Friday, February 27, 2009

the recruit: Morgan Moses

I've been looking forward to this, because it means I can get started on the class of 2010. Hopefully next week I will be able to write on both Hunter Steward and Kevin Parks, and then I can write these things the way I always intended, which is to say, the day of or day after a verbal commit. Trivial, maybe, but a step toward doing things the way I'd envisioned.

Name: Morgan Moses
Position: OT
Hometown: Richmond
School: Meadowbrook
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 347

ESPN: 83, #6 OT, #48 overall
Rivals: 6.0, four stars, #5 OT, #2 in VA, #49 overall
Scout: four stars, #15 O

I'm not gonna bore you to death here. Moses' recruitment lasted all year and didn't finish up til Signing Day, so everyone knows everything already. I don't know whether he'll be eligible or not - my guess is he will, and he'll be in fall camp, and once there he's too much of a freak not to be the starter on September 4 against W&M. Landon Bradley is probably a fine tackle, but he's not a freak like Moses. The main thing Moses will have to overcome is wilier upperclassmen defensive ends with bad designs on our quarterbacks, and I think if the guy under center ends up being Jameel Sewell or Vic Hall - someone mobile - this won't be as big an issue.

Moses is not only exciting because of the gaudy stars and ratings and such the scouts give him, but because it's clear on film that he likes destroying people. I very much doubt the coaches will ever have to tell him to finish a block, because he tends to finish them into the bleachers. He also tends to end up well downfield of the play - either because he's got the athleticism to get there and block at the second level, or because he's got the strength to shove somebody there. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and so here are my two favorite highlights, along with captionized editorials that I slaved over Microsoft Paint for three minutes making:

Trucking people is a Morgan Moses specialty. He also came off as genuinely uncomfortable with all the attention that's typically paid to a recruit with his talent and gave very, very infrequent interviews; therefore I have a hunch we will, at some point in the future, be treated to one of those articles or halftime spots where the subject is such a humble quiet guy off the field but a giant raging ball of nuclear death between the sidelines.

I'll finish off with as comprehensive a list as I can make of Moses' offers:

Virginia Tech
West Virginia
South Carolina
North Carolina
Penn State
Florida State

Ohio State also came on late but never actually extended an official offer. Given that list, which is missing half his offers, the fact that we landed him despite firing one of his lead recruiters is a testament to the efforts of the coaching staff. Moses is far and away the highest-profile, highest-rated recruit we've landed since Eugene Monroe, who not coincidentally is a possibility as the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Those are big shoes to fill, but given Moses' freakish size and athleticism, and his fondness for bulldozing defensive ends, it's not a stretch to say those shoes might get a little tight by the time he's done.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

game preview: Syracuse

Lacrosse game previews aren't going to be a regular thing (I'm not even sure if basketball ones are going to be regular after this year) but the game tomorrow is too big to ignore.

This is, of course, #1 vs. #2, a regular season matchup you rarely see in basketball and practically never in football. And it's in the Carrier Dome, Syracuse's one-size-fits-all domed stadium that's named for an air conditioner manufacturer and not air-conditioned. Klockner is a very nice stadium, but the dome has one thing going for it that Klockner does not: as lacrosse stadiums go, it's monstrously huge, and should be, as lacrosse games go, noisy (although the likelihood of all 50,000 being filled is pretty much nil.)

Both teams are going to look different than they did last year. Ben Rubeor is off to the pros; Syracuse can one-up that by losing Tewaaraton Trophy (the lax Heisman) winner Mike Leveille. Garrett Billings has taken over the scoring reins for us, while attackman Kenny Nims has led Syracuse in points in both their games this year.

We'll have to contend with their excellent sophomore goalie again, John Galloway. Galloway started every game on their schedule last year as a freshman, and got off to a great start in their first game against Providence, making four saves and allowing just two goals. Admittedly he wasn't tested much; Syracuse positively crushed the Friars, 22-3. Adam Ghitelman played, and won, the regular season game against Syracuse for us last year, but by the time the playoffs rolled around he'd been replaced by Bud Petit. Ghitelman's been solid this year in the cupcake run with a save percentage of .615 - a colossal improvement over his start last year. I don't need to emphasize that in the kind of close games we've had against the Orange, at some point a key save, or lack thereof, is going to make or break the game.

Obviously, though, the elephant in the room is the faceoffs. Faceoffs are going to feature two different players than they did last year. Syracuse will use Jake Moulton, who apprenticed last year under a since-graduated All-American. We didn't lose anyone to graduation, we just sort of fired Garrett Ince and Brian McDermott from the role. Ince was a miserable 8-for-27 in last year's loss.

To me, the faceoffs are far and away the biggest takeaway from this game. Getting the win would of course be great and all, but if we lose, there are still plenty of grade-A opponents on the schedule, and if we win, well, we just get to wear the #1 as a big red target on our backs for a little while and besides it didn't mean anything when the tournament rolled around last year. But we're going to learn something in the faceoff department. We only get a year of Chad Gaudet in the job, but he was brought in specifically to take faceoffs and do very little else, and I'm not above saying that a huge part of our championship hopes this year rest on him. Win or lose, I'll be happy if he tops 50%.

Bonus link: the CDP lets you know just how totally sweet are the swim teams. Just as an example: four of the top five lanes in tonight's 500 freestyle at the ACC championships are 'Hoos - and last night's 800 free relay was won by a 10-second margin, which is roughly half the length of the pool. Yes, I'm gonna bug you again: if you live in or around DC, you ought to go - it won't cost you a penny.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

game preview: Miami

So the lax team went out and did its thing again last night. After peppering Stony Brook with 62 shots, Mt. St. Mary's got the same treatment as the team racked up another 60. Garrett Billings, fresh off a record-tying goal-scoring performance at Stony Brook, didn't score at all and took only four shots. Chad Gaudet won 11 of 16 faceoffs, which is pretty excellent stuff, but like I said earlier, I'll get excited after I see how we do at Syracuse. That should be a great game and I'm looking forward to watching it and....oh. Right - it's not televised. Well, that's awesome. When I turn my TV to channel 134 on Friday night, Siena vs. Niagara will be on. I know its basketball season, and it's great to give a little exposure to a team like Siena which is quietly having a fine season, but what does ESPNU exist for if not to broadcast the marquee matchup of the year of the #1 and #2 teams in what is arguably the East Coast's most popular non-revenue sport?

Preview time, anyway. Basketball, that is.

Virginia Cavaliers (9-14, 3-9) vs. Miami Hurricanes (16-10, 5-8)

Possible starting lineups:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (9.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.5 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (7.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.6 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (18.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.9 apg)
F: Solomon Tat (0.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.3 apg - but mad hustle, yo)
C: Assane Sene (2.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.7 bpg)


G: Jack McClinton (20.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.0 apg)
G: James Dews (8.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.3 apg)
F: Brian Asbury (7.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.3 apg)
F: Dwayne Collins (11.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.5 apg)
C: Jimmy Graham (3.7 ppg, 6.1 apg, 0.6 apg)

Hope we like the number 11, because we're just about locked into that seed for the ACC tournament. Georgia Tech isn't going to run the table, and we're not bloody likely to overtake Miami or NC State, even with a win tomorrow night. For now, that means an opening-round game against Boston College.

Anyway, you and I both know about Dave Leitao's wackity rotations, with rhyme and reason not always clear. If he wants to continue baffling UVA fans and changing things up, this would be a great time to reinsert Jerome Meyinsse. You remember him - he got minutes all the way up until the BC game (the no-subs-in-the-second-half one) and inexplicably played 20+ in a few games without much indication as to why. Since then he hasn't sniffed the court.

Miami, however, has a whole bunch of guys that measure up between 6'7" and 6'9" and weigh 230 pounds or more. More so than most teams, and certainly more than us. Lord only knows how many minutes Mike Scott is going to get from game to game - he hasn't been in the starting lineup lately - and Jamil Tucker is 6'8" 240 and plays like he's 6'3" 215. We tried the small-and-quick thing against NC State's bigger guys and it failed miserably. We're gonna get run over by Miami's bigs - Graham, McGowan, Collins, Thomas, Asbury - if we can't run out some size of our own. Given the matchups, Meyinsse would be a good candidate to get some of these minutes that have been going to Solomon Tat lately.

The other problem we're going to have is Jack McClinton, who leads the league in threes made and shoots them at almost 48%. Of late we've done a good job at limiting our own three attempts, which is nice because we suck at shooting them. What concerns me is that when you combine a hot hand for the opponent, and a bunch of big guys defending that don't let you into the lane, the temptation is to launch away and hope for the best. Bottom line: I don't like the way we match up with these guys, and I think the best chance we have is to press, turn defense into transition offense, and generally run the floor and try to do everything faster than they do. Because we're going to get killed if it turns into a halfcourt game.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the recruit: Bobby Smith

Name: Bobby Smith
Position: WR
Hometown: Richmond
School: Varina
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 200

ESPN: 76, #93 WR
Rivals: 5.5, three stars
Scout: two stars

Because Smith committed right around the time Tyree Watkins booked it for Duke, a lot of folks viewed the situation as essentially replacing Watkins with Smith. This was, for the most part, a slight downgrade in the star ratings department, but this matters little because while Watkins was playing footsie with nearly every other school who came calling and exhibiting a pretty bad attitude overall about the process, Smith was saying everything short of "cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, I'm coming to UVA if I get an offer."

Besides, is Watkins six feet six inches? No, he is not. Basketball height is Smith's #1 asset and he uses it well. Smith isn't really a terrific route runner. He's a little bit slow breaking out and even on his highlight films, he's not actually open most of the time, unless the cornerback is giving him a huge cushion. This tends not to matter, because no matter how well covered Smith might be, the cornerback is still only five foot something and Smith has another catch. He excels at adjusting to the ball whether it's thrown behind him or over his head or what have you. The thing that's going to be very nice indeed is that 6'6" players generally aren't considered good prospects to be cornerbacks, because being top-heavy like that with a high center of gravity makes it difficult to have the kind of athletic reactions needed to cover an equally athletic player whose route you don't know. Typically guys who use their size and/or speed to dominate high schoolers have a learning curve in college because everybody used their size and/or speed to dominate high schoolers, but in the case of tall wide receivers like Smith, really, he'll still be able to take full advantage of his height.

As for his playing time chances this year, they're basically as good as any of the receivers in this class, what with all the openings on the depth chart. Tim Smith is still the most polished and exciting of the bunch, but all of them, Bobby Smith included, have a chance to impress in camp. In this regard Bobby may have an ever so slight leg up on the competition, because being recruited so late in the process means OC Gregg Brandon didn't inherit him; Brandon was the one who was impressed by the tape and had a huge hand in recruiting him. While I'd like to see Smith redshirt a year to work on his route running, I can't deny I'd be pretty damn excited to see him trot onto the field on third-and-goal from the two. If there's one thing he should be able to do from Day 1 it's run a fade route. Just wish I could read the mind of the cornerback who has to cover him in that situation and is wondering how he's supposed to do that when standing up straight means reading the numbers on Smith's chest.

Monday, February 23, 2009

weekend review, spring edition

Once again, we'll take a spin around some of the non-revenue sports and football recruiting. This seems like a pretty good format for Mondays and I think I'll keep it up, at least until the spring seasons wind down.

Starting with....


The girls are ACC champs, and it wasn't even, like, close. They scored 848 points - almost 250 more than second place. To recap some of the domination:

- There are five relay events - we won all of them, which earns you 200 points.

- There are thirteen individual events, not including the diving, which we're a little weak at. With eight swimmers in each championship heat (and a further eight in the consolation heat, which still earns points) there are 104 possible slots. In a conference of 11 teams (no Wake Forest here) evenly distributing those spots would give each team 9.5 qualifying swimmers total. We had 39 of 104.

- Finishing last in the championship heat earns you 11 points. If you give us our 200 relay points, and give all 39 of our spots last place (impossible, because we had more than one swimmer in all events) that would give us enough points to win the meet by about 30 points.

- Of the eight swimmers in the 200 IM championship heat, six were 'Hoos, earning us 89 of a possible 118 points in that heat. P.S. - Only one, Megan Evo, was a senior. Four were underclassmen - three sophomores and a freshman.

- Of the 18 event records that existed before the championships, we broke 10.

The NCAA championships are about a month away.


No surprises here - the team is 3-0 after a pretty dominating performance against SUNY-Cupcake (er, Stony Brook) on Saturday. About the only complaint so far this season is letting the opponents into the game in the second half - our opponents have scored twice as much (14 goals against 7) in the second half as the first, and Dom Starsia pretty explicitly called out the second-half execution after the Bryant game. Otherwise, the results have been pretty much what you'd expect when the #2 team in the land takes on a trio of cannon fodder.

As for last season's glaring concern - faceoffs - the Stony Brook game looked pretty good, but there are zero conclusions to be drawn here, since the 19-of-32 faceoff performance was exactly the same as last year. I'll wait til Syracuse to see if we really are any better at that. In the two games against the 'Cuse last year we won only one-third of the faceoffs, which is awful, and yet we went 1-1 against them and broke even on goal differential. Just break even on faceoffs and the sky's the limit.


Yup, it's that season too. Baseball was one of my favorite things to go see in my student days because the "security" never cared to ask why we were wearing jackets in the 70-degree weather. (Jackets have pockets, pockets hold beer. If you went to college and didn't blow off class on one of the first beautiful warm spring afternoons of the year, smuggle a six-pack into Davenport Field and enjoy a ballgame and beer while sitting on the grass, you didn't go to college.)

Anyway, the season started exactly the same as it did last year: a dominating four-game sweep of a ridiculously overmatched Patriot League opponent; in this case, Bucknell. Which, like, great, but honestly in my limited looks at the baseball season this year I don't see any evidence we can expect anything more than last year's results: a middling ACC finish and a first-round exit from the NCAA regionals. I suppose I shouldn't complain. Simply making the NCAA tournament is more than some of our higher profile sports can claim.


Not much to say here right now except that if you haven't already, you should go read Jerry Ratcliffe's article on this season's forgotten man, Mamadi Diane. A healthy Mo this season would have saved us a lot of embarrassment; unfortunately for all involved, it wasn't to be.

A little bit of something on the recruiting front here, too. We're in good shape to land PG Eric Atkins out of Maryland for the class of 2010, and soon. Atkins and Mychal Parker would make a pretty good first half of the recruiting class, no?


As promised, an update to the recruiting board.

- Moved RB Kevin Parks to orange. 43 touchdowns FTW.

- Added WR E.J. Scott, TE Blake Barker, OT Robbie Havenstein, and S Dontae Johnson to the yellow section. For the most part these are Junior Day attendees, either the one we just had two weeks ago or the one coming up this Saturday the 28th.

- Added DE Henry Anderson to the red section. (Offer.) Also added to red: RB Khalek Shepherd (Junior Day invitee) and LB Nick Forbes (Offer, though given the nationwide interest it's unlikely he'll ever leave the red section. We've got better chances with Khairi Fortt and Aramide Olaniyan.)

- Added a few schools to a few prospects' lists, most notably Auburn to Olaniyan's. This is interesting because Auburn's recruiting footprint doesn't really overlap ours much. If Auburn is wandering up to the Blue Ridge foothills to recruit Olaniyan, this sounds like a prospect I very much want to see committed to UVA.

Kevin Parks commits

Rivals sayeth so. ($)

More on recruiting in general later on today, because it's getting to be about that time anyway. For now, content yourself with knowing that the class of 2010 is officially underway. (Although actually it was pretty much already underway with Hunter Steward; I consider him a '10 commit.)

Parks is a smallish running back with absurd statistics. If he was 6'0" and not 5'7", his 43 touchdowns for a state champion school would probably have schools like USC and Oklahoma offering him two scholarships just to make sure. Parks loves him some UVA and does good work in the classroom besides; this is what we call A Great Start to the next recruiting class.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

basketblogpoll ballot 3

So that was exciting yesterday, huh? I defer to Mahini here, because I couldn't say it better myself:

And, I guess the Hoos missed starting slow and clawing their way back to a close defeat so much that they decided to do it twice in the same game. Awesome.
It would have been nice to find out the outcome of that game without spotting the 'Pack huge leads at the beginning of each half. Actually it would be nice to find out the outcome of this whole season without spotting everyone we play huge leads.

Part of the problem yesterday was having no answer for the NC State bigs. Ben McCauley's contributions don't show much on the stat sheet (except for the 10 rebounds) but defensively, our guys were clearly afraid to take it to the rack with him patrolling the post. He and Tracy Smith just killed us inside, which is obnoxious because they're not really that big. More of Mike Scott yesterday, and more of Jamil Tucker playing like his size, would have been really nice. Instead we just looked like a team desperately wishing it still had Lars Mikalauskas to bang people around, and since we don't, let's just give up and dribble around til a shot opens up.

Anyway, 'nuff bitching. Ballot time:

1Pittsburgh 2
2Connecticut 1
3North Carolina 1
7Michigan St.
12Marquette 4
13Villanova 2
15Wake Forest 1
16Gonzaga 1
17Xavier 5
18Arizona St. 2
19Washington 1
20Illinois 7
21Florida St.
22Utah St.
23Louisiana St. 2
24Utah 1
25Brigham Young
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Butler (#19), Davidson (#23), Dayton (#24).

- I really really really wanted to include teams like Dayton, Butler, and Siena. Mid-majors definitely got the shaft this week. But it's impossible to ignore the absurdly low formula rankings of teams like Dayton and Siena, and more importantly it's also tough to ignore that Butler and Dayton suffered some bad losses this week.

- I was really afraid I'd have to do some major shaking-up of the top echelon of the ballot, but it turns out everybody lost, so it's not like you can drop them all a spot. Pitt gets to be #1 by default for not losing, and knocking off UConn helps too. I see absolutely no reason anyone else should be first, frankly.

- I didn't leave #'s 4 through 11 untouched on purpose. Last week's ballot is something I take into account only at the very, very end of the process, so as to avoid having to answer questions like "why did Gonzaga drop eight spots after their two games this week were 40-point blowouts?"

- As always, you're more than encouraged to set me straight if something looks off.

Friday, February 20, 2009

game preview: NC State

Tomorrow is the basketball game against NC State; tonight, however, is Day 3 of the women's swimming finals. After two days of events (really, one full day of events) our girls have opened up a 72-point gap on the rest of the pack. This is what in swimming is known as a commanding lead, most especially since in each of tonight's seven event finals, we have no fewer than two swimmers, and sometimes three and four, in each of the championship heats. What this means is that even if a limb or two falls off in the pool, we can earn no fewer than 23 points per event. In most cases this will be more in the 40s range. If you live in the DC area and have no plans tomorrow, watching UVA be crowned ACC champs without paying a cent is a fine way to spend an evening. I will be encouraging this next week too.

Virginia Cavaliers (9-13, 3-8) at North Carolina State Wolfpack (14-10, 4-7)

Possible starting lineups:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (9.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.6 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (7.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.5 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (18.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.8 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (10.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C: Assane Sene (3.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg)

NC State:

PG: Javier Gonzalez (5.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.1 apg)
SG: Courtney Fells (12.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SF: Brandon Costner (14.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.3 apg)
PF: Tracy Smith (9.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.6 apg)
C: Ben McCauley (12.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.0 apg)

It's great to get a couple of big wins in a comfortable setting on your friendly home court. It's quite another to keep the momentum on the road. Saturday, we'll see if the happy times are for real or just a teaser in an otherwise extremely forgettable season.

Up next is NC State, and frankly, no moral victories allowed here. The 'Pack are not statistically a terrible team, but they - like us - are not good at turning their defense into easy offense, and like us, are regularly outshot. When they do shoot, they shoot well and tend to prefer an inside game to bombing away from three-land. One thing they do excel at is staying out of foul trouble. No ACC team has fewer fouls per game than their 15.5, a number which means they spend very little time with the other team in the bonus.

That said, they play with the inconsistency that's the hallmark of a bad team. They played Marquette tough and knocked off Wake Forest, but damn near lost to 11-17 Loyola of Maryland and got blown out of the building by UNC and BC. This isn't unique or a surprise, it's just the way life is for the ACC's second division. What it does mean is that finally, I feel like whether we win or lose depends as much on the opponent as us. Back when we were treating first halves like a game of tiddlywinks, it didn't matter whether the opponent was wearing maroon or baby blue, the song remained the same. Until we got that figured out, your local team from the Y was going to have an 18-point halftime lead. But now, we've got an eminently beatable opponent with a few inconsistency problems of their own. Which is why I say, no moral victories tomorrow, not even on the road. Not that we should beat this team, but we should beat them if we expect to be able to claim to have salvaged the last part of the season.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

unbridled optimism

OK, so that, last night, that was fun. A good time was had by all, unless you're a Turkie fan, in which case a good time was not had and you spent today complaining about one of two things: Jim Weaver's iron fist, or how that doesn't matter because the Hokies looked so bad they'd have lost with Jeff Allen on the court anyway.

I'm of the theory that that's bunk, by the way. I'd like to say we outplayed them so badly that Shaq himself wouldn't have made a difference on that court, but the fact is Allen is the only inside option they have. Oh sure, they have big guys. They're not exactly Maryland, which literally can't put so much as a 6'8"-er out on the court without it being useless-ass Braxton Dupree. Tech's Cheick Diakite tried valiantly and had probably his best game of the season, but our freakishly tall African centers are taller than their freakishly tall African center, and there are more of them, and by their powers combined they are better. Lewis Witcher and Victor Davila qualify as big, but Witcher is skinny and Seth Greenberg trusts them so much they each saw single-digit minutes and missed all their shots, which between them added up to three. After Allen, the interior cupboard is pretty much bare. Make no mistake - we were lucky to miss him.

I don't care, though. Beating Tech means the season is officially not a waste. Whatever happens the rest of the way, at least there's that. It feels goooooooooooood, and even better that it happened with some authority, and even better that this team has clearly not given up on this season, is enjoying itself on the court, and playing some damn ball instead of waiting out the season. Full marks to Dave Leitao for that, which I think is due in no small part at all to his stunt against Boston College which kept a select five players out on the court for the entire second half. It sent the message that if you aren't going to play aggressive and hard and hustle for the ball and all that jazz, you're not going to play, and if your personality is too laid-back to play aggressive, then you better adapt. The team responded.

The rest of the season looks very doable. Barring another upset of Clemson, or one of Wake Forest, the best-case scenario looks like 3-2 over the last five games. This makes it a real shame that we spent six consecutive first halves with heads up asses because even two more wins than we have now would give us an excellent shot at finishing .500 in the ACC. (It's funny how two wins is all it takes to change us from meltdown mode to playing the coulda-woulda-shoulda game, which counts as unbridled optimism this year.) Anyway, the last two games this month, NC State and Miami, give us a great shot at a proper winning streak. It turns out that it's really fun putting a giant dent in Tech's tournament hopes, so I'm hoping for the chance in the ACC tournament to do it again to someone else.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

the recruit: Jeremiah Mathis

Name: Jeremiah Mathis
Position: LB
Hometown: Hyattsville, MD
School: DeMatha Catholic
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 240

Ratings: don't even worry about it

One of the tricky things about the whole recruiting process is that your high school junior season really is your most important. It's on the basis of junior years that the recruiting services set up their databases and rank the prospects and coaches do their scouting and get their first impressions (if not sooner) and all that jazz. Michigan signee Vladimir Emilien is a Wolverine based entirely on his play junior year and before - he missed his senior season with a knee injury, but ended up a four-star Wolverine signee anyway.

Miss your junior year, though, and you miss out on practically the whole process. Now, Jeremiah Mathis didn't really miss his junior year, he just didn't exactly start, either. So he was left out of all the databases and didn't have so much as a Delaware State offer until coaches started sniffing around DeMatha (a recruiting happy hunting ground) for good junior prospects. They got wise to this kid who'd quietly racked up 96 tackles from the defensive end spot, and within about a week, Mathis had six or seven offers.

The ratings are useless because they're not really ratings, they're all just what they give a player when they don't know. If I had to take a wild guess, I'd say that Mathis would be a fairly high three-star on Rivals' scale. He'd rank right around the #14-15 player in the state of Maryland and about #20-25 on the list of weakside DE's in the country, which is where he played in high school - and closer, I think, to #20 (which is where Jake Snyder is ranked) than 25. This is just a scientific wild-ass guess, but I think it's reasonable, what with being an all-state selection and having almost 100 tackles and 13 sacks for a powerhouse team.

Mathis will be slotted back to outside linebacker, though, and given his size at about 240 lbs, he's a natural fit. The problem with that is this: there seems like a lot of room at linebacker with three starters leaving, but most of that is on the inside, and not only that but the outside is the stomping grounds of some guys who got plenty of time in reserve roles last year (Cam Johnson, J-K Dolce) and so there isn't really as much room for a freshman. Mathis will probably redshirt - the best-case scenario that I see for his depth chart appearances is something like Steve Greer did last year: showed up on the two-deep, but backed up Jon Copper and so never saw the field, allowing him to practice and prepare like a regular but keeping his redshirt on, so he'll be a freshman again next year.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Georgia Tech video uploaded

As promised, I finally got around to it. The videos page now has all its working links in order, with the addition of the Georgia Tech game from last season.

That's the good news - the bad news is that's all I got. Unless someone has DVDs of older games they want to send me, I'm fresh out. I had intended to also post basketball games and certain important soccer, lacrosse, baseball, what have you as well, but unfortunately I have yet to witness or TiVo an actual victory in these sports because not one of them has been on the tube here. This is the disadvantage of being a UVA blogger in Rhode Island.

game preview: Virginia Tech

Virginia Cavaliers (8-13, 2-8) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (16-8, 6-4)

Possible starters:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (9.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.5 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (7.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.5 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (18.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.6 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (10.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C: Assane Sene (2.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg)


PG: Malcolm Delaney (18.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.6 apg)
SG: Dorenzo Hudson (3.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.2 apg)
SF: A.D. Vassallo (18.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.8 apg)
PF: Victor Davila (3.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.2 apg)
C: Cheick Diakite (3.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.3 bpg)

I say Jeff Allen wasted his suspension. As you probably know, he won't be playing in tomorrow night's game at the JPJA, because of this. In fairness to Mr. Allen, if ever a fanbase deserved to be flipped off, it is indeed Maryland's. That being said, flip it like you mean it, Jeff! That's the bird you use to tell your lazy and equally drunk roommate to fuck off and get his own goddamn PBR, not the one for showing your contempt for an arena full of hostile fans.

Regardless, mission accomplished: fully 20% of Tech's scoring will be in street clothes on Wednesday. Plus, like, all of their rebounding: VT is already 10th of 12 in the league in that department and Allen pulls down almost 9 a game. Of the three musketeers that Tech relies on almost entirely, Allen has the fewest points per game, but he leads the team in myriad other stats besides just rebounding: steals, blocks, field goal %, etc.

So, a big blow to their hopes for winning. Which is nice, because our guys ought to be coming in on a season-high in confidence levels after pulling off a win against a ranked team. Dear Old UVA has a big I-told-you-so for you following the Clemson win, and I'm happy to be told so. So now is our chance to build. Tech will be vulnerable tomorrow.

Not that we can just show up motivated, pass the ball to Mike Scott a lot so he can abuse whichever not-Allen scrub is guarding him all night, and expect to win. Tech has to know this is their last chance at playing an ACC bottom-feeder. After this it's all winning teams, either ones who've pretty much stamped their ticket to the Dance or ones trying just as hard to. It's not inconceivable that a loss here could send them into a death spiral for the rest of the season. Players aren't supposed to look ahead, but they surely know what their schedule says: Clemson, Duke, and UNC sandwiched by fellow bubble resident TFSU. That kind of pressure - the kind that demands you win in a hostile gym against a team you're supposed to beat - can work either way. Seth Greenberg is not a chump, however, and the smart money says he'll have his team ready. The typical wisdom about winning in a hostile road environment says you need to weather the initial emotional storm and then once the crowd settles down, you can settle down too and just play the game. We need to turn that around. We're still not the most talented and experienced team, and getting into a slugging match with A.D. Vassallo raining threes is going to end badly. Our best shot is to punch them in the mouth - hard - in the first five minutes of the game. Feed off a big block or a steal. If there's a breakaway opportunity, don't just lay it up, slam it home with authority. Coach Leitao should draw up an alley-oop play. We're not going to win if we just expect them to be a worse team without one of their stars, we're going to need to play with that edge that's only recently found its way into the first half of our games.

Monday, February 16, 2009

four sport superstar

It was a reasonably eventful weekend. For me it's not over yet, because I get President's Day off, so here's a post you can waste time with at work for once. And we cover four sports today, two of which we're actually good at.


That season started on Saturday and continues today. The first four games, including Saturday's 13-7 win over Drexel, are cannon fodder warmup games for the big one against Syracuse next Friday. Here, I meant to link this last week, but forgot: it's the "composite top 20" as posted on the official site, and you'll notice that the top seven teams are bolded. One's us, and the other six are on our schedule. It's not like we can help playing Maryland, UNC, or Duke, but the brass balls displayed by the athletic department in scheduling basically everyone else that's a powerhouse are admirable.

As for the game itself, Chad Gaudet was brought in this year from Dartmouth to fix our biggest weakness from last year and win some damn faceoffs. This he did - 12 of 21. For reference, Drexel was a 58% team last year on faceoffs, and we won just 10 of 22 (45%) against them last year. A good start.

Next up is welcoming Bryant to the ranks of Division I. What a rude way to make your debut.


I haven't once mentioned this sport on these pages, and for this I am shamed. It was, after all, my sport in high school. In fact, up until 2007 when the TFSU mens' team took home the ACC championship, the UVA mens' team ACC championship streak was an exact mirror of my high school team's division meet streak. (The high school streak continues intact and should add division championship #11 in two weeks at the shiny, gleaming, brand-spanking-new pool they just built for the team.)

I digress. The point here is that the women's championship meet begins this week, at Maryland. The men are next week. Both our teams went undefeated in conference dual meets. I encourage DC-area 'Hoos aching for a good Virginia team to root for to show up at 7 PM at Maryland's Eppley Natatorium on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, this week and next, and root for the swim teams to crush the ACC opposition. It's free!


It's more or less official that DC Bob Diaco is leaving for Cincinnati. Diaco worked with Cincy's coach Brian Kelly at CMU before coming here, so, while it's basically a lateral move, it's pretty much an understandable one. I have no idea what effect this will have on the defense, because Diaco was DC for about two offseason months and zero practices. I also can't really think all this turnover is healthy for the coaching staff. Only two position groups - the TEs and OLs - have the same coach as they did last year. This is what's happened:

OC: Mike Groh --> Gregg Brandon
DC: Bob Pruett --> ??? (Al Groh?)
ST: Bob Diaco --> ??? (Ron Prince?)
QB: Mike Groh --> Gregg Brandon (I assume)
RB: Anthony Poindexter --> Wayne Lineburg
WR: Wayne Lineburg --> Latrell Scott
TE: Bob Price --> Price
OL: Dave Borbely --> Borbely
DL: Levern Belin --> Chad Wilt
LB: Bob Diaco --> ???
DB: Steve Bernstein --> Anthony Poindexter

That's an upgrade at RB, WR, and DB, in getting Poindexter coaching the proper position and getting recruiter extraordinaire Scott on the staff. Jury's out, though, at DL (firing Belin seemed pointless), QB (Mike Groh was considered a pretty good developer of quarterbacks right up until the part where he had to call plays for them) and LB. Diaco's special teams coaching was nothing terribly special - I never had any complaints about kick/punt coverage, but the returns left a lot to be desired.

I don't know how I'd feel about Prince coming back. I don't think he was a good OC at all. I never cared for his playcalling any more than I liked Mike Groh's. That said, though, his fingerprints won't be on this offense, and it's always nice to have a guy with head coaching experience to bounce things off of. But that said, he's definitely not the guy I want to see atop the candidates list if this is Al Groh's last year.

Thinking future-wise, the 2010 recruiting board is updated again. Changes:

- Added LB Marcus Rush (offer) and WR Brandon Coleman (offer) to the yellow section.

- Added LB Khairi Fortt, a junior day attendee along with Rush, to the red section. Too many offers to be higher right now.

- Moved RB Kevin Parks to the blue section. He's like thisclose to committing.


This is all I know to say about the basketball team anymore:


I mean, holy bouncing Jesus. I've talked in the past about how I keep thinking about what kind of production certain players are capable of when playing their best and then projecting that into one game, but I didn't actually think it'd happen.

Indeed, most everyone played well, especially Zeglinski and his 6-for-6 shooting, but the story as always is Sylven Landesberg with the biggest and the mostest buckets. On the day when Sean Singletary's #44 was retired and a few recruits were in the house, Landesberg took it upon himself to make sure the honor didn't get wasted on a losing effort. This kid is BIG-TIME and I don't know any other way to say it. Here's hoping Landesberg was seeing himself in Singletary's place about five years down the road.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Basketblogpoll ballot #2

This week's ballot, with comments after the jump that isn't really a jump but more of a "ballot."

1 Connecticut
2 North Carolina
3 Pittsburgh 1
4 Oklahoma 2
5 Duke 2
6 Memphis 1
7 Michigan St. 3
8 Louisville 10
9 Clemson
10 Missouri 6
11 Kansas 8
12 Xavier
13 Illinois 10
14 Wake Forest 7
15 Villanova 2
16 Marquette 3
17 Gonzaga 8
18 Washington
19 Butler 8
20 Arizona St. 4
21 Louisiana St. 1
22 Utah St. 7
23 Davidson 2
24 Dayton 10
25 Utah
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: UCLA (#8), Florida (#22).

Unlike last week, there's a methodology and a philosophy. Last week I rolled in from my ski trip at 8 at night, sat down, and threw the thing together, so I was afraid I'd see all these new faces on the ballot and win the Mr. Schizo award or whatever gets handed out in the Blogpoll writeup as a reward/punishment for uber-rejiggering of your ballot. Only two teams means I must have sorta done something right last week.

First, I looked at the top 40 teams in the RPI, Sagarin, and Pomeroy ratings; if a team doesn't show up in at least one of those top 40s, it's not worth a look. That leaves about 55 teams.

Then I got rid of all the teams that had pretty shaky records. For example: all three rankings systems have West Virginia jacked up pretty high - Pomeroy has them 6th - but their resume consists mainly of beating Villanova at home, two other ranked teams (OSU and Georgetown) that got bumped from here for the same reason (shaky records) and a lot of losses to good teams. That's way more bubblicious than their computer rankings say.

Whatever teams are left that all three ranking systems think are top-25 get "autobids" and are then ranked amongst themselves. This is where I start looking at who you beat and who you lost to, etc. This is also where the conference rankings come in. I used Sagarin's. Rather than spend all afternoon figuring out whether beating TFSU is better than beating South Carolina, I take the semi-lazy way out and call a 6-4 record in the ACC better than the same in the SEC. This is, for example, why you don't see Florida any more.

After that there's a pool left of about 25 teams to fill out the last 10 or so spots. Philosophy takes over here, and I'll freely admit that these aren't necessarily the "best" 25 teams in the country at this point. If I wanted that, I'd just get superlazy and stop at the ranking averages. Top 25 by average win! So, sure, could California, who I omitted, beat LSU? Could Purdue beat Utah State? Very possibly. But LSU, Utah State, Utah, etc. are in much better shape for getting to the Big Dance than the mid-good teams in the power conferences. They've also done a lot more winning. Therefore I'm more inclined to rank 'em. The line gets drawn at the extremes, like Siena, but in general, a team that's 24-2 ought to be rewarded and ranked, even if they didn't quite make the KenPom top 50.

UPDATE: per the below comment, which makes sense, I've rejiggered the Pac-10 teams a bit. I didn't really take last week's results into account when moving teams up and down because I started this week's rankings with a clean slate and the assumption that last week's might have been a bit hasty. But now that you mention it, Anonymous, there's really no reason UCLA should be ranked and ASU not. In fact there's really no compelling case UCLA should be ranked at all as they seem to be no better than third best (at best) in the Pac-10.

Also punished Clemson and Duke a spot each and Butler two spots for losing Sunday.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

depth chart updated

This is not "programming" per se, just a note to keep you informed. The depth chart on the right is now updated. Some improvements over the old one:

- Walk-ons without scholarships are now grayed-out.

- No asterisks in the freshman column. Freshmen are freshmen; if they redshirt, they'll just get held back to 2013. That's basically what's happening now - the redshirt freshmen this year were last year's true freshmen listed under 2011 - only without asterisks.

- Members of the two-deep are listed at the top of their box. That wasn't the case before and it was weird-looking.

I left last year's senior class in, so you can see what holes in the lineup need to be filled.

Hopefully you'll find this one a little easier to read.

Friday, February 13, 2009

the recruit: Oday Aboushi

Some bits and pieces, first:

College Game Balls took the trouble of cooking up the 2009 ACC Helmet Schedule. He didn't call Virginia "France" so the least I can do is link it up. Enjoy.

Fluff article on Bob Pruett. And of course, a quote:

“If I could wave a magic wand, it would be that Cavalier fans understand that the glass is half full and not half empty,” Pruett said. “I believe that would help things tremendously around here because the players spend a lot of time out in this community."

I really think the program is a better one for having Pruett around even for one season. Shame he couldn't stay longer.

As for programming this weekend, it'll be limited. I'm skipping out on doing any sort of game preview for the Clemson game on Sunday. We're gonna lose - whaddaya want, and how many ways can I say it? Rather than making a bold prediction, I'm gonna do a little bit of behind-the-scenes stuff I've been neglecting. The only post this weekend will be my basketblogpoll ballot; I anticipate that changing only if we somehow win on Sunday or if there's a verbal commit or two that come from Junior Day. RB Kevin Parks is said to be interested in two things right now: Virginia, and not dealing with the recruiting process all summer, fall, and winter. So if there's a commit, it's likely him.


Name: Oday Aboushi
Position: OL
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
School: Xaverian
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 300

ESPN: 78, #26 OT
Rivals: 5.8, four stars, #23 OT, #3 player in NY
Scout: three stars, #71 OT

Sophomore punter Jimmy Howell had a fine season last year, but was inconsistent. Coach Al Groh may have found his replacement in Aboushi, whose punts last season regularly topped 50 yards. His kicking likely wasn't accurate enough to challenge any of the incoming kickers, however. Fortunately, Aboushi is 300 pounds, so if punting doesn't work out, he can readily be shifted to offensive line, where he is said to have some experience.

Yes, I'm pretty feverish today, but no, I'm not hallucinating this - Aboushi was a renaissance man for Xaverian, playing both sides of the line as well as handling punting duties and even attempting that one field goal. When your punter is 300 pounds, how would you know if someone committed a roughing-the-kicker penalty? Guy would just bounce off.

Anyway, Aboushi is rather unilaterally highly rated by the scouting services, although Scout hands out stars like that stingy guy on Halloween handing out individual Smarties. Therefore I will rationalize his meh offer list by noting that NYC is a basketball gold mine and a football sandbox. Schools that go there to recruit are either Rutgers, Syracuse, or ones like us that know we can't call up just anyone in Florida and expect instant commitment. Aboushi justifies his rankings with a second-team all-state selection, so I'm putting to rest any notion that having only five offers means anything.

Aboushi's presence in the class, even before Morgan Moses joined up, made this the best class since 2005 for offensive linemen. He's a field-ready 300 pounds, and if he finds his path blocked at tackle he can slide inside to guard. If Moses can't qualify, Aboushi could find himself in the two-deep on September 5 with a strong showing in fall camp. I'm excited for his potential. It's surely premature to hope that he can make a surprise leap into the starting lineup all Austin Pasztor-style, but at 300 pounds, sooner rather than later is my hope for his contributions.

And I'll consider myself satisfied with the season if Groh trots him out to punt just once.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

the schedule, obviously

So, I can finally mark up my nice calendar of pretty pictures of the Grounds in various seasons. The schedule's out, yay. Let's bitch and moan about it!

Here's what comes to mind straight out:

- Boston College is a home game. Dammit. Actually I feel sure I already knew this because the ACC puts out matchups and locations years ahead of time, but still: dammit. Oh, sure, we played that game in Connecticut last year, which I would have gone to but for the wedding of a friend, and I didn't miss much anyway.

- No long stretches of home games or away games - only two each consecutively. The only time we don't have a home game after a road game is early, after the Southern Miss game, which I feel like we should win. All this strikes me as a good thing. As schizoid as we were last year, and for the most part still pretty bad on the road, I think coming home after all the road games is a good way to re-align the psyche if/when we take another dump on somebody's field.

- Every single team in the Atlantic was both bowl-bound and either 5-3 or 4-4 in-conference, so there's no way to complain about getting screwed by the cross-divisional matchups. We swap out Wake for BC, and really, what's the difference?

- Only one bye. This also strikes me as a good thing. Three of our worst games last year - USC, Duke, and Clemson - were the ones we had the most time to prepare for. So not only am I selfishly happy there's only one week of no football (9/26, in between the two consecutive road trips to Hattiesburg and Chapel Hill) I like to think that playing week in and week out once the ACC schedule kicks off can only help.

- No Thursday night games, again. Yeah, it's nice to play under the lights on national TV in prime time, but since when do we do well when we're expected to? When you're one of two teams in the conference that doesn't go bowling, you don't play Thursday games. And that's fine. Makes Saturday weird anyway. On a side note, I think it's curious that the ACC let NC State open on Thursday against South Carolina again like last year. After the 'Pack represented the conference so well by essentially getting back on the plane at halftime, I'd think the ACC would want to bury that game this year.

So naturally, you want a prediction. No. Well, OK. Anywhere from four to nine wins. We should beat W&M, Southern Miss, IU, and Duke. And Clemson, Miami, and TCU look like extremely losable games. (We definitely picked the wrong time to schedule TCU.) The rest are more or less up for grabs. Most are teams we've beaten recently, even when we weren't supposed to. And I'll never admit that VT is a game we lose before it's played. Depending on the officiating, sometimes not even after it's played.

So any record between 4-8 and 9-3 would be not terribly surprising to me. Actually, 9-3 would be pretty surprising, but using the same powers of inference that allow me to think Sammy, JJ, Jamil, CB, and Mo and Mu can each score 12 points in the same game, 9-3 seems quite within reach.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


First and quickest: the schedule finally comes out tomorrow. Hmmm.... that's only three days after our announcement that we'd settled on a 12th opponent. Wonder which school was holding up the process? Our bad, yo.

Second, we lost last night. Again. At least we're waiting until the second quarter to break down and lose instead of getting it over with at the opening tip. That way you can probably just attribute it to a talent and experience gap.

Oh, and hey. Seems I pissed off some of THE Florida State University faithful, who didn't like being called "nouveau-riche goons." ("Renegade program", however, struck no chords. Interesting.) Anyway, long-time readers (both of you) may remember that I've already called THE Florida State University much worse names than that, so I'm not all that sorry.

Besides, Florida State is nouveau-riche. When the Ivy League was first playing the game, TFSU was called West Florida Seminary. When Fielding Yost's Michigan teams were scoring a "Point A Minute"; when Notre Dame's Four Horseman were terrorizing opponents; when Army's Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside were winning national championships, TFSU was called the Florida Female College. While now-mediocre teams like Michigan State and Maryland were having their glory days under coaches who now have buildings named for them, TFSU was going 1-8-1 against the likes of Stetson, VMI, Furman, and Wofford. Their real tradition dates back to 1976 when Bobby Bowden was hired - 100 years less tradition than some schools - and they just ganked somebody else's schtick. If that's not nouveau-riche, I don't know what to tell you. Then they play bully-on-the-block by scheduling the two worst teams they can find, just so there's no real repercussions from one of the most blatant cases of academic cheating the NCAA has seen. You might notice a little trash talking about basketball in the game preview below from some TFSU fans who are not goons at all, which is a little bit like an Arizona Cardinals fan thumping his chest at a St. Louis Rams fan.

I would retract the "goons" comment if they could stop getting into fights.

Anyway, enough about that. Life's too short; recruit instead. The 2010 board is updated. New faces:

- WR Adrian Flemming in the blue section, who claims UVA and Maryland as a top two for now.

- RB Darnell Kirkwood and LB Aramide Olaniyan in the yellow section.

- TE Kyle Baublitz in the red section; he boasts too many offers to be anywhere else for now.

- Also, DE Zack McCray is moved to red since he is widely considered a future Hokie.

Tomorrow's post, of course, will be all schedule. This weekend is not only Junior Day, but President's Day as well, which means three-day weekend. I'm going to use the time to work on several long-promised, not-at-all-followed-through-on projects, including:

- the Georgia Tech highlights
- an update and some changes to the depth chart by class
- the "recruit" series (Oday Aboushi is next; there are four to go) and possibly an index to the writeups.
- my patented basketblogpoll ranking formula

Look forward to it!

Bob Pruett retiring

Stepping down.

A loss to the program for sure. Pruett's fingerprints were all over this recruiting class in Hampton Roads and went a long way toward re-establishing our presence there. He wasn't going to be defensive coordinator this year as he was last year, but I was hoping he could leave a big mark on the team through a few classes' worth of recruiting efforts.

It sounds as though his wife is not doing especially well, health-wise. Best of luck to Pruett in his retirement. Not many coaches can stay for one year and be missed as strongly as Pruett will.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the recruit: Will Hill

Name: Will Hill
Position: DE
Hometown: Williamsburg
School: Lafayette
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 260

ESPN: 73
Rivals: 5.6; three stars; #34 strongside DE; #28 in VA
Scout: three stars; #86 DE

Will Hill's was an interesting recruiting battle, and just the kind we Wahoos have been wishing we could win more of. Hill's looks from the recruiting services were all kinds of weak - that 73 from ESPN is basically a high two-star. Which is weird, because you'd think Tennessee, Penn State, and Michigan would not be offering two-stars. Michigan in fact was thought to be perhaps the early leader for his services, because of family connections up there, but things cooled off and four schools emerged over the summer: UVA, Tennessee, Maryland, and Penn State. Which is a tough group of schools to fend off.

So having done so, what do we have? A great student, first off. Nice to see, in a time where sometimes you don't know what you're getting in the classroom. Hill had excellent grades and enrolled early, a rarity at UVA and something that will give him a big boost against his competition for playing time.

Hill's pass-rushing skills were repeatedly praised by the coaches during the recruiting process, and his fourteen sacks his senior season back that up. However, at 260 pounds, there's always the hints of a move inside, and some teams were recruiting him with that idea in mind. ESPN thinks that might be the best move. Funny thing about the highlight film is that it says the same thing. There are a couple of his sacks on there, but it's mostly run-stopping, with Hill wearing down the linemen and making the tackle, usually (since it's a highlight film) behind the line of scrimmage. Right now Hill is a DE, but when there are four of them in the class and zero defensive tackles, and not really that many DT's on the actual roster, you wonder.

Whether or not Hill moves to DT, there's definitely a chance for him to see the field this year. The depth chart at neither D-line spot is so deep that there isn't room for impact from a true freshman, and Hill's presence at spring practice will give him an edge over the rest of the class.

Monday, February 9, 2009

game preview: Florida State

Two quick items before the main thing.

First is that the mystery of who will fill out the last slot in the schedule has been solved. The ACC still has yet to release the full schedule, but at least we have the 12th opponent: Indiana. The Hoosiers will visit on October 10, and we'll return the favor and trip to Bloomington in September, 2011. We've never played IU in football before. My initial gut reaction? Excellent news: IU has a notoriously shitty defense.

Second is an interesting little blurb out of the mouth of Jon Gruden, recently fired from the Buccaneers:

"I want to go to Al Groh's camp in Virginia. I love the way Al Groh coaches that football team."

Gruden has time on his hands, so he's interviewing about what he's going to do with it all. I wish I wish I wish Gruden had elaborated, but I somehow doubt the media-types will ignore the chance for some sound bites if/when Gruden pokes his head into camp. So we'll likely forget all about this quote until Gruden does visit, at which point we may hear something interesting. Groh and Gruden are kindred souls in that they speak their own rather entertaining dialect of coachspeak and are good for a quote when they feel like giving one.

OK - Florida State. Wait, no: The ... Florida State University. (It's silly when Ohio State does it - it's downright stupid and comical when nouveau-riche goons like FSU parrot it to try to add some sorely lacking cachet to a renegade program.)

Virginia Cavaliers (7-12, 1-7) at Florida State Seminoles (18-5, 5-3)

Possible starting lineups:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (9.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.4 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (7.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.6 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (17.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.6 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (10.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 0.7 apg)
C: Assane Sene (3.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.9 bpg)


PG: Toney Douglas (20.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.6 apg)
SG: Chris Singleton (8.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.1 apg)
SF: Jordan DeMercy (3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.0 apg)
PF: Ryan Reid (5.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C: Solomon Alabi (7.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.2 apg)

I was having a really tough time motivating myself to write this. I'm pretty sure I'm coming down with a cold, and I don't know right know whether it's getting worse or better or if the Tylenol I took is going to help. Sounds kind of like our season right now - hey, an "angle"! That's what sportswriters are always looking for, right? Thus, my problem was solved.

Just like how tomorrow I'll find out if I'm actually sick, or just tired, I think tomorrow will be a big indicator for the rest of the season. If we get blown the hell up out of the water again, I can't see us winning any more games, period. But we put up a fight against UNC, and even though the talent gap won out, the same ol'-same ol' cycle was broken. We have a chance here to finally break the losing streak, or at least, play a game that helps to restore our confidence.

FSU is just the kind of team we need for that. They have a good record and they're a bubble team for the tournament. They're getting noticed, too: ranked in both polls. I don't think they'll go to the Dance, though. They have plenty of weaknesses, the biggest being turnovers. At 299th in the country in turnovers per game, they're occupying the same territory as powerhouses like High Point (6-17) and Yale (8-12). Not only that, but FSU tends to be even more of a one-man show than we are. Toney Douglas is carrying that team, and hasn't failed to score at least 20 points in a game for a month. If we play the kind of tenacious defense we're capable of playing when fired up to do so, the other guys on that team won't be up to the task of helping Douglas out. Every time he's taken more than 20 shots in a game, FSU has lost, and as with our team last year, it seems easier to take the whole rest of the team out of the game than the one star.

So I really think this is our last chance to salvage anything at all from the season. Win this one, or even put up enough of a fight, and I see enough winnable games on the schedule to claw out of the bottom two, which is nice because it means not playing Duke or UNC in the opening round of the ACC tournament. Revert to the same ol', and there's no reason to expect even one more win the rest of the way.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

the basketblogpoll

Just like with football, there is now a Blogpoll for bastaball. In case you're wondering, no, I don't know why it's starting now and not earlier. That's a question for Powers That Be, and I only vote, I don't make the rules. In any case here's my ballot for this week. If you remember the football one, the rules are the same; if you're new to the game, it's played like so: I post my preliminary ballot on Sunday some time, and you the reader are encouraged to straighten me out.

2North Carolina
7Wake Forest
10Michigan St.
15Utah St.
20Louisiana St.
24Arizona St.

I offer along with this ballot an apology - it's in no way scientific or even particularly thorough in its thought process. It's written under the influence of a time crunch as well as extreme soreness and a pretty fair amount of fatigue - six hours ago, I was wrapping up my second straight seven-hour day on the ski slopes. Don't be jealous just 'cause I had an awesome weekend. It's at least a defendable ballot, though.

In the future, my rankings will very certainly be crunched by the numbers. How exactly, I don't know, but they'll involve the following:

- Some combination of the Pomeroy and RPI rankings. Pomeroy intends his rankings to be entirely predictive; RPI, like the Blogpoll rankings, is supposed to be based on resume.
- Some way of tabulating the value of the out-of-conference wins and losses on each team's schedule based on the above combination.
- Some involvement of strength of schedule.
- Some way of ranking the conferences. One major distinction I plan on making between the football and basketball rankings is this: I don't intend to take into account individual wins and losses within the conference. In football, the national championship demands perfection or near-perfection; in basketball, the quest for perfection is just a silly game the media plays. If Florida is going for the national football title, losing to a crappy team like Arkansas is a major crippling blow to their chances, and it's reflected in the rankings. If Florida's basketball team is a national title contender and loses to a crappy team like Arkansas, it hardly matters. Everyone has losses like that on their resume anyway. I'll take into account a team's record in conference play and which conference they play in, rather than who exactly they beat or lost to. So conference rankings matter - UNC's 7-2 is certainly more impressive than Miami (Ohio)'s 7-2. Out of conference, individual games - and their locations - do matter.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

yes, yes, same-same

I TiVoed the game yesterday. I always do this when it's on TV, first, so I can make highlights out of it and post it if we win. Second, though, the obvious usual benefit to TiVo is that you don't have to start watching the game when the game actually starts.

So last night, I figured I'd take whatever time I needed to write yesterday's post, then go turn on the game and watch from the beginning. When I finished writing, I checked the game online. Halftime, it said. Great - plenty of time to catch up on what I missed. Then I saw the score.

I took a dump instead. Symbolic, I figured.

I mean, are you serious? Boston College shot like 70% in the first half? And we shot 20%? Given that, it's frankly a miracle we were only down 20. I turned the game on for the second half but didn't bother catching up on the first. Not too long into it, the announcers mentioned how flat UVA looked in the first half and how they had no energy, and they really seem to be playing with more fire in the second half. Yeah, they do that. I could tell by the score.

Give credit to Dave Leitao, though. His no-substitutions policy in the second half shows he's getting the notion that something has to be done besides just the same ol' stuff. It's a desperation move, to be sure. Hell, Solomon Tat doubled his minutes all season. It's a wonder he wasn't totally winded by the end - although he was the only one to foul out. But coaching the same old way, the same old conventional, afraid-to-make-a-mistake methods (the kind you see in the NFL every Sunday) and expecting your players to play differently, that's a common mistake made by coaches of losing teams. If sending Solomon Tat in for an entire half - Solomon Tat, who's otherwise played 25 minutes the entire season long - doesn't light a fire under a few butts, then not only will we not win a game the rest of the season, but I'd expect to see a transfer or two in the offseason ... the sort that's "encouraged" by the coaches. Because those guys who sat and watched ought to be embarrassed, and if they're not, they ought to be playing for Savannah State and working on a business degree.

The guys who did play in the second half played most impressively. Had the team got it through their thick skulls to come out with that kind of game in both halves, this would have been a rout of epic proportions and BC would be going home muttering about how tough it is to win on the road in the ACC. They attacked the basket on offense, attacked the ball on defense, and attacked the glass on both ends, and it was intensely frustrating to watch because where the hell has that been during the first half of all these games? Rrrrgghh.

I wish I could get optimistic about the next game, and I would if it weren't Carolina, at Carolina. C'est la vie. The ACC is no place for the faint of heart. The FSU game on Tuesday - I realize it's on the road, and I realize FSU curb-stomped us not too long ago, but if that were Saturday's game, I'd feel like it's a now-or-never game that we absolutely could win if the guys took the right lesson away from last night's game. As it is I'll just sigh resolutely and accept the beating that awaits.

That, by the way, will have to suffice for a game preview. I'm taking a ski weekend this weekend. Back on Sunday with a surprise.

By the way, disclaimer: I bear no responsibility if you smash your screen using the above stress kit. In fact, if you do, send me pictures of your ruined monitor so I can post it and we can all laugh.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

presenting the 2009 recruiting class

It's easy to see why diehard crazy football fans follow recruiting so much. It's like a season outside of the season. Every verbal commit is a little miniature win, especially when the process has lasted all year. I was sitting at work today, burning up my F5 key at 10 minutes to 1, and the feeling of anticipation was like a little facsimile of what it felt like to watch the game-tying drive against UNC. Specifically it was kind of like the extra point. You expect the kicker will put it through, but anything can go wrong, and if you recall, it almost did.....just like with that report that Morgan Moses wore a Tennessee shirt to school today.

But the class is in the books. I'll fix the recruiting board later - for now, here's the class, and What I Think. First, we go position-by-position.....


It's really hard to tell, actually. Ross Metheny was recruited to play in the old offense, which was pretty similar to a pro offense. This new offense will be a decidedly college spread, and nobody's too sure how Metheny (or Marc Verica for that matter) will quite fit. Metheny verballed quite early in the process and thus the scouts didn't really head out to Sherando to watch his senior season, so he started off graded low and stayed there. He's had his share of injuries, though, and it's clear Sherando was never the same team with him off the field.

Quintin Hunter will likely also start off taking reps with the quarterbacks. The saying that I just made up goes that you can't have too many quarterbacks, and anyway these guys weren't exactly stuck with a load of MAC offers plus UVA, so we've done what we set out to do here.

Running back

Biggest disappointment and thinnest area of the class. Two decommitments, one late, really hurt the depth. Dominique Wallace is the only one left after Alex Owah and Caleb Porzel decommitted. Wallace is a big guy and looks like a great pickup, but the depth at running back is less now than it probably ought to have been.

Wide receiver/Tight end

Very deep part of the class. The Watkins decommitment didn't hurt at all, as Bobby Smith came on board not too long after. He's tall. Like, tall tall. Tim Smith is one of the top players in the class, and I'm inexplicably excited about Kevin Royal as well. I liked his highlight film - liked the way he played. There's enough talent and enough open space on the depth chart that I expect at least one of these guys to burn a redshirt and play as a true freshman, and there may be a role as a kick returner for someone here as well. This class makes our receiving corps very deep, but very young.

Offensive line

This is where the class makes its money. Morgan Moses, obviously, is the blue-chip guy in the class. The one player we have who shows up on all the scouting services' Big Lists - the Rivals 250, Scout 300, and ESPN 150. He'll have a shot to jump right into the starting lineup without passing Go or collecting $200, and even if he doesn't start he'll almost certainly burn his redshirt. The rest of the class ain't half bad either. Oday Aboushi has the size to also go straight into the depth chart if he shows his stuff in fall camp; Sean Cascarano will probably redshirt but made all sorts of all-state and all-metro lists while playing in Chicagoland.

The 2005 recruiting class produced two NFL first round picks in Eugene Monroe and Branden Albert. This has a chance to equal that feat.

Defensive line

Plenty of players at this position, but not many stars. The real standout should be Jake Snyder, who turned down an offer from Ohio State to stay in-state and play here. Pretty much everyone here will have to bulk up some, so don't look for any of these players on the field in 2009. I also would not be surprised to see one of them converted to nose tackle sometime in the future, as the current roster is decidedly thin there.


Once upon a time, Al Groh would go after - and land - the best of the best. Remember Ahmad Brooks, Kai Parham, and Darryl Blackstock all showing up in the same recruiting class? This is no longer the case. We did offer Jelani Jenkins, but he never showed much interest, and this linebacker class, like ones before, appears underwhelming on paper. This hasn't mattered lately, because if there's one thing Groh does well it's develop linebackers. Clint Sintim was a three-star afterthought, as was Antonio Appleby.

It's kind of hard to tell how good this class is because Tucker Windle was evaluated by the services as a tight end, and Jeremiah Mathis as a DE. There's room in the depth chart for a true freshman if one of them steps up in fall camp, but this may be the most unknown quantity on the list.

Defensive back

Because of the number of players that could play DB, it seems deep here. However, the class completely lacks a true cornerback, which I think is an oversight. Some players who are listed as safeties may actually try their hand at wide receiver. The only pure defensive players are Corey Lillard and LoVante' Battle. Very tough to see what we'll get out of this class in the defensive backfield, and there's almost no room on the depth chart for them, especially if Vic Hall stays on defense, which seems up in the air still.


Drew Jarrett is a preferred walk-on, but will surely have an equal chance at the kicking job after last year's long national nightmare.

Everyone loves lists, right? How about some lists I drew up? It's a good thing Morgan Moses actually committed, because I wrote these a few days ago.

Five most likely to burn their redshirt (play as true freshmen):

Morgan Moses
Jake Snyder
Tim Smith
Tucker Windle
Oday Aboushi

Based on talent and where I think there's room on the depth chart. Moses almost certainly will not redshirt, and there's room along the line for Aboushi to show what he can do as well. With three out of four starting linebackers gone, Tucker Windle ought to be able to jump right in to the competition. Gregg Brandon's offense should give a large role to our wide receivers, and there's nobody on the roster with even 20 career catches. A receiver in this class probably will play this coming year - Tim Smith seems the most likely choice right here. Jake Snyder is a highly-rated defensive end who could see some time spelling the starters for a rest.

The five I'm most excited about:

Morgan Moses
Dominique Wallace
Tim Smith
Kevin Royal
Ross Metheny/Quintin Hunter

Metheny and Hunter are on the list by default. I'm always excited to see the new quarterbacks. If Moses lives up to his rep as a mauling run-blocker, the running game will benefit tremendously no matter who's carrying the rock. Dominique Wallace is a big guy with a set of wheels and had an absolutely beastly senior season. I'm googly-eyed over the highlight films of Tim Smith and Kevin Royal: Smith because of his deadly first three steps that cast a Take Bad Angle spell on anyone attempting to tackle him in open space, and Royal because of his willingness to use his size to advantage and just go forward - he has a bright future as a crucial possession receiver, IMO.

Five sleepers:

Brent Urban
Perry Jones
Ross Metheny
Kevin Royal
Sean Cascarano

To get on this list you had to be ignored or given a very low rating by at least one of the scouting services. Perry Jones had an extremely productive senior year on a state championship team, but his size makes him a two-star to Rivals. Brent Urban is friggin' six foot seven and actually given quite a nice scouting report by ESPN, but he plays north of the border so he's overlooked by the other two. Ross Metheny has meh-to-poor ratings from everyone, but the way his team was such a different team without him says something to me. I've done my oooohing and aaaahing over Kevin Royal, though he doesn't make an impression on the services. ESPN didn't even bother scouting Sean Cascarano, which is odd because he's earned his share of high school accolades and seems very versatile.

Five top-rated players:

Morgan Moses
Oday Aboushi
Quintin Hunter
Jake Snyder
Dominique Wallace

The list comes from combining the ratings handed out by the three services, making this somewhat of the "consensus top five" players. Tucker Windle would have a spot, but he's rated by all the services as a TE instead of LB where he'll actually play.

Eat it, Tech:

Tucker Windle
Morgan Moses
Jake Snyder
Quintin Hunter

These players had offers from VT and chose UVA instead. Neener neener neener.

Eat it, Maryland:

Dominique Wallace
Tim Smith
Oday Aboushi
Jeremiah Mathis
Will Hill
Quintin Hunter

These players had offers from Murralin, and do not fear the turtle. Na na na na boo boo. Interestingly, the only player on both lists is Quintin Hunter, though I think Moses may also have gotten a Maryland offer that got quickly lost in the large pile that he accumulated.

Morgan Moses is a Hoo

The recruiting process took all year and a lot of twists and turns along the way. Paid dividends in the end. Morgan Moses will suit up in orange and blue. This isn't the cherry on top of the recruiting class, it's more like two more scoops.

All-out extravaganza of analysis of the class coming this PM at the usual posting time.

For now, PAR-TAY!!!!

letters of intent: all in

Quick NLOID update: all letters of intent have been faxed in. Glee: we officially have a recruiting class, and it's not even four hours into Signing Day. No surprise decommitments. The only drama left now is Moses ... of course, that was 90% of the drama heading into the day anyway.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

game preview: Boston College

Tomorrow's D-Day in the football world, so what better way to celebrate than with a basketball post?

First, here's what to expect on these pages tomorrow. As you know, 1 PM is H-hour, and barring any craziness, it's the only major announcement that Wahoos are waiting for. I'll likely post a short blurb, whatever the choice. Otherwise, posting will be determined by events and how often the boss walks past my office door. Don't expect to burn out your F5 key here - up-to-the-minute updates are best found at TheSabre or Rivals or one of those sites where people have Al Groh's cell phone number on speed dial. In the afternoon/evening I'll post my thoughts on the day's events.

Also going on tomorrow is a basketball game. Which we'll probably lose.

Virginia Cavaliers (7-10, 1-5) vs. Boston College Eagles (17-6, 5-3)

Possible starting lineups:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (9.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.6 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (7.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.6 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (17.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.4 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (11.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 0.7 apg)
C: Assane Sene (3.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.9 bpg)

(It's kind of silly listing how many assists Sene gets. That's not what he's on the court for. It's very cool, however, that he's tied for third in the conference in blocks per game.)


PG: Tyrese Rice (17.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.7 apg)
SG: Rakim Sanders (12.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.6 apg)
SF: Corey Raji (10.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.8 apg)
PF: Joe Trapani (13.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.7 apg)
C: Josh Southern (5.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.7 apg)

I could just plagiarize the Duke game prediction from below. I mean, this game isn't likely to go any different. In the interest of living by the honor code, I do at least have a couple other thoughts about this game.

BC, you see, was supposed to stink. Going into the season, they looked like a one-man show of Tyrese Rice and a bunch of no-loads. Instead, they upended UNC and then, after an ugly losing streak brought on by a loss to Harvard, they righted the ship and now have all the makings of at least a tourney bubble team.

The scouting report used to be, stop Rice and you stop BC. Last season, Rice averaged over 38 minutes a game. He basically never left the floor. This year, Joe Trapani has done a remarkable job taking over for - and being way better than - the departed, disgruntled Shamari Spears. The rest of the starting lineup has also picked up some slack, allowing Rice the luxury of occasionally taking a break.

These days, though, it's hardly worth scouting the opponent. Until we fix what's broken with our offense, we're not going to win a single game. Period. We're averaging 73 points a game, which isn't completely awful, but take away that VMI game in which you're forced to score a bucketload win or lose, and we drop from 7th to 11th in the conference. I don't know how to fix the offense, but a moratorium on threes would be a great start. Better to have a shot-clock violation and have the opposition take the ball out of bounds than to give up the long rebound after the inevitable miss and allow a transition opportunity. Our 3-point percentage is pathetic, and Curtis Staples isn't walking through that door. The last two games have been a good step in that direction - much better than the 27 we jacked up against UNC - and maybe it's resulting in more turnovers since they're getting the idea that they can't be bailed out by the three, but hey, it's a learning process.

So I dunno....honestly, I don't expect anything different out of this game than the last few. Lousy first half, respectable second half, and the worries about Dave Leitao's offense will grow steadily louder.