My last birthday, December 30th, 2015, was really depressing, and not because I turned 51.
I spent that afternoon sitting a couple rows behind the Virginia Tech bench, watching West Virginia hammer a listless Hokie squad 88-63. It was one of the worst basketball games I’ve ever seen, with a total of 60 fouls called (30 on each team) and 74 free throws attempted.
It took about two and a half hours to play that game, and for most of those 150 minutes, the Hokies were out of contention. It was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever slogged through as a Virginia Tech fan. Nice birthday present.
After that game, the Hokies were 8-5 and had lost their last two games (including a 79-62 beatdown by St. Joseph’s) by a total of 42 points. At that point, Buzz had remade the roster, but another two-win ACC season or the likes was dead ahead. A fifth straight year of being an ACC laughingstock was coming over the horizon.
You know what happened next. Things turned on a dime after that. The Hokies beat NC State in overtime, then knocked off #4 Virginia on their way to a 4-1 ACC start. That was followed by a brutal 1-7 stretch that played out mostly on the road, but even then, the Hokies were competitive, falling at Notre Dame when Seth Allen’s last-second shot rimmed out, and collapsing at Syracuse when they had the Orange dead to rights. That’s how close Tech was to being 3-5 in one of the most difficult stretches of basketball ever faced by a Hokies team.
When that stretch ended, the Hokies were 13-13 (5-8 ACC), but they were trending...
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