A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Court-storming complaining should cease

When’s the last time you heard of a serious injury from court storming?

I’ll wait.

If you’re having a little trouble, that’s because they happen as much as you actually starting that diet and exercise routine. A quick Google search yields no incidents post 2004. Every other article’s headline contains the words “before someone gets hurt,” or “potential.” That’s all it is, potential.

This increasingly preventative culture we find ourselves in won’t be satisfied until all seven billion of us live in padded rooms and talk in clichés. Then again, I’ve heard straitjackets can cause those awful pins and needles. Ban them.

The court-storming at the University of Virginia produced zero injuries – well, save for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s bruised ego. Video packages of his kvetching poisoned the airwaves. A simple solution for you Coach K? Quit losing to inferior opponents.

Fans begin rushing the field after unranked Virginia upset then No. 10 Clemson in 2006. The constant complaining over the fans’ enjoyment needs to stop.

It’s ironic this tsunami of prevention doubled in size after the court-storming at U.Va. It directly contradicts Thomas Jefferson’s declaration that all of us have a right to the pursuit of happiness. A novel idea the talking heads should explore.

Court-storming is an exhilarating experience for students. In 2006, I rushed onto the field at Lane Stadium after unranked Virginia Tech knocked off then-No. 10 Clemson. That ranks in my top five moments at college. Football coach Frank Beamer had the players come back out of the locker room to mingle with the fans.

Take that away, and the gluttonous football programs become even more isolated from the college experience (SEE: SEC, which banned field-rushing and court-storming nine years ago).

Arguments attacking the court-storming frequency have more credence but still are misguided. Students yearn for that bliss they see on television when a winless-in-the-Big-10 Penn State team shocks a top-five Michigan team. So, they lower the court-storming criteria.

Let them have their fun. The only people I see complaining about it are the ones who no longer have the chance to participate.

-Ray

March 2, 2013 Posted by | College Basketball, Football | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Column: Miami overhyped

This is the full version of my column in the Collegiate Times:

Column: Miami Overhyped

Ray Nimmo

For the last several years, when the University of Miami wins a game, the media proclaims the U is back.

And unfortunately for Hurricanes fans, the U never really is back.

Once again, the media jumped on the Canes bandwagon following Miami’s 33-17 rout of Georgia Tech last Thursday.

Jacory Harris

Miami quarterback Jacory Harris

Sure, Canes quarterback Jacory Harris was 20-25 with 270 yards passing and threw 3 touchdowns, but the Yellow Jackets’ passing defense ranks 85th in the NCAA.

In Georgia Tech’s first game, they allowed Jacksonville State quarterback Marques Ivory to be 23-38 and throw 193 yards and two touchdowns.

So before crowning Harris as the next Jim Kelly or Vinny Testaverde, gain some perspective.

The first game Harris played this season against Florida State could easily have been a loss for the Canes; however, it quickly turned into a Harris lovefest.

Harris threw two interceptions in the contest, bringing his career total to nine compared with 17 touchdowns. When Harris faces a real defense on Saturday, people will find out just how good he is.

Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster will have his crew ready for the biggest Atlantic Coast Conference game of the year.

Harris has only been sacked once this year and hasn’t faced much pressure from defenses. Expect a lot of blitz packages and pressure from defensive end Jason Worilds. The Hokies will get to the quarterback and force Harris to make bad decisions.

It will then be up to the ball-hawking secondary to make the necessary plays to shutdown Miami’s speedy wide receivers.

There are a few problems, though.

While the defensive gameplan will, without a doubt, be an excellent counter to Miami’s offense, the execution is in question.

The Hokies defense has not performed up to typical lunch pail standards.

Tech is ranked 77th in total defense. They haven’t been out of the top-10 in that category since 2003.

Pinpointing the problem is nevertheless difficult.

The young linebacking corps? Injuries in the secondary? Defensive line not living up to the billing?

What about the offense? Because of their impotence and consistent three-and-out play, the defense must be on the field for more than half the game. Look back to the Alabama game. When was the last time you saw a Tech defense that worn out at the end of a game?

These are some of the best athletes in the country, and there is no excuse for being that tired with the high-class conditioning that goes on at Tech.

The defense did answer the bell against Nebraska by not allowing a touchdown, and employing a bend-but-

Virginia Tech vs. Miami

Virginia Tech vs. Miami

don’t-break mentality.

Miami is not Nebraska, though. The Canes may actually have better athletes the Alabama and Nebraska, so it’s paramount the offense find a rhythm early to keep the defense well-rested.

This game has much bigger implications than the previous three. This one counts. No excuses. With Miami being in the Coastal Division and already boasting a 2-0 record in the ACC, this game could very well decide the Hokies’ ACC title hopes.

The players and coaches know it, though.

“This game might as well be the ACC Championship game,” running back Ryan Williams said. “It’s big for us. It’s real big for us. We have to come out fighting strong from the first quarter through the fourth quarter.”

Coincidentally, Williams grew up a Miami fan, and looked up to previous Canes running backs: Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis and Frank Gore.

Williams has the Miami-type swagger. He showcased it against Nebraska when he did his variation of the “Dirty Bird” touchdown dance—he calls it the “Dirty Hokie.”

Williams redshirted last season and didn’t take part in last year’s 16-14 loss at Miami.

He will be here this time around, in Lane Stadium. The last time the Canes traveled to Blacksburg, the Hokies destroyed them 44-14.

The Canes did take care of the Hokies in 2005, in Lane, 27-7—a game that will hereby be forgotten, but the Hokies are 4-2 against Miami the last six meetings.

Tech knows how to beat the U, and the media has forgotten it. Miami jumped in the rankings from No. 20 to No. 9 in the Associated Press poll this week. With that jump, they leapfrogged No. 11 Tech.

Perhaps someone should notify the authorities the Hokies are three-time ACC champions. Miami has won the ACC championship exactly zero times.

The ACC championship runs through Blacksburg, so don’t sweat the Miami swagger.

Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor

Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor

September 25, 2009 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Been a LONG time

Ray here–

I put the blog on the backburner after last football season and posted some Collegiate Times articles I wrote. A few things I do want to talk about lately, though.  Shawne Merriman, volleyball, Kenny Chesney and the inept Virginia Tech offense.

Merriman– Bill Cosby once talked about brain damage in his performance “Himself,” in 1983. The brain damage he spoke of was when children need to hear things three times or more to understand. Even then, they will disobey and when you ask why, they reply, “I don’t know!” Here’s a link to a youtube video with the excerpt.

Shawne must not understand what it means to be a good citizen or even a competent one. Stay out of trouble, even if the person accusing you of battery is a whacko named Tila Tequila.

Volleyball– What a pleasant surprise this has been! I got the women’s volleyball beat for the Collegiate Times this semester. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical of what to expect, but it’s been awesome. The night I found out, I spent three hours researching the rules and watching youtube videos on how to play.

I’m still getting a grip on the abstract rules and how to calculate all the statstics, but watching the games is very exciting. The players can be a bit nervous when I interview them, but I think they will break out of their shell.

One player on the team doesn’t like interviews, and she is deemed off-limits to me. I wonder if she had a bad experience with any previous writers of any kind. She’s a good player too, so it sucks I can’t talk to her.

The team is 6-0 right now, and they are in Washington, D.C. for a tournament this weekend. I think they can win all three games handily if they do well. It is their first road test, so who knows what might happen.

Kenny Chesney– Please. For the life of me I don’t understand why ESPN chooses such crappy theme songs for college football. Chesney and Dave Matthews?! I didn’t know ESPN is a proponent of homoeroticism.

Watching the Georgia Tech-Clemson game tonight, they had another country singer, and I believe he is the “ACC singer.” God help us. How is some dude in a cowboy hat and tank top supposed to get us pumped for a violent, head-smashing sport? I’ve googled the topic and found about a 99% disapproval rate. The other 1% are girls who just say “I love Kenny!” or guys who pop their collars that love Dave Matthews. Disgusting.

The inept VT offense– Oh. My. God. How retarded is our offense? Oh wait, it’s not the offense who is retarded. It’s offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. There are “Fire Bryan Stinespring” websites and blogs everywhere, and it’s hilarious. (http://firebryanstinespring.blogspot.com/)

The consensus says he still has a job because he and Frank Beamer are close friends. Well, good gracious, wake up Frank! You have had talented NFL receivers on the team in the past (Josh Morgan, David Clowney, Eddie Royal), and now you have Ryan Williams and Tyrod Taylor. You still can’t muster 100 yards in a ferrari. You would probably sabotage the engine. Fire this quack and get him out of the program.

Fire Bryan Stinespring shirt

Fire Bryan Stinespring shirt

I’d really like to get the chance to ask Frank straight up, “Are you satisfied with ACC Championships or do you want more?” We barely win the ACC as it is with Bryan’s pathetic offense, anyway. This is why you don’t hire your friends as coworkers. We might have to get shutout the rest of the season in order for Frank to notice something’s wrong.

September 11, 2009 Posted by | Football, Other, Volleyball | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gergen sisters not an ordinary duo

Wednesday, September 9, 2009; 10:01 PM

Two young sisters visit the Grand Canyon and enjoy a masterpiece of nature.

Jill Gergen walks ahead of her family, and the view inspires her. Noticing a chipmunk in a nearby tree, she smiles and meanders along the canyon’s edge. She continues ahead, looking left and right, allowing her feet to instinctively lead the way.

She is in no danger. She knows how close she is to the edge.

No fear.

Her older sister Jayme stays back with the family and carefully observes her younger sister. The more important masterpiece of nature – the sisterly bond – begins to exert itself. Muscles tense up and nerves tingle.

Jayme is nervous. She wonders if Jill knows how close she is to the edge.

Jayme expresses her anxiety to her mother who reassures her everything is all right.

As different as people can be from their siblings, the bond between them created at birth never goes away. It’s no different for Jill and Jayme, but that bond might be stronger than most.

“I won’t let anything bad happen to her,” Jayme said.

That sisterly bond comes with a side effect of sibling rivalry, though. Ask your doctor before starting your daily dose of Gergen attitude.

A game of dodgeball showcased the attitude. “Keep your eye on the ball” is the motto. Jill wasn’t looking, and Jayme pegged her right in the face. No “I’m sorry.” Just “That’s why you keep your head on a swivel.”

Never-say-never is an incorrect phrase for the Gergen sisters. They definitely have ‘never’ in their vocabulary, except ‘never’ is followed by ‘quit,’ ‘die’ and ‘stop.’

Jayme is in her fifth year as an assistant coach for Virginia Tech volleyball. Jill, a redshirt senior, plays libero on the team.

The two come from Topeka, Kan. – almost one thousand miles from Blacksburg, Va. How did they end up here?

The journey began for Jayme when she signed to play with Georgia Tech and started her career there in 2001. During her tenure, she was an American Volleyball Coaches Association honorable mention All-American, first-team All-ACC honoree, and Academic All-District selection.

She finished her career ranked second in career hitting percentage for Georgia Tech (.353), fifth for career block assists (426), and total blocks (473).

Jayme Gergen during her career at Georgia Tech

Jayme Gergen during her career at Georgia Tech

Meanwhile, Jill was anything but jealous. She wanted to be just like her sister. When she stopped growing at 5 feet 6 inches, the realization came that her goal would not come true.

“My mom wrote me this letter before a tournament, one time,” Jill said. “(My mom) said, ‘Jillian, you’ve got to jump out of (Jayme’s) footsteps and start making your own.’ I think that really just inspired me, and I think I’ve done a great job making my own. Hers are great to follow – they’re just a little too big for me.”

Current Hokies head coach Chris Riley was the head coach for Towson University at the time, and Riley wanted to bring Jill there. Unfortunately, Riley didn’t have a scholarship for the libero position, so Jill was left to find a school elsewhere.

She landed at the University of Nebraska-Kearney for her freshman year in 2005, but the experience wasn’t what she had hoped for. Luckily, Riley became the head coach at Tech, and she talked to him about joining the team.

Her sister, Jayme, had been an assistant coach with Virginia Tech the year prior to Riley’s arrival, so it was an added bonus.

Jayme as assistant coach for Virginia Tech. Photo is from her first year at VT

Jayme as assistant coach for Virginia Tech. Photo is from her first year at VT coaching against GT

“Everything happened the way it was supposed to happen,” Jill said, looking at her sister.

Not wanting to appear a coach’s favorite, Jill and Jayme decided to keep their sisterhood quiet in the beginning.

“We really wanted to keep that separate for her,” Jayme said. “It was going to be better for her experience to establish herself as a teammate and player.”

The sisters easily kept the secret. They sound alike, but Jayme talks much faster than Jill. They don’t look too much alike, Jayme being 6-feet tall and Jill 5-feet-6-inches, so no one noticed.

Since then, the two of them are easy to recognize and remember, but for different reasons.

“If you have Jayme Gergen as a friend, you’ll have her as a friend for life,” Riley said. “She’ll never forget you. She’ll always be there.”

When asked what each admired about the other, their eyes met, and, within half a second, all the memories and stories of their lives were unlocked.

Both of them said, “You go first.”

“No, you go first.”

“I’ve met very few people who have such a sunny disposition,” Jill said, “and are just so sweet to everyone. I think her personality is one of a kind.”

Jayme smiled and pondered her admirations of Jill.

“What I value most about Jill is her fight,” Jayme said. “It’s the size of the fight in the dog here. This kid has battled it out in a lot of different ways in life. She never quits. She never gives up. She just keeps working because she knows if she works hard, good things are going to happen for her, and they have … and she’s amazing.”

Jill going for a dig during a match

Jill going for a dig during a match

Maybe the most admirable trait both have is their love of their family. So many times people mention family as the most important part of their lives. The love these sisters have for their mom, dad and brother is palpable.

Jill talked about taking a characteristic from her family members and using them in all aspects of her life. She chose her dad’s patience, her mom’s persistence, Jayme’s dedication and her brother Jake’s fearlessness.

“If I could take a little bit of every single person in my family, I think I’d be superwoman,” Jill said.

Jill digging a ball

Jill digging a ball

If that’s the case, superwoman is a closet mathematician. Jill loves being a math major and teaching math to people who don’t understand it.

She’s finishing her undergraduate program in math and starting her master’s degree in education. Yes, that’s right, Jill wants to be a math teacher. The reasoning behind it, though, may not be what you’d expect.

Teachers used to tell her she wasn’t good at math, and she took the lowest math courses in grade school.

“When I tell people I’m a math major back home, they just drop their jaws,” Jill said. “I’m not good at it, but I love it.”

It sounds modest, but Jill doesn’t always understand the math at first, and it takes a while to click in her head. That’s precisely why she believes she can be a good teacher –  understanding how the student thinks.

Jayme also understands how players and people think. She majored in psychology at Georgia Tech, and it’s paid dividends in her coaching career. Trying to get a group of players to commit to the same goal can be tough for any coach, but Jayme does it well. Besides coaching during the season, she also coaches a club team in the spring and is the volleyball camp coordinator for the many summer camps at Virginia Tech.

“Jayme’s willingness to help people is completely based on her personality,” Riley said. “She’s going to be a great head coach some day. She’s going to win more games than I’ve ever won. Her kids will run through walls for her, no question.”

Having both Jill and Jayme on the same coaching staff after Jill graduates could be an interesting team, much like Seth and Brad Greenberg years ago for Tech basketball, but it probably won’t happen.

Jill’s passion is teaching, but volleyball is something she will always love. She is still considering coaching high school volleyball along with being a math teacher. The dynamic duo might not be completely separated after this year.

“I always told Jayme she should be a high school psychology teacher – that way we can have lunch breaks together,” Jill said jokingly.

Either way, the Gergen sisters will always be a pedal-to-the-metal pair, ready to take on the world – but watch out for cliffs and canyons.

September 11, 2009 Posted by | Volleyball | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Virginia Tech sweeps first 4 games of season

PUBLISHED Feb. 23, 2009

The Hokies opened their 2009 season by winning all four games this weekend in the Courtyard by Marriott Classic, held in Spartanburg, S.C.

The team scored 10 or more runs in each game, outscoring its opponents 57-19.

The first game, against UNC Asheville, ended in a 21-4 blowout. After allowing a run, Tech plowed through the Bulldogs’ pitching staff, which used six pitchers.

Junior college transfer Steve Domecus was hit by three pitches during the game and still went 2-for-4, driving in three and hitting a home run.

Senior standout Rhett Ballard pitched five solid innings where he struck out nine batters.

The second day of the Classic was a double-header against Wofford. Tech won 14-10 in the first game and 10-2 the second.

Junior catcher Anthony Sosnoskie hit two home runs and junior outfielder Steve Bumbry hit one in the first game.

Sosnoskie wasn’t done, belting another home run in the second game.

The final game was a 12-3 win over USC Upstate. Sean Ryan went 4-for-5 with three runs in the finale.

Sosnoskie won most valuable player honors for the event, batting .643, with three homers, two doubles and seven runs batted in.

The Hokies’ home opener comes against East Tennessee State, Tuesday at 3 p.m., on English Field.

March 1, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | , , | Leave a comment

Virginia Tech Baseball Outfield

PUBLISHED Feb. 19, 2009

The Hokie outfield has depth that maybe no other Tech team has seen in its past. It’s something head coach Pete Hughes thinks is a vital component to be competitive in the ACC.

“(This is) the most competitive position on our team,” Hughes said. “They’re (players) fighting for their life out there. There are six guys who can start for us.”

One thing that comes with depth is the fierce competition. Throughout the offseason, practices have been hard-fought by all the players.

“We’re going to be more competitive,” Hughes said, “Because every single practice and every single day those guys are fighting to get the edge over each other. That’s what great programs do. They have competition every single day.”

The six players competing are Klint Reed, Sean Ryan, Steve Bumbry, Steve Domecus, Mike Kaminski and Buddy Sosnoskie.

One thing they all share is good defense, another thing Hughes said is necessary to win games.

“First and foremost, we have to be able to defend, in this league, in the outfield,” he said.

Ryan had a .992 fielding percentage last year and is considered to be one of the best defenders in the ACC.

Bumbry fielded at a .985 clip in 2008. Both only committed one error over the course of the entire year.

Of course, defense doesn’t put runs on the board. Ryan has shown he is just as good offensively as he is out in the field.

Ryan batted over .300 last year despite an injured hip, which means — when healthy — there could be even more production out of the senior.

Bumbry was inconsistent last season, something Hughes said changed over the offseason, especially with his good showing in the intersquad Fall World Series.

Two junior college players, Domecus and Kaminski, bring much needed leadership to the team.

Domecus can play catcher as well, giving depth for that position. Hughes described Domecus as high-energy and meeting his leadership, maturity and productivity requirement for junior college players.

Hughes is also high on Kaminski.

“Mike brings power and speed to the table,” Hughes said. “He has power potential, and he is a very good defender in the outfield.”

Rounding out the six players are Reed and Sosnoskie. Reed touts a .976 fielding percentage. He batted .287 last season with 27 runs batted-in.

Sosnoskie was redshirted as a freshman because of a shoulder injury but can now play outfield and first base. Hughes expects him to be a great candidate for the very important leadoff spot.

March 1, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jayron Hosley: Cornerback of the Future

Jayron Hosley

Jayron Hosley

WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE COLLEGIATE TIMES THIS WEEK:
How does a second coming of Brandon Flowers sound to you Hokie fans?

With the recruitment and signing of cornerback/kick returner Jayron Hosley, that is what some are saying.  The Hokies defense is sure to be set at cornerback for another four years.

Hosley comes from Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, Fla., the same high school that former Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers went to.  It was no coincidence that both are Hokies.

“Brandon brought him (Hosley) up by himself,” said defensive backs coach Torrian Gray.  “From a personnel standpoint, Brandon was always sharp.  He would tell me, ‘Coach you have got to recruit this guy.’”

Flowers informed Gray that Hosley is the exact same as him, except only faster.

“That’s a heck of a compliment coming from a player like him (Flowers),” Gray said.  “If Hosley can be anywhere close to that, we will be more than pleased with him here.

“Brandon and I have similar playing styles,” said Hosley.  “To hear him comparing me to him at the level he is at, I think that’s great.”

Tech was late to begin recruiting Hosley in January but it didn’t matter.  Hosley had been waiting for an offer from Tech for a while.

“I wanted a Virginia Tech offer,” said Hosley.  “If I got an offer from them, that’s where I was going.  After my visit, it sealed the deal.  They showed me around campus and the area.  It’s a nice campus with the scene.  The locker room was nice and the facilities were really good.  The coaches were really down to earth and the players were really cool.”

On Feb. 6, Hosley finally made his commitment to the Hokies.  With spring camps just around the corner, what can Hokie nation expect from the incoming freshman?

“He’s an explosive player,” said Santaluces Community High School football coach, Paul Meunier, a rival school to Atlantic.  “We were always cognoscente of where he was.  On special teams we tried to kick away from him because of that explosiveness.”

“He has the tools to be very good,” said Gray.  “He has instinct and play-making ability that will be a real asset to us.”

With the Beamerball philosophy of score on offense, defense, and special teams, Hosley will fit right into that.

“He had a lot of long plays and interceptions,” said Gray.  “The ball seemed to be a magnet to him.  The ball just seems to find this guy.”

When on the field as cornerback, Hosley doesn’t necessarily feel he is on defense.

“I always like to have the ball,” Hosley said.  “When the ball is in the air, it’s anybody’s ball.”

Hosley enjoys playing his part and being a good teammate.  No unnecessary flashy type moves after a play.

“I’m a laid-back player that likes to be aggressive,” said Hosley.  “Not so much an angry player.  I just like to make plays.”

That kind of attitude stems from Hosley’s family life.  He is extremely close with his family and the trip to Virginia from Florida won’t change anything.

“My family is number one for me,” said Hosley.  “They keep me focused and I like to spend time with them.  We are going to stay in contact and talk every week.  It won’t be too hard knowing they are behind me.”

Being a family is something the Blacksburg and Virginia Tech community knows all about, which is why it was taken into account during recruiting.

“The kid is very close with his family,” said Gray.  “I was impressed with how tight-knit they were.”

Hosley will soon become apart of the family and quickly get acquainted with the intensity of college level football.  The speed and complexity of the game is something both Gray and Meunier agree will be Hosley’s biggest challenge.

“For any high school player, the toughest task is adjusting to the speed of the game,” said Meunier.  “Even playing in the speed of varsity football here in south Florida wasn’t enough.”

“(First-year production) will depend on how well he can pick up the playbook mentally and translate that onto the field,” said Gray.

Hosley knows the challenge ahead of him and is ready to start.

Jayron Hosley

Jayron Hosley

“(I’ve got to) adapt to the college level, work hard and stay focused,” said Hosley.  “I expect to be great and get better every year, and be the top guy coming out of college to further my career.”

Expectations are something Hosley is ready to make a reality.  Those include continuing to be a great defense and winning a national title.

“It’s a really great defense now,” Hosley said.  “I’m a good player coming in, and we have more good layers coming in so we can be really great.  We have great potential and I think we can win one, two, or three (national championships).”

With all of the Brandon Flowers comparisons, let’s hope Hosley can help bring Hokie nation what it wants and what Flowers never could: its first BCS national championship.

February 16, 2009 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment