This is an odd spring season. Neither of our marquee programs passes the eye test and yet they're both very highly-ranked as usual. Baseball is closer; the team is pulling out of a slow start and for the most part continues to pitch very, very well. The hitting is behind, but after a solid weekend on the road at Miami, catching up.
Game 1 was ugly on that hitting front, with only five hits in 29 at bats. The Hoos figured it out later, though, bizarrely needing extra innings to put Miami away despite outhitting them 16 to 3 on Sunday. Monday - it was one of those ESPNU Monday night weeks - was a little more conventional, with a 5-3 win that would've been a lot more comfortable but for some sparkling defensive plays by the Canes. This was my first actual live exposure to the baseball team this year, by the way, chalked up largely to really wanting to watch some basketball.
Lacrosse continues to make me shake my head. How this team is 8-2 is a mystery. It's a very slim percentage of Hopkins fans, let alone lacrosse fans in general, who think Hopkins is a legit title contender, and I count myself with the majority - and we barely snuck past them. We got absolutely blasted by Notre Dame. But 8-2. With a win over the current #1 team in the country. I dunno lol.
To be fair, the Hopkins game, like the Miami game, need not have been that close. Hopkins was the beneficiary of two utterly atrocious first-half penalties, one on James Pannell for an illegal body check and the second on Tanner Scales for playing too good of defense. The Pannell one was an understandable call on a certain level - but essentially a call for being too mean and rough. Scales technically got flagged for a cross-check, but please. Hopkins got three goals out of the deal, turning a 4-1 UVA lead into a tie game. All it was missing was TV Teddy Valentine doing his That's A Charge! Dance and full-blown ref takeover would've been achieved.
We also need to point out that Matt Barrett played probably his first really good game in a UVA uniform, making 16 saves including at least a couple that I figure he's let by in the past. I think Duke and Maryland will be nigh-impossible games to pull off, but give us a game like that against Carolina and things might go pretty well. UVA doesn't pass the eye test at all this year, but then, the way things are shaping up, not many teams do.
-- You remember that Barclay's Center stuff from last week; it's coming true woo-hoo. (I guess.) Pertinent details:
* The ACC tournament will be in Brooklyn in 2017 and 2018. This settles the tourney locale for the next four years; 2015 is Greensboro, 2016 is DC. The A-10 goes back to the Barclay's in 2019 for three years, so the ACC is holding firm on their decision to rotate. If I were a betting man, and I am at times, I'd say 2019 we'll be back in Greensboro.
* There will be "annual nonconference doubleheaders" (it doesn't say for how long) between the ACC and A-10 starting the season after next, all at the Barclay's. I would definitely be down for playing a UMass or a Dayton or a St. Louis.
-- In NBA decision news, so far, NC State's T.J. Warren is leaving, and UNC's Marcus Paige is staying. We're not done with that particular silly season yet, of course. Other decisions to watch: Clemson's K.J. McDaniels, Duke's Jabari Parker, UNC's McAdoo, Syracuse's Tyler Ennis, maybe also Jerami Grant. C.J. Fair is a senior, as is Pitt's Lamar Patterson.
-- VT's coaching search didn't last long, and they pulled a coup in landing Buzz Williams from Marquette. Tech hasn't had a coach with a stick of hair on his head since Ricky Stokes was fired in 2003.** This is because if you're going to pay the basketball coach almost Frank Beamer money (Williams is getting paid more than triple what James Johnson got) then you have to keep Beamer happy in other ways, and they do that by letting him have the most luxurious crop of distinguished silver hair in the whole department. Bud Foster's no-nonsense buzz cut is actually a stipulation in Frank's contract.
Anyway, forking out for Williams is an impressive level of commitment, which was going to have to be step one in pulling that program out of the turd bowl. Step two will be recruiting good players to a non-urban area that isn't even close to anything resembling an urban area to play in facilities that were aging and obsolete before their coach was even born. Williams will have some cachet, though, and it's no longer a laughable idea that VT could make the tournament in the next few years. At the very least they're not likely to continue bringing up the rear of the ACC.
**Fun fact: do a Google image search for Bobby Hussey, Stokes's predecessor at VT, and on the second row you get.... This is because he played in a Nike tournament called the Bobby Hussey Memorial Day Classic.