I was thinking of just posting a big picture of a fart, and that would've summed up my feelings about the weekend very nicely thank you, but maybe that would've been a cop out. If we're going to puff out our chests like we usually get to do on spring weekends, we gotta face the music when things go badly.
I don't need to break down the basketball, though. It's obvious to anyone what happened there: the basketball gods decided it wasn't going to happen, and that was that, and that decision was probably made back in February. There's no other way to explain the freak series of injuries that hit this team; I don't know who suffered more broken bones, UVA or the rest of the country, but either way it's close. The fates were not aligned for UVA this month, in everything from the actual on-floor competition to the race for accolades. It is not our month when Bernard James kicks Joe Harris ON HIS BROKEN HAND and James is the one who garners media sympathy.
(This is the section you should only read if you like throwing up in your mouth and having your screw-you-o-meter pegged, but Carolina fans are amusingly broken up over Kendall Marshall's injury. As if North Carolina is the team getting all the rotten luck this year. I hope it's a year's worth of rotten luck that's just beginning. Kendall Marshall doesn't specifically deserve to get hurt, but Carolina fans deserve to watch it happen, and if Creighton was going after John Henson, so much the better; Henson is a douchecanoe. I hope some Ohio Bobcat comes out next weekend with a sledgehammer painted with the words "John Henson's Wrist." Then maybe he'll learn the difference between a foul and a "foul." If Creighton was hammering the Tar Heel players all game, it's probably because they assumed they'd be called for a foul whether they did or not, like certain other Carolina opponents, so they might as well get their money's worth. What, me still bitter over that game at the JPJ? Noooooo.)
I'd like to offer some kind of appraisal as to what the team will look like next year and how it will fare, but I just have no idea. Here's what we lose:
- Mike Scott
- Sammy Zeglinski
- Mike Scott
- the ghost of Assane Sene
- Mike Scott
And here's the arriving cavalry:
- Teven Jones
- Evan Nolte
- Justin Anderson
- Mike Tobey
- Malcolm Brogdon's foot
- Joe Harris's left hand
A nominal starting lineup would be Evans, Brogdon, Harris, Mitchell, and Tobey. Maybe. It'll be a weirdly put-together team. A lot of tweener types, and quite a few who fit the mold of a 3 and not enough that fit the mold of a 2 or a 4. No bigs whatsoever besides Tobey, so it's sink or swim with him - hope his defense is up to Tony Bennett's standards or we'll never put anyone out there taller than 6'8". Defending opposing bigs will be a question of hoping Akil Mitchell and Darion Atkins are up to the task, or else relying on a freshman who needs to become best friends with the weight room.
Baseball isn't having a great weekend either, and it ain't over yet. Two losses to Florida State mean that tonight is the last chance to salvage anything from the series. It was the world's first chance to get a glimpse of UVA baseball without buying a ticket to Davenport Field, and what they saw didn't impress.
Saturday's and Sunday's games were full of the kind of mistakes that set coaches' blood on fire. Mainly Saturday. The games were lost because of 1) the mistakes and 2) FSU pouncing ruthlessly on the opportunities because they're a top-ten team and that's what top-ten teams do. Sunday's story was a fantastic outing by Branden Kline - who returned to the starting rotation after a weekend off it - wasted by one bad inning of walks and HBPs. And pitching coach Karl Kuhn was probably already blowing a stack after the four HBPs (and seven walks) issued on Saturday. The next poor pitcher that plunks a Seminole batter probably rides the plane back to Charlottesville tied to a wing.
Pile that on top of the bad fielding effort and poor approach at the plate (FSU reliever Hunter Scantling threw about forty sliders and yet our batters continually looked surprised to see the slider....though it is a little strange to see a huge, hulking pitcher big enough to play defensive end for the Raiders pitching like Jamie Moyer.) Nate Irving probably also came in for a little slice of the coaches' wrath for two lazy efforts resulting in passed balls. Freshman catcher : baseball :: freshman point guard : basketball. He'll learn.
Perhaps most troubling: a commenter's suggestion that Chris Taylor might need to be moved off of shortstop. Taylor is a veteran player and the Hero of Irvine, but.... man, eight errors is kind of hard to argue with. He's also 2-for-19 in ACC play. (.253 on the season, but he's been padding his stats against JMU and Marist.) Might it be a better lineup to have Stephen Bruno at short and Reed Gragnani at third, with Colin Harrington and Mitchell Shifflett in the outfield? Maybe, but if that's even on Brian O'Connor's mind, it won't happen for a couple more weeks. A possible shorter-term solution: move Taylor to second and Keith Werman to short.
Still, O'Connor is not a knee-jerk type. Patience is a hallmark of his, if you've earned it. (Which Taylor has.) He's not stubborn either, but he'll probably always be much slower to make a move than fans will be to suggest it. Will Roberts tossed a perfect game last year and it still took two more weekends before he was moved to Sundays.
Tonight, Whit Mayberry takes the mound, and we'll see if the Hoos can put together nine innings and salvage a game in Tallahassee. Heck, I'd settle for innings that don't take five minutes to get through our half and twenty to get through theirs.
Thank God for lacrosse, and we almost weren't even able to say that, as the team fell behind 6-1 to Ohio State after the first quarter. Fortunately, the next three quarters were 10-3, Good Guys. Ohio State is in the rearview mirror, hopefully permanently; the Buckeyes play the kind of stalloriffic brand of lacrosse that makes people think a shot clock is a good idea. It's fairly hideous. According to people who were there (the only way to see the game otherwise was to fork money over to Ohio State, which I wasn't going to do) OSU went into stall mode in the second quarter, hoping to milk their five-lead for three-fourths of the game. They did this to Denver, too, causing notorious stallmaster Bill Tierney to whine about stalling.
There's no need to play teams like that, honestly. Buckeye fans are getting a little tired of a coach that hasn't been able to get OSU over the hump, so maybe that particular brand of lacrosse isn't long for Columbus, Ohio, but if UVA is going to make trips out to the Midwest, how about making Ann Arbor the next destination? Or, replace the OSU home-and-home we just finished up with one with, say, Georgetown - a much more local destination and, to my mind, a more interesting game.
Next week is a game that I think will determine the #1 seed in the tournament: Johns Hopkins. My favorite rivalry game in any sport not involving an ACC team. (I still think that once Syracuse becomes the ACC's fifth team, the conference should make an exception to its all-or-nothing policy and see if perhaps Hopkins is interested in making it six, for lax only. They probably wouldn't be, but it'd be worth a try.)