Tuesday, December 16, 2008

game preview: Longwood

Seriously, the worst element of any season in any sport, be it football, basketball, baseball, or hockey, college or pros, is this finals-week hiatus in college basketball. It's a necessary evil, but two weeks without a game in the middle of a season still sucks. Let it be a lesson to those of you who think "well college basketball works around finals week so why can't football have a playoff at the same time?" Fortunately, that's over with, and we can turn to the business of sweating out these nonconference doormats before we start padding the win columns of our ACC rivals.

Oh, one note before I begin. This blog is, as you know, a hobby not a job, and that means I can do little more to cover this offensive coordinator coaching search than to update the list of names that the various sources cobble together. Periodically I might do like I did yesterday, with a more in-depth look, if enough sources mention the same name. Otherwise, keeping a running list of so-called candidates, with almost zero commentary on the likelihood of their hire, is about the most I can do. If I see a name in a place that carries more weight than a "hey what about this guy" message board post, I'll list it. Here's what there is so far, along with their most recent job:

Ron Prince (former head coach, Kansas State)
Al Borges (former OC, Auburn)
Gregg Brandon (former head coach, Bowling Green)
Ed Zaunbrecher (former QB coach, Purdue)
Jeff Rutledge (QB coach, Arizona Cardinals)
Buddy Geis (former WR coach, Georgia Tech)

OK, so, like, Longwood.

Virginia Cavaliers (3-3, 0-0) vs. Longwood Lancers (5-5, n/a)

Possible starters:


It's still pretty impossible to guess what Leitao has cooked up this time.


PG: Durann Neil (6.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.4 apg)
G: Ryan Bogan (13.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.4 apg)
G: Kevin Swecker (9.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.7 apg)
F: Dana Smith (16.1, 7.0 rpg, 1.8 apg)
C: Billy Robinson, Jr. (5.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.4 apg)

We keep playing this game, every year, but I think we finally got the timing right. In the past we've taken a break from our regularly scheduled ACC programming to go whoop on Longwood in between grueling conference games. That can be helpful if you need to break a long losing streak, but it kinda sucks for the fans.

Instead we now have them after finals week. I really think the AD should be scheduling the creamiest, frostiest cuppycake he can find for the game that follows finals week. We tend to show poorly in these games. Last year we sleepwalked through a lazy win over Hampton. A couple years ago we got blow'd up by Gonzaga and the year before that it was an OT win over Loyola Marymount.

So Longwood, if we must play them (and we've done so every year but one of their D-I existence), seems the perfect opponent for this game, what with their 9-22 record the past two years. But this year, they're a bit scarier. They've actually got wins against teams not named UVA-Wise or otherwise below the D-I levels. Granted, Delaware State (one of their victims) is only 2-12, but nevertheless, Longwood is improving.

You have to worry, for example, about Dana Smith. He takes three-point shots that he frequently misses, but otherwise does just about everything quite well. Take away the three-pointers and his FG% is up north of 61%. Ryan Bogan is on the flip side of the coin - one of those guys who shoots threes better than twos. As with VMI, we are distinctly much bigger than they are. At 225 pounds, Smith is the biggest player suiting up for the Lancers, and they have nobody taller than 6'7" except for little-used forward Brandon Evans. All this likely means we'll see very little of Tunji Soroye and Assane Sene, because Leitao seems to think big guys aren't needed against teams without big guys. Earth to Dave: when you're much much taller than the guy you're guarding, that's a good thing.

Anyway, Longwood, as usual, is a team we should crush, just because we're UVA, and a bad season is no excuse. We've looked respectable in a couple of these losses, but that needs to translate to big monstrous wins against the Longwoods of the world if we're to take ourselves seriously in the ACC part of the schedule this year.

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