A Gym Rat’s Notebook: Cleansing the Demons

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March Madness has arrived with gale force in Blacksburg. The ACC tournament
tips off Thursday, and recent history tells us that Virginia Tech will sit idly
by and watch the opening games of the tournament on opening day, again relegated
to sitting in front of their television sets and not participating in the
tournament. We know that scene all too well; it’s a scene that we became
accustomed to almost every March in the Big East Conference, when tournament
play kicked off, while Virginia Tech stayed far away from the Big Apple, not
allowed to unpack their gym bags for the trip.

But this year, Tech’s first ACC tournament comes with a twist. As usual,
Virginia Tech will not play on Thursday, but this time, it’s because they earned
a first-round bye, and the Hokies will make their conference tournament debut on
Friday. As the fourth-seeded team.

Zabian Dowdell pumps up the
Cassell Coliseum
crowd in the waning moments of
the win over Maryland. (click to enlarge)

Yes, you are allowed to repeat that phrase again. As the fourth-seeded
I’m thinking I like these new rules and this new conference. If you
need any additional proof that times, they-are-a-changin’, then look no further
than that.

The challenge for this team becomes making some noise in Washington D.C. in
the tournament. This won’t be a lengthy discussion of how many games Tech
needs to win to gain entrance into the NCAA tournament. We will find that out on
Sunday. This will be about the continuous evolution and shaping of expectations
in Blacksburg for the basketball program, and how that step is always the most
critical one in any program.

The Hokies have