Monday, March 15, 2010

callin' it a comeback

“I was just trying to jump him so that he didn’t have time to react; .01 seconds – that’ll do it.”
That's men's track star Robbie Andrews on his national championship in the 800 meters, and it's a fitting call for a Saturday that crowned another great UVA weekend. The women's lax team spotted UNC a 4-0 lead in three minutes of play and brought it back for the OT win, and the baseball team's comeback was probably even more epic than Andrews' considering he was probably hanging back a little bit on purpose.

Even the basketball team tried to get in on that action a little bit on Friday by turning an eight-point first-half deficit into a one-point lead and cutting a ten-point shortfall into two before putting the lid back on the basket against Duke. There's not much more to say about the basketball team, as the season is now officially kaputski, but I'll say this for now: since we had to run into Duke sooner or later and were obviously expecting the worst when we did, and if we couldn't get the win, this was the best way to go out. A spirited game that made the Blue Devils earn their bread, put a little scare into 'em, build a little confidence on top of the Boston College win - but don't get so close that the loss morphs from the expected outcome to a brass-knuckled dong punch, a la Michigan. (I'm still pissed about that.)

Anyway, both that game and the BC game the day before accomplished precisely what needed to be accomplished at that tournament. One, put some confidence back into the team and into the atmosphere in and around the program. And two, give the coaches some ammo for the recruiting trail this summer. Consider both done. I don't think you can understate the impact of the BC win. I really don't. HUUUUUUGE. Marshall Plumlee, you may come on down to Charlottesville now ok plz.

As for the big guns of spring, the baseball and men's lacrosse teams, why, they didn't do much at all except solidify their spots at the top of the polls with big wins on the road against top-ten (top-five, in baseball's case) opponents. Cornell never posed a threat to the Hoos in Ithaca, and with that out of the way, UVA shouldn't be tested much until two weeks from now when Hopkins comes to town. And even that might not be the big deal it usually is: Hopkins got absolutely crushed this weekend by now-sixth-ranked Hofstra, 14-6, and they also needed a last-minute goal to beat 1-3 Siena. It's not out of the question we murder Hopkins too, as long as the defense continues the kind of effort they've brought in the past couple weeks.

(Now that basketball and lacrosse have both been covered, it's as good a time as any to let you know that thanks mostly to asshole TV stations and a little bit of my own sloppiness, I don't have either the BC game or lacrosse's Syracuse game to put on highlight video. Please don't throw things at me. The fuckwitted cockbiters at NESN decided to show some dumbass talking head yack about the Bruins for an hour followed by a Red Sox preseason game and switched my basketball off the channel I'd set to record and onto a different one. I hate the Red Sox even more than I did before, if that is possible. As for lacrosse, well, that's probably my own fault for not noticing ESPNU had some live something or other before the recording of the game, which of course ran overtime. DAMN it.)

Anyway, baseball. Woot woot for ninth inning comebacks. Down 8-3 in the ninth? No big deal; six runs and a little bit of lucky fielding later, the Florida State series is clinched. Would have been nice to get the sweep, but after a comeback like that nobody's complaining too much. Favorite part of the write-up:

Franco Valdes (Sr., Miami, Fla.) then fell behind 0-2 and was a strike away from ending the game, but he took four straight balls to draw a walk.
That is ballplaying right there. You don't have to get a hit to be a clutch hitter. And Valdes never walks. Do you know how many of those he got all of last year? Six. Six. The next batter was Keith Werman, whose scrappy single scrapped home two scrappy runs and provided the margin of victory. Thanks to the series win at FSU and LSU dropping two of three to Kansas (!) UVA moved up in every poll except the ones who already had us at #1. Basically, "it's Virginia and everyone else right now."

Lastly, why not talk a little football? After all, spring practice kicked off today. First, and maybe most importantly, whatever you do, DO NOT believe the Richmond Times-Dispatch when they say that Riko Smalls and Javaris Brown are "likely the cuts London was referring to when he said last week that he had dismissed two players for academic reasons." Any idiot, and I'm clearly just your man for that job, can look at the roster, check it against last year, and see that Billy Cuffee and Buddy Ruff are missing from the '09 list, and that Smalls and Brown are still there. Draw your own conclusions as to who the two players are.

Anyway, to commemorate the start of spring practice, I've got both a depth chart and recruiting board update. The differences on the depth chart are as follows:

- Every senior walk-on from last year is gone; notably, that includes Nate Rathjen, who did a little punting last year. Any competition for Jimmy Howell is now coming from Logan Spangler.

- Also gone is starting center Jack Shields. That job now goes to former backup Anthony Mihota unless someone jumps in. Cuffee and Ruff also disappear, as do Staton Jobe and Matt Leemhuis, potential fifth-year seniors that weren't asked back.

- Cody Wallace is moved over to center, and Terrence Fells-Danzer moves from linebacker to fullback. There are a few other position changes as well. As the RTD reported, Quintin Hunter worked out at quarterback today, but for now I'm leaving him at WR because that's not really settled yet.

- Added walk-on quarterback J.C. Poma, as well as the triumphant return of Keith Payne.

So a lot of shuffling, as you'd expect with a new staff, and we're almost certainly not done either.

I'm also delinquent on the recruiting board, so here's what's new there:

- Moved DT David Dean to the orange section. Yay!

- A lot of people ran around trying to figure out exactly what RB Clifton Richardson did on last weekend's junior day, and Dad says it's a "soft commitment." You can't blame them, really, for being honest when it's still so early they haven't finished looking around yet. Richardson is supposedly doing a lot of recruiting on his own on Mike London's behalf, though. But for now, until he announces he's stopped looking and UVA's the place for him for real this time, he gets moved to blue. As do RB Nyjee Fleming and LB Caleb Taylor. Let the lesson be that there are several different flavors of these colors here, and in blue's case it ranges from "pretty much a lock" to "I don't have a specific reason but I like our chances."

- Also added CB Demetrious Nicholson to blue (UVA is a "co-leader") and DE Marco Jones to yellow.

- Moved LB Travis Hughes from red to yellow.

Whew. Man, if you made it this far, pat yourself on the back and accept my many thanks, because damn did I ramble on today. That's what happens when UVA has yet another successful weekend, I guess. If we can get our football Saturdays to be as awesome as our spring ones, life'd be goooood.

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