Monday, April 25, 2011

weekend review of curses and cursebreaking

I know exactly when I crossed over from being a casual, score-checking follower of lacrosse and into full-blown fanhood.  It was somewhere in the second quarter of the semifinal game in 2006 against Syracuse, because that's when I found out they actually put the sport on television.  Being able to actually watch the games does wonders.

The nice thing about UVA lacrosse is that it's been an embarrassment-free ride.  Until Friday.  19-10 is the kind of score we're supposed to be laying on Mount St. Mary's, and yes Duke was running up the score because that's how they roll but certain teams aren't allowed to ever complain about having the score run up on them because they should never be in that position in the first place.  UVA is one of those teams.

The charges are as follows: 2nd degree failure to give a fuck about important ground balls.  Multiple counts of felonious turnovers caused by hotdog passes which were obviously doomed from the beginning.  Failure to clear.  Pylonic defense.  The charge of felonious faceoff suckage is dropped - surprisingly UVA was 17 of 31, which is surprisingly competent.  The problem is that it seems like every faceoff we win is won back to the defensive end of the field and then we have to work on clearing it out, which used to be our #1 strength and has turned into an adventure and a half.  And every faceoff we lose is also lost to our defensive end and then its transition goal time.  Six Duke goals came within sixty seconds of a faceoff on Friday and four of them came within fifteen seconds of one.

The guy I feel bad for is Adam Ghitelman, because he looks like ass out there and it's not his fault.  Transition goals are nearly impossible for a goalie to do anything about, and the man-to-man defense is a complete lost cause.  Last year the starting defenders were Ken Clausen, Ryan Nizolek, and Matt Lovejoy, and none of those three are on the field any more now that Lovejoy (always the shakiest of the three anyway) is laid up for the season.  We're getting hoist with our own petard now; Duke just put on an athletic one-on-one clinic and served notice that any team who wants to test its own middies and attackmen one-on-one against our defenders should feel free to do so.

So that was probably the season.  Ostensibly, the Penn game next week looms large as a real chance to get something done and salvage some kind of tournament seeding - perhaps as a host team - but I don't think it's even that big any more.  I'd say with a win we have maybe a 50/50 chance at hosting a game.  A loss makes it dead certain we won't.  Neither will we get knocked out of the tournament altogether, but do you really like the idea of trying to play a game in the thin air in Denver?  I don't.  The plus side is that the tournament is a win-win proposition: either we rally and make a nice long run toward recaptured glory, or the misery ends quick and we can focus on baseball.


Speaking of baseball, baseball is nice.  I like baseball because in baseball we've only had to deal with four losses in 44 games.  NC State would be the first team to hand Danny Hultzen a loss this season because beating UVA has become NC State's only baseball tradition, but Tyler Wilson turned in a gem in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader and the bats came alive on Sunday enough to win the first rubber game we've seen all season.

Other than a little extra chatter on the field (I get the feeling NC State's aware of their usual death grip on UVA baseball) and the complete inability of the Wolfies to defend a stolen base attempt on Sunday, it was kind of a ho-hum series.  So let's bulletize the big-picture stuff.

- No, seriously, the way the Pack dealt with UVA baserunners was hideous.  Their pitchers - left-handed pitchers at that - repeatedly ignored the guy on first and his huge leads and gave up huge jumps to the baserunner.  And catcher Pratt Maynard couldn't hit the broad side of an aircraft carrier with his throws to second.  Except for one, which was a great throw but had no receiving end because the infielders forgot to cover the base.  NC State's coach pulled his starting pitcher in the middle of a second-inning at-bat because he ignored Chris Taylor on first (who would take three of UVA's six stolen bases) and at the same time hucked a pitch four feet wide of the plate and six feet in the air.

- You know about Robo-Danny's demolition of the school records, especially where strikeouts are concerned (he long ago passed the old career mark set by Seth Greisinger and is 42 away from the single-season record) but he's not the only one rewriting the books.  Steven Proscia's next RBI will give him sole possession of the UVA record in that category.

- UVA needs to go just 4-8 in its last 12 games to finish with a top-8 RPI.  Naturally they are the RPI top-ranked team, and only Florida also has the luxury of finishing top-8 with a losing record.  By this time next week it's possibly UVA has guaranteed itself a top-8 finish.

- Vote for Tyler Wilson!  Vote, damn you.  You can do it once a day.  He's losing ground.  Do not let that happen.


In the other stuff department:

- Two ACC championships over the weekend: rowing and men's tennis.  We get a lot of those.  There probably isn't a more dominant team at UVA than men's tennis.  This is the year it should hopefully turn into a national title.  UVA now has four ACC championships on the season, second only to Maryland with five.  Only baseball and softball yet to be decided, neither of which Maryland will win.  GT is the odds-on softball favorite; we'll see about baseball, which is often subject to the whims of fate.

- Mike London has his second commitment on board.  Remember last week when I said something to the effect of commitments coming at this time of year will be surprises?  Yeah.  Demeitre Brim needed only a few days to decide where he wanted to go to school.  It could bear watching because Brim has never been to UVA, had little contact with the coaches prior to his offer, and has just one besides the UVA one.  Half the time that's a kid making a snap decision and regretting it later and half the time it's damn near the strongest kind of commitment you can make.  Board update tomorrow, which has plenty of good stuff and bad stuff.

- The ACC coaching carousel is done spinning for the year unless someone is caught shoving dead hookers in a trunk, with George Mason's Jim Larranaga going to Miami.  Larranaga's a fine coach and all, and this move makes sense for him since Miami is probably stuffing his pockets with good American money, but it might not make much sense for Miami.  How much shelf life does Larranaga have at 61?  He's an upgrade over Frank Haith, and if Miami gets as many seasons out of Larranaga as they did with Haith (seven) they'll have done well.  But that might be the upper limit of what he can give them.

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