When Bimbo Coles and the Hokies started the 1988-89 season — Bimbo’s junior year — they were full of promise. They were coming off a surprising 19-10 season. Bimbo had led the Metro Conference in scoring the previous season and had been named the Metro’s co-player of the year, along with Louisville’s Pervis Ellison.
By making the 1988 Olympic men’s basketball team, Bimbo had taken the measure of himself against the best that college, the NBA, and the world had to offer. The experience let him know that he was capable of playing at the highest levels, and he returned to Blacksburg with renewed confidence.
Tech was returning five of their top six scorers, including Bimbo, Wally Lancaster, Quinton Nottingham, Greg Brink, and Eric Sanders. The only loss from the top six was Tim Anderson, a 9.0 ppg scorer and a valuable, scrappy rebounder who was declared academically ineligible and transferred.
The Hokies were still on probation, though, and therefore were banned from all postseason play, including the Metro Conference tournament. Still, they thought they could put together a good season.
Tech opened the season 4-1, beating Wofford, William & Mary, JMU and ODU, and losing narrowly (79-76) at Alabama.
Then the bottom fell out. Tech went to WVU and got destroyed, 101-52, the fifth-worst loss in program history. Booed mercilessly in Morgantown, Bimbo had his second bad game there. As a freshman, he had gone scoreless; as a junior, he went scoreless in the first half, finished 3-of-18, and scored just 9 points.