Tuesday, April 2, 2013

weekend review

It's not far off to say that two tournament dreams were finished off last week.  Explicitly, when Iowa ended the basketball season.  And implicitly, when the lacrosse team couldn't muster any offensive strength against Maryland on Saturday.

We'll talk basketball later this week.  I don't have any cutting insights on the Iowa game itself, other than gee I wish we'd won, but I do have some wrap-up thoughts.  The preview was split into two parts, and the review will do the same.  Later.

Lacrosse is another issue entirely.  I might have to wrap that up much sooner than I'd like to.  In fact, it's looking likely.  As I pointed out in bracketology this week, UVA must win two of the next three games.  And since Duke is an irresistible force and immovable object all wrapped up in one, that means UVA must beat UNC and Bellarmine.  Win one of three and they'll be required to win the ACC tourney in order to go NCAAing.  Or in order to simply be eligible, I should say; there's no autobid.

I make a very strong point not to question heart, grit, effort, and the like after a loss, or a long string of them.  It's a crutch that fans use to resolve some cognitive dissonance and take out their frustration.  The team should've won because it's better and more talented than those other guys, who deserve no credit at all because they're jerks.  That didn't happen, hence the cognitive dissonance, which is waved away by saying the team had no guts dammit.  If they'd played hard they would've won.  I don't subscribe to this and I'm not about to go on the record with that.

The Hopkins game had me awfully close, though.  You could even interpret some of the things I said in that vein, although they were meant to be taken in the way I instead prefer to react to losses: with sarcasm.  But the extreme tentativeness on offense sure looked bad.

Which brings us to the game that actually happened this weekend, the Maryland one.  Hell, I even took that one off a little bit, and didn't write a game preview nor call it Hit A Terp With A Stick Week even once.  (Blame Easter.  It's kind of a holiday weekend, after all.)  And what I saw at least looked a little better in the attack-the-net department.  The problem seems to be less about heart and more about ability.  We don't have it like we used to.

Thing is, I'd kill for a Shamel Bratton on this team.  We just don't have the offensive talent we're used to having.  It's just not there.  Who do we have that can open up their own shot?  Mark Cockerton, occasionally.  That's about it.  Nick O'Reilly has the passing skills necessary to run the offense, if there were anyone to pass to.  This is, to be rudely blunt, the slowest, least athletic, least creative offense we've had in a long time.  Shamel Bratton used to do just some of the craziest stuff ("I'm just gonna take off full speed in this direction here, and then I will shoot whether or not I have room to"), and it worked often enough, because he was damn fast.  This team needs that element and doesn't have it.

I'm not that worried about the defense.  Against Maryland at least it was pretty good.  You don't often hold Maryland under 10 goals; they're one of the best offensive teams in the country.  But the offense is going to have this team watching the tournament on TV if it doesn't step it up.  And that makes even the Bellarmine game a toss-up at the very best.  Bellarmine - yes, Bellarmine - has one of the best defenses in the country.  And not a very good offense, so that game might be 5-3 one way or the other.


This week's baseball action, well it kinda went how I predicted it.  UVA held slim(ish) leads on Friday and Saturday going into the later innings and then opened up a can on Miami's bullpen.  They dropped four runs in one-third of an inning on A.J. Salcines on Saturday, and cranked out nine 8th-inning runs against three different pitchers on Friday.  That turned a 6-4 affair into a 15-4 laugh riot, and every one of the nine starting hitters scored at least once in Friday's game.  And all without Derek Fisher, resting a tweaked ankle that he got in the Wednesday Towson game.

Sadly, the sweep was spoiled on Sunday, apparently by the home plate ump.  Brian O'Connor - who has never exactly channeled Earl Weaver in his dealings with the umpires - got himself good and tossed in the first inning.  Balls-and-strikes stuff.  I did not get to witness this, so we'll have to take the word of the folks on TheSabre who did, and declare the ump a blind old fool.  There's still the rest of the game, though.

UVA ought to be able to take care of business next weekend at Wake Forest before starting a crucial two-week stretch against FSU and GT.


Now for something I don't normally do.  Which is to get heavily involved with the ins and outs of recruiting.  I could never do it as well as the experts, so I don't try.  Just try to paint a picture once in a while.  In this instance I couldn't resist.  This also involves some copy-and-paste from the 24/7 messageboard.  As none of it is the word of Jamie Oakes - just posters - I don't think this breaks any rules.  Here are some snippets of a conversation this week regarding Derrick Nnadi, one of the more highly prized recruits from the Tidewater area this year:

"Hokies are claming that Cutler's dad called DN fifteen times while he was having dinner with Holmes and another recruit while in Blacksburg. I wonder how this "info" was leaked from the vt coaches. After each call vt insiders state that DN just rolls his eyes. This recruitment is about to get real intresting. Although some hokies think DN will be a hoo. "

"This is not true. Also, neither Holmes nor Nnadi will be going to VPI. Coach Carson [Cutler, Corwin's dad - edit mine] is a good man. The more VPI talks badly about Coach Carson the worse its going to get. Coach Carson does a lot for a little down here in the 757. He just wants the kids to make it. Anywhere...either at VPI or UVa. But, as long as the VPI fans and coaches continue to say these things it only helps UVA and hurts VPI. Talking smack about Coach Carson for these kids is like talking smack against family. So, keep talking VPI."

"Don't know if this goes with what 6with is saying but DN just tweeted that the thing he can't stand is liars. Hopefully he has seen or heard about the Hokies claiming that about Coach Carson and they keep digging their grave deeper."

"That post on Twitter is exactly what you think...he knows what was said."

I don't have any way of personally vouching for the veracity of anything that's up there.  But it sure goes along with the storyline - which has got to be at least a year old - where the moonbat wing of the Hokie fanbase are their program's worst enemy.  It's a beautiful self-fulfilling prophecy.  VPI fans are turning off 757 recruits to their program in droves by being space-cadet conspiracists.  In turn, their fears come true: recruits from the area increasingly pick UVA over VT, which of course is more fuel for their conspiracies.  Don't ever change, fellas.


Anonymous said...

to be fair to the hokies, we have three tough weekend series to finish April, as the Hokies offense is rather solid. They also just won the series against FSU. We'll get a real good indication of our squad's chances post-season by the end of this month. If things go well, we could be playing North Carolina at the end of May for first in the ACC.

If there's any concern I have on baseball, it's whether or not Waddell and Howard's inconsistent starts are a sign they need to adjust, or just a hiccup in the road. The pen looks real good, and the lineup can use, arguably, their hottest hitter (Mike Papi) to replace their best pro hitting prospect (Derek Fisher) and not really miss a beat. Scary solid lineup ... and it's largely all back next year.

Anonymous said...

"I make a very strong point not to question heart, grit, effort, and the like after a loss, or a long string of them."

BRAVO for this sentiment, and this paragraph. It irritates me no end when fans do this.