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Depleted Hokies hoping eight is enough

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – J.T. Thompson, Dorenzo Hudson, Cadarian Raines and Allan Chaney were all in the Greensboro Coliseum on Wednesday, a distinct reminder to fans who straggled in for Virginia Tech’s open practice of just what the Hokies were missing.

And it’s not as if those are the only issues facing sixth-seeded Virginia Tech (19-10), which opens ACC tournament play Thursday against Georgia Tech.

What about Jeff Allen, the talented senior big man who is a bit gimpy thanks to an ankle ailment?

“It’s an injury that will be an inconvenience,” coach Seth Greenberg said.

And freshman Jarell Eddie, who squeezed a 17-point night between his only two DNPs of the season to make his status a popular question?

“He’s here,” Greenberg said succinctly, a manner of speaking the loquacious coach employs only so often.

Only eight players who appeared in at least 10 games are available to the Hokies. If Eddie doesn’t play, knock that number down to seven.

Even the walk-ons are ailing; Prince Parker broke his foot in practice two weeks ago.

“That’s pretty hard to do,” Greenberg said. “He played four years of football at Virginia Tech and I don’t think he broke anything, but in a three-man weave he broke his foot.”

Since this is Virginia Tech, none of this could realistically occur in a vacuum. The Hokies aren’t so good they are assured of an NCAA tournament berth before the trip to the conference tourney, nor are they shaky enough that only running the table will do.

Virginia Tech lives in Bubbleville, falling short of the NCAA tournament three years running, and it resides there again this week as the season winds to a close.

The will-they-or-won’t-they questions followed Allen, Terrell Bell and Malcolm Delaney throughout their careers, and might right down to Sunday.

One way to avoid that fate: Win two or three (or even four) times this week to put the issue to rest.

“I don’t discuss it, but I don’t ignore it,” Greenberg said. “I’ve said the same thing since Duke. We have to try to continue to win as many games as we can. The other team is trying to win, too. Our margin of error is small, but I like our team. I told them we’re a good team, but we’ve got to have everyone on the same page in terms of contributing. We just can’t afford for two guys not to play well. The big games we’ve won, we’ve had five guys in double figures.”

The Hokies also could use help. They already received some from Gonzaga, Old Dominion and Butler in recent days. Oklahoma State toppling Nebraska on Wednesday didn’t hurt.

Is Greenberg aware of it all? Probably, though the self-professed basketball fan likely isn’t staying up to date in a completely intentional manner.

“I don’t scoreboard watch, but I don’t sleep,” he said.

Especially when he can’t be fully sure if eight regulars will be enough in this ACC tournament.

Patrick Stevens

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