Monday, December 15, 2014


National champ-peen-ship, y'all.  I'm long since on the record as admitting I don't get around to watching nearly as much UVA soccer as I'd like.  (I've considered remedying this next year by ignoring football, but that'd be all talk and no action on that front.)  In fact this season I've seen exactly two soccer games: the women's semifinal against Texas A&M and the men's national title against UCLA.  I had to miss the men's semis and women's finals for reasons of State.

It didn't take me long to decide I hated the announcers.  I wasn't even paying attention to them in the A&M game so I have no idea, but it was only about 20 minutes into the UCLA game before I decided the announcing was a zero on a scale of Pam Ward to Keith Jackson.  Their contempt for UVA's game plan was plain as day and got plainer as the first half wore on.  Although I did enjoy their description of the UVA strategy as "cynical."

Guess which strategy UVA went with?

You can't totally fault them, if the idea is that games should always be exciting shootouts.  But UVA came into the game 111th in the country in scoring average.  One-hundred and eleventh, it's not an extra-1 typo.  In only one tournament game did the Hoos score more than once.  UCLA came in with only one tournament game of fewer than three goals.  So it should be no surprise that Gelnovatch decided not to run 'n' gun with the Bruins.  "The beautiful game" it was not, but Gelnovatch isn't paid to entertain the pundits.

And frankly, it worked to almost complete perfection.  Actual perfection would've been a 1-0 win with the one goal probably coming off of some kind of set piece.  You don't counterattack to try and score, because that would expose you; you counterattack with the aim of getting a corner kick.  If it doesn't go in, which it usually doesn't but it's more than worth a try, bunker back down and try again.  I laughed when halftime rolled around and the announcers said UCLA had to be very pleased with the first half and then both coaches said the first 45 went completely UVA's way.  I might've considered it a Bruin domination, if UCLA had generated more than the occasional chance, but UVA's keeper Calle Brown was barely tested.  Owning the possession battle 45 yards out is one thing; it's another thing entirely to dictate the game.  UVA did so without having the ball.

The second half - a little more pressure, the Bruins clearly took their coaching to heart and were less patient, more attacking, but also a great deal more frustrated.  UCLA's Edgar Contreras ought to have been red-carded for a head-butt, but I can't completely fault the refs as the camera was right on it in real time and I still missed it until the replay.  But it was a clear sign that UCLA was used to being able to break down a defense, and UVA's brick wall was getting to them.

The game is likely to attract precisely zero new fans to the game of soccer, but just look at all the bothers I give.  You know I love me some pack-line defense, and so, apparently, does George Gelnovatch.  Tony Bennett wins basketball games 45-26, but he wins basketball games.  At the end of the day, here's the stat that matters most: 21.  And the one that matters second-most is 0.


The first major bit of football attrition hit last week when Eli Harold declared for the draft.  That makes two; David Watford also decided to transfer, but the effect of that will be almost nil.  Except to eliminate bizarre message board posts wondering why he's on the field in any capacity at all, as if not being a good quarterback is the same as not being a good receiver.

UVA dodged a bullet when Max Valles announced that he'd be returning next year, quashing rumors to the contrary.  Smart - Valles would've been going almost entirely on physical attributes.  A year of opening some scouts' eyes would help him.  Harold, though he could benefit from another year, is probably in good shape anyway.  He showed this year that he can defend the run and isn't just a one-dimensional pass rusher.  Once he gets in front of scouts at the combine, he should make an appearance on draft boards and could easily be a second or third round pick; his ceiling, if the workouts look good, would be the low first.

As for our defense, it's a fairly major hit, but there's a long-run silver lining: next year, Harold and the Moores (Michael and Kwontie) would once again have dominated the playing time.  Great, because they'll do well, but no experience for the boatload of guys behind them.  Trent Corney should start off as the third DE, but there's a trio of redshirt freshmen who will get a chance to make a wave or two as well.


And the second major bit of football attrition is on the coaching staff, as Scott Wachenheim is off to VMI to play head coach.  Good for him - it's his first head-coaching gig, though he did have the title of OC and assistant HC at Liberty for a few years.  There can't be a tougher place in the world to win at football than VMI, except maybe the Citadel.  From his perspective, this is definitely striking while the iron is hot - the chances that most of this staff is out of a job next year are awfully high, and you might as well grab a promotion while it's there.  Even if London was on rock-solid ground, I think he'd go anyway, but still.

Wachenheim leaves with one of the most mixed legacies I've ever seen for an assistant coach.  He was vilified at times for the play of the O-line, and I think at least partially deservedly so.  But he leaves on a positive note, having gained a lot of credit for making the O-line not be a total black hole of suck despite being held together with Scotch tape and having to use 260-pound converted DE (or TE or whatever) Jack English as a left tackle.  And I think also deservedly so.

It leaves UVA with two openings to fill, including the impending (or already-occurred) retirement of Tom O'Brien, whose UVA career was basically a dud.  There's an inexplicable level of support for Ron Mattes, who was here like, a year, and performed no miracles.  He'll be here as soon as Bill Musgrave comes back, I'm sure.  A much more likely name, and these tea leaves sure read awfully clearly, thanks to Streaking the Lawn's Tweety account, is current Edmonton Eskimos O-line coach Jonathan Himebauch.


For lack of anything to do in this basketball wilderness, I put together another season sim, since it had been a couple weeks and stuff happened.  You can find it below and on the original season sim post, for easier comparison to the previous version.

NC State and Notre Dame are on the rise; both won an early-season ACC game against Wake and FSU, respectively, and ND has been handling a lot of business as well.  NC State, not so much, but then, Wofford is actually awfully highly-ranked for a SoCon team.

Being as UVA has also been handling business, the Hoos leapfrogged Louisville, which itself didn't exactly fare badly, just not as well as UVA.  Maryland and VCU are both higher-ranked than all but five ACC teams, and UVA crushed both on the road.  It's becoming clear that there's a top three in this league, and as such, the race for the top seed has obvious huge implications.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TOB stole a lot of money from UVA this go-around. Shameful.