Friday, February 20, 2009

game preview: NC State

Tomorrow is the basketball game against NC State; tonight, however, is Day 3 of the women's swimming finals. After two days of events (really, one full day of events) our girls have opened up a 72-point gap on the rest of the pack. This is what in swimming is known as a commanding lead, most especially since in each of tonight's seven event finals, we have no fewer than two swimmers, and sometimes three and four, in each of the championship heats. What this means is that even if a limb or two falls off in the pool, we can earn no fewer than 23 points per event. In most cases this will be more in the 40s range. If you live in the DC area and have no plans tomorrow, watching UVA be crowned ACC champs without paying a cent is a fine way to spend an evening. I will be encouraging this next week too.

Virginia Cavaliers (9-13, 3-8) at North Carolina State Wolfpack (14-10, 4-7)

Possible starting lineups:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (9.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.6 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (7.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.5 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (18.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.8 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (10.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C: Assane Sene (3.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg)

NC State:

PG: Javier Gonzalez (5.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.1 apg)
SG: Courtney Fells (12.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SF: Brandon Costner (14.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.3 apg)
PF: Tracy Smith (9.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.6 apg)
C: Ben McCauley (12.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.0 apg)

It's great to get a couple of big wins in a comfortable setting on your friendly home court. It's quite another to keep the momentum on the road. Saturday, we'll see if the happy times are for real or just a teaser in an otherwise extremely forgettable season.

Up next is NC State, and frankly, no moral victories allowed here. The 'Pack are not statistically a terrible team, but they - like us - are not good at turning their defense into easy offense, and like us, are regularly outshot. When they do shoot, they shoot well and tend to prefer an inside game to bombing away from three-land. One thing they do excel at is staying out of foul trouble. No ACC team has fewer fouls per game than their 15.5, a number which means they spend very little time with the other team in the bonus.

That said, they play with the inconsistency that's the hallmark of a bad team. They played Marquette tough and knocked off Wake Forest, but damn near lost to 11-17 Loyola of Maryland and got blown out of the building by UNC and BC. This isn't unique or a surprise, it's just the way life is for the ACC's second division. What it does mean is that finally, I feel like whether we win or lose depends as much on the opponent as us. Back when we were treating first halves like a game of tiddlywinks, it didn't matter whether the opponent was wearing maroon or baby blue, the song remained the same. Until we got that figured out, your local team from the Y was going to have an 18-point halftime lead. But now, we've got an eminently beatable opponent with a few inconsistency problems of their own. Which is why I say, no moral victories tomorrow, not even on the road. Not that we should beat this team, but we should beat them if we expect to be able to claim to have salvaged the last part of the season.

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