Monday, March 25, 2013

weekend review

I have to admit, I've spent all my grand narratives regarding the St. John's game on Sunday.  UVA beat St. John's at our own place in the NIT's second round exactly 10 years to the day they lost to St. John's on the road... in the second round of the NIT.  And you knew that from reading the game preview.  I guess it's been that kind of year for that stuff, having earlier beaten a top-5-ranked team exactly 11 years to the day they last did it.  Is Wednesday some kind of anniversary of the last time we played Iowa?  Probably not, but one can hope, I suppose.

I'm really just relieved to see the offense reappear, alive and well.  At 1.06 points per possession, it wasn't exactly awe-inspiring, but it worked.  I call it pretty good for playing against a solid defensive team like St. John's.  The stat that hit me the most: 24 buckets, 19 assists.  Bruce Pearl made mention of that at halftime (I think it was 11 and 9 at that point) and he hit the mark.  That's solid ball.  The cynic would say it means we don't have anyone who can create their own bucket, and there's a grain of truth to that, too.  But it's the coach's job to figure out how to make do in that case, and the assist total is a testament to how well that's going.

UVA, by the way, has an A/FG ratio of about .6 for the season, which places them in the top 50, so Sunday wasn't an outlying phenomenon.  They've been creating each other's offense all season.  Anyone who bemoans Jontel Evans's insistence on never shooting a three ought to keep that in mind.

So, then.  Iowa.  KenPom called it "one of the best NIT quarterfinals in decades," and yes, haha that's not saying much, but I think that's kind of the point, too.  You don't usually get such interesting games in the NIT, at least, not played in locales other than Madison Square Garden.  And this year, not there either.  It's possible we could get UVA-Maryland, round 3, and while the chance to beat the Twerps thrice in a season is something each of us should cherish deeply, the world won't care much about a conference rematch.  (Yes, again, to the extent they care about the NIT haha.)  Southern Miss is another 1 seed - not exactly a school that moves the needle when Brett Favre isn't involved.  Bob Morris killed off the other actual interesting 1 seed in the tournament.

More bullets:

-- Taylor Barnette, take a bow.  I don't think he'll ever really be a full-fledged member of the rotation with guaranteed minutes every game.  He's going to have to scrap for every single one.  But if he keeps playing like that he'll be an indispensible cog.  I'm only partly talking about the shooting and partly talking about the terrific entry pass to a cutting Jontel Evans.  He may never start a game but he could very well turn out better than the reserves on 3/4ths of the teams in the league, which makes him valuable.

-- Akil Mitchell has never really been the kind of guy to start things.  But he's provokable, hence the shoulder bump on the way back to the bench that was rewarded with a shove into the scorer's table.  Even on TV it seemed like the St. John's guys were an edgy bunch who weren't far from getting T'ed up.  Although I did think the refs did the right thing by not calling anything when Justin Anderson was pushed to the ground, because he wasn't really pushed to the ground, he was just pushed.  The ground part was his own doing.  I don't really like our guys doing that - unless we're playing Duke or UNC, in which case it wouldn't bother me if they went full Italian-soccer-player out there.  Taste of your own medicine and all.


I'm not even going to waste more than a couple minutes on lacrosse.  What a humiliation.  Dom Starsia said he "thought we were too tentative in the first half" which is a mild understatement.  I would've put it more like "we didn't display the slightest fucking interest in going anywhere near the net" but I guess Dom has to be PG when microphones are present.  The fact that Rhody Heller had a career high in both saves and goals allowed should tell you all you need to know about how much interest the defense had in the game, too.  I didn't see the second half.  Apparently the team bothered to score once or twice.  I might chalk that up to Hopkins deciding 9-1 was a safe lead and letting off the gas a little, but I don't know, I switched to baseball.  So that's what we're gonna do here.

It's a much more pleasant topic.  While the lacrosse team is playing its way out of relevance, the baseball team is playing its way back in.  From unranked in most polls to a consensus top ten team in the country after a sweep of NC State, which not coincidentally or surprisingly dropped out of every top 25.  Losing the yearly series to NC State has been just as much a given as death, taxes, and playing like ass after finals break, and that was one of two ACC teams Brian O'Connor hadn't swept.  (FSU is the other.)  BOC was something like 9-18 against NC State before this weekend.

Much credit goes to Brandon Waddell for matching NC State's fearsome ace, Carlos Rodon, inning for inning until both handed off to the bullpen in the sixth inning.  And then to Austin Young for holding steady for the rest of Game 1 while the Wolfpack bullpen proceeded to melt down.  In fact, UVA's pen didn't give up a run all series until Game 3, when Kyle Crockett finally let one sneak across in the top of the ninth.  We forgive him, because he did an outstanding job preserving a one-run lead the day before.  And in fact, the only walks all weekend were a pair issued by Nick Howard in the third game.  That'll make for a happy coaching staff.

UVA's midweek game is Towson (written that way on purpose, in a form of solidarity), which has been a reliable scheduling partner for years, but this looks like the end of the road for that particular agreement, given that school's recent decision to cut baseball (and men's soccer too.)  Next season, Towson will sponsor five men's sports and eleven women's sports.  Just sayin'.


It's been a while since the last recruiting board update, during which time not one but two very, very blue-chip recruits have committed to the football program, so let's get a move-on here.  The changes you'll find:

-- Moved S Quin Blanding and OT Steven Moss from blue to orange.  Moss committed this weekend, giving UVA two Rivals top-100 commits before April.  What this class will lack in quantity it has already made up for in quality.

-- Moved DT Derrick Nnadi from green to blue.  Nnadi was once genuinely wavering between UVA and VT, and we might see some wavers back in that direction sometimes, but I think the UVA pull is going to win out in the end.  Even if it doesn't, UVA's chances look good enough to justify that move.

-- Moved RB Cortavious Givens from green to yellow.

-- Moved OT Justin Falcinelli from yellow to red.

-- Moved DB C.J. Reavis from red to yellow.

-- Removed OTs Trip McNeill and Coleman Thomas and DE Andrew Trumbetti from yellow.  Committed to Duke, Tennessee, and Notre Dame, respectively.

It sounds odd to say, but there aren't really more than 10-12 spots left in this class already.  And the four guys in blue are likely enough to occupy four of those spots.  It will be a summer sadly bereft of commitment frenzies, but a satisfying Signing Day nevertheless.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Moss addition is perhaps more critical than guys like Blanding/Brown in that, after 2013-2014, we might be replacing 3 offensive linemen. On paper, 2014-2015 could be a big year for us, with (hopefully) a 2 year starter at QB, a lot of returning skill guys at WR/RB/TE, a strong veteran defense, but the OL is the big gaping issue, on paper, for 2014-2015 right now. A bunch of the guys this year will likely factor in, but it's not impossible for Moss to come in as a freshman starter, if he earns it.

If Jamil Kamara signs, here's hoping that the trio of QB/SM/JK can put some pressure on Holmes and Andrew Brown (and to a lesser extent, Nnadi). All the focus is, justifiably, on Brown, but I'd love to get a speed pass rusher like Holmes in to form a tandem with Eli Harold.


Excellent sweep by the baseball team. Very impressed with the squad. Fisher gets all the attention, and it's justifiable, but Downes and Cogswell look like very good talents that could be high round picks for the MLB draft. Downes is fascinating - a good speed CF with power who also is a catcher. This might be one of the more versatile pens we've had in awhile. Sure, when we had Wilson/Arico, they were rock solid, but with the young arms and Crockett, we have a nice mixture of power and secondary stuff.

If the rotation can stay strong, and the young arms in the pen improve (in Kirby's case) or stays solid, this team could end up hosting a regional. I don't think any of us really expected that entering this year. This year was supposed to be the start of another window, with a lot of young arms joining the bats. Instead, it's turning into an excellent year, a nice surprise for UVA sports after a disappointing football season and a basketball season that looked so promising a month ago (granted, if we can win the NIT that would be awesome, but missing the tourny, even in a rebuilding year, still sucks, even now, considering how close we were).