Hokie Basketball Not a Ride for the Faint of Heart

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Seventeen games into last season, the Tech men’s basketball team was 11-6 and
riding an unexpected five-game winning streak, including four straight ACC
victories. The team was 4-2 in the ACC and shocking everyone, including their
delirious fans. This season, the team is 10-7, a dismal 0-4 in conference, and
if something can go wrong, it has. “These are the times that try men’s
souls,” Thomas Paine wrote, and though he was writing about a much more
serious topic than Hokie basketball, the quote fits.

On
January 27th of last year, Virginia Tech handled Virginia easily at home,
getting up big on the Wahoos and riding that margin to a 79-73 win, their fourth
straight ACC win. Life was good. Five days earlier, the Hokies had notched an
improbable road win over #12 Georgia Tech, participants in the national
championship game the previous year. The Hokies had also beaten NC State and
Clemson, and with an ACC record of 4-2, they shot into the upper half of the
league standings, where they would remain all season.

It’s January 19th, 2006, and instead of handling Virginia easily at home,
this year’s edition of the Hokies struggled and dropped a painful-to-watch 54-49
decision at home four days ago. Though the overall record for the Hokies is a
similar 10-7, the ACC record is a dissimilar 0-4, and life is not good. Tech is
the only team winless in the ACC, having lost four games by 16 total points, and
the team seems snake bit.

Before looking at what’s gone wrong this year, you have to take a look at
what went right last year, to this point. Last year’s Hokies could seemingly do
no wrong in their four-game ACC winning streak, and all the breaks went their
way:

  • Carlos Dixon stole a pass and dunked for the game winning points in a
    59-57 win against Clemson, and the Tigers missed a last-second
    three-pointer.
  • NC State’s Julius Hodge, one of the best players
...