This column isn’t going to be very long. I’ve been writing about Hokie sports
for almost eleven years, so I recognize moments when no one, not even the most
gifted scribe, can do a game justice. Just remember that on February 13, 2007,
Virginia Tech basketball went down to Chapel Hill and knocked off North Carolina
at home. Every time I think this team has topped itself, they do it again.
I’m spent. When I sat down at 8:00 to watch this game, I was fine. By 10:33
p.m., when Zabian Dowdell and Deron Washington stonewalled gifted point guard Ty
Lawson on Lawson’s game-winning attempt, I had a knot in my stomach and a
headache, courtesy of a gut-wrenching 81-80 overtime win by the Hokies. I’m not
kidding; as I write this, I feel kind of sick.
I know one thing: This road win over the #4 Tar Heels means more to me than
Tech’s home win over the #1 Tar Heels exactly one month ago. The win over UNC
back then was a perfect storm, the kind of game that happens every once in a
while. Every guy that came off the bench for Tech that day had the game of his
life, and UNC’s young players got rattled.
But this win, this one was all grit and determination. From the very
beginning, the Hokies were all over the boards, making sure that effort would
take over and compensate for nerves, a slow shooting start, or early-game
jitters. Tech took a 21-13 lead through sheer force of will that gave them the
confidence to keep coming back, all game long, as they took punch after punch
from the talented Heels. Every time UNC got up by six and threatened to go up by
more, or to pull away … they didn’t. They couldn’t, because the Hokies
wouldn’t let them.
This win is more impressive than the win a month ago, because this one was
all about resiliency, not about getting hot, getting a big lead, and holding on.
There was freshman Lewis Witcher, one game after a DNP in a blowout win over
Virginia, getting the start again and rising to the occasion with a five
offensive rebounds in a scant nine minutes of playing time. Witcher started out
strong and never backed down.
Or how about Coleman Collins, who looked absolutely woeful in the first half,
throwing up bricks and fumbling the ball away. Collins never stopped trying, and
he hit a three-point
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