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November 5, 2008

Hokies picked to finish sixth in ACC preseason poll

By: Jimmy Robertson

The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team was picked to finish sixth in the ACC in voting by 40 media members at the league’s annual basketball media day held Oct. 26th in Atlanta. All 40 of those media members picked North Carolina to win the ACC, with Duke coming in second, followed by Wake Forest, Miami, Clemson and the Hokies.

Tech finished with a 21-14 overall record last season, including a 9-7 mark in the ACC, and the Hokies advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT before falling to Ole Miss. Tech was picked to finish in sixth place despite finishing fourth a year ago and returning four starters. Six guys return who started at least 12 games, and 81 percent of both the scoring and rebounding return from last year as well.

“We’re not going to buy into what people say. We didn’t last year,” said Tech coach Seth Greenberg, referring to the Hokies being picked to finish 10th in this same poll a year ago. “If we had, we’d have won about eight games. When the ball goes up, whatever has been written or said means nothing.”

Tech opens its season Nov. 14th against Gardner-Webb at Cassell Coliseum. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m.

Tech women picked to finish 10th

The Virginia Tech women’s basketball team was picked to finish in 10th place in the ACC in the league’s preseason poll, as determined by a vote of the newly formed Blue Ribbon Panel. The Blue Ribbon Panel, beginning this season, consists of national and local media members, as well as school representatives. In addition to the league’s preseason poll, the panelists will vote on weekly honors and postseason all-conference teams.

The Hokies finished 15-15 last season, 2-12 in the ACC. But they return four of five starters, including the league’s leading scorer in Brittany Cook, who averaged 17.9 points per game.

North Carolina was picked to win the league. The Tar Heels received 15 of 42 first-place votes. The Tar Heels won 33 games last season and return three starters.

Maryland was picked to finish second and received 11 first-place votes, followed by Duke (14 first-place votes) and Virginia (2 first-place votes). Florida State, Georgia Tech, BC, N.C. State and Clemson round out the top nine, with Virginia Tech coming in 10th. Miami and Wake Forest round out the league.

Tech opens its season Nov. 14th against UNC Greensboro at Cassell Coliseum. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m.

Cheeseman bouncing back to TB

Jahre Cheeseman

Shortly after the loss to Florida State, Tech head coach Frank Beamer announced that Jahre Cheeseman would be getting reps at tailback after having been moved to fullback several weeks ago. Cheeseman, a 5-foot-10, 196-pound redshirt junior, was one of the leading candidates for the starting tailback job back in the spring until he suffered a broken left leg during a scrimmage.

“We hope to get a lift there,” Beamer said. “He’d played tailback for a while and had a good run at the end of the Georgia Tech game [a 70-yarder in last year’s game]. We’re looking for a lift at that position.”

“Coach Hite came and told me, and I didn’t ask any questions,” Cheeseman said. “I was like, ‘OK.’ It’s an opportunity for me. I’m more comfortable there. I probably had a shot at the job until I got hurt in the spring. Then I was probably too cautious when I came back.”

Cheeseman has rushed 25 times for 154 yards in his career.

In another position-related move, tight end Greg Boone got reps at quarterback leading up to the Maryland game as an emergency in the event Tyrod Taylor or Sean Glennon aren’t cleared. Boone, a 6-3, 280-pound redshirt junior, was a SuperPrep All-American as a quarterback in high school, but was moved to tight end following his freshman year.

“I knew it was coming,” Boone said. “If I’ve got to do it, then I’ll do it. But I’m about winning and I know we’d have a better chance at winning if Tyrod or Sean or Cory [Holt] were back there. It would be tough for me. It would all be new.”

Hokies lose another for the season

The serious injuries keep occurring for the Virginia Tech football team, which recently lost back-up free safety Lorenzo Williams for the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered during a practice the week before the Florida State game.

Williams, a 6-2, 200-pound freshman from Fayetteville, N.C., became the 11th Tech player to go down with a season-ending injury. He played in all seven games, seeing most of his time on special teams. He finished the season with six tackles.

Also, freshmen Xavier Boyce and Bruce Taylor have been shut down for the season with injuries. Boyce, a receiver, and Taylor, a defensive end, injured their knee and shoulder, respectively (Boyce underwent surgery). Both should receive medical hardship waivers to preserve their year since neither played in more than three games this season.

Other players lost for the season include Kenny Lewis Jr. (Achilles), Davon Morgan (knee), Kenny Younger (knee), Ron Cooper (knee), Brandon Dillard (Achilles), Aaron Brown (shoulder), Joe Jones (shoulder) and Marcus Davis (shoulder).

Former Hokie named new pitching coach for Detroit Tigers

Rick Knapp, a former standout pitcher for Virginia Tech in the early ’80s, was recently tabbed by Detroit Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland as the ball club’s new pitching coach.

“I’m extremely excited to join the Tigers organization,” Knapp said in a Tigers’ press release. “I look forward to working with Jim, the rest of the coaching staff and the talented pitchers throughout the system.”

Knapp arrives in Detroit after spending the past 12 seasons as the minor league pitching coordinator for the Minnesota Twins.
Knapp pitched his junior and senior seasons for the Hokies and still holds the season and career records for best won-lost percentage. He went 10-0 in 1982 with a 3.86 ERA and threw five complete games, striking out 68 batters. He followed his undefeated season with a 10-1 campaign in 1983 to finish his Tech career with a .952 winning percentage. He tossed nine complete games in his final season and fanned 59 batters.

Following his stellar collegiate career, Knapp was taken in the 41st round by the Texas Rangers and spent five seasons in the minor league system before beginning his coaching career.