From the sidelines
By Marty Gordon
Has anyone noticed the ACC men’s basketball standings? The typical “blue bloods” of the league are having to scratch and claw their way to wins this season.
Clemson, who recently beat Virginia Tech, stands atop the standings with a 5-0 conference mark and a 13-3 record. Pitt and Miami are tied for second at 4-1, and Syracuse is fourth at 3-1.
Familiar names like Duke, Wake Forest,and North Carolina are hanging in the middle of the pack with 3-2 ACC records. Defending tournament champ Virginia Tech is 11th looking up at the league leaders.
North Carolina was a preseason AP #1, but how quickly have they fallen, even out of the recent Top 25 polls.
Virginia Tech started the season out of conference with only two losses and was on a rise in the AP poll before it hit the conference schedule. Now after three losses, the Hokies are moving backwards.
Duke and UVA also had caught the attention of the national pollsters, but losses have dropped them quickly.
Virginia Tech took it on the chin this past weekend in a 73-69 loss to N.C. State and is on a four-game skid.
Kidd and Mylyjael Poteat have been bright spots off the bench for the Hokies this season. Poteat had eight points, four rebounds, one block, and a steal in a previous loss to Clemson.
Poteat has been a pleasant surprise for Coach Mike Young. “He’s got unbelievable hands,” said his coach. “He’s going to help us win. He’s big and he’s physical, and he’s not afraid of contact. He knows who he is as a player, and I think that’s a benefit of playing college basketball for two years.”
Off the court, Tech senior Justin Mutts recently became involved with the West End Center for Youth in Roanoke, hosting clinics and mentoring youngsters.
“Being a basketball player at a big-time program like Virginia Tech, I can use my platform to my advantage,” Mutts said. “When I talk, the kids listen intently and give me their full attention when I offer advice or words of wisdom. I know I had a mentor when I was around the middle-school age, and this person was an extremely influential person in my life who helped guide me down the right path. That’s exactly who I want to be for these kids.”
Of course, it’s Mutts’s prowess or should we say extra effort in the classroom that stands out even more. He is embarking on his 11th semester in college, having already earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees. He is currently enrolled in his second undergraduate program (human development).