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Monday, December 7, 1998
Tonight's show featured director of ticket operations Sandy Smith, women's basketbal head coach and folk hero Bonnie Henrickson, and men's basketball head coach Bobby Hussey.
Ellis Johnson, defensive coordinator for Alabama, was supposed to appear on tonight's show, but he never called in. It's not nice to dis Bill, Ellis.
Miscellaneous note: Bill and company will broadcast the Hokie Hotline from the "Second and Goal" sports bar in Nashville the night before the Music City Bowl.
SANDY SMITH'S SEGMENT
Sandy Smith, the director of ticket operations, was Bill's first guest. He reported that Tech has sold just over 10,500 out of its allotment of 12,000 tickets.
Listen up, Hokie fans! Alabama fans have been bombarding the Tech ticket office with calls, trying to buy tickets from Tech's allotment, and so far, the ticket office has been putting them on a waiting list. But in 24-48 hours, in other words, late Wednesday or on Thursday, Sandy and his staff will sell whatever is left over of Tech's allotment to the Alabama fans.
For the next 24-48 hours, Tech's ticket office will sell to Tech fans only. I think that Sandy said that you have to be a Tech alumnus, contributor, or season ticket holder in order to purchase a ticket over the next 1-2 days. After that, as I said, the remainder will go to Alabama fans.
The good news? Tech won't have to eat any tickets (not that I thought we would have to). The bad news? Some Tech tickets may go to Bama fans. The bottom line? If you want a ticket, get it Tuesday! Call 1-800-VATECH4.
Caller asked, "Why are fans of the schools always in the end zone?" Sandy said that Tech got some tickets in the 40-50 yard line range, but the advance order forms that are sent out to season ticket holders and Hokie Club members claimed those seats. Bowls hold on to most of the better seats because they have corporations and sponsors to reward for their support.
Tech had 10 phone lines and two ticket windows open starting on last Wednesday and has sold 10,000 tickets in about 4 days.
Caller wanted to know how he was supposed to be sure that his advanced ticket order had been received (the question sounded a little contentious). Sandy told him to call in a few days, after the phones were less busy, and they could verify that the order had been received. I think he added that tickets will start mailing on the 14th of December.
Caller "Kent in Bristol" reiterated that all of the seats in the Vanderbilt Stadium are good seats. Kent is a Tennessee Oilers season ticket holder who has been to many games at the stadium, and he'll vouch for the quality of the seats.
Tech's women's team cracked both polls this week. In the AP Top 25, Tech is ranked 22nd, behind two teams the Hokies have defeated (Virginia and Duke) who have multiple losses. In the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, Tech is ranked #22, as well.
The laughable part (this is me talking here) is that Duke is ranked #15 and #16 in the two polls, despite being 5-4. I don't care who they've lost to - they're either good, or they're not, and I don't think they are, so why are they ranked so highly if they're not winning?
The women's first game this year was at Liberty (undefeated in the regular season last year), where the Hokies won by 14. Then Tech beat Duke by 2, 72-70.
Against Duke, Bonnie thought that Tech could defend the Blue Devils well, because they rely on offensive schemes to score, not on the athleticism of their players.
James Madison was next. They had beaten Tech 3 years in a row before Tech knocked them down this year. Same for Virginia, so both were "revenge" games for Tech, as Bill said.
When the Hokies went to look at last year's UVa tape, they discovered that they (the Hokies) were just as responsible for the loss as UVa was, so they felt that if they just executed better, they had an excellent chance.
Five players are averaging in double figures, and the team is shooting 48% from the field and 71% from the line. Bonnie credited senior point guard Lisa Witherspoon for the high shooting percentage, because she sets up the other players for open shots under the basket (I was at the UVa game, and I can vouch for that).
Regarding the upcoming game with ECU, Bonnie said they're very athletic, they're 5-1, and they're talented enough to beat Tech at ECU.
Saturday, the Tech women play undefeated Duquesne (6-0) at 4:00, followed by the men against Wake Forest at 7:00.
In response to a caller's questions, Coach said Meg Hunter has a "hyperthyroid condition," and freshman (?) Crystal Starling is not playing due to an "unclear situation," as Bonnie phrased it, and we'll know more "in about ten days."
Caller from Va Beach asked about a home-and-home with ODU, and Bonnie said that starting in 2000 and 2001, the rivalry will be renewed, either as a home and home series, or neutral site games every year.
Mississippi State of the SEC is the marquee team coming in for the Diamond Club Classic over the holidays, on December 28th and 29th.
How many home games would Bonnie like? This year, they have 13. Bonnie said that it's a league requirement to schedule two Top-50 teams, and it's hard to get home-and-homes with those teams, because they don't want to come to Blacksburg.
Terry Williams was co-A-10 player of the week. She got the stomach flu on the way to Appy State, and fell ill the day of the game, so the award was on her UVa stats alone.
Bonnie said that the lack of a crowd on the road against Appy state was a hindrance, after experiencing the big crowd against Virginia, and the coaching staff is working on getting the team to play in front of small crowds on the road. The women are averaging over 3,000 per game so far this year in Blacksburg, so it's a real challenge to step down and play in front of small crowds.
GW beat #14 Arkansas, so the Colonials, a power team in the A-10, are looking good and tough again this year.
UMass is also very strong this year, as is Xavier, which beat Tech last year and returns all of its starters. Bonnie thinks that 3 teams in the A-10 have a good shot at the NCAA's, and 3-4 teams total will make the two tourneys (NCAA and NIT). Five (three in the NCAA and two in the NIT) made it last year.
What is Tech's recruiting base? Bonnie says we're regional, and we're having a good year in state. She said that if you draw an 8-hour radius around Blacksburg, most players will come from that area.
Has the A-10 hurt or helped? Bonnie said that the conference is ranked 7th in the conference power ratings, and she feels that Tech can go to the NCAA's year-in and year-out in this conference, which is strong enough (3 teams typically make the NCAA's) to provide a good enough strength of schedule.
Bill mentioned that Tech fans are starting to wonder if they can keep Bonnie as the coach.
In response, Bonnie said that "people have been reading Jack Bogaczyk's article." She said she is "very, very happy" at Tech, and that it's only December, and it's too early to even begin thinking about "stuff like that."
She said that Tech is where she has always wanted to be, since she stepped off the plane for an interview in 1988 (for those of you who don't know, Bonnie is from Minnesota). She feels that Tech can compete on a national level, and she was very appreciative of how AD Jim Weaver has taken care of her and her staff.
"Andy in Richmond" called in to congratulate Bonnie, and said that watching the team on TV last year, he got very excited about women's basketball. He asked about games in the Richmond/Tidewater area. Not this year, Bonnie said, but they're working with ODU and Richmond (for their yearly tournament).
Caller asked why women shoot free throws so much better than men. Bonnie joked, "We practice free throw shooting, not dunking." Bonnie said it comes down to practice, concentration, and building on success.
Female caller from West Virginia asked when games will be able to be heard over the Internet. Bonnie said she wasn't sure, and Bill said, "We're working on it."
For fans who don't know, Tech has a broadcast package for women's games on the radio in the NRV. Rick Watson does the play-by-play, and the games are on 101.7 FM (out of Christiansburg?).
In the Diamond Club Classic tournament at Tech on December 28th and 29th, Tech will open with Akron, and then either Mississippi State or Campbell in the final, depending upon how the other game comes out.
A caller marveled at Tech's execution, particularly on offense, saying that "The first seven shots I saw against UVa were four feet or closer." Then he oohed and aahed about the defense. Bonnie laughed good-naturedly through the whole call, leading me to think that perhaps she knows the caller personally….
Next caller asked if Tech was recruiting any "aircraft carriers," and Bonnie responded by saying that Tech has five great recruits coming in, including a Top-50 (nationally!) player, but only one that qualifies as an "aircraft carrier," and that Mike Gentry already has his sights set on (center Christina Strother from Maryland). Bonnie was very complimentary of her, saying that she runs well and has great hands. Apparently, Gentry admires her "frame" and thinks he can do a lot with it.
Hussey said in response to a Bill Roth question that Tech had probably the second best practice of the year on Monday. The Hokies finally have 10 players that they can scrimmage with.
Bill said that defense and rebounding aren't the problem, offense is. Hussey said that he sees some positives in the rebounding and defense, but the turnovers in particular are "out of proportion."
BH said that he watched a lot of film and analyzed it, and the players are just trying too hard. He said that they're rushing things and they're "a little too out of control."
Caller asked about the fact that Tech responded well to the Liberty road crowd, and Hussey said they like playing in front of crowds, be they home or away. For example, he said that the UNCC student body is so well-organized as fans that they were emailing the Tech players in the days prior to Saturday's UNCC game (he didn't say what the emails said!), and that got the Tech players ready to play.
Caller asked how Tech practices free throws. Bill said that the team is shooting 60% from the line, and Hussey said that they don't "bunch up the free throws" in practice. The team has 3 different free throw shooting periods, and once the team starts scrimmaging, they whistle fouls and take foul shots as normal.
Hussey said the percentage is improving, and in the last five minutes of the game, it's better than other times. Said the team aims for 70% as a goal, but only two players, Lucas and Kimbrough, shoot over that individually.
Bill asked about 3-point goals, saying that Brendan Dunlop and Jermaine Kimbrough are something like 7 of 35 on the year. Hussey said Brendan is not a three-point shooter and needs to realize that. He also said that Tech's poor percentage is partly a result of getting behind and putting up threes to try to come back.
Caller said that the women come out after games and talk to kids and sign autographs. Can the men do the same? Bobby said they did it once last year, but unless it's "organized," it doesn't happen. Hussey said that would make the players "uncomfortable." I gathered that it's "organized" often for the women, but not the men.
Caller asked about playing ACC teams, and Hussey said that Wake Forest is the only ACC team that said yes to coming to Cassell. Florida State was mentioned, but Bobby said FSU wants to play in Roanoke, not Blacksburg, so Tech said no.
Bill asked if the home and home with UVa, which has fallen through for this year, is going to occur. Hussey said he didn't think so, but Weaver was continuing to work on it.
Caller asked essentially why Tech doesn't do a better job of holding for the last shot (from what I gathered, there was a situation in the UNCC game where Tech was holding for a last shot, and the guard drove into traffic early and either turned it over or missed the shot, and then Tech fouled UNCC on the rebound).
The caller then asked, "What do you see as the shortcomings of this team, other than not being able to shoot, pass, or catch?"
Bill Roth got rid of the caller, and Hussey answered only the first question, of course. He said that in the situation in question, the player (guard) just lost his presence of mind and made a mistake.
The next caller was less of a land mine, and commended Hussey for bringing up the level of recruiting, saying that next year's class will be the best class in recent years.
Next caller asked about post players, asking if Dennis is as good as expected, and do the coaches try to coach Rolan Roberts to control his emotions.
Hussey said that DM played hard against UNCC, and that if he stays on course, he'll be a great player. Said that Rolan is trying too hard and putting too much pressure on himself. Said he needs to play with a little more control.
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