Monday, May 18, 2009

being a virginia fan is sometimes like this

Anyone who's been a Virginia fan for a couple years or longer notices a few trends which the University's teams can't ever seem to shake. Noticeably, of course, our tendency to suck, bad, on the road. I've long since been accustomed to the notion that we can take on just about anyone in the friendly confines of Scott Stadium (FSU, 1995/2005) or U-Hall/JPJA (Duke, 2000/2007), but melt into a puddle of non-football/basketball-playing goo once we take a step outside Charlottesville (UNC 2005, and that whole disastrous Puerto Rico trip.)

A lesser-known quality of UVA athletics, and one that's a lot more fun, is our ability, every so often and always when it's least expected, to blow the damn doors off some unsuspecting fools. See: Maryland, 2002 and 2008, Gonzaga 2007, Miami 2007. That is how you explain yesterday afternoon's game against Hopkins.

I don't otherwise have a lot of analysis of the game, because as with Villanova, I could not possibly do it justice and it wouldn't tell you anything you don't already know. But I have a big mouth, and I have to keep it exercised (figuratively speaking, I don't have one of those talk-to-type programs and if I did use one, you'd know because these posts would look more like "frog bench run skippy freeblebeeblewop.") So, I'll just vomit onto the screen some of the random thoughts I was thinking during the game, just to keep my blogging card up to date:

- Adam Ghitelman is definitely the best goalie in the country with a random consonant after the starting G in his name; take that, Michael Gvozden. Gvozden played like baked ass yesterday, unfortunately for Hopkins, and Ghitelman was the reason the game was a blowout because the defense, while not totally useless like Hopkins', was merely average. Ghitelman made a ton of terrific saves and kept Hopkins from ever feeling like they had a chance.

- If you could take the average temperament of Rhamel and Shamel Bratton, along with their talent, you'd have an unstoppable lacrosse player. Rhamel is a little too tentative at times out there. The TV angle was just so placed that Rhamel was often on a direct line between the camera and the Hopkins goal, and the guy had some very clear avenues to the net that he chose not to take. This is in contrast to his brother, who thinks he is Sha-Mel, Destroyer of Worlds, and charges at the net looking for a shot no matter who or what is draped on his back. He's actually damn good at scoring goals this way, or was yesterday, but also good at heaving it wide when there are open teammates with better shots.

- I might want Shamel to tone it down a little, but not til after the Cornell game this weekend. The announcers made mention of the style Cornell played against Princeton: grind it out, slow it down - you know, like Tony Bennett's supposed to do only doesn't. It worked against Princeton; the game ended 6-4 (Princeton is by no means a low-scoring team) and the two teams combined for just 58 shots, a number we've topped by ourselves a couple times this year. That slow-down is fine and dandy when they have the ball, but when we have it, the best way to stop it is to make them run faster than they want to, and Shamel Bratton's aggressive, charging style is the perfect way to make that happen.

- Don't feel bad, Hopkins. We scored 19 goals against VMI, too.

- Cornell really is a great matchup for us in the semis, but if/when we get past them, who do you want in the championship game? I can't decide whether I want the team that's going to be out for revenge or the team that owns our face for like five years running. Too bad Siena or someone couldn't have made a Cinderella run like UMass in 2006.


PO13 said...

Did you have any lacrosse knowledge prior to attending UVA? Being from Cleveland, I knew nothing about the sport going into my year at UVA, and didn't attend any games. I'm regretting the decision a little now. Is it a hard game to pick up and learn the basics? I say this mainly because UVA has a very good program obviously, and I would like follow more University sports being that I am a 25% alum of the University.

Brendan said...

Other than it being a rough sport the object of which is to put the ball in the goal, I didn't know a lot. My HS had a team but on the importance scale it was considered about the same as volleyball.

The basics are insanely easy though. At a basic level I see it as a combination of hockey (penalties are similar and lots of hitting) and basketball (it's very possession centric, unlike soccer), played on grass. You watch a game and you'll instantly know what's going on, although certain technical rules like the 20-second rule and 10-second rule are better picked up on TV than in person.

NM said...

"who do you want in the championship game?" -- Definitely, definitely Cuse. Sure, they're out for revenge, and sure, Syracuse is a helluva lot closer to Foxborough than Durham or C-ville. Still, would I rather face the team we beat at their place (albeit by one goal) or the team that manhandled us twice in the last six weeks for our only two losses all year? I'd rather take my chances with the Orange, if we're fortunate enough to get past the other really good upstate NY team we beat this year.

PO13 -- I agree with Brendan; it's not a hard game to grasp, and after watching a game (my first game ever, incidentally, was the UVA-Cornell match earlier this season) and spending a few minutes on Wikipedia and Google, I felt like I understood basically everything I needed to know what was going on, on a basic level. It's now one of my favorite sports.