Monday, March 16, 2015


Man, screw this weekend right in the pooper.

About the best you can say for it was that almost nobody got hurt.  Almost.  And that's of course limited to players who are still here.  Mike Scott broke his toe and Chris Taylor - who was well on his way to becoming the Opening Day starting shortstop for Seattle - broke his wrist.  That confirms it.  It wasn't just one of those weekends where stuff sometimes happens.  It was further proof that We Can't Have Nice Things because the fates are capricious dicks.

Arguably, basketball, lacrosse, and baseball are all now without their best players.  Oh, sure, Justin Anderson's technically on the court, but he scored zero points in two ACC tournament games, and I refuse to believe the taped-up splint on his finger had nothing to do with that.  (Sweet block against UNC, though.)  Joe McCarthy is still out for the baseball team and will be for a few more weeks.  James Pannell....ugh.

Both lacrosse and basketball, in their losses, let the game slip away early.  I'm not that impressed with either comeback, though the basketball one was better.  It came closer and forced UNC to shape up their game, which to their credit, they did.  Because, look, it'd be easy to say how much closer that game would've been, maybe even a UVA win, if Justin Jackson hadn't gone from reliable bricklayer to reliable point machine from long range.  You take your chances with a guy who's shooting like 26% from three.  But then, UNC looked like crap on offense for three-quarters of the game, and being behind by a lot was a function of looking even crappier.  At the end, it was certainly scary for the Heels, but then the old cliche about one team making plays reared its head.

I'm not ready to vindicate the lacrosse team based on their own mini-comeback, because that was only natural when one team decides it's desperate and the other is getting comfy.  There's a lot to complain about, but I think I'll focus on stick skills, which this team seems to lack.  Ground balls were a commonly-heard problem, but that's just an extension of the problem.  I haven't seen enough yet to know whether this is a chronic problem, but it sure as hell was an issue Saturday.  The Hoos could've jumped out to a lead if they'd connected cleanly on a few early passes - difficult plays, but we're used to seeing them work.  In one incident that stands out, Greg Coholan whiffed on a perfectly simple, uncontested pass in his direction, which sailed to the other end of the field and resulted in a Notre Dame goal 30 seconds later.

We're not even going to talk about baseball.  It brought Hokies out of the woodwork who couldn't name two players on their own team.

Finally, we come to the tournament draw.  Mark Titus, avowed fan of the whole concept of UVA basketball, thinks UVA got hosed.  I'm a UVA fan, which means, like all UVA fans, I think UVA exists in a constant state of hosed-ness that withdraws every so often, like a low tide that occasionally exposes neat seashells to collect.  (It's why we we have such a high opinion of Tony Bennett: he can command the tides.)  So naturally I agree with Titus.

It's pretty easy to come up with a few reasons why.  UVA had a better season than Duke.  UVA is the top two-seed, and therefore should play the weakest 1 seed, but instead gets the second-best 1 seed in Villanova.  And the first-weekend draw is unlucky: Belmont and Michigan State are both excellent three-point shooting teams, exactly the formula to knock off this defense.  Georgia doesn't count; Tom Izzo's teams don't lose in the first round.  Tom Izzo's teams are like zombies.  You can shoot them a thousand times and they won't die.  I haven't seen a single UVA fan on any board who doesn't automatically assume MSU won't beat Georgia.

On the other hand, the committee did do UVA a small favor by putting them in Charlotte.  The other decently close possibility was Pittsburgh, where there are no 2 seeds.  The Hoos should get a clear home-court advantage, unless they play Georgia.  And if we're allowed to look past the first weekend, Villanova and Oklahoma are the two least intimidating 1 and 3 seeds.  I'd happily switch spots with Villanova, sure, just for the sake of having the title of 1 seed, but I'll tell you right now I wouldn't switch with Wisconsin.  Hope the Badgers like playing Arizona out in LA.

Besides.  Belmont's frontcourt, if you can call it that considering none of them are bigger than Evan Nolte, is laughably ripe for abuse and MSU is much less on paper than they were last year.  This could just as conceivably go really well, as really badly.  And we get to play Friday, always my preferred day.

Anyway, the weekend wasn't a total loss: I did put together something fun.  One of my better efforts, but I can't take much credit because the subject matter was absolutely perfect.  And next weekend is one of the year's very best.


BostonHoo said...

I am not sure the Hoos can really complain about the 2 seed. They played poorly in 2 of their last 3 games and have not recovered from the injuries to JA. It is said that the committee looks at March as well as the body of work and takes injuries into consideration. Ipso facto a 2 seed. UVa has to come out ready to play and stop sleep walking through the first half expecting to catch up in the second half. It is like the brilliant but lazy student who leaves all the work to the last minute knowing that he is smart enough to catch up. That does not work at some levels, and it does not work in either the ACC tournament or the NCAAs.

Anonymous said...

nice work on the Cuse game. i forgot how back and forth that game was for a good part of it. boy, i hope we fill it up like that from three this week.