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Men's Basketball Prepares for LaSalle

Hokies look for their second Atlantic 10 win.


January 30, 1999


Virginia Tech (6-11, 1-6) vs. La Salle (8-10, 4-4)

  • January 31, 1999; 2 p.m.
  • Cassell Coliseum (10,052); Blacksburg, Va.
  • La Salle leads series 4-3
  • Explorers won this year in Philly, 75-67
  • La Salle has won the last four meetings
  • Tech plays six of last nine at home

    Virginia Tech (6-11, 1-6)
    F   -  22   Andre Ray (6-4, 218, r-Jr.)
    F   -   4   Rolan Roberts (6-6, 237, So.)
    C   -  31   Russ Wheeler (6-8, 253, Jr.)
    G   -  55   Eddie Lucas (6-6, 200, r-Sr.)
    G   -  15   Brendan Dunlop (6-2, 185, Jr.)
    
    La Salle (8-10, 4-4)
    F   -  25   Victor Thomas (6-7, 178, So.)
    F   -  45   Rasual Butler (6-7, 200, Fr.)
    C   -   4   K'Zell Wesson (6-7, 253, Sr.)
    G   -   5   Julian Blanks (6-2, 181, Fr.)
    G   -  12   Donnie Carr (6-3, 212, Jr.)
    
    THE SERIES
    *This will be the eighth basketball meeting between the men's teams of Virginia Tech and La Salle. La Salle has a slight edge in the series, 4-3. The Explorers have won four in a row, including a 75-67 win in Philadelphia earlier in the month. Last year, La Salle captured a 74-64 decision in Philly and a 72-68 win in Blacksburg. The Explorers also won during the final meeting in the 1996-97 season with a 59-56 decision in Philadelphia. Three years ago when Tech first joined the A-10, the Hokies won both meetings. The score was 71-55 in a game that was moved to Radford because heavy snow on the roof of Cassell posed a real danger. At Philly that year, the Hokies won 71-65, and won the third meeting, 57-46 at home.

    TECH IN THE ATLANTIC 10
    *Virginia Tech is in its fourth season as a member of the Atlantic 10 after spending 17 seasons in the Metro Conference. The Hokies posted a 13-3 A-10 mark in 1995-96 and won the league's West Division regular-season championship. In 1996-97, Tech finished third in the West with a league mark of 7-9 and finished tied for fourth in the West with a conference record of 5-11 last season. The Hokies are 1-6 in conference play this season.

    THIS SEASON
    *Virginia Tech is 6-11 overall and 1-6 in the Atlantic 10 Conference in its second season under head coach Bobby Hussey. The Hokies got on the winning track in their season opener with a 59-50 home victory over William & Mary. Tech suffered its first loss of the season in its next game when East Tennessee State downed Tech, 57-48, at home. The Hokies captured their second win of the season with an 85-51 victory at Liberty. Coach Hussey recorded his 300th career victory when the Hokies recorded an 83-76 overtime victory over UNC Asheville at Cassell Coliseum. Tech then dropped its next three contests, losing at UNC Charlotte (62-57), falling at home to Wake Forest (52-47) and losing at West Virginia (69-68). The Hokies snapped their three-game losing skid with an 85-65 win over Coastal Carolina. Tech closed out 1998 with a 62-55 win over Winthrop. The Hokies opened Atlantic 10 Conference play with a 55-40 loss at UMass. Xavier defeated Tech in the Hokies' Atlantic 10 home opener, 80-67. The Hokies then lost Atlantic 10 road games at St. Joseph's (78-66) and La Salle (75-67). Tech returned home and fell to St. Bonaventure, 54-50. The Hokies bagged their first Atlantic 10 Conference win at Dayton, 73-64, snapping the Flyers' 14 game A-10 home win streak. Since then, Tech fell at Xavier, 93-69, and to rival Virginia, 64-55, last Wednesday in Richmond.

    *La Salle is 8-10 overall and 4-4 in the Atlantic 10. The Explorers own conference wins over Duquesne (85-73), Virginia Tech (75-67), Dayton (81-70) and St. Joseph's (98-95). La Salle's four conference losses have come to Temple (82-45), George Washington (93-75), Rhode Island (75-62) and St. Bonaventure (68-63). The Explorers are 0-7 on the road this season.

    VIRGINIA TECH COACH BOBBY HUSSEY
    *Bobby Hussey (Appalachian State '62), long regarded as one of college basketball's top strategists, is in his second season as head coach of the Hokies. Hussey, who served as Bill Foster's top assistant for six seasons at Tech, took over the Hokies' coaching duties on the day following Tech's last game of the 1996-97 season. A former head coach at Belmont Abbey and Davidson, Hussey is in his 28th year as a basketball coach, including 20 years as a head coach. He has been a winner at every stop. In 10 seasons as the head coach at Belmont Abbey, Hussey's teams posted a 179-111 record, winning 20 or more games each of his last four seasons on the job. Between 1981 and 1989, Hussey guided Davidson to 108 wins, one NCAA Tournament appearance and a pair of 20-win seasons. Before joining Foster at Tech, Hussey spent two years as an assistant at Clemson. His overall record as a collegiate head coach is 303-266.

    HUSSEY HITS MAGICAL MILESTONE
    *Virginia Tech coach Bobby Hussey reached a milestone in his long coaching career on December 1 when he recorded his 300th coaching victory. The win came against UNC Asheville, 83-76, at Cassell Coliseum. In 20-plus seasons as a head coach, Hussey is ranked 52nd in victories among Division I coaches, with 303 victories.

    LA SALLE COACH SPEEDY MORRIS
    *Leading La Salle to more wins than any other coach, William "Speedy" Morris is in his 13th season in charge of the men's basketball team. As the 16th coach at La Salle, Morris is 210-163, but including his stint as La Salle's women's coach (43-17) and high school boys' coach (388-96), his overall coaching mark is 641-277. He has guided La Salle into the NCAA Tournament four times (1992, 1990, 1989, 1988) and twice into the NIT (1991, 1987), including a runner-up finish in 1986-87.

    TECH AT CASSELL COLISEUM
    *Virginia Tech is in its 38th season of play at Cassell Coliseum where the men's basketball teams have compiled 373 victories and just 91 losses - a winning percentage of 80.5. The first basketball game was played in the Coliseum on January 3, 1962 with the Hokies routing Alabama, 91-67. On September 17, 1977, Virginia Tech officials and friends dedicated the Coliseum in honor of the late Stuart K. Cassell. Tech has never finished a season with a losing home record since the Coliseum was opened and has had just one break-even home season. In fact, Tech has won 54 of the last 70 games played at home over the last six years. The Hokies were 8-6 at home last season and are 4-4 this season.

    DEFENSE DELUXE
    *During Tech's last 222 games, opposing teams have shot 50 percent or better against the Hokies just 34 times. During that same span, Tech has held its foes to a shooting percentage of less than 40 percent 89 times. Tech held all of its opponents under 50 percent last season, and 10 under 40 percent. This season, Tech opponents are shooting 42.0 percent from the field.

    LONG RANGE BOMBERS
    *Since the three-point rule took effect prior to the 1986-87 season, Virginia Tech has made a three-point basket in all but two contests. The Hokies' three-point streak of 277 games ended during the 1995-96 season against GW. Tech then started a new streak that lasted 69 games before the Dayton game last season. Tech has now made three-pointers in the last 21 games played since the Dayton contest.

    TECH'S LAST GAME
    *Virginia shot 53.5 percent from the field and 88.9 percent from the free-throw line and cruised to a 64-55 victory over Tech last Wednesday in Richmond. The Hokies trailed by just three at the half, 33-30, but UVa outscored the Hokies 13-4 over the first 8:35 after the break as Tech missed 12 of its first 13 shots. Trailing by as many as 12 several times after the Virginia burst, the Hokies drew as close as eight in the closing minutes, but got no closer. Eddie Lucas and Rolan Roberts led Tech with 13 points each, but the Hokies struggled from the field, making 19-of-69 shots (27.5 percent). Freshman Chris Williams scored 17 points and grabbed 13 boards to lead the Cavaliers.

    A CLOSER LOOK
    *Tech's 27.5 shooting percentage (19-of-69) was the lowest by the Hokies since a 1988 game at West Virginia. In that game, Tech shot 26.0 percent (20-of-77) as WVU won 101-52.

    *Even though Tech lost the game, the Hokies held a 22-8 advantage in offensive rebounds, forced 23 turnovers and shot 26 more field-goal attempts than UVa.

    *UVa's shooting percentage of 53.5 percent (23-of-43) was the highest by a Tech opponent since the Cavaliers shot 56.1 percent against Tech during the 1996-97 season.

    *Tech had more offensive rebounds than defensive rebounds in a game for the first time this year. The Hokies pulled down 22 offensive boards and 13 defensive rebounds. Tech's 22 offensive rebounds were the most since grabbing 27 at Liberty, the third game of the season.

    *With the win, Virginia now leads the all-time series by a 69-44 count. The Cavaliers have also won 20 of the last 25 meetings. Twenty-one of the last 30 games between the teams have been decided by 10 points or less. The two schools have now met on the court 65 consecutive years.

    ATLANTIC 10 PICKS
    *Sophomore forward Rolan Roberts was named All-Atlantic 10 preseason third team at the conference's media day in Philadelphia. The coaches slated the Hokies for a fourth-place finish in the A-10 West Division, behind Xavier, GW and Dayton but ahead of La Salle and Duquesne. Temple was tabbed to win the A-10 East.

    THIS YEAR'S FIRST MEETING WITH LA SALLE
    *Virginia Tech's six-day, five-night trip to Philadelphia ended with the Hokies falling to 3-point happy La Salle, 75-67, in front of 1,148 fans at Tom Gola Arena on Jan. 12. The Explorers connected on 13 3-pointers, including four each from Victor Thomas and Julian Banks, in beating the Hokies for the fourth consecutive time. The Hokies trailed by eight at halftime, 37-29, but made a game of it in the second half. Tech cut the lead to 48-43 with just under 12 minutes remaining on Eddie Lucas' two free throws. But a second-half offensive funk hit Tech. The Hokies went almost four minutes without scoring and the Explorers - with the aid of three 3-pointers - went on an 11-0 run to take a 16-point lead. Tech never came closer than seven the rest of the game. Lucas led Tech with 17 while Brendan Dunlop had 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in 40 minutes played.

    LAST YEAR'S GAME IN BLACKSBURG
    *La Salle broke open an airtight game in the final two minutes of play and edged past Virginia Tech, 72-68, at Cassell Coliseum on Jan. 27, 1998. A crowd of 3,107 fans braved snowy weather to see the contest. Tech trailed, 39-36, despite hitting 65 percent of its shots in the first half. The Hokies, however, scored the first 10 points of the second half, holding the Explorers without a point for six minutes. The Hokies led until La Salle tied it at 54-all with 9:27 to go. It was close the rest of the way. Four Tech players scored in double figures. Rolan Roberts led with 16, while Eddie Lucas had 14, Jenis Grindstaff 11 and Russ Wheeler 10. Mike Gizzi led La Salle with 18 and K'Zell Wesson scored 17.

    A CLOSER LOOK AT THE LA SALLE SERIES
    *Junior guard Brendan Dunlop (Bronx, N.Y.) played one of the best games of his career against La Salle in the first meeting this season. He scored 13 points to go with a career-high nine rebounds, eight assists and one turnover in 40 minutes played.

    *Eddie Lucas (Gaithersburg, Md.), who was listed as doubtful for the La Salle game with a sprained left ankle, started and scored a team-high 17 points in the first game. He played 38 minutes and also grabbed six boards.

    *La Salle's 13 3-pointers tied the Tech school record for 3-point field goals made by an opponent in a game. Illinois hit 13-of-25 3-pointers during the 1996-97 season. In addition, the Explorers' 27 3-point attempts was the highest amount since Hawaii-Hilo launched the same amount during the 1996-97 season.

    *Tech shot a season-high 81.0 percent from the free-throw line against La Salle. The Hokies hit 17 of their 21 attempts from the charity stripe.

    *Tech did win the rebounding war against La Salle. The Hokies held a 40-32 rebounding edge over the Explorers. In fact, Tech has won the rebounding war in the last three games with La Salle. Last year, the Hokies held a 36-31 advantage in the first game and a 45-36 advantage in the second game.

    *In his three games against La Salle, Rolan Roberts (Woodbridge, Va.) has a total of 47 points and 22 rebounds, an average of 16.7 and 7.3, respectively.

    *La Salle's five starters accounted for 73 of the 75 total points scored in the first meeting this year.

    A NEW FACE
    *Tech, plagued by injuries this season, recently added a walk-on to its roster. Phillip Smith practiced with the team for the first time on December 9. Smith, from Wachapreague, Va., graduated from Broadwater Academy in 1995 and attended the University of Pennsylvania for two years. The 6-4, 190-pound swingman never saw time in a varsity game at Penn. He then decided to transfer to Tech and spent last year as a student. Smith, now a sophomore athletically, practices with the team but is not eligible to dress for home or away games.

    OUCH!
    *Needless to say, the Hokies have certainly been bitten by the injury bug this season. Tech lost redshirt freshman Clinton McPherson (Miami, Fla.) for the season when he tore the ACL in his right knee in late October. McPherson underwent successful arthroscopic knee surgery on November 20 at Montgomery Regional Hospital. Redshirt sophomore David Whaley (Sevierville, Tenn.) missed four games after breaking his right hand in basketball practice on November 23. He returned for the Wake Forest game on December 12. Rodrigo Viegas (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) missed the first game of the season with a pulled hamstring in his right leg.

    AHOY, MATE
    *Three of Tech's players have ties to the Naval Academy. Eddie Lucas (Gaithersburg, Md.), Sean Floyd (Alexandria, Va.) and David Whaley (Sevierville, Tenn.) all transferred to Tech from Navy. Lucas was a starter for the Mids as a sophomore in 1995-96. Floyd played in one game before transferring after his freshman year. Whaley attended the Naval Academy Prep School for a year and spent one semester at Navy before coming to Tech.

    TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY
    *The Hokies entered last season having to replace their top five scorers from the previous year. This season, four of the top five scorers have returned, led by Rolan Roberts and his 13.6 ppg. Also back are Russ Wheeler (9.6 ppg), Eddie Lucas (9.1 ppg) and Brendan Dunlop (7.3 ppg).

    ROLAN, ROLAN, ROLAN
    *Last season, Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team selection Rolan Roberts became the first freshman in 20 years to lead Virginia Tech in scoring. He netted 13.6 ppg to place second among rookie scorers in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The last freshman to pace Tech in scoring was Dale Solomon, who averaged 17.8 ppg in 1978-79. Solomon would go on to lead the Hokies in scoring every year of his career.

    MR. ROBERTS' NEIGHBORHOOD
    * Roberts also set a Tech freshman record with 60 blocked shots last season, eclipsing the previous mark of 56 set by Bobby Beecher during the 1982-83 season.

    MORE ABOUT ROLAN'S BLOCK PARTY
    *Roberts has registered at least one blocked shot in 39 of his 44 games as a Hokie. Last year, he had 60 blocks in 27 games and has 36 in 17 games this year. This season, he had four blocked shots against W&M, UNC Asheville and Xavier, three versus Coastal Carolina, Dayton, Winthrop and La Salle, and two against Liberty, West Virginia, Virginia and St. Joseph's. He needs nine more blocks to break the Tech record for blocked shots by a sophomore. Both Wayne Robinson (1977-78) and Bobby Beecher (1983-84) had 44 during their sophomore campaign.

    ATLANTIC 10 HONORS
    *Rolan Roberts (Woodbridge, Va.) and Dennis Mims (Morganton, N.C.) were named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week and Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week, respectively, for the week of Nov. 30. Roberts scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a Nov. 24 game against Liberty. Mims also posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds against the Flames. Mims earned his second A-10 Rookie of the Week citation for his performance against Coastal Carolina. He posted a career-high 17 points to go with four rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot.
    ELITE HOKIES
    *In fall testing, all but two records were broken in the Tech basketball strength and conditioning program. Andr Ray (Lillington, N.C.) recorded team-highs in three categories - bench press (340 pounds), back squat (450, tied with Rolan Roberts) and hang clean (275). Ray, Roberts and Eddie Lucas all earned Elite Awards for their efforts. Lucas led the team with 25 pull-ups and set a team record with 54 dips. Guard Sean Floyd (Alexandria, Va.) led the team in the 20-yard shuttle run, finishing in a time of 4.15 seconds.

    ASSISTS
    *Eddie Lucas (Gaithersburg, Md.) leads Tech in points per game (15.6), 3-point field-goal percentage (46.8) and free-throw percentage (86.7). He has scored 13 or more points in a game 16 times this season and has been Tech's leading scorer, or has been tied as the Hokies' leading scorer, in 11 of the 17 games this season. Lucas has been Tech's leading scorer in nine of the last 12 games.

    *Lucas had his double-figure scoring streak of 11 games stopped against St. Joseph's. He missed the majority of the game with a sprained left ankle and scored four points.

    *Lucas is back on top of the Atlantic 10 Conference in 3-point field-goal percentage (46.8) and 3-point field goals in a game (3.06).

    *Lucas is 26-of-30 from the free-throw line this season. His percentage of 86.7 percent would rank second in the A-10, but he is shy of the minimum 2.5 free-throw attempts per game needed to be ranked in the conference statistics.

    *This year, Lucas is averaging over seven points more per game than last year. He is shooting almost nine percent higher from 3-point range than last year. Lucas has already scored more points than he did last season.

    *In the latest NCAA Division I men's basketball statistics, Lucas is ranked 21st in the country in 3-point field goal percentage and 19th in the nation in 3-point field goals per game.

    *Rolan Roberts (Woodbridge, Va.) leads the Hokies in blocks (36), steals (29), offensive rebounds (48) and rebounds per game (6.4). He is averaging 14.1 points per game, second on the team to Eddie Lucas. Roberts is shooting 48.6 percent from the field. He is second in the Atlantic 10 Conference in blocked shots with an average of 2.12 per game.

    *Guard Brendan Dunlop (Bronx, N.Y.) is the third Hokie averaging in double figures this season. He is averaging 10.3 points per game and has had eight games in double figures. Dunlop leads Tech in assists with 70 and is seventh in the Atlantic 10 with an average of 4.2 assists per game. Dunlop scored a career-high 20 points against UNC Asheville earlier this season. He leads the team in minutes played with an average of 35.6 minutes per game.

    *Freshman Dennis Mims (Morganton, N.C.) is fifth in the Atlantic 10 in blocked shots with an average of 1.63 blocks per game. Despite not starting a game this year, he has had six double-digit scoring performances, including 15 against St. Joseph's and 11 against La Salle. Mims has upped his scoring average to 7.7 points per game and is shooting a team-best 51.1 percent from the floor.

    *Center Russ Wheeler (Dalton, Ga.) has averaged 9.8 points over the past three games. He is Tech's second leading rebounder with an average of 5.9 per game.

    *The Hokies have 97 total blocks through 17 games, an average of 5.7 per game, which ranks first in the Atlantic 10. Nine different Hokies have tallied blocked shots thus far this year, led by sophomore Rolan Roberts' 36 blocks and freshman Dennis Mims' 26 swats. Tech holds a 97-54 advantage over its opponents in blocked shots. The Hokies are 18 blocks shy of matching last year's total of 115 blocked shots.

    *Seven of Tech's 11 players are playing more than 16 minutes per game, led by Brendan Dunlop's 35.6 minutes a game. The Hokies' five starters are playing more than 24.3 minutes a game.

    *Before last week's game with UVa, the Hokies had averaged 47.3 percent from the field in the three games prior to UVa. Tech shot 27.5 percent against UVa, the lowest percentage for the Hokies in over 11 years.

    MORE ASSISTS *Tech's five starters have accounted for 79.6 percent (860 of 1,081) of the total points scored this season.

    *After having seven double-figure rebounding performances in the first four games, the Hokies have had just one player grab 10 or more boards in the last 13 games.

    *Tech has used the same starting lineup in 16 of its 17 games so far this season. Brendan Dunlop, Eddie Lucas, Rolan Roberts and Russ Wheeler have started all 17 games. Jermaine Kimbrough (Shaker Heights, Ohio) started in place of Andr Ray (Lillington, N.C.) for the Liberty contest. Ray missed the game due to a death in the family.

    *Tech has won the rebounding war in nine games this season.

    TECH ON TV *Virginia Tech Sports Today airs weekly through the end of March. The 30-minute show includes highlights, features and interviews on Virginia Tech athletics. The show airs on the following stations: WSLS, Roanoke (noon, Sunday); WKPT, Bristol/Johnson City/Kingsport (12:30 p.m., Sunday); WPEN, Norfolk/Portsmouth/Virginia Beach (9:30 p.m., Tuesday); and Home Team Sports (4 p.m., Tuesday).

    TECH ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB *Notes , releases and stats on Virginia Tech basketball are available on Tech's official website (HokieSports.com).

    ATLANTIC 10 WEBSITE *The Atlantic 10 Conference on the World Wide Web is accessible 24 hours a day at www.Atlantic10.org. The site contains current information on all facets of the Atlantic 10 Conference. During basketball season, standings, notes, schedules/results, statistics, breaking news and other pertinent information will be updated on a weekly basis.

    ON DECK *Tech hits the road once again for an Atlantic 10 Conference game with Duquesne on Wednesday, Feb. 3. Tip-off for that game is set for 7:35 p.m., at the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh. The Hokies and Dukes are tied in the all-time series with four wins each. Last year, Tech won 93-79 in Blacksburg, but suffered a 72-65 defeat in Pittsburgh. The Hokies will then return home to Cassell Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 6 for a game with George Washington at 2 p.m. That game will be televised by the Atlantic 10 Television Network. After the Duquesne game, Tech will play five of its last seven games at home.







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