Monday, May 24, 2010

weekend casualty report: one remote control

You gotta understand, usually when I watch games on TV, one of two things happen. When the good guys are winning, I'm pretty animated. When the bad guys are winning, I normally just sit there and stew and sulk until either the game is over or I decide I've had enough of that shit. So you know the refs were bad when, in a somewhat out-of-character moment, my Tivo remote went screaming across the room after UVA was called for yet another chintzy violation of some kind of rule.

See, the way I figure it, lacrosse is a game of 50/50 calls that really could go either way, so a good way to tell how bad the refereeing is would be to take note of how tilted the 50/50 calls are. When UVA gets called for all the faceoff violations and all the loose-ball violations, in many instances they're deserved and in many instances they're not. When the ball is loose and two guys in different-colored uniforms are running after it, and they collide and one of them falls over, play on, right? Not in the refs minds, which is why in one graceful motion, I leapt up from my chair and winged the object in my hand at the couch. Said object happened to be the remote, which didn't hit the soft cushy couch and therefore was in one piece when it left my hand and about eight pieces when it came to rest. I was lucky I missed the window.

There's a happy ending for both remote and game, however. The remote was repaired (it only came apart rather than having anything actually break), thanks in part to some leftover anger that boiled up when Stony Brook scored and caused me to squeeze the damn thing back together; before then it was being stubborn and wouldn't fit. And the game, of course, was won.

Watch the game or just check the box score, it's not hard to see that the story of the game was FACEOFFS. Goes to show what kind of a neutralizer that can be. The common theme afterwards was "we can't play like that against Duke" (next week's opponent) but I disagree: for the most part, we have to play like that against Duke. About the only problems I saw with UVA's play were the faceoffs and some offensive brain farts. I call those one-game issues. I don't think you'll see them repeated next week. On the flip side, the defense - especially the goaltending - was outstanding. The coaches threw different looks at the Seawolves, a memorable one being the sudden pressure that forced a mistake during one of Stony Brook's man-up chances. Adam Ghitelman stood tall. Stony Brook's big three - Compitello, McBride, and Crowley - accounted for just five of Stony Brook's 14 points. Duke is powered by a big three as well, and that kind of defense on Crotty, Quinzani, and Howell would be just priceless.

I'll just say that was the adversity you have to have on a championship run in order to get in the right frame of mind for it, because I very much want that to be true.


As for baseball, the ride is just beginning. The regular season is done with a series win over Miami - well done, that - and the draw is in for the ACC tournament. As a reminder the format is as follows: the top eight teams in the ACC are broken into pools of 1/4/5/8 and 2/3/6/7, and the pools play round-robin from Wednesday to Saturday with the pool winners playing a championship game on Sunday. Ties are broken as follows: two-way 2-1 ties go to the winner of that game, and three way 2-1 ties go to the highest seed. Woot for being #1.

In UVA's division is #4 Miami, #5 FSU, and #8 Boston College. For Wednesday's game against BC, Coach O'Connor is still deciding on the starter - it'll be Cody Winiarski, Neal Davis, or Branden Kline. Winiarski had an excellent outing against BC earlier this season, and my guess is it'll be him. No indication as to who'll go for Boston College, but it matters little: BC's pitching is awful.

Robert Morey is a near-lock to get the nod for Thursday against Florida State, and then we bust open a can of Danny Hultzen on Saturday. Lucky Miami. The only way they avoid him again is for UVA to have the championship game locked up before Saturday's game. This can happen one of two ways:

- Miami heads into the game 0-2 and UVA goes in 2-0, or
- UVA is 2-0, Miami is 1-1, and the team they beat also loses on Friday in the FSU/BC game.

The former sets up a situation where we can finish no worse than 2-1 and win a head-to-head tiebreaker against anyone. The latter would mean that if we lose, the three-way tiebreaker comes into effect, and the championship game is awarded to the high seed.

If either of those happen, Hultzen will almost certainly be saved for the Sunday championship game, which you might as well assume will be against heavy-hitting Georgia Tech.


In other NCAA tournament akshun:

- The women's lacrosse team is done after a quarterfinal loss to UNC. The men's team will be carrying the flag for them from here on out.

- The men's tennis team, thought to be the best shot at a national title this spring, is also done after making it to the final four. An upset loss to USC just this evening is the end of their season.

- Softball didn't make it out of regional play, but it's still the best softball season in UVA history. First-ever tournament appearance and they got a win, too. That's a program on an upward trend.

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