Monday, February 28, 2011

weekend review

So it's back to the grind. Losing by 19 to Boston College, if nothing else, serves to remind us of the cavernous talent (and more importantly, experience) chasm separating this basketball team from the rest of the ACC. Various game reports opened by wondering what to point to in order to explain the blowout - or more specifically, the total lack of ability to play either offense or defense in the second half. The answer is simple: the implicit conclusion from last week's column that this team has been playing way over their heads. At some point that has to be expected to catch up to you.

You are now forbidden, for your own health, from uttering the word "NIT." I suppose it doesn't especially matter what happens for the rest of the season, but since Tony Bennett is still Tony Bennett it's not like the team is going to agree with that. Worse teams than this one have made the CBI, and even if that's the only tournament we get invited to we should accept. It's probably a money-loser, but this is the most profitable athletic department in the conference and what good is making all that money if you don't spend it on something like that? This team needs to cram as much basketball into its gullet as possible. And even if the only thing we have to look forward to this year is three more losses to end the season, we'll always have Paris, where "Paris" is code for "sweeping the Hokies right the hell out of the arena."

Speaking of the Hokies: Fuck you, Duke. Seriously. You run roughshod over the entire conference for three decades and then the one time I want you to actually take care of business and crush someone, you choke like Monica on the President's cigar. I hope when Coach K retires you hire Matt Doherty.


OK, now that the profanity is out of the way let's talk about things that make us happy, like lacrosse and baseball.

I don't know whether to worry or not about the start of the lacrosse season. Yes, 3-0 is a good thing, and Drexel is no slouch of a team and Stony Brook is potential final four material, so beating them is great. Beating them without the suspended Bratton twins is pretty incredible.

That said, why the rash of suspensions? First Ghitelman and now both Rhamel and Shamel, and both for games of importance. Let's hope this is Starsia's way of reacting to the problems of last year and clamping down on stuff that he wasn't clamping down on before. And let's hope the team gets the message.

Discipline problems aside, this why there's such a thing as Steele Stanwick. Five goals against Stony Brook, including the OT game-winner, should tell you who the team sees as their go-to guy, especially when last year's second-line midfield of Haldy, Briggs, and Emery is suddenly the first-line midfield. The Brattons got the preseason hype and they'll be creating all the highlight goals, but Stanwick might well be the irreplaceable one.

The Stone-Age lack of TV means I'm still at a loss for individual observations, and tonight's VMI game won't add anything to what we know. Fortunately, it's Syracuse on Friday.


I might be waffling on the lacrosse team, but not the baseball team. Despite losing on Sunday and allowing East Carolina to avoid the sweep, the start to the season has been fantastic. Danny Hultzen, of course, sparkles as the Friday starter. Fifteen strikeouts and top-notch work with the bat earned him National Player of the Week honors from Collegiate Baseball. (Seriously, read that article. Hultzen's pitching on Friday was as dominant as you can get short of throwing a perfect game.) Hultzen's dominance is to be marveled at, and should result in all kinds of recognition, gaudy numbers, and Friday evening victories as the season goes on.

But we've kind of been counting on that. The same for Tyler Wilson's excellent job on Saturdays. Wilson's an excellent pitcher too, and we knew that. Even though Cody Winiarski took the Sunday loss with one bad inning, I'm more encouraged by his play than by that of anyone else so far this season. Winiarski has struck out six in each of his two starts, almost doubling his K rate from last season. A weekend rotation without a hole in it means lofty ACC expectations; this is probably the top rotation in the conference and should result in a solid 20 conference wins and maybe then some. This is an awesome development. This is how you live up to people calling you "one bad machine."

I was going to get moving with a full-out preview of the season this week, but actually it'll probably have to wait til next week when the basketball regular season is done.


And now, the rest of the story:

- Ralph Sampson, Hall-of-Famer. My initial reaction was this would've happened fifteen years ago if Sampson were a Dookie. Instead he played for lowly - which wasn't at all lowly at the time - Virginia. After all, Sampson is a member of a three-time-NPOY club that includes just two other players - Oscar Robertson and Bill Walton. Screw the man, man. Then I remembered that the NCBHOF is only like four or five years old, and Sampson wouldn't have been part of the (absolutely enormous) founding class because he's not in the big HOF on account of a mediocre NBA career. Still, how does Ralph Sampson, Three-Time-National-Player-Of-The-Effing-Year Ralph Sampson, have to wait behind Christian Laettner for his turn? Oh, right: Duke, and Not Duke.

Anyway, justice is done. The fact that a College Basketball Hall of Fame could exist as an institution with a building and everything and not have Ralph Sampson inside it was silly. Now it's not.

- Swimmers rock. The men's team, as predicted, made it two-for-two at the ACC Swimming & Diving championships. The meet, as not predicted, wasn't even close. 232 points separated UVA and 2nd-place UNC, which is more points than four of the competing teams achieved at all.

The meet's MVP was distance swimmer Matt McLean for the third time in four years. Other event winners: sprinter Scot Robison and butterflyer Peter Geissinger. The tone of the meet was pretty well set in the first individual event - the 500-yard freestyle - where Virginia swimmers took 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 8th. For those keeping score at home, the meet's over so you can put your pencils away, but that's still 92 of the event total 155 points. In one event UVA scored more than Boston College or Miami combined.

Nationals are next, where hopefully top-10 finishes await both the men and women.

- Can't let this go without a recruiting board update. But first, something even better. A map. I put together a Google Map of the recruiting board. It's color-coded and everything, although the red is kinda pink. And the orange looks red if you don't have the pink near it to compare it to. Blame Google's pastel coloring. Anyway, the link will have a permanent home on the recruiting board page so you can check it out whenever.

Now, the update:

- Added RB Kye Morgan and WR Drakar Harvell to yellow. Both might be green, but for a couple mitigating factors: Morgan lives almost literally in the shadow of Rutgers The SUNJ, and Harvell needs an offer. Harvell will eventually get one, I think, at which time he'll be instabumped to green or blue.

- Moved DT Korren Kirven from yellow to red.

- Moved ATH Cyrus Jones from red to yellow. Jones hails from Gilman - Darius Jennings's alma mater.

Full schedule this week (that's code for "I don't have to pull anything from my ass this week"): I'll preview the NC State game, and lacrosse's Syracuse game. I don't know if I'll preview the Maryland game, as we're destined to be killed by a team we match up with exceedingly poorly. As much as I enjoy this very likable version of our basketball team, I am really looking forward to spring sports.

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