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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
Monday, February 28, 2005
by Will Stewart,

As usual, tonight's show originated from Attitudes Bar and Cafť in the Holiday Inn in Blacksburg. The featured guests were head women's basketball coach Beth Dunkenberger, Athletic Director Jim Weaver, and head men's basketball coach Seth Greenberg.

The NCAA has new legislation in effect this year regarding academics that is essentially a report card, and poor performance can cost teams scholarships. The initial Academic Progress Report is out, and the NCAA cautions not to draw conclusions from the initial numbers, that the APR really is intended to cover a four-year period.

News of the Day: Angela Tincher was named ACC Softball Player of the Week for the second week in a row. The Tech team has won 14 games in a row and is now 15-2. They will go back Friday to Marietta, GA for a tournament. The Hokie softballers were picked last in the ACC preseason poll and may be the most underrated Hokie team of all in the ACC this year.

Beth Dunkenberger

The team won both games last week, defeating No. 23 Maryland on the road and Miami at home. The team got up on Miami 33-4 and won 90-45, and Roth asked if the team is peaking at the right time. Dunkenberger said she thought so, that the team had been battling injuries all year and only recently got everyone back healthy.

The Hokies are 6-8 in the ACC and have a great RPI (around 20), and Roth asked Dunkenberger to assess the team's chances of making the NCAA tournament. Dunkenberger said the committee will look at strength of schedule (SOS) first, and VT has a top ten SOS in every computer poll she has seen. (With a chuckle, she thanked Bonnie Henrickson for the schedule.) The ACC has the No. 1 RPI rating among conferences. On the downside, when Dunkenberger was an assistant at Florida in the SEC and the SEC was No. 1, the Gators went 6-8 in-conference and didn't get invited, so that worries her.

Roth asked if two extra out of conference games (the ACC women only play 14, while the men play 16) helped the SOS, and Dunkenberger said she thought so. It helps the teams in the ACC avoid beating up on each other. Dunkenberger said that Texas Tech has had a great season, but more unheralded VT opponents St. Francis and Liberty have all had great seasons and will go to the NCAAs.

JB from Cartersville called in and complimented Dunkenberger as being "Beamer-like" in her humility, honesty, and demeanor. Dunkenberger responded by saying that's the highest compliment you can get as a Hokie.

Roth pointed out that after the women's game against Miami, Beamer waited in the Cassell Coliseum tunnel to give Erin Gibson a hug. Beamer and Gibson are both from the same high school in Carroll County. Dunkenberger praised Beamer.

Pam in Culpeper wrote in and asked what the biggest challenge is in facing Wake in the ACC tournament on Friday night. Dunkenberger noted that Wake almost beat Virginia at Virginia and led UNC at the half recently. They're a great three-point shooting team that can't be allowed to get open looks at the basket. VT beat Wake 74-64 on January 31st in Blacksburg.

Roth asked about the pressure of replacing Bonnie Henrickson and meeting the standards she set for the program. Dunkenberger said it helped that she has known Bonnie for so long and is friends with her, and that they talk almost daily. Bonnie is giving advice more as a friend than a coach, Dunkenberger said.

Roth asked about how basketball coaches are always networking. Dunkenberger said she'll "steal from anybody," then gave an example of calling a friend down at Furman, who gave her a great play that they ran twice in the first half against Maryland, and scored twice off it. The play was a quick-hitter to score when the shot clock is running down -- VT had been having trouble with that, so Dunkenberger looked for help from a friend and got it.

Roth asked why the team was able to beat Maryland at Maryland, and Dunkenberger cited offensive execution. Dawn Chriss has been hot lately, and Kerri Gardin has gone from great rebounding to great rebounding and great scoring. The Hokies also held Miami's Tamara James, the ACC's leading scorer, to just 12 points after giving up 35 to her in Miami earlier this season.

Roth noted that the team has had some tough losses, losing to FSU for example in double OT in Blacksburg and triple OT in Tallahassee . Dunkenberger said that you've just got to keep believing, and she tries to find some good in the bad that happens. Dunkenberger said that the most important game on the schedule is always the next game, and you can't dwell on the past.

If the Hokies beat Wake Friday, they'll be matched up with Duke in the next game. Dunkenberger said that the first time they played Duke, the Hokies played poorly and lost by 20. She feels that if they play well, they have as good a chance against Duke as anybody (provided they get by Wake in the first round).

The women play Wake at 6:00 Friday in Greensboro in the first round of the tourney.

Wayne in Farmville called in and asked what makes a quality program. Dunkenberger said its about the people you surround yourself with. She noted that she likes to have players who will not only play well, but represent the university well off the court.

Roth noted that the Hokie Hardwood Club, the organization that supports women's basketball at VT, gave two checks to the team after Sunday's game, one for the Rayna DuBose fund and another for their annual European trip, totaling over $80,000.

Dunkenberger said that the Hardwood Club holds an annual auction to raise that money, and they raised it in one night. After every game, Dunkenberger noted, they go to the Bowman Room in Cassell and meet with "hundreds and hundreds" of fans. She said the other teams in the ACC are jealous of VT's support.

In final remarks, Roth noted that Dunkenberger is "on pins and needles" because of the impending decision of the NCAA selection committee, and Dunkenberger noted that the one way she can guarantee that the team will go to the NCAAs is if they go down to Greensboro and win the ACC tournament.

Jim Weaver

Roth and Weaver discussed how some VT sports have fared better in ACC play than forecasted, and Roth asked why that was. Weaver said that Miami and VT were expected to take some time to acclimate themselves to the ACC, but they were catching on quicker than expected. He said he thought it had something to do with the Big East being tougher than people thought. He said that the men's basketball team really grew up in the second half of the season last year in the Big East and has carried on the intensity level of competing every night. Unfortunately, some injuries cost them some wins in the their non-conference schedule this season.

Roth asked about VT's chances to make the NCAA or NIT. Weaver said it comes down to the committees, and they have to pick the teams they think are best qualified, and he thinks that the way the men's team has fared in the ACC bodes well. He also said that he thinks the team will need to win one "and maybe both" remaining regular-season games.

Roth asked if VT would be interested in hosting an NIT game, should they make that tournament. Weaver said absolutely. He has been very pleased and encouraged by the enthusiasm of the crowds, both the student and alumni factions and the way they have gotten into the ACC culture.

Weaver said he thought the post-game celebration after the Duke win was very orderly, and he was very pleased. He thought the ushers and security officers had things in control, and the crowd dispersed peacefully once the celebration died down.

Alan in Blacksburg, who works at VT, called in and asked about the possibility of getting students closer to the floor in Cassell Coliseum. Weaver said he didn't think there would be any changes, since they had just reseated Cassell, and he likes having the students behind the visitor's basket in the second half. He thinks they have more impact there than on the sidelines. (Alan mentioned "reconstruction" of Cassell, and it's this writer's opinion that Mr. Weaver missed a chance to address the issue of adding bleachers behind the basket, on floor level.) Weaver praised Cassell Coliseum and said that there are five places in the ACC that have less seating capacity: Boston College, Miami, UVa (for the time being), Duke, and Georgia Tech.

Roth asked about the schedule of West side expansion of Lane Stadium. Weaver said the contractor indicated that they think it will be done in time, and Weaver said that he knows how those things go, and he joked that it "will probably be done the night before it opens." Or maybe he wasn't joking.

Weaver said that Lane Stadium will be even louder, but one thing that he's excited about that isn't discussed much is that there will be 18,250 square feet of academic space for all 21 VT sports. VT's academic support offices are located in the oldest section of the Jamerson Center.

Roth asked about luxury suite sales: "Gone, sold out," Weaver said. Club seats have also gone "fairly well," though Weaver would not give a percentage or a number on that.

Dave from Blacksburg in the audience asked if there has been any thought given to a point system in student ticket distribution that will reward students who go to games in other sports, such as volleyball, soccer, and lacrosse, similar to other schools in the ACC. Weaver said no, no thought has been given to it, because they donít have any way of monitoring who goes to those other sports, because they don't issue tickets for them. The student ticket process is coordinated with the student government each year -- they don't just make up policy in a vacuum, without student input. VT has the third-highest number (by percentage) of student tickets allocated to football and men's basketball in the country, and they're very proud of that. Roth noted that Penn State, for example, seats 106,000 in their football stadium, and they have about 50,000 students on campus, but they have fewer student tickets -- "about half as much" -- than VT.

The discussion moved on to the new APR (Academic Progress Report) from the NCAA. Weaver admitted to department-wide confusion about the new concept and said that even the NCAA people can't answer some of their questions, because the concept, which measures academic progress by student athletes, is so new.

Weaver said that the bad part of the old NCAA grad rate calculations, which are replaced by the APR, is that any student-athlete who transferred away from your institution, regardless of their academic standing when they did so, counted against your grad rates. Players that left early for the pros also counted against you.

In the APR, you get a point for being eligible, and a point for being retained. There's a "cut score" of 925, and until they have four years of data -- this year, they'll only be dealing with two years of data -- there's a "confidence interval" that they'll use until they have four years of data. Weaver said it was very difficult to explain the system, particularly since it's in its early stages.

Roth asked if Weaver feels comfortable about VT's numbers, and Weaver said yes. Weaver said that if an athlete leaves early, they at least want them to "be eligible" when they do so, so you'll only lose one point -- a retention point -- instead of both.

Weaver will be in Greensboro for the women's ACC tournament Friday, then will be at the ACC wrestling championships Saturday.

Seth Greenberg

Greenberg joined the show on the phone from Clemson for a brief appearance. He said that the team went bowling to relax, and they had a couple days of study hall as well. Greenberg said that Wyton Witherspoon won at bowling with a 171.

Roth asked about the two practices after the NC State loss. Greenberg said that practice was good. He gave NC State credit for their defense, and said that VT didnít play well. VT has to hit on all cylinders if they want to win, and they didn't hit on all cylinders. VT wasn't as tough with the ball, didn't come off screens well on defense, etc. He noted that NC State was a preseason top 20 team that was finally completely healthy. "It was some of us and a lot of them," he noted about the loss.

VT plays at Clemson Tuesday night at 7 pm. It is the only game in the ACC that night and will be broadcast on Regional SportsNet (Comcast SportsNet, Fox SportsNet, Sunshine Network -- check local listings and's Hoops TV link).

  • Monday was day 96 of Virginia Techís continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup, day 150 of Virginia Techís continuous possession of the Black Diamond Trophy, and day 88 of Virginia Tech's continuous possession of the ACC football championship.

-- Will

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