At the conclusion of Saturday night’s (Sunday morning’s?) win over Stanford,
Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg smiled and pumped his fist. You’re probably
thinking, “So what? His team just won a game.” But Greenberg doesn’t
do that after every win, so the fact that he did it after Tech’s 59-52 win over
the Cardinal tells you that this was one he treasured. He should, because
winning out west, over a west coast team, late at night, is a victory to build
First, let’s admit that Stanford is struggling right now, with a record of
2-4 after the loss to the Hokies. But this is a team that has been to 11
straight NCAA Tournaments. The Cardinal were also voted second in the Pac-10
preseason media poll, grabbing 9 of 34 first place votes, and they return
2004-05 All-Pac-10 first team guards Dan Grunfeld and Chris Hernandez (a
two-time selection as a sophomore and junior). Add in 6-11, 230-pound senior
center Matt Haryasz, who leads the team in scoring (18.6 ppg) and rebounding
(10.8 rpg), and you’ve got a formidably talented and experienced team.
The game started at 12:30 a.m. Blacksburg time, when most of the Hokie fans
who were tuned into ESPN or listening to the radio are normally in bed. It
concluded just before 2:40 a.m., which is a ridiculous time to be playing hoops.
When Tech’s Zabian Dowdell went to the free throw line with 18 seconds left and
the Hokies holding onto a 56-52 lead, Tech radio announcer Bill Roth noted,
“This is what it’s come down to: making free throws at 2:30 in the
Going west is one thing. Playing late at night in the west is another thing.
Playing late at night in the west against a west coast team is something that
few east coast teams have to do, and the results are usually poor. Basketball is
a sport in which the dropoff in performance while playing tired is a big one.
The legs go first and the concentration goes second, and without legs and
concentration, shooting goes out the window.
Zabian Dowdell, Tech’s best three-point shooter, fell victim to the travel,
failing to score in double digits for the first time in 24 games. Dowdell shot
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