Monday, April 9, 2012

weekend review

I've been afraid to start writing this because the biggest news of the weekend might break AT ANY MOMENT.  (AAAAAAAAA)  I'm sure what'll happen is, I'll have this nice big writeup about how we're still waiting on pins and needles for point guard T.J. McConnell's imminent decision between UVA and Arizona, and by the time I get done writing it I'll have to erase it and start over.

Yes, we're still waiting, despite some Arizona site (Point Guard U, they're called) jumping the gun and reporting a McConnell commitment to the Wildcats late last night.  No such commitment has yet occurred, of course.  These people at Point Guard U have been more or less "reporting" McConnell will be a Cat for a couple weeks now, so there's no good reason to consider them the definitive source.

So we wait.  Arizona is full enough on scholarship guys that they've stopped recruiting a late 2012 guy by the name of Amadeo Della Valle, but not so full that there's no longer any room for McConnell.  (Sean Miller isn't that dumb.)  If this didn't happen to be a guy whose family knew Miller from way back, it might already be over by now and we'd have us a point guard.  But for now....we wait.


And we talk lacrosse.  The Hoos opened one up on North Carolina this week, in what I think was the best three quarters of defense they've played all season.  (Not so much the fourth - they looked a little complacent and it's fair to also mention that the offense plays differently when it's desperate.  And being down by 7 qualifies as desperate.)  I wasn't kidding when I said UNC's offense was dangerous, and the Hoos held them to five goals in the first three quarters.

That means a yeoman effort by the defense, of course, and also by Rob Fortunato.  (Let's just come out and say right now what we've all been thinking but not wanting to say: Fortunato has been better than Adam Ghitelman at stopping shots.  Unlike with Ghitelman, I'm still a little nervous when Fortunato makes a pass longer than about fifteen yards, but Fortunato has been damn impressive in net.  He's making saves that I don't think Ghitelman would've.)  But the guys I want to single out this time are the SSDMs: Chris LaPierre and Bobby Hill.  An excellent game by both, and Rob Emery has been playing a little two-way ball as well and showed us why when he went coast-to-coast for an early transition goal.

The offense hummed like the proverbial well-oiled machine.  Steele Stanwick racked up the numbers as usual, but nevertheless the game wasn't all Stanwick all the time; in fact it was Matt White who made a Stanwickesque pass to Bocklet for the first man-up goal.  Offense came from everywhere, and it broke down the UNC resistance; their goalie Rastivo often made the first save but couldn't make the second one.

I think - I am not 100% sure but I think - that we have locked in another date with Carolina in the ACC tournament.  If I'm right, it works like this:

-- If we [redacted to appease the fickle lacrosse gods] on Friday, we would be the #1 seed with a 3-0 record, and they'd have to apply a three-way tiebreaker to deal with the 1-2 teams down below.  I think the applicable tiebreaker will be goal differential in games between the tied teams, in which Maryland is +2 and the other two are -1.  That would give Maryland the two seed, and Duke beat UNC so they're the three, and UNC the four.

-- If we lose to Duke on Friday, then we'd be the two seed, with us and Duke at 2-1 and UNC and Maryland at 1-2.  And UNC beat Maryland.

I could be wrong about this, but I'll let you quote me anyway.


In the baseball world, we watched a thrilling sweep, particularly on Sunday.  Saturday was a thing of beauty, with Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera each going yard (and then going yard again), but Sunday was the real happy time, as the good guys twice came back from a multiple-run deficit in crunch time to broom away the hated.....oops.  You want Virginia baseball.  I'm kind of puffed-up and happy about the Tigers, too.

Well, it's still going on, as I type this, because of the TV schedule, but it started off just fine.  A much-needed series win against Wake Forest is already in the bag, and the Hoos are up 3-2 in the not-rubber game as I write.  We'll either be 9-6 or 8-7 in an hour or so, and 9-6 would be interesting because that's the same record as UNC, who happens to be the next opponent.  A huge series.

For all the angst over losing three games in Tallahassee, it's worth it to remember that a break or two the other way might've sent us home with a series win - and FSU is now 14-1.  They're, uh, good.

But they're also in the other division.  Now I don't want to get expectations too high, but finishing off the win tonight and then a good result against UNC could put the Hoos in an outside position to steal the division title from current leader Miami.  But a lot would have to go right and I'm not getting my hopes up.  Yet.

The bottom line is that a regional 2 seed is still the minimum expectation.  The main question remains the bullpen.  Artie Lewicki was pulled in the fourth inning tonight, and he's never going to be a guy who goes eight innings anyway, which means they'll be in for plenty of innings in the upcoming weeks.  They were excellent yesterday, limiting Wake to 1 run all day after Silverstein was pulled in the fifth.  In the end I don't think this team has the pitching to pull off an extended tournament run (meaning: make it to Omaha) but that's a concern for a month from now, not right now.

A final interesting note: this week's Wednesday opponent is George Washington.  Perhaps this year one of their players will get to experience Davenport Field from the perspective of a baserunner.

Look at that, I made it all the way to the end of the post and T.J. McConnell hasn't made (or at least announced) his decision.  All my worrying for nothing.  The conventional wisdom is that the longer it takes after the Arizona visit is a good thing for UVA.  I see no reason to question the conventional wisdom.  It means the Charlottesville visit stuck.  We shall see.

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