Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Don't count out the Hokie men's basketball team

This holiday edition of Q&A-Mac is brought to you by dirt bikes: Don't believe the filthy, despicable liar who wrote "EASY ASSEMBLY IN 20 MINUTES!" on the box.

Q: Whoa, what exactly are you whining about? Isn't that Santa's job anyway?

A: Yes, of course. I am only sympathizing with the big fella. Takes hours to do those things, man. Then even when it's done, you must cross your fingers and hope the brakes work.

Q: Isn't it true that Santa -- not to be confused with Saint Nitwit, AKA you -- can put one together in under 5 minutes?

A: Just get to the sports.

Q: Virginia Tech is down to eight scholarship players after Dorenzo Hudson and Cadarian Raines were declared out for the season last week. Are you prepared to declare the Hokies out of the NCAA tournament right now?

A: Nope. The Hokies have them right where they want them. Before the season, I wrote about how I didn't know how well they could handle actually having expectations, and we've seen how poorly they did.

Q: So what makes you think this will help?

A: They're up against it now, which is how they best operate. Don't know why, but it's a Tech thing -- football or basketball.

Besides, the ACC is way, way down outside of Duke. Erick Green is a sure-handed point guard who allows Malcolm Delaney to move off the ball and find more open shots. The Hokies should be OK this conference season. They'll just be more tired when it's over.

Q: Virginia beat the Hokies at Cassell Coliseum, then struggled to defeat Norfolk State (by one point) and lost to a woeful Seattle club. What are we to make of the Wahoos?

A: I think they'll be competitive, too. Mike Scott will be an All-ACC first-teamer if he stays healthy. The freshman class has talent. That's a good foundation for some victories in a league with a soft underbelly.

Q: Terrelle Pryor and four other Ohio State players have been suspended for five games next season because they sold championship rings, jerseys and awards. Is this fair?

A: By the letter of the law, yes, but NCAA bigwigs send way too many mixed messages. They allow bowls to give out iPods, PlayStations and the like but don't let the enterprising athlete make a little coin on his own. Plus, why suspend them next year if you're going to let them play in the bowl game?

Q: I'll ask the questions, thanks.

A: Sure thing. (Hypocrisy, that's why.)

Q: If you were a Buckeyes fan, would you be upset that Pryor sold his "gold pants" trinket that players get for beating rival Michigan?

A: Yep, but that's why we're fans and they're players. Pryor knows Michigan stinks right now. It's likely he was so surprised he got an offer that he couldn't help himself.

Q: As a Terrapin and self-proclaimed "Ralph Friedgen Guy," aren't you devastated that Maryland forced out the coach?

A: Didn't like the process at all, but Ralph isn't blameless here. Maryland had a designated coach-in-waiting in James Franklin who was set to take over in 2012. Ralph agreed to this. Then he beats up on a few ACC bottom-feeders, decides he wants a contract extension and says so through the media. Franklin -- not wanting to be the guy to force Ralph out against his will -- bolts for Vanderbilt, leaving the Terps without their offensive coordinator and best recruiter.

Q: Is this story going somewhere?

A: Bottom line, the Terps didn't see a 63-year-old Ralph as their long-term guy. They would have let him leave gracefully after next year had he stuck with the original terms of the coach-in-waiting agreement. When he didn't, it got ugly. I love him and respect him, but he's no helpless victim here like some are making him out to be.

Q: Did you hear Larry Brown stepped down from his NBA coaching post last week?

A: Yes. Also heard that tacos are delicious. More shocked by the latter.

Q: UVa recently got a football commitment from defensive back Demetrious Nicholson, the Tidewater player of the year out of Bayside High School. Thoughts?

A: Anyone who has to go against A.C. Slater in practice every day has my respect. Now, if only Kelly Kapowski would commit to the cheerleading squad ...

Q: "Saved by the Bell" references? Really? Have you actually watched any show produced since the 1990s?

A: Nope. But if HGTV airs a program titled "Dirt Bike Assembly 101," I'm totally there.

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