For turning his beloved invention into a mudfight.
It's a good thing there's no such thing as a "moral loss." Last night's Clemson game is probably what it would look like if there were. There is such a thing as an ugly-ass basketball game, though, and that is exactly what it looks like. Lousy shooting, turnovers, raggedy passing - it was ugly at first blush and it's ugly in the boxscore. Neither team shot over 40% and UVA's horrendous 3:5 assist/turnover ration pales in comparison to Clemson's at 5:13. Take care of the ball? Why bother? We'll just get it back in fifteen seconds anyway. At least three times, a Clemson player simply hucked the ball out of bounds without it being touched by anyone else, once by bouncing it through the legs of a teammate. If I were a Clemson fan my line would be, "We can't possibly play worse than that."
UVA can, though, so it's refreshing to have a win. That's why there are no moral losses. The defense definitely improved, at least on paper, but it was very helpful of Clemson to keep offering the fans a souvenir basketball, as well as bricking every three-pointer in the first half. Neither did they do a good job of exploiting our tendencies the way Wake did. (There are times, against our defense, where there's a window of opportunity to make a backdoor cut or find open three-pointers - usually when the double team is employed or at that one moment where we switch on a screen for a split second and then switch back - and Clemson didn't look for these. Surprising, because Jeff Bzdelik is supposed to be the bad coach and Brad Brownell the good one.) So I'm not especially afraid to say we won because Clemson sucked ass, not because we did anything particularly well or better than before. We made improvements, but the fact is Clemson simply had one of those forgettable nights that happens to every team in the bowels of February, sooner or later.
- One thing I did like, immensely, was the active hands on defense. Our on-ball perimeter defenders kept their hands working at the ball and at their mark's face, and Clemson was clearly bothered by this.
- It's tempting to suggest that the reason for Clemson's comeback was that this is a young team that doesn't yet know how to close out a win. I think it's got a lot more to do with regression to the mean. Clemson picked up the pace and the focus and the result was they played more like the more talented team that they are. They ran out of time to complete the comeback.
- I think it's official: Mustapha Farrakhan's metamorphosis is complete. There was a time when I figured it wouldn't be any great loss when he graduated; in fact, some of his games made it pretty clear it'd be addition by subtraction as someone more consistent took his minutes. When he went down with his injury at the end of the game the first thought that flashed into my head was, "shit, the one person we can't afford to lose" and not just because nobody else is as reliable a free throw shooter right when we needed one the most. It better not be serious, or I don't know how we'll add to the win column from here out.
- Second standout player of the game is Akil Mitchell, even though he scored just two points. His improvement has been noticeable, and he did very well on the defensive end.
- We're still unlikely, I think, to reach 16 wins to guarantee an over .500 finish to the season. Four more are needed in the next eight, and most of the best opportunities are on the road (Miami, Georgia Tech.) NC State would be a good third candidate. Where else? BC and VT visit Charlottesville this month; wins over either would be an upset. Forget about FSU and Maryland on the road, as well as Duke.