Monday, January 9, 2012

weekend review

Admit it, you were thinking it.  Collapse: imminent.  In fact, it's probably your own damn fault Joe Harris missed that free throw, forcing the Hoos to defend a 1-point lead.  All that negative energy is what caused the brick.  Maybe he needs to start thinking of brunette chicks on a beach or something, like Michigan's kicker.  At any rate, it's pretty much official now that no lead against Miami is quite safe.  I was going to say "to remedy this we should go up by 30 next time we play them" but I don't want to test the basketball gods.

Anyway, no complaining allowed about the close win, because Miami doesn't get another crack at us.  We don't have to worry about "damn that was in our place, what's it gonna be like going to theirs?"  (Not scary.  Miami has no home court atmosphere whatsoever.  But I digress.)  Instead, UVA is now 1-0 in the tossup side of the schedule.  I like 10-6 as an achievable goal for our ACC record, so UVA just needs to go 4-3 to achieve that - or else steal a win from Duke on Thursday.

The nutty thing is, people actually think we can do it.  Blew-my-mind quote of the week: "On a neutral court, you might even take the Cavaliers to win."  Against Duke, that is.  UVA is a fashionable upset pick, as Duke is coming off a loss to Temple and a struggley win at Georgia Tech, and UVA is "(the only) non-UNC team in the ACC that has a chance to force Duke to play to its style."  This is certainly true - you can't make a team shoot before it wants to, and the defense is good enough to possibly be able to force Duke to also use the whole shot clock.

Really, that's the question.  Of course, there'll be a game preview on Thursday for this one, but what it boils down to is which version of the sometimes-inconsistent Hoos show up.  UVA has done an uncanny job this year of playing just slightly above its level of competition no matter what the competition, except for TCU in which we played just slightly below it.  I'm not worried about Cameron; the Hoos proved last year they could handle the place.  I am worried about Ryan Kelly's shooting, Austin Rivers's athleticism, and the size of the Plumlees; and I'm worried about the men in stripes.  Did you know the ACC doesn't even send refs to Durham?  It's true.  Fifteen minutes before every tip-off, they just ask for student volunteers, preferably ones who've reffed IM games but all you really have to do is be able to fit into the shirts.

At #16 in the AP poll and #17 in the coaches' poll, UVA is now at the point where it would take a couple bad weeks in a row to get knocked out of the rankings, and that's not likely any time soon.  (Unless you literally shit on the floor, pollsters don't usually penalize you for losing at Cameron, and three of the next five games after Duke are win-column padders, plus VT at home.)  I still think that's a touch high, but after the events of this week (we won, and so did most of our good wins) it's a hell of a lot harder to claim we don't belong in the top 25.  I'd rank K-State ahead of us, for example, but I don't think I can pick up nine more teams and move them ahead, so here we are.  Also, a dreaded five-seed in Lunardi's bracketology (which is to say, somewhere between 17th and 20th in his reckoning.)  If his bracket were the real thing, we'd be playing Belmont, which has me screaming in terror because Belmont opened the season by losing to Duke by one, and it's the 5/12 matchup and that's an evil place to be.  We either need to win a lot more or lose a little more, because I really and truly would rather be the 6 seed than the 5.


Anyway, there needs to be more to this post than just basketball, or I can't justify calling it a weekend review.  So how about a recruiting board update?  We don't get many of these, these days, and in a little while here I'm gonna start putting together the 2013 model.  It'll be a little earlier than in previous years, because the 2012 recruiting season is gonna finish with very little drama.  There might be a late addition somewhere, and we'll be keeping an eye on Stefon Diggs, but otherwise, we're just kind of loping to the finish line here.  You'll hate me for saying this if it does happen, but I don't even think we'll have any decommitments.  That would be a first in quite a while.  For housekeeping's sake, here's what's changed on the 2012 board:

-- Changed QB Greyson Lambert from "verbal" to "enrolled."  Because he is.

-- Re-added RB Imani Cross to green.  Cross decommitted from Tennessee a little while back, and there's just too much going on around his recruitment to ignore it.  If there weren't a bunch of conflicting reports, I'd put him in blue.  Cross would be a great pickup, because he's something we don't have, either in this class or on the roster: a really big bruiserback.

-- Moved S Mike Tyson from yellow to red.

-- Removed RB Wes Brown (Maryland), OT Kyle Fuller (Baylor), and ATH Cyrus Jones (Alabama.) 

About Brown: he was swayed to Maryland pretty rapidly by the newly hired Mike Locksley, Maryland's new offensive coordinator.  Maryland is making no bones about what Locksley was hired to do: his bonuses for performing on the recruiting trail are larger than those for his offense's on-field performance.

This raises some pretty interesting questions about what's a good idea for coaching contracts.  ESPN has pointed out that this is par for the course in the SEC; also par for the course in the SEC is oversigning and then kicking nonperformers out of the program under the guise of "medical scholarships."  LSU famously told a kid he was not going to have the scholarship he'd signed up for after he'd already enrolled and moved into the dorm.  Obviously, if oversigning is happening because the coaches have their eyes on their bonuses, it only makes a shitty procedure even shittier, so even the appearance of such a thing is probably not a good idea. 

Neither is putting a guy in charge of your offense when his real job is recruiting.  Locksley's record at UNM speaks for itself (on the plus side for Maryland, it probably means he'll never be hired for a head coaching job ever again), and his only other coordinator experience was at Illinois working for Ron Zook.  Locksley's prime recruiting catch from his DC stomping grounds was wide receiver Arrelious Benn, which was quite a grab.  And Illinois's offense did improve in each of Locksley's four years, but whether that was because of the appearance of Juice Williams or Locksley's coaching is up for debate.  At any rate, though Locksley might be a recruiting challenge for UVA in the next couple years, I don't feel threatened by his presence in the coach's box on Saturdays.

Lastly, both the basketball and lacrosse depth charts are getting updates; a long-needed one in the case of the hoops chart.  Bad news already appears on the lacrosse one with Nick O'Reilly's season-long suspension and Blake Riley's season-killing injury; both were set to see a lot of playing time, and both had really picked up their play toward the end of last season.  You might remember that it was Riley who checked the ball free of a Bucknell middie's stick in overtime to set up UVA's eventual game-winner.  Also please note that the lacrosse one isn't gonna be perfect; positions are a little fluid and I don't think all the information that's out there is necessarily correct, not even the officially listed ones on the roster. 

And yes, I'm doing all of this stuff for you in the middle of the BCS championship game.  It's not much of a sacrifice; it's difficult to watch a game when you know for a fact that both coaches are perfectly willing to screw a player's career in the name of winning and you suspect that the reason Mom got pissed at that one player's decision to pick Bama over LSU was that the LSU boosters offered her a better deal.  I wouldn't be surprised if this game had a Subway Series effect; the TV ratings for the 2000 Yankees/Mets World Series plummeted because if something's a big deal only in your slice of the country, the rest of the country tends to be much less interested.  ESPN and their ilk do not get this, but whatever.


Anonymous said...

Who is unfortunately in the lead for possibly not being invited back for a 5th year?

I dont have a scout/rivals/247 account but why would Johns want to come down to Charlottesville? Rocco, Watford, Metheny, and Lambert seems a little crowded. Could easily be wrong though

Anonymous said...

Brendan, why is it nutty to think UVA has a shot against Duke? Not predicting a victory, but curious why you think is nutty. I posted this the other day:

"Going to be very curious about the Duke game. The lack of a pure point for us means that Evans pressure D could cause some havoc up top. If he can stay out of foul trouble, that'll be a positive against Duke. I feel comfortable about rotating our big defensively against the Duke bigs, and in the end, it'll come down to execution, and perhaps guarding Austin Rivers (Evans is probably the best guy for that job despite the height difference, but with the lack of a pure point on Duke, I think I prefer Evans on the ballhandler).

Going to be a fun year."

This is one of those years where we actually, dare I say it, match up fairly well with Duke. We have athletic bigs (Atkins/Mitchell) that can go out and chase a Kelly if need be. We've got Scott going up against the Plumlees. We're sound defensively, and very solid against the 3 ball. We'll slow the tempo down and harass their point.

The scariest thing may be Cook's development. If he gets better (where you have to respect his ability to drive and dish) and allows them to play Seth Curry off the ball more, then Duke could mold into a late season beast.

For now, though, I think we match up fairl well.

Brendan said...

Nutty in the sense that it's kind of mind-blowing that Duke-loving ESPN thinks we have a good chance to beat Duke, not in the sense that people are crazy to think so. Actually, this is the first time since Sean Singletary was around that we have a player that Duke legitimately has to worry about matching up with, because they have nobody, not even a Plumlee, capable of guarding Mike Scott one-on-one.

Re: the question about fifth years, this group of juniors happens to be the last group of freshmen that Al Groh coached, which means there aren't too many fourth-year juniors in the bunch. But it doesn't matter. We have 23 open scholarships for next year and 26 players ostensibly in the freshman class of 2012 (right now) but Kevin Green is probably already gone and forgotten about, there's at least one prep candidate in the group, and Connor McCartin will be on medical scholarship next year due to concussions. That alone gives us all the room we need. If we take another player or two, well, then we simply await the usual attrition. Of all the scholarship juniors, I think the only fifth-year candidates are Phillips, Mihalik, and Schautz; the rest never redshirted. Those three will surely be back.

By the way, having five quarterbacks on scholarship, as we will next season, is pretty normal. Johns and Lambert will probably both redshirt, and so Metheny and Rocco will be gone by their sophomore year. No worries.

Anonymous said...

"Of all the scholarship juniors, I think the only fifth-year candidates are Phillips, Mihalik, and Schautz; the rest never redshirted."

Greer, Walcott and Ruff also enrolled in 2008.

Brendan said...

Hmmm. Walcott I totally meant to mention. True fact. Greer, for some reason I guess I had a memory of Greer playing as a true freshman, so I didn't even bother checking him. Good call. As for Ruff, I haven't heard that he's back on scholarship. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think he is. When he left the team in 2010 he gave up his schollie and I'm pretty sure London accepted him back in a walk-on status.