Monday, April 15, 2013

weekend review

I didn't preview the Duke lacrosse game, but an astute comment on the GT post predicted it better than I would have:
I see UVa plays Duke today in lacrosse. I have no doubt we'll beat them, because I have years of experience as a Virginia fan to draw on. It's like in 2002 when the basketball team was totally sucking, then had the nerve to beat Duke just to remind you how badly they were underachieving.
That's the sort of thing that it really does take years of watching UVA sports to think of.  There was only one problem with it: the laxing Hoos found an even more ridiculously Virginia way to let the game play out.  Fail at scoring goals all season, then wait until we play the one team we can't beat to score an enormous flood of them, and still lose by three.  Absolutely fascinating.  Insert the appropriate Anchorman quote here, you know the one.  I really think that has to stand close to "beat top-five Florida State and then score five points at North Carolina" in the Stupid Losses Zone.

This was a game of runs, with the pendulum making several swings between delivering and receiving the ass-beating.  UVA's 13-9 lead ended up being a rather false hope, as Duke scored 10 of the next 11 goals.  Truthfully, the game wasn't as close as the score: UVA was beaten in the shots-on-goal category 35-24, at faceoffs 23-15, total shots 55-40, and cleared only 75% of their opportunities.  I'm beginning to think the only way to find out why Duke always brings out the worst in our defense is to kidnap an assistant coach and torture the answers out of him, but then again I've been reading Game of Thrones lately so my ideas might be a little darker than normal.

UVA has now left itself only one thread of hope for making the NCAA tournament: win all of the next three games.  That's the only way to earn the.500-or-better record the NCAA requires for at-large teams.  And I don't even think that would do it, really.  Of course, at this point if you're still thinking NCAA tournament, there's nothing I can say to shoot down your very misplaced optimism except that your efforts might be better spent finding a team with a golden horseshoe jammed up its ass, like Ohio State football.


That golden horseshoe team certainly isn't UVA baseball, at least not this weekend.  UVA dominated the Saturday game behind some ridiculously good pitching from Scott Silverstein, who gave up two hits - one of them of the extremely cheap variety - in seven innings, and struck out nine.  I don't trust Silverstein's reconstructed shoulder enough to think that we can always get that kind of performance, but that was one of the better lineups UVA will face or has faced in ACC play.  If he can dominate them he can certainly work some magic on the rest of the conference too.  Given the reputation Silverstein had coming out of high school, file that one under "what could've been" and repeat the UVA mantra, which as always is: "we can't have nice things."

This is not to say that the rest of the pitching was poor, of course: that GT lineup only scored seven runs in the three games.  Brandon Waddell had a nervous-looking start on Friday but then settled down beautifully, and UVA lost 2-1.  Truthfully, I think third-base coach Kevin McMullen ran us right out of that one by sending Derek Fisher home from second on a single to left, whereupon he was cut down at the plate. 

My usual philosophy on sending runners is that coaches should be hyper-aggressive with two outs, and send all 50/50 or even 40/60 chances (because your chances of scoring if you hold the runner are essentially equal to the batting average of the next hitter) but exercise a great deal of caution with less than two outs.  Which was the case with Fisher.  Holding a runner on a grounder (which is what the single was) isn't even cautious, it's just smart: a grounder can and will be charged and the outfielder can come up firing.  It's different if the OF has to go side-to-side to get the ball, and if he's going glove side then you send him without hesitation, but a grounder straight at him is going to get you nailed.  With one out and runners at the corners you have a lot of tools in your toolbox to get that runner home, and Reed Gragnani (the next hitter) is a senior who can be counted on to know the value of a fly ball.  Since the score was 2-1 at that time and the rest of the game saw mostly quiet bats, it turned out to be one of the key plays in the loss.

On Sunday....well, GT basically tossed the dice and won, letting the rain finish up their 3-2 win.  Not a bad strategy when you know your bullpen is just about cashed.  Everyone knew going in that UVA had the deeper pen than GT, which I'm sure played no part whatsoever in the decision not to fit in a doubleheader on Saturday.  The point that UVA certainly had the chance not to let in three runs and the chance to score more than two is stipulated to.  That said, sometimes you lose a series and you're glad to have pulled one win out of it and you hope that team ends up in the opposite bracket of the ACC tournament.  This series left no reason to fear the Jackets should we see them again sometime.


-- UVA says goodbye today to Paul Jesperson, who made known his intent to transfer out.  Flash back to a couple weeks ago when I projected that Malcolm Brogdon's return to the rotation would almost certainly take a huge chunk out of Jesperson's minutes; a transfer is not all that surprising.  And Jesperson surely has a better idea than you or I about Brogdon's readiness.  We were set to have a full complement of 13 scholarship players next year, but being one short won't kill us until "we can't have nice things" starts to take hold.

The real scholarship logjam is next year's sophomore contingent, which runs seven deep and which Jesperson was not part of.  This is kind of a problem.  It's one that'll probably sort itself out in some fashion, since there's three seasons before they all graduate, but it's still worth keeping an eye on.  There are now three open spots for the year when that group will be seniors (2015-2016) which, if you fill them all up, means you only return six players the next year, plus your recruiting class.  As it would be unwise (not to mention awfully damn tough) to take a seven-man class and repeat the cycle, you see the issue.  I usually scoff at the idea of a mid-career redshirt for a non-injured, non-just-transferred player, because it's exceedingly rare in football and even more so in hoops, but you can see where such a thing would be useful if we could pull it off.  A transfer is the more likely result of that logjam.

At any rate, we do wish Jesperson the best.  Dude made some sacrifices and did everything the right way, and the silver lining for him is that the redshirt year he couldn't take will now come in handy.

-- Very interesting potential development today in the suggestion of an ACC Network that would be announced before next football season.  Whether that means it would actually start right up broadcasting ACC football in 2013, I'm not sure, and I rather doubt it because it takes a while to get it onto all of the potential carriers.  Presumably also they mean a real ACC Network patterned after the BTN and other copycats, and not just a Raycom-like entity calling itself the ACC Network only when it's broadcasting an ACC contest.

The potential benefit to the ACC covers a wide range of possibilities.  I doubt that the foreseeable future would see such a network turn into the money tree that the BTN has been.  For one thing, Big Ten schools are ginormous and have a much larger potential viewership base.  For another, this appears to be in concert with ESPN, which owns ACC broadcast rights from top to bottom.  The BTN is in concert with Fox instead, which means the B1G can play the two entities off against each other.  Having ESPN running the show simply means having the same entity stretching its own reach, and potentially monopolizing content.  How much money would actually flow into ACC coffers is anyone's guess.

However.  Consider Florida State and Clemson, which some people seem to think have half a foot in either the Big 12 or SEC.  The SEC is out of the question for now and the foreseeable future thanks to the blockading efforts of UF, UGA, and USCe, and the only network in the Big 12 is the Longhorn Network.  Which doesn't send a dime anywhere but Austin, Texas.  Say what you will but when one conference has a conference network and one has nothing but a special arrangement for the most arrogant school in the conference, the appeal of one vs. the other is plain to see.

Plus, as one of the posters in that thread points out, an ACC Network might not match the BTN but is likely to be considerably better than any SEC Network.  An SEC network would never get the premier football matchups, and the SEC, relative to the other power conferences, is a basketball wasteland.  And doesn't play lacrosse.  An SEC network could broadcast baseball and have some success there....but outside of that and Mississippi State/Kentucky football games, wouldn't have a lot of interesting programming.  The ACC network would have ten times the appeal in the winter season, and lacrosse in the spring.

I can't vouch one bit for the past veracity of the Syracuse message board poster that that links to, but the folks there seem to take what he says at face value and the Sabre poster who put it there (which is where I found it) swears the guy's legit.  It has very believable vibes, and I'm nothing if not a sucker for believable people telling me everything will be ok in re: the ACC.  It'll be interesting to see the reaction when (or, I suppose, if) it becomes official.


A recruiting board update is necessary.

-- Added DE J.J. Jackson to blue.  Not highly recruited at the moment but it seems the UVA coaches are dead serious.

-- Added S Kiy Hester to yellow.  Even within the various strata on the recruiting board there are layers of optimism (Connor Strachan, for example, is more of a bluish-green while Bentley Spain is more of a yellowish-green) and Hester is sort of a reddish-yellow.  Still, taking the time to visit Charlottesville is a notable indicator of interest.

-- Moved CB Christopher Murphy from yellow to red.  Getting too much interest to be higher until he does something like visit UVA.

-- Removed QB Caleb Henderson (UNC) and OT Sam Mustipher (ND) from red.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

For all the talk about Caleb Henderson and the Big Ten, the UNC move was a bit surprising. Considering our stacked chart at QB, I never really expected him this way.

As for Jesperson, wish him the best. He sacrificed his redshirt year, and he played a key role at times last year. When he gets a bit stronger and the shot settles down, I can see him becoming a good collegiate wing guy. With our depth chart at the wings, he just wasn't going to get the time.

I'm still of the belief that, barring another transfer, redshirting someone from the sophomore class makes the most sense. It gives you better spacing with the scholarships.

With Barnette not likely being significant enough to redshirt, I think the player should be Nolte. Wing time will be tough to come by with Anderson, Harris, Brogdon. There's a solid 4 man rotation at the 4/5 spots in place with Tobey, Gill, Akil, Darion. You redshirt Nolte and he becomes the depth stretch 4 off the bench the next year, lessening the need to definitively land a big man with Stith.

Oh, we lost Chris Nelson. Not too upset about that, but that's assuming we can land one, if not both, of Brown or Nnadi.