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February 7, 2007 12:50 am


The Virginia Tech men's basketball team spent three consecutive weeks in the Associated Press Top 25, peaking at No. 16 last week.

But after the Hokies (16-7, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) ended a stretch of five games in 13 days with consecutive losses to North Carolina State and Boston College, they're no longer ranked.

That's the least of coach Seth Greenberg's concerns.

On the weekly ACC coaches press call, Greenberg said the difficult stretch left his team mentally and physically fatigued.

That's why he gave his players two days off following a disheartening 80-59 loss at Boston College on Saturday.

The Hokies don't play again until they host Virginia on Saturday at 4 p.m.

"We're tired," Greenberg said. "Plain and simple."

Greenberg said the time away from the game will allow the Hokies to regain the passion and focus that had them in first place in the ACC earlier this season.

Senior forward Coleman Collins is one player who needs to step up. Collins was held scoreless while going 0-for-5 from the field and 0-for-2 from the free throw line in the Hokies' 70-59 home loss to the Wolfpack last Wednesday.

Against Boston College, he had just six points and three rebounds.

"There's not much to talk about [with Collins] because not much happened," Greenberg said. "Hopefully we'll get to see the toughness and the spirit he needs to play with in the post to be successful."

Rivalry reborn

While the Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry won't be confused with Duke-North Carolina, it's shaping up to be an interesting battle this season.

There's a strong possibility both the Hokies and Cavaliers will reach the NCAA tournament, something that hasn't happened in the same season since 1985-86.

The rivals are strikingly similar.

Both are veteran teams with outstanding guard play.

And as Greenberg stated, both are trying to rebuild their programs.

Virginia hasn't played in the NCAA tournament since 2001, while the Hokies haven't been invited since Ace Custis led the way in 1996.

Opposites attract

Two teams headed in different directions collide tonight at 7:30 when Clemson (18-5, 4-5) hosts Florida State (17-6, 5-4).

The Tigers have lost five of six after a 17-0 start. Florida State has won five of six after beginning its ACC season with three-straight losses.

Tigers coach Oliver Purnell stated the obvious when he said, "We're going through a rough stretch right now."

A unique talent

Duke 6-foot-10 sophomore forward Josh McRoberts missed two attempts at game-winning baskets in back-to-back losses to Virginia and Florida State.

But conference coaches said that doesn't take away from what he's already proven in the league: He's a rare talent.

The Blue Devils' offense often runs through McRoberts, who leads the team in assists with 3.7 per game. He's also 10th in the ACC in assists-to-turnover ratio.

"I can't remember any big man in the ACC leading his team in assists and being one of the top guys in the ACC in assists," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.

No headaches for BC

When Boston College dismissed standout junior forward Sean Williams for a violation of team rules last month, many expected the Eagles to struggle.

But after an initial 74-54 loss to Clemson, Boston College (16-6, 7-2) is back on track.

Their 21-point beating of then-No. 16 Virginia Tech showed that they aren't going away, even without the best shot blocker in the conference.

"We are who we are, and we have to adjust with what we have," Eagles coach Al Skinner said. "Guys are working their tails off to try to do that."

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-

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