Tuesday, April 23, 2013

weekend review

So it's been kind of a crap spring so far, relatively speaking.  It's much colder than last year's, I've had all this damn work to do, and worst of all from the actual perspective of the blog, the lacrosse team has stunk up the joint.  We've been spoiled, man - I've gotten used to spring being the season when being a UVA fan is at its peak.  Weekend reviews speak of glorious triumphs on two fields at once.

So this weekend was pretty refreshing.  Even if the lacrosse game ultimately meant very little in the grand scheme, hey, at least it was a Senior Day win, and it was nice to watch the ball go in the net for once.  Nobody's scored 12 goals on Bellarmine all year, not even likely #1 seed Denver.  A few bullets on that game:

-- Mark Cockerton scored four goals, but the game's MVP is Tyler German, who won two out of every three of his faceoffs.  Mick Parks was absent for personal (not disciplinary) reasons, and might find his seat taken when he gets back.  German was only 5-for-14 coming in, but certainly deserves a few shots against Maryland next weekend.

-- Also, while we're on the subject of faceoffs, anyone who didn't enjoy watching Thompson Brown truck his opponent on the garbage-time faceoff he took must not actually like lacrosse.

-- I'll touch on this more when the season's over and I write a seasonal postmortem, but one thing I've gotten tired of is watching our shooters try the same shot over and over with the same result, which is usually a save.  I lost track of how many times our guys were on the doorstep and tried to lob the ball into the net as if there were no goalie, which was a failed strategy every time.

-- I was incredibly surprised to see UVA credited with 23-of-24 on clearing attempts.  We had to be worse than that.  Had to be.

-- Maybe the best thing of all was scoring a goal with three seconds left in the third quarter after watching every team all year do that to us.


Baseball brought the brooms to Davenport this weekend and knocked Florida State off their top-5 perch.  Before the series I wrote a Sabre post that said something to the effect of: if the team could simply go .500 in the rest of their ACC games and win all the nonconference ones, they'd be in the conversation for a top-8 national seed in the tournament and a near-certain regional host.  That'd have put them at 41-14 plus whatever happened in the ACC tourney.  Now they've swept a team that they could've easily dropped two games to.  It's not a stretch to say they could win their next ten in a row and be 45-6 going into the Carolina series.

That said, finals break is before the Duke series.  At the moment, Duke is in the 9th slot overall in the ACC, with VT in the 8th slot, a mere one game ahead.  Duke has Maryland this coming weekend, so the odds are decent that they'll pull ahead of the Hokies.  So just to be dicks I think we should sweep VT and then activate our secret powers of post-finals suckery to get swept by Duke.  Just for a laugh at the Hokies' expense.  And as a public service - to spare ACC tournament viewers the agony of the eyes.

Yet more bullets from the weekend:

-- It's pretty amazing how we're 36-5 and we don't even have any good players.  The ACC media has not yet seen fit to award even one single player of the week honor (or pitcher) to a Cavalier.

-- It's time to put some padding on the wall next to the right-field bullpen.  Past time, really.  Joe McCarthy jammed his finger (that's not, like, Kevin Ware-gruesome, but you click on that link, you'll see a finger going a direction it weren't ever meant to) catching a foul ball, and slammed his elbow on the cement top in the process.  And later, FSU's right fielder Jameis Winston nearly broke his kneecap sliding into it in another foul ball attempt.  Winston happens to be FSU's selection for starting quarterback in the fall - we'd have looked like a bunch of assholes if he missed the year because of our brick wall.  I seem to recall an Irvine player taking a hard run at that wall as well, and coming out rather the worse for the encounter.  Let's get some padding there before someone breaks their skull open.

-- Winston, by the way, is one of the least comfortable-looking players I've ever seen patrol an outfield.  When Derek Fisher hit his three-run triple, I swear Winston ran right past the spot where the ball eventually landed.

-- Pretty much every pitcher we ran out to the mound had themselves a really nice weekend.  Scott Silverstein pitched seven innings of shutout ball and FSU was held to one hit in a game for the first time since 1998.  Nick Howard was wild for two innings and then got himself together - and that's the kind of thing pitching coaches love.  They know you'll be off your game sometimes.  If you can get back on, mid-contest, that's the mental makeup they're looking for.  I'm awfully surprised at the impotence of FSU's bats, though.  Much credit goes to our pitchers, but you have to cast an eye at the FSU bats as well, who might've hit two or three balls hard all weekend.  So many of their hits were Texas Leaguers or choppers that slithered just past the infielders.

-- Kyle Crockett's instructions for his trip to the plate on Sunday (necessitated by the lineup shifts following McCarthy's injury removal) basically boiled down to this: Just keep the bat on your shoulder unless they're all fastballs, in which case I guess sure why not try a swing just for giggles.  He will probably never let his teammates forget the resulting base hit.

-- The following batter was Brandon Downes, and the strategy looked awfully odd.  Downes was still bunting with two strikes.  My guess: The coaches decided that even a foul-bunt strikeout or allowing the out at third was preferable to the possibility of Crockett having to try and slide to break up a double play.  As it turned out, the out at third is what happened, and at that point, Crockett was moved up a base and he wasn't going to be caught up in any double plays.  Good thing he didn't have to slide into home, though.


I'll do a recruiting board update later, but yes, J.J. Jackson committed to basically take Chris Nelson's spot - which, assuming we can land Andrew Brown, is a good positional tradeoff because Jackson plays a position of much greater need.  The coaches were dead serious about trying to land Jackson even though his offer list sucks, so they must like something.

Even more interesting, really, are these two Monday developments: the post-spring depth chart and the ACC's media rights thingy.  The depth chart doesn't change too many of my post-spring impressions, but does leave a few surprises.  The list of position switches that I can see:

-- Pablo Alvarez from the bottom of the secondary depth chart to the bottom of the WR depth chart.  This is a likely indication that Alvarez isn't to be counted on for contributions.  Injuries played a major role in that.

-- Luke Bowanko to LG and walk-on Jackson Matteo to center.  That's the top surprise right there, and somewhat related is Sean Cascarano sticking at RG while Conner Davis moves to the second string and Jay Whitmire has the RT job.  (And Cody Wallace now backs up Whitmire instead of a guard.)  This Matteo thing could either be really good or really bad.  A walk-on freshman beats out a senior for one of the most important positions on the line.  I could see that turning out very badly, as Matteo hasn't played a single down of college football.  It's just as possible that Matteo is a minor prodigy with a talent for the nuances of the center position that Bowanko never had; center is a tricky thing to master.  This brings us the potential to have four years of the same center, which is the kind of continuity that coaches salivate over.

-- Kelvin Rainey at safety is also interesting.  As is Wil Wahee at second string corner.  After Matteo, the next thing people are talking about - in this case putting up a whiny fuss about, more than anything else - is Maurice Canady backing up Drequan Hoskey.  Even if the crowd that thinks he's the second coming are correct, being the third cornerback is like being the third wide receiver.  He'll have plenty of time on the field.

Part two of the weekend review runs tomorrow, as the brave new ACC - which includes the first wave of Notre Dame games - deserves its own post.

No comments: