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December 8, 2012

VT 'Grinding' At West Virginia

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There's a saying Virginia Tech players have had among themselves all season.

The mantra has helped them stay focused and been key to a surprising 7-0 start: "Keep grinding." It's also holding true as the Hokies have their toughest road test to date, a 4 p.m. ET today at West Virginia.

For senior guard Erick Green, it's important as he stays with the task at hand, even as he continues to put up big numbers this season. His 24.9 points per game are second in the country.

"Honestly, being on a big stage is good and who wouldn't love playing on a big stage," Green said. "It's been great. Everybody's loving us, everybody's supporting us and we've been winning and things are going great. We've got a big game Saturday, but the main thing is we have to keep going. We can drop three or four in a row if we don't come to play or things don't go our way. We just have to keep practicing hard."

Part of what's kept Virginia Tech going is proving observers wrong. The Hokies were picked by ACC coaches and media to finish third to last in the conference this season, which wasn't lost on players.

"We've had that chip all year," sophomore guard Robert Brown said. "Coming into the year, we weren't supposed to be where we are now. That's kinda motivated us as a team to keep getting better every day."

This week, the Hokies got a little more time to recoup. With no games since Saturday's 81-71 upset win over Oklahoma State, coach James Johnson gave his players a couple of days off at the start of the week.

"We got a chance to rest," Green said. "Coach gave us two days off and that really helped. We got a chance to rest our bodies, watch film and learn from our mistakes. We had practice and went hard (Wednesday) and that's what we needed."

If Virginia Tech can successfully grind through today's game against the Mountaineers, the Hokies stand a good chance of being ranked among in top 25 polls. Virginia Tech was second in receiving votes in this week's Associated Press poll, just behind Kentucky.

Johnson isn't looking ahead. He's said the same cliché all season, that he's taking the season one game at a time, his way of 'grinding.'

"We talk about, we've got a job to do, I've got a job to do, the players have a job to do, you guys have a job to do," Johnson said. "They're gonna rank us, maybe they won't, maybe they will, who knows? We're not gonna chance anything we do. We're not gonna change our approach, we're gonna keep grinding away, taking it one day at a time, one game at a time."

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