Monday, March 29, 2010

weekend review

Yawn. Another weekend, another dominating performance by UVA athletics. Now if we could say that in the fall, that'd be sweet, but spring ain't bad either. I've already given you my take on the lacrosse game, complete with video, and only have one thing to add: those orange shorts at home are way, way better than white ones if we're going to stick with these white helmets. I don't like the marshmallow look. Our colors are blue and orange, let's see some of that.

So let's talk baseball a bit. Let's talk baseball stats - it's the one sport most inclined to stat geeks. Like:

- Extra-base hits. This one was brought up by one of the observant posters on TheSabre and given the lineup Clemson has, it's remarkable: our pitchers allowed just one extra-base hit all weekend, a Chris Epps double in the second game (8-5 loss.) That's right - neither of Clemson's biggest boppers (Schaus and Parker) managed anything but singles. They got their share, but were limited to two RBIs between them.

- Unearned runs. ARGGGGH. After I go and brag on our fielding and bag on theirs, it's UVA that gets done in by three unearned runs in the ninth inning of Game 2. That's head-asplodingly annoying.

- Strength of schedule. Oh yes. This is actually the interesting stuff here. Back in January, the media held their poll as always to offer up their preseason rankings. Baseball uses the division structure, so the media voted and ranked by divisions, but here I'm ranking them based on how many points they earned in the poll:

1. UVA
2. FSU
3. Clemson
4. GT
5. UNC
6. Miami
6. BC
8. NC State
9. Wake
10. VT
11. Md.
12. Duke

Miami is better than Boston College and nobody in their right mind would say otherwise, so I'm giving them #6 and BC #7. It's neato enough that we were #1, but now that everyone's played three series, guess who has the strongest strength of schedule per these ratings? Duh, UVA again. And that's obviously without the benefit of getting to play the #1 team. The strongest schedules so far are UVA (played FSU, BC, Clemson), Maryland (VT, GT, FSU), Florida State (UVA, UNC, Md.) and North Carolina (Duke, FSU, GT.)

And we're 7-2! And so is Miami, despite having played the worst schedule of the bunch (BC, Duke, NC State.) I say despite because how do you lose two games? Georgia Tech is on our sked in two weeks and hopefully their Duke series this week gives them a false sense of confidence before our pitchers mow down their lineup. UVA is putting the tough games behind them, and winning those series too. 20 wins is within reach here.

Speaking of pitchers mowing down the opposition, guess who actually had the best game of the three weekend starters? Morey was nasty striking out 7 in six innings, and gave up fewer hits too, but it was Cody Winiarski that stuck out by scattering six hits and giving up just one run. That's two brilliant starts in a row now, and doing it against Boston College is one thing; Clemson is another entirely. Two games against Towson this week before the NC State weekend series, and Roberts and Kline take the hill - looks like someone's solidified his spot as a Sunday starter. This was (and still is, a little bit) in my opinion the #1 issue facing the team if they wanted to compete for the national title. The way tournament ball is set up, a solid third starter is absolutely crucial. Actually, you really need four, but you can't have four if you don't have three. So Winiarski stepping in for Andrew Carraway is the biggest variable in the championship baseball equation.


Not forgetting the swimming! With a tenth-place finish at the NCAAs, the men ensured that we'd see both our swim teams earn top-ten finishes. It's a slow but hopefully steady climb to national prominence for the UVA swim teams. There's still a huge gap between where we are and the Stanfords and Cals and Arizonas of the swimming world, but it's a lot smaller than it was a few years ago. And of the swimmers who scored for UVA at the meet, only two were seniors and both were relay guys.


Now for basketball. We got a lot of the bad news out of the way early. If it sounded like Sylven Landesberg had his mind made up about going pro a while ago, that's probably because he did. So it's no wonder Tony Bennett offered Billy Baron way back in December. But now that hopefully all the attrition is out of the way (and I think it is) it's time to talk about other people's misfortune being our gain. I'm behind on this because the beans were spilled after this guy was spotted at the lacrosse game Saturday, but just as I'd hoped, Bennett's looking at transfers.

And this guy Justin Hamilton is precisely what we need. He'd be a two-year transfer, for starters, so he'd help to spread out the scholarships. He's a 6'11", 255 pound big man, and he can score some, rebound some, doesn't turn the ball over much for a big man, good shooting percentage, can shoot free throws as well as any guard. THANK YOU SIR MAY I HAVE ANOTHER??? Sounds like exactly what was missing from this lineup. And lest you think he might have padded his stats against inferior competition, please note that all his double-digit scoring games and double-digit rebounding games came after the New Year this year. That includes 10 and 7 against Duke and a double-double against Kansas. We must have Justin Hamilton.

Hamilton will be eligible to play for whatever team he chooses in 2011, which, with this huge 2010 class turning sophomores, would just about coincide with our Rise To Glory. We just have to beat out LSU and UCLA for his services, and then fend off angry Cyclone fans wanting to know why a guy transferred to Virginia from Ames, Iowa in order to be closer to his family in Utah.


Finally, the ol' recruiting board has been looking a little dusty lately, so I gave it a refresh. Here's the updates:

- Added LB Daquan Romero to blue.

- Added ATH Brandon Phelps and QB Gary Nova to yellow. Only thing putting Phelps in the yellow and not red is his legacy status - he's been offered by everyone.

- Added DE Norkethius Otis to red.

- Removed TE Eric Ebron from the red section - he committed to UNC.

Finally finally for real, Maryland is this weekend's lacrosse matchup, which means it's Hit A Terp With A Stick Week. You are not encouraged to commit violence against actual animals, or for that matter Terp fans no matter how much they might ask for it by swearing like sailors in front of your eight-year-old, but the lacrosse team will be celebrating on Saturday in ways that entertainingly cause Maryland coach Dave Cottle to turn as red as a Twerp jersey. He does that when he's mad. It's fun.

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