Whatever happened to the Big Man on Campus? If anyone should qualify for that hallowed status it's Dale Solomon of Virginia Tech, the school's alltime leading scorer and soon to become the first player to be named first-team All-Metro Conference four times. Yet here he is, cup in hand almost, ironing a shirt and a pair of pants in his apartment while his wife, Carmen, looks on. "I do the windows, floors and dishes, too," moans Solomon.
"Well, I cook." says Carmen.
So does Solomon, who, whenever he's not playing the henpecked husband, can really shake and bake on the court. At week's end he was averaging better than 18 points a game and had led Tech to an 11-2 record. VPI's most impressive victory came two weeks ago against Louisville, then ranked ninth in the SI poll and everyone's preseason pick to win the Metro. That 75-74 win has helped the Hokies—you know, Hokies, as in that old rousing cheer, "Hokie, Hokie, Hokie hi, Tech, Tech, VPI"—rebound from a disappointing 15-13 record in 1980-81. With all five starters back from last season's lead-footed squad, Tech has surprised its opponents with a new fast-break, hurry-up offense.
"Last year we weren't versatile," says Coach Charles Moir, "we were just slow." This season the Hokies have been anything but, scoring 82.5 points a game, with Solomon either starting the race with an outlet pass or ending it with a basket. He often does both on the same play.
Moir says Solomon, a senior forward/center who stands 6'8", reminds him of another big man who can get out on the break, Robert Parish of the Boston Celtics. "Dale may be our best shooter from 17 feet in," says Moir. "I can't get him to put it up enough from the outside; he always wants to take the ball down low." A testimony to Solomon's fine touch is his 87% mark at the free-throw line, but Moir can't complain too much about his star's shot selection, because Solomon is hitting 66.9% of his field-goal attempts. Although he isn't all that ferocious a re-bounder (6.7 a game), Solomon is nearly imposssible to stop once he gets the ball. "He's such a great scorer that you can't even think about beating Virginia Tech unless you find a way to stop Solomon," says Florida State Coach Joe Williams.
"The best thing about Dale is his unselfishness," says teammate Reggie Steppe. "Even when he doesn't score a lot of points, he doesn't go around saying he has to get the ball more." Steppe, a 6-foot guard whose fancy passing often prompts VPI fans to chant "Reg-gie, Reg-gie" as if they were at Yankee Stadium, is content to let Solomon stir the drink for Tech. "We know who the superstar is here," he says. "Everyone else revolves around Dale."
Things don't work quite the same way at home, much to the credit and delight of Carmen, a senior in communications. (Dale majors in phys ed.) She's her husband's biggest fan—and detractor. "When he was a struggling freshman, I had to build him up," she says. "Now I have to keep him in line."
En route to dinner recently, Carmen wondered aloud how anyone had heard of Dale outside of Blacksburg, Va., where Tech is located. "Carmen," said Dale, "see that little star twinkling in the sky out there? It says, 'Behold, there's a bigger star that shines in Blacksburg.' "