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February 11, 2010

The seniors say goodbye to Cassell

By: Jimmy Robertson

In the spring of 1984, Doug Waters started the Hokie Huddler, a publication devoted to the coverage of Virginia Tech athletics. The publication has changed names and formats over the course of 25 years, and this year, we want to celebrate the silver anniversary of the publication by taking a look back at what transpired at Virginia Tech in 1984.

This month, we’re looking at basketball season since we’re currently in hoops season. The Hokies said good-bye to four prominent seniors that year, including two stalwarts – Perry Young and Al Young. Here’s a look at what Mr. Waters wrote about the four in the Feb. 26, 1985 issue:

The seniors say goodbye to Cassell

By Doug Waters

Feb. 26, 1985 issue
The preseason media guides that have stats and profiles don’t always tell you that much about a player’s personality, but this year’s Tech media guide gave some nice insight into Perry Young.

Asked what his most memorable game had been during his first three seasons, Young answered, “That’s easy. It would have to be the Michigan game last year in the semifinals of the NIT. We had a chance to go up by three points with a minute to play and I missed two free throws. That will be the game I always remember because I feel it cost us the NIT championship.”

He started 22 games his freshman year and averaged 5.6 points, but since then has started every game and averaged close to 20 points. Against Morgan State, his 20 points moved him into second place on Tech’s all-time scoring list with 1,807, passing Allan Bristow with 1,804.

Young may not catch No. 1 all-time scorer Dale Solomon, with 2,136, but he has left his mark as one of Virginia Tech’s best ever.

“I appreciate what (the fans) did for me,” he said of the cheers. “Without them, I couldn’t have accomplished a lot of the things I’ve accomplished.”

As for reaching his lofty level on the scoring list after getting only 175 points as a freshman, Young said, “I knew that down the road my day would come if I kept working hard. I decided my freshman year not to let people tell me I couldn’t play.”

Anyone who did was wrong.

Al Young was showing his practical side when reporters wanted to know how he felt about playing in Cassell Coliseum for the last time.

“I definitely hope it’s the last time,” the 6-foot point guard said. “The only way I’ll get to play in it again is if we go to the NIT.”

And that won’t be good enough for a winner like Young or anyone else on this team.

Although he has never been a double-figure scorer, Young has made some of the team’s biggest shots during his career.

His tip-in at the buzzer beat South Alabama in last year’s NIT; his last-second jumper beat Tulane in last year’s Metro tournament; this year he had a key steal and lay-up to help hold off West Virginia and, just two weeks ago, a big steal and three-point play to help Tech beat Tulane at home.

His biggest thrill of all came in his freshman year, when his last-second shot tied Louisville to put the game into overtime, leading to a Tech win.

Young is so smooth with his dribble and so quick in pushing the ball up the floor, watching him can make one forget how difficult a position point guard is. Some fans probably have taken his ball-handling skills for granted.

But his teammates and coaches haven’t, and the opposition hasn’t, and his daring play will be missed.

Tim Lewis, a 6-0 guard, scored 1,875 points at Maggie Walker High School and was a two-time AAA all-state selection.

He got decent playing time as a freshman and even started one game, but then had to miss the 1981-82 season because of knee surgery.

After that, he didn’t start again until Monday’s home finale. Has it been a disappointment not to earn a starting role?

“Not really,” said the soft-spoken Lewis. “When the situation happened, I had to accept it. Maybe I played a lot more by coming off the bench. The past two years I’ve started to get in a lot more.”

He counts as his biggest thrill last year’s win over Virginia. That game, played in Lewis’ hometown of Richmond, snapped the Wahoos’ nine-game winning streak over Tech.

“That was the first time we had beaten them in my career. I played 20 minutes that night – that was the most I ever played. I had no turnovers, four points and four assists,” he said.

Even though he didn’t pile up impressive stats like he did in high school, he said he is happy to have played for the Hokies.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “A lot of players start and don’t learn anything. Looking back, I learned a lot on and off the court.”

Ron Everhart walked out for the opening tip-off last Monday night for the first time in his career. Then he scored the first four points for Virginia Tech and wound up with 15, tying his career high.

That was the kind of thing he had expected to do regularly when he left DeMatha High School as a first-team Catholic All-American and signed a grant-in-aid with Virginia Tech.

But Everhart has played sparingly. “I never dreamed I’d ever play a reserve role in college,” he said.

“I’ve really wished for a long time that Virginia Tech fans could’ve seen me play in high school, so they could see what kind of player I was.”

Everhart played only one game as a freshman before suffering a lower-back injury. The recovery process has been a constant battle. Because of the injury, Everhart lost lateral motion, speed and a good bit of shooting rhythm. “After the injury, I kinda realized I’d play a reserve role,” he said.

He added, “I feel I’ve had a good career at Tech. I’ve enjoyed every minute. I’m proud to say I played four years for coach Charles Moir. Anyway he could help me, he helped me. He was always interested in me.

“A couple of times, I felt like leaving, but he talked me out of it.”