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Apr
01

At Least Fans Got To See The Orioles' Opening Day Roster

Pain.

That's what I felt when I read MASN's Roch Kubatko's tweet about the postponement of the Orioles' Opening Day tilt with the Red Sox this morning. Imagine waking up on Christmas morning and your Dad saying, "Nah, we're opening presents tomorrow."

Gee, thanks.

But at least Kubatko shared the Orioles Opening Day roster on his Twitter shortly thereafter, so we've got some fat to chew on until Friday. Here are three things that stood out to me.

Youth Abounds In The Outfield

I'm 26 years old and I'll be 27 in July. One of the problems about my age is that I'm still getting used to players I root for and follow be younger than me. It's weird.

What isn't weird is that every single active Orioles outfielder is younger than I am. Both Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander were born three months after I was. Austin Hays is a year and a few days younger than I am. And baby-faced Ryan Mountcastle is 24 years old.

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Mar
31

For Orioles, Time To Stop Tanking, Time To Start Winning

A line from The Athletic's Joe Posnanski really struck me this offseason.

"Tanking," Posnanski wrote "depletes the soul."

Tell me about it. Watching the Baltimore Orioles deliberately lose in an effort to stockpile young talent through the MLB Draft has nearly depleted my baseball soul.

Nearly.

Once again, another Baltimore Orioles season awaits in which the win and loss totals don't actually matter. The O's are likely to finish in the AL East cellar for the fourth time in five seasons. The pitching isn't there, whether it be in the rotation or the bullpen. There are too many questions on offense, too.

So for the average Orioles fan, what is there to look forward to? How can you look forward to the beginning of a 162-game slog that will surely end in a losing record?

Keep your baseball soul.

First things first: it's ok to cheer for wins. Far too many O's fans have spent the last three seasons cheering L's because they think a higher draft pick is an assured way to secure more W's in the future.

If you're in that crowd, I've got the Dodgers on Line 1 for you. And the Rays on Line 2.

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Mar
30

Where's The Beef? Maybe Finally Returning To VT DLine...

I'm here to talk about Virginia Tech's 2018 football season.

Yes, I'm aware that season brings back a lot of anger and despair for Hokies fans, but humor me for a moment.

The 2018 season happened to be Ricky Walker's final season in a Virginia Tech uniform. It also happened to be Vinny Mihota's final season in a Tech uniform. Both graduated and moved on after the season.

Mihota had an odd career — he started it at defensive end opposite Ken Ekanem and served his purpose as an edge-setting end that allowed Ekanem to rush the passer on the other side. Mihota would later move inside to defensive tackle out of necessity, forcing the injury-prone 270-pounder into the slog that is the interior.

Unsurprisingly, Mihota struggled. He played in just six games, registered 11 tackles and zero sacks.

Defensive tackle has been a sore spot for the Hokies for the last several seasons. Woody Baron was the last uber-productive tackle to play in a Hokies uniform, though Walker was more than respectable during his tenure. 

But Woody Baron doesn't come around often. You don't find 260-pound defensive linemen who can dominate the interior very often. You need bigger bodies in there and you need a lot of them

For the first time in what feels like forever, Virginia Tech might have the beef.

Among those returning are DaShawn Crawford, Norell Pollard and Mario Kendricks, all of whom have flashed at various points. Josh Fuga is also back, as well as Jaden Cunningham and Maxx Philpott. Oh, and Clemson transfer Jordan Williams is in town too.

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Mar
26

J.C. Price Quickly Having An Impact At Virginia Tech

That didn't take very long.

Just a few weeks after accepting a position at his alma mater, J.C. Price is already impacting Virginia Tech's roster decisions.

C.J .McCray is an intriguing addition. The 6-foot-4 linebacker enrolled at Marshall as a 2020 recruit with academic issues that kept him ineligible last season. McCray took care of those issues, and now is following Price to Blacksburg.

Time will tell if McCray impacts Virginia Tech's program. Any time you can add a linebacker at that height, you're adding someone who could realistically grow into a solid outside backer. He wasn't a highly sought after prospect, but his eligibility issues could have affected that.

More importantly, McCray's decision to transfer shows that Price is being taken seriously inside those coaches' meetings. And that's encouraging.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they take over a management role is hiring only people that they're familiar with and people that think like them. It creates an echo chamber of thinking with almost no dissent or creativity to be found.

Justin Fuente has done this throughout his tenure. His offensive coordinator has followed him around for years. His defensive coordinator coached under him for two seasons. Most, if not all, of his assistants have some prior connection to Fuente's past stops.

Familiarity is helpful, but so is a diversity of thought. That's what Price offers.

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Mar
24

VT's Brooks Finally Accomplishes Two Long-Term Goals

It took five long seasons, but Kenny Brooks finally accomplished two of his long-term goals that he set when taking the Virginia Tech women's basketball head coaching position.

One was to get the Hokies to an NCAA Tournament. The other was to win a game in the tournament.

Check and check.

A lot has happened in these last five seasons. Brooks inherited a program that had grown accustomed to losing — Tech didn't finish a season with a winning record from 2007-08 through 2014-15 — and accustomed to an early end to the basketball season. Tech broke into the WNIT in 2015-16 under Dennis Wolff, but his contract wasn't renewed after the season.

Brooks' arrival instantly changed the program. He moved longtime point guard Vanessa Panousis to an off-ball role to take advantage of her shooting prowess. He unleashed Sami Hill and enabled her to be the scoring wing player she was capable of being. And he developed Regan Magarity into one of the best players in program history.

Tech won 20 games in Brooks' first season, and the Hokies proceeded to eclipse the 20-win mark for the next three seasons. Last year, they came awfully close to clinching an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 2006, but the cancellation of the Big Dance evaporated those hopes.

This year, they came back for more.

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Mar
23

Hokies Won't Get To See What Bamisile Could Have Become

This isn't my idea of what college athletics was supposed to be.

The original purpose of college athletics was a simple one — athletes can attend accredited four-year institutions at no cost to themselves (sort of). In return for them playing a sport and assisting with the marketing efforts of a university, those athletes can earn a college degree, usually a bachelor's and sometimes a master's.

But that's not reality.

College athletics is now a multi-billion dollar industry that will resume its consistent track record of growth as soon as the country returns to normal and exits the lockdown stage. Coaches are often the highest-paid employees by their respective state government, and players are worth their weight in gold.

I don't have an issue with college athletics being big business, but if it's going to be big business, players have to have rights. Pursuing opportunities at other programs has to be one of those.

That's what Virginia Tech's Joe Bamisile did Monday.

The freshman guard announced that he's entered the transfer portal in search of playing time. His decision had nothing to do with the coaching staff in Blacksburg; he just wants a bigger opportunity.

Who could blame the Richmond native? Certainly not me.

Bamisile has every right to look elsewhere to better himself and his professional prospects. And given that he's been class personified since committing to the Hokies in July 2019, he should be given the benefit of the doubt. I wish him nothing but the best.

That doesn't mean I'm happy about this.

Bamisile would have found himself in a crowded backcourt next season with the return of Tyrece Radford, Nahiem Alleyne, Darius Maddox, Jalen Cone and Hunter Cattoor. Oh, and don't forget the additions of Wofford transfer Storm Murphy and incoming freshman Sean Pedulla.

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Mar
19

When Hokies Needed Points, Alleyne Stepped Up Big Time

When Tyrece Radford found himself sidelined with legal troubles earlier this season, I wrote about how Virginia Tech needed Nahiem Alleyne to step up and become the Hokies’ primary offensive threat from the wing.

Alleyne’s next few performances were a mixed bag, mostly filled with inefficient shooting performances. Even in Radford’s first game back against Georgia Tech, Alleyne shot 3-of-12. At that point, I was ready to write off Alleyne as a future scoring machine.

He sure showed me on Friday.

With his team on the ropes and wobbling from extended usage, Alleyne put Virginia Tech on his back. The sophomore guard scored Virginia Tech’s final 12 points in regulation, including a stone-cold three-pointer with one second remaining to send the Hokies into overtime with Florida in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

I know you’ve seen the shot already, but watch it again.

Unfortunately, this will be one of the few lasting good memories Virginia Tech will take away from Mike Young’s first NCAA Tournament as the head whistle in Blacksburg. Tech fell 75-70 after leading by as much as 8 points in the second half, ending their season.

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Mar
15

Hokies Can Make A Run In NCAA Tournament

Virginia Tech basketball's ACC Tournament came to a somewhat predictable end against North Carolina, as sitting for 12 days before playing and maintaining a high level of play is about as difficult as it gets.

But after studying the pairings announced last night, the path ahead for Virginia Tech seems doable.

The Hokies can make a run in the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia Tech's first-round matchup comes against Florida, that one school who lured Kerry Blackshear Jr. away from Blacksburg upon Mike Young's arrival. The Gators are a good/not great team that finished fifth in the SEC, and have lost three of their last four games. From a size and personnel point, the Hokies match up well with the Gators.

Should Virginia Tech move past Florida in the first round, they'll likely face No. 2 Ohio State, an unpredictable team that won 10 of 11 games, capped off their regular season with four straight losses, then won three games in the Big Ten Tournament. The Buckeyes went 21-9 in one of the toughest conferences in America, but we've seen how hot and cold they can run. 

A Sweet 16 run would open up all sorts of possibilities. Here are some of the other teams to watch in the South Region that Virginia Tech could run up against...

  • No. 1 Baylor: The Bears are probably the second-best team in the country behind Gonzaga. Baylor won 22 games in one of the best conferences in America and sports wins over Illinois, Texas Tech, Kansas, Texas and West Virginia. That said, Baylor did lose to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship tournament.
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Mar
12

Hokies Need Aluma To Bounce Back In NCAA Tournament

Virginia Tech big man Keve Aluma has been stellar this season, as the second-team All-ACC center played a large role in the Hokies' regular-season success this year.

But last night against North Carolina, he also played a role in their demise.

North Carolina surged past the Hokies in the second half, winning 81-73 in the quarterfinal of the ACC Tournament. That surge, in large part, started with the Tar Heels' regaining supremacy under the basket in the second half.

Virginia Tech controlled the paint in the first half, and it was a team effort. The Hokies bodied up down low and won all the relevant paint stats — points in the paint, rebound margin, second chance points. Tech denied entry to the paint and after an exhaustive performance, Tech earned themselves a three-point lead.

That exhaustive performance, however, wasn't sustainable with the Hokies essentially playing only six players the entire game.

Carolina's cadre of big men — Armando Bacot, Day'Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler — proved too much for Virginia Tech to contend with. The trio combined for 31 points, 25 rebounds and six blocks. And more importantly, they were extremely physical with Aluma down low.

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