I'd say it's still unanswered, to what extent this team misses Justin Anderson. There's no doubt they need him back. But would those games still have been close and scruffy without him? Anderson's absence isn't the reason the three-point shooters missed a whole bunch of open looks. In the NC State and Wake games, they went 4-for-23, which is 17%. It's not like they missed because Anderson wasn't on the floor, and it's small coincidence that the Pitt game had a more comfortable margin of victory and the Hoos shot 5-for-13, which is a very acceptable 38.5%.
On the other hand, would Anderson have had a better chance of hitting? Or would the shot have been a more makeable one, a layup perhaps, if Anderson was in the game? That'll never be answered.
The two Louisville games are exactly four weeks apart, so if Simba's a really fast healer, he'll be back for the second one. Maybe it's the nagging paranoid in me, because that part of you never really goes away if you root for UVA, but the rest of the schedule seems booby-trapped. FSU is actually the least of our concerns, I think. Wake will get us at their place and no doubt they'll be awfully confident, seein's how they just almost beat us at ours. VT is gonna be primed as well, though fortunately that's at home. Syracuse is no easy place to win at. And it was after Anderson went down that Louisville mounted a comeback; that one's a return road visit too.
At stake, besides tournament seeding and the chance to add a regular season title to the rafters, is avoiding bracketologist talk about whether UVA can be as legit as ever without Anderson. The committee does take injuries into account, both positively and negatively. If a guy misses time and then comes back, your losses during that time get a kinder eye. If a guy won't be ready for the tournament, they penalize you. Optimistically, I think Anderson will be back for the NCAAs, but you never know. But if the winning streak continues, sans the team's most electric player, you can't ask for a better setup.
-- With about 47 seconds left, NC State fouled Brogdon; this was the very best of all possible outcomes. Coaches aren't big on quick shots to try and get two-for-one on possessions at the end of a half (though this is a strategy mainly for the end of the first half; the second is too wild-cardy) so UVA was going to hold the ball as long as possible. One likely outcome of that strategy is to not score and give NC State the chance to tie with a minimum of 12 seconds to work with. Instead, UVA's best free-throw shooter got to head to the line with a chance to put UVA up two scores, and the Hoos were guaranteed another possession.
-- The announcers had this fixation on "free throw percentage in conference play." I guess that's useful as a proxy for how you're shooting lately, but it's otherwise utterly nonsensical - it's not like you need to adjust free-throw shooting percentages for the quality of opponent.
-- How about Evan Nolte's drive and dish to Gill? As with the Anderson miss against Duke, it felt like a game-turning play. I think it's because Nolte is usually a bit less than assertive on offense, and is the player on the team who least resembles a smooth rim-driving point guard (and yes that includes Mike Tobey) so the sight of his bad-Hawaiian-shirt-wearing self making like Isiah Thomas was jarring enough to turn the game on its head. And as it turned out, that was the last lead change of the game.
-- Center-court logos are trending in the obnoxiously huge direction, and never more so at NC State. I know it's a classic old logo and all, but it is in fact the ugliest friggin' court in the whole country. And since the whole midcourt line is almost completely obscured, it ought to be banned.
-- In case you've forgotten why everyone thinks Carolina media is the most shameless, shilling, and biased bunch of wretches in the whole country, enjoy this small passage from Stephen Schramm from the Fayetteville Observer:
The replays showed that Nolte had collided with N.C. State’s Caleb Martin. Much to Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried’s dismay, the crew decided to call a flagrant foul on Martin.Yeah, totally out of nowhere, I'm sure. Much to Stephen Schramm's dismay, the cops decide he's at fault when a tree collides with his car. The definition of a flagrant foul is "excessive and/or unnecessary contact" and plowing Nolte clearly qualifies.
-- Shifting gears to the Wake game: Last week I wrote about rewarding the big guy making the hustle play, and this week it happened again: Darion Atkins brick-walled a Wake defender trying to keep up with London Perrantes, and was rewarded by Perrantes with an easy layup. The announcers did a nice job of pointing out the communication between Atkins and Perrantes on that play.
-- It's interesting that Tony didn't make an adjustment - or didn't appear to, anyway, though you never know what you miss - as Schnozz Mitoglou kept pounding away from the three-point line off of a simple pick-and-pop. I think it's a philosophy thing - a gamble that a freshman on the road is less likely to keep making those than the ballhandler is to punish you for getting away from your hard hedge.
-- Malcolm's dunk. MALCOLM'S. DUNK.
-- As badly as Pitt and Wake shot free throws, I can't help but wonder if the students haven't figured out a distraction routine that actually works.
-- Much like with the Notre Dame game last year, the Hoos did a nice job of finding a tendency in the Pitt zone and attacking the bejeezus out of it. And on one play, a different attack, but a really, really nice job by Isaiah Wilkins to set up an open shot. Whether on purpose or just playing through the flow of the game, I don't know, but Wilkins did a great job of holding the ball just long enough to suck in the defense and then kick it back to the point, where Perrantes wasted no time finding the open shooter. Pity Nolte missed the shot, but it was picture-perfect passing.
-- Does anyone else besides me think that Infiniti commercial is incredibly stupid? Do people routinely make a habit of just blithely backing out the driveway and missing the BIG FKIN' YELLOW SCHOOL BUS rumbling down the road? Are school buses difficult to see? Is it hard to see a car coming down the totally empty parking lot lane? The look on school bus lady's face is priceless: "Oh wow, if it hadn't been for those genius engineers at Infiniti, I would've gotten my two children messily killed in a school bus accident!" Don't worry, honey: with observation skills like those, Junior and Juniorette will have their own permanent 6 x 3 plot any day now.
Probably like 1/3 of commercials on TV say the same thing: "Our customers are idiots. If you're an idiot, you can be one of our customers too."
-- With the win over Pitt, UVA mathematically clinches a single bye in the ACC tournament, more than three weeks before it starts.
-- Yes, I read Myron Medcalf's moronic scribblings, and there's enough to say about that that it's worth a post all its own. Wednesday night.