PHEW. I was planning on writing about four paragraphs on how this basketball team will lose at some point and we should enjoy this undefeated stuff to the fullest while it lasts but understand that it's coming to an end eventually and that's OK. Miami drove home the point for me pretty well, though.
It's a lesson that now doesn't have to be learned the hard way, because UVA out-gutted and out-gunned the Hurricanes after Miami ran out of ammo. I had forgotten, for a second there, that going on the road in the ACC is never to be taken for granted. Shame. Won't make that mistake again. At least not this year.
For at least a little while longer, though, we still get to enjoy the goose egg in the one place you really want to see it. It's not to be sneezed at; the Hoos survived on a night when half the remaining undefeated teams in the country took a loss. That leaves just UVA, Duke, and Kentucky. The SEC is a putz league, the weakest of the Power 5 and probably worse than the Big East as well, and very likely to leave UK unblemished for a good long time. But I sort of hope Duke stays unbeaten til January 31 (and obviously, I hope we do too) to set up a matchup for the ages.
-- Marial Shayok deserves a ton of credit. Forced into crunch-time minutes when Brogdon fouled out, his defense made a huge difference. Not just in the two blocks that he had after that point; he also did a masterful job limiting Angel Rodriguez. I suspect having much fresher legs had a lot to do with it; nevertheless, it was a huge game for him. Perrantes and Anderson hit the shots and played 45 minutes apiece, and Atkins, very quietly, had a terrific game too. But if defense comes first, Shayok gets the first nod.
-- Speaking of fresher legs, Mike Curtis certainly gets a nod for that game too. "They look tired all of a sudden," I thought as Miami brought up the ball; the announcers were all over it at the same time.
-- One way to tell your team has arrived? Besides all the other really obvious ones, I mean. When the announcers assume you have a "senior-laden team" even when you don't. Sorry, Shane Battier, only one senior here - but they sure do play like they were, don't they?
-- Yes, that was a foul on Justin Anderson at the end there. But also, yes, he was fouled pretty blatantly in OT, too. The announcers made a thing about him kicking his legs out, which was stupid because a flying defender landed on his arm.
-- Against Davidson, the defense gave up some easy layups, and on those plays it was perfectly highlighted why Tony's post defense philosophy is "ball-me-man." The Wildcat post men managed to seal out their defender and prevent any help, which is poison to the pack-line defense; any time you see plays like that, the defender is out of position. Most man defenses emphasize fighting for position in the post and having defenders try and prevent the opposing bigs from gaining position too close to the rim. Tony doesn't much care where the opposing bigs post up - as long as the defenders are in the right position, they can deny entry passes, help on drives (and usually stop them before they start), switch to the other side to help a helper, and throw a quick double-team.
-- ESPN has been spreading the UVA love far and wide these past couple weeks. Anthony Gill and Justin Anderson on the Wooden Watch.** A #1 seed in bracketology. Articles about how awesome the offense is and how the rest of the ACC will give UVA a run for its money. Notice how that last one is not the other way around. UVA is the hunted.
Why should we care what the WWL thinks? Because perception is reality in the recruiting world. The ultimate goal is not to be able to win the battle of the recruiting rankings (even though, for now, UVA sits atop the 24/7 rankings after winning the commitment of Sacha Killeya-Jones). The ultimate goal is for Tony to be able to walk into any gym in the country, say, "I want that guy right there," and be at the top of that guy's list immediately.
That Medcalf article, by the way, the second one linked, I feel like it's part of a slightly disturbing trend, which is to forget that Louisville is a major contender just because they lost to Kentucky. I would not like to see that team unleash its considerable athletic talent upon a perception of being disrespected. It's not Duke and UVA and everyone else; it's Duke, UVA, Louisville, and maybe UNC if they get their shit together, and if they don't, Notre Dame.
**Unless someone else totally runs away with the award, Jahlil Okafor will win because he wears the tiebreaker on his chest. But some All-American selections are not out of the question.
-- You know how I said we should drop Maryland from our schedules and add Georgetown just for spite, because Maryland won't play Georgetown? Bwa-ha-ha the lacrosse schedulers listened. Maryland is no more, and UVA will host the Hoyas as the final game of the season.
Actually, it's best looked at like this: Maryland is not replaced on the schedule. There are only 13 games instead of last year's 14, but that's to be expected because the ACC was temporarily larger last year. Georgetown - which hasn't been good at all lately - is Bellarmine's replacement, and UVA also dropped longtime OOC opponent Mount St. Mary's in favor of the recently-not-shitty St. Joseph's Hawks. St. Joe's was once a laughingstock and is now very middle-of-the-road. I'd still say, it's an easier schedule than last year, a bit.
That's OK, I still prefer to think we replaced Maryland with Georgetown, and if Georgetown had a football team of any consequence I'd start the Put-Them-In-The-ACC bandwagon in a hot minute.
-- One thing that will sting and make that road harder is the loss of Greg Danseglio to Maryland. All the more reason to be glad they're gone, I suppose; Danseglio was half of a veteran long-pole duo that would've formed the core of the defense. Now it's Tanner Scales and inexperience. UVA also looks to be missing their one over-.500 face-off guy from last year, Mick Parks; knee surgery is the message-board chatter. This is a very young team this year and the leading candidate to finish 5 of 5 in the ACC.
-- Speaking of which, sharp-eyed watchers noticed this earlier, I didn't but I think it's fair to be excused because I don't think the ACC even bothered to announce it - placing 5th of 5 in the conference this year earns you a trip to the tournament in Philly anyway, only you'll be playing Penn. Creative. And no doubt an easy sell to Penn - no travel expenses and an RPI-booster against an ACC team that you'll have a decent shot at beating.
-- I finally got off my ass and finished a game highlight, and there's another one on the way very shortly. I randomly picked last year's Maryland game off the considerable backlog. It's linked in the video library there. I don't think that backlog will be fully addressed til the summer, but I'm settling into a routine of working on them and I can at least get you new stuff on a steady basis.