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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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Take Note Virginia: Don't Take Ohio University Lightly

Virginia's first-round NCAA Tournament match-up with Ohio University should not be taken lightly.

The teams have played three times, with the Bobcats winning twice, including a 94-83 victory at University Hall on Nov. 15, 1994.

That Virginia team would go on to finish 25-9 with Jeff Jones as head coach and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Jones was 0-1 against the Bobcats and successor Pete Gillen was 1-1.          

Ohio U. coaches during that time included Danny Nee, Larry Hunter and Tim O'Shea. Nee later was the head coach at Nebraska for 14 years.

Ohio has been a  steppingstone for coaches like John Groce, who went from Ohio U. to Illinois, and Jim Christian, the head coach at Boston College before his recent in-season dismissal.

Current head coach Jeff Boals, who played at Ohio U., was the head coach at Stony Brook until 2019. Boals' mentors include Ohio State head coach Thad Motta.

The most celebrated player to come out of Ohio U. is Gary Trent, who was known as the Shaq of the MAC and was a three-time, first-team Mid-America Conference pic, as well as a first-round NBA Draft pick.

His son, Gary Trent Jr., played at Duke.

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Virginia In West, Plays Ohio; Hokies In South, Face Florida

The pairings for the NCAA Tournament were just announced, with Virginia Tech dropping to a 10th seed in the South Region and will face No. 7 seed Florida. Virginia's COVID issues in the ACC Tournament did not affect their ability to play in the NCAAs, and they enter the tournament as a 4th seed in the West Region and will open with No. 13 Ohio.

Should the Hokies get past Florida, they would then have to play the winner of Ohio State-Oral Roberts, which more than likely will be the No. 2 Buckeyes. Baylor is the top seed in the South. Technically, since there was no tournament last year, this is the fourth straight year the Hokies have made the NCAA's. The No. 10 seed, however, is the lowest Virginia Tech has ever received. 

The committee seems to want a rematch of Virginia and Gonzaga, as they are both in the West. The Cavaliers would face the winner of Creighton-UCSB in the second round should they advance. Gonzaga is the top seed in the West and the No. 1 seed in the entire tournament.

Florida had a ho-hum 14-9 season where they were only ranked for one week all season, coming in at No. 22 the first week of February. This came after an 85-80 win over then No. 11 West Virginia, but the Gators then lost their next two games to South Carolina and Arkansas respectively, and fell out of the rankings.

Virginia Tech, conversely, was only unranked one week in December, coming into the NCAA Tournament being ranked 12 consecutive weeks. But they will be the lower seed at No. 10.

Florida lost its last two regular-season games to Missouri and Tennessee, then beat Vanderbilt in the first round of the SEC Tournament before being eliminated by Tennessee.

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How It Started...How It's Going

If you weren't raised Italian, you may not be familiar with the tradition of making "Sunday Gravy."

It's a calculated plot to keep everyone inside the house, and should you have grown up and moved out on your own, is also a clever ploy to draw you back to the family on Sunday like a magnet.

The key ingredients (at least this Sunday) are three pounds of ground chuck, a pound of sweet Italian sausage, a few pieces of chicken (chicken thighs with the bone in have the best flavor after removing the skin and deboning them) and the usual collection of ingredients in any sauce: San Marzano tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, onions, fresh garlic, and anything green in the spice cabinet, including sweet basil, oregano, parsley, etc. 

I am fortunate to have an assistant chef, who by the mere change in her facial expression can communicate to you that you're going in the right direction. I cook the meats separately, then start a sauce by frying the garlic in olive oil, adding the onions, then squeezing the life out the San Marzano tomatoes by hand before adding the remainder of the ingredients. Large amounts of water are added, and the ingredients all simmer together for about 4 hours. By then, the flavors will have melded, the meat is tender, and the only thing left to decide is what type of pasta you want to pour it over.

I once got into a debate on social media about adding sugar or salt to the mixture, and the answer on salt is a hard no. The meats themselves bring a saltiness to the sauce, and you can always add more at the table if it is not to your liking. Over-season it, however, and you're like a deer licking a salt block. You're stuck with it, too, as I know way to reduce too much salt other than throw it out and start all over again.

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Mistake

I shouldn't have read this before eating. My upcoming salami & swiss sandwich sounds very pedestrian compared to your feast.😀... Read More
Sunday, 14 March 2021 13:15
Dave Scarangella

I won't divulge the source...

...but somebody here said this is what happens when you mock Hallmark Movies ... Read More
Sunday, 14 March 2021 16:14
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I'm Not Feeling It For This Year's NCAA Tournament

Today is usually one of the pinnacles of being a sports fan. Selection Sunday, the day we all get out our brackets, pencil in our usually misguided upset picks, and hope to be that person who walks around the office flexing their Nostradamus-like muscles while collecting proceeds of the workplace pool.

This year, I’m not feeling it.

To be fair, this past year of inhouse incarceration has left me not feeling it for a lot of things. But yesterday, my phone would have normally been filled with texts from my other sports maniac friends, asking if I had seen this result or that, wondering how that would affect seeds for the tournament, etc.

Instead, my phone was very quiet.

Twitter normally is filled with similar high traffic, but yesterday didn’t have a lot of basketball mentions either. Aside from Storm Murphy tweeting he was coming to Virginia Tech, there wasn’t a lot of other conversation about hoops except for specific comments about a person’s favorite team. My Georgetown friends had lots to say, for example. But that excitement about what was happening in college basketball on the last Saturday before the tournament didn’t seem there.

Part of it, I think, is a feeling that the tournament is going to end up with a winner that followed a path not considered altogether fair. Last night’s ACC Tournament, for example, pitted two teams who only played one game, then benefitted from byes and COVID cancellations to meet in the final. The basketball was good, but the slow building of tension across multiple games was not there.

I guess it’s hard to get excited about a march to a championship when the march only involves two steps.

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Recent Comments
Guest — Johnny Hurst

Same here

My sports enthusiasm in general is down this year. I gave up my Hokie football season tickets years ago but still had hoops ticket... Read More
Sunday, 14 March 2021 09:30
Dave Fulton

Feelings

I'm not feeling it either. I just hope your better half refrains from posting a pic of you and Maggie peeking at a Hallmark movie!... Read More
Sunday, 14 March 2021 12:15
Dave Scarangella

Just have to be a troublemaker...

Maggie watches the den TV from the kitchen and tells me when the coast is clear...
Sunday, 14 March 2021 12:23
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A Storm Is Coming To Virginia Tech

If Coach Mike Young were to draw up a wish list for components he would like to add to Virginia Tech’s basketball team next season, one undoubtedly would be a point guard who can shoot and score.

Tonight, he got one.

Storm Murphy, who played for Young at Wofford, will be reunited with his former coach, as he announced on Twitter he’s coming to Blacksburg.

Murphy tweeted “I’m excited to announce that next year I will be transferring to Virginia Tech and joining Coach Young for one last run,” barely a week after he announced he would be entering the transfer portal.

Murphy is a 6-foot, 180-pound guard from Middleton, Wisconsin, and there were some thoughts he may transfer to a school closer to home. But he quickly picked the Hokies, where he will be playing in a system he already knows, and for a team with a definite need for the things he can contribute.

Murphy averaged 17.8 points per game in the 2020-2021 season, along with 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds. He shot 47 percent from the floor for a Wofford team that went 15-9 and finished second in the Southern Conference behind UNC-Greensboro. He has played four years at Wofford, but as a graduate transfer, has a fifth year of eligibility which he will be able to use playing for the Hokies.

Murphy was a first-team All-Southern Conference selection in 2020-21, and finished fourth in the league in scoring. In his final game for Wofford in a 62-61 loss to Mercer in the Southern Conference tournament, Murphy had 21 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists while playing 36 minutes.

Murphy scored 1,315 points in his four seasons at Wofford, had 469 assists, and started 119 of 126 games. He's a career 42% three-point shooter, and hit 85% of his career free throws.

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Tonight's Game 1st Time Since 1990 There's No NC Team

Tonight will be the championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, and one thing will be missing from the tradition-rich event.

A team from North Carolina.

With Georgia Tech playing Florida State in this COVID-affected tournament, it will mark the first time since 1996 that neither Duke nor North Carolina are in the championship game, and will also be the first time since 1990 that a team from the Tar Heel state is not in the event.

Oddly enough, Georgia Tech has involvement in all three games, and coming into tonight’s game, is 1-1 in ACC Tournament finals that don’t involve either Duke/North Carolina or any team from Tar Heel state.

In 1996, it was Wake Forest beating Ga. Tech 75-74 for the ACC Tournament title in Greensboro. Wake was led by big man Tim Duncan, along with double-figure scorers Tony Rutland and Rusty LaRue, while Georgia Tech had Stephon Marbury, Matt Harpring and Drew Barry as their leading scorers. Duncan was the tournament Most Valuable Player.

Six years before that in Charlotte, Georgia Tech won the tournament by a 70-61 margin over Virginia. Virginia was led by Bryant Stith, John Crotty, Kenny Turner and Anthony Oliver, while The Ramblin’ Wreck had three players who averaged over 20 points per game for the season: Dennis Scott, Brian Oliver, and Kenny Anderson. Oliver was named the tournament MVP.

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COVID Issue Hasn't Necessarily Ended UVa's Season

Reports of a COVID issue that has ended Virginia's ACC Tournament run haven't necessarily ended the Cavaliers' season:

From UVa Head Coach Tony Bennett: “We went from an exhilarating game-winning shot to beat Syracuse to a gut punch regarding the positive COVID-19 test within our program. I’m hurting for our players, especially our seniors. I told our young men they have every reason to be disappointed, but it is still very important how they choose to respond. We are exhausting all options to participate in the NCAA Tournament.”

From UVa Athletic Director Carla Williams: “This is incredibly disappointing for our players. They have done what has been asked of them in very challenging circumstances. It is unfortunate the ACC Tournament has concluded for us, but we have turned our attention to the NCAA Tournament. We are in communication with the appropriate officials regarding our participation.”

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Hokies Need Aluma To Bounce Back In NCAA Tournament

Virginia Tech big man Keve Aluma has been stellar this season, as the second-team All-ACC center played a large role in the Hokies' regular-season success this year.

But last night against North Carolina, he also played a role in their demise.

North Carolina surged past the Hokies in the second half, winning 81-73 in the quarterfinal of the ACC Tournament. That surge, in large part, started with the Tar Heels' regaining supremacy under the basket in the second half.

Virginia Tech controlled the paint in the first half, and it was a team effort. The Hokies bodied up down low and won all the relevant paint stats — points in the paint, rebound margin, second chance points. Tech denied entry to the paint and after an exhaustive performance, Tech earned themselves a three-point lead.

That exhaustive performance, however, wasn't sustainable with the Hokies essentially playing only six players the entire game.

Carolina's cadre of big men — Armando Bacot, Day'Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler — proved too much for Virginia Tech to contend with. The trio combined for 31 points, 25 rebounds and six blocks. And more importantly, they were extremely physical with Aluma down low.

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Hokies May Have Lost, But They Certainly Showed An Edge

This is one of those times where after watching a Virginia Tech basketball game, I don’t really know what to say.

Yeah, they lost to a North Carolina team with more height and a bigger number of talented bodies. Yeah, they ended up being that No. 3 seed who was one and done like everyone said they would be with an 81-73 loss to the Tar Heels in the ACC Tournament.

But if you watched closely, they also did some things that really paint what could be a very bright future. Mike Young had a brilliant game plan to neutralize the big height advantage North Carolina had, and the Hokies ended up leading at halftime as they continued to play tough defense, slash the middle and run double back screens that got their big men open for layups.

But what impressed me the most was while doing so – at least until the team ran out of gas in the second half – was that Virginia Tech played with a noticeable edge. Mike Young has managed to find a number of components that he’s melded into a very good team, but if there’s been a concern, it’s that the team has played at times a little like the first part of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.”

For the majority of the season, they played – like Tina sings the first verse – nice…and easy. Too easy at times it seems, and big physical teams could knock them not only around, but also knock them mentally out of their game.

Against North Carolina, the Hokies were more like how Tina sings the second verse, where they do it nice…and rough. Virginia Tech played with an edge that I haven’t seen very often this season, as Justyn Mutts – who led all scorers with 24 points – had a breakout game and showed offensive skills that were equal parts aggression and nasty.

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Recent Comments
Larry Cherney

Yes...

I'm not a basketball guy but I picked up on the PG issue several weeks ago. Imagine this team W/a multi-skilled JR-type 1 who can... Read More
Friday, 12 March 2021 09:43
Dave Scarangella

Makes you wonder about Carter ...

If he had stayed, could he have contributed toward helping all this...
Friday, 12 March 2021 09:56
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Reece Beekman Now Has His Signature Moment

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Despite starting 19 games and logging close to 700 minutes for Virginia this season, Reece Beekman entered postseason play without a signature moment.

He has one now, and it's not likely to be forgotten any time soon.

Beekman, a freshman guard, had missed all five of his field-goal attempts before letting loose from the right wing for a 3-pointer as time expired Thursday in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.

At that point, top-seeded Virginia was looking at overtime against a Syracuse team that had won six of its previous eight games, the last three in a row. Instead, UVa prevailed 72-69.

As the Cavaliers held for a final shot, nobody was more open than Beekman, who was 2-3 steps outside the 3-point line before taking a pass from Kihei Clark.

That gave UVa (18-6) a spot in the semifinals against fourth-seeded Georgia Tech at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Yellow Jackets (16-8) advanced with a 70-66 victory over Miami.

At 5 foot-9, Clark, a junior, is nominally the Cavaliers' point guard and has a team-leading 110 assists but, with an average of 9.5 points per game, is more of a scorer than his taller backcourt mate, Beekman, who is averaging just 4.7 points per game.

At 6-foot-3, Beekman has shown the ability to defend taller lead guards who otherwise might tower over Clark. Beekman has 29 steals and no other Virginia player has as many as 20. It didn't appear as if he was calling for the ball on his game-winning shot.

"It's crazy," said Beekman, who took off downcourt and was mobbed by teammates as the final horn sounded. "That was my first-ever, like, game-winner.

"It was just a lot of energy that came over me. And a lot of joy. That's what I can say about that."

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Dave Fulton

Good Morning

The Beekman shot actually made CBS This Morning, joining Gayle King's ongoing celebration of Oprah's interview dissing the Royal f... Read More
Friday, 12 March 2021 09:25
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With Duke Cancellation, FSU Now Gets Triple Bye

It wasn’t 24 hours ago that there was some hope Virginia Tech might get an easier draw in the ACC Tournament.

Notre Dame was facing North Carolina, and since the Irish had only lost by one point the last time the two teams plays, there was hope they could either upset the Tar Heels or at least wear them out. Instead, they went to sleep when it was only a 12-point game, UNC went on a 42-4 run, and Notre Dame turned to roadkill on the side of the highway leading to the ACC Championship.

The final was 101-59, but the second half wasn’t even that close. It’s rare these days to even see a team score over 100 points in the ACC Tournament (last time UNC did was 1993), and 42-4 runs are just about impossible unless half the team is injured and only four players can continue. The Tar Heels should now be comfortable and confident for tonight's game with Virginia Tech.

But now the road is even tougher.

Should the Hokies pull off the upset tonight (which would technically not be an upset since Virginia Tech is the No. 3 seed), they would then have to face a Florida State team receiving an unheard of triple bye. It was reported this morning that a Duke player received a positive COVID test, and because of that, the Blue Devils will forfeit their next-round game in the tournament against the Seminoles.

“The Atlantic Coast Conference announced today that the Duke vs. Florida State ACC men’s basketball tournament quarterfinal game has been canceled,” the ACC posted on its website. “The postponement follows a positive test, subsequent quarantining, and contact tracing within the Duke men’s basketball program.”

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