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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
Monday, January 10, 2005
by Phil Noftsinger

Tonightís show was broadcast from the ISP Sports Studios in Blacksburg. Basketball season is in full swing now with the show moving to one hour. The buzz on this show was about a new King in the Cassell, with Tech tight end Jeff King following in Bryan Randallís footsteps and playing basketball for the Hokies.

Seth Greenberg

On Wednesday Tech will take on Bethune-Cookman and on Saturday they will play Clemson. Tech tight end Jeff King has made the transition to basketball, and practiced with the team today. Roth said that it seems the Jeff is fitting right in with the team.

Greenberg said that the guys are upbeat and enthusiastic and there has been some growth over the last 10-12 days. Coach said that you learn from the last game and thatís what you have to do to compete in this league. When you have as many freshmen and sophomores playing as the Hokies do, itís a process.

Roth pointed out that the Hokies were up by three late in the game against Florida State, only to lose in the final minutes. After the game Seth Greenberg spoke about toughness during the post game interview. Coach said that heís not always talking about physical toughness, but mental toughness as well. There is a toughness not to let another team take you out of your offense or defense. Coach said that they went through each of the plays where the game changed momentum and talked about toughness to stay with your game plan. If you go through the shots that were made, the team contested them, they just didnít contest them with enough toughness. These are all things with a young team that you see. The team is getting healthier, and we see players like Coleman starting to play better. Heís only 70% healthy.

Cody from Blade Spring called in and wanted to know what was wrong with the team down the stretch. Coach said that what happened down the stretch they were a little tougher, and our shot selection wasnít as good as it needed to be. We didnít fight as hard as we needed to down the stretch. Those are errors the team needs to improve on and they will continue to work on.

After the break Roth asked Coach Greenberg about his new player, Jeff King. Coach said that heís only been with the team for one day, but that heís got a presence and heís a big body. Heís not shy about getting some shots up, and he will add to the toughness in the front court. The good thing is that heís used to watching film. He will get into shape quickly, as basketball requires a different set of physical skills as well. Roth asked if he gets into games quickly. Coach said thatís something he has to evaluate, and that he really just has the base package today. He picked them up pretty good, and we are expecting some slippage. Heís not Bryan Randall, heís a different person, and will bring different things to the game. Roth said that heís creating space when going up for those rebounds with his size, in practice.

Brett in Roanoke called in and wanted to encourage Hokie fans to fill up the Coliseum on Saturday. Coach said that he doesnít want to build in excuses, but that we have to continue to execute, come to practice and get better, and continue to acquire talent. We are going to continue to work hard and play hard. Coach said that we are coming closer to competing at a level that heís comfortable with.

Roth said that Coach is a guy who loves toughness, and we are seeing more of that now. Greenberg said that defining playing hard for a college freshman and a high school senior are very different. Probably in high school, there wasnít a lot of time spent on defining what toughness is. Football has a process where you redshirt, play special teams, and start when youíre a junior. Our freshmen come in and they have to play right away in the ACC. It takes time, but the guys are starting to understand what it means to compete, play hard, and play the whole game. Your seniors and juniors to educate your freshman and sophomores, we are asking our sophomores to play hard and help out their fellow sophomores and lead the freshman.

Demetrius in Whitestone called in and said that too many fans are saying negative things about Hokie basketball, he continued to state that the team hasnít settled down in the half court offense, and that he is only about two or three plays away from this team going somewhere. Coach said that thereís no doubt that thereís a talent differential. We need to continue to develop the talent we have, and recruit ACC level talent. The team also needs to stay healthy. Itís a process where the team is not happy with where they are, and we are developing a foundation for the future.

Jeff in Damascus called in and wanted to know why Jeff King went from football to basketball. Coach said that heís not giving up football, and heís appreciative of Coach Beamer for letting him play. Jeff was an accomplished basketball player in high school and they are happy to have him help out. Coach said that you will see Jeff lining up in the spring game.

Barek in Blacksburg called in and asked what are some of Bethune-Cookmanís strengths and weaknesses. Coach said they are an athletic team thatís on a three-game winning streak and played Oregon to a six-point game. They shoot the ball well from the three point line, and you will want to watch #22 Lemond who can shoot the ball well. You will also want to watch Williams, and #2 Webb. They are a good solid basketball team with a shot a winning the MEAC this year. Roth said they have only played one home game, and they are 5-6.

Jeff in Lynchburg wrote in and asked why Marquie Cooke didnít play against Florida State. Coach said that Marquie is a very good player, and heís going to be a great player for us. He got back late from the New Year's break and coach didnít think it was right for him to play when everyone else made it back on time. He understands that and has a clean slate. He will play on Wednesday.

Ray from Ashland wrote in mentioning that Deron Washington is a player whose offensive production seems to have dropped off a little bit, why is that? Coach said that in the earlier games he was probably the most gifted player on the floor. The quality of the teams we are playing now is much different than those earlier in the year. The other night was a shame, the game is tied up, he does a great job of cutting from the baseline and takes a charge right in his chest and gets called for the foul. After reviewing the film, coach said that he was right in contesting the call. Heís giving up about 40-50 pounds each game, and heís taking lots of charges, thatís the toughness we are looking for. Itís a long season for these guys, and practice has never been as physical as it is now.

Aubry in Gretna called in and asked about recruiting a player through his high school coach or his AAU summer league team. Coach said that in a perfect world he would want to recruit him through his high school coach and his parents. Unfortunately with basketball, some of these kids leave the last week of June and donít come home until the first week of August. Coach said he has tremendous respect for a high school coach, and thatís who ideally he would like to work through.

Pam from Culpeper wrote in asking how often the team practices during mid-week games and how much time is spent on free throws? Coach said that they practice every day after giving one day off after the preceding game. During each practice transition (from play to film), they practice free throws. Today they had a competitive game for free throwing, where the team plays for points for making free throws. If you miss you get more negative points, and less for a make. If you get to twenty and you make your free throw, you win; if not, you're back to zero. We spend time on that and technique.

Howard from California, PA wrote in and said that in order to win in the ACC the team needs to get the ball into Dowdellís hands more. Coach said that he appreciates that input, Zabian is a very good player, but in the last few minutes of the Fla State game he had the ball in his hands almost every offensive play. However, they got up into us a little bit, and we turned it over. We out-rebounded Florida State and had more turnovers, so we want Zabian to get touches, but we need to establish ourselves at the end of the game with an inside-outside offense.

Mike in Blacksburg called in and asked about two players which have signed and how many places they have left. Coach said that they have the ability to sign one more player, and that they are looking for a front court player.

Roth said that having that inside player would change the game plan so much for the Hokies, just his presence would create more opportunities for other players. Coach said that in league play we are forcing the turnovers, but that what's happening is that we are a help-oriented defensive team. We need to buy time for some of our players to get to their fronts. We could gimmick this thing a little bit and maybe win a game or two, but we are building a foundation. In a big picture, we need to stay with the stable sets, and stay with defensive fundamentals so in the future we have something to build on. When youíre the young team, you donít want to try to trick them.

After the break Roth asked what we should watch for against Clemson. Coach said that Robinson is a good perimeter defender. Ford is a very good low post defender, and Hamilton does a good job pressuring the basketball. They play up the line. They are young like us, but they have a few more veteran type players. They are talented, and Hammonds is playing the best of their freshman. Perry is a good undersized inside player. They have a better understanding of ACC play, and they did a very good job against Duke.

Roth asked if the coach sees any similarities between this year and last year, pointing out the recent out-rebounding of teams and the turnovers. Roth asked if coach is seeing these small steps being made. Coach said that he thinks we are getting better, now whether that will equate to wins we will have to see. We lack a player like Bryant Matthews, who if we need a basket, thatís our guy. Coleman is doing some good things and getting healthier. We are improving defensively. You start looking at that schedule, itís a war, but coach is happy with the progress we are making. Heís not going to get down on these kids, he understand the obstacles ahead. Thereís no quick fix or magic formula. Itís not an easy thing or a quick thing, but you need a foundation and plan.

Roth asked if Coach is looking forward to having ACC games with the students in town. Coach asked the fans to please support these kids, they are giving all they have. Understand where they are at, but if you can stay behind these kids, not be unrealistic, a lot of good things are in our future. The kids are excited about what's coming up, and sure they have some anxiety. Their attitude in practice has been very good.

Monday was day 46 of Virginia Techís continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup, day 101 of Virginia Techís continuous possession of the Black Diamond Trophy, and day 39 of Virginia Tech's possession of the ACC football championship.

-- Phil

          

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