As the record has gradually gotten worse and worse this year, I have found myself trying to place this season in context. For the last five seasons, ever since the 14-16 disaster of 2005-06, the late-season focus of Virginia Tech basketball has been the NCAA Tournament. In 2006-07, the Hokies made it, and in the four years after that took up permanent residence on the bubble.
This year, the bubble is a distant vision on the horizon. The NCAA Tournament isn’t going to happen. So what’s a Hokie basketball fan to think? To do?
For many Hokie fans, the answer has been to peek with slitted eyes between closely-spaced fingers, afraid to look. Attendance in Cassell Coliseum is down, and the general atmosphere in the place has gone down with it. The good news has been hard to find, as the team lost game after game — going 3-9 since 2011 turned into 2012 — and a once-promising 11-3 season turned into a 14-12 swan dive, and a different bubble took shape: the NIT bubble. Whoopee.
When such a thing happens, you quit living for the season and start living for the moments. A win in Charlottesville over then-#15 Virginia was nice, because it was a big black eye on what has been a solid season for the Cavaliers. Seeing Dorian Finney-Smith break out of an 0-for-25 slump, culminating in a last-second putback for the win against Boston College last Sunday, was also a moment to savor.
But this game, this painful, last-second loss to Florida State, was the most emotionally invested I’ve been in a Hokie basketball game for weeks. I really wanted this one.
The last time these two teams played, Florida State tied a Tech opponent record by blocking 15 Hokie shots in a narrow 63-59 win in Cassell. This is a formidable team, one not without its Achilles Heel(s), and the Hokies hadn’t won in Tallahassee since 1990, when the Metro Conference was alive and well and a guy named Bimbo Coles could single-handedly will the Hokies to a win.
The Hokies were up against it in this game, and then came the pre-game news that starting center Victor Davila would not play due to a...
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