back to top

Around the Hardwoods with Wild Bill

Well, readers, I’m sure you’ve realized from my picture in today’s edition that I was able to get all the egg off my face after my prediction on Monday night’s Orange Bowl debacle. Last week I admittedly gave the thumbs up to Virginia Tech defeating Stanford in the Miami showdown. Unfortunately for the Hokie Nation this ended up being a total meltdown for VT, leading several people on Tuesday to ask me why I made such a preposterous claim.

After reflection, that’s a good question and one that needs examination.

First of all, I’m going to point out it wasn’t the players. Tech has a bevy of talented athletes who, if given the opportunity, can play with the best. There lies the problem. The higher-ups in Blacksburg (I’ll call him Madam X) can’t expect for the team to compete with the best, if they rarely do what it takes to play the best.

I heard an ESPN radio analyst once say the road to being a top-five team requires scheduling the top teams, backing down from no one and taking some lumps until you can start playing with confidence on the top-5 opposing team’s field, thus garnering national attention. That scenario does not include dragging in unknowns from the Mid-American Conference in the heretofore annual MAC lovefest at Lane Stadium. 2011 gets worse with Arkansas State, Appalachian State and East Carolina visiting – not exactly a group of marquee prime-timers.

Don’t most fans think their team would show a little more swagger if they played  quality opponents, home-and-away, on a regular basis? Likewise, let’s call ACC football what it is – mediocre at best. ACC officials like to think they have top-notch competition because games go to the wire in front of frenzied fans. I’ve got news for you–this could describe an Ivy League matchup between Yale and Brown. Tech dropped to 1-27 all-time against top-5 opponents- playing Arkansas State or Central Michigan won’t improve those numbers down the road.

Now, to the hardwoods where district play is just beginning and predictions are in order for some Roanoke area teams. Patrick Henry looks strong in the AAA Western Valley where Jack Esworthy’s squad looks capable of playing with anybody. Fleming is still growing as a young team, but keep your eye on the Colonels’ Kris Whitfield. Watching this guy play is worth the price of admission.

In the River Ridge, Christiansburg has set the bar high with their offensive prowess. Hidden Valley may be the sleeper here – the Titan’s Head Coach, Troy Wells, is an ingenious mentor who doesn’t have three state championships under his belt because of all those life savers he dishes out.

Northside is my pick to capture the Blue Ridge. Allegheny is a possible breakthrough, but I’ll take the Vikings as Billy Pope has been around long enough to put all the pieces together.

For the unusual high school game of the week, we look no further than the Lady Terrier Classic third-round contest between Hidden Valley and Northside. Late arrivals must have suspected a scoreboard malfunction. Randy Bush’s Lady Titans were clicking on both ends of the court, leading 25-0 after the first quarter. The final was 56-13 as Northside faced a rare game in which they only attempted two free throws, making neither.

An equally strange college game played out in the Morris Cregger Invitational at Roanoke College Sunday when Hiwassee College called four timeouts in the last 1.2 seconds against Emory and Henry. The prolonged breathers didn’t work as Hiwassee fell by one point.

Now, to the mailbag where last week’s questions on rules drew a lot of interest and guesses, plus my bowl watching gets some scrutiny from a reader.

In the football inquiry, most thought that since the holder was on one knee in the end zone, the call was a safety. Others thought a 116-yard field goal attempt was  reason to invoke the deception rule. Sorry, this play is totally legit- and the holder can be on a knee for the kick placement as long as a kick is attempted. Thanks to high school ref Chris Moody for the answer. I hope there was a strong gale at the kicker’s back for that boot.

In basketball, the ball off the player’s head drew some laughs, but it’s in the book. The basket counts as a two-point shot. Some thought a 3-pointer and others said no basket since there were no hands used. High school and college ref Dennis Layman got us straight on this one.

Finally, the ice hockey coach needs to read the fine print in the rule book. Each team earns a point in a regulation tie. But, if you pull your goalie in overtime and the other team finds the empty net, you forfeit that point. I saw former Express coach Perry Florio research this on a road trip to Greensboro ten years ago. No problem, though – the Generals were dispatched in regulation as goalie Daniel Berthiaume stayed comfortably between the pipes.

Dear Wild Football Man: Did you watch all those bowl games on New Years Day? ( Bob/Smith Mt. Lake)

Answer: No Bob, I was through with the bowls by the time the ball dropped in Times Square. I flipped the channels and came upon the Three Stooges Marathon on AMC. When you get Larry, Curly and Moe working on the plumbing in a Beverly Hills mansion, you’ve got it going on.

We’ll do another set of odd rules next week. In the meantime, send inquiries to:

[email protected]

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Related Articles