This is not the promised project. That is close. This is just to catch us up on a few things. Also, the "project" is not the recruiting board stuck in development hell. But I've got good news on that front. I've hired a guy to finish it up; he's got a lot of project management experience having opened up a local chain of bagel stores in Charlottesville. You've heard of Bodo's. So any day now.
Over the weekend, the lacrosse team lost, the baseball team won three times, and I watched none of it because Tony Bennett. The hitting is not greatly improved, and it really is not helping that weekday games keep getting cancelled because of weather. You are authorized to continue feeling slight concern over this, but also keeping in mind two things: it is improving, and it is much easier to flip a hitting switch than a pitching switch. The latter has been stellar, as has the defense; UVA has allowed two or fewer runs in 13 of 18 games and if you remove the numbers of a couple garbage-time relief appearances, has a 1.83 ERA. Even the actual staff ERA of 2.03 is pretty nice.
-- Not helping in the hitting department will be the loss of Derek Fisher for about a month, month and a half due to a broken hand bone. Fisher had been hitting .333 and playing errorless ball. The Boston College series saw a couple different ways to replace him; for two of three games, Mike Papi played left field and John LaPrise DHed; in the middle game, Robert Bennie started in left but was lifted for a lefty-hitting PH when the Eagles sent in the bullpen.
-- It's carnage week in the basketball coaching ranks as ADs observe the ongoing dance party, reflect on their lack of invitation, and do something about it. Two ACC coaches - VT's James Johnson and BC's Steve Donahue - are gone, and there's a watch on for GT's Brian Gregory and Wake's Jeff Bzdelik, despite John Feinstein's assertion that Bzdelik is safe.
If Bzdelik is safe, it's criminal mismanagement and nepotism on the part of Wake Forest AD Ron Wellman. This is a guy who fired Dino Gaudio for lack of postseason success. I guess the logic at Wake (besides "I don't want to fire my BFF from childhood") goes something along the lines of, if you never make the postseason, you can't lose there, and we're cool with that.
Donahue walked into one of the worst situations a coach ever could have, but by now was supposed to have the program back on its feet. Instead BC took a big ol' backwards step and stunk up the joint.
As for Johnson, this one's interesting. VT's new AD Whit Babcock gave a press conference that didn't exactly put to bed swirling rumors that Johnson was let go just as much for off-the-court stuff as on-court results. A Hokie twitter guy wrote that, per a source, basically Johnson was kind of an asshole to people and ran his players into the ground, causing three of them to quit. This last was corroborated by the TechSideline guys, naming Cadarian Raines as one of the walk-outs.
That would certainly explain why Raines's playing time disappeared into the ether, something even I picked up on when writing game previews of the Hokies. Fortunately, nobody will ever use the words "donkey anus" to describe Tony Bennett's behavior, as a TSL poster did for Johnson. At any rate, various names have popped up, as they tend to do, most of them hilariously unrealistic. There are Hokies who think Gregg Marshall would leave Wichita State for Blacksburg, and the funny part is they mean it. One candidate who might've actually been a serious name - Bruce Pearl - already got hired at Auburn. Marquette's Buzz Williams is another name you might hear and not set your bullshit meter to 100%. Other than that, the Hokies are probably looking at someone from the A-10 at best - no, not Shaka Smart - or a reasonably-achieving mid-major. Depends on what they'll pay, really.
The other notable name to be let go is Ken Bone - Tony Bennett's replacement at Wazzu. The coaching carousel will be worth keeping an eye on this season, as the dominos may eventually fall in the direction of Charlottesville and pick off one or more of our assistant coaches. For example, George Washington's Mike Lonergan is a fast riser and a strong candidate for an open ACC job - and Ritchie McKay could easily be at least a candidate to replace him in DC.
-- Speaking of DC, the ACC tournament moves there in 2016 after one more year in Greensboro, and after that.... New York? Barclay's Center, Brooklyn? How you feel about that probably depends on how likely you are to go to the tourney in any given year - since it's not realistic for me, all basketball courts look the same on TV and a couple of years in NYC could be good for the conference. I'm not nuts about the idea that being there will somehow "raise the profile" of the conference - it's not like people who wouldn't ordinarily watch a 12/13 game between two crappy teams will go, "oh, it's in New York? Well, that's interesting, I guess I'll tune in after all." Still, if your tournament banners are all over town and you sell a little advertising to go along with it, maybe you scrounge an extra half million or so, and the players would certainly appreciate a trip to New York more than Greensboro.
(This, by the way, makes you a hypocrite, if you ever said "but the players like it" to argue for whizbang uniformzz but bitch about not being able to go to the tournament if they move it somewhere the players like better.)
There are plenty of obstacles along the way, one of which is the A-10, which has a Barclay's Center contract through 2017, and plus the Barclay's folks ain't kicking the Nets out of town for 2 weeks. This may involve a scheduling series with A-10 teams, which, hey, bonus, because those tend to be reasonably worthwhile matchups.
Truthfully, there are all kinds of different and worthwhile places to hold this tournament, and DC and Atlanta ought to be in a regular rotation too. I don't buy that just because Maryland is gone, it makes no sense to hold the tournament there. Plenty of ACC alums live in the area. I mean, it's not like St. John's is an ACC school, but we're going to New York regardless.