The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
Monday
, January 5, 2004
by Phil Noftsinger

Editor's Note: With this edition of the Hokie Hotline Notes, we welcome new Hotline Notes author Phil Noftsinger for the duration of the 2003-2004 Hokie Hotline broadcast season (which will run through mid-March). Many thanks to Wayne Clevenger, and welcome to Phil! -- Will

The Hokie Hotline was live from Pittsburgh, where Tuesday night, the Hokies will take on the Panthers, who are undefeated in their new home court. Bill Roth and Mike Burnop started off the show by introducing menís basketball coach Seth Greenberg and talking about the Hokies matchup against Pitt, noting that this will be VTís Big East conference opener for this season.

Roth also mentioned that the football coaches are currently in Orlando for the annual coaches convention, and that we are currently in the dead period for recruiting. Roth also mentioned that several large earth moving vehicles showed up on Virginia Techís campus today to begin work on the West Side expansion to Lane Stadium, set to be completed by the start of the 2005 football season. Also of note, the Hokie Womenís basketball team is currently 12-0 and ranked #16 in the country after their win over Providence.


Seth Greenberg

The discussion started with Roth noting that freshman guard Jamon Gordon underwent surgery Monday, and the news was better than expected. (Jamon suffered a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee.) Instead of the original estimated 8-10 weeks that Gordon would be out, thereís the potential that his recovery time could be as short as 3 weeks. Coach Greenberg, who is also fighting a cold, said that the doctors were positive about what they found, and that the real key will be whether or not they can control the swelling. Jamon could miss as few as 3 weeks to as many as 9. Greenberg said that the important thing is not to rush Gordon back that they need to look at the big picture. Jamon is a player with a lot to contribute and we want to make sure heís healthy before getting him back on the court.

In Gordonís absence, the coach has moved some players around to mediate the loss, such as moving Bryant Mathews to small forward. Greenberg said the moves were focused on giving the Hokies the most substitution options. He did mention that the moves might provide an opportunity for the Hokies new point guard, Bryan Randall, to get some playing time. (Randall was the VHSL AA Player of the Year in basketball as a junior in high school and led Bruton High School to the state championship.)

Roth asked Greenberg about how it came about that Randall would begin playing basketball for the Hokies. Coach indicated that the initial interest came from Bryan himself on the 29th of December, and he obviously told Bryan that he would need to discuss that with Coach Beamer. Greenberg also spoke with Bryanís parents, and with Beamerís approval, Bryan began practicing with the team.

Roth asked Greenberg about Randallís basketball skills. The coach indicated that heís not good enough to evaluate his talent in just 4 days, but that he brings intangibles to the team that are missing. Bryan has incredible leadership, toughness, and character, which this young team needs. Tech has some great players, but they are focused on their own play. Randall will help provide some much needed leadership and maturity to the team. Overall, he felt that a person like Bryan would enhance the team. He did mention that they were trying to keep a low profile on this issue, and they didnít want the addition of Randall to be a media distraction.

On his actual ability, Greenberg mentioned that Randall was a little rough in his ball handling skills, and that he will have a big learning curve with regard to sets and game plan. Roth wanted to know how soon Bryan might actually get on the court in a game, and Greenberg said he may play tomorrow, that at this time heís just not sure. He did mention that he didnít want to put Bryan into a situation where he cannot be successful. He said that Bryan will definitely bring something positive to this team. Will it be points? At this stage we donít know, but he will bring experience and maturity to a young squad.

Moving on to VTís matchup with Pitt Tuesday night, Roth asked the coach to talk about how they will approach the game. Greenberg said Pittís a tough team that doesnít beat themselves. He said that the Panthers really mirror the city of Pittsburgh, in that there really isnít one star, but that they are a solid team that has a great half-court game, and an excellent defense.

Roth mentioned that Pitt has had trouble scoring lately. Greenberg said that most of that is due to their style of play, but that they are a methodical team that doesnít make a lot of mistakes. Tech needs to come out and attack the basket and make them defend a little bit. Pitt knows who they are, they have an established identity, and the players believe in the system. The Panthers have a good team, with a great facility and a good following. They have had some recruiting successes in the NY area, getting players from the St. John's recruiting footprint. They have established a good foundation of players and have been able to recently recruit at a higher level to complement that foundation. Collectively Pitt is a very good team.

Mike Burnop asked Coach Greenberg to address the problem the Hokies have had with making free throws. Greenberg said that in practice they have spent some time on it, but that he wanted to make it a positive effort. Rather than make players just shoot free throws for hours, they have been playing a game in practice called "Rim City" whereby a player gets 3 points for a swish, and one point less for each rim hit. They have to get 20 points, and if you miss a shot in the 1-5 point range you get minus 1, 5-10 miss gets minus 2, and so on. At 19 points, if you miss you go back to zero. Greenberg pointed out that this mirrors how important free throws become later in the game. Missed free throws late in a game are much more costly.

Tom from Yorktown called in with a question regarding recruiting. Tom wanted to know the coaches' approach to recruiting the "Big Man". Do we recruit someone who we can develop or someone who can play immediately? Coach Greenberg said that at this stage with the number of scholarships so low, they have to recruit someone who can make a difference immediately. In subsequent years when there will be more scholarships available, they can recruit a prospect that may take a year or so to develop. However, it will not be a high-risk recruit. He must have the basic skills and toughness.

Charles from Roanoke called in, wishing the coach good luck Tuesday. Charles wanted to know if the coach planned on focusing his recruiting in the state of Virginia, and he also indicated that it appeared the Hokies had trouble setting up the half-court offense. Greenberg said that the state of Virginia will definitely be the focal point for recruiting, and that things should be easier with ACC affiliation as the state is in that conference footprint. With regard to setting up the half-court offense, Greenberg indicated that the Hokies aren't a very good perimeter team right now, but that the offense would improve with time. He said the biggest trouble is in transition right now, and they need to do a better job contesting the 3-point shot.

Roth asked Greenberg to talk about some of the Big East teams and where he felt Tech might end up. Coach said obviously Connecticut is a great team, Providence is playing well, and Syracuse seems to have gotten into a groove. Seton Hall is on a six-game winning streak and St. John's is playing well too. He wasnít sure where the Hokies would end up, but that this team really needed to develop an identity. He really wanted to focus on the team getting better as the season went on.

Greenberg pointed out that some teams fade as the season wears on, but the teams with potential get better and compete throughout the season. His focus was on this team being better each time they go out, rather than where they will finish. He mentioned that this season is a journey rather than a destination. What he wanted to see was opposing teams walking away from playing the Hokies, hoping they wouldnít have to play them in the Big East Tournament. He said they are undermanned and inexperienced, but that his focus was for this team to constantly compete. They talked a little about the tough January schedule, and that the later season schedule sets up nicely for the Hokies. Greenberg pointed out that if they can get Jamon back sooner, the schedule gives them a chance to do well.

Barek from Blacksburg called in with two questions. First, what number would Bryan Randall wear, and second, when Bryan was recruited was there any talk about him playing basketball. Greenberg initially said that he would leave Randallís jersey number a surprise, but Roth and Burnop quickly eliminated most of the potential numbers and Greenberg finally capitulated and revealed that Randall would wear #5. On Randallís recruiting, Greenberg said he wasnít at Virginia Tech at the time, and not privy to those discussions. He felt that Bryan always wanted to play some basketball.

Roth closed the show by indicating that Hokie fans would get a "surprise" in Tuesday night's Pitt game, something we have never seen before. Greenberg wanted to mention what a great job the Blacksburg Middle School cheerleaders had done at the menís and womenís basketball games (Greenbergís daughter is a member of the squad). He also finished up by saying that the keys to Tuesday night's game will be to contain penetration by Pitt, play patient, and make them guard the perimeter. Atmosphere will be a big factor, but the Coach hopes that the Hokies can give Pitt their first loss in their new arena. Tipoff is at 7:04, pre-game begins at 6:30 p.m. The game is televised by ESPN+ and others. Click here for more details, and check your local listings.

-- Phil

          

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