Monday, March 18, 2013

weekend review

So you may already have heard, but it's the NIT for us.  The Not Important Tournament.  Not Invited Tournament.  Nobody's Interested Tournament.  Blah blah.  I have to admit I'm not especially interested in hearing or talking about how we got snubbed wah wah mid majors with no resumes wah wah.  Don't wanna hear it and I'm not interested in joining the righteous-anger fest.  You knew this was gonna happen and if you couldn't see it coming a mile away then the orange glasses are blinding your eyes.  UVA played like ass down the stretch.  Losing by twenty when the whole world is looking at you to see if you're worthy of the bid is a surefire way to advertise you don't deserve one.

The lesson is not "avoid bad losses" - if it were, VT would've had a few trips to the Dance under Greenberg.  The lesson is to play well down the stretch and don't have so many bad losses that you collapse under their weight.  Everything UVA wanted was there for the taking, and they rolled over and didn't bother.  If you must direct righteous anger somewhere, direct it inward.

Anyway, things aren't so bad.  The Hoos have a whole new (if consolationary) set of opportunities in front of them.  It's like, OK, you screwed that up, but here's another chance at things.  Ironically enough it's even a second crack at getting to the same place they couldn't get to in the preseason.  It's the last one, of course, but at least everything until the big show (if we get that far) will be played at home.  UVA's #1 seed in the NIT ensures that.  And since the JPJA is the one place where they don't seem to screw things up usually, I feel a lot better about the impending clash with Norfolk State.  Seriously, if that game were in Richmond, though, or some other neutral venue, I'd be worried.

What really gnaws is not so much missing out on the big tournament - it's missing out on a tremendous opportunity in the ACC.  That's a 4 seed, a 7 seed, and an 8 seed joining the conference next year, and this year's #1 overall seed the year after that.  And it's not like UNC, Duke, or NC State are going to get worse in the near future.  Miami is about the only currently successful team poised for a drop.  It doesn't get any easier to win the ACC going forward.  UVA should have a better team next year than they do this year, but will the conference leave them behind anyway?  It's gonna be a tough sled in 2014.


And all that unpleasantness aside, it pains me even more to talk about losing to Ohio State in anything, yet that's exactly what the lacrosse team went and did.  The problem they're having is lit up in a bright neon sign by now.  Vermont exposed it and Ohio State took advantage: Play a zone defense and UVA won't score on you.

The first quarter was nice and easy.  (Except for the last second of it.  I've mentioned already this season the seeming inability to defend in the last 30 seconds of a quarter and it bit us in the butt again.)  The offense clicked because OSU couldn't defend Nick O'Reilly behind the net.  Then they switched to a packed-down zone and stationed a defender on either side of the net, daring him to make a move to the front.  Maddeningly, UVA's apparent response was to put another player behind the net, which was a useless move.

From then on UVA only ever scored when OSU abandoned the zone or didn't have time to set it up.  Maddening stuff.  You saw yesterday's bracketology, I'm sure, and UVA's position is better than I thought it would be, but only five games remain in the season, six (or seven) counting the ACC tourney.  (Lacrosse season is awfully damn short, isn't it?  Can you imagine if football season were just September and October and then the postseason began?)   UVA has to win somewhere if they want the season to extend past the ACC tourney, and I don't mean against Bellarmine.  (Which really worries me right now.  Bellarmine's defense is starting to look fairly legit.)

Oh, while I'm at it: can we settle on a goalie?  Or, can maybe one of the goalies do something about winning the starting job?  The announcers pointed out that Rhody Heller's start against Vermont was a disciplinary thing in re: Marino, but that his OSU start was more of a performance thing.  I didn't think Marino was playing all that bad, but his .450 save percentage says otherwise.  Heller's isn't much better.  A couple extra saves here and there just might make a difference.  Would it be rude of me to point out that Austin Geisler has a .554 save percentage for High Point at the moment?


At least there's baseball.  Between one thing and another I didn't watch a single baseball game all weekend.  For this I feel shame.  But I'm duly impressed by the clutch batsman-work from Mike Papi on Friday.  Since I didn't see the games I don't have any in-depth stuff here.  But I'll say this.  UVA has settled nicely into a spot where we can go into each season, and the minimum expectation in February is a 50/50 chance at hosting a regional.  Any worse and the previous season must've been pretty poor, but it hasn't been that way for a while.  That 50/50 shot is what we had this year.  After two weeks into the ACC season, UVA's done a workmanlike job in winning a series against a much-improved Maryland team (I miss dropping 20 runs on them, but oh well, Maryland baseball is headed for obscurity and oblivion soon enough) and a road series against Clemson.  None too shabby.  I'd like to see how we do against our nemesis NC State next week, which always seems to beat us in the series no matter how much of a roll we're on, but at least, I think we can nudge the odds of a Charlottesville regional just a little more in our favor.  Maybe only to 55/45, but this team is doing a marvelous job of spinning potential into gold.

Last thing for tonight: TheSabre has a marvelous photo gallery of the indoor practice facility, which looks fantastic.  The speed with which that thing went up, from conception to reality, is remarkable.  It wasn't that long ago the thing caught fire and we were like "well, at least it's hardly even started so there's not much to set back."

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