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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
, March 15, 2004
by Phil Noftsinger

The final Hokie Hotline of the season was broadcast live from Beamerís Restaurant in Christiansburg. Tonightís guests included Coach Seth Greenberg and Coach Bonnie Henrickson.

Roth started the show, as usual, reviewing the Hokie Headlines:

  • A deserving Tech menís basketball team was not selected to participate in the NIT.
  • Techís womenís basketball team was seeded #8 and will face off with Iowa on Sunday, noon, at Cassell Coliseum, on ESPN2.
  • Senior Rachel Pacheco of the Virginia Tech softball team was named the Big East Co-Pitcher of the Week Monday afternoon by the conference.

Seth Greenberg

Roth opened the interview portion of the show with Coach Greenberg by addressing the bittersweet ending to the Hokies' basketball season. The season was obviously sweet in that they accomplished their goal of playing in the Big East Tournament, and even advanced to the next round by defeating Rutgers. However, the seasonís bitter part was not being selected to participate in the NIT.

Greenberg said that heís obviously a little disappointed in not practicing this week. He added that possibly being selected for the NIT did not define the season, but would have been a reward for their season. Unfortunately, those that make the selections did not feel that the Hokies were worthy of the invitation. Greenberg said that decision by the selection committee does not take anything away from what this team accomplished this year. This team began the process of re-defining what is expected of a Virginia Tech basketball player, and thatís progress. We deal with it, move on, and use it as a motivator.

The team met at 3 p.m. Monday, and he said that they couldnít have a chip on their shoulder; they canít complain about it, itís done. Now we focus on things like letís get our schoolwork done, letís get healthy, and letís get in great shape, letís work harder. Roth added that you canít let the NIT decision overshadow what this team accomplished, especially given the loss of Carlos Dixon to injury, given the difficulty of playing in the Big East, the attrition at the start of the season, and the injuries they endured during the season. With a winning season, all things considered, thatís pretty remarkable.

Greenberg agreed and indicated that he was really proud of the way the kids finished; they really started to understand what playing hard and competing means. To win 7 of the last 11, to earn the 8th seed in the conference tournament and advance, to sweep two conference opponents, all those things are positive. However, now the slate's clean again, we have to continue to recruit, we have to continue to improve our players, and have our players understand that just because the season is over the work isnít. Greenberg announced that there will be a week off, and then we're going right back at it.

Roth after the break asked the coach if he was surprised by any of the 65 teams selected to play in the NCAA Tournament, specifically if St. Joes got a #1 seed. Greenberg said that he was a little surprised by that, but when Pitt and Mississippi State lost, he thought it opened up the door a little bit. The biggest surprise is Pitt as the #3, one shot goes the other way, Pitt wins they are #1 seed, how can you deny it? The other thing, is now they have to go to Milwaukee and play in Wisconsinís bracket. The other surprise, according to the Coach, was Air Force getting in. If they werenít Air Force, they wouldnít be in, they are the 70th RPI team, yeah they won their conference, but they were knocked out in the first round of the tournament. Utah State (who didn't get in) also won their conference, had a 40 RPI, they beat BYU who got in, and they beat Utah who got in. Who did Air Force beat? Nobody.

Roth summed up Greenbergís comments by asking him if he would have replaced Air Force with Utah State, Greenberg said he would have. Roth asked Greenbergís thoughts on Richmond. Greenberg said he thought that was a push, it was a great year for the A-10, they got four teams in, but the bottom half of the conference was a joke. You're guaranteed two wins with St. Bonaventure and Fordham, Temple didnít have a great year, UMASS is struggling. Richmond is a little of a stretch, you could make a case for Colorado. Greenberg said that the bottom line is when you're picking the at-large teams you're going to leave some good teams out, and thatís just the way it is.

Coach felt that Kentucky was playing the best basketball right now, with Duke being a close second because they have experience, they're tough. He thought Stanford is a question mark, because there wasnít really anyone in the Pac-10 to challenge them, the Pac-10 is way down this year. Arizona is talented, but they are not playing as well as they can. He did feel that Arizonaís #9 seed was a little surprising, though. Maryland at a #4 seed was also a little surprising.

Roth said that what surprised him was that not only did the Big East get six teams in, but all six are in the top half of the draw. The lowest seeded Big East team was Seton Hall at #8. Greenberg may have shown a little of his frustration with the NIT decision by responding to Rothís comments by saying, "Thereís my argument, we are in the third toughest conference in the country, we win 8 conference games in that conference and we donít get invited to the other tournament, but the Big East did have a good year."

Greenberg said that the key to advancing in tournament play is being able to play more than one style, can you play against man and can you play against zoneÖcan you play at a fast pace and play at a slower pace? Can you control the game on a defensive side and limit your opponent from getting easy baskets? Roth said after the break he will ask Greenberg to pick his final four. To which Coach argued that he didnít even have a bracket in front of himÖ"What am I Kreskin or something?"

Tech Womenís basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson called in and Roth asked her thoughts about the team's #8 seed in the region. Coach said she was excited about the location, and we will take a site over a seed any day. We were thinking probably a #6 or #7; we hadnít really anticipated an #8 or #9. We didnít really think that the committee would send a #1 seed to a possible hostile environment match up. We will play the hand we have been dealt, and we will have our hands full with Iowa on Sunday. Roth pointed out that Henrickson was an assistant at Iowa before returning to Tech, and Karen Lange (Karen Clayton) of her current staff was a very good player at the University of Iowa, so there would be a familiarity. Coach joked that they do know the fight song. After going through all the film, she is certainly more familiar with the team than they were 24 hours ago.

Roth asked for Coachís scouting report on Iowa. Coach Henrickson said that they have UCONN type numbers, averaging over 73 points per game, they run the triangle offense, they have three kids who averaged more than Tech's leading scorer, Ieva Kublina. Defensively we have to be very good and create some offense from our defense. Now defensively their numbers have not been as good, they give up 72 points per game.

Roth continued that if Tech was fortunate enough to win, they would advance on to play Penn State, which is one of the best teams in the country. Roth said that the Penn State people are thinking they got a tough draw to potentially play a Top 25 RPI team on the road just to get out of the second round. Coach said that we are very fortunate to be able to play at home, but we need to be focused and ready to play. Roth recalled that in 1999 when the NCAA Womenís Tournament last visited Tech, each game had over 10,000 fans in attendance, creating an awesome environment. Henrickson agreed and said that it is really a positive impact on our players, we really hope that our fans come out and support the team. The game on Sunday is at noon, and the winners match up on Tuesday evening.

A member of the audience asked what Coach Greenberg thought of Bryant Matthews attempt to loft the ball to himself off the backboard at Madison Square Garden. Greenberg said that first, he was very happy for him that he made the free throws, because he would have thought less of him if he hadnít. Overall, he wasnít real happy with him, because he knows thatís not the way the game is supposed to be played, and he knows that. Game official Tim Higgins came over to the Coach after the play, and admitted he didnít even know if it was a legal play, to which Greenberg responded by saying the if Tim didnít know he surely didnít know, because Tim gets paid to know whether or not itís legal. After he knocked down the free throws he apologized to Coach, which Greenberg said was a good idea. Roth questioned whether or not you can pass the ball to yourself? Greenberg said it wasnít a pass, it was a shotÖjust a bad one, or at least thatís what he told the official.

Speaking of officiating, Roth asked for Greenbergís real thoughts on the officiating of the Pitt game, now that we are out of the league. From his perspective Roth felt like Pitt was able to do whatever they wanted to do, and yet our guys are called for hand check fouls. Roth added that a lot of coaches have mentioned similar concerns when they have played Pitt this year. Greenberg said that Pitt is one of the cleanest teams in the country this year, they donít foulÖthey just hit you. Itís just one of those things, there were a number of quarterfinals that day, there was a shortage of quality officials, and they had to bring in some younger crews who were working their first Big East Tournament. They were probably not ready for a game of that stature. Pitt plays a style that they foul every play, and re-define what a foul is. He did admit that they got away with a lot more than we did.

Brett in Roanoke called in wanted to know Coach's thoughts on all of the talent returning to the ACC teams, assuming few go early to the NBA, and also a couple of schools in the ACC are known for "selecting" rather than recruiting and how Coach expects to compete with that type of mentality in the future. Coach responded by saying that the ACC is just at another level right now, itís a conference with more UCONNís. Itís very possible that we will play six straight games with teams in the Top 10. In terms of recruiting we just need to find program players, hardest playing toughest guys we can, and the diamond in the rough. We need to develop our players. We are going to recruit against everyone and anyone. Our goal is not to be an opponent. Our goal is go in and compete. Roth added that there are enough kids in this state, that there will be plenty of talent interested in staying in-state.

Steve in Richmond called in and asked Greenberg to comment on the fact that NIT seems to follow the RPI as the delimiter in their selection process, adding that the first 34 of 40 teams were the teams 38-92 in the RPI that were not selected by the NCAA, and we must have been 41st because some of the other teams that were selected while having better RPIís had losing records. He added that heís very proud of the coach and the team.

Greenberg said that the RPI is one of the barometers that the NIT uses, but itís not the only barometer. Greenberg theorized, what if we decided not to go to Ohio State, and played and won another home game. Now we have 16 wins, are we in now? We played Ohio State because they were pre-season Top 20, hoping to help the RPI and see where we were as a team. Roth said that in 1994, not getting the NIT bid was a definite snub, but this season, the NIT would have been icing on the cake. Greenberg agreed, but when you start winning like we did at the end of the season, you start to wonder. Greenberg said that overall though, we are far from where we need to be if we want to be competitive in the ACC.

After the break, Roth mentioned that Greenberg will be serving as an analyst for College Sports TVís coverage of the NCAA Tournament. Greenberg said that the opportunity will be good exposure for the program, as we will be able to talk about Tech and our move to the ACC. He will also take some time to visit some high school coaches in the New York area.

Charles in Roanoke called in and wanted to know about Jamon Gordonís physical condition during the Pitt game and the RPI and itís effect on scheduling for next year. Greenberg said that Jamon rolled his ankle in the game. Also, Jamonís a tough kid, he stayed in there, and made some terrific plays. In terms of scheduling, first and foremost we are a very young basketball team. We have Western Michigan coming in here; we play in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. We need to win some games and help our team feel better about themselves.

Barek in Blacksburg called in and wanted to call and congratulate the coach on a great season. Barek echoed the sentiments of many Hokies in that he canít recall a team heís been prouder of or had more fun cheering for.

Steve Angelucci Senior Vice President of ISP Sports called in and wanted to congratulate Coach Greenberg on a great season, and wanted to also congratulate Bill Roth on another Sports Broadcaster of the Year.

The final segment of the show, Roth wanted to know Greenbergís overall thoughts. Coach said that heís really enjoyed it, and that he knows now more than ever that our future is very bright. We just need to go out and get some players. As you know, the ACC is a different animal, and you need pros to compete in that league. We are going to have to play at the very highest level.

The show closed its final episode of this year with the 2003-2004 play calls of the year. Which includedÖ

  • A 15 yard handoff from Marcus Vick to Kevin Jones for a touchdown, where he ran through a hole in the defense as wide as Fancy Gap.
  • Earnest Wilfordís diving catch in the end zone.
  • A sack of Miamiís Brock Berlin by Kevin Lewis.
  • Imohís kick off return for 90 yards and a touchdown.
  • The buzzer beater by Collins to top Rutgers.
  • The missed extra point by Temple.
  • Another Kevin Jones touchdown run of twenty yards.
  • The "fumble" by Miami's Roscoe Parrish, returned for a touchdown by D-Lo.
  • Interception of a Miami QB Brock Berlin pass by Eric Green returned for a TOUCHDOWN TECH!!!

Authorís note: Just hearing the football highlights is enough to whet your appetite for next season!!!

-- Phil


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