Monday, May 17, 2010

weekend review

Back to....normal? Not really, and for UVA it probably won't be until we stop showing up on the cover of non-sports magazines, but sort of. But in the sense that our teams are back to winning? Definitely.

The lacrosse teams got back on the field, and if you hadn't known they were playing, it's not ESPNUVA's fault: man they must have advertised the upcoming match a few thousand times during the earlier games. It's weird to be the headline team. Those rooting for UVA, whether as fans or as the sentimental favorite, weren't disappointed. The ladies gutted out a tough one against a tough opponent in Towson, and from here out the road gets insanely more difficult, starting with a trip to Chapel Hill next weekend for a game against 3rd-seeded UNC. They already beat UNC once this season, so it's not out of the question.

Dom Starsia said in a TV interview that his guys had looked distracted and sloppy in practice during the past two weeks; by Saturday they'd apparently gotten all the bugs out of the system and looked every bit the part of the #1 seed. Mount St. Mary's happened to be the unfortunate victim in the way of the machine, but a game played that well would have beaten anyone in the country. The score was 18-4 and it wasn't that close; I watched this game with some family (and besides me, everyone in the room could probably have combined the number of lacrosse games they'd ever seen and counted them on two hands) and the verdict from the peanut gallery was that UVA was so much bigger, faster, and stronger that it was hardly even fair. Add that to the tremendous play by Adam Ghitelman and the crisp, beautiful passing in all facets of the game and the result is a rout.

MSM's coach Tom Gravante was admirably classy in his postgame statements. He'd also warned his team they were about to wake up a sleeping giant, which I think is about as accurate a statement as you'll see. Mount St. Mary's is a tiny school with corresponding resources, which is why they lost by 14 and not 4, but there's not a Duke or a Syracuse or a Maryland which could have stopped UVA on Saturday. That team was focused.

Of course, the way Syracuse played this weekend, they'd even have lost to Army, and hey, whaddaya know? Maryland's path to the final just got a lot clearer, and honestly I'm not sure I wouldn't rather play Syracuse. But there's a few things to worry about before then, like Stony Brook. At Stony Brook, which certainly seems fair. I doubt it'll matter, though.


Before the weekend I said that if the baseball team swept North Carolina, it'd probably be a low-scoring series (it was) and that it'd need to be the result of some poor baseball at some point from UNC. You can't blame anyone for having a lousy day trying to hit Danny Hultzen, but Robert Morey - while a quality starter in his own right - is not a Hall of Famer and you should probably get more than three hits off of him in nine innings. Bravo to Morey for a rare complete game.

But it really only took one lousy, badly-timed pitch to make the sweep happen. Two pitches into his relief appearance, Colin Bates served up a walk-off gopherball to John Hicks on a silver platter and the sweep was complete. For UVA it was a weird way to win - all five runs coming on home runs. That win tied the UVA record for conference wins, hopefully to be broken next weekend, and set all kinds of other marks and firsts as well. The main thing, though, is that just one win against Miami next weekend will earn the #1 seed in the ACC tournament. The tournament outlook for UNC is suddenly a lot more dire: NC State stole one from FSU and gets Duke next weekend; UNC has to play VT and is a game behind the Pack for the 8th and final spot.

From here on out the competition is nothing but the best. Tuesday's opponent, VMI, already clocked us once. Miami is a top team in the ACC and a near-lock to host a regional. After that it's all tournament ball, where you're playing for keeps and one really bad outing by a pitcher can have a cascade effect that sends you home before you expected to go. However, Boyd's RPI needs report says UVA has already locked in a spot in the RPI top 8, and Davenport Field should hopefully see two weekends' worth of NCAA tournament ball. This year's road to Omaha won't have detours in Irvine and Oxford.

The ACC has its new TV deal, and it's a good one that exceeds expectations. The ACC will far more than double the amount of money they're getting now. That ESPN would be willing to pay so much for ACC programming bodes well for the other major conferences; even more significantly, I think it slows down the process of Big Ten expansion, makes the ACC a less attractive target for potential pilfering conferences, and is another nail in the coffin for Big East football. More on that tomorrow; I think the TV deal merits its own post.

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