You Can’t Fault Their Effort

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We ask a lot of the athletes that represent our university. One of the things
we ask of them is that they play hard and leave their best effort on the field
of play, so when they walk away, win or lose, we know that they did all they
could. It makes a fan base angry to see players not putting forth their best
effort. From that standpoint, the Hokie basketball team gave us all we could
want yesterday in the season-ending loss to Wichita State.

I didn’t feel good about this one going in, based on the opinions of smarter
basketball observers than me, and based on Wichita State’s depth going up
against a depleted Hokie team. The Shockers (a shocker is a harvester of wheat,
by the way) go ten deep, with no players averaging more than 26 minutes a game
and ten players logging more than 14 minutes a game. That, plus the respect of
the more knowledgeable posters on our basketball board, led me to believe the
Hokies’ prospects weren’t bright in this game.

That turned out to be the case, though the Hokies did put up the good fight,
taking the Shockers to overtime before losing. In the end, Tech had walk-on Paul
Debnam on the floor for the final, fateful nine minutes of the game, and down
the stretch, the Hokies were trying to guard a 7-footer with 6-7 Manny Atkins.
The results were predictable, as that 7-footer, Garrett Stutz, scored seven of
his 11 points in overtime. The seven points, by the way, were more than Stutz
averaged on the season (6.8).

How did the Hokies get to that point, other than the obvious injuries and
suspensions that had already whittled the roster to just seven scholarship
players? For one, Jeff Allen fouled out … again. Allen went 19:57 before
picking up his first foul with three seconds left to go in the first half. Allen
bumped Graham Hatch and put Hatch on the line for two points that wound up being
critical 20 minutes later.

That was the beginning of a five-fouls-in-16-minutes stretch that brought
Allen’s career to a symbolic end for the Hokies: Jeff on the bench with foul

That knocked the Hokies down to six scholarship players,