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A Win in Cameron

It remains my opinion that basketball season begins entirely too early. It continues to encroach on the football one and no doubt will eventually begin before college football kicks off.

The result of this continued expansion [basketball season, not conference] means I pay little attention to college basketball until after the football season is completed and I have returned from the bowl trip, somewhere around the first Saturday in January. This year, it was a heck of a time to start watching.

Nice win, huh? The oft-maligned Virginia Tech basketball team ventured into Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium early Saturday afternoon and a couple of hours later sauntered out with an improbable victory. Well, Tech was certainly owed one, after what happened last year.

This year, there was no Sean Dockery to drive a dagger into Tech’s heart and, as it turned out, season. This one ended with a half-hearted attempt at a game-winner by Greg Paulus being swatted away by Deron Washington . Somehow I doubt that the next time Tech plays in Cameron, the Crazies will have replaced those t-shirts bearing an image of Dockery’s shot with ones showing Washington hurdling Paulus.

As Tech relishes in yet another win over the ACC’s most vaunted program, at least until Ol’ Roy REALLY gets it rolling at Carolina , it is hard not to find much amusement in what must be elevated levels of anguish over at the Duke Basketball Report. Gloating Alert!!

These were the guys that were in such a snit following ACC expansion, piqued at the very notion of Virginia Tech being allowed to sully their beloved basketball conference. I recall them taking a very negative attitude towards the abilities of the Tech program, writing that it would be at least a decade before Tech could beat Duke in basketball and guaranteeing that at least one Devils football win over the Hokies would happen first. Snicker.

They were still at it last Saturday morning, opining that Virginia Tech had brought nothing to ACC basketball. It does seem odd that people vowing allegiance to Duke football would complain about somebody else’s program adding nothing to the league. I guess there are reasons they don’t call it the Duke Football Report. Perhaps if Ted Roof continues to apply himself diligently, one of these days Duke might cross midfield against Tech and who knows, if the football gods are in a good mood the Devils might even score a touchdown against Tech.

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One thing is for sure: Duke certainly gives Tech a much better game in basketball than they do in football. While the results seem to be even more often, now, the same, the basketball ones are much more competitive. You are getting there, guys.

All kidding aside [well, some of it, anyway], this was a terrific win for Seth’s program. Whether it was a program, or even season-defining one, remains to be seen. When Tech first beat Duke two years ago, it wasn’t the case. This remains a schizophrenic Tech team, capable of losing to Marshall one week and beating Duke the next. Go figure, although, if only one could be beaten, knocking off Duke certainly provided more attention. Beating the Herd and then losing to the Devils would not have provided quite the same buzz.

This is a senior-laden Tech team, starting three with another providing key reserve minutes. The starting guards are seniors Jamon Gordon and Zabian Dowdell, both four-year starters. Few basketball truisms are more important than the value of experienced senior guards and this was a prime example. Duke point guard Greg Paulus has been taking about as much heat from the message board crowd as has been Tech QB Sean Glennon. Both are sophomores and will get better.

That didn’t help Glennon much against Georgia, nor Paulus against Tech. From Duke’s first possession Paulus was harried into distraction, making mistake after mistake until an exasperated Coach K finally benched him. It then became for much of the game Tech’s two senior guards against an all frosh Duke backcourt. Even with Duke’s preponderance of high school all-stars, a roster brimming with them, guard play was a huge advantage for Tech, enough to provide the narrow margin of victory.

We shall see where Tech goes from here. That the ACC is a fairly tough league will certainly be on display in Tech’s very next conference game, when Carolina comes calling in Cassell this Saturday. First Duke, then the Heels. Yikes! Gordon and Dowdell and all of the rest of the Tech players will have to continue to play at the very high level on display last Saturday, especially in the face of the waves of depth Ol’ Roy will throw at them. Florida State certainly could not stand up to it.

That will be Saturday, however. For at least another few days Tech can bask in the glow created from residing at the top of the ACC standings. It ain’t a bad place to be. ‘Undefeated in ACC play’ certainly has a nice ring to it.

Tech is joined at the top by fellow interloper Fredo and Clemson, of all people. So much for that long-time ACC adage of determining the basketball standings by flipping the football ones. That still might turn out to be the case, especially as the very young Duke team matures, which they will. But not this week. Right, Boswell?

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