Men's basketball continues to soar
by Jack Williams
After surprising the forecasters with an 18-10 record last winter, the Hokies hope to take another giant step in their rise to basketball prominence under Coach Bill Foster. The squad, without a senior on the roster, has talent, depth, and a reputation for good defense and teamwork, and should make its presence felt in the rugged Metro Conference race. Leading the charge will be six men who played major roles in last year's success story. They are Adrian (Ace) Custis, a forward who made the Metro All-Freshman team; and five rising juniors, Jim Jackson, Shawn Smith, Shawn Good, Damon Watlington, and Travis Jackson. The rest of the cast is composed of four newcomers, freshmen Myron Guillory and Shawn Browne, and transfers Keefe Matthews and David Jackson (Jim's twin brother), plus another holdover, Brandon Price. Foster, a builder of championship programs with a 27-year record of 469-293, starts his fourth Tech season on an optimistic note. "I think we can continue to improve and build on the success of last year," he said. "We have talent and depth and only need experience to become a solid team." The 6-7 Custis, a forward who led in rebounding last fall with an average of 9.1 boards a game and scored at a 10.9 clip, is a sparkling defensive player and a good passer. Others in the battle at forward will be Smith, Matthews, Browne, and possibly Jim Jackson, a swingman who may wind up seeing more action at big guard. Smith, 6-6, started just nine games last season, but averaged 11.3 points and 4.9 rebounds and hit many key baskets in big victories. Matthews, a 6-8 transfer from Jacksonville Junior College, is a strong rebounder, shot-blocker, and defender. He averaged 19.0 points and 11.2 rebounds at Jacksonville last season. The 6-6 Browne starred for Hargrave Military Academy last winter, averaging 15.2 points and 6.7 rebounds. Watlington and Jim Jackson are joined at big guard by Jim's twin brother David, who sat out last year after transferring from UNC-Asheville. Jim was Tech's second leading scorer last year with a 12.1 average. The 6-5 player regularly dives over the press table and into the stands for loose balls. Watlington, a 6-2 sharpshooter, became a more consistent scorer, averaging 8.8 a game, and had the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team as a sophomore last season. Shawn Good, 6-2, started 23 games last season and averaged 5.2 points a game while dishing out 67 assists. Guillory, at 6-1, comes from Lake Charles, La., with a reputation as a good floor leader who penetrates and scores. As a reserve last season, Travis Jackson, 6-8, averaged just 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds a contest, but has good offensive skills and runs the court well. Price, 6-9, played very little last season, but has worked hard on improving his running and catching skills. Tech finished fourth in the Metro Conference regular season race. They beat Virginia Commonwealth in the first round of the championship tournament and led champion Louisville by 14 at the half before losing in the semifinals.
Jack Williams is director of sports media relations.
Virginia Tech women's basketball outlook bright
by Ed Moore
Carol Alfano is wearing sunglasses. And not just because the Virginia Tech's women's basketball team is heading to Puerto Rico to play in the San Juan Shootout this season. The veteran coach knows the outlook is bright for her Hokies. Ten letter winners, including four starters, return from last year's squad, which recorded the best season in the program's history. Last year's team posted a school-record 24 wins against just six losses. Tech went 9-3 in Metro Conference play to finish second in the league's regular season standings, won the Metro Tournament for the first time in the program's history, and earned their first berth in the NCAA Tournament. Forward Christi Osborne brings her jump shot back to the swingman's role. The Burlington, Ky., native was named MVP in all three tournaments in which Tech played last season and was named to the All-Metro second team after leading Tech in scoring (14.5 ppg). Osborne, whose classroom performance earned her a spot on the GTE Academic All-America second team, led the Metro in free throw percentage (87.4). Jenny Root, a 6-3 center, was named to the All-Metro first team after ranking high in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, and blocks. She twice was named the Metro Player of the Week. The Pensacola, Fla., native has scored 1,072 career points. Last year, she became the second Tech player ever to reach the 1,000-point plateau in her junior season. Forward Angela Donnell, voted last year's most improved player, plays power forward. The 6-1 Greensboro, N.C., native finished second on the team in rebounding, with an average of 5.5 per game, and posted two 20-point games last season. Senior guard Lisa Leftwich likely will start at point guard, then shift to shooting guard in the backcourt rotation. The 5-9 Sparta, Tenn., native finished eighth in the Metro in steals (1.8 spg), second on the team in blocked shots (15), and seventh in the league in assists (3.7 apg). Alfano says she has a solid group of players to complement the senior starters. Last season, 5-7 guard Terri Garland of Dublin, Va., won the team's Sixth Player Award and recorded 86 assists versus 70 turnovers. Guard Sherry Banks, 5-7, of Roanoke, who averaged just 3.5 points per game last winter, is expected to play more this year. Backup center Cynthia Lee of Martinsville, Va., has size (6-4) and quickness to go with a fluid jumper. Stephanie Carter, a 6-1 senior, of Morgantown, W. Va., is expected to make baskets and pull down offensive rebounds. Another returnee to the frontcourt will be 6-6 Stacy Brown, a sophomore from Hollister, N.C., who improved her game during spring workouts. Guard Angie Gray, a 5-4 junior from Washington Court House, Ohio, was voted the team's Practice Player of the Year last season, and brings depth to the two-guard position. Four newcomers will join the 10 returnees on Alfano's squad: Lynette Nolley, 6-1, of Pilot, Va., small forward; Michelle Hollister, 6-1, of Yardley, Pa., forward; Renee' Maitland, 5-7, of Allentown, Pa., guard; and Sonya Melton, 6-1, of Wyncote, Pa., forward. In addition to the Metro road, Virginia Tech has a challenging nonconference slate. Hokie fans will be able to see some of the nation's best teams visit Cassell Coliseum. Alfano is optimistic. And ready for a season in the sun. Ed Moore is assistant sports information director.
1994-95 Men's Basketball ScheduleDec. 28 Wed. at Tennessee 31 Sat. DELAWARE STATE Jan. 5 Thu. at Tulane 7 Sat. at Southern Mississippi 12 Thu. LOUISVILLE 14 Sat. VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH 17 Tue. at Marquette 21 Sat. North Carolina at Greensboro Col. 26 Thu. at Louisville 28 Sat. at Liberty Feb. 2 Thu. SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI 4 Sat. FLORIDA ATLANTIC 7 Tue. at Wright State 11 Sat. at South Florida 16 Thu. at UNC Charlotte 18 Sat. TULANE 23 Thu. at Virginia Commonwealth 25 Sat. SOUTH FLORIDA 28 Tue. Virginia at Richmond Mar. 4 Sat. UNC CHARLOTTE 10-12 F-Su. Metro Tournament at Louisville, Ky.
1994-95 Women's Basketball ScheduleDec. 18-20 Su.-T San Juan Shoot-Out Jan. 2 Mon. at William & Mary 6 Fri. at Louisville 8 Sun. at Virginia Commonwealth 13 Fri. VIRGINIA 15 Sun. SOUTH FLORIDA 20 Fri. UNC CHARLOTTE 23 Mon. JAMES MADISON 27 Fri. at Tulane 29 Sun. at Southern Mississippi Feb. 3 Fri. at UNC Charlotte 10 Fri. SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI 12 Sun. TULANE 17 Fri. VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH 19 Sun. at South Florida 22 Wed. TENNESSEE 26 Sun. LOUISVILLE Mar. 1 Wed. at West Virginia 8-10 W-F Metro Tournament at Louisville, Ky.
Hall of Fame inducts new members
Six new members, including football standout Mike Johnson and basketball star Dale Solomon, were inducted into the Tech Hall of Fame. Athletes are eligible for induction 10 years after leaving school. Johnson, who had 429 tackles in a four-year career as a linebacker, has a successful NFL career. A two-time Pro Bowl selection with Cleveland, he recently signed with the Detroit Lions as a free agent. As a freshman in 1978-79, Solomon led Virginia Tech to its only Metro Conference men's basketball championship. Averaging 17.8 points per game, he was the first four-time All-Metro player, was named to the Metro all-decade team for the '80s, and is third on the all-time scoring list with 2,136 points. He has played pro basketball in Italy since 1982. Also inducted were: * Ginny Lessmann Stonick, a volleyball star in the early 1980s, who helped lead Tech to a 119-70 record while earning a 3.88 grade-point average. Stonick, an assistant professor of engineering at Carnegie-Mellon University, is the second woman elected to the 68-member Tech Hall. * The late Milton Andes, a wrestling champion in the 1920s who was a three-time Southern Conference winner in the 125-pound division, led the Hokies to three consecutive state championships. Andes died in 1959. * The late Dr. Richard Bullock, Tech's team physician from 1971-87. Bullock died in 1993. * Neff McClary, who won the Southern Conference individual golf title in 1965 and led Virginia Tech to the team title victory. His golf teams won the Virginia State Intercollegiate championship in 1965, '66, and '67.
Virginia Tech Magazine Volume 17, Number 2 Winter 1995