Monday, December 29, 2008

Let's buy some Christmas socks and catch a b-ball game

I am back and blogging after a long week that included strep throat, Christmas, and being in a wedding in Charlotte. My reward for being a g-man was a handsome VT hooded sweatshirt with embroidered lettering. The groom got every groomsman a hoodie from their alma mater, which ended up making a pretty sweet picture with all the different colors (Tennessee, USC, Florida State, East Carolina, Oklahoma State, and of course Virginia Tech). So I am finally back in the office, and with zero direction from my boss as to how to accomplish my task for today, and with my boss being out of town, I am blogging again. I might as well tackle VT's basketball games from last week.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to actually see the Aeropostale Holiday Festival, but there wasn't much to see anyway (doesn't that tournament name make you want to run out and buy a trendy new top with a matching belt as a gift for a loved one? Well the sponsors figured it would). Virginia Tech was expected to be the champion of the tiny four-team tournament at Madison Square Garden in NYC, and that's exactly how it played out. The wannabe contenders? Try Columbia, Marist, and St John's on for size. They don't fit very well, do they? Playing any of those teams is quite unfulfilling, like wearing a wool turtleneck underneath an ugly Christmas sweater; there's just nothing to get excited about. The Hokies took the first game against Columbia with relative ease, although it was a closer game than I would like to see against an Ivy League bottom-dweller. In fact, Penn and Princeton are the usual winners of that league, with everyone else being a distant third. The Hokies had 19 turnovers against Columbia, a fact that induces vomit when you consider that the guys playing for Columbia are much more concerned about 16th century French poetry than they are about playing hoops. The second game was against St John's, who beat Marist in their opening matchup. You might actually have heard of the St John's Red Storm before because they used to be a decent team in the 90's, although they're pretty much a joke in the Big East these days. They were 9-1 this season before facing the Hokies, but they hadn't really played anyone of note. Right now St John's is 9-3 with all 3 losses against ACC teams (Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami). It was a fairly easy tournament for the Hokies, and you can rest assured that hardly anyone was at MSG to watch it.

JT Thompson is finally healthy and started his season against Columbia with a mediocre, but not terrible, performance. He followed that up with a better performance against St John's. He didn't do much offensively against either team, going a combined 2-6 from the field with no free throws in either game. This is a little strange considering his penchant for being around the rim and getting his points inside, but I'm willing to cut the guy some slack due to his time out with an injury and let his offensive game come around. He was a big factor on the boards, gathering 14 rebounds in the two games with 10 of them coming in just 18 minutes of play against St John's. 5 of those 10 rebounds were offensive rebounds, which is an area where Thompson excels. The guy is always crashing the boards after a VT shot. So what can we expect from the Hokies now that Thompson is back? The biggest difference will be our rebounding margin, which should be an advantage for VT against most foes. 3-point attempts will go down since Thompson will be stealing Hudson and Bell's minutes, and JT doesn't shoot it from the 3-point line, but I don't see this as a problem. In fact, I am cool with Allen drifting out to shoot a 3 as long as Thompson, Vassallo, and one of Diakite/Davila/Witcher are under the rim. Delaney and Vassallo are already obvious threats from deep, but with Allen's excellent 3-point percentage, it'll be tough for teams to let him jack up the open shot.

However in spite of JT coming back, we also had the bad news of backup point guard Hank Thorns going out before the tournament with a sprained MCL. That meant that Malcolm Delaney played all 80 minutes of the tournament because there are no other point guards on the Hokie roster. We don't even have a combo guard to ease the burden, so if Delaney were to get into foul trouble, our team would have been toast. Dorenzo Hudson simply cannot play the point. However, Malcolm responded with two of his best games of the season going 15-31 from the field (that's an excellent shooting percentage for a guard in case you didn't know). He also went 6-16 from 3-point range, which is a decent 37.5%, and a studly 11-11 from the free throw line. He did have an usually high number of turnovers against Columbia, giving the ball to the other team a whopping 7 times, but he regrouped against the Red Storm giving the ball away only once in 40 minutes of play while racking up 8 assists. That just shows you the type of player Malcolm Delaney is... when he has a bad game in one statistical category, he will come back the next game with a renewed sense of purpose to get back on track. And possibly the most impressive thing to me is that he didn't get into foul trouble despite the fact that the opposing teams were trying to make that happen. He's a big time player and I have a gigantic man-crush on him. Is it still considered a man-crush if you are pasting pictures of the both of you onto wedding photos? Sure, why not.

Overall the Aeropostale Holiday Festival was a success for the Hokies and a good step in the right direction for the rest of the season. VT will ride down to Charleston Southern tomorrow to take on the lowly Buccaneers. The game shouldn't be close, but you never know with this year's squad. Hank Thorns is still out with that sprain, so if Delaney gets into foul trouble then a VT loss is possible, but I certainly wouldn't bet the farm on that happening. You know, if you own a farm that is. The real fun starts on Sunday when VT will travel to Duke to open their ACC slate! "'Vengeance is mine', declareth the Lord." Go Hokies!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Strep Tease

I decided to work from home today. At about 11:00, my neighbor comes over and starts knocking on my door with the force of a jackhammer. I open the door to see the small chinese woman who lives next door (I'm not being racist here, she really is chinese as opposed to any other asian nation). She doesn't speak English very well, but she manages to relay some information to me. Apparently she has some documents that are vital to her existence and she needs to fax them to somebody. I inform her that I do not own a fax machine, but that does not persuade her from continuing to tell me about how she needs to find a fax machine. I tell her that I don't know anybody in the neighborhood with a fax machine, but she is adamant that I am going to help her, so finally I offer to drive her to FedEx Kinko's so she can fax that stuff. On the drive there, I try to make small talk, but I am thwarted by her inability to understand me. I sit in the parking lot for 30 minutes as she faxes some things. I rock out to my XM radio, as I am prone to do. Finally this lady comes back out and we have an equally awkward trip back to the neighborhood as she purposefully avoids small talk. We both say goodbye as we arrive back at the townhomes. 10 minutes later my doorbell rings again, and I see her standing at the door through the peephole. Crap. I don't feel like helping her anymore, but I try to be a good neighbor so I open the door. As it turns out, she wanted to give me a present for helping her. I open it up to find some nice Italian chocolates. Score one for the home team. I am sure there is a moral here, but I don't really feel like figuring it out. Why am I feeling so lazy? Because I just went to Patient First and found out I have strep throat. Hooray! It's been a stupid and mind-baffling kind of day.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What's a Hokie?

Today I thought I would tackle that certain question that every Virginia Tech alum finds obnoxious... "What is a Hokie?"

Well let's just clear it up right now. A Hokie is nothing. Nothing at all. The word comes from a cheer that was made up by O.M. Stull of the class of 1896. The cheer was part of a contest to select a new spirit yell for the University, with the winner receiving a grandiose 5 dollars (American). Why, that kind of money would buy a man 20 shaves and haircuts. It was a kingly sum, to be sure.

The cheer, in its current form, goes like this:
Hokie, Hokie, Hokie, Hy.
Techs, Techs, V.P.I.
Sola-Rex, Sola-Rah.
Polytechs - Vir-gin-ia.
Rae, Ri, V.P.I.
Team, Team, Team!

Admit it... you long for nothing more than to have an equally awesome cheer at your college, so you're considering writing one. Don't be ashamed, the "Old Hokie", as it is known, conjures up all kinds of emotions with jealousy being the most prominent.

So a Hokie is not a castrated turkey. Those witty Hoos over in Hooville would like nothing more than for you to fall for their silly ploy and believe the lies they make up about the stout Hokie men that they idolize and secretly long for as they giggle together and try not to spill punch on their Sunday dresses, but the truth will be heard. In its most accurate form, a Hokie is a student or alum of Virginia Tech, and nothing more. For more information, check out this site.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Everyone Hates Psycho T

I read an article this morning by Rick Reilly on about UNC's Tyler Hansbrough. Basically, the article feels like a jab at fans who think that Hansbrough is a whiner and a wimp. Now I despise UNC as much as any Hokie basketball fan, but you have to give "Psycho T" his props. He's an undersized power forward who is usually playing the 5 for the best team in the nation. He is listed as 6'9" and 250 lbs on UNC's official basketball site, but I think that he's really around 6'8" and 240 lbs. He gets fouled more than any other player in the college ranks, and therefore gets to the free throw line more than any other college player. Now, I would definitely agree with anyone who says that he is the beneficiary of some questionable foul calls, but that is only because he has earned that status. When you are an All-American, you will get those calls. Whether it's fair or not is another issue, but you shouldn't be surprised that it happens. Regardless, this guy has a way of playing fiercely yet under control while under the rim.

So why am I writing a post about a player that VT will only see once (possibly twice if we play them in the ACC tournament)? Because every comment I see about Tyler Hansbrough on ESPN message boards is about how the guy is going to suck as a professional basketball player. "He'll be a role player coming off the bench at best" is a frequent sentiment. Let me be in the minority here and go the complete opposite way. I think he's going to be an excellent pro player because he plays the way Chuck Barkley used to play. He can shoot it up to 18 feet with deadly accuracy, he's a fantastic free throw shooter (over 80%), and he gets himself to the foul line. Oh, and he's also a great offensive and defensive rebounder. This guy is not the next Luke Walton, as most ACC fans are thinking. He plays hard every second, pisses off opposing players, and I would be ecstatic if the Cleveland Cavaliers (my NBA faves) could pick him up in the draft. But I think he is more likely to go to a middling team like Indiana or Toronto in the middle part of the first round. At any rate, I will boo the crap out of Psycho T when he shows up in Blacksburg, but I am not going to be one of the idiots who chants "overrated" or one of the morons who babbles on about how Hansbrough sucks. It's pretty obvious that he doesn't, and I don't think an intelligent fan should bother trying to argue otherwise.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ron Mexico the Chinchilla

My roommate is thinking about getting a chinchilla as a pet for our place. You've probably never heard of one of these animals, but they're fluffy rodents from the Andes Mountains of South America. If you have heard of them then it's probably because you have a hat or a coat made out of their soft, warm fur. Murderer. God sees what you do and will judge you accordingly. I'm kind of excited about the prospect of having a pet in the house because my family always had a dog while we were growing up, and we also had our fair share of hamsters. Hamsters are awesome because keeping them ends up being like a never-ending episode of Prison Break. It doesn't matter how well you close their cages or what you put on top of their cages to keep the hamsters from getting out, you're going to find they've escaped by morning more often than not. My favorite hamster story (yeah, I have a favorite hamster story... what of it?) is about my sister's pet named Sunny. When I was 10 or 11 or something like that, my cousins, my brother, my sister, and I were all sleeping on cots in our basement because we had family over. Don't worry, it was a furnished basement... this isn't necessarily a story about child abuse. Anyway, I started to feel sick so my mom brought me a bucket to puke into if I felt the urge. And I did feel the urge at one point during the night, and I threw up a little bit in the bucket. When I woke up in the morning, the bucket was empty and the vomit had been replaced by Sunny the hamster. To this day, I don't know what happened, but I like to think that Sunny escaped during the night, smelled the alluring scent of vomit, made her way to my cot and climbed up my blanket, walked on top of me to get near the bucket, then dove into the bucket and snacked on the stuff that my body didn't want. Tell me that isn't incredible, and I will call you a liar.

Anyway, I am excited to have more stories like this, so I say to Keith, "Bring on the chinchilla." Keith went to James Madison University, so he's likely to name the chinchilla "Duke" or something dumb like that, but I think that I will secretly name the animal "Ron Mexico" in honor of Michael Vick and his STD-testing alias. Long live Ron Mexico!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Out of Bounds

The Hokie basketball team continued their disappointing season with a 22 point win over Longwood. "Why would a win contribute to a disappointing season," you ask boldly. Well, I'll tell you why. Because VT turned the ball over 23 times in this game. 23 TIMES! TO LONGWOOD! This isn't Duke's vaunted turnover machine or Wisconsin's stout defense that I'm talking about here. This is freaking Longwood, a university whose name is just as embarrassing as the student-athletes who attempt to call themselves a division 1 basketball program. If you close your eyes, you can see them missing layups and getting rejected by the rim as they warm up before the game. This is the team that forced 23 turnovers against Seth Greenberg's squad, who used to pride themselves on their ability to control the ball and force other teams into making mistakes. That is possibly the most haunting factor in the Hokies' early season: the fact that we are no longer winning the turnover battle, even against the mid-majors. Look at the turnover comparisons below:

Longwood 17|VT 23
Georgia 12|VT 18
Navy 11|VT 16
Wisconsin 6|VT 7
Elon 8|VT 10
Seton Hall 9|VT 14
Xavier 16|VT 16
Fairfield 11|VT 10
Mt. St. Mary's 16| VT 20
Gardner-Webb 18| VT 15

As you can see, we have only won the turnover battle in two games this year. We had one less turnover than Fairfield and we had 3 less than Gardner-Webb. This is just unacceptable. I don't know how else to put it. I understand that Seth Greenberg wants to get out and run on offense this year. It makes plenty of sense... transition and fastbreak chances are highly successful, but at what price? The Hokies are keeping their opponents in the game by giving them extra possessions, and I believe that is the biggest reason for this disappointing start to the season for the Virginia Tech basketball team. Come on guys. I've seen a seal balance a ball on its nose... you can at least catch a ball with your hands and keep it from going out of bounds.

VT can smell the oranges

Welcome to the inaugural post for the Hey Hokie blog! I intend to blog regularly on all things Virginia Tech, particularly basketball and football, and maybe throw in some posts about my own life if I feel like you would benefit from that (because let's face it, I know what's best for you).

After the loss to Miami and what appeared to be the end of Virginia Tech's hopes for getting into the ACC championship game, the Hokies rolled off three straight wins to back their way into the FedEx Orange Bowl on New Years Day. Their reward for a hard-fought campaign in the ACC? Playing a lose-lose game against the Cincinnati Bearcats (which apparently is an imaginary animal like the griffin, the yeti, or the Maytag repairman). Actually, after checking, I found that there is an animal from Southeast Asia called a Binturong that is sometimes called a "bearcat", but I'm skeptical to think that Cinci's mascot is named after a weird-looking raccoon from the rainforests of Southeast Asia. Now why did I call this a "lose-lose" game? Because VT is expected to win by a lot. That means a loss equals embarrassment and a win equals the status quo. So try your best to get fired up fellow Hokies because this game is going to be boring. How many fans do you think Cincinnati will bring? I place the over-under at 87.

Unfortunately, this Orange Bowl appearance might have saved Bryan Stinespring's job. The offense seemed to do pretty well in the games against Boston College and Virginia, so I can easily see Frank Beamer getting behind his golden boy and supporting him for another year. That's a real shame considering the quality of players VT has been able to recruit since Bryan Stinespring has been our offensive coordinator compared to his inability to turn those players into an offensive force. Have a look at our NCAA FBS (i.e. division 1-A) rankings for yards per game on offense over the 7 years that Stinespring has been the OC (don't call it that):

2008 - #107
2007 - #101
2006 - #100
2005 - #57
2004 - #65
2003 - #62
2002 - #85

There isn't another Offensive Coordinator in the nation who would have lasted 7 years at a perennial top-25 school like Virginia Tech with yardage totals like that. His highest ranking was #57 in the nation and his average ranking was #82 out of 117-120 teams (3 teams were added between 2002 and 2008). It just shows the type of cronyism that is in place on Virginia Tech's coaching staff.

Despite his obvious favoritism, let's all get behind Frank Beamer and the Hokies for this next game. Beamer's boys have had an awful record in bowl games over the past few years, so I really want to see him instill the importance of a bowl win into our current squad. This is not a vacation... this is a chance to represent your school and play with pride. Hokie Hokie Hokie Hi!