After All That’s Been Said And Done, This Story Ends Up With A Happy Ending

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Last Tuesday, around mid-morning, the statement went out across social media saying Virginia Tech women’s basketball coach Kenny Brooks was leaving to take the job at Kentucky.

Hokie Nation did not take it well.

Truth is, they never take unexpected change well. They are like my wife when it comes to health issues. If she has a headache, she doesn’t ask “do you think I should take some advil?” No, she asks “do you think I have a tumor?”

A lot of Hokies, not having any specific information, imagined the worst possible scenario and ran with it. Brooks, they thought, would come back, take all the existing players, all the recruits, all the assistant coaches and the program would be knocked back to the stone ages. Women’s basketball would be starting all over again, it was feared, playing before crowds of 1,500 again.

Today’s hiring of Megan Duffy as the new head coach has been cause for a lot of relief. This is not to say Brooks won’t come back and hire some assistants or some players. But the announcement reminded everyone of perhaps the greatest thing Brooks ever did while in Blacksburg: He showed the country you can win here.

Like getting to the Final Four win here.

Smaller schools make runs at the big time all the time, but the extent of those runs expires whenever key players graduate. At a smaller school, you have the opportunity to build a winning team with some prize recruits, but not necessarily a winning program.

But if you watched the program this season, it wasn’t just Liz Kitley and Georgia Amoore doing Liz and Georgia type things. Both got hurt at times and when they did, there was a more than ample bench of talent to come in and fill the gaps. Plus a pipeline of talent lined up to get here.

All cheered on by 7,000 maniacs who treated a women’s basketball game like a nationally televised Thursday night football game.

Add all that up and you end up with one unavoidable thought: You can win here. It had to be at the top of the list of things Duffy was considering when she took the job.

So when Whit Babcock started looking around for a successor, he didn’t have to explain what Virginia Tech is about. They saw the Hokies leading LSU last year in the National semifinal half way through the third quarter. They saw the games on the ACC Network where Cassell Guard and a few thousand others made it look like a place you had to be. They saw the talent that came and the talent that was on the way.

Whit didn’t have to tell them. They knew you could win here.

So now we all welcome a new coach to the family to coach the team. Sorry, Megan, the beer and cheese in Blacksburg is not as good as at Marquette. But we have barbecue and an electric fan base  that will feed your body and soul. As the dust clears, folks will notice the old coach took a few players, but they will also see a few more stayed to be part of something new and special. It took Carleigh Wenzel only a matter of hours after Duffy was hired to decide she’ll be back next season, knowing she can win HERE.

So yeah, this has been one rollercoaster of a week, something I don’t think any Hokies would enjoy having to go through again.

But the story looks like it will have a happy ending. There’s a new sheriff in town, talented and experienced, now running the show. A new round of royalty will ascend the throne, some from the old days and some from the new days. All hail the new Queens of the Cassell.

While next season will feature a lot of things that are different, one thing won’t change. They will be cheered on and loved by the same cast of thousands that has cheered teams of the past. Some are probably already wishing the new season could start tomorrow.

And they will win here.

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