Who says February sucks? Well, I do. I hate February. One of its few redeeming qualities is that it's the shortest month, so we get out of the misery quicker and into what is supposed to be spring. But another redeeming quality is that it's the beginning of the spring sports season and so we get to witness a lot of wins. Especially if the hoops team is playing well.
Which it so happens they are. At some point as the Hoos were busy pulling away from Georgia Tech I thought to myself, "man, this would be a blowout if we'd ever hit a damn three pointer." Not long afterwards, Taylor Barnette dropped in two three-pointers easy as you please and it was a blowout.
I've been beating the drum that UVA's suddenly dynamic offense is not dependent on the three-pointer, and there couldn't have been a better example than this Georgia Tech game. UVA's game plan took GT's shot-blocking maestro Daniel Miller totally out of the shot-blocking business - in fact, Tech only had one blocked shot all day. Akil Mitchell was astoundingly wide open underneath the rim; sometimes so much so that Jontel Evans realized it before Mitchell did. And GT lived in deathly fear of leaving three-point shooters open, allowing Evans a lot of clear and easy lanes to the rim, which he took well full advantage of.
Toss in a few bad-idea defensive switches that left Joe Harris guarded in the post by GT's rail-thin backcourt (their guards are all awfully skinny and Harris's time in the weight room has borne fruit) and UVA just had its way inside the three-point line. That the Hoos could effect such a blowout while shooting a measly .316 from three (and getting the first 0-fer from Harris in that regard since the Mississippi Valley State game) is one of the biggest reasons to be excited about this team's chances in their remaining games. And really, they were already up 14 when Barnette popped those two three-buckets, and two more came even after that point. (Mike Tobey's was the best. It's not the first he's shot this year, so we knew he could do it, but basketball is the kind of messed-up game where your center comes back from mono and is maddeningly short on all his shots so of course his longest one is nothing but net.) We've always said "man when Tony Bennett's teams learn to play offense, watch the hell out" and it's starting to come true.
If you want to start giggling like a schoolgirl during a UVA basketball game this year, wait til they have a 20-point-and-widening lead on an ACC team and then say to yourself "and next year we get Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill."
I didn't get to watch the lacrosse game, so I only have two observations: holding Stony Brook to two second-half goals is impressive work by the defense (not that Stony Brook is a great offensive team, but they ain't VMI either) and second, end-of-quarter goals are going to kill us one day if that trend doesn't stop. Both Drexel and Stony Brook scored two goals with ten seconds or less left in a quarter.
Other than that, I got nothin'. Which leaves baseball, where every starting pitcher is apparently trying to one-up the other. Scott Silverstein rebounded nicely from last Saturday's performance to turn in over six shutout innings, and Whit Mayberry finished his game and his shutout by giving up one hit and four strikeouts in two and two-thirds.
They couldn't touch Brandon Waddell, though. Holy piss. Or Holy Toledo, I guess, since that's the official overused har-har-get-it phrase you're supposed to use when the Rockets come to town. Waddell struck out 15 batters in six innings. That is to say, only three hitters got themselves out some other way. Needless to say, Toledo did not score on him either. It is mentioned that Danny Hultzen was the last UVA pitcher to strike out 15 hitters, and I would love to go to the box score and look to see if that was done in only six innings also, but the website redesigned stripped it of most of its functionality and broke all the links. So I will check the ECU website, and learn that Hultzen did his work in seven innings. But Waddell walked a batter and Hultzen didn't. So.
Anyway, when you're comparing your freshman pitcher with two games under his belt to Danny Hultzen, you might have something special on your hands. Then again, only one UVA pitcher allowed any runs at all to Toledo, and that was (sigh) Nathan Kirby, who's going to have to get this straightened out. Actually, the folks at the game are suggesting being straightened out, as in a total lack of movement on his pitches, is why he's being knocked around. Fortunately, our other pitchers don't seem to be giving up any runs, so there's time to work on this.
The results of this week's season sim are below:
They are starting to reflect reality now; for example the only two teams in real life with a chance at the ACC's #1 seed are Miami and Duke - and Miami can't fall below #2 - and so the sim is duly aware of this. I've been telling you that UVA is in the driver's seat for third seed, and the sim backs me up, giving us almost a 70% chance at winning it. What surprised me most is how apparently locked in Maryland is to the 6th seed, with very little hope of moving up and not much more chance than that of moving down. FSU, Clemson, and Wake are locked in a major struggle for the 7th seed, which earns you the likely right to play Georgia Tech.
Finally, the release of the ACC schedule (do you suppose part of the reason the confernce is supposedly in trouble is because they can't get their shit together in this regard til almost March?) and the announcement of the 2015-17 home-and-home with Boise State made me realize I haven't touched the future schedules page for quite some time. So I updated that as best as I could without having any kind of a new schedule model in hand.