Tuesday, March 5, 2013

weekend review

It's probably a good thing I never got around to writing previews of either the Boston College hoops game or the Syracuse lacrosse one.  I would've predicted wins in both and then gotten blamed for the losses.

Seriously, those should've been highly winnable games.  Of course, they were on the road, which in basketball these days is a deadly place to be.  Even so.  Syracuse looks like they'll struggle this year to get to the NCAA tournament, or would've struggled if we'd beaten them; an overtime loss to Albany is a major detriment to their outlook and should've also meant not having that hard of a time scoring on them.  Again, though: the road.  Especially the Carrier Dome, which is a hellhole as far as UVA lacrosse is concerned.

One thing I sort of pride myself on is looking at a game or a season or something and being able to figure out what happened.  I mean, I wouldn't write this thing if I didn't think I could do that.  Sometimes the reasons are coldly analytical and sometimes intangible, but usually there's something.  So it shames me to say I have no good explanation whatsoever for the Boston College debacle.  Feel free to accept whatever explanation you like: freshmen hitting a wall, Duke hangover, a gym with less atmosphere than a 10 AM shootaround.  I mean, Jontel Evans taking a long dribble off a short basketball court did not help matters, but that's not really it.  The game just....disappeared.  It was there and then it wasn't.  I wish I knew why, and that's probably the most frustrating thing about it.

(As for the Syracuse game, I didn't see it.  It was only aired in Syracuse's markets.  After several years of improvement in TV coverage of lacrosse, we've taken a step back this year to the point where after tomorrow I will have seen the Drexel and Vermont games - both for the first time - and not the Syracuse game.  Next year Cuse will be under the ACC umbrella and this arrangement they have where Time Warner has right of first refusal on anything in the Carrier Dome will be gone.  I hope.)

The good news is that the BC thing doesn't hurt UVA's tournament chances as much as you might think.  It hurts mainly by not helping; we sure could've used that road win.  But the rest of the bubble screwed itself this weekend just as badly.  Baylor just lost to not-even-NIT-bound Texas, probably a hangover from their buzzer-beaten missed chance against K-State on Saturday.  Ole Miss got taken down by 8-20 Mississippi State, and Tennessee got beat by Georgia.  Arizona State and St. John's were losers as well.  So, yes, a win on Sunday would've done wonders for separating UVA from the bubble pack a little, but as long as business is taken care of the rest of the way - that is, beat FSU and Maryland if you please - things will still be OK.

In the realm of smaller tournaments, here's the results of the weekly sim:

I've made the tiebreakers reflect reality instead of arbitrarily assigning them to the highest-rated KenPom team, which is to say that, yes, Miami has clinched the #1 seed.  One thing that's not quite true is the sim's declaration that UVA has no shot at the #2 seed; it's just that that would require such an unlikely turn of events (including VT beating Duke in Cameron) as to be essentially out of the question.

UVA no longer controls its own destiny for the #3 seed, unfortunately, but if they win out, so must UNC, which means they have to beat Duke.  That game is at the Dean Dome, so anything's possible, but still.


At least the baseball team is still undefeated.  It better be, since the lineup of teams they've played is what Tim Weiser would call less than stellar.  But the convincing fashion in which they've won is highly encouraging.  Starting pitchers Brandon Waddell and Nick Howard both boast ERAs under 1.00, Trey Oest has pitched 11 innings of shutout ball, and the bats are mashing.

With the first ACC series coming up this weekend (at home against Maryland), impressions after the first 11 games:

-- Waddell and Howard look like Friday and Saturday guys.  Waddell is an absolute revelation.  His 15-K, six-inning game against Toledo was nuts.  He wasn't especially hittable against Harvard, either.  Oest is making a serious bid for a weekend role as well.  Scott Silverstein has had really only one bad outing, but the others have had none, and Silverstein's good outings aren't as good, either.  Silverstein's cruising for the weekday job.

-- That dominance aside, the bullpen is going to be massively important this year.  BOC has been pulling his starters in the fifth and sixth innings for the most part.  We're talking about two freshmen, one sophomore who pitched only part-time last year, and one senior with an arm that's been rebuilt more than Troy.  Wisely, the coaches are guarding very heavily against any breakdowns.  But it means we're going to have to have a very deep pen.

Lucky us: early returns are good there, too.  Whit Mayberry's return was a very pleasant surprise, and he's pitched very well.  He's been used as sort of the game's second starter, averaging more than three innings an appearance.  Kyle Crockett had a little back problem to start the year, but he's come back as well, and pitched shutdown ball too.  Josh Sborz appears to be taking on the closer role.  David Rosenberger and Austin Young have three appearances each; Kevin Doherty and Nathaniel Abel, two each.  All have done well.  And better yet, folks at the games have reported - and recorded - Artie Lewicki throwing in the pen.  He could be back from his Tommy John surgery in perhaps 3-6 weeks.

-- In the uniform realm, it seems UVA now has an orange VIRGINIA jersey with the fancy lettering to go along with the white one they've "always" had and the blue one they debuted not long ago.  And that lettering, by the way, is a little different on all three jerseys: it's vertically arched now instead of radially arched.  Uni Watch readers will get it; non-Uni Watch readers didn't give a damn in the first place.

The orange fancy-letter jersey basically replaces the one with script writing, giving UVA a little bit more of a unified look.  Now there are three jerseys all with the same lettering.  I still want a gray one.  White pants on the road look weird.  But regular gray, not that strange battleship gray thing that the Hoos debuted last year.


I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the swimming Hoos once again captured the ACC championships, which is a nigh-automatic event but worth your applause for the ACC dominance they've been carrying on.  The men were over 150 points better than 2nd place - trust me when I say it's a lot - and the ladies were almost 300 points ahead.  That gives UVA three ACC championships for the year; add the two swimming ones to womens' soccer.

The schedule this week is very Marylandish, with both baseball and basketball taking on the Terps at home.  Lacrosse has Vermont on Tuesday, which is the end of the cupcake season, and Cornell on Saturday.


Anonymous said...

I was at the BC game, and it certainly was discouraging to lose to a nondescript outfit like Boston College. The problem appears to be that the Cavs have become a one trick pony named Joe Harris. When he is off as he was Sunday, no one else steps up. It's as if they all expect Joe to drop in 25 or 30 points every time out and they do not have to break a sweat. The scoring has to be more balanced to have any hope of success going forward. And Mike Tobey is clearly not ready for prime time but it takes big men longer to mature so let's hope for the best. And poor little Jontel, every now and then he makes a nice drive to the iron but for the most part he looks overmatched. Next year looks encouraging but I think this group has peaked and the tide is going out.

Sandmeistr said...

Gonna disagree with the one trick pony comment by posting Akil Mitchell's 16 points and 8 rebounds. Gonna disagree with the assessment of Tobey - he's just coming back from mono for crying out loud. And I'm certainly going to disagree about Evans looking overmatched - he can't shoot (and BC's guards can) but JE had 4 assists; BC's starting guards combined for 2 assists.

The BC game was lost by the coaches - no time out taken at the end, not pounding it inside with an 11 point lead and no Eagle capable of stopping Mitchell, Jesperson on the bench for the end of the game when defense was needed.

The biggest problem UVA has this season is its best player, while big time, is not clutch (and shouldn't be included in the pantheon. Yet).

Dave said...

I agree with Sandmeistr about the failure to pound it inside more. Mitchell has developed some nice moves this year, and was doing great against BC when he got a touch. We could sure use Atkins back at full strength to complement Mitchell though, although that may not happen this season. Tobey barely saw action either.

A timeout at the end would have been smart, but it doesn't explain why we trailed by a point with six seconds to play.

I remain a strong champion of Jontel. In a point guard, I will absolutely take ballhandling, passing & defense over shooting, every time. (Well, I really wish he could shoot FTs. Important PG skill if you're gonna close out games.) Teven makes me nervous.

My explanation for the game: Two teams that both perform totally differently at home vs on the road. And we were at their place.

Anonymous said...

If we don't make The Dance, look no further than this game.

Sandmeistr said...

Nope. If we don't make the dance, look at the loss to Delaware (which led us to games against RPIs #227 and #334 instead of games against #21 and either #10 or #38) and the loss to ODU.