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December 16, 2011

Road Warriors

By: Marc Mullen

The Tech women’s basketball team has traveled all over the country for games during the early part of this season

Virginia Tech has traveled a rough road here at the start of the 2011-12 women’s basketball season, and that doesn’t include its 2-5 record entering the month of December.

Monet Tellier

Outside of two home games in November and one in December before the Hokies serve as the hosts for their 22nd holiday tournament, now known as the Hilton Garden Inn Hokie Classic, on Dec. 28-29, Tech will have played eight games away from Blacksburg in five states on trips that will have covered almost 11,000 miles.

After opening their season with a 77-65 victory across the state of Virginia at Old Dominion (approximately 618 total miles), the Hokies have played in Washington, D.C. (538), in Moraga, Calif. (5,392) and in Iowa City, Iowa (1,606). Three more dates in December include trips to State College, Pa. (730) and to Orlando (696) and Fort Myers, Fla. (864), with a 155-mile trip between the two cities.

“Whenever you have a staff change, you are at the mercy of the schedule that had already been developed,” Tech head coach Dennis Wolff said. “We knew it would be a tough stretch, and we tried to handle it intelligently in not wearing the kids out with our limited numbers.

“We’ve also tried to make it as enjoyable as possible, like when we were out in California for Thanksgiving. In the downtime, we’ve tried to make it as enjoyable and as educational as we could.”

To top it off, when the Hokies did play at home, they fell in overtime to Charlotte in their home opener and then lost to William & Mary. However, N.C. Central visits Blacksburg in mid-December, and the holiday tournament – which the Hokies have won on 17 of the previous 21 occasions – can set the team up for ACC play.

“The way it’s set up with the spacing and the trip to Florida, it’s going to give the kids an opportunity to be home with their families over Christmas break, which we all think is important,” Wolff said. “Then, they’ll be back here and will have a chance to be in town and have home games in front of all the Hokie fans that follow us, which we’re looking forward to.”

After ringing in the new year, though, the schedule will not get any easier for Wolff and his team as they open with three of their first four on the road in the ACC. That string includes a trek down to Clemson, S.C. and a jaunt up to Chestnut Hill, Mass.


Over the first seven games of the non-conference schedule, sophomore guard Monet Tellier has shown no signs of a sophomore slump, as she scored 132 points in the month of November – more than half of her entire freshman output (240 points) in 30 games last year.

She posted three games with at least 20 points, which included setting a career high of 29 points in the Hokies season-opening win at Old Dominion. She scored in double figures in six games in November, and she topped her career high again by pouring in 31 points in a loss to William & Mary.

“My thoughts from the first minute I got the job was that Monet was a good player,” Wolff said. “All she needed to do was to stay a little more composed than from what she was last year, which she has done a great job of doing.

“If we run some things that would put her in position to take advantage of her abilities, she would be able to be a legitimate scoring threat. She’s a very bright basketball player, and she’s made a lot of good decisions.”

She became the 10th female at the school to score at least 30 points in a game and was the first since Utahya Drye (30, vs. USC Upstate, Feb. 2, 2009). It was also the most points scored by a Hokie female in Cassell Coliseum since Ieva Kublina (32, vs. Houston) on March 23, 2002.

She entered December as the leading scorer in the ACC at 18.9 points a contest. Tellier has a long way to go, but so far, she is within Amy Byrne’s school record of 20.0 points a game average during the 1989-90 season.


During a four-game stretch in the second half of the 2010-11 season, then sophomore point guard Aerial Wilson was thrust into the starting lineup and struggled – hitting just 7 of 29 from the floor, scoring 16 points and dishing out five assists with 13 turnovers in those starts.

What a difference a year makes.

In her first game as THE starting point guard, Wilson, now a junior, turned in a 7-of-14 shooting effort with a career-high 16 points and four assists in the Hokies’ season opening win at Old Dominion.

Her adjustment to being the team’s starter hasn’t produced similar numbers each and every game. But the coaching staff can be impressed with her numbers – close to 40 percent shooting, 12.1 points a game and 32 assists opposed to 23 turnovers. That includes hitting double figures in four of the seven games and setting a career high of 18 points twice.

“I think the biggest thing is that she’s getting an opportunity,” Wolff said. “Everybody always says that they just want to be given a chance, and she has made the most of her opportunity and she needs to be commended for that.”


Junior center Taylor Ayers has decided to transfer from Tech at the end of the fall semester and left the team shortly after the California trip.

Ayers averaged 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game during her career as a Hokie and had 30 total blocks. She appeared in 53 games for Tech and made three starts.

She had played in six games for Tech this year – almost 14 minutes per contest – and had 14 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

“Taylor was under the opinion that a change would be good for her, and we were fine with it and we wish her luck in whatever she decides to do in the future,” Wolff said.