45th of his career.  Erick Green added a solid 11 points to give three Hokies double figures.  Bell and Davila had just 9 combined points, but it didn’t matter tonight.

Tales of Jeff Allen’s demise were greatly exaggerated — the senior had 6 points and 8 rebounds at the break in 17 minutes.  The 8 rebounds matched in a half what he produced all of last week in 2 games.  Delaney led the Hokies at the break with 11 points and 4 assists, plus chipped in 2 of VT’s 8 steals.

VT exploded to a 55-31 lead with 8 minutes to go, and largely ‘iced the puck’ the rest of the game.  In fact, georgia tech had averaged less than a point per minute for most of the first 35 minutes.  VT scored just 2 points from the 8:23 mark of the second half to the 1:18 point, but it didn’t matter.  The game was for the birds.

The jackets, meanwhile, did one of two things on offensive early on: supply another brick for a house, or turn the ball over.  georgia tech shot just 23% in the first half, while the Hokies hit 50% of their shots.   If it hadn’t been for Glen Rice Jr., who was banking in more shots than Minnesota Fats, georgia tech might have been in single digits at the break.  He had 8 points, while star Iman Shumpert was largely invisible with just 5 points, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 0 rebounds, well below his triple-double (and near quadruple-double) against VT in Atlanta.

The only scare of the first half was, after building a 30-11 lead on a Tyrone Garland 3-point play, georgia tech went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 30-19 and had a couple of shots to get within single digits.  The Hokies were scoreless for almost 5 minutes, including 3 missed free throws by Delaney.  But Tech went on a 6-0 run to close the half and led 36-19 at the half.

The Hokies return to action on Friday night at the same time (~9:20 PM) against the #3 seed florida state seminoles… oh, and Chris Singleton might play after all (but I doubt it).  Win, and the Hokies are assured a NCAA Tournament bid (I think).  Lose, and look out fingernails on Sunday.

Posted in 2010-11 Season, ACC Tournament, Game Recaps9 Comments

Sweet 16 for the hoos

One of the great streaks in the ACC continued Thursday on the first day of the ACC Tournament – the wahoos failed to make the ACC Tournament Semi-Finals for the 16th straight year.  And they accomplished this in epic fashion — uva led 53-43 with 45 seconds left in the game.  But thanks to two 3-pointers for miami, 3 uva turnovers, 2 missed uva FTs, a cane dunk, and a cane ‘and-1′ (though he missed the FT to give miami the lead), miami sent the game to OT and then buried the cavs.

uva has not made the ACC Semi-Finals since 1995.  And remember – there were only nine teams in the league until 2004 so they basically just had to win one game the first half of this streak.  They have been bad for a lot of years now.

Let’s hope the Hokies can start a push to the Semi-Finals tonight by at least making the Quarters.  VT made the semis in back-to-back years in 2007 and 2008.

Posted in 2010-11 Season, ACC Tournament2 Comments

Jarell Eddie suspended for remainder of 2010-11 season

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the Hokies, it did. Yesterday, Virginia Tech men’s head basketball coach Seth Greenberg announced that freshman forward Jarell Eddie will not dress or play for the Hokies for the remainder of the 2010-11 season.

According to a news release on, the freshman Charlotte, N.C., was suspended as a result of his marijuana incident that occurred on Feb. 15 in Blacksburg, Va.

“Jarell Eddie is a excellent student, a fine young man and a great teammate,” said Greenberg in the release. “He made a mistake in judgment and is paying the price for that mistake.”

Losing Eddie is a huge blow to the Hokies as they enter the ACC tournament today. Senior forward Jeff Allen is hobbled by a bad ankle that severely limited him in practice this week, so that leaves sophomore Manny Atkins as the only scholarship forward on the bench.

Essentially, the Hokies will be playing with only seven players against georgia tech, assuming Allen can go. Freshman Tyrone Garland, who was recently named to the ACC all-academic team, and Atkins are the only scholarship players on the bench to relieve the starting five: Malcolm Delaney, Jeff Allen, Terrell Bell, Victor Davila and Erick Green.

Tech lost its last two regular season games and is firmly on the NCAA tournament bubble heading into the ACC tourney. Realistically, they need at least two wins this week to make it into the dance. That is a challenge unto itself, never mind the fact they must do so with seven players.

If you’re looking for more details on this developing situation, you won’t get it from Greenberg, his staff or anyone in the basketball office. The official word in the release went something like this:

“This release will serve as the sole statement by the Virginia Tech Athletics Administration, Coach Greenberg and members of the basketball program on this matter. No further comments will be made on this matter during the remainder of the season and Coach Greenberg will not address this issue during press conferences at the ACC Tournament.”

Posted in 2010-11 Season, ACC Tournament, Around The ACC17 Comments

Niemo’s Notes | Looking Back at Friday and Forward to Sunday | 03.13.10

Niemo’s Notes | Looking Back at Friday and Forward to Sunday | 03.13.10

Let’s look back at what went wrong on Friday and how much we have to sweat it out on Sunday.

Friday’s Analysis:

Wow, it was a fun, but rough couple of days in Greensboro.  Good time had by all, though the Weekend Warrior is going to be the end of me.

  • The Hokies are now 0-2 in ACC Tournament games at the Greensboro Coliseum and just 1-8 all time there against current ACC teams.  Unfortunately, the tourney is going to be there four of the next five years so VT better figure out how to win there.
  • The loss snapped the Hokies’ streak of winning their first tournament game in 10 straight tournaments, including the last three ACC Tournaments.
  • I really liked the half-court trap Seth employed early in the game.  It created a lot of turnovers from the canes and forced their bigs to handle the ball away from the hoop in uncomfortable situations.  The canes had 18 turnovers for the game to just eight for VT.  Despite that, Tech had just a 16-10 edge in points off turnovers.  VT had 13 steals compared to just four by the canes.  miami does not have strong ballhandlers and that trap really exposed that.
  • Tech’s two starting guards and top two scorers, Delaney and Hudson, were just 8/31 from the field yesterday.  They made just one shot combined in the second half and scored just 1 point in final 15:55.  The miami 2-3 zone dared the Hokies to shoot threes.  Tech was hitting them early, and Terrell Bell was nailing them all game, but VT really struggled to hit outside shots in the final 32 minutes of play.  VT was just 3/12 in the second half and Bell hit all three of those.  Hudson and Delaney were a combined 2/14 from behind the arc.
  • I can’t be hard on Malcolm.  Every player, even a star, has an off day.  It just came at a terrible time – in the ACC Tournament.  What also concerned me was the way Durand Scott owned Delaney, who was manning up Scott, in the final three minutes.  Scott had 9 points in the final three minutes and was unstoppable on the drive and finishing.  But in hindsight, Scott may just be that good.  The freshman really had a coming out party this tournament.  He had 38 points in the final two cane games, including 21 against duke.  So he’s pretty good.  Still, it was a rough day on offense and defense for Malcolm except for his four steals on defense.
  • Delaney had scored at least 13 points in every other ACC game this season.  miami held him to just 7.  He had reached double digits in all but two regular season games.
  • I have to wonder if Dorenzo Hudson’s conditioning was off.  He hadn’t played in nine days and he has missed a lot of practice time due to his foot injury.  That has to effect your endurance at some point.  Yet he gutted out 39 minutes of play yesterday, including the whole second half.  Zo came out hot as a pistol Friday, scoring 11 of Tech’s first 15 points and 13 of their first 22, but had just three points the rest of the way.  He had just one point in the second half.  After starting out 4/5 from the field, he was just 1/11 in the final 30 minutes.
  • Jeff Allen continues to be a beast.  The inner tube posted his third double-double in four games.  He had 18 points and 11 rebounds and was the only offense Tech had in the paint.
  • Terrell Bell is also playing really well.  He hit double digits in points for the third time in four games with his 12 points, all on three-pointers.  He had reached double digits just four times all season before this recent stretch.
  • The Hokies were not good on the offensive glass, despite the fact miami was missing leading scorer and rebounder Dwayne Collins.  Tech gathered just 21 percent of their misses (33 percent is average), while miami got 38 percent of their misses (not too bad for the Hokies).
  • The Hokies actually made more threes than the canes (6-4), which was a huge surprise.  If you had told me miami would go just 4/16 on threes and commit 10 more turnovers than the Hokies, I’d have assumed VT won by double digits.  But the fact VT shot 24 threes is not a good thing.  That 2-3 zone miami ran was pure genius.
  • Tech was just 61 percent from the line, a rare off day there.  Delaney had just three attempts, six below his average, and he only made one.
  • miami scored on five of their final six possessions in the front court, largely thanks to Scott.  VT simply couldn’t answer.
  • It was a rough tournament all around for high seeds.  Who’d have thought the 11 and 12 seeds, easily the two worst teams in the league (nc state and miami) would make the semifinals.  On both Thursday and Friday three higher seeded teams lost.  For the tournament, five teams seeded at least five seeds below the team they were playing won.  Crazy.  Just shows this was a down year for the league and all teams are pretty much equal.

Selection Sunday:

A week ago the Hokies seemed like a lock but now they’ll be sweating bullets Sunday.  Let’s look at VT’s resume:

  • 10 ACC wins
  • 23 total wins
  • 4th place in the ACC regular season (ahead of three tourney “locks” – clemson, wake, and gt).
  • RPI #59
  • Wins over RPI #33 clemson, at #34 georgia tech, #36 wake forest, and on a neutral court against #61 seton hall (another bubble team)
  • 8-7 against RPI Top 100 teams (VT just lost a top 100 win because georgia fell out)
  • 3-4 against RPI Top 50 teams (including 3-1 against teams 26-50)
  • 6-4 in their final 10 games

That is a pretty solid resume, but the weak out of conference schedule (and in conference for that matter – they played the bottom five teams twice and the top six teams just once) is constantly mentioned by the so-called bracketology experts.  miami and nc state’s runs were actually a good thing (of course beating miami would have been better).  But now both are firmly in the Top 100, so those two miami losses aren’t as bad.  And it makes that weak in conference schedule a little more legit.

The Hokies also know they were left out two years ago despite winning 9 ACC games in the regular season and one in the ACC Tournament against a team that made the Big Dance, so they have to be worried.  But the Selection Committee is human and I think the snub two years ago that led to Seth Greenberg’s famous “certifiably insane” line about the committee will actually work in VT’s favor.  They know they snubbed VT and the Hokies won 10 conference games this year and 23 overall.  They may feel pressure to put the Hokies in this time.

Now let’s look at the bubble.  The bubble teams you hear about are VT, illinois, rhode island, minnesota, mississippi state, ole miss, seton hall, florida, dayton, and uab.

  • VT (RPI #59)
  • mississippi state (54) beat #23 vandy on Saturday in the SEC semis but lost to kentucky in the title game in an amazing battle.  kentucky sent the game to overtime on a putback that left Cousins’s hand with .1 left on the clock.  Then Wall hit a wild three to put the game away in OT.  But as Hokie fans know from two years ago when VT lost to unc in the ACC semifinals in the final second, close does NOT count to the NCAA Selection Committee.  This loss was huge for the Hokies.  The bulldogs now have 23 overall wins and 11 SEC wins but it may not be enough.
  • minnesota (60) absolutely crushed #5 purdue in the Big(11)Ten semifinals by 27 but then lost to ohio state by a similarly huge margin in the Big(11)Ten title game.  They are firmly on the bubble right with the Hokies.
  • Speaking of the Big(11)Ten, illinois (72) lost in 2 OTs to ohio state.  Losses, no matter how close, haven’t seemed to impress the committee (like VT’s last-second loss to unc two years ago in the ACC semis).  So this is good for VT.  And their RPI is awful.
  • florida (56) was 10-8 in the SEC but lost four of their final five, including in the quarters of the SEC Tourney to miss state.  I think the bulldogs are solidly in over them and I think the Hokies would beat out the gators if it came down to the two of them.
  • ole miss (62) lost their SEC Tourney opener but had won four in a row before that.  They don’t have any real big wins and finished 9-8 in the SEC.  Again, I like the Hokies over them.
  • rhode island (40) got smoked by temple Saturday in the A-10 semis.  And they are 4-6 in their last 10.  I think the rams are done (good for the Hokies).  But that RPI is pretty high compared to the other teams on this list.
  • seton hall (61) – how could the committee take them over the Hokies, who beat them on a neutral court?  I don’t think they could.  I’ve seen one projection that has them in and one that has them out.  Hokies shouldn’t have to worry about the hall, who lost in the Big East Second Round (not even the quarters).
  • dayton (55) lost to xavier in the A-10 quarterfinals.  Could the #7 seed in the A-10 (that went 9-9 in the league) really get in over the ACC’s #4?  I don’t see it, though they did beat georgia tech, odu, and xavier.
  • uab (45) has 23 wins, went 11-6 in C-USA, but lost their tourney opener to southern miss.  They’ve lost three in a row.  Again, I can’t see them getting in over the Hokies, but they did beat georgia, butler, cincinnati, and arkansas out of conference so they have some nice wins.  Could be tough to keep them out.
  • Also, unlv and san diego state played for the Mountain West title.  Lunardi has both in (though san diego state just barely), as does Jerry Palm (again, sdsu is a higher number seed).  So a unlv win would be good for Tech. Update: san diego state won, of course.Both are likely in.
  • utah state (31 in the RPI) played new mexico state for their conference title Saturday.  utah state seems to be in, new mexico state will not be without a win.  Update: new mexico state won – again, not good for the Hokies.
  • the ohio state win over minnesota Sunday would be good as would be a ky kentucky win over mississippi state.

Posted in 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament, Home4 Comments

Photo Gallery | VT vs miami | ACC Tournament Game

Check out our photo gallery from the Hokies loss to the canes in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.  You can see how I snuck closer and closer to the court over the course of the game.

Posted in 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament0 Comments

Game Film | miami 70, Hokies 65 | 3.12.10

Recap | Box Score

Posted in 2009-10, 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament, Highlights0 Comments

Game Recap | miami (5-12, 20-12) 70, Hokies (10-7, 23-8) 65

Virginia Tech and miami at the 2010 ACC Tournament.

The No. 12 seed miami hurricanes shocked the No. 4 seed Virginia Tech, 70-65, in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.

Highlights | Box Score

The Virginia Tech Hokies knew they were in for a tough game today against the No. 12 seeded miami hurricanes, and they got one. The canes manhandled wake forest in the opening round on Thursday and were apparently still amped from the win as they upset the Hokies 70-65.

Jeff Allen led the Hokies offensively, scoring 18 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Dorenzo Hudson, who missed the Hokies’ regular season finale – a road win over gt – went off for 15 points in the first half, but managed only one point in the second half.

Seth Greenberg, who is now mentioned as a favorite for both the rutgers and st. john’s jobs, got great contributions from Terrell Bell, who hit 4/9 three pointers for 12 points. All nine of Bell’s attempts were from behind the line. JT Thompson also stepped up with 10 points. Lewis Witcher added a tip-in for two points.

Malcolm Delaney, the ACC’s leading scorer, played easily his worst game of the season, scoring a just seven points. It’s the first ACC contest in which he failed to reach double figures. Only twice this season has Delaney scored fewer points: against longwood when he left the game with a high ankle sprain less than a minute into the game and against nc central where he scored five points before being taken out.

Today, Delaney was 3/15 from the field and miserable 0/8 from three point range. He attempted only three free throws and made only one. As Delaney goes, so go the Hokies. That, and their lack of size and rebounding ability.

The Hokies got destroyed on the boards and got out-rebounded 29-46 by the canes and that was the deciding factor of the game, plain and simple. As if that weren’t enough, the Hokies shot just 38 percent to miami’s 46. Take away Delaney’s dismal day and the Hokies shot 43 percent.

Tech took a 65-64 lead with 2:02 to play in the game when Jeff Allen hit one of two free throws. The Hokies failed to score again as miami closed the game with a 6-0 run.

The Hokies, the No. 4 seed, were a little sluggish out of the game and trailed 4-2 after 2-1/2 minutes, but Hudson got the Hokies’ offense rolling with a three-pointer from the right wing. Hudson, back from missing Tech’s regular season finale with a foot injury, scored eight straight points and 13 of Tech’s next 20 points to push the Hokies’ lead to 22-12 at the under 12 media timeout.

miami crawled back into the game with clutch shooting while the Hokies went cold (sound familiar) and eventually took two brief leads (33-32 and 35-33) in the final 2:13 of the half. But Jeff Allen scored the final four points of the first half to put Tech ahead 37-35 at the break.

The Hokies will now have to sit and wait for Sunday to see where they will be seeded in the NCAA tournament. This loss definitely hurt and they’ll like be seeded anywhere from 9-12.

Posted in 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament, Game Recaps, Games4 Comments

The Weekend Warrior: ACC Tournament Crasher, Year 2

The Weekend Warrior: ACC Tournament Crasher, Year 2

Day 1:

The Weekend Warrior’s first day of the ACC Tournament featured a urologist, a gentlemen’s club, a Waffle House, and even some hoops mixed in. Seriously, how many people go to a urologist and a gentlemen’s club in the same day? This guy! My life be like. That’s two extremes to get your downstairs checked out. Let’s break down the day.

Morning: I’ll leave out the urology details (you’re welcome).

Afternoon: I own Alamo rental car company! Once again I scored satellite radio for free by renting a cheap end car, then taking advantage of their stringent car selection procedures. Me: “Which car is mine?” Alamo: “Take any of the cars on the row.” Me: “Oooook.” Then just grab the nicest car you can find, well out of the class you were supposed to get.

By 1:30 we were on the road to Greensberg-o. We caught the tail end of the uva upset of bc and then listened stunned as miami absolutely laid the lumber to wake. Well, looks like it is Hokies/canes for the third year in a row.

Evening: By 6:00 we were rolling into town. My first thought is, “The Big East has New York City and MSG. We have Greensboro. Yeah. Contrast and compare.” Still not sure what there is to this town other than a randomly huge arena that they must never use.

Next we are checking into our hotel (Days Inn). First thing I noticed is the towel rack had been ripped off the wall. Then that the fridge didn’t work. Then that the AC didn’t work. Then that the ice machine was broken. You get the idea. At least the internet service I’m using now is free, and the permanent cloud of fart smell in the room I can’t blame on them.

By 7 we are rolling over to the Coliseum. We find a gentlemen’s club on the way but notice it is empty. It says they don’t open until 11. That seems odd to us. We are parking right next to said club and walking over to scalp tickets. We decide $40 is our max ($72 is face). We walk up to a scalper and he asks how much we are willing to spend. We tell him $40. He hands us his umbrella (it is pouring) and goes running off like he just won the lottery. About 12 seconds later he is back with two tickets. Apparently we started a little high. 2-for-1 sounded good to us.

The Games: The arena was about 80-90% full last night. Having two locals like unc and nc state playing certainly helped. I learned that nc state fans actually want Sidney Lowe back next year. Amazing for a coach that has lost at least 10 conference games in all four of his seasons. Apparently their huge recruiting class coming in next year helps.

Things I learned at the games:

  • It shouldn’t be called North Cackalacka, it should be called North Khaki-lacka. The #1 fan look is team shirt tucked into khaki pants. We had a name for people that wore that when I was in school… NERDS!
  • The clemson dance team is outrageously hot. I wish we had found the club they were at last night. And they only have one male cheerleader, have to respect their lack of men on the baselines.
  • maryland fans wear underarmour, the Pepsi of athletic gear, like their life depended on it. I saw a father and his son wearing a combined five pieces of underarmour. Seriously, the kid had three underarmour shirts on. I know the company was started by a terp, but Mountain Dew was invented by a Hokie and you don’t see me rinsing my mouth after I brush my teeth with it. Moderation, people!

Ok, georgia tech beats unc and clemson gets bounced by an 11 or 12 seed for the second year in a row… now off for the clubs!

Late Night: Two blocks later we are rolling into the gentlemen’s club by our car. Here’s what I learned there:

  • Always ask to peek inside before you pay the cover. After dropping $15, we go inside and realize it is a dozen strippers (and nc a&t strippers at that), and us. No one else is there. It was like in Animal House when they roll into that bar off campus.
  • Guys have an expression called “stripper’s body”. As in, she has a… Well, these girls did not. They looked like the girls from a Weight Watchers “Before” photo shoot.
  • NC is no ATL.

Late Late Night: Off to Waffle House! Always a festive place to be at 2-3 AM. Always a good sign when a security guard is camped outside. Here’s what I learned there:

  • Your chances of getting stabbed, shot, or beaten to death go up 1,000% as soon as you get within 100 feet of a Waffle House.
  • If you like places that have prostitutes (actual ones), a guy that swallowed half a bottle of Ecstasy, and 20 drunks, then Waffle House is the place for you!
  • You can get your hashbrowns peppered, chilied, onioned, cheesed, and almost anything else, but you cannot get them until the next day. Seriously, you could time your service at a Waffle House with a sundial, except no one has ever actually been at a Waffle House during daylight.

Well, that’s it for Day 1. Let’s see what Day 2 holds for the Weekend Warrior (at least it won’t include a urologist… I hope).

Posted in ACC Tournament, The Weekend Warrior4 Comments

st. john’s Targeting Seth Greenberg to Fill Head Coaching Vacancy

The New York Post reported today that st. john’s red storm head coach Norm Roberts will be let go after six seasons and an 81-100 record. The red storm finished 17-15 this season, and while the 17 wins were the most under Roberts, it was not enough to keep his job.

st. john’s will look to hire a “proven winner” according to the Post and at the top of the list is Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg, who is a Long Island native and two-time ACC Coach of the Year.

Also on the red storm’s coaching wish list are hofstra’s Tom Pecora, siena’s Fran McCaffery, iona’s Kevin Willard and harvard’s Tommy Amaker.

Greenberg (343-262 overall, 130-92 at Tech) is a program builder and has turned a listless Virginia Tech program into a perennial overachiever in the ACC. In four of his six seasons in the ACC (his first season was in the Big East), the Hokies have earned a first-round bye in the ACC tournament. They have signature wins over No. 1 wake forest (2009) and unc (2007).

In his first season in the ACC, Greenberg led the Hokies to a 16-14 overall record, but more impressively, he led the team to an 8-8 conference record after being picked to finish dead last. For his efforts, Greenberg earned ACC Coach of the Year. Four years later, he earned the distinction again after a 21-14, 9-7 season.

Before the 2008-2009 season, Virginia Tech signed Greenberg to a contract extension that would keep him in Blacksburg as the Hokies’ coach through the 2013-14 season. Leaving Southwest Virginia would likely be a tough decision for the Greenberg as his three daughters have spent the last seven years in Blacksburg. Paige, 21, is a senior at Tech and Ella, 18, is a freshman cheerleader.  Plus, his brother Brad is just up the road at radford.

Not exactly the kind of news we like to report on the day of VT’s first ACC Tournament game, but this is a story we will have to monitor over the next few weeks as rumors persist.  And it is nice to have a coach that is in demand.

Posted in 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament6 Comments

Day o’ Upsets: canes Move on to Face the Hokies, uva’s Streak in Jeopardy, unc ya, and wolfpackers Survive

What a wild Thursday. We were within an eyelash of having the four lower seeds win to start the tourney, three without their leading scorers (uva – Landesberg, miami – Collins, and unc – Davis). But gt stepped up and saved Paul Hewitt’s job. Then nc state may have saved Sidney Lowe’s job by knocking out clemson as a heavy favorite for the second year in a row.

Instead of calling it the ACC Tournament they should start referring to it as the Department of Redundancy Department for the Hokies. Stop the presses – for the third year in a row Tech will face the hurricanes in Tech’s tourney opener.

The canes stunned everyone except our own Balla in beating the deacons by an 83-62 score. This is the second straight year the 12 beat the 5. The u led by 14 at the half and then used an 8-0 run to open the second stanza and buried wake. miami used their superior outside shooting, hitting 8 threes by my count.

But the shocker was miami’s inside game. Playing without their best low post player and leading scorer, senior Dwayne Collins, the u got a career high 22 points from redshirt freshman Reggie Johnson. He redshirted last year because of how fat he was/is. But Reggie made that blubber work today and he played well against the Hokies in miami. But the Staypuft man should struggle to play on consecutive days.

miami shot the three against wake almost as well as they did against VT in miami when they torched the Hokies at a 70% clip in the first half and a 17 point lead. Let’s hope the rims aren’t as kind and the shots are off tomorrow.

uva: The hoos took down the eagles 68-62 in the coveted noon “where is everyone” game without Landesberg or Baker.

With the win, uva plays duke in quarterfinal noon game. A major streak is on the line – the cavs haven’t made the ACC semifinals since 1995, a run of 14 straight tourneys. Not quite to the level of clemson at unc but it is getting there.

In the evening session, the yellow jackets actually won a critical game! I know! I’m stunned, too. This should make scalping a lot easier the rest of the way.

unc used a 19-4 run in the first half to quickly build a 12 point lead and led by 9 at the break. But that lead was gone quicker than you can say NIT.

Derrick Favors dominated the second half and georgia tech won by 4, much to the delight of everyone not in powder blue ( about half the crowd).

The pack got a huge game from stat Tracy Smith and survived to live another day. Is clemson now on the bubble?

– Noon: #1 duke vs #9 uva
– 2:20ish: #4 VT vs #12 miami
– 7: #2 maryland vs #7 ga tech
– 9:20ish: #3 fsu vs #11 nc state

Posted in 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament, Around The ACC1 Comment

Greenberg Hits Half-court Hook Shot in Practice

Read into it what you will, but this was freaking awesome! ESPN’s PTI Show will probably show this tonight at 5:30.

Posted in 2009-10, 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament, Highlights0 Comments

Preview | #4 VT vs #12 miami | ~2:20 PM Friday | Raycom

UPDATE: For the third year in a row the Hokies will face the c-a-n-e-s canes in their first ACC Tournament game. The u, playing without their leading scorer Dwayne Collins, absolutely took the deacs behind the woodshed to advance to the quarterfinals (props to Balla for picking the u). The Hokies and canes split their two games this year (more on that below), but Tech beat miami two years ago in the quarters and last year in the first round. In the early game, uva stunned bc even without Landesberg. What an odd start to the tourney.


Alright, ladies, play time is over. The clock has tolled and it is officially March Madness. The Hokies head to Greensberg-o to participate in the granddaddy of them all, the ACC Tournament. This will be the first ‘true’ tournament Tech has played in all season, but the Hokies have some great tournament mojo working. VT has won their first game in 10 consecutive tournaments, and the current junior class is 8-0 in tournament openers.

The Hokies, thanks to their victory over georgia tech last weekend, get to enjoy an extra day of rest as the #4 seed with a First Round bye. The Hokies will have to wait and see who their opponent is as the #5 seed wake forest battles the #12 seed miami hurricanes at approximately 2:20 PM on Thursday. The extra rest is huge for Tech, who have two starters (Jeff Allen – shoulder and Zo Hudson – foot) battling injuries, along with reserve Cadarian Raines. Both Allen and Hudson should be good to go for Friday but we will see how well they hold up, especially Hudson who has been battling the foot injury for a while and missed the georgia tech game to rest it. While these injuries may not be a factor on Friday, they certainly could come into play as the tournament goes on if VT survives. The Hokie starters play a lot of minutes and playing on consecutive days can take its toll. Again, that’s why the bye was so big. We’ll see if Head Coach Seth Greenberg uses a guy like Manny Atkins, who played more minutes against georgia tech than he had in all other ACC games combined, to rest Zo. Allen’s foul trouble usually insures him plenty of rest, and senior Lewis Witcher has played well off the bench of late.

Having a bye has other advantages, too. While you don’t know specifically who your opponent will be, you have a general idea. Especially in a 5/12 game where you figure wake will win (though the 12 seed beat the #5 last year). So while Greenberg spent part of this week focusing on just improving as a team, you know they’ve also prepared for both wake and miami to a degree. Both wake and miami, on the other hand, had had to focus on each other. Tech will also be rested on Friday. That can equal rust early on and give their opponent an early shooting advantage, but VT should have better legs as the game goes on once they get in the flow. Plus, you had the bye because you were better to begin with, which is always a nice advantage.

The Hokies haven’t had much luck in Greensberg-o before, Tech is just 3-7 in the Greensboro Coliseum, including 1-7 against ACC teams. Tech did win their last game there three years ago, but that was against unc-g’boro. VT lost at the Coliseum to uva in the 2006 ACC Tournament. I was there to watch VT play a great game but fall late to the #3 unc tar heels back in 1995, when the heels had Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse. But this is a different Hokie team and they are all about breaking trends, so let’s see how they do in the Gate City this time around (I have no idea why it is called the Gate City).

Note: Dwayne Collins, miami’s leading scorer, is out for the entire ACC Tournament with an injury.


  • Come out fast: Tech’s opponent will have played the day before and will have a game feel early. Tech needs to match that intensity. It will help that this game is the second game of the day. As Greenberg pointed out the other night, the noon game stinks. There is no intensity (or people) in the arena for the noon game. That picks up as the game gets late, but you can be done by that point if you fall asleep, too. The Hokies need to have a good start. If they are around even (or ahead) at the first and second media timeouts, that is a good sign.
  • Ride the Inner Tube (#0): Jeff Allen, aka the Big Donut, has been riding the gravy train with biscuit wheels lately. He’s averaged 20 points and 11.3 rebounds in his last three games and has avoided foul trouble. Jeff has hit double-digits in points 9 of his last 11 games. He owned miami this year, averaging 16.5 points and 7 rebounds in the two games, but Allen had just 8 and 5 against wake, largely due to foul trouble. If the Hokies do face wake, Allen is vital to be in there to defend the wake bigs inside like Aminu, McFarland, and Woods.
  • Call the M.D.: Malcolm Delaney, fresh off being named ACC Player of the Week and All-ACC First Team, has been red hot of late. He’s scored 19 or more points in six straight games (two of those he went over 30). He’s also 22/44 from the field and 8/17 on three-pointers in his last three games. If he can get hot like he was two years ago in the ACC Tourney, he could put on an absolute show and carry the Hokies to great heights, like Randolph Childress did about 15 years ago for the deacons in the ACC Tourney in Greensboro. Two years ago Malcolm went for 30 points on 10/15 shooting, including an amazing 6/8 on three-pointers in two games in the ACC Tourney. Let’s hope he can re-channel that magic.
  • Shoot the Boot: Let’s hope All-ACC Third Team member, Dorenzo Hudson, can ditch his walking boot and be strong for the tourney. We know he’s tough, having played through the foot injury for a while. He’s reached double-digits in points in 18 of his last 20 games, including averaging 18.1 ppg over his last seven. Tech must have him to survive in this tournament, even if it is with some slightly reduced minutes. Tech got 37 minutes out of Zo against nc state last week and will need to him to battle as much as he can in this one.
  • Don’t rest on your laurels: Everyone thinks the Hokies are in the Big Dance. They probably are. It would be easy to come out and play a ‘ho hum’ game because there’s nothing to prove. But THIS tournament is a big deal. Winning it would be simply awesome. It would mean more to me than anything the football team has accomplished since joining the ACC (I mean that). It would mean more to me than making the NCAA Tournament (heck, we could skip it and I wouldn’t care). uva has just one ACC Tournament title in over 50 years (and hasn’t even made it to the semifinals in 15 years). clemson has never won it. Heck, only duke, unc, and nc state have more than four. So this is a BIG deal. Play like this is do or die and give it everything you have. And a win in the quarters would surely lock up a NCAA bid as a nice safety clause.
  • Stop [X]: For miami it is… well, to be honest, they don’t have anyone that scares me. You just have to hope they aren’t hot as a whole team like they were in miami or on Thursday against wake.

THE opponent:

c-a-n-e-s canes: Wow, what a tale of two games it was versus miami. In the meeting in Blacksburg, VT jumped out to a 48-13 lead in the first half and led by 27 at the break. The Hokies hit 7 of 9 threes in the first half, topped only by their 8 against georgia tech last week. miami made a bit of a run in the second half but they simply had to far to go.

In miami, it was the exact opposite. miami hit 5/8 on threes in the first half and 14/20 total shots (70%)! The canes led by 17 at the half, a 44 -point turnaround. Hudson, Delaney, and Allen scored all 30 of the Hokie first half points. In the second half, JT Thompson led the Hokies back with 14 points, and VT cut the lead to 5 on eight occasions but could never get over that hump and lost by an 82-75 score.

miami’s top three scorers (without Collins) are all guards. They have three guys (Dews, Grant, and Thomas) with 50 or more made 3-pointers, so defending the perimeter is a must. And without Collins, the canes have no true scorer inside. But Reggie Johnson had a career high 22 in the first round and played well against VT in the second meeting. But with his weight (290) he has to be worn down playing on consecutive days.

The canes had lost 5 of 6 and 11 of 14, I didn’t expect to see them Friday (especially with Collins hurt) but stranger things have happened (like a 2-14 georgia tech team beating a ranked clemson team last year). Tech must take away the three-pointer from the canes and exploit their porous defense by getting out in transition, or making the extra pass on defense as lazy defenders get lost. miami will likely to slow this game down and play in the half court. The Hokies usually do well in games like that with their solid defense but VT must also fuel their transition game with steals an turnovers from the canes. And let’s hope miami is fat and happy won a game in the tourney.


Guard 23 Delaney 6’3″
Guard 5 Hudson 6’5″
F/G 1 Bell 6’6″
Forward 0 Allen 6’7″
Center 14 Davila 6’8″
Position miami
Guard 3 Grant – 6’1″
Guard 23 Dews – 6’4″
Forward 31 Jones – 6’6″
Forward 20 McGowan – 6’9″
Forward 45 Gamble – 6’9″
Bench 1 Scott – 6’5″
Bench 30 Thomas – 6’7″
Bench 42 Johnson – 6’9″


VT Pts Reb Ast
Delaney 20.9 3.6 4.2
Hudson 14.4 3.5 2.0
Allen 12.1 7.3 1.2
Thompson 7.1 4.6 0.5
Bell 6.0 6.2 1.7
Davila 5.3 4.3 0.4
miami* Pts Reb Ast
Dews 11.7 2.8 1.6
Scott 9.8 3.9 3.5
Grant 9.4 1.9 3.5
Thomas 7.3 2.7 1.4
Johnson 5.6 4.3 0.3
Jones 5.0 2.0 0.6

* I excluded Collins from miami since he isn’t supposed to play.


@ VT 87, wake 83:
ESPN Highlights

Watch VT Plays of the Week | 02.21.10 in Sports | View More Free Videos Online at

@ miami 82, VT 75:

@ VT 81, miami 66:

Posted in 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament, Game Previews, Games0 Comments

ACC Tournament Outlook

ACC Tournament Outlook

By Thursday morning I’ll have my preview of VT vs wake/miami up, but for now let’s look at the 2010 ACC Tournament and who has the best chances.



  • Noon – #8 bc vs #9 uva
  • ~2:20 PM – #5 wake vs #12 miami
  • 7 PM – #7 georgia tech vs #10 unc
  • ~9:20 PM – #6 clemson vs #11 nc state


  • Noon – #1 duke vs bc/uva winner
  • ~2:20 PM – #4 VIRGINIA TECH vs wake/miami winner
  • 7 PM – #2 maryland vs georgia tech/unc winner
  • ~9:20 PM – #3 fsu vs clemson/nc state winner


  • 1:30 PM – duke/bc/uva vs VT/wake/miami
  • ~3:50 PM – md/gt/unc vs fsu/clemson/ncsu

Sunday: Championship Game at 1 PM

Let’s breakdown Thursday first:

  • #8 bc vs #9 uva – I cannot even imagine what the spread will be in this game.  But if I were a gambler (I’m not), I wouldn’t touch this game.  Classic trap game.  The eagles won 3 of their final 5 games (including blowing out VT and beating uva by 13).  uva lost their final 9 games, including 6 in a row by double digits at one point.  The hoos have lost the services of Sylven Landesberg (academics) and Calvin Baker (family illness).  But the eagles were 1-7 on the road in the ACC, including a loss to lowly nc state in their regular season finale.  That’s why I wouldn’t touch this game as a gambler, but you have to pick the eagles to win.  After all, they just beat uva by 13 with Landesberg.  Pick: boston college
  • #5 wake vs #12 miami – The game we all care about.  On paper, this seems like a slam dunk to pick wake – they finished 5 games ahead of miami in the standings; they are playing just a stone’s throw from their campus; they are the far superior team.  Not so fast, my friend!  Neither team is playing well right now – wake has lost 4 of 5 and miami has lost 5 of 6.  And last year the #12 seed, a 2-14 georgia tech team, upset the 18th ranked clemson tigers in the first round and lost to the 22nd ranked seminoles by just 2 points in the quarterfinals.  Plus, miami defeated wake by a point earlier in the season.  But that was at miami.  I just don’t see wake losing this game, especially since miami will have no fans there and wake should bring plenty.  Let’s just hope the c-a-n-e-s canes keep it close and wear down the deacons for Friday.  Pick: wake forest
  • #7 georgia tech vs #10 unc – My buddy, vt1fan, has already predicted unc is going to the ACC Tournament Finals (he may have even said they win, I can’t remember).  unc, who always has about 40% of the seats at any tournament, should have a solid crowd since the game is in NC even with their terrible season (for the first time ever, no heels were named All-ACC).  Adding to the pressure on the jackets is the fact they must win this game (maybe even two) to have any shot at a NCAA Tournament bid.  Add georgia tech’s AD announced Tuesday he’ll decide on Head Coach Paul Hewitt’s future after the season.  So you have one team with every thing to play for, and a team with absolutely no pressure.  Hmm… I’m so torn here.  gt is 6-34 in ACC road games the last 5 seasons, but their one win on the road this year was at unc (whom they beat twice).  Plus, the heels are without Ed Davis, the one man that can match up with gt’s bigs.  But, whenever any chips are on the table, bet against the jackets.  Pick: tar heels (I’m with you so far, vt1fan)
  • #6 clemson vs #11 nc state – I’m not wasting any typing, and risking Carpal Tunnel Syndrome writing about nc state.  They stink.  They will lose.  Sidney Lowe should be fired (and Hewitt if he loses to unc).  Pick: clemson

Friday – I’m not going to pick games after Thursday because I’m really uneasy about the Hokie game if they are playing wake.  The team that played the day before has the advantage of being in the flow and usually comes out shooting better than the team that has been off.  But they usually tire as the game goes on.  However, the Hokies will be playing with two starters nursing injuries – Dorenzo Hudson’s foot and Jeff Allen’s shoulder.  Both were limited in practice this week.  I’d be more worried about that but Hudson hasn’t been practicing much the last two months according to Greenberg.  And, VT has won their first game in 10 straight tournaments, so that’s some solid mojo.  So who knows.  Of course, Friday morning, I’ll be 100% sure the Hokies are going to win like I always am on game days.

Here’s my odds on the top four seeds winning the whole tournament:

  • #1 duke – They won 10 of their final 11 ACC games, with their lone loss at maryland.  I still think they are the best team in the league and well better than maryland on a neutral court.  They will have a lot of fans there, though everyone not in royal blue will be rooting against duke.  They are my favorite to win.  Odds: 40%
  • #2 maryland – The terps were 4-1 against the other three teams that got byes and have won 7 straight.  They are the hottest team heading to Greensboro.  They also boast the leagues Player of the Year in Greivis “Greasy Face-quez” Vasquez… and the Coach of the Year in Gary Williams.  If they can get by the gt/unc winner, they would face fsu or clemson in the semis.  clemson and maryland split on each other’s floors, which the terps swept fsu.  But honestly, I think the yellow jackets could give the terps fits if they beat unc.  The jackets should have won at maryland but lost on two shots at the buzzer.  The terps don’t have a lot of depth or bulk inside, and if Jordan Williams gets in foul trouble, they are in real trouble.  I think they’ll have a hard time making the finals unless they get unc and then fsu who simply can’t keep pace with the terps’ scoring.  Odds: 25%
  • #3 florida state – clemson swept the noles this year.  And even if fsu beats clemson, they likely would have to face maryland who also swept them this year.  It’s not a good thing when your likely first two opponents went 4-0 against you (4 of their 6 losses).  They have a great defense, but they stink on offense, and you need good guards in tournaments.  Freshman Michael Snaer is playing better of late, but when you have to play on consecutive days, defense tends to suffer as you get tired.  Luckily, fsu’s players don’t average that many minutes, but I think their lack of offense will cost them dearly.  Odds: 12.5%
  • #4 VIRGINIA TECH – I talked about us up above.  The pros for VT are this is a down year for the ACC and the Hokies can play with anyone.  A con is the Hokies’ starters play too many minutes and if they keep winning, may tire as the tournament goes on, especially guys like Hudson and Allen that are battling injuries.  Another pro is VT has one of the top three back courts in the league with Delaney and Hudson, who both made All-ACC teams – one of only two teams in the league to accomplish that with duke.  A con is VT’s struggles to rebound most of the second half of the season, especially when Jeff Allen was in foul trouble.  A pro is the way Manny Atkins and Terrell Bell stepped up with 20 combined rebounds at georgia tech and could provide additional minutes.  A con is VT will likely have to play duke in the semifinals if they are able to get past the quarters.  A pro is everyone in the arena will be pro-VT in that one except for the duke nerds.  And this may be the best opportunity the Hokies have at the title (especially if Delaney doesn’t return next year), with unc in a down year and no real dominant team.  Odds: 12.5%
  • The Field (seeds 5-12): Hard to win 4 games in 4 days.  Very hard.  Odds: 10%

So there you have it.  Check back for my game preview on Thursday morning before I head out to Greensberg-o with the Weekend Warrior and DuffHokie!

Posted in 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament, Around The ACC2 Comments

Interview with VA Tech’s 2010 ACC Tournament Legend: Chris Smith | Part 2

Interview with VA Tech’s 2010 ACC Tournament Legend: Chris Smith | Part 2

This is Part 2 of our two-part interview with Hokie legend Chris Smith. Click here to read Part I.

This Saturday at halftime of the first ACC Tournament semifinal game, Chris Smith will be introduced as Virginia Tech’s 2010 ACC Tournament Legend.  Chris joins John Wetzel (2009), Glen Combs (2008), Bimbo Coles (2007), Dell Curry (2006), and Allan Bristow (2005) as ACC Tournament Legends from Virginia Tech.

Chris Smith was an absolute force inside for the Hokies from 1957-61.  He doesn’t just hold every Virginia Tech rebounding record, he has a padlock on them.  It has been almost 50 years since his playing days ended but no one has come even close to reaching his rebound numbers.  Chris had 1,508 career boards, 129 ahead of second place (Bill Matthews) and more than 300 ahead of anyone that has played since Smith.  Smith has three of the top four rebounding averages in a season for the Hokies.  He averaged 20.4 rebounds in 1958-59, his sophomore season.  Chris followed that up with a 19.0 average the next year and “slipped” to 16.5 rebounds per game his senior year.  He also holds the single game record with 36 rebounds in a game against washington & lee in 1959.  To put that in perspective, that’s more rebounds he had by himself than VT had as a team in 12 games this season!

Chris was more than just a rebounder.  He still ranks 13th on the VT career scoring list with 1635 points.  But that doesn’t do him justice, as Tech played fewer games back then.  Smith averaged 18.6 ppg for his career, 8th best in Virginia Tech history.  His junior year Smith averaged 22.2 points per game to go along with those 19.0 rebounds!  And Chris believes that had blocked shots been tracked back then, his numbers in that category would have been even more astronomical.

The Hokies went 62-26 during Smith’s career, including losing to wvu in the finals of the 1960 Southern Conference Tournament.  After his career in Blacksburg was over, Chris was selected in the second round of the NBA Draft.  Chris decided to take a job with Union Carbide as a Production Engineer in his home state of West Virginia over trying out for the NBA.  We asked him about that decision and more.

Chris was selected as a charter member of the VT Hall of Fame in 1982.  Chris now has a web site at and has published two books – ‘It’s More Than Just Winning!’ – focuses on Chris’s basketball experiences, amusing stories at Charleston High School and Virginia Tech, and the importance of character. Chris’s second book, ‘From the Shenandoah to the Kanawha’, is a biography of his first Smith immigrant ancestor. interviewed Chris Smith as he prepares for his induction as an ACC Tournament Legend.  The interview has been split into two parts, the first part focused on Chris and his career, the second part looks into his thoughts on the game, Virginia Tech, and the rivalries.

Q: You missed playing in Cassell by a year – what was it like playing in War Memorial Gym?  How many did it seat?

Chris: War Memorial was a great place to play.  We would cram about 4,000 people into it and pack them everywhere, especially on the indoor elevated track.  The football players would sit behind the visiting team and the band would play from one end.  Often the crowd, mostly our students, would just yell to make noise. Sometimes they would stomp on the elevated track, and it was so loud sometimes that I would become slightly fearful that it might drop down. War Memorial was a great place for the students to “let off steam” after a few days of hard studying.  We only lost two games there during my freshman season and we won our last 26 straight homes game over a stretch of more than three years.  We were glad to see Cassell under construction, even though we did not get to play there, because we felt we were a big part of providing the enthusiasm to get it built. Consequently, we had pride in the construction of Cassell just like everyone else.

Q: What do you think of home court advantage VT has now in the Cassell?

Chris: I think it is great!  I feel it is because of the enthusiasm of Hokie fans, just as it was when we played in War Memorial.

Q: What are your impressions of the Hokie program today and Coach Greenberg?

Chris: I like and respect Seth Greenberg and his staff.  He is an extremely hard worker, and he strongly believes in character as I do.  The players also respect him.

Q: Who was Tech’s biggest rivals during your playing days?

Chris: Even though we only played twice, I would say WVU was our main rival since we were always competing for the Southern Conference Crown.  In 1957-1958, WVU was ranked #1 for more than half the season.  The next year, they went to the NCAA championship and lost the finals to California.  The following year in 1960, we won the regular season conference championship with a 12-1 record while WVU was second with a 10-2 record.  We played them in the finals of the Southern Conference Tournament that year and lost to them after Jerry West fouled out.  [Note: We will have more on the 1960 Tournament from Chris’s perspective later in the week.]

Q: Who would you compare Jerry West (the wvu legend who played at the same time as Chris) to in terms of playing style and how good he was compared to everyone else?

Chris: Jerry West was a great competitor who was extremely quick, fast, and agile.  His defensive ability was second-to-none, and he continually worked hard to improve, year after year.  Several broken noses did not keep him from rebounding during his college years and for his fist couple of years in the NBA.  Some thought he was second best only to Oscar Robertson, but I thought Jerry was the best.  My book describes my opinion of Jerry in detail.  [Jerry West is the player in the NBA’s logo, though some talk of changing it to Michael Jordan has been discussed lately.]

Q: How much of a rivalry was VT and uva?

Chris: VT and UVA had a State Rivalry since we had what was called the Big Six including VT, UVA, VMI, W&M, Richmond, and W&L.  We only played UVA once each year, and it was most intense my sophomore year.  After losing during our freshman year at Charlottesville, we opened with UVA at Blacksburg.  My book describes a personal rivalry I had with Herb Busch, the huge UVA center.  He had earlier broken jaws and knocked out many teeth of opposing ACC players.  I describe in detail how I coped with this, and I was finally able to dish out some of my own elbows in self-defense.  Anyhow, we beat UVA at Blacksburg in War Memorial Gymnasium with our sophomore-loaded team and received a lot of attention.  UVA then received considerable attention when they went to Charleston, played the first game in the Charleston Civic Center, and beat West Virginia’s team that had been led by Jerry West and ranked #1 most of the previous year.  During the next two years, we were able to beat UVA easily.

Q: What are the biggest differences between the game when you played and today?

Chris: The players have gotten bigger and I feel (I’m sure to your surprise) that the game seems slower due to less fast breaks.  On the other hand, our offenses were more deliberate with more plays, shuffles, etc.  This has been replaced with more perimeter passing ending with long three-point shots.  I think this style of offense has been caused by the 3-point shot and the offensive time clock.  Walking was a strictly enforced rule in my day and seems to be ignored today.  I not saying that these differences or bad or good for the game.  I’m just pointing them out as differences.  As far as the knowledge of the game and the offensive and defensive techniques, I don’t feel that has changed so much.  While I played, basketball innovations such as the zone press and the four-corner slowdown offense were developed.

Q: Which of your teams was the best?


Our freshman year was our weakest, but when we were on, we were competitive with almost any team.  We were on when we were focusing on rebounding and defense because we had an excellent fast break when we defended and rebounded well.   People forget, but Bobby Ayersman led the Southern Conference in scoring his freshman year with a 20.7 ppg average.  Also, we often shot well, but not always.  Bobby, Jitterbug Gilbert, and I averaged 21, 15, and 13 ppg for a total of 49 ppg as freshmen.  Our weak spots were we sometimes did not shoot as well and I was often in foul trouble.  Consequently, these inconsistencies caused our freshman year to be our least effective.

Several people thought our sophomore year was our best because of our rebounding, our excellent ball handling, our relentless fast break, and our outstanding outside shooting.   Dean Blake, Duke Rice, and I provided the rebounding, Louie Mills and Terry Penn were outstanding ball handlers, and Jitterbug and Bobby were superb in filling the lanes on fast breaks.  With regard to outside shooting, I’m not sure anyone could match Jitterbug when he was hot and that was about 60 to 70 percent of the time.  He had a 30-foot push shot that was outstanding, and it was not unusual to see him make 6 or 7 of these long-shots in a row.  Even though he substituted behind our Captain Terry Penn, Jitterbug still averaged about 16 ppg.  During our sophomore year, Bobby, Jitterbug, and I averaged about 60 ppg.  At the end of our regular season we were 16-4 and we were ranked in the top 20.  After the tournament, we fell out of the top 20 due to our first game tournament loss to GW, whom we had beaten twice during the season.  That year we lost to Marshall @ Huntington, 85-80, and we avenged that loss later in Bluefield; we lost to VMI in Lexington, 81-78, and we also later avenged that loss by beating them in Blacksburg by 58 points; we lost to W&M in Williamsburg, 59-58, and again we later avenged that loss by beating them in Blacksburg 74-68.  Our only other loss during our season was in OT to a good Louisiana Tech team in the championship game of the Gulf South Classic.  One other factor was that we only played eight games in Blacksburg, and we won all eight. In my opinion, we were good when we were on!

I felt our junior year was “our best chance for excellence” even though we lost our outstanding outside shooting because both Jitterbug Gilbert and Terry Penn were gone.  On the positive side, we picked up Bucky Keller, Dave Demarest, and John Fleischman.  That year, we only had five games at Blacksburg, and we had 13 on the road including Dayton, Toledo, and Navy, who were all ranked in the top 20.  We started well, set a scoring record at Annapolis while beating Navy at home, had a 12-2 record, and were ranked 15th nationally.  Then we had a loss to Dayton, who was ranked and had not lost a game at home for several years.  The next night, we had a close OT loss to nationally-ranked Toledo, and a week later we had our third straight loss to GW in Washington.  A week later, however, GW beat WV who had gone to the NCAA championship the year before.  Then we regrouped and won our final six games and went to the Southern Conference Tournament as the top seed since we had a Southern Conference Record of 12-1 and WV had a record of 10-2.  Our first two tournament wins against Richmond and GW gave us a record of 20-5. I thought that year we were competitive with anyone on a neutral court, and I felt we could compete well against WV in the Championship Game.  We had great athletes.  Bobby Ayersman, Louie Mills, and Bucky Keller were each outstanding high school football quarterbacks.  Dean Blake and Duke Rice did a great job  during the game as they took turns guarding Jerry West.  They held him to 14 points.  When Jerry fouled out in the third quarter, we were tied 49 to 49. Unfortunately, the rest of the WV team responded well and they scored on several long shots during the final 10 minutes of the game.  That Southern Conference Tournament Championship loss to WV gave us a final record of 20-6.  During the Southern Conference Tournament, Chuck Taylor of Converse attended all of the games and he selected me for his second team All-American Team.  Jerry West and I were also selected unanimously on the First Team All-Southern Conference Team.  That year I led the team in scoring for the first time.

The next year I knew our team would be challenged because we didn’t have Louie Mills, who had been the best ball-handler in the Southern Conference for the past two years.  Often, he made it easy for Bobby and me to score with his accurate passing.  Also, Louie was an excellent defensive player due to his quickness and toughness.  During my last year in 1960-1961, I was captain of the team and our team was receiving some early positive publicity.  During the preseason, we were ranked 15th and I was selected as a Dell Preseason All-American.  Bobby, Bucky, and Dean Blake were still there, and we had a new sophomore Lee Malear on the team. Lee was an outstanding shooter, but we didn’t have anyone to replace Louie’s ball-handling skills.  Also, we were not effective against the zone press, and we lost three games because we couldn’t get the ball down the floor effectively.  These losses were against WV at Morgantown, Richmond at Richmond, and GW during our opening game in the Tournament.   If we would have had Louie or even Frankie Alvis who was a freshman at the time, we would have won those games and would have been in the top ten.   That year I was selected to be the Captain of the Southern Conference Team.  One accomplishment we did have as a team was we won all of our games at Blacksburg and that meant we had won our last 26 games at War Memorial Gymnasium over a three and one-half year period.

Consequently looking back, I would have to say our best team was doing my junior year in 1959-1960 with Louie Mills, Bobby Ayersman, Bucky Keller, Dean Blake, Duke Rice, Bill Shepherd, Dave Demarest, John Fleischman, Managers Bill Chrisman and Jimmy Graves, Assistant Coach Bill “Moose” Matthews, Coach Noe, and me.

Q: How would your teams have done against the Hokies of today?

Chris: We may have competed better than most of today’s fans would expect.  We would not have given up, and we would have scrapped to the end.  I am speaking as a person who competed against some of the best until I was 40 in 1979.  Our “old man” teams always competed well against the younger teams in independent competition.

Q: Do you like the addition of the shot clock and three-point line?  Would you have liked them during your playing days?

Chris: I think the shot clock took away some good coaching options such as some of the good shuffle and slowdown offenses.  I described several of these offenses in my book.  Being an inside player who fought hard for every goal, I don’t feel the long shot deserves anymore points that an inside shot, but I’m sure I would not get any long-ball shooters to agree.

Q: Any final thoughts for all your Hokie fans out there?

Chris: They have always been great fans! would like to thank Chris for taking the time to do this interview with us and congratulate him on being named Virginia Tech’s 2010 ACC Tournament Legend, a well deserved honor!  Last year at the ACC Legends ceremony, the florida state representative came out in a garnet and gold suit with matching hat.  Let’s hope Chris doesn’t show up in a maroon and orange suit!

Posted in 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament, Home0 Comments

Greenberg on Hudson’s Status for ACC Tournament

During the ACC’s final weekly teleconference, Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg spoke about Dorenzo Hudson’s status for the ACC tournament.

“He assured me he’s going to play on Friday. How will he feel Wednesday? I’m holding him out until we get to Greensboro,” said Greenberg. “When we get to Greensboro we’re going to put him through some shooting drills and have him cut and run some offense and do some things and kind of get a feel for how he feels.

“If he feels good on Wednesday, then Thursday, every other possession we’ll let him go live. I expect for him to play. Here’s a kid from NC with the ACC tournament in NC coming off a magnificent season. This is special to him.”

Posted in 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament0 Comments

Interview with VA Tech’s 2010 ACC Tournament Legend: Chris Smith | Part 1

Interview with VA Tech’s 2010 ACC Tournament Legend: Chris Smith | Part 1

This is Part 1 of our two part interview with Chris Smith, VT’s 2010 ACC Tournament Legend.  Click here to read Part 2.

This Saturday at halftime of the first ACC Tournament semifinal game, Chris Smith will be introduced as Virginia Tech’s 2010 ACC Tournament Legend.  Chris joins John Wetzel (2009), Glen Combs (2008), Bimbo Coles (2007), Dell Curry (2006), and Allan Bristow (2005) as ACC Tournament Legends from Virginia Tech.

Chris Smith was an absolute force inside for the Hokies from 1957-61.  He doesn’t just hold every Virginia Tech rebounding record, he has a padlock on them.  It has been almost 50 years since his playing days ended but no one has come even close to reaching his rebound numbers.  Chris had 1,508 career boards, 129 ahead of second place (Bill Matthews) and more than 300 ahead of anyone that has played since Smith.  Smith has three of the top four rebounding averages in a season for the Hokies.  He averaged 20.4 rebounds in 1958-59, his sophomore season.  Chris followed that up with a 19.0 average the next year and “slipped” to 16.5 rebounds per game his senior year.  He also holds the single game record with 36 rebounds in a game against washington & lee in 1959.  To put that in perspective, that’s more rebounds he had by himself than VT had as a team in 12 games this season!

Chris was more than just a rebounder.  He still ranks 13th on the VT career scoring list with 1635 points.  But that doesn’t do him justice, as Tech played fewer games back then.  Smith averaged 18.6 ppg for his career, 8th best in Virginia Tech history.  His junior year Smith averaged 22.2 points per game to go along with those 19.0 rebounds!  And Chris believes that had blocked shots been tracked back then, his numbers in that category would have been even more astronomical.

The Hokies went 62-26 during Smith’s career, including losing to wvu in the finals of the 1960 Southern Conference Tournament.  After his career in Blacksburg was over, Chris was selected in the second round of the NBA Draft.  Chris decided to take a job with Union Carbide as a Production Engineer in his home state of West Virginia over trying out for the NBA.  We asked him about that decision and more.

Chris was selected as a charter member of the VT Hall of Fame in 1982.  Chris now has a web site at and has published two books – ‘It’s More Than Just Winning!’ – focuses on Chris’s basketball experiences, amusing stories at Charleston High School and Virginia Tech, and the importance of character. Chris’s second book, ‘From the Shenandoah to the Kanawha’, is a biography of his first Smith immigrant ancestor. interviewed Chris Smith as he prepares for his induction as an ACC Tournament Legend.  The interview has been split into two parts, the first part focusing on Chris and his career, the second part looking into his thoughts on the game, Virginia Tech, and the rivalries.

Q: How much of an honor was it for you to be named the 2010 ACC Basketball Legend for Virginia Tech?

Chris: It was very much an honor.  For one thing, it is the ACC.  I’ve always felt that the ACC was and is the best basketball conference.  We only played UVA, South Carolina, and Wake Forest while I played at VT.  We did scrimmage Maryland at College Park just before my junior season started and we did well.  I played head-to-head against Al Bunge, who was the star of the Maryland team that year and was an ACC legend selection last year.  Our team performed well on their home floor, and we won the scrimmage, 67 to 60.  I had 24 points and 28 rebounds.  I was able later to get a film of the scrimmage from Lefty Driesell.  After the game, Bud Milliken, who just passed away recently, asked me to test my jumping ability on a rebound machine he had just purchased.  I had gotten a couple of dunks during our scrimmage and he told me he was impressed with my jumping ability.  I told him about my jumping exercises that I had been doing since the start of my freshman year.  He was very interested, and we had mutual respect for each other.  When he tested me, he had also had a high school recruit there from one of the Washington City high schools. His name was John Thompson, who later became the Georgetown coach.  My other contact with the ACC was playing against players who were playing in the ACC.  We had several players in our Kanawha Valley Summer Leagues including Les Robinson and John Key from NC State, Howard Hurt and Buzzy Harrison from Duke, and others. My younger brother had a football scholarship from Duke.

Q: Describe yourself as a player.

Chris: I would describe myself as a team player whose best team skill was helping out on defense by positioning myself away from my man (sluffing off as we called it) toward the ball and the basket in order to help clog up the middle as much as possible.  Since I felt my best skill was blocking shots, I was able to start many fast breaks by blocking shots toward our point guard, Louie Mills, who could read and know where I was going to slap the ball.  Then my next best skill was rebounding due to my ability to jump successively with multiple jumps especially from a standing position (versus running), my long lateral and vertical reach, and my upper torso strength from lots of pushup and boat rowing that I had done since I was twelve.

About half of my scoring was a result of my offensive rebounding.  Short left or right-handed hook shots and turn around jump shots provided the rest of my scoring.

I did very limited ball-handling and never filled lanes on our fast breaks.  After getting rebounds and initiating a fast breaks, I often got my wind back by “holding back” on my return to the offensive end of the floor while hoping to see a successful fast break.  That provided time to reenergize myself.  The only problem was that when our fast break did not work, Louie would hold up our break until I ran the floor from end-to-end and that was sometimes embarrassing.

Q: You rank #1 on the Hokies’ rebounding list, with 1,508 rebounds, and you have three of the top four single season rebounding averages in VT history.  What made you such a great rebounder?

Chris: Jumping rope, performing the 300-jump routines [he’d jump 100 times and touch the backboard with one hand, then 100 more with the other, then 100 with both], off-season jumping on one leg, and trying to take care of my ankles as much as possible helped me to improve my jumping.  Also the one-on-one sessions for two hours after the regular practices with the 1956 Player of Virginia, Moose Matthews, provided an great opportunity for improvement during my freshman and sophomore years.

Q: Shot goes up, hits the back of the rim and pops way up in the air.  You’re underneath with Dennis Rodman and Charles Barkley.  Who gets the rebound of the three of you?

Chris: First, the better the competition, the more challenged I felt.  I would never be intimidated.  Second, I would try to get side by side to limit their movement so we would all be jumping from a standing versus a moving position.  At times, I might even check them away from the basket.  If the ball did not get retrieved initially, I would continue to jump toward the ball repeatedly until someone had possession of it.

Q: Do you think your Tech or Southern Conference rebound records will ever be broken?  Ace Custis came the closest and he was still over 300 short of you.

Chris: Teams play more games today.  If you look at rebounds per game and not total rebounds, I think the records will hold.  After all, it has been almost 50 years.  Also, if you look at my three year average by eliminating my freshman year when I was in foul trouble almost every game, my average rebounds per game would be 19 per game rather 17.

Q: What was your best game as a Hokie?

Chris: Mike Harris’s book, ‘Game of my Life‘ (pages 177 to 184) describes my game against Marshall during my sophomore year when I had 30 points and 31 rebounds along with several blocked shots.  But I had several games where I felt I was able to often “control the game” with my rebounding and shot blocking.

During our 1958-1959 season, these games included our 85-73 win over UVA @ Blacksburg (18 points, 19 rebounds, and held big Herb Busch to 6 points), our 105-24 win over W&L @ Blacksburg (24 points, 36 rebounds) after leading 41-4 at halftime as a result of W&L slowdown offense and our full court zone press, our 93-80 win over Marshall @ Bluefield (31 points, 30 rebounds, and several blocked shots), our 74-68 win over William & Mary @ Blacksburg (14 points, 24 rebounds, and several blocked shots), our 104-66 win over Richmond @ Blacksburg (20 points, 27 rebounds, and “a dozen spectacular blocked shots” as reported by newspapers), and our 91-84 win over GW @ Washington (28 points, 23 rebounds, and several blocked shots).

Then during our 1959-1960 season, these games included our opening 75-62 win over GW (19 points, 21 rebounds, and “blocked a 12-15 shots” as reported by several sportswriters), our Watauga Invitational Tournament games with Tennessee Tech and host East Tennessee State when we won the Tournament and I was selected MVP, our 82-61 win over Mississippi State in Sugar Bowl Classic (set rebound record),  our 79-72 win over Marshall @ The Charleston Civic Center (26 points, 20 rebounds, and several blocked shots), our 95-93 OT win over VMI @ Lexington (41 points, 27 rebounds, and many blocked shots), our 89-78 win over Navy @ Annapolis (25 points, 16 rebounds, several blocked shots, and MVP of our only televised game), our 82-66 win over W&M @ Williamsburg (23 points, 14 rebounds, and several blocked shots to hold down Jeff Cohen of W&M under double figures until I fouled out), our 86-74 win over Citadel @ Charleston (31 points, 19 rebounds, and several blocked shots), our 100-71 win over VMI @ Blacksburg (32 points, 31 rebounds, and several blocked shots), and our Southern Conference Tournament games including our 78-58 win over Richmond (34 points, 27 rebounds which was a single game record for Tournament), and our 88-52 win over GW (25 points, 28 rebounds which broke my record set the day before). [Note: We’ll have more from Chris and the 1960 Southern Conference Tournament later in the week.]

During my 1960-1961 final season, these games included our 76-54 opening win over Richmond (25 points, 25 rebounds), and our 106-75 win over South Carolina (28 points, 20 rebounds).  I also had two good games in the Birmingham Classic and was selected MVP even though we lost to Auburn.

Q: Off the court, what’s your favorite memory of Virginia Tech?

Chris: Crossing the drill field several times each day was my favorite thing to do and my favorite memory.   I spoke to everyone, and they spoke back to me in a very friendly way.  This mutual respect we had for each other taught me a lot about people.

Q: After your time at Virginia Tech ended, you were taken in the 2nd round of the NBA Draft by Syracuse.  You ultimately decided to go work for Union Carbide as an engineer instead.  What were the biggest factors on your decision?

Chris: First I had to decide if I could make it in the NBA and decide how well I could do.  What I needed to do was to play with and against some of the players drafted by the NBA and some of the players who were playing in the NBA.  So, after our senior season, our seniors played in several independent games and Tournaments.  First, Louie Mills, who was from Roanoke, organized a game with Lenny Rosenbluth’s All Americans in the Salem Civic Center.  Rosenbluth’s North Carolina team had won the National Championship against Kansas and Wilt Chamberlain in 1957 and we felt he was loaded with talent.   We had our VT players including Moose Matthews, Bobby Ayersman, Dean Blake, and Louie Mills.  We then recruited Bucky Bolyard, who was coaching at VMI and had played for WVU during the Hundley/West years.  During the game, we out-rebounded them badly, and Louie, Bobby, Dean, and Bucky ran the fast break perfectly as we won by 33 points, 104 to 71.

The following week we played in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, there were several teams with ACC players, mostly from Duke, N C State, and Maryland.  Many of the players had been drafted, and we were all trying to compete and measure our potential for making it in pro ball.  I felt pretty good about the experience because we won the tournament and I was selected as the Tournament MVP.

The next weekend was the Tournament of all Tournaments right in my hometown of Charleston, WV.  Jerry West had a team of West Virginians.  We had a Virginia Tech team with Bobby, Louie, Dean, and me along with Hal Geer and Wayne Embry. Also there was a group of Dayton players with Arlen Bockhorn and Elgin Baylor.  The fourth group was an ACC group.  We beat the WV group and the ACC team lost to Elgin Baylor’s group.  So we played in the championship game against the Elgin Baylor/Dayton team and we lost on a last second shot.  I was fortunate to make the All-Tournament team with West, Baylor, Cleo Hill (the number 1 pro draft choice my senior year) and Arlen Bockhorn, who made the last second shot against us.  I felt honored being the only one on our team who made the All-Tournament Team while playing with two NBA Hall-of-Famers, Hal Greer and Wayne Embry.  I’ve described this in detail in my book.  Based on these experiences, I concluded I could play professional basketball successfully.   So I had to choose between basketball and chemical engineering.  The money was not that great in the NBA at the time.  Also, I wasn’t certain about my ankles and knees after several 100-plus game seasons.

Q: Do you ever regret not giving the NBA a shot?

Chris: Intermittently, I wondered if I made the right decsision, but fortunately I played in that same Charleston Sportsman Tournament each year.  This was because Jerry West and Rod Hundley had the Tournament sponsors place me on their team.  This gave me an opportunity in 1962 to play against the great Ohio State team and later against a team with Oscar Robertson and Nate Thurmond.  That year, I was able to guard Jerry Lucas the second half and slow him down by blocking two of his shots, but John Havlicek made up the difference.  The next night I was able to block one of Oscar’s hook shots.  In 1963, we had Hot Rod Hundley, Jerry West, me, Bucky Bolyard, and Bill Russell.  Hot Rod, who played on several All Pro Teams said that was the best starting five he ever played with.  In 1964, I was able to play with Hot Rod, Jerry West, and Rod Thorn, the only time they ever played together.  Tom Lowry and I did the rebounding against two first team consensus All-American centers, Gary Bradds and Len Chappell and we out rebounded them.  After that in the summer of 1964, I received an invitation to tryout with LA.  Reluctantly, I turned it down but I felt it was quite an honor.

Click here to read Part 2.  It focuses on Chris’s thoughts of the Hokie program today, the rivalries, and the game in general.

Posted in 2009-10 Season, ACC Tournament2 Comments

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