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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
Monday, February 21, 2005
by Phil Noftsinger

Tonightís show was broadcast live from Attitudes Bar in the Blacksburg Holiday Inn. Seth Greenberg and Bill Roth covered the latest Hokie basketball wins over Duke and Miami.

Seth Greenberg

Bill Roth opened the show by congratulating the coach on the great wins this last week. Seth said that heís really proud of the team, how they came back and competed against Miami on Saturday and keeping with Duke the entire game and bringing home the victory in that game as well. Coach said that some very good players stepped up and made some great shots in the games. Those games were not so much about Dowdell draining the three in the Duke game or Collins' 18 rebounds. It was also about Chris Tucker giving the team a great 10 minutes in the Miami game, or Jeff King basically ripping a guyís heart out to get a jump ball. Shawn Harris gave us huge minutes in the Miami game, and Marquie Cooke on defense against Diaz. There were a lot of different people who stepped up and helped us win. Those guys embraced roles and made contributions.

Roth pointed out that Coleman Collins was named the ACC Player of the Week, along with JJ Redick of Duke who had 38 points in the Duke game against Wake Forest. Collins, guarding Sheldon Williams of Duke, had 14 points, 18 rebounds and five blocked shots in 39 minutes. Coach said that he was very quick in the air, defended the post early, made some big shots, and when you penetrate it gives you angles to get to the front of the rim. Coach said that he still didnít think he was 100%, but heís also facing up and shooting the ball better. Coleman is doing a great job, and has made a lot of progress from the first seven games. Hopefully itís something he can build on because the front court of NC State (coming up this Saturday) is very talented.

Roth said that Colemanís numbers in ACC games are better than overall. Coach pointed out that he was very hurt in the first few games. Roth pointed out that in the ACC heís averaging 13.7 points and 8 rebounds, he is 19th in the league in scoring, 12th in blocked shots, and 5th in offensive rebounds. Also, heís just 18 years old. Coach said that heís taken it to another level in these last few games. Greenberg said that having Jeff King in there during practice has helped, because he just beats his brains in every day during practice. He has to be strong with the basketball. Jeff has the leverage, and it has really helped Coleman.

Tommy from Blacksburg who was in the audience asked for the coach's thoughts on how Marquie Cooke has progressed this year, it seems like he struggles shooting the ball at times. Coach said that he will be a good shooter before long. When you're not playing sustained minutes, it's difficult to find those good looks at the basket. Coach said that the defense he played on Diaz was as good as it gets. Heís shooting better in practice, and we will play him on and off the ball some. He has to handle the ball, and we are going to try and take some pressure off him to see if he can get into the rhythm of the game a little more.

Steve in Morgantown, WV asked what the coach thought about the comments being made that the ACC is down in basketball this year, because of the performance of Tech and Miami. Coach said that last year Tech finished ahead of Villanova, and they are a much improved team in the Big East, so does that mean because they made progress that the Big East is down too. Everyone will spin it the way they want it to, the bottom line is the ACC is the top rated conference in the country. Roth pointed out that Tech and Miami were picked last in the conference. Coach said that not many people knew the players that were on our team. Most people didnít even know the top players on Miamiís or Techís squads. Thatís why you play the season.

Eric from Blacksburg who was in the audience wondered what happened with Zabianís jersey. Coach said thatís a good question, and didnít know what happened to it. Seth said that they had another one made, and that Zabian shouldnít make a habit of it. Coach joked that the jersey and the ball are up in the stands, so the team wonít eat to save the per diem to pay for those items.

Roth said that the Hokies are on the bubble, and thatís because of where they are in the league standings. Coach said thatís exciting, but if you get caught up in that, you wonít end up in the right place. Coach said that he tries not to enjoy anything too much, winning is relief and losing is misery. You lock yourself in the office and try to find a way to win the next one. After the ACC Tournament, we will see where we are and see if we are in [the NCAA's]. Guys can say whoís in and whoís out, and in the end they will evaluate where we are after the ACC Tournament. Itís a waste of energy to figure out how many more wins we need to get to the dance. Itís great that people are worrying about that stuff, but for the staff to worry about that is a waste of time. They know whatís at stake.

JB in Cartersville called in and commented that Jamon Gordonís barber did a great job and he had a great week, so he should take Deron to see the same guy. Coach said that they are good kids, and Jamon looks 20 years younger. Gordon makes other people better and keeps on going. Roth said that he made some clutch shots in the Duke game. Coach said heís a winning person, task oriented, humble, extremely competitive, and a huge addition to our program.

Clark from Blacksburg who was in the audience asked how the return of Tony Bethel to NC State's lineup since the first game in Blacksburg will change the game plan for the Hokies. Coach said that Bethel gives a little better quickness and stretches the defense a little more. It gives Hodge a chance to catch it off the second pass. They played really well against Maryland, but they always play well against Maryland. Brackman isnít playing as much, and going with a little more athletic lineup. This past week is the first time they have been 100% healthy.

Roth pointed out that the Seminoles lost their fifth one-point conference game last week, and that the Hokies have had the other side of the coin working, winning their close games. Coach said thatís the way this league is, thereís a very small margin for error. That was a tough loss for FSU last week, they did a great job getting the lead with nine seconds to go, and played good defense.

Charles in Roanoke called in and asked about taking time outs on offense with 8-10 seconds left on the shot clock. Coach said that if itís a key possession and if we have bad floor balance or the ball is in the wrong personís hands; there are a number of things they can do on a short clock that can set up a better shot. Charles asked about recruiting. Coach said that these wins have validated what the program is trying to do, and underclass recruiting is going well. The reception the staff is getting is really good.

Roth asked how a recruiting call would have gone on Friday after the Duke win. Coach said that they canít talk to underclassmen unless those underclassmen call the coaches. They have basically been talking to the one or two players that can get us from 7-6 to 12-4. A particular player can make a difference and we have very good young players that can complement that one or two players. We are looking for those pieces for the puzzle.

Barek from Blacksburg who was in the audience asked what one ACC player this year has made the coach re-align his game plan to defend that particular player. Coach said that Bynum absolutely scorched us. The guy we spent more time focusing on was JJ Redick, because when he comes off screens it affects several other positions. That was a focal point and the one guy who can change the game. Coach pointed out that Wake Forest game where he had 38 points.

Roth said that Duke started the two walk-ons against Wake Forest. Coach said that Coach K knew that it was going to be an emotional game and he wanted to make the first impact. He certainly didnít want Daniel Ewing to get early fouls, so he took those two guys and they are going to "butcher" Chris Paul and Gray. They are going to set the tone of how the game is going to be officiated and the physicality of the game. Coach said that heís not sure it would have worked if JJ didnít score the first nine points of the game. If they had turned the ball over rather than Redick making those shots, it might have been a different story. What he did was he had a plan, and everything he does comes from his military background. He knew exactly what he was doing. That was the message he needed to send, at all costs we are going to give up a soldier to save the bridge.

Roth asked about the atmosphere in the Cassell. Coach said it was loud and unbelievable. That type of atmosphere takes our players to another level.

Steve from Christiansburg who was in the audience asked what the schedule is like during a week off. Coach said that they had Sunday off and they lifted today. This gives them a chance to get their legs back. The first few days we will go back to early season fundamentals. They will take about 20 minutes each day to break down the NC State offense and even Clemson. They will mess around with a couple things on the offense, to show someone something they havenít seen. Practices will be short and quick. Coach said that they will spend twenty minutes going up and down the court [to help Jeff King continue to get his basketball legs], and work on a couple new wrinkles to steal a basket or two.

Pam in Culpeper wrote in and asked who would guard Hodge. Coach said that Jamon will guard him, but we canít afford Jamon to get into foul trouble early, so Dixon will guard him some early.

Aubrey in Gretna called in and asked why Allen Calloway [a Gretna native] didnít see more action against Miami. Coach said that Allen is a terrific athlete, and that possessions are very important. Chris Tucker was the right player in that situation, heís one of the best on ball screening and helping the helper off the ball screen. Plus heís a very good free throw shooter. Fundamentally, the guys who are playing right now are a little ahead. Thatís not a knock on Allen, heís a terrific kid. Coach said that his job is to put a team on the floor to give the team the best chance to be successful.

Jay in Bluefield called in and commented that the team is putting all out hustle during the game, and asked what he attributes that too. Jay also asked about empty student seats at the Miami game, and if there were five byes in the ACC tournament this year because there are 11 teams. Coach said that there are five byes this year. Coach said that the students have been great and that the people that do show up have been absolutely remarkable. Coach said that playing hard is not an option for these players. It is something that the team and coaches take a lot of pride in. Sometimes the young guys' definition of playing hard is different than his. Having a guy like Jeff King, who knows how to play hard, has helped.

Roth asked how much it will help to have more experienced players educating the younger players on playing hard. Coach said that it will be huge, because they will hear it from someone other than himself.

Kevin in San Diego wrote in and asked how Cassell compared to Cameron and Comcast. Coach said that it reminds him of the old Cole Field House at Maryland. At Comcast the student section goes straight down, and itís a new state of art facility. He said that the Cassell is a plush Cameron. Cameron is just a big gym, and there are bleachers for managers to sit on.

Brett in Roanoke called in and asked about the proposed NBA 20-year age limit and if it would help college basketball. Coach said that he didnít think it would go through, it would be overturned in the courts. He said he doesnít know all the legalities. Coach said that a player coming out of high school has more leverage than a kid who has played a year in college.

  • Monday was day 89 of Virginia Techís continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup, day 143 of Virginia Techís continuous possession of the Black Diamond Trophy, and day 81 of Virginia Tech's continuous possession of the ACC football championship.

-- Phil

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