Vir­ginia Tech aim­ing high de­spite Clarke’s sus­pen­sion

The Sun News - - Sports -

When Vir­ginia Tech coach Buzz Wil­liams and sev­eral of his play­ers ar­rived at Spec­trum Cen­ter in Char­lotte, N.C., on Oct. 24 for ACC me­dia day, the Hok­ies had learned only a few days ear­lier they were ranked 15th in the coun­try, tied for the high­est spot in pro­gram his­tory in the As­so­ci­ated Press pre­sea­son poll.

The ac­co­lade stemmed from Vir­ginia Tech bring­ing back five of its top six scor­ers, in­clud­ing three starters, from a team that last sea­son boasted vic­to­ries over ACC blue bloods Duke, North Carolina and Vir­ginia and earned a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive ap­pear­ance in the NCAA tour­na­ment.

One week af­ter me­dia day, Vir­ginia Tech an­nounced the in­def­i­nite sus­pen­sion of guard Chris Clarke. The ath­letic depart­ment did not dis­close cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the sus­pen­sion of one of the fea­tured mem­bers of Wil­liams’s first full re­cruit­ing class.

Clarke av­er­aged 8.2 points and a team-high 6.3 re­bounds last sea­son. He also was a key to last sea­son’s 64-63 home vic­tory over Duke, scor­ing the fi­nal six points in­clud­ing the go-ahead tip-in with four sec­onds re­main­ing.

“There’s just so many vari­ables that you can’t con­trol,” said Wil­liams, who has not ad­dressed the sus­pen­sion pub­licly head­ing into the sea­son opener Fri­day night against vis­it­ing Gard­ner-Webb. “And I think some­times that’s why you wake up a lit­tle ear­lier and try harder the next day.”

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