Hokies Report: Looking for a storybook ending


Hokies Report: Looking for a storybook ending

Check back every Wednesday for the Hokies Report to get all the biggest Virginia Tech headlines for each week, a recap of last week's game and a look ahead at next week's contest.

Virginia Tech 5-6, (3-4) in the ACC

In the news

Rumors name several possibilities for Hokies' next coach: Rumors are flying over who athletic director Whit Babcock is targeting to succeed Frank Beamer. Last week, FootballScoop reported that UNC coach Larry Fedora was considered a "strong candidate." On Tuesday Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports wrote that he believed Memphis coach Justin Fuente was Babcock's target and that he could be named coach as early as next week.

There are also coaching changes coming in the SEC which could make some pretty top notch candidates available very soon, such as Les Miles and Dan Mullen.

Coaching changes are very hard to report on in college sports because there are so many cooks in the kitchen. This isn't just a general manager conducting interviews like in professional sports. Boosters who may or may not be involved in the process will give information to reporters that is essentially impossible to verify. That's why you see so many different articles about multiple candidates. 

Of these four names recently added to the rumor list over the past week, only Fuente and Mullen seem like viable options. A move from UNC to Virginia Tech is a parallel move within the same division. That would be an odd move for Fedora. Miles meanwhile is more likely to retire from coaching than he is to come to Blacksburg.

There will be major interest in Fuente considering the tremendous job he's done at Memphis which would explain why Babcock wants to get this done soon. Mullen has gone as far as he can at Mississippi State and seems likely to leave Starkville for greener pastures.

Ford ties receiving record: Isaiah Ford had another big day on Saturday with eight catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown catch is his ninth of the season which ties Antonio Freeman and Andre Davis for a school record for most touchdown receptions in a season.

Nicolas suspended: Defensive end Dadi Nicolas has been suspended for the first half of Saturday's game against Virginia after he swatted a referee's arm in the UNC game. Nicolas was frustrated by an offsides call against him and showed his frustration by whacking the arm of referee Ron Cherry.

RELATED: Cavaliers Report: Playing the spoiler

Metallica salutes Beamer: Anyone who knows Virginia Tech football knows about the team's entrance to the song "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. As a tribute to Frank Beamer, Metallica recorded a video for him that ran prior to Saturday's game:

Buzz Williams shows his pride: In other tribute news, Virginia Tech basketball coach Buzz Williams also paid tribute to Beamer by wearing a Beamer shirt for the Hokies's basketball game Saturday:

Last week's game: 30-27 OT loss to North Carolina

Read the recap of the game here.

Virginia Tech gave it their all on Saturday for Beamer's last home game, but came up just short, losing to North Carolina in overtime. The Tar Heels have lost only once all season, but found themselves locked in a tight battle from start to finish. Just when it looked like they had pulled away in the fourth quarter with a 14-point lead, the Hokies were able to tie the game after forcing two fumbles. The defense's inability to slow down UNC in overtime led to the loss, though the game ended in somewhat controversial fashion as replay showed Quinshad Davis did not appear to have possession of the ball on his game-winning touchdown catch.

While the UNC offense revolves largely around quarterback Marquise Williams, it was running back Elijah Wood who did the most damage with 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Virginia Tech's defense struggled against the read option and was gashed by both Williams and Wood on the ground.

Despite the loss, nothing was going to ruin the school's tribute to Beamer. Instead of the normal "Let's go" "Hokies" chants from the fans, they instead chanted "Thank you" "Beamer" prior to the game. The players also carried Beamer off the field on their shoulders.

They may have lost, but the moment was a celebration of a coach whose legacy is so much bigger for Blacksburg than just that one game.

Next game: Virginia Tech at Virginia, Sat. 12:00 p.m. ET


The Hokies may have been denied their storybook ending at home on Saturday, but they still have a chance to extend the team's bowl streak with a win over rival Virginia on Saturday. The Hokies have won 11 straight against the Cavaliers and 15 of their last 16 meetings, but Virginia now appears to be hitting its stride. UVa's win over Duke was the team's best performance of the season.

While Virginia quarterback Matt Johns is playing the best football of his career at the moment, the Cavaliers' offense revolves around running back Taquan Mizzell. Not only is he UVa's top running back, he also leads the team in receptions. Virginia uses a largely conservative offense of runs and short passes to try and open up bigger plays down the field. The focus for the defense should be Mizzell, but receiver Canaan Severin is also one of the best in the conference. While Virginia Tech should focus on stopping the run and the underneath passes, they cannot afford to lose track of Severin.

The good news for the Hokies is that this week they will not be facing a mobile quarterback which has been their weakness all season.

While Travon McMillian has been integral to Virginia Tech's offense in recent weeks, this week's offensive game plan should feature the pass attack more prominently as Virginia ranks second to last in the conference in pass defense. This should be a big day for Ford and Bucky Hodges.

The best tribute the Hokies can give their coach is to extend their bowl streak with one more win against their in-state rivals. Expect an emotionally charged game on Saturday.

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Locksley refutes notion that overuse led to Likely's injury

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State


Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.


Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year


After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

SAN ANTONIO -- Virginia coach Tony Bennett isn't going to waver from his foundation, whether it's the philosophy that built the Cavaliers into a contender or the big-picture perspective that helps him handle the sting of a historically improbable loss.

Both ends of that approach are fully on display now as he is named The Associated Press men's college basketball coach of the year.

Bennett won the honor Thursday after his Cavaliers set a program single-season record for wins, dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era. Yet that wildly successful season ended abruptly in the most unexpected way: with the Cavaliers falling to UMBC to become the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history.

"They experienced things a lot of guys don't," Bennett said in an interview with the AP. "That kind of success? Oh my gosh. And then that kind of loss? ... But again, their body of work deserves to be celebrated.

"And then so much of what society looks at -- it begs the question -- is it just about how you do in March? Or is it about the whole thing? It's a fair debate (on) what matters. But I told them: I wouldn't trade this team for anything. Even the experiences, as hard as they are, this is part of the process."

Bennett was the runaway winner for the award, which is being presented at the Final Four. He earned 50 of 65 votes from AP Top 25 writers with ballots submitted before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee's Rick Barnes was second with five votes after leading the Volunteers to 26 wins and an NCAA bid despite being picked to finish 13th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference. First-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was third with four votes.

This marks the second time Bennett has won the award, the other coming in 2007 when he was at Washington State.

In Bennett's ninth season, the Cavaliers (31-3) went from being picked to finish sixth in the ACC to winning the regular-season race by four games -- the first to win the ACC by that wide a margin since 2000. It then won the ACC Tournament to complete a 20-1 run against league opponents.


Virginia also reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since December 1982 and stayed there the final five weeks of the regular season, the last two unanimously.

And yet, the 48-year-old coach knows much of the focus will be on how things ended: that 74-54 loss to the Retrievers while playing without ACC sixth man of the year De'Andre Hunter.

Dealing with a roster of players in pained disbelief, Bennett said he has told them that they have "an unbelievable captive audience" waiting to see how they would handle it.

"I said how you respond to this will matter to your mom and dads, to your brothers, your sisters, your friends," Bennett said. "If they see that you're not fake about it, that yeah, of course you're going to be discouraged and down after a loss like that, but that you're OK. You can live with it.

"I said: you don't know the power that that's going to have in their life and in your life."

Bennett said he appreciated other coaches offering support, which included Syracuse Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim noting: "If I could hire a coach in this country and I could get Tony Bennett, there would be nobody in second place."

He said he's still reviewing what worked and what didn't, but "certainly you don't overreact" by changing everything that had brought the Cavaliers to this point.

This is, after all, a program that has been a 1-seed three times in the past five seasons with three ACC regular-season titles.

And Bennett won't be deterred from chasing more, even if it means stumbling a few more times on the way to reaching his goals.

"You better have something beyond the opinion of man or just how you feel, because this stuff is fleeting," Bennett said.

"So that's where obviously my faith is everything to me. You hear people talk about their faith in the lord and the relationship with the people that they care about, their family and their trusted friends. Those things stand the test of time. And that's what you have to draw from. And then you move on."