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Posted at 11:14 AM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Jeff Allen is the latest injured Virginia Tech basketball player

By Mark Giannotto

When we last checked in with the Virginia Techmen’s basketball, the injury bug had struck again. Coming off a strong non-conference win over Mississippi State in the Bahamas, senior Dorenzo Hudson and sophomore Cadarian Raines were both put on the shelf for the season with foot injuries – a turn of events many assumed would derail what appeared to be such a promising season just a few months ago.

A couple weeks later, not much has changed. Even though the Hokies have just 10 players remaining on their active roster, the basketball Gods refuse to be kind. The latest injury victim is forward Jeff Allen, who is battling through a “pretty good groin sprain,” Coach Seth Greenberg said earlier this week.

Allen, a Washington, D.C. native, has not practiced recently and is getting daily rehab treatments, but did notch his third double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds) in the past four games during last Sunday’s 99-34 thrashing of Mount St. Mary’s. Barring any setbacks, Allen should be available to play Saturday when Virginia Tech resumes ACC play with a home game against Florida State.

“We’re erring on the side of caution because, let’s face it, we don’t exactly have a lot of options,” Greenberg said.

The Hokies, though, have not let all this adversity affect their psyche just yet. They’ve reeled off five-straight wins now, and players like sophomore Erick Green (14 points per game in his last five contests), freshman Tyrone Garland (16 points vs. Mount St. Mary's) and sophomore Manny Atkins (7.75 ppg in last four games) have been buoyed by the additional minutes that they know will be there the rest of the season.

But Greenberg realizes victories over the likes of St. Bonaventure and USC Upstate aren’t exactly indicators of what may lie ahead for this depleted team in the coming weeks.

“We got more guys contributing,” Greenberg said. “Our guys are in a good place right now. I think they like the way they’re playing. Everyone is making the extra pass. There’s good communication. We’ve had some good wins during this stretch. I’m not sure we’ve played anyone as good as the team we’re about to play or the teams we’re about to play. I think that’s the big thing.”

The adjustments in-game to having just eight scholarship players on the active roster has paled in comparison to what all the injuries have done to practice. Greenberg said the Hokies have been unable to run up-and-down the floor much in recent weeks. Starters have been forced into more reps than Greenberg would like, and “it’s hard for us to simulate Florida State’s size, their length, their quickness, when you’re playing against two or three walk-ons.”

One development that could aid this cause has been the addition of 6-6, 262-pound Prince Parker, a former walk-on tight end with Virginia Tech’s football team. He hasn’t played competitive basketball in three years, and Greenberg hasn’t made a decision on whether to put him on the active roster.

Greenberg said Parker is cleared to practice but is still trying to learn Virginia Tech’s system and get in basketball shape. Whether he ends up on the floor at some point this season or not, Parker does provide another body to bang with down low during practice.

That it’s reached this point has got to be a depressing notion for Greenberg, especially given the expectations this year’s team entered the season with. But as is his nature, the coach is trying not to wonder about what could have been and instead focus on what could be.

“Our guys feel like no one thinks we can pull this thing off now,' Greenberg said. "I’m more concerned about just keeping them in a good frame of mind right now. We’re in a pretty good place. We really are. But winning puts you in that place, and now you’ve got to continue to win.”

By Mark Giannotto  | January 5, 2011; 11:14 AM ET
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Next: Virginia Tech RB Darren Evans declares for the NFL draft


But wins over Campbell, St. Bonn and the "99-34 thrashing of Mount St. Marys" should help to keep the players heads on the prize. And don't forget the future date with the Longwood team coming up. Why I bet the NIT selection committee is just going nuts.

Posted by: JEGman | January 5, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

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