Hoop Dreams

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Yes, it’s the day after VT’s bowl game was announced, and I want to talk basketball. In the words of the bard Dylan, the times, they are a-changin’.

Most of what you’re about to read has been in my head since the Hokies beat Iowa last Tuesday, 95-79, but the 81-71 win over #15-ranked Oklahoma State, in one of the most intense games I’ve seen in Cassell in a while, only cemented my thoughts.

I am cursed with being 47 years old and having followed Virginia Tech sports closely since the fall of 1983, almost 30 years. Well, it’s a blessing and a curse actually. Allow me to explain how this relates to Virginia Tech’s 7-0 start in basketball.

It’s a blessing because sometimes, what I see on the court evokes long-buried memories and emotions, and I’m taken back to things I saw and experienced long ago. One of my favorite columns that I’ve written over the years here at TSL is one that no one else remembers or talks about, one that I wrote after Virginia Tech’s historic 67-65 win over Duke in February of 2005. It was called Quieting the Weary Ghosts of Cassell. Click and read it; it’s short. It might be a little emotionally overwrought, but I still like it. It was inspired by this old photo, by the way, taken in the aftermath of Virginia Tech’s victory over #1 Memphis State on February 1st, 1986 … that, and my own sense of fading youth. (I was barely 40 when I wrote it.)

Sometimes the memories are good, and at those times, it’s good to reminisce. I got a dose of that during the Hokies’ 95-79 win over Iowa last week, with six minutes left to go in a tight game (Tech was leading 76-67). Iowa had just converted a three-point play to cut the lead from 12 down to nine points, and as the Hokies brought the ball up the floor, the crowd stood and roared, exhorting Tech to take control again.

The crowd engages Erick Green following Virginia Tech’s win over Oklahoma State.