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Thanks for joining us! We write about sports, food, life and anything else interesting here in Ashburn and Loudoun County, all while cramming as many features into the site as possible.

Our staff consists of one old man and a dog named Maggie The WonderBeagle. Want to know more? Click on the icon below:

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Final Week Is The Real March Madness For Hokie Fans

Today is the first day of March, and starts off the final week of the regular college basketball season.

A week, which to Virginia Tech fans, is usually the real March Madness.

It’s the week when a great season can be completely erased by having a poor last week, and it’s not just the Hokies. Many a team has had a nice season only to lose the last two games of the regular season, then carry that funk into a conference tournament and get eliminated in the first round.

Despite a good record and some nice wins, your team goes from “you know we’re dancing” to on the bubble.

So having been a Hokie fan for 50 years, my first instinct this week is to look at the standings and try to figure out which scenario will be the biggest dagger in my heart, so I can prepare myself. And as the life coach in the Geico commercial tells his group while they’re in a home improvement store, “we all see it. We all see it.”

In first place with only 3 losses in the ACC is Florida State. Since they finish with two teams with losing records – Notre Dame and Boston College – I’m going to concede first place to the Seminoles because they’re not losing this week. Three teams are technically tied for second with 4 league losses: UVA, Virginia Tech and Louisville.

If you’re an optimist, you could look at the scenarios where the Hokies win their remaining two games with Louisville and N.C. State. Beating Louisville reduces the tie to only two teams, and if UVA and VT finish with only 4 losses, VT beat the Wahoos in their only meeting. I’m not sure how the league would treat this because UVA played more games, so you’d have a 13-4 versus an 11-4, and if you went on winning percentage, Virginia would win the tie.

But that still casts a worst-case scenario of being in the top 3. Now look at it as a pessimist.

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Dave Scarangella

Only 12 hours after I wrote th...

Nothing is predictable in this league. Virginia did beat Miami as expected...
Monday, 01 March 2021 21:48
0

Hokies Unleash The Fury In Rout Of Wake Forest

When Mike Young wins the ACC Coach Of The Year Award at the end of the season (and if he doesn’t, we all need to call the FBI and report a crime), there will be people who ask what makes him such a great coach.

I offer today’s 84-46 win over Wake Forest as exhibit A.

Young seems to know how to fix things when his team plays like a car with four flat tires. Three other times the Hokies have laid an egg at center court, and next time out, all three times Virginia Tech did exactly the opposite of what ailed them in that previous loss.

After a surprisingly loss to Penn State, the Hokies bounced back to beat No. 24 Clemson; they took a beating from Syracuse, then outplayed Notre Dame on the road and No. 8 Virginia in succession; a pitiful effort against Pitt was followed by a near-miracle overtime win over Miami.

So when the Hokies tried to shake off the rust of a 17-day layoff and played poorly in the second half in a loss to Georgia Tech, it didn’t take advanced crime scene analysis to find the problem. The team didn’t shoot well. They didn’t penetrate to the basket. They played tentatively. And by not providing any real reason for the GT defense to come out and guard the backcourt, they negated any advantage they might have had down low with Keve Aluma and Justyn Mutts.

They also allowed Georgia Tech to shoot 61.5 percent from the floor in the second half.

I don’t know what buttons Young pushed, but the Hokies took the floor this afternoon like they were in the movie Road Trip and Tom Green was yelling “Unleash The Fury” at them. They hit their first five shots from the floor, looked cool and relaxed, and they never looked back. Aluma couldn’t miss, finishing with 23 points on 9 of 11 shots, Tyrece Radford was back to his normal self, nailing his first four shots and aggressively driving the lane, and the Hokies shot 67.9 percent from the field to quickly turn the game into a rout.

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Remember, There Is No Such Thing As A Stupid Question

Earlier today I wrote a story based on an Andy Bitter mailbag column in The Athletic. Which of course led to this question that was asked by a friend of mine.

“Why don’t you have a mailbag?” came the predictable text from the friend.

“For the same reason I don’t have a yacht,” was my reply, “because neither of them would get much use.”

But then I got to thinking about all the questions people would like to ask. Not of me, but of Doug Doughty. I’ve got a few I’d like to ask him right now, like why are groups who don’t perform Rock & Roll in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame? Or why he didn’t have Lawrence Taylor ranked in his Top 25 High School Football Prospects in the state of Virginia when it ran around Christmas time in 1976?

Or maybe a question regarding if he had to choose between his two dogs and a close friend, and could only pick one, does the close friend even have a chance to survive?

So starting next Friday, we will start running a regular mailbag column. The questions can be to any of us involved in the site (which would be Doug, Dave or Maggie) and we will do our best to answer these questions in an honest and entertaining way. The email address to send them to is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I’ll start asking for them by Wednesday of each week so we have time to make stuff up answer them.

So hit us with your best shot. And remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Well, except for Twitter 😊

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Mailbag Question

Is it best to address Hallmark movie mailbag questions to Dave or Doug? I'm aware of the Hallmark knowledge Dave has surely soaked... Read More
Saturday, 27 February 2021 06:50
Dave Scarangella

While I'm Sure Doug Is Just As...

I'm not sure he's been forced to watch as many as I have
Saturday, 27 February 2021 20:06
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This Story Was So Good, Friends Woke Me Up To Read It

It is rare that I sleep in these days, but while peacefully dreaming of being on a sandy beach somewhere, my phone made the sound of a text arriving, waking me up.

It was from Doug Doughty, asking if I had seen Andy Bitter’s mailbag story in The Athletic. No, I said, but now that I’m awake, I’ll go look at it, because you wouldn’t have texted if it wasn’t good. Moments later, another friend sent virtually the same text.

It was as good as advertised, and it touched on subjects I think about often in regard to Virginia Tech’s football program. One, as you would expect, involved the most often-asked question of the year for VT football: Is Justin Fuente the right man for the job? But this time it was prefaced with Darryl Tapp’s huge praise for Fuente versus the somewhat grumpy guy the public tends to see more often, and wondering where the disconnect was.

This situation, and how Virginia Tech has handled this, is something I wonder about all the time. When the Hokies hire a coach, I will - like everybody else - judge that coach on wins and losses. But I’m also blessed with a number of friends who are just ordinary Joes in Blacksburg, and I will usually call a few just to see if that coach is a good person. Blacksburg is such a small town, it's tough to pretend to be something you're not. The real you will be seen sooner than later.

Within 24 hours of Mike Young being hired as the basketball coach, for example, I was hearing “you’re really going to like him” from people I respected. I didn’t like the hire at first, but the comments were so strong on what a good person, leader and teacher he was, I had to switch to a wait and see attitude before arriving at my current “I couldn’t have been more wrong” stance.

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Dave Fulton

PR Person's Place

Thanks for pointing out the value of a good PR person steering coaches and others around icebergs. I always had a sense of warmth ... Read More
Saturday, 27 February 2021 07:16
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A Simple Act Of Kindness I Will Never Forget

Because the patio on the back of my house seems to perpetually be covered in shade, I’ve just finished an hour or two of doing exactly what my wife, doctor and friends have all told me not to do: chipping and shoveling away all the ice.

I mean, I could wait until it melts in late June. But there’s a WonderBeagle who enjoys seeing just how far she can get me moving on the ice, and I don’t wish to fall down out there between now and late spring.

In the course of wrestling this frozen bear, I had to take breaks because – as everyone seems to very much enjoy reminding me of – I’m an old man. It was during one of these breaks I found myself scrolling through Twitter, and two posts caught my eye. One was the fact today is Giving Day at Virginia Tech, and as the name suggests, they want you to give something to the University.

The other involved a younger journalist with a small newspaper here in Virginia. He was mentioning he was using a gift card to buy himself lunch instead of making one because he was too tired from all his long hours at work.

It hit me right in the feels.

I have a complex relationship with journalism these days, because many of the larger publications have turned the profession from a search for the truth to a search for ways to repeat the narrative. Not surprisingly, there are many out there who rank the profession’s popularity right up there with used car salesmen and telemarketers who somewhere during the call say “but wait, there’s more.”

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Worst Fears Realized In Tonight's Loss To Georgia Tech

I’d like to tell you Virginia Tech’s 69-53 loss to Georgia Tech was a huge surprise.

I’d also like to tell you they made a mistake and delivered a pizza with everything to my doorstep and I’m about to eat it.

Neither would be true.

Instead, the Hokies took the road more traveled for teams who have had long layoffs in the ACC, looking rusty, tired and at times disoriented. ACC teams this season that have had layoffs of 10 days or more have ended up scoring in the 50s in their first game back, while getting beaten like a drum. Clemson had issues with COVID and after sitting out 11 days, lost to Virginia 85-50; Louisville was off 19 days and upon their return got pole-axed by UNC 99-54; the Hokies hadn’t played in 17 days and scored a season-low 53 points in losing by 16.

The game marked the return of Tyrece Radford to the lineup from what had been an indefinite suspension, and that may have added at first to the lethargic play on offense. The Hokies are at their best when they move the ball around quickly, finding either an open 3 or going down low and attacking the basket, and it’s usually done in a decisive manner.

Virginia Tech, however, started out as if some of the players had just met. Radford seemed more content to let the game come to him, and over the first 10 minutes, it did not seem as if anyone other than Nahlem Alleyne wanted to shoot the ball.  Alleyne hit several of his first few shots, which opened up things for Keve Aluma and Justin Mutts as the teams tied 24-24 at halftime.

But then the two teams just went in different directions. Georgia Tech shot 61.5 percent from the floor after intermission, and when not hitting 3-pointers, the Yellow Jackets were pounding the ball inside to Moses Wright, who finished with a game-high 26 points.

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0

This Is What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

Over a decade ago, there was a musical group called the Spice Girls, who had a hit with a song that started off “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want…”

Which is what I’m about to do involving a tin of popcorn and the marketing department at Virginia Tech.

What I want, as you can see in the picture with this story, is a one-gallon tin of popcorn with Coach Mike Young’s smiling face somewhere on it. It can have one flavor, or it can have three flavors, that doesn’t matter. But Young has made eating a bag of popcorn before each game sort of his trademark. And there’s a marketing opportunity here that the Hokies just shouldn’t miss.

The whole popcorn tie-in has been talked about for over a year, and the school did finally allow people to buy a replica of the kind of popcorn box you’d see in an old-time movie theater. It has a caricature of of Young, and it’s cute.

But it’s not what I want. And judging from the response to me posting this picture on social media yesterday, a lot of other people want the same thing I do.

 Popcorn is one of those products that is sold around the holidays, or special occasions, in one gallon tins. You can go online at this very moment and find quite a few options if you’re seeking this, and they range in price from the $15 range up to $29. Many prefer buying it this way because the tin has a lid that keeps the popcorn fresh for a longer period of time, and the tin can be decorated in ways that makes you want to keep it well after the popcorn is gone.

In my case, there is a tin sitting here in my office that was a gift from a friend after the Washington Nationals won the World Series. The popcorn was nice, but it will stay in this house for many more years because of the World Series printing on the can. It serves as an enduring memory to a special moment for me as a fan, and it will eventually get filled with either more popcorn, stuff from my workbench in the basement, or who knows what else I need to store somewhere.

But it’s not going to ever be thrown away.

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Two Weeks To Go, And I Still Have No Idea Who Wins

I think it is pretty safe to say this season is not turning out the way ACC media folks thought it would in looking back at their preseason predictions.

Also pretty safe to say it’s not turning out the way anyone thought it would, for that matter.

Back in early November, the ACC scribes liked Virginia and Florida State to be in the top 3, with Virginia the solid No. 1, Duke second and the Seminoles No. 3. As Meatloaf used to sing back in the day, two out of three ain’t bad.

That’s because there are only 13 days left in the ACC regular season and here is the top 3: Florida State is first with a 9-2 league record, Virginia is second at 11-3 and third is not Duke, but an 8-3 Virginia Tech team, which the pundits picked to finish 11th. Three weeks from today when the NCAA hands out bids to the Big Dance, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State look like the only teams in the league with a relative lock at getting in. The rest of the teams appear to be on the bubble or worse.

Yesterday’s games just added data points to the field known as “I really don’t know how this is all going to turn out.” North Carolina and Louisville were preseason picks to finish 4th and 5th, and a month ago the Cardinals were 9-1 and ranked No. 16 in the nation. North Carolina, conversely, hasn’t been ranked in 2021, and dropped to 12-7 a week ago while only scoring 48 points in a loss to Virginia.

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Recent Comments
Doug Johnson

Postponements Have Protected V...

VT's four recently missed games: UNC, UL and two with FSU. Likely VT would not still be in 3rd place if these had been played.... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2021 12:20
Dave Scarangella

I would agree

The lack of games has in some ways helped the Hokies, and this week we will see how much it has hurt them when they finally take t... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2021 12:28
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In Search Of The Perfect Flavor Of Popcorn

We all have our areas of expertise, and one of mine involves food.

I have talents related to eating it, cooking it, and talking about it. I was even once at a dinner with company executives, and the president turned to me and said “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen someone as talented with a knife and fork as you.”

I think that was a compliment.

Which Flavor Is Better?
Poll is expired!

But when it comes to the lowly popcorn kernel, I have to say I have not been a fan. Unless it’s drowning in butter or coated with some other flavor, the popcorn itself does little to nothing for me. It’s not as worthless as, say, a rice cake, but it’s in the same neighborhood.

My opinions are now changing thanks to Virginia Tech basketball coach Mike Young.

Young has made popcorn regal. Brain food. The poor man’s caviar of the New River Valley. The key ingredient that has allowed Young to be such a successful coach with the Hokies. Heck, as you can see from the picture above, he’s even got Doug Doughty eating it.

I’ve always been a peanut man, myself. Salted, in a shell, accompanied by a cold beverage and maybe a baseball game in front of me, on a warm night, and I’m good. Popcorn, I’ve always believed, breaks teeth. Peanuts build character.

But Young is causing me to change. I’ve written that I’d run through a brick wall for him because I’m so impressed with the job he’s done for the Hokies, so I guess I’m going to have to eat a bag of popcorn every time the team plays too.

At least there is variety I can consider. Plain old popcorn is the brussel sprouts of the snack world, and I don’t see that ever changing for me. But I did look up some other varieties, and some are appealing. Kettle Corn will do, with its sweet and salty flavor. Caramel Corn is another. There is a cheese popcorn, but I’m not sure about that. It looks like they took one of those dried packets of powder you see in the mac and cheese boxes at the grocery store they sell 3 for a dollar and just dusted it over regular popcorn.

Anything that sells 3 for a dollar in the grocery store can’t be but so good.

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Recent comment in this post
Dave Fulton

Popcorn Beverage?

Wonder what beverage Popcorn Sutton chases his exploded kernels with?🙄
Saturday, 20 February 2021 10:19
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Florida State Game Postponed, Hokies Still Waiting To Play

Earlier this week, I wrote a story about all the cancellations in the Virginia Tech basketball program, saying the Hokies would go 10 days between games. I did, however, add this disclaimer: “There is no guarantee 10 days will be all the delay there is, as the next opponent is North Carolina, which has had issues of its own. Then the next game is against Florida State, which started the string of postponements."

You may now call me Nostradamus.

Sure enough, the North Carolina game was postponed, and now today, the ACC has announced the postponement of Saturday’s game with Florida State. Since the team hasn’t played since Feb. 6, this means there will be at least a 17-day break, as the next scheduled game is a home game with Georgia Tech on Feb. 23.

Saturday’s Clemson-Pittsburgh game has also been postponed, so instead of these two games, Florida State will now play at Pitt at 4 PM Saturday. Additionally, the North Carolina at Boston College game for next Tuesday has also been postponed.

The ACC said in a statement on its website that “The postponements follow positive tests, subsequent quarantining, and contact tracing within the Virginia Tech, Clemson and Boston College men’s basketball programs. The teams are adhering to the outlined protocols within the ACC Medical Advisory Group report.”

So once again it’s hurry up and wait for the Hokies. I doubt any of these postponed games will be played, meaning Virginia Tech won’t face Florida State at all this season unless it’s in the ACC Tournament.

 

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I Like The Hiring Of Jon Tenuta. I Like It A Lot.

I like the hire today of Jon Tenuta as Virginia Tech’s senior defensive analyst.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I really like it.

It fills a need Justin Fuente has had on the defensive side of the ball, and Tenuta has all the skills and experience necessary. Fuente has hired quite a few young, up and coming former players to defensive coaching positions, but they were missing that old soul, Charley Wiles-type of coach who had been doing it for a long time and always had a hidden trick up his sleeve.

Tenuta is that and more. He’s 63, been coaching for over 40 years, and has held positions at enough schools you could put them all together and have a super conference. He played at Virginia, but he’s held every defensive coaching position there is, been at places like Ohio State, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and was even the interim head coach at Georgia Tech.

He’s been there and done that.

He looks like he has the potential to add the same sort of flavor to the mix that Jerry Kill did during his time as a consultant to the Hokies. He also has a special factor going for him that really makes me bullish on this hire, and has nothing to do with his experience.

It's that he already knows this team, as his son, Luke, is a rising redshirt junior who has started the last two years at right tackle for the Hokies.

Coaching a team or managing an organization where you child is involved, I’ve found, tends to add an interesting wrinkle to the job. You don’t want father managing son, because that’s a no-win situation where favoritism is suspected even when you tell the son “good morning.”

But in an arms-length situation like this, it’s a bonus. Tenuta has probably already watched every Virginia Tech game of the last two years because of Luke. Probably more than once, in fact, because that’s what Dads do. He is coming into this situation from Cincinnati probably already knowing as much about how the Hokies play as he did with the Bearcats.

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