Locker Room: Good luck to the Cougar gals!

       A tip of the cap to the Pulaski County girls basketball team for a superb season. Likely the youngest team in the region, expectations when the season started was certainly not to be in the field of eight in the state championship tournament, but for the first time in 25 tears, the Cougar girls have made themselves a part of the “great eight.”
      As far as playing time is concerned, most all of it is enjoyed by freshmen and juniors. At times, Pulaski County has four freshmen on the court, and there is anticipation for what will be added to this group over the next year. For Brad Sutphin and Mike Ander’s program, the future is indeed bright.
     I watched the team down the stretch, and enjoyed the effort from a group of girls who obviously want very much to be successful. This Cougar team plays very hard, the effort cannot be questioned. It plays good hard man to man defense, and that keeps them close even when shots aren’t falling. They won the River Ridge, finished second in the region, and now it’s off to Loudoun Valley for the first round of the state tournament Friday.
       But the game will be played Friday at Woodgrove High School, not Loudoun Valley. There is a rule that if you win your region you host the opening round game of the state tournament, but you cannot host it on your home floor. Just not having to make the longest trip would seem satisfactory. And that is why there will be basketball again at PCHS Friday at 6 pm. Carroll County won the region, and is the host for the game, but cannot host on its home floor. So the Cavaliers logically took the closest region court available, and also the best basketball facility. Carroll will be facing Millbrook at PCHS.  Both Loudoun Valley and Millbrook are from Region C.
      So the future looks great for the Pulaski County girls basketball program, and we’ll look forward to that, but right now, just good luck to this team on its long trip to Loudoun Valley. The semi-finals and finals of the state tournament will move on to Richmond next week to the Siegal Center on the campus of VCU, and the field will be narrowed to four in each classification, Class 1 through 6, Pulaski Co. is a Class 4 school. Loundoun Valley is out of Region C, PCHS is region D, and before it’s over somebody will have to beat the team that comes out of competition in regions A and B. But basketball is a tournament sport and that’s when it’s the most exciting, so good luck to the Cougars!
Big Win for Hokies:
      Virginia Tech got its biggest win of the season against Duke this week. It surprised most people. How were they able to do it? Both teams were missing their best player. But still Duke had all the highest rated talent. However, down the stretch the Hokies looked fresher and stronger. Why? This is where maturity becomes a factor and is why North Carolina and Villanova have been able to win national championships.
    Buzz Williams recruits the best talent he can to play for Tech. But the Hokies are a program that must develop its players, and the current Tech team is one that has gotten a bit better each season, and that compares favorably with maturity. Duke just recruits the best talent in the country and they are there one year and gone. It takes three or four years usually, but you see it at places like Gonzaga as well. The team gets stronger, it matures, it doesn’t get tired in the final two weeks of the regular season after it has played 25 games. It handles the stress better.
     Virginia Tech relies on four seniors to lead the way, a couple other good young players, but does not depend on a single freshman to lead the team to victory. Duke depends totally on four freshmen and a sophomore. Duke might win it all in the end, but the past two weeks have been difficult for that team, and I predict it will remain that way as the number of games, the increased level of competition, and the stress mounts. Give me those guys that are pretty good players in their own right, and are 21 and 22 years old. Those teams are tough to beat. That’s why Duke could not beat the Hokies this week.
5-Star Will Leave the State:
       It’s a long time between now and next February when everything becomes final as far as the next football recruiting class is concerned, but already the top player in our state has said he will not play for either Virginia Tech or Virginia. Maybe he could change his mind, but it doesn’t look promising.
     Antoine Sampah of Woodbridge,  the number two rated linebacker in the nation, says he will begin making visits over the summer and next fall, but he has said his choice will come from eight schools, and as time goes on that list will get slimmer as well. Sampah will choose between Clemson, Alabama, Florida, Carolina, Ohio State, West Virginia, Penn State, and Florida State.
Jackson rated 11th:
       All the major quarterback transfers have now been finalized. The transfer portal looked alarming to fans, and it should, but it also might be somewhat of a fad. Likely two or three years from now the portal will include a lot fewer players. Many of the hopeful transfers have not found new homes yet, and it’s likely many of them will not. It’s also likely many of them will wish they had just stayed where they were. Two of Tech’s, quarterback Herndon Hooker, and running back Deshawn McClease decided to return to the Hokies. I wonder when the time will come when players enter the portal, find out they are not as highly sought after as they thought, and then are not allowed to return from where they attempted to leave? Bet that’s another avenue that will result in the portal not being as plentiful.
      The top transfer quarterbacks have now all found a place, but most of the top players in the portal had a good idea of what was going to happen before the fact. You can tell that by the order. The QB transfers are rated as follows; 1- Justin Fields from Georgia to Ohio State. 2- Jalen Hurts from Alabama to Oklahoma. 3- Tate Martel from Ohio State to Miami. 4- Kelly Bryant from Clemson to Mizzouri. 5- Austin Kendall from Oklahoma to West Virginia. 6- Shawn Robinson from TCU also to Mizzouri. 7- Riley Neal from Ball State to Vanderbilt. 8- Brandon Wimbush from Notre Dame to UCF. 9- Jack Tuttle from Utah to Indiana. 10- Shane Buechele from Texas to SMU, and Josh Jackson from Virginia Tech to Maryland.
Remember Pete Rose?:
     I do this every year at about this time. Spring training is well underway now in Florida and Arizona. In less than a month baseball season will be underway. Pete Rose, one of the greatest hitters of all time, and still the record holder for the most base hits ever in a career, is not in the Hall of Fame. Yes, he gambled. But he did not do anything illegal. He hurt nobody but himself. And I have never believed he injured the great game of baseball, and for every second he ever spent on a baseball diamond, he was a great credit to the game for his dedication and how he played. Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame.