Time For Hokies To Let ACC & The Country Know Exactly Who They Are

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On February 6, 1967, Muhammad Ali was fighting Ernie Terrell in the Houston Astrodome for the heavyweight championship of the world. He was angry. Formerly known as Cassius Clay, he had changed his name to Muhammad Ali and Terrell had refused to acknowledge it, which caused great indignation for Ali.

He channeled that acrimony into one of the more savage beatings ever seen in professional boxing. As he was administering this beating, he would continuously ask Terrell “what’s my name?” as Ali pummeled him with punch after punch.

Starting with today’s game with UVA, this is the attitude I believe Virginia Tech’s women’s team needs to have each and every time they play a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference. I say this after seeing a graphic distributed by the official account of NCAA DI Women’s Basketball, which shows 10 players under a headline that says “Bring On The Madness.” The players represent 10 schools who allegedly are the best of the best and are expected to be seen quite a bit come tournament time.

None are from Virginia Tech. Not one.

It’s hard to explain the omission given the Hokies were in the Final Four last year and leading eventual national champ LSU midway through the second half. They also returned their two top players in Liz Kitley and Georgia Amoore, and have been a top-10 team in the rankings just about all season.

Snobbery and a blindness for anyone not an existing brand for 50 years, I might add, is nothing new to the NCAA or the national press. There are still writers who haven’t seen a down of football in years who if given the chance would still put Notre Dame in their top 15. Same in basketball with North Carolina. So if this just ended up as a bunch of players from schools someone behind a desk at the NCAA had heard of at some time in their life, I might be tempted to dismiss this.

But one of the players in the graphic is from the ACC. The same ACC Virginia Tech won the tournament of last year. The same ACC the Hokies won the regular season title of this year. That player is from North Carolina State, the same team Virginia Tech beat TWICE this season. Surely before the NCAA picked a player from the ACC, they asked someone at their league office to make sure they had the right player, wouldn’t they?

I mean, this is why you have league commissioners. They are suppose to take up for their own and make sure their league is treated fairly. In year’s past, the previous commissioner seemed to be more interested in the schools on Tobacco Road than, say, negotiating a decent contract for the ACC Network.

But this is a new day with a new commissioner. A league with its own network that was just at Cassell a week ago and blown away by the fan turnout, the energy, Kitley’s 34 points and Amoore’s 19. Announcers talked about what a force in women’s college basketball the Hokies had become repeatedly.

Yet when it was time to promote March Madness, they forgot who Virginia Tech was. One week they couldn’t say enough good things about the Hokies. The next week, it’s “just put the N.C. State player in the graphic” as if who it was didn’t matter.

I know some of you will say let it go. And if it happened last year, I might listen. But not after playing at this high a level for two years in a row. This isn’t your grandmother’s ACC. New blood deserves new respect.

My advice? Don’t get mad. Get even. Look at that poster before every game with an ACC opponent. Realize the ACC is not your friend. When you’re up 10, make it 15. When it’s 20, go for 25. Sweep the leg, as they say. Prove every moment of every game who you are.

Then when it’s over, be cool, be polite, be civil.

But look the ACC in the eye and ask one simple question:

What’s my name?

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