Wednesday, March 11, 2009

game preview: Boston College

#11 Virginia (10-17, 4-12) vs. #6 Boston College (21-10, 9-7)

Possible starters:


PG - Sammy Zeglinski (8.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.1 apg)
SG - Calvin Baker (8.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.7 apg)
SF - Sylven Landesberg (16.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.7 apg)
PF - Mike Scott (10.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C - Assane Sene (2.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 bpg)


PG - Tyrese Rice (17.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.4 apg)
SG - Rakim Sanders (12.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.6 apg)
SF - Corey Raji (9.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.6 apg)
PF - Joe Trapani (13.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 apg)
C - Josh Southern (5.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)

Part of the reason I've blown off writing a couple of these game previews is because trying to guess at who's going to be in our starting lineup is a complete waste of time. Not only because one is likely to be wrong by at least two, if not three or four, but starting sometimes means you get to play the first couple minutes then glue your ass to the bench for the next 38. All but two of the players on our roster (John Brandenburg and Will Sherrill are the unlucky two) have started at least one game, which is the smallest number since I don't know when because online records don't go back far enough.

Perfect case in point is the last time we played Boston College. The starting five were Tucker, Scott, Landesberg, Zeglinski, and Diane. Diane played four minutes, and the lineup for the second half consisted of Landesberg and four guys from the bench. Landesberg wound up scoring 32 points, mainly because most of the guys who can score were on the bench and if he hadn't, nobody would have because Jeff Jones was par for the course at 2-for-11 and Solomon Tat is Solomon Tat.

With nothing at stake I really don't expect Leitao to change this attitude he's had all season, which has been to treat playing time as a carrot-and-stick incentive system to play his way. What I'd like to see is for Leitao to identify who are the guys we need to rely on going forward and throw them to the wolves. Tat is a hustling kind of guy but Lord help us if next season he's played anywhere near the minutes he's had this season. Now is the perfect time for our freshmen to get a taste of ACC tournament play and make all the mistakes their freshman selves are capable of, while nobody's expecting anything out of them anyway.

This isn't to say BC is so good it doesn't matter. Quite the contrary, actually - BC is prone to playing a stinker of a game, as we saw in their season finale. Turns out triple-teaming Tyrese Rice is a perfectly workable defensive tactic. The point is, two years from now Sylven Landesberg will be a junior (hopefully) and Assane Sene will also be a junior, and Mike Scott will be a senior and a captain, and with any kind of good luck at all we'll be settling in for a first-round bye in the ACC tournament and playing for seeding in the NCAA's, if not an ACC championship, and this is precisely the game which the future stars of this program will need plenty of experience in if they're going to play the part of battle-hardened veterans leading the team to the kind of success we think we're supposed to have. It'd be different if this was the old 9-team ACC, and we were the patsy 7-seed going up against some juggernaut of a second-seed. I don't think you gain much experience by being the floorwipe. This is the very definition of a game we're supposed to lose but can win, and either way there's great value in it.

As for the game itself, if nothing else inbounding plays will be interesting as I mentioned earlier. BC looked suspiciously like we did all the while they were stumbling through a last-second win over GT. The tricky part though is that BC has discovered they have the supporting cast that nobody expected them to when preseason awards were being handed out. It wasn't superstud Tyrese Rice hitting the game-winning fallaway, it was backcourt-mate Rakim Sanders, and darn if Sanders hasn't become quite a complement to Rice. Instead of being the Tyrese Rice show and no frontcourt, BC turned out to have a pretty solid, well-rounded lineup capable of getting scoring from nearly anyone on the court and picking up the slack when teammates are having a bad game. The best way to beat them is to force them into shooting a lot of threes, because they're not good at it, but for us that's easier said than done because we don't have enough good bigs to counter theirs; and while our on-ball defense is pretty solid for the most part, we don't get the chance to use it as much because our shooting is so bad we give up all sorts of transition buckets.

So winning's a tall order, but fans should keep in mind, the main value of this game is whether or not it helps our players down the road. Leitao will coach to win, of course, but I'd like to see his substitution patterns give a thought to the future, not the present. The present doesn't matter any more.

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