Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bobby Smith joins up

WR Bobby Smith came to Charlottesville this weekend for his official visit and will leave a Wahoo. He essentially replaces Tyree Watkins in the class, and won't have to prep either.

Varina is a school we haven't managed to get our hooks into, which is too bad because they produce some talent. Hopefully Smith can help with future recruiting efforts there (ahem Marquis Wallace.)

I'm not yet going to bother updating the recruiting board, not til Monday. This post'll stay on the front page anyway.

Oh.....and we'll get our Morgan Moses news on Wednesday, ($) right on time for a letter of intent. I don't think he'd look good in baby blue, do you?

game preview: DOOM

Virginia Cavaliers (7-9, 1-4) at Duke Blue Devils (18-2, 5-1)

Possible starters:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (9.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.5 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (8.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.7 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (17.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.5 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (11.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C: Assane Sene (3.3 ppg, 5.5 ppg, 0.5 apg)


PG: Nolan Smith (10.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.9 apg)
SG: Jon Scheyer (13.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.7 apg)
SF: Gerald Henderson (14.8 ppg, 5.1 apg, 2.1 apg)
PF: Kyle Singler (16.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.9 apg)
C: Brian Zoubek (6.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 0.7 apg)

Oh goody.

The only team in the conference with a losing record on the season takes three freshmen in the starting lineup to visit the #1 team in the nation in the loudest, nastiest arena in the country just after the host team loses a squeaker for their first conference loss of the season.

If that doesn't sound like the storyline for a game where the margin of victory would come as no surprise no matter how massive, then there will never be another blowout again in the history of basketball. 30? 40? 50? Would it surprise you if we lost 90-20? Me neither.

As much as we all like seeing Duke knocked down a peg by losing at Wake Forest this week, it probably only served to motivate them. Last time Duke lost, they had finals week to stew over it, then blasted UNC-Asheville by 43 points, their largest margin of victory all year. Yeah, OK, that was a mid-major team, and do you think that really matters? Lest you forget, the two guys who will handle the ball the most for us - Zeglinski and Landesberg - are playing their first game in front of the Cameron Crazies. None of this bodes well.

Here's what'll happen: someone for us will have a decent game. We'll get some points from somewhere - mostly in the second half when Duke lets off the gas. Problem is, you never know who's going to have a good game from one to the next. Maybe Zeglinski shoots 2 for 13 but Tucker gets 14 points. Maybe Zeglinski passes up the shots to Baker who misses all of them, but Farrakhan finds his range from three-land. A game following eight games of practice would normally be a great time to put it all together, but the scheduling gods decided what a funny joke it would be to have the least winnable game possible at the end of that stretch. If this was a home game against, say, Georgia Tech or NC State, I might be pretty confident about this. Instead we've spent this last week stewing over the blowouts at either end of it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

the homestretch, sort of

Forget, for a minute, about the DOOM that approacheth on Sunday. Tomorrow's the day to worry about that, because that's when I write a very emo game preview. Today, recruiting news, because it's that time of year. NLOID really ought to be a national holiday. It's gonna be hard trying to keep up with stuff at work and yet pretend like I'm actually doing something for king and country.

The 2009 and 2010 boards are both updated. Lest you think I'm slacking and getting in a rut, I'm also working on updating the depth chart by class, which will be presented all-new on or shortly after NLOID.

The updates:

- Lanford Collins will be a Hokie, and so he is off the board.

- The coaching staff is making all preps for an offer for WR Bobby Smith. If/when offered, he'll jump, so even though he's technically a Delaware commit, that is basically worth the paper it's not written on. He'll be a Hoo if we offer, much more likely than not.

- For 2010, I added Smith's teammate Marquis Wallace. We haven't offered yet, but we will. Also added LB Justin Maclin, although he could go to any school he wants within a 700-mile radius of his home and therefore will probably never leave the red on this board.

This party's not going to stop on NLOID, though. Morgan Moses is going to drag this thing out for a while, and the coaching staff seems bound and determined to get to 25 no matter how much attrition would be required over the summer to fit them all in, and so is working on a late surprise or two. (In case you're wondering, there is room for four more under the 25-limit.) There will be much to watch for the class of '09 even after Wednesday has come and gone.

Lastly, a piece of good news, because it concerns a most deserving recipient of said good news. The university announced today that Sean Singletary's number will be retired. Not "jersey" - they've done that already, and that's a sort of secondary honor because schools are kind of discouraged from retiring numbers - there's only so many you can hand out in football, and basketball has this weird rule that you can't have a number higher than 5 on the jersey, so those are limited too. But no, the number 44 will be retired in honor of Singletary. It's the right thing to do. Singletary played with all the guts and tenacity of Allen Iverson, only without the "PRACTICE?!?!" This kid was special from his very first year and now he'll be immortalized next to Ralph Sampson and Bryant Stith and the rest of them. He deserves it 110%.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the all-me team: offense

I thought about borrowing (ripping off) ESPN, as well as other members of the ACC Roundtable, and doing a Mount Rushmore of UVA sports. (Yes, inspired partly by the thread on the Sabre Edge board, for those of you that read both.) I was then going to arbitrarily limit it to football and men's basketball, which are really the sports that 95% of UVA fans care about the most. Including the other sports means you could have a spirited debate over whether Dawn Staley, Tony Meola, Ed Moses, or Somdev Devvarman belong or not, but really that would end up being a debate over which sport is "better", so, no.

But then I realized this: there are three which probably need no explanation (Dudley, Welsh, Sampson) and get no argument, and then a whole bunch that probably don't have a tremendously greater argument than the others: Bryant Stith, Anthony Poindexter, Sean Singletary, Jeff Lamp, Chris Long, Herman Moore, Tiki Barber....agh. The main problem with me doing this is that I didn't start at UVA until 2000, and before that, I wasn't paying attention. I grew up singing The Victors, not the GOS. So whether Matt Schaub really was better than Shawn Moore? I don't know.

So instead, the best players - football and basketball - of the decade; or really, since the fall of 2000 (my first year), to avoid any smart-alecs who make bones about the decade beginning in 2001. The best part is, not only does it cure tonight's writers' block but it gives me two more nights worth of stuff to write next time I'm tempted to play Guitar Hero instead of write because nothing interesting happened. I mean, how many different ways can you write "holy christ the basketball team is swandiving into oblivion." I'm sneaky like that. I have to be: we don't have a hockey team, and it's not lacrosse or baseball season yet. Tonight, the offense, next time, the defense, and after that, the basketball.


Matt Schaub. Easy choice. Marques Hagans was fun to watch and did engineer a very nice win over FSU, but Schaub's the guy with all the passing records.

Running back:

Wali Lundy. Actually the best individual season belongs to Alvin Pearman, and our only other 1,000 yard rusher was Antwoine Womack. And Pearman kept improving, while Lundy burst onto the scene in a big way but sort of petered out and never met the expectations he set for himself. But picking Lundy is a lifetime achievement sort of thing. He's the only back we've had in this time frame that was a consistent bedrock of the offense for four solid years.

Wide receiver:

Billy McMullen
Kevin Ogletree

McMullen, duh. We've yet to have a receiver even approach McMullen. The guy could beat you on a fly pattern, after the catch on a slant, or a fade route to the back of the end zone. 7 to 11 was a great combo and it's a shame McMullen spent his junior year never knowing which quarterback the ball was coming from. Still racked up 1,000 yards receiving. Ogletree could have had a great senior season if he'd stuck around. He's really on the list by default, as the only other receiver to have two seasons as the #1 option. Michael McGrew and Deyon Williams could have made the list, but injuries derailed their careers and they lost their groove.

Tight end:

Heath Miller
Tom Santi

Miller is another duh. Miller was Schaub's favorite target in Miller's junior year and led the team in pretty much everything, and came back to do it again his senior year. He's the benchmark for UVA tight ends. Santi understudied for a year, then platooned with Jon Stupar and consistently beat him in receiving yards. Stupar was sort of the possession tight end; Santi was able to go deeper.


Zac Yarbrough. Yarbrough is the only center during this time to have been chosen for postseason all-ACC honors - he made the second team in 2004.

Offensive guard:

Elton Brown
Branden Albert

Not to be confused with the basketball Elton Brown, of course. Big E was a mauler and an All-American guard; Albert was tremendously athletic and mastered the pulling technique.

Offensive tackle:

D'Brickashaw Ferguson
Eugene Monroe

Monroe has a shot at being drafted higher than Ferguson was. This is hard to do, because D'Brick was drafted fourth. The Jets probably just wanted to draft a guy named D'Brickashaw, but they got an All-American while they were at it. Monroe was an absolute wall on the quarterback's blind side; his pass protection was near-perfect, while D'Brick was more of the road-grading run-blocker type.

Next time I run out of things to write, you get the defense. Probably some time next week.

Oh yeah....the recruiting board is narrowed by one. Two of our potentials decided today, but only one chose to actually tell anyone what the choice would be. Nolan MacMillan is off to Iowa. Lanford Collins decided too, but he's not talking. I guessed Tech earlier and I still think so.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the recruit: Tim Smith

Since we're on the topic of wide receivers, here's a little bit of offseason fluff on Jared Green. Something to cheer the heart and warm the blood on a day when the skies can't make up their mind which kind of precipitation it's going to be.

Name: Tim Smith
Position: WR
Hometown: Chesapeake
School: Oscar Smith
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 182

ESPN: 77, #55 WR
Rivals: 5.8, four stars, #38 WR, #10 player in VA
Scout: three stars, #97 WR

I don't have to tell you a lot of this stuff, cause you're already pretty excited about this guy, but I will anyway. Smith is the most dynamic recruit in this class; in fact he's the highest-ranked wide receiver we've brought in for six years. Forget what Scout says. They completely forgot about Smith and don't even list him as a commit. The #38 receiver in the country doesn't seem that high, but if you go back on Rivals' history, the #38 receiver has gone to places like Michigan, Alabama, and Ohio State - the latter being Santonio Holmes. Smith had offers from not only the regional powers, but schools from the Big Ten and SEC as well. He's in good company.

An explosive senior season helped shoot him up the rankings - much excitement was generated when he moved from a three-star to a four-star recruit following Rivals' postseason re-evaluation. Smith hooked up with quarterback Philip Sims (who will be the Next Big Thing that Wahoo fans pine for this summer) for dozens of touchdowns, and usually sat out fourth quarters after Oscar Smith, one of the top 10 teams in the land, racked up yet another 40-point lead on a hapless opponent. He capped his season with 224 yards and four touchdowns in the state championship game, just a taste of the way he torched and tortured opposition defenders all year long.

On video, it's easy to see why Smith dominated so much this year. He has an excellent eye for the ball and a knack for adjusting to make a catch. More than that, though, his first three steps are deadly. Usually - not always, but usually - he's the fastest guy on the field, but his first gear is top-notch. He ran a lot of fly patterns because he's too obviously better than high school cornerbacks and can do what he likes with them, but against college players he's juuust a little bit small to do that consistently. Where I think he'll absolutely excel is on wide receiver screens and slant patterns and such. Stuff designed to get him the ball in space where he can take those first three steps and make a corner or a safety pay for underestimating his acceleration.

With so many of our receivers leaving and so few proven players returning, Smith should have just as good a shot as any receiver on the roster to earn playing time in the fall. When he becomes a polished route runner he'll be a very, very difficult player to cover one-on-one. I'll stop short of saying we have the next Michael Crabtree here, but Smith has a shot at being as good as any receiver we've had this decade.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

recruiting update: one last week

One week to go. Time to get down and dirty. Both the 2009 and 2010 recruiting boards are updated for your viewing pleasure.


With just one week before NLOID, there are only four prospects left to watch:

- The biggest fish of all, Morgan Moses, is as quiet as ever. At this point, it's basically down to UVA or North Carolina, with Ohio State and possibly Virginia Tech hanging around in the background. Moses might not decide until after NLOID. Moses doesn't want to redshirt and the chance to jump right into Eugene Monroe's shoes, as well as the short drive to Grounds, are two huge hurdles the other two schools will have to overcome. Ohio State has room in their class with four early enrollees, but they're also hard after Marcus Hall and Moses is probably essentially a backup plan for them in case Hall pulls a surprise and doesn't go to Columbus. UNC has friggin' 29 commits (27 minus the earlies) and is still pushing hard for more - how they cram them all into the 25-limit will be interesting.

- Nolan MacMillan and Lanford Collins both went on officials this past weekend - to Boston College and VT, respectively. The fact that they came back without committing is a good sign. Collins is deciding between UVA, VT, and Penn State - MacMillan between BC, UVA, Iowa, and Georgia Tech. BC and UVA are "said" to lead but these are also his two most recent visits, so they make the biggest impression. I wouldn't bat an eye if he didn't choose either.

- Bobby Smith committed to Delaware, but being that we might be his only shot to play D-IA football, he'd take a hard look if we offered. If we do offer and if he switches from Delaware, he'd go in the 2010 category due to prep school.

I tweaked a couple things on the "committed" list. Tyree Watkins, obviously, is gone** - off to Durham - so he is accordingly delisted. Javanti Sparrow takes his place at WR, moving from S, and Quintin Hunter is now listed with the quarterbacks - which, if he does work with that group, would make a redshirt year for him a near-total lock.

You'll also note that there is a new "decommits" section on the bottom, and they get their own special hideous color set. I figured it might be worth tracking four years down the road.


- Our offers to RB Kevin Parks and QB Philip Sims are now reflected - both occurred just today. Sims lists some big-name offers and will probably rack up at least 15 more. Ordinarily that would put him in the red, but I'll call it yellow for now, just because he's instate and has two teammates already headed our way. But he's going to get a lot of attention.

**Can we please refrain from using phrases like "good riddance" when referring to Watkins? It is always annoying when a recruit backs off on his word, yes. But, these are 17- and 18- year old kids with 20 different adults in their ear offering their opinion on what they should do with the next four years of their life. I still haven't figured out what I would have done had I gotten the thin letter from the UVA admissions office and I didn't have 10 coaches calling me up badmouthing each other and 10 more "role models" pushing me in different directions, and I didn't have to look someone in the eye who'd been working for a year to build a relationship and tell him I was going to his rival's school. (Apparently Watkins didn't either, but that's not the point.) Yes, decommits are kind of crummy things to do usually, and rarely handled well, and many are in fact acrimonious and stupid, but I'd like to think UVA grads and fans can behave better on the Internet than to anonymously throw rocks at a 17-year-old kid who's only crime might just be that he's not very good at making decisions. Considering the joyride I took when I got the big fat envelope in the mail from UVA, I wasn't either.

Monday, January 26, 2009

mock drafts


A little something I was curious about, and that means you must be too. It's mock draft silly season, in which all sorts of pundits, despite knowing zilch, try and accurately predict the first round or more of the NFL draft. So I decided to compile this, a (hopefully) pretty comprehensive list of mock drafts from sites not named things like, only without all those other players from other schools. Going to see where the experts think Eugene Monroe will land:

James Alder ( 1st - Detroit (woot....?)
Rob Rang (CBS Sports): 2nd - St. Louis
Nolan Nawrocki ( 2nd - St. Louis
Don Banks (Sports Illustrated): 2nd - St. Louis
Tony Kornheiser (his own blog): 4th - Seattle
Chris Steuber ( 7th - Oakland
Mel Kiper (ESPN): 8th - Jacksonville
Steve Silverman (NBC Sports): 11th - Buffalo
Pete Fiutak ( Outside Round 1

I'm not sure what Fiutak is smoking. His draft does mention Monroe, specifically that he thinks the Jaguars would take Michael Oher of Ole Miss instead. Apparently everyone below that is set at left tackle.

I'm also not sure how I'd feel about the Lions taking Monroe. Part of me loves the idea of a Wahoo going first overall, loves to have the chance to keep watching Monroe play for my favorite team, and would be pretty happy besides that the Lions took a desperately needed lineman instead of going googoo-eyed over the quarterback. The other part of me would like to keep our UVA grads the hell away from the giant, steaming, career-ruining shithole that is the Lions. I have such a love-hate relationship with that football team.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

the recruit: Javanti Sparrow

Long weekend for me this weekend. So no post until probably Monday night, unless maybe the Saturday basketball game makes me either angry enough or happy enough to fire off a quick one.

Name: Javanti Sparrow
Position: WR/S
Hometown: Chesapeake
School: Western Branch
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 190

ESPN: 78, #43 safety
Rivals: 5.3, two stars
Scout: three stars, #72 CB

I've been dreading writing this entry in the series. First off nobody really knows if Sparrow will be able to join the class, because his SAT score is not yet good enough to qualify and the latest score isn't out yet.

Second, holy moly do the scouting services not agree on whether he's any good. ESPN has him at a 78, which is roughly the equivalent of a low four-star on Rivals, only Rivals thinks he's a two-star, apparently disagreeing with ESPN's assessment of "a boatload of natural talent." When that happens, you check the offers, and literally every article lists a different set of offers both verbal and written. Rivals, normally what I consider the most reliable of scouting services, never updated the actual list even though they have all these articles talking about who'd offered him, and so you'd think UVA was Sparrow's only scholarship choice. Scout's list is equally unreliable: everybody offered. Florida included. Frankly, you'd think if a guy's offer list included Florida, Penn State, VT, and Clemson, he'd be more than a low three-star in their mind.

So I don't know what's what. Here's what's undeniable: Sparrow is an excellent athlete and very fast. He's got the speed of a track champion, and I can say that because he is one. The UVA coaches apparently told Sparrow he could have his pick of wide receiver or defensive back (Sparrow seems to prefer receiver), and that kind of uncertainty puts him right there in the same category with Laroy Reynolds, right down to the likelihood of playing on special teams, only Sparrow is probably more likely to get a shot returning kicks rather than covering them. Here's an article that says Sparrow is "very likely to play wide receiver" and in the same breath claims "it'll be interesting to see where Sparrow actually winds up on the field", which goes to show how much anyone really knows on that subject. I really doubt both he and Reynolds would end up at the same spot given the competition at both positions.

On video, Sparrow is a player who's tough to bring down in the open field, and always required (on highlights, anyway) multiple tacklers. He's got some elusiveness, but also a maddening overconfidence in that elusiveness, and in a couple of highlights appeared to give up what looked like a pretty favorable angle in favor of an attempt to juke a DB out of his shorts. This resulted in a gang-tackle when the rest of the defense caught up to him as he worked on deciding which way to go. Pet peeve of mine, really.

Ordinarily I'd suggest that the depth at Sparrow's positions means automatic redshirt, but it's no secret that we need someone dynamic to return kicks. Our kick return average was a really lame 71st in the country and the punt returning was positively awful. Ogletree handled a lot of the kick returns, and he's gone, so there's an opening, because Chase Minnifield did nothing to seize the job. If Sparrow can put some of that athleticism on display he could find a niche right away as a kick returner, and thus get his foot in the door for some early playing time elsewhere too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

in which we are basically the Charlotte Bobcats

The frustrating thing about trying to make any sense of what's going to happen in the next basketball game is that I tend to think in terms of what our players are capable of, instead of what's likely to happen or taking into account the extreme freshmanitude of this lineup. Inside my own head I'm guilty of occasionally taking this to absurd extremes, as in, "well, Sammy and Tucker can each bring about 12 points to the table, and Mike Scott seems like he's good for 12 as well, and Sylven is Sylven, so, 20," and by the time I'm done with the lineup I've given us about 120 points. This is pure fantasy and doesn't make it through the still-developing filter between brain and keyboard when I'm trying to do Serious Writer Stuff.

But I still take certain things for granted. Like Sammy Zeglinski. I did not even consider the possibility, let alone the effects, of a really bad game from him when I wrote up the Maryland preview, but, duh, he's a freshman, and played a total stinker of a game last night. I make this bold prediction now: we will never win a basketball game when our point guard scores no points and has one assist. Sammy has been visited during these last two games by the Bad Decision Fairy and the assist-to-turnover ratio takes a beating because of it.

He's not alone. Just when I think (and write) that certain players need to have more minutes, they get them - and one (Tucker) totally vindicates me and the other (Farrakhan) goes thhpppbbbtttt. And we wonder why Dave Leitao can't settle on a rotation.

Here's the problem with this team. Kris at TheSabre writes today asking us to try looking at this season (and specifically, Dave Leitao) with Year One goggles on. Good article - doesn't go far enough. It's not just Dave Leitao - everyone's in Year One. The leading scorer is a freshman. The point guard is a freshman. The leading defender is a freshman. Scott is playing 10 more minutes a game than he did last year. By season's end, Meyinsse will have doubled his minutes played over last year's total and Farrakhan will have tripled his. Over 57% of the minutes played last year were played by someone no longer on the team, and Diane and Jones struggled so badly early on that they've lost minutes, too.

The closest thing I can think of to describe this team is an expansion team. It looks like an expansion team. Plays like one. So many brand-new pieces all thrown onto the same court. There are 10 players in what you might call our rotation, and on the face of it the breakdown looks like this:

3 freshmen (Landesberg, Zeglinski, Sene)
3 sophomores (Scott, Farrakhan, Jones)
3 juniors (Meyinsse, Tucker, Baker)
1 senior (Diane)

Which is a young enough group as it is - how many other ACC teams are starting three freshmen? But in practice, it's more like 5 freshmen (Meyinsse and Farrakhan are in their first year with actual responsibilities), 3 sophomores (Baker's second year on the team - one year at W&M and one year sitting doesn't really prepare you for the ACC), and two upperclassmen, both of whom come off the bench.

Which means that patience is not only a virtue, it's a must, whether or not you think Leitao should be given more time. (And I do.) This team is not going to be much good all year. The experience they gain, every game, is going to be nullified by the grind of the long season as the extra minutes catch up to the players not used to playing so much. Leitao has generally been able to squeeze unexpectedly good results out of patchwork teams, so when this team is fully developed a couple years from now it's going to be a joy to watch. It's just, this year, you should mentally add the word "if" to any predictions of success.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the recruit: Laroy Reynolds

Unrelated thought: Now that I think about it, the guy in the ACC scheduling department that gave Maryland a home game on Inauguration Day oughta be smacked upside the head. I'm glad I'm not the poor fool whose job it was to find the basketball team a hotel in the DC area (or probably Baltimore) last night.

Name: Laroy Reynolds
Position: S/WR
Hometown: Norfolk
School: Maury
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 207

ESPN: 76, #113 safety
Rivals: 5.6, three stars, #48 safety
Scout: two stars, #204 WR

Worth re-linking is this fluff article on Reynolds from the VP from last October. There are thousands of football players in the Hampton Roads area and any number of standouts on excellent teams, and only so much room on the pages for fluff articles, so I think it's worth something that Reynolds got one. Oh, and he's a future E-schooler - whooff. Most E-schoolers I knew didn't know much about the Grounds except for how to get from the E-school to Newcomb and back. So uh, good luck with that.

Reynolds was a surprise commit (he visited in July and was like, yup, this is it), the last of the preseason ones, and one of a number that Bob Pruett has pulled for us out of the Hampton Roads area. He played both offense and defense for Maury, and nobody's exactly sure which position he'll play in college. The recruiting services and offer list (NC State, Syracuse, UConn) paint a picture of a guy who's pretty good at both but not exceptional at either.

Plus, either way he'll be in the middle of a logjam in this class - we have like five safeties (unless Javanti Sparrow doesn't qualify, in which case four) and four receivers including Reynolds. Reynolds kind of falls out of the discussion at safety (Corey Lillard is rated higher and Perry Jones had a phenomenal senior season) and also at WR (Tim Smith is rated higher and had a phenomenal senior season, and personally I'm a big fan of Kevin Royal.)

This stacked deck seems to mean a couple of things: one, a redshirt year, and/or two, special teams. Reynolds is an excellent depth guy for this class, and excellent depth guys have a way of making their presence known on kick/punt coverage. See: McLeod, Rodney. If Reynolds is going to break into the depth chart, this seems the most likely path.

Monday, January 19, 2009

game preview: Maryland

Official visit-weekend has come and gone without the lightning strike commitment from Morgan Moses we'd all been hoping for. But the visit went well, he liked the coaches and the team, felt like he fit in, yadda yadda insert happy-about-visit talk here. The usual stuff. I do think Moses will commit to UVA. I hope that's not just me being a homer. Nolan MacMillan, on the other hand, I think is probably going to Iowa. MacMillan's a very good prospect and he's got to be intrigued by the Canadian connection we seem to be developing but I think even without Moses we'd be OK on the OL for this class.

Bigger things are on tap for tomorrow, though. CPCC (College Park Community College) is tomorrow's basketball opponent, so it's time to crank out one 'a these:

Virginia Cavaliers (7-7, 1-2) at Maryland Terrapins (12-5, 1-2)

Possible starters:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (10.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.9 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (7.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.6 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (17.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.5 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (11.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C: Assane Sene (3.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 0.6 apg)


PG: Greivis Vazquez (17.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 4.9 apg)
G: Eric Hayes (9.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.2 apg)
G: Adrian Bowie (10.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.7 apg)
F: Landon Milbourne (12.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.7 apg)
F: Dave Neal (7.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.9 apg)

Whatever the Maryland football team was on that caused them to occasionally skip games and send in the cardboard cutouts instead, they apparently had some left over and sent it down to the basketball team. Who gobbled it with relish, leading to crazy results like, "Morgan State 66, Maryland 65." Maryland is the very definition of a bubble team, with enough talent to earn decisive wins over Michigan and Michigan State but capable of rolling over and dying against damn near anyone.

Such is the fate of a donut team like Maryland. They have a low shooting percentage because they don't get a lot of post buckets. They were hoping that Braxton Dupree would give them the interior presence they lost when Gist and Osby departed, but Dupree has seen his minutes go pffffffttt and he hasn't scored a single point in 2009. The closest thing they have to a center is Dave Neal, but he's 6'7", and besides that still kind of growing into the role of a starter - he's not used to the kind of minutes he's been getting.

I expect a HUGE game from Mike Scott. Maryland isn't a particularly impressive rebounding team - when your point guard is your leading rebounder, that's a good indication. They're not a bad rebounding team either, mind you, but they're prone to getting completely whupped on the glass. Scott is likely to be matched up against Landon Milbourne (if we don't go heavy on the zone against a jump-shooting team, that is) and Scott has 30 pounds on him. I expect Milbourne to also be guarding Scott, unless they want to try Milbourne on Sene instead, in which case we might very well see more than the typical bucket-and-a-half from the 7-footer.

So I like how we match up down low, but if we didn't learn any lessons from the UNC game and hoist threes until the elbows fall off, we'll neutralize our one advantage. Jump-shooting teams like Maryland are best when they can supplement their half-court offense with a lot of transition buckets. The more we can force Maryland to play in the half-court, the better our chances of catching them on a bad shooting night. That means I don't want to see one player taking 15 three-pointers in one game. Come to think of it I really don't want to see that ever, not with this team, but even less so against a hated rival that we have a really good shot at stealing a win from.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

biggish recruiting update

It's Official Visit Weekend down in Charlottesville, and so we enter the homestretch in the race to convince as many 17-year-olds as we can to like the University of Virginia better than every other university in the country. So what's new on the trail? The recruiting board tells all....

- DE Will Hill is enrolled, officially, so he gets his own special color.

- LB Luke Kuechly is going to Boston College, so we are 0-for-2 in Cincinnati. Off the board.

- WR Bobby Smith is added. He's yellow-shaded because there's no actual offer yet, but his only other I-A offer is Bowling Green (no, Gregg Brandon was already gone when the offer was made) and he'd probably jump at a UVA offer even if it meant a year at FUMA.

- Morgan Moses gets bumped up to blue. He's starting to talk about staying closer to home so his folks can see him play and not have to spend their paycheck on gas money to do it, which means Alabama might have a tough time securing his services. And by taking his official this weekend, he's effectively bumped VT from consideration, as he was talking about taking an official to either Charlottesville or Blacksburg but not both. A commit from Moses would make this offensive line class by far the beastliest in recent history.

- Couple of verbals have their ratings adjusted.

- Also, scroll down a bit for the 2010 board in all it's glory. Go ahead and get acquainted with it, it'll be around for a year or so.

Note on the numbers. 24 players, not counting decommits, have given their verbals to the coaching staff. The limit, of course, is 25 in one class, but Will Hill counts against 2008 and Hunter Steward will count against 2010, so if Bobby Smith commits and joins Steward in prep school, there's room for everyone. Even more so if Moses also ends up needing prep school, and Javanti Sparrow still isn't academically qualified, so there is basically zero concern about the limit of 25. I still think Lanford Collins will end up at Tech and MacMillan at Iowa, so I don't even think it's likely we'll reach 25.

The real bother is the overall 85 limit. The charges against Rashawn Jackson are dismissed, so that's one less avenue of attrition we have to worry about, but the facts are the facts: we will have to brace for a few departures this summer.

2010 recruiting board

We have a head coach! And some commitments and stuff, so the recruiting board abides. Here's the latest update to it:

- Finalized. You shall have no more updates.

Same drill as before: it's an image. Click on it to make it readable.

Friday, January 16, 2009

the recruit: Cody Wallace

Plus a few quick takes from last night's bastaball game....

- I actually was pretty pleased with the halfcourt defense, which is a funny thing to say when you lose by 22. It was not bad though. Particularly from Sene. He's tenacious. But UNC's was better. Textbook case of top-notch defense jump-starting the offense. UNC got more than their share of easy buckets after forcing our guys into freshman mistakes with the ball.

- Got lazy on offense, too. 27 three pointers? You kidding me? After they stopped us a couple times going to the rim, the guys just stopped going and hoisted threes all day. Threes often mean long rebounds which mean a chance for a quick transition basket on the other end, especially when you miss 23 times. Yeowch.

- I was OK with Leitao's constant shuffling of the rotation early on, but it's starting to be detrimental. True, there are only four guys who've really earned regular playing time: Landesberg, Sene, Zeglinski, and Scott. But I think the stats pretty clearly show who the better players are, and frankly, Tucker and Farrakhan deserve the minutes that are currently going to Baker and Diane. Leitao needs to get a handle on this and start figuring out who his better players are. Continuing to shuffle starts to look like expecting perfection, and you're just not gonna get it from all these freshmen and sophomores.

OK, Mr. Wallace has waited long enough.....

Name: Cody Wallace
Position: OT
Hometown: Moorestown, NJ
School: Moorestown
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 265

ESPN: 40
Rivals: 5.1, two stars
Scout: two stars, #123 OT

Wallace is probably the most lightly regarded recruit in the class. Neither the star rankings nor the offer list (only other offer at the time he committed was from UCF) speak of a heavily-recruited player, though there was interest from bigger fish like Miami and Maryland.

But truth be told, Wallace was a little bit overshadowed during his junior year. Moorestown won a state championship and Wallace was surrounded by seniors. At 265 pounds, and probably a little smaller as a junior to be honest, Wallace wouldn't have caught the eye of scouts who'd come to watch others. Had he waited to commit until after the season, he'd almost certainly have had a larger offer pile to choose from.

The thing about a 6'5", 265 pound frame, though, is that it all but guarantees two things: one, coaches will say he has a very good shot at growing into his frame (that is, putting on 30 more pounds) and two, he'll get a redshirt year to do it. Wallace is a sure bet to redshirt, especially since we lose only one player out of ten on the O-line two deep. The good news for Wallace is that the coaches like his potential to play at any spot on the O-line, and redshirt years are great things for learning the answer to a question like that.

Awkward segue time: here is a quick interview with Wallace that was done last month. It has deep, insightful questions like, "Do you realize you could go on to the next level from playing at Virginia?" Actually, no, what is this NFL you speak of?

Awkward return segue. Going by just the rankings, Wallace would appear to have an uphill battle to get himself into the two-deep. We've got a few higher-ranked guys coming in this year. But, it's not like the last three classes have been filled with all-world players, and judging by the run-blocking this year, there's room for someone to make a name for himself. And Cody has a state championship under his belt, which gives him a leg up in the winning department on all but a couple of this class.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

what makes a blog a blog

Today's post was either going to be one of "the recruit" series, which would have been Cody Wallace, or a gushing paean to the decidedly good fortunes and NBA exploits of two of our basketball team's most recent alums: Roger Mason, Jr., who's having a terrific year with the Spurs, and Sean Singletary, recently earning his second NBA start with the Bobcats.

Then I ran across this Big Lead post regarding the ESPN blog network thingy, specifically the college football bloggers. I won't spoil the article for you - oh, just click, it'll take you like fifteen seconds to read - but the words "complete disaster" are used in conjunction. And I got to thinking thoughts, and then there were enough thoughts for a blog post, so here we are. Cody Wallace gets his turn tomorrow.

So what happened? Well, the Worldwide Leader isn't stupid. Like CBS Sports, which brought the Blogpoll to a wider audience, they know that a pretty sizable percentage of the most obsessed college football fans get their fix from some combination of blogs, message boards, and/or other noncorporate sources. To these people, ESPN is not the source; they essentially fill a niche. ESPN will have none of this filling a niche - they're the Worldwide Leader, dammit. So they go find some intelligent people with journalism degrees working at newspapers, hire 'em, and tell them to get busy blogging.

Only the end result is not so much a blog, as it is several small columns churned out over the course of a day. Successful college football blogs tend to offer you things that, for various reasons, you just won't get at a corporate giga-monster like ESPN:

- Unbelievably in-depth analysis.
- Insight to the workings of the game from football people with extra time on their hands.
- Snark, and lots of it.
- Bold-faced criticism.
- News before it hits the news.

And lots more. ESPN has quite a lot of good content, but they can't bring you blogs. Why not? Because bloggers are fans that bleed the same colors you do, and bloggers don't have to protect their press passes from confiscation and their sponsors from embarrassment.

That's because I have no press pass and I have no sponsor. So if I think Mike Groh called a shitty game, I can say so. (Can use naughty words, too.) If I think the sign ban policy is fascist, I can say so. At some point, I will probably call for Al Groh to be fired, because all coaches reach that point, and I won't have to worry about whether he'll answer my questions next time I try to interview him.

And because I love my 'Hoos (and have spare time) I can obsess over them, and live and die with them. I can get all emo when they lose and vomit stupid shit onto the page while I bounce up and down when they win. I can capture the memories in the form of video highlights, simply because I think it should be done, and I can distill the information about our team into formats that they don't have anywhere else, without having to do it for 119 other teams as well. I say "I" but that goes for all of us who really really really really really really like our respective teams and can't keep our mouth shut about them.

Meanwhile at ESPN's blogs, you get journalism school, in short clips. You get editors. And you get one person having to cover 12 teams. Heather, bless her heart, decided to do a rundown of all 12 ACC teams' recruiting needs. (Here's ours.) In the past, that would have been published all at once and called a "column." Now, they break it up into little "posts" and call it a "blog." And look, I don't exactly have the world's most important UVA site here, nor am I read by millions across the world each day (or even thousands), but honestly, I'd like to think I bring you much better recruiting content than "Virginia needs linebackers and wide receivers," especially since most of the class is already verballed in.

Put another way, C.J. Spiller is returning to Clemson for his senior year. Both Heather and Block-C have their takes. Heather's post reads like a news article and uses the word "reportedly", which reportedly is not a popular word with UVA fans right now. Block-C has two YouTube videos, a link to a hilarious message board post, and this phrase: "It took every ounce of my being not to write this entire post in all caps." Which is the random devoted Clemson fan more likely to share with other devoted Clemson fans?

So if it's true that ESPN thinks their blog network for college football has been a, quote, complete disaster, they're probably right. It's not the journalists' fault, though. (Warning - this next part could sound extremely corporate-whorish, because CBS has in fact sent a few hits my way by publishing the Blogpoll, but I'm not actively trying to be that way.) ESPN and CBS both tried to tap into the large-ish and growing segment of the college football population that is blogdom - CBS did it by letting bloggers be bloggers and linking to them in exchange for some measure of increased traffic for themselves. (Part of the idea being that you're supposed to click on the team links when I post a ballot, because they take you to the team sites on CBS.) ESPN did it by trying to corner the blog market for their own damn selves the same way they cornered the TV market. I don't know how CBS feels about the Blogpoll experiment, but at ESPN, it's not working. Their model and our model don't mix.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

game preview: North Carolina

So we can all take a big deep breath and a sigh of relief that Sylven Landesberg isn't running around on crutches this week. Kinda scary, that fall he took against Tech, no? I suppose that's what happens when the refs let you shove an opponent to the ground in order to get a steal. I can't be the only one who thought that, right? Here's hoping the game tomorrow is reffed better than Saturday's.

Virginia Cavaliers (7-6, 1-1) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (14-2, 0-2)

Possible starters:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (11.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.2 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (7.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.7 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (18.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.6 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (11.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C: Assane Sene (3.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.7 apg)


PG: Ty Lawson (14.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 6.4 apg)
SG: Wayne Ellington (12.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.3 apg)
SF: Danny Green (13.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.9 apg)
PF: Deon Thompson (13.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.6 apg)
C: Tyler Hansbrough (22.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 0.8 apg)

In the season preview for UNC I gushed pretty effusively about the Heels. It seems justified, what with them having all five starters in double digit scoring. But now, they're coming in to the JPJ tomorrow as basement fodder.

Yeah, don't get your hopes up though. Lightning doesn't strike twice - and no, going on the road to visit a very good Wake Forest team without your best defensive stopper and losing by three doesn't count as a lightning strike. BC, that was a lightning strike.

The one real glimmer of hope here is that they'll again be without Marcus Ginyard, their representative on last year's All-ACC defensive team. So Sylven Landesberg gets the chance to go up against the inexperienced.....uh, senior Danny Green instead. See what I mean? Friggin' team is loaded. Nevertheless, Heel fans are worried that someone is going to go off on them tomorrow night. OK, not that worried.

Here's what's gonna happen. Psycho T is gonna have a damn field day. Finally, he gets to go against a Virginia team without Lars Mikalauskas chopping him down at every chance. No doubt he will appreciate the chance to welcome the rookie Sene to the league. Sene already averages 3.6 fouls a game and isn't likely to improve on that if he has to guard Hansbrough all night - my guess is Leitao will send a steady stream of rotating players in to try and spread the fouls around. Meyinsse and Soroye will probably see more minutes than usual, either out of necessity or out of choice.

And to continue this sunny day of a post, I'm also not getting too excited about Mustapha Farrakhan's explosion in the waning moments of Saturday's game. Everyone has days on the court where for whatever reason they can't miss. Hell, I have days on the court where I can't miss (I remember both of them), and I'm 5'7" and shoot like a Tyrannosaurus with a knee problem. Sometimes it just happens. Mu's been a pretty good three-ball shooter all year, and the guy should be getting more minutes than he's been getting, but I want to see what he does in those extended minutes (if he gets 'em) before I start comparing him to J.J. "Damn It Not Again Why Do We Leave Him Open" Redick.

So, yeah, North Carolina. I'll be happy if we can stay within 15 of these guys, frankly. Three freshmen against a starting lineup full of ridiculously talented seniors that would be pissed if they "only" made the Final Four is a recipe for disaster. The common denominator between the BC and Wake losses was that both teams have a player capable of nuclear destruction - Tyrese Rice and Jeff Teague, respectively. We have that too, but the other common denominator is this: they had help. BC's Rakim Sanders had 22 points, and Wake's Chas McFarland shot 7-for-10 on his way to 20. Scott and Zeglinski are fine players and improving each game, but I don't see them as capable yet of scaring a team like UNC to the point where they're afraid to focus on Landesberg. No bold, out-on-a-limb predictions from me: expect a slaughter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

the numbers don't add up

First, a number that adds up real nice: Sylven Landesberg's fifth Rookie of the Week award. No truth to the rumor that this is going to be renamed the Landesberg Trophy at the end of the year. It's too early to call Sylven a lock for ACC Rookie of the Year, but the guy who took that honor in the preseason, Wake's Al-Farouq Aminu, is doing well but overshadowed by Jeff Teague. Teague happens to be shooting 54% from three-land, which is like stupid good, so needless to say Aminu is not Wake's featured scoring option.

Now for the new math. The RTD's Jeff White did some arithmetic and doesn't like what he sees. I don't either. The short version is that we have too many scholarship players. White counts 66 of 'em, and that's not including Rico Bell, who is transferring, and Patrick Slebonick and Jason Fuller, who were not asked back. There are 23 verbal commits for this year - do the math and that means 89 scholarships. The obvious catch is that pesky limit of 85.

So how do we get down to 85? Some things may happen. The university might get some very timely "additional information" available in the Rashawn Jackson burglary case. Tyree Watkins might decommit. Someone in the '09 class might become academically ineligible - White says there's one member of the class who "has yet to meet NCAA eligibility standards" and I am shamed to say I don't know who that is, although I have an edjimacated guess: Javanti Sparrow had to retake the SAT. And then, we still have absolutely zero idea what's going on with Sean Gottschalk.

That would drop us to 85 right there, if all four of those players drop out of the picture, but that's also assuming no more '09 commitments. And then, what if Sparrow gets his SAT results back and he dominated that mother? And what if Gottschalk gets healthy, or Watkins goes home from his official visit this weekend and liked it so much he sets up an altar to Thomas Jefferson? Looking into my ridiculously foggy crystal ball, I'm guessing that we have four DE's in this class because Gottschalk won't be playing any more, and that Jackson will be gone too. But the really skeezy uncomfortable part about this is that, even if there's no shadeballing going on behind the scenes or sudden runs on academic stringency, the staff is placed in the really awkward position of rooting for attrition so they don't have to force kids out.

It's a really tough dance that coaching staffs have to do every year - you want all 85 spots filled for depth and competitiveness purposes, but you're always going to have attrition and you can't very easily predict it. But we're going to get to 85 no matter what, which means, brace for some departures over the spring and summer. And honestly I'd rather have 83 or 84 scholarship players one year than have our coaches in the position where they might be forced to do wrong by a player because they overshot their mark.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

playoffs actually make a legitimate national championship

That is why, over in the NFL, either the 9-7 Arizona Cardinals or 9-7 (tie against Bengals = loss in my book) Philadelphia Eagles will be in the Super Bowl.

But playoffs don't make the regular season meaningless. Nope.

Because Florida vs. Cincinnati would have been a way better title game.

Mathis commits

LB Jeremiah Mathis went and made himself the 24th verbal commit ($) to Groh and co. today. Excellent news as we were a little thin on the linebackers in this class. Mathis is the third. Recruiting board even says so, so you know it's gotta be true.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Final Blogpoll ballot

One man's opinion on the final rankings. No, I'm not voting Utah #1 as some kind of stupid playoff protest. Florida is the legit champ, and Oklahoma is the legit #2 as far as I'm concerned. Both earned it.

1Florida 1
2Oklahoma 1
3Southern Cal 3
4Utah 3
5Texas 2
6Alabama 2
7TCU 3
8Ohio State 1
9Penn State 4
10Mississippi 11
11Boise State --
12Texas Tech 4
13Missouri 1
14Oregon 5
15Georgia 2
16Virginia Tech 7
17Oklahoma State 5
18West Virginia 8
19Cincinnati 1
20Iowa 2
21Michigan State 6
22Tulsa 4
23Brigham Young 7
24Florida State 2
25Rice 1

Dropped Out: Georgia Tech (#13), Pittsburgh (#20), Ball State (#24), Northwestern (#25).

It's a little heavy on bowl results, I think. Ohio State manages to move up because a lot of teams that were behind them also lost, and Penn State gets booted a few spots for sucking royal eggs.

Mississippi might be a little high, but hell: they beat the national champs, and knocked off Texas Tech for a bowl encore.

Oregon State? No. Did you see that game or what? Nobody involved in that gets ranked. If Oregon State's cheerleaders were also an undefeated football team and went on to beat Florida in another national championship game, they would not be ranked, because nobody in that stadium partaking in that game in any form gets ranked.

LSU? Fuck LSU. Aside from a 7-5 regular season in which their marquee win was South Carolina, anyone who runs a fake punt in the fourth quarter when leading by five touchdowns deserves ass-porridge for breakfast, and does not get ranked. That's horseshit. Les Miles is on par with Dennis Franchione in my book. He certainly didn't learn that under Bo Schembechler. Bo would have had him running wind sprints attached to a Mack truck until he vomited his colon for a stunt like that.

Last chance to leave comments for a ballot until fall. At least, a football ballot.

game preview: Virginia Tech

Virginia Cavaliers (7-5, 1-0) at Virginia Tech Hokies (9-5, 0-1)

Possible starters;


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (12.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.8 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (7.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.8 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (18.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.4 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (11.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 0.9 apg)
C: Assane Sene (3.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)


PG: Malcolm Delaney (16.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.1 apg)
SG: Dorenzo Hudson (3.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SF: A.D. Vassallo (18.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.4 apg)
PF: Jeff Allen (13.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.7 apg)
C: Cheick Diakite (3.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.3 apg)

As linked to yesterday, we have a chance here to do something we haven't done since 1995: start an ACC season 2-0. Which probably means we'll lose, but hey. VT looks a lot like we do only with hideous uniforms. You might notice just by the stats above where the good players play, where the bad ones play, and where the tall skinny African guy plays.

By the stats, Tech's big three are collectively better than ours. They're also older, of course: Vassallo is a senior and we aren't too sure what happens when you reach four years of eligibility because not a whole lot of guys on this team have got that far. They have to be better though: Calvin Baker might not exactly be the best 2 guard in the ACC, but Dorenzo Hudson is almost assuredly the worst, and the Hokies get very little help from the bench.

Which happens to be our biggest advantage. Tech gets mainly token contributions from the subs, whereas we have guys who are reasonably useful. Jamil Tucker and Mustapha Farrakhan have mostly responded when given the minutes, and Mamadi Diane might just be heating up. Leitao must bring a game plan that includes repeatedly attacking the rim and getting the Hokies in foul trouble to force them to use their bench. Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen are rather prone to foul trouble - the Hokies might very well have upset Wisconsin in the Challenge if Allen hadn't fouled out. On defense, I don't care if they have to invent a basketball magnet and surreptitiously stick it to Dorenzo Hudson, but do what it takes to give him as many shots as possible. The more shots he takes, the better our chances at winning, because only like one in every four actually go in.

This is probably our last crack at a team roughly at our level on the road, except maybe late in February at NC State. It looks like Dave Leitao has done a pretty good job of finally erasing the culture of awful basketball away from Charlottesville, and this would be a great chance to prove it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

nothing special today, or so i thought

There's a nice hey-check-out-this-guy article on Sylven Landesberg, should you be interested in the next great 'Hoo baller. Actually not a lot the average 'Hoo fan doesn't already know, but it's nice to see that national pub for a guy who deserves some.

"Does not have potential to be drafted in the first three rounds." That's the evaluation Kevin Ogletree got back from the NFL when he submitted his paperwork. I generally hesitate to criticize our own players who declare early for the draft, because I clearly have very selfish motives in wanting them to stay. But you kinda have to wonder who told Ogletree what, that outweighed that paperwork.

Jeff White has a bunch of interesting stuff courtesy of Al Groh. My take on some of these items:

- Rico Bell transfer. Disappointing that he didn't pan out, because he was one of the highest-rated recruits of the 2006 class, and he chose UVA over an offer list that included Tennessee. Bell was not even on the two-deep this year as a redshirt sophomore and didn't look likely to crack it next year either, which no doubt contributed to the decision. Chris Cook is returning and could get moved to safety, and we are taking a butt-ton of safeties in the '09 class, and Bell saw the writing on the wall. There are a couple exceptions, but that class of '06 is starting to look like a flop these days.

- Also not back: Patrick Slebonick, Jason Fuller, and probably Cary Koch, though Koch is petitioning for another season. Returning to the team: Brandon Woods, Darnell Carter, and probably Yannick Reyering. Woods should be able to carve out some playing time this year - unless a true freshman impresses greatly, he and Ausar Walcott look like the early front-runners for the two-deep behind Corey Mosley and Cook. Carter will have a chance to compete in a wide-open race for spots on the depth chart now that Jon Copper and Antonio Appleby have graduated.

- I'm betting on Vic Hall to get moved to offense this year - the play of Chase Minnifield allows it. Hall can be a dangerous wild card for the offense and just the sort of guy to design a few trick plays around.

This popped up on the official site like right as I'm typing: your new strength and conditioning coach. OK, Director of Football Training and Player Development, whatever, I guess in the spirit of the official name of the stadium we gotta make it wicked long. Gotta love the wild and crazy eyes. The eyes that say "why the hell can you not bench 600 pounds, son?!?!" and the half-smile that adds "oh btw I'm really going to enjoy yelling at you for it." I call that a first step in the right direction.

I'm putting off the VT game preview til tomorrow morning. I didn't realize that it's been fourteen years since we started 2-0 in the conference. Not gonna lie: That's pretty bad. What's weird is that this year - when we're not really all that good - is when we have as good a shot as any to fix that.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

recruiting giveth and recruiting taketh away

So, at midnight tonight we will have just as many recruits for the 2009 class as we had at midnight last night. It's just, the names are a bit different.

First the bad news: RB Alex Owah is academically ineligible for UVA and won't be coming. This puts a serious crimp in the RB lineup for the future. Perry Jones is really a safety, Dominique Wallace is probably more of a fullback than a guy to tote the load, and nobody's quite sure exactly where Quintin Hunter will end up. This throws the tailback future up in the air - there's Mikell Simpson of course, Raynard Horne, redshirt freshman Torrey Mack, but losing Owah takes a big chunk out of the future depth. It's late in the game to move in on another RB for '09 - if we were Michigan we could do this, but we're not, unless we want to go and offer some guy who was otherwise looking at Kent State. We might be looking at a position switch for someone in the spring; maybe the coaches decide Jones is a running back after all, or maybe a defensive back buried on the secondary depth chart gets buried on the RB depth chart instead.

But, even if there's nobody to block for, at least we will have someone to do the blocking. Say hi to Oday Aboushi, the latest and greatest verbal commit. Aboushi is a big fella at 300 pounds and instantly becomes one of the top five rated recruits in the class. The offensive line for '09 is now in solid shape, even without Morgan Moses, who may need prep school no matter where he goes. Going by star ratings and such, this looks like the best year for O-line recruiting since '05, when we picked up Eugene Monroe and Branden Albert. Hell, our starting center came in as a tight end; and we wonder why we have a tough time runblocking. So this is not unexpected, but it's terrific news.

P.S. - the recruiting board is looking oranger and oranger all the time, and is duly updated.

i sometimes do this

Because it's my blog, I reserve the right, every so often and ever so rarely, to go off on a completely and totally unrelated tangent. This would be one of those. I'm not going to say a lot here though because there's nothing I can say to do proper justice to this, or improve on it. I'm a Detroiter by birth, and not many people understand when I tell them I intend to go back, and soon. Maybe this will help. No one is making you click and there will be no exam. But if you're curious how a city can be repeatedly kicked while it's down and yet welcome folks with open arms, you ought to have a read.

The Courage of Detroit

Fear not, regular programming returns this evening.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

KO, going pro

So we're down a wide receiver. More in a bit, after I make excuses about why I'm not going to do much about the Hunter Steward commit. Steward, obviously, is going to go to Fork Union for a year - the story behind that is that the coaches want him to go for "physical development." Physical development? The kid's six foot seven! OK, fine, whatever, he'll go to FUMA for a year which is essentially a grayshirt year, pack some muscle onto that scrawny 300-pound frame of his, and come back in 2010 with a vengeance. The upshot for your humble blogger is that I'm not gonna bother doing a recruit profile thingy until after the rest of the '09 class is done and almost certainly not til after Signing Day, and I'm not gonna add him to the committed section of the recruiting board. For all intents and purposes he is the first '10 recruit, rather than the 23rd '09 one. I guess that means the '10 class is a little behind the '09 one, because Alex Owah committed last December.

OK, so Kevin Ogletree is going to the draft and that sucks. Last year Branden Albert left early, and you kind of had to shrug your shoulders because he went 15th overall. I admit to being surprised at Ogletree's decision, though. I'm not sure he's any higher than a fourth round pick right now, but I guess we'll have to wait and see what the scouts say. There are quite a few receivers who'll likely be drafted ahead of him, including Hakeem Nicks, who dazzled on the big stage of a bowl game, and Rutgers' Kenny Britt, who was fifth in the nation in receiving yards and is 6'4". Both also declared early. The scouts also put guys like Percy Harvin and Jeremy Maclin near the top - neither of whom have declared yet, but could.

Had he stayed, Ogletree could have conceivably led the ACC in all receiving categories. Nicks and Clemson's Aaron Kelly are departing - these were the only two ahead of 'Tree in receiving yards. Also leaving are Wake's D.J. Boldin, Duke's Eron Riley, Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey....there are going to be a lot of new faces at the top of the receiving stats list next year. Ogletree would certainly have been a preseason all-conference pick, and probably a postseason one too. The only question is, would it have helped his standing in the draft? I dunno. Not really qualified to answer that. But with so many good receivers leaving the ACC, this might not be the year to hop the train. Academically Ogletree would have gained nothing - by virtue of that year sitting out with a knee injury, he's already graduated.

What it means for us is, no senior wide receivers on next year's team, and as it stands now (without counting the '09 recruiting class, that is) more walk-ons than scholarship players. Dontrelle Inman will be our most experienced wide receiver. I was once told that the receivers were second only to the quarterbacks when it came to being harangued and ridden on by the coaching staff about knowing the minute little details of every play, so it'd have been nice to have that senior leadership.

But there's plenty of talent ready to step up, some of which (Inman, Staton Jobe) had decent seasons in 2007 but disappeared behind Ogletree's and Maurice Covington's fine seasons. Jared Green and Kris Burd will certainly be in the mix. A true freshman like Tim Smith could step into the game as well, and I'm looking forward to the size and style of play that Kevin Royal brings to the table. So Ogletree isn't leaving behind a vacuum; clearly, Gregg Brandon will have a lot to work with. But there won't be any easing of players into a top role; one of these guys is going to have to step out on the field in September and straight into a spotlight that they're unfamiliar with. It'll be a very interesting position battle.

one coming, one going

Two quick tidbits from TheSabre: first, OL Hunter Steward is a UVA commit, though he will probably count for 2010 vice 2009 as he is expected to spend a year at Fork Union.

Second, the bad news: Kevin Ogletree is departing for the draft. Rats. Take heart though - there are some quality young'uns that appear ready to step up. Losing Ogletree certainly won't help, but it might not hurt as bad as it seems.

I'll blab at you with deeper thoughts later this evening.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

the recruit: Justin Renfrow

There's a little bit of interesting fluff in the CDP on Mamadi Diane and the slump he's been in so far this season. The good news is that as I write, the first half of the Brown game is winding to a close and Diane has 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting. If his knee is feeling better and he's breaking out of a slump this is the perfect time, what with the ACC part of the schedule starting in earnest on Saturday. And ohbytheway, speaking of Mo, Dave Leitao is clearly a reader of this blog, because guess who started the game tonight?

'Nuff bragging. Let's get to business.

Name: Justin Renfrow
Position: DE
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
School: William Penn Charter
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 260

ESPN: 78, #43 DE
Rivals: 5.5, three stars, #43 DE, #20 player in PA
Scout: three stars, #18....umm, TE

The first thing that pops at you (or at least, me) in the short list of essentials there is Renfrow's school. You might recognize it as the school that our point guard, Sammy Zeglinski, hails from, and oh yeah, some guy who was also kinda halfway decent at basketball by the name of Sean Singletary.

So Renfrow's recruitment was actually very short. Renfrow had piled up about six offers - his favorite being North Carolina - by late June, when we had prospect camp. Renfrow arrived in town with no Virginia offer and left a Cavalier. We can thank Singletary for helping make Renfrow a Hoo fan. (Rivals $)

The neat thing too is that at 260 pounds, Renfrow is already a college-sized DE. Actually he's a little undersized for the 3-4 yet, because the 3-4 demands that DEs act like DT's against the run, but for pass-rushing he's pretty much already there and we shouldn't act surprised next year if he ends up on the field in obvious passing situations. A good candidate to play some as a true freshman.

So there's a lot of good things that add up here. Decent ratings from the services. Plenty of attention from quality BCS schools (West Virginia and UNC offered, Penn State was thinking about it.) Good size. Even got the newspaper accolades (second-team all city.) Oh, and he's a basketball player and a damn good one - good enough to attract attention from some of the better mid-majors around, like Davidson and Lehigh. So, plenty of athleticism. The only unfortunate thing is that there's no film on him that I've found. OK, there is, but it's all taken at some camp he went to, and I'm not a scout, so watching him do footwork drills around a three-yard patch of grass doesn't do anything for me. ESPN and Rivals have film from the same camp, and the Rivals one shows him basically getting repeatedly torched in pass coverage, which doesn't matter because he'll be going toward the quarterback instead of away from him when game time rolls around. Bottom line is, I would not bet on a redshirt here, and I like Renfrow's chances of reminding us of Jeffrey Fitzgerald only with good grades.

Monday, January 5, 2009

game preview: Brown

A quickish programming note before I write anything about Brown. I've given up on the last basketball season preview. You're missing out on Wake. Sorry. They're pretty good. There ya go.

So what am I up to since I'm blowing that off? Here's what the future holds, if I stick to plan:

- I have one more football game to make highlights out of. That should be sometime in the next couple weeks.

- Hopefully I will also have some basketball games to make highlights out of. Any basketball win I get my claws on will also go in the videos section.

- I'm also converting my recordings over to DVD. I don't have a full-time studio, I have a personal computer, and I don't have the space to store them all. Where this applies to the blog and you, lucky reader, is that hopefully I can get my paws on some older games that I didn't have, and then the videos section can get really interesting.

- As for actual writing, I have certain plans. I skipped the Xavier game preview, but that's probably the last one I'll skip. I have to do a few more recruit profiles and I fully intend to finish those. Signing Day will bring a couple interesting things. I'll write up some kind of Signing Day extravaganza. That's also when I plan to update the depth chart by class. It's not 100% accurate right now because I last updated it somewhere in the middle of the season, and I figure there's not much point in doing so again until the '09 class is in the books. It'll get an update and a bit of a makeover then.

OK. Brown.....

Virginia Cavaliers (6-5, 1-0) vs. Brown Bears (5-7, 0-0)

Possible starting lineups:


PG - Sammy Zeglinski (11.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.0 apg)
SG - Calvin Baker (8.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.7 apg)
SF - Sylven Landesberg (19.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.6 apg)
PF - Mike Scott (11.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.0 apg)
C - Assane Sene (3.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.7 apg)


PG - Adrian Williams (13.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.5 apg)
F - Peter Sullivan (14.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.8 apg)
F - Chris Skrelja (7.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.0 apg)
F - Matt Mullery (15.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.3 apg)
F - Scott Friske (5.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.9 apg)

Brown's a little bit weird, which is what happens with some of these mid-majors trying to stand out from the pack. They have a motion offense, which is a basketball term for "run around a lot and try not to post anyone up." OK, Matt Mullery is allowed to post up, and has earned a 63% FG percentage doing so, and blocks shots besides. This offense otherwise leads to weird stats, like "the leading rebounder is also the leading assist man." And the guard-types - Williams and Sullivan, the only guys who generally take any threes - barely have any assists at all.

Now, they also have three guys doing all the scoring. Hey, that sounds familiar. And it's even more of a pronounced trend at Brown than here. Gee, you think. This should be easy. And their starters play, like, all the minutes. The problem is this - the only guy in that starting lineup smaller than 6'5" is Adrian Williams at 6'1". OK, so Sammy can probably guard him, but that leaves 6'2", 186 Calvin Baker to guard 6'5", 210 Peter Sullivan or 6'6", 220 Chris Skrelja. So Baker is listed as the "possible starter" up there, mainly because he's started all the games, but he's gonna get torched if he has to carry the defensive load, so I'm expecting and hoping that his minutes will for the most part go to Mo Diane, who's 6'5". Diane's been puzzlingly horrendous on offense this year, so he ought to get the start, focus on locking down one of their three scorers defensively, and let Baker play against some reserve. That'd let Baker open up on offense, which would be nice to have.

This isn't like the Hampton game where you can point at all kinds of great matchups in our favor. I'm a little bit worried, and if Brown had anyone beyond their top three guys who could consistently score, I'd be a lot worried. Fortunately they're even more of a three-man show than we are, and it's Brown, so they've got a lot of gumpy white guys with the same skill set.

As a note, the official site rather ominously says "Brown-Virginia Game Still Scheduled For Tuesday" which is the sort of headline that intends to reassure but only manages to induce panic, because you shouldn't have tell people that it's "still" scheduled. The blicky weather headed for Charlottesville tomorrow night threatens to make for a small crowd, assuming the game is played at all, so let's hope the combination of crappy and dangerous weather and crappy yet dangerous opponent on a darksome Tuesday night in the dead of winter in a half-dead arena doesn't make for a really lame stupid game where an Ivy League school gets an ACC hat to hang on the wall.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

big surprise yesterday

No, actually, not really. Dave Leitao and Sylven Landesberg talk about a lack of heart and intensity and defense and stuff, which is fine because hopefully they'll work on fixing that and all, but the bottom line really is this: Last year, Xavier went to the Elite Eight and we went to the CBI. And then we lost an NBA-caliber point guard. We got trounced because they're a way better team. Me, I take one big negative and one big positive out of this.

Starting with the bad: Three players (Landesberg, Zeglinski, and Scott) had 70% of the points - 49 out of 70 total. Surprise surprise, these are the only three that have played the whole season consistently on an ACC level. You expect the scoring to be top-heavy like that - that's why you have scorers and rebounders and such on the team - but not that top-heavy. You look at our wins, even our bad ones against crappy teams like Radford, and the scoring is always more evenly distributed. Yeah, the defense wasn't great - Xavier shot 40% behind the arc. And Leitao harps on it because that's how he rolls. But the offense has revolved around those three guys all year, with the occasional step-up from someone like Baker or Tucker. When a fourth or fifth player plays well, we can at least compete. If it's only three guys, we're going to get beaten every night.

Now, the good, with one huge caveat. Xavier went on a 19-0 run early in the game to make it 23-8. That's not the good, nor is it the caveat. Outside of that roughly four and a half minutes, we outscored 'em by a point. On average, roughly even basketball outside of that stretch. That's the good. The caveat is that there were still long stretches where we didn't score, and half of our points came in the final quarter of the game after Xavier kind of took their foot off the gas.

But here's the thing: Last year there was no such thing. Last year the Musketeers blew us the hell out in the first half and then blew us the hell out in the second half, without even trying that hard. Talk about bad defense - they had seven players score in double figures and shot 64%. The really sobering perspective here is that I'm showing you how to take comfort from not getting blown out quite as bad by a team from a mid-major conference. But the 'Hoos are on the upswing despite losing Sean Singletary and despite having all our best players be underclassmen. Freshmen, mostly. The thing to do now is to go remind Brown why they're an Ivy League team, get a tough win in Blacksburg, and then we can repeat this whole moral- victory-after-a-blowout thing in a couple weeks when UNC rolls into town.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

i totally accomplished something today

What I did, I finished up another video, that's what I did. The videos page now includes highlights from this year's Maryland game, a delightful tiptoe through the Tulippins to the tune of 31-0. Who doesn't like watching Maryland get the snot kicked out of them? Communists, that's who.

Friday, January 2, 2009

i don't make them for me, i make them for you

I took New Year's Day off. My bad, yo. I spent New Year's Eve playing a game I call "Drink Way Too Much Beer", the object of which is to drink way too much beer. I won. So Happy New Year - it certainly was for the first couple hours.

First just a quick linky link over to the recruiting board, which is updated with the addition of LB Jeremiah Mathis. That puts me a step ahead of the scouting services, which have zero on this kid. Mathis will probably get an offer, especially if Luke Kuechly commits elsewhere, and when he gets that offer he will probably commit. I haven't added LB Jordan Stanton yet, because he has neither an offer nor an official visit scheduled, but once either one of those happen, then he'll be on there.

In the spirit of the times, I've created my list of New Year's resolutions. Not for me. For our beloved Hoos. Follow them on the path to enlightenment and the Orange Bowl.

- Coach Al Groh: Trust your offensive coordinator with the offense, and focus your attention on making a decent defense better. We know how much you love coaching linebackers - the new crowd of them is going to need the attention.

- OC Gregg Brandon: Decide on a quarterback early. Let's not have this quarterback battle up to the last day again. Pick one by the end of the spring practices and spend fall camp practicing the offense, not having your quarterbacks look over their shoulder for the other guy.

- The whole team: Stay the hell away from the law, and especially, Club 216. And do your homework and stuff. No more weed-related attrition, no more stealing shit, and no more troubles in the classroom. The Fulmer Cup is not a good prize.

- Marc Verica: Trust your arm, but learn its limitations, and check your peripheral vision every once in a while. You can't chuck the ball over the middle past three maroon-clad evil minions and expect it to reach its target.

- Will Barker, Jack Shields, Austin Pasztor, B.J. Cabbell, and Landon Bradley: Hit the weight room. A lot. Our run-blocking problems could be helped if our line wasn't getting blasted into the backfield half the time.

- Matt Conrath: Do everything it takes to live up to the high praise that Chris Long gave you early in the year. 3 sacks and 7 TFL is a good start. It's better than Long's freshman year and about as good as his sophomore season. You have a chance to be dominant. Build on this year.

- Craig Littlepage: Stop meddling with the football team. Either trust your head coach or fire him. Don't be stepping in on discipline issues; you hired the coach to do that. And don't even think about another sign ban. Ever.

- Jeff Jones: Shoot five hundred jump shots in practice, every day.

- Sylven Landesberg: Stay in school. Pretty please? Four years? Can't replace that degree, ya know. Gotta have that sheepskin.

- Tony Tchani and Chris Agorsor: Go get some of those knee braces the offensive linemen wear.

- Dom Starsia: Schedule half an hour of faceoff practice after regular practice is over.

- Mike Groh: Wherever your next OC gig is, wherever you land, and I wish you luck there, but scratch the play-action-tight-end-screen out of your playbook unless you have a running quarterback.

- Fans: Enjoy what we have a little bit more. I don't want to go 5-7 any more than you do, but it wouldn't hurt any of us to remember that guys like Al Groh and Craig Littlepage are decent, hardworking folks who want the best of success for UVA as much as you and I. That doesn't immunize them from criticism if they mess up, but we (most of us, anyway) are alums of the single greatest university in the world and it won't kill us to look at the upcoming with a dose of optimism and the best wishes for the guys we root for. Happy New Year!