Monday, February 27, 2012

weekend review

Before we begin our basketball discussion, the prosecution will stipulate to the following items:

-- Stipulated: That had we hit just one of the large number of missed three-pointers, we probably wouldn't even be having this discussion.  Had we hit two, we definitely wouldn't be.

-- Stipulated: That North Carolina is a much larger team, and therefore much less likely to foul; in addition, the numbers prove this, as they are the best team in the country at keeping the opponent off the free-throw line.

-- Stipulated: That John Henson is a floppy douchebag, about which we will certainly have words later on, and as such, is likely to fool a referee into calling fouls which are then unretractable.

-- Stipulated: That complaining about the refereeing is whiny as hell, most of the time.

That said:

Regardless of the above, you cannot tell me that, for example, Akil Mitchell's "moving screen" was caused by UNC's size advantage, or that said size advantage means UNC committed zero such infractions themselves.  You can't tell me that there's such a thing as a foul for boxing out.  There isn't.  There also is no such thing as a technical foul for a blatant flop, but there should be.

Ironically, that flop by Henson - yes, it was a flop even though he didn't actually fall to the ground - might have enlightened the referees.  My working theory is that, in going to the monitor to check if a flagrant foul was called, saw instead why the crowd was hurling boos at them, and backed off for the rest of the game.  The fouls being called were so astoundingly weak that I don't know how you stop doing them.  Don't box out?  Don't set screens?  So I rule out the idea that UVA was playing any less aggressively, especially since UNC didn't suddenly go on a scoring run.

No, I think it's the exact opposite of a coincidence that, after that trip to the monitor, only two fouls were called on UVA for the next 12 minutes.  One of those was with three seconds left in a last-ditch attempt to get the ball back.  Think of that: 15 fouls called in 28 minutes, and 2 (really 1) in the next 12.  The refereeing was so bad that even the refs knew it.  Too late, of course; foul trouble is irreversible.

It's a shame and a half, because the defensive effort was maybe the best of the season.  I mean, what the Hoos did in sticking it to a team that's much bigger and ostensibly a zillion times more talented is beyond impressive.  It was the kind of effort that deserved the recognition that a win would've brought.  The team battled.  Hard.  They were on the verge of being blown out of their own gym and it didn't faze them; they just buckled down and got 'er done.  With the exception of four-star Malcolm Brogdon, every player fielded by UVA was a measly three-star.  With the exception of four-star Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller (who's friggin 7'2"), every player fielded by UNC (that played more than three minutes) was a super-recruit five-star.  That team should blow ours out of the building, every time, and they shouldn't have to flop like Dookies to get it done.

Which brings us to John Henson.  This is the same douchecannon who felt it necessary to throw down a dunk with, like, twelve seconds left in the last game with a 16-point lead.**  He was on the receiving end of at least two of Scott's fouls, both of which he embellished like an Italian soccer player, and when the refs had the temerity to call a foul on him, he earned himself a technical foul.  They didn't call one, but he earned it.  With Greivis Vasquez playing in the League, Henson is officially the heir apparent to the ACC DOY (Douche of the Year) title.

Obviously, though, the refereeing needs to be fixed.  At some point, this independent-contractor model has got to go, in favor of permanent referees.  I don't even care if they hire the same guys. (Except Karl Hess, the Napoleon of refs.)  At least then you'd have better accountability.  The conference bears some blame, too, for promoting, among their refs, an atmosphere of "every little thing is a foul."  The other thing that would be nice: the ability to award a technical foul for exact situations like the one that earned Scott his fourth foul.  I looked in the rulebook; there's no provision for a T for flopping.  There ought to be, and it should say something to the effect that if the referees check the monitor for a flagrant and it turns out that it wasn't even a foul, they have the discretion to award a tech.  Shouldn't that be considered as unsportsmanlike as foul language?

**Typically the response to this is "well you should've played better and then you wouldn't be in that situation," which misses the point. The point is that dick behavior will surface regardless of situation.


The spring sports did their thing, fortunately.  They were so brutally efficient in their work that I only have bullet points:

-- The first bullet isn't a spring sport at all; it's to let you know that the men's swim team joined the women in winning the ACC title.  It was much closer for them - VT made a meet of it - but the good guys prevailed in the end, and by fewer than 100 points.

-- The lacrosse game against Stony Brook was a 12-5 win, which was (I think) largely a function of the fact that Stony Brook lost everyone who was any good.  They've still got that tendency to be nigh-impossible to shake just when you think you're breaking it open, but with less than half the offensive firepower and no Adam Rand on faceoffs.  So it's kind of relative; used to be you couldn't seem to open it up past three goals, and now it's more like the six-goal barrier you have a hard time with.

-- Congrats are in order for Steele Stanwick, who became only the 7th player in ACC history to break 100 goals and 100 assists in a career.  And he topped both in the same game.

-- And even then, a contribution from him in the goals column wasn't necessary for the Hoos to stake themselves to a fairly sizable lead.  I'm glad I'm not a fan of someone else, coming to the realization that UVA can smoke you even without Stanwick on the scoresheet.  Owen Van Arsdale made some nice early contributions to that effect.  He made some freshman mistakes too, that you could see fairly easily, but I bet you that guy is a Tewaaraton finalist at some point in his career.

-- Baseball outscored Monmouth 38-6 over the three-game series.

-- Seriously.  38-6.

-- Freshman catcher Nate Irving has been providing a nice bat, as has Reed Gragnani.  Most of the rest of the freshmen have been playing only sporadically, but when they do, they're hitting such that the future looks very bright indeed.  Even Mitchell Shifflett is 3-for-4 on the season.  But the guy who's been raking in a way that oughta be outlawed?  Jared King.  He's 14-for-27 (.519) with five extra-base hits (including a home run) and 11 RBIs.

-- This weekend will be a four-game series instead of the traditional three, as we host a "tournament" of our own with two games each against Wright State and Seton Hall.  That means a need for a fifth starter.  Either Joel Effertz will go tomorrow to keep him on the weekdays and the fifth starter will take a turn on Sunday, or - more likely - Effertz will be held for the weekend and this fifth guy will go both tomorrow and next Tuesday.

-- Football schedule!  Finally.  Remember when it would come out the first week of February and we'd all be like, "waaaaahh this is late!"  We can blame a couple of the ACC's member schools for the holdup, in doing some last-minute scheduling calisthenics.  Florida State was one of them; it wasn't entirely their fault, as you can place the blame on a certain ex-Big East school that sued Rich Rodriguez because they think contracts are sacred holy grails that must always be followed to the letter, and then sued the Big East because the Big East insisted on holding them to a contract.  In moving to the Big 12, they had to add a conference game and therefore had to buy out their FSU game, sending FSU scrambling.  In case you're wondering, no, Syracuse and Pitt are not on this schedule.  It would be funny if they were, just to watch the Big East try and put a football schedule together with only five teams.  They'll be in the ACC in 2013, though.  Bet on it.

At any rate, you have to like what you see.  No super-long homestands or road stretches, and the bye week in a good, opportune place.  (I hate early-season bye weeks.  Waste of good rest time.)  And a Thursday night home game on the second-to-last week of the year against UNC, which means a little extra rest before the VT game.  A relatively tough OOC schedule is balanced by a favorable ACC one.  I think we're set up for success here.

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