Tuesday, June 30, 2009

recruiting board update

It's not that long since I did the last one of these, but enough happened over the weekend, including a commitment, that the thing is woefully out of date already. More on commitment #6, Pablo Alvarez, tomorrow. That will be a voyage of discovery for me as much as anyone: I'd heard the name exactly one time before the news of that commitment broke.

Today, though, just a real simple update to the recruiting board. Simple, but big.

- Added CB Pablo Alvarez to the Orange Section of Awesomeness. I say CB, but from what I've seen it's probably going to be hard to peg him down to any one position. CB's as good as any for now.

- Dropped TE Blake Barker, OG Brandon Sacco, and RB Juwan Thompson. They dropped for Stanford, Pitt, and Duke, respectively. Barker was in the blue section based on us being in a top five earlier; I really should know better these days than to put a tight end in the blue.

- Moved WR Alex Kenney up to blue. Kenney has a shot to be the Torrey Mack of this class: the guy who gives an otherwise under-the-radar class a little star power.

- DE Henry Anderson's list of competing schools is his official top eight. Still not small enough a list to move him to blue, but hey, making the cut is making the cut.

- Added CB Rijo Walker, S Detric Allen, and S Lorenzo Waters to yellow. Waters would actually qualify as red ordinarily, but he's DeMatha and thus will have three recruiters in pads to go along with the coaches.

- Added DT Harold Legania and QB Munchie Legaux to red. They'd probably qualify for yellow (well, Legania would anyway), but this whole Louisiana thing is brand-new territory for us and until we prove we can pull someone out of there, I'll take the wait-and-see attitude.

Tomorrow: updateage on Pablo Alvarez; also look for another Examiner post which I'm brewing up.

Monday, June 29, 2009

the recruit: Will Regan

Name: Will Regan
Position: PF/C
Hometown: Williamsville, NY
School: The Nichols School
Height: 6'8"
Weight: 220

Rivals: 3-stars
Scout: 3-stars, #17 C
ESPN: 86, #58 PF

You maybe have noticed I don't do a whole lot of basketball recruiting stuff. I try to keep up with the ups and downs of the football process, and heaven knows I don't even do the world's best job of that; today's commitment (who I'll get to later this week) isn't even someone who's on the board, let alone in the blue section of it. But basketball? Except for the end of the process (which we're getting to today) and the big-picture stuff, I mostly ignore it. This is because I hate it. It's a shady world filled with shady characters trying to leech off of the process and the players, and the best coaches play the game and navigate the system only just enough to land the players they want and still stay clean as far as the NCAA rulebook is concerned. Football is a little different; there are a hell of a lot more players to keep track of, most of whom are no threat to endorse shoes at any point in their careers. It's not squeaky clean but at least you usually only have to deal with the player, his parents, and his school coach, and not with the added presence of a handler, wannabe agents, and AAU coaches.

Anyway, this is the point where I jump into the process: the exciting part. This is a little more exciting because Will Regan is Tony Bennett's first commitment as a Hoo, and one that goes a long way toward quelling any doubts about his recruiting ability. If you read my first Examiner.com article (warning: shameless self-promotion) you'd know I'm really, really pleased with this pickup.

The ratings are really kinda tthhbbppttt. Don't be fooled. One, Regan's due for a boost whenever they shuffle the rankings. He's performed well and made a name for himself at summer tournaments and camps, including, obviously, the NBA Camp in Charlottesville, otherwise Bennett wouldn't have pushed for him. Two, Regan's got offers from all sorts of quality places. Tournament schools like Michigan, Arizona State, Siena, Maryland. And places that have a tradition like Providence, Stanford, and St. John's. OK, so not the UNC's and Kansases of the world, but still.

And Regan dominates his high school competition. He averages a double-double, and not a chintzy one either, and turns in games with lines like, 32 points, 13 boards, 10 blocks. He joined some excellent company in winning Western New York Player of the Year honors as a junior (and by the way, last year, being the first sophomore in 14 years to be named to the first team there); how do Jonny Flynn and Christian Laettner sound as company to join in that category? Catch me if I'm getting ahead of myself, but Regan sounds ready to make the jump right now. That's probably just me drinking the Kool-Aid, but it's really delicious Kool-Aid and you should try some.

So what are the skills Regan brings to the table? One thing that jumps out at you in just about every scouting report - I'm not even going to bother linking anything because I'd have to link everything - is "fundamentally sound." Now, if you've read enough scouting reports on high school basketball players, you've probably alread picked up on the code: "fundamentally sound" usually means "slightly gumpy unskilled white guy." OK, but there's a grain of truth to the code, because there are no slightly gumpy unskilled fundamentally unsound white guys playing in a level of basketball higher than the Atlantic Sun Conference. So: plays decent defense, posts up well, makes the right passes, not going to suddenly blow by a defender and throw down a monster windmill dunk. The thing that should separate him from a lot of the competition, be his calling card if you will, is that he can shoot the three-pointer. How do we know? Because Michigan was all over Regan this winter. John Beilein will have all his guys outside the arc shooting threes. A 6'8" power forward who can knock down a three is exactly what he wants three of on the court at all times, and Michigan was recruiting him very hard. "Premiere big-man target" is high praise and that was as late as the end of March. It's a testament to Bennett's recruiting efforts that Regan spent the winter not really talking about UVA - Maryland, Michigan, and Stanford kept popping up - then somewhere between the beginning of April and end of May, we'd joined the conversation. Helped that Michigan landed a very similar player (Evan Smotrycz) ten days after that report, who blew up in a very big way shortly afterwards.

So I'm really jazzed, here. All hail Tony Bennett and whoever decided to build that wicked fancy beautiful new addition to Rouss Hall for the Comm-school, because that's where Regan will spend his classroom days. Terrific baller and zero worries about academics; there's nothing not to love about this. Great, great start to the class of 2010.

Afterword: if we could just get through one weekend without any more celebrity carnage, that'd be really awesome. The King of Pop was a shock and a half, but Billy Mays too? What did Billy Mays ever do to anyone? Cable TV is a less awesomer place for this. Commercials on ESPNUVA will never be the same again. It's a damn shame. Now there's nothing but Vince the Shamwow Guy to brighten things up. May there be a restaurant in Heaven that serves Big City Sliders and wipes the tables with OxiClean.

Here's a little YouTubeage: one for Billy (parody-style) and another for Jacko.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

missing the point

Well, naturally, it'd be like this. It has before, because heaven forbid you say anything bad about The Florida State University. I suppose if I were to do the "right" thing, I'd let the Florida State defenders of truth and justice go on with their railing. Knowing I'm right, I ought to just sit back and quaff my Zima, tie my sweater loosely around my neck, and let them hoot and holler whilst I repose on the Lawn and speak of Honor.

Screw it - this blog exists, in part, because there's a little bit of the message board loudmouth in me and there's nothing like a good Internet argument. Let's see about this stuff. The common thread between the two angry diatribes thrown back at me because of my angry diatribe against the whiny, see-no-evil attitude from the TFSU staff and admin is "you're in the same boat as we are because this stuff happens to you too, dirty Jefferson-loving hypocrite." To wit: "By the way how’s Peter Lalich doing? He was one of those upstanding young Cavaliers, right?"

Probably about as well as Preston Parker is doing, except that if those two ever get together and have a chat, Lalich is going to wonder what kind of a bum rap he got. Peter Lalich committed the heinous crime of drinking alcohol. It didn't help that the judge specifically told him not to, and he did, but there you go: those of you who went to college and drank alcohol before you were 21, take a lesson. Preston Parker also got thrown off the team for drinking alcohol, with the minor added detail of hopping behind the wheel of a car afterwards. Oh, and there was the marijuana. And the gun. And the shoplifting. None of which were enough to get him flung off the team until the third offense - ol' Bobby's all about third chances. Peter Lalich is the poster boy for bad behavior? I'll take it, especially in comparison.

But that's just a sideshow to the real thing. Credit is given for manning up and putting down your name. Let's dive into the argument:

While no FSU alum condones our recent, unfortunate cheating scandal, it's important to note it involved a renegade tutor who of her own volition made answers available to players. At UVA, it was the students themselves who actively, on their own, sought to beat the system and besmirch your once proud honor code.
The post refers primarily to the physics cheating scandal in 2001. You may remember it - I do, I was a second year the year the trials were dragging on. Indeed, the students themselves besmirched the honor code. And here's the best part about the honor code - it is student-run. That means it's also students who provide the discipline, and the articles that commenter Rich helpfully posts as a reminder of the cheating scandal also note that a large number of students were expelled as a result - and even more seriously, a few had their degrees revoked. That's the part that the don't-throw-stones argument glosses right over. Which is convenient, because that's the big difference between the schools.

Because, see, the point of the criticism of TFSU is not that "cheating happens there and not here." The point, which I really think comes through with all the subtlety of a jackhammer, is that the school's reaction to the scandal is the real problem. Cheating happens - if it didn't, there wouldn't be a need for an honor code in the first place, would there? That's why the original post didn't carry the title "Florida State is a bunch of damn dirty cheaters." The title was, very clearly and obviously, "Stop Whining."

The difference is not that their students cheat and ours don't. The difference is what happens in response. The UVA administration allowed the students to get down to the business of punishing the perpetrators, fairly, openly, and honestly. The TFSU administration whines about how unfair the NCAA is being. The guilty UVA students were expelled or lost their diplomas. The guilty TFSU athletes returned to play for their teams after a cursory suspension. It's kinda like that Preston Parker/Peter Lalich thing. Screw up when the judge tells you not to screw up, and you're gone, says UVA. TFSU sees things a little differently.

It's nice that we all agree on the major point, which is that TFSU needs to drop the appeal because it's embarrassing the school. That agreement in place, I suppose some potshots at the football team were necessary to even things up and keep the faithful fired up. Playing on Labor Day, that's pretty special. Bet that makes the Seminoles feel pretty important. Tell you what - let's all put this behind us, grab a beer, and go watch a ballgame.

Friday, June 26, 2009

sit down, shut up, and stop whining

OK, I've been biting my tongue on this whole Florida State thing, not least because there's been plenty to write about for the team(s) this blog is actually supposed to be covering, but there's much that needs to be said here, too.

I haven't made much of a secret of the fact that Florida State is one of my least favorite college teams of all time. So this may come off as biased. Sure, it's biased. I hate TFSU and love me some UVA. But don't make the mistake of thinking I'm making mountains out of molehills just because I'm just a biased ol' blabbermouth on the Internet. It's the other way 'round. I hate TFSU because they do stuff like this. Cheat, and do everything in their power to weasel out of punishment.

I refer, of course, to the academic scandal that first reared it's head in December of 2007. Details here if you've forgotten. I've already criticized the school and Dadgum Bobby Bowden for their response to it, especially, and rather egregiously, scheduling the poorest excuses for opponents they could find in order to pad the impact of the resulting suspensions.

It's time for this thing to get its own post, though. These guys won't shut up about how patently unfair the penalty is. They have to vacate wins: oh no! Why is this unfair? "It wasn't the coaches' fault," says Dadgum Bobby. Why, that would imply that it's the coaches being unfairly punished. We all know what's at stake for Bowden. This stuff "didn't bother" him until he learned he might suffer some kind of consquence for him. Let the players take the fall. Let the school's worker bees take the fall. Ol' Bobby didn't know what was going on. I mean, no reason a head coach should bother looking into what his players are up to.

Here's the thing: Vacating wins is a stupid punishment. When Florida State took the field on seven different Saturday afternoons in 2007 and in 2006, a football game was played. Everyone at the game remembers the outcome. Florida State scored more points than the other team. Nobody's going to say, oh, I was at the TFSU-Alabama game and nothing happened. The University of Michigan had to vacate its postseason runs involving the Fab Five; if those wins don't exist in the record books, then who did North Carolina beat in the title game? It's silly. And furthermore it does very little to deter future shenanigans. Recruits don't care what the NCAA's pieces of paper say about a game that happened in October three years ago. Vacating wins is a slap on the wrist and I actually wish the NCAA would do away with it as a punishment. They should be focused on making it harder to win in the future rather than taking away the ones in the past.

That said, vacating wins is what the NCAA has decided on. I don't know what TFSU thinks they should do in this case. Would they prefer a postseason ban? A TV ban? A draconian scholarship hit?

Because it's not like the NCAA has been inconsistent in its application of the rules. Here's a list of academic scandals in the last couple of decades or so. It's not comprehensive, but they all have one thing in common: the team in question vacated or forfeited wins. See if you can guess which is the TFSU one:

- A basketball team's office manager and team tutor writes over 400 papers for 18 players over a five-year period. The team vacates all postseason appearances from its record, among other punishments.

- A basketball coach gives A's to three players who never attend his basketball strategy class. The team vacates half its wins from the 2001-02 season and all of them in 2002-03.

- Two football assistant coaches find correspondence courses for their players to earn credits in, allow those players the use of their computers to write papers for these courses, and pay to mail off said papers. The team vacates all wins from 2007.

- A school's academic advisors and tutors provide answers for online quizzes in multiple classes and illegally edit and type papers for athletes on multiple teams. The school vacates wins in each affected sport in 2006 and 2007.

- A school admits a basketball player holding only a welder's certificate rather than an associate's degree from a junior college, violating academic and transfer guidelines. Among other punishments, the team forfeits its six conference wins from that season.

- A basketball team uses a player not actually enrolled in a full-time course program as required and provides him financial aid; additionally, an academic advisor prepares course work for two other players. The team, among other punishments, vacates the record of its performance in the 2000 NCAA tournament.

- A D-II basketball team provides completed homework to a player and admits to other "academic irregularities". The team voluntarily forfeits its entire 2008-09 season.

Some of these involved coaches, some did not. Some are basketball, some football. All are academic shenanigans, some more serious than others; indeed, some less serious than TFSU's. And all involve vacated or forfeited wins; in fact, "vacating" is a lighter punishment than "forfeiting", because TFSU's record from the vacated seasons will be 0-6 rather than 0-13. For what that's worth.

In fact, the list of coaches with portions of their record is extremely long and distinguished. There's no special treatment for Dadgum Bobby here.

There is a pattern here, though. Use ineligible players, and the NCAA will take away the wins you achieved with those players.. This isn't hard to understand nor is it inconsistent. I may not agree with the idea but it is consistent. And it is light. Going forward, TFSU will have very, very little competitive disadvantage. Probation? Probation is something you give a school to inform that after a certain amount of time, further shenanigans will be treated as if they're the first ones to happen. The NCAA obviously does not care about the impact on what will likely now be Joe Paterno's record, and it shouldn't. Given TFSU's track record (Dillards, shoes, academics, etc.) it's very annoying to hear them complain about "hitting a flea with a sledgehammer" (again, when the penalties aren't even that nasty) and extremely nauseating to hear them whine about the NCAA's "arrogance"; how dare the NCAA punish us.

Is it any wonder why the rest of the ACC hopes the next winless season the Seminoles churn out is fully earned on the field, and not the last?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

i have an Announcement

I've become, technically, a "professional" writer, in that somebody has decided that what I do is good enough to pay me for doing it. I've begun writing for Examiner.com and am now the "Virginia Cavaliers Examiner." You can find my own, very special page right here and my first post, a little article on basketball recruiting and What We Should Do and all that, is at this link here, and you should click because that is how I get money.

What's in it for me is a little walking-around money - nothing that's gonna pay any bills, but this also doesn't require me to quit my day job (good thing, because I literally can't) or spend hours every day slaving over a keyboard. What's in it for you is basically bonus content and the chance to see what a big dweeb I look like whenever I'm in close proximity to a camera, because they will insist on having a picture up.

And the good news for both of us is that I don't have to stop writing this blog here, either. In fact you should expect pretty much the same amount of content you've come to expect on these pages. That's my hope and intent at this point. I'm even allowed to get lazy and post the same stuff there that I post here, but I'm gonna try not to do that much because otherwise you wouldn't bother reading both and then what's the point? Examiner doesn't demand a set posting schedule or deadlines or whatnot, and I intend to try and get stuff up there 3-4 times a week, and naturally, you can click through here to get to there and eventually vice versa. In short order there will be new links on the side for you to see.

recruiting board update

Wow. It's tough to find a more shocking way to start a pleasant Thursday evening than by finding out the King of Pop is dead. That one's right outta left field. I'm not gonna lie: Michael Jackson's music is the shit, more or less; "Beat It" is ten kinds of fun to play on Guitar Hero; and Captain Eo in 3-D with frickin' lasers 'n' shit was placed squarely at the top of the list of Coolest Shit Ever after seeing it at Epcot as a seven-year-old. Michael Jackson was one freaky, weird-ass, not-exactly-all-there dude who stood astride the '80s to a degree that I only know of in the telling, as I'm only a few months older than Thriller. It's a big surprise and yet not: for some reason (usually drugs or plane crashes, actually), all music's greatest die long before you expect them to. Maybe the big surprise is that neither appears to be the case here.

Anyway, we need a recruiting board update, so, here, this is what's up for the week:

- Removed QB Andrew Hendrix (Notre Dame commit), OT T.J. Leifheit (we got officially cut), and S Nick Dew (nothing's changed really except my opinion, which is that our chances are so little as to not even be worth talking about.)

- Added QB Stephen Morris to yellow. Yellow because he's making no secret of the fact that he wants an offer from Florida or Ole Miss. If he gets one we have no shot there.

- Moved RB Juwan Thompson to red. Here's one of those articles you don't even need a subscription for to figure out. The code goes like this: whenever they ask a question in the title, the answer is assumed to be yes, and whichever school's affiliate wrote the article, that's who it's in favor of.

- Also dropped Ego Ferguson. Dude, we didn't even make, like, the top 21. WR Adrian Flemming is also gone; I figure we'd have offered by now, but, we haven't, so why bother. If an offer shows up, I'll put him back, but since February it's been all quiet on that front.

Either later on tonight, or tomorrow, I'll have Interesting News. I recommend furiously mashing the refresh button til then.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

the recruit: Kyrrel Latimer

Name: Kyrrel Latimer
Position: CB
School: DeMatha Catholic (MD)
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 205

ESPN: 75
Rivals: NR
Scout: NR

Let's just get this part out of the way real quick here: Latimer is either not highly rated or not rated at all by the services, and didn't garner a whole lot of major-league interest from major-league schools. At the time of his commitment he had exactly one I-A offer: New Mexico. Tech showed some interest early but probably decided not to go in real hard; when one headline declares Tech the leader in no small part because that was his team growing up and then a month later the UVA offer spirals us to the top of the list, I think that means the interest from Tech was limited.

The ratings, when they do come, aren't going to be high. Scout probably will never bother, they're sloppy like that, and Rivals will probably toss a low three-star or high two-star his way. He plays at DeMatha - there's not much the services and the teams don't know about what comes out of that school.

That said, it's encouraging that the coaching staff is interested in Latimer as a cornerback, because that's a position that didn't get targeted basically at all last year. Latimer plays safety for DeMatha, but things are pointing to him making the switch at UVA. He's definitely cornerback-sized and cornerback-athletic: dude's been a very good track runner for a very long time. And we're gonna need corners something fierce pretty soon, especially if Dowling leaves early as is the concern at this point. By 2010 we might have Chase Minnifield and nothing. Whether Latimer gets an early shot there depends on who gets shuffled over to cornerback between now and the fall of 2010, because it seems pretty clear from here that that's going to happen much more likely than not.

Besides, if Rodney McLeod is any indication, football players come out of DeMatha ready to play. But that may not be the best comparison, really, because McLeod was decently rated and had offers from all those schools we like very much to beat at stuff plus a couple Big Ten ones too. Latimer has none of that. But suppose Jeremiah Mathis comes out like gangbusters this year the same way McLeod did last year? Mathis didn't get any offers until way late (and also got one from New Mexico - weird), and wasn't rated high, and yadda yadda. If Mathis also comes in and makes that kind of impression, it'd be right and proper to start seeing a pattern here, that pattern being: DeMatha = awesome, and we should commence construction of an HOV lane between there and Charlottesville.

Til then, Latimer's a little bit wait-and-see. With the coaches basically having indicated directly to the DeMatha coach that they like Latimer as a corner, it'd be nice to see him playing that position more during the upcoming season, though obviously DeMatha has championships and stuff to go win and can't necessarily be expected to do what Poindexter tells them to do. From here I guess my best prediction is that Latimer will redshirt his first season mainly because he'll need to learn the ins and outs of the position, then park it for a year or two behind some more senior folks who got moved themselves. Of the five verbals so far, though, he's the hardest to guess at, because Lord only knows if we'll even have Ras-I Dowling by then let alone who else there'll be.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Danny Hultzen: Cavalier of the Year

A worthy selection. As I opined last week, the baseball team had the best season of any Virginia athletic squad. They also had very, very few seniors, which opened the door for leadership from elsewhere. Hultzen stepped in to help fill the gap.

Most impressive about him, I think, is his performance in "first" games. His first college game ever, he shut out Bucknell during his seven innings. In his first ACC game, he shut down Wake Forest with 2 runs in 7 innings. First ACC tournament game, he shut down mighty UNC: 1 run in 6 1/3 innings. First NCAA tournament game, UC Irvine never crossed the plate in his seven. Do you see a pattern here? Danny Hultzen pitches with the confidence of a guy who doesn't need to prove himself. His honors and accolades are well-spelled-out already, right here. In a couple years he'll be able to add "MLB first-round draft choice" to that list; for now, he'll have to content himself, meager though the award may be, with being the first FOV Cavalier of the Year.

Muchas gracias to those of you who voted. I have big plans: in a few years, we're taking this thing straight to Vegas. Lights, cameras, red carpet, the works. This thing will just ooze prestige, and we can all look back and laugh about when we celebrated this with nothing more than a goofy Photoshop. I dunno when that'll be.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

new video

The videos page now has the highlights from the first installment of our two-game ownership of UC-Irvine in their own hut. I have four more games to add: the other Irvine game, two Ole Miss games, and the Fullerton one, then that's it for the season.

If you haven't already done so, vote in that thingy over there -------->

...because polling ends at 8 PM tomorrow.

Friday, June 19, 2009

the recruit: E.J. Scott

Name: E.J. Scott
Position: WR
School: Our Lady of Good Counsel (MD)
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 170

ESPN: 76
Rivals: 5.5, three stars
Scout: NR

I will freely admit here that there is very little to say here, or at least very little that I can think of to say. (I know. Bitch bitch bitch, it's all I ever do.) E.J. Scott is like, wide receiver in a box. His recruitment was about as drama-free as it's possible to be. His ratings are bleh. (A little bit unfairly low, I think, but there you go.) He's a slot, moonlights a little bit at defensive back, got plenty of speed and talent, blah blah blah, you know the drill.

Actually, maybe you don't, because here's the thing: Scott is a little bit of a new breed of animal as far as UVA is concerned. This is a Gregg Brandon offer through and through. Scott will be the shortest scholarship receiver on the roster when he shows up next year. We've typically ignored shorter receivers, unless they're just stupid fast like Javaris Brown, because pro-style offenses like our old ones have little use for short receivers. The number of under-six-foot receivers we've offered in the past, like, six years, you can count them on one hand. The number of actual commitments is even smaller. New OC, new times.

Guys like E.J. Scott are finding a new niche for themselves with the spread in full force throughout the country, though. It helps that Scott is very very fast himself, but ten years ago he'd be looking at a conversion to defensive back no matter where he landed. Now he can stick with offense and line up in the slot, an inside receiver position in the spread that lines up a little further back in the backfield than a traditional third possession receiver might and catches a lot of bubble screens and things like that. Playing the slot involves a skill set awfully similar to returning kicks and punts: size doesn't matter, speed and the ability to take hits do.

As for his ability, well, like I said, he's kind of wide-receiver-in-a-box: he's got speed, good catching skills, can return kicks, athletic enough to play two ways, it's kind of a common tale. Scott's got a good set of offers but a middling and unimpressive guru rating - I suspect an upwards nudge is possible given a good senior season. I'm not worried about it though. He's got a decent sampling of ACC, Big East, and Big Ten offers (including Wisconsin, which is weird because Wisconsin runs a throwback power game predicated on being bigger than you) and any time we can win a battle with Maryland for a player in their state, that's a good deal.

One thing we'll have to get used to is thinking of wide receivers like linebackers - there's an inside and an outside and they're not interchangeable. That's where there's good news for Scott. There aren't many of his type on the roster yet. Not to say there'll be a starting spot waiting for him, but his competition is limited and you know how it's been with Gregg Brandon so far: he's going to try and shove as many receivers on the field as he can. Scott is a weapon, plain and simple, and he's a big reason why I think this class is looking good to outperform its star rating as a whole.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


That's it, then. The last flickering flame of the 2008-2009 season, whatever your sport, has been extinguished. It's now the offseason no matter which sport is your favorite, and there's little else to do but obsess over football recruiting and count down the days until September 5 (78, if you're curious.)

But we'll not leave the baseball team hanging. Let's relive a little bit of last night's game.

I'd already steeled myself for the eventual elimination of O'Connor's crew. This wasn't hard. No matter what comes next, an ACC championship forever marks any season as a resounding success. Nobody's going to look back on the 2009 baseball season, in which we won the ACC tournament and made the College World Series, as anything but.

That said, I'd prepared myself for a slightly different ending. I figured we'd drop another game to LSU, or maybe miracle our way past that round and have our tired pitchers run into a buzzsaw named Texas or North Carolina in the championship series, all the while getting beaten solidly and unreservedly by some score similar to the actual LSU loss, which was 9-5. 9-5 is easier to take. Steel-toed ass-kickings are still painful, but at the end you sigh and convince yourself there was nothing that could have been done, we just ran into a better team and that was that.

Extra inning games that shouldn't even be in extra innings in which you blow chance after chance until you run out of chances to blow - those are a different animal. I saw two losses coming a mile away as soon as we'd finished off Ole Miss. Kept hoping against hope they would hold off, but was ready for them nonetheless. I just didn't think it'd be a game like that, the proverbial shoulda game, against the lowest-ranked team in our CWS region. College World Series: Coulda Woulda Shoulda. It's rough.

But. But But But. Long-term, this is better. This helps the future more. If we'd dropped another nine-run game to LSU or gotten decisively swept by Texas, the team would take it hard, and get on that plane disappointed, but just like the fans, they'd also be able to tell themselves, "There's nothing we could have done different." But this way, how many of them will instead be telling themselves, "If Only I...." If only I'd been more patient at the plate. If only I'd been more aggressive at the plate. If only I'd been smarter on the basepaths. If only I'd concentrated more on that pitch. If only I were a little faster. I submit to you the answer is all of them, and speaking from experience I think that includes those who didn't get in the game at all; it's the nature of the bench player to think, "I wouldn't have done that. I would have done this. I could have made that play." If they're the mentally resilient types, and they are because otherwise they'd have folded it up in Irvine, they'll each take a personal lesson home in the offseason. That is how you go from "freshman mistakes" (of which there were plenty on display yesterday) to "the poise of a senior" (of which there was also plenty on display, just not quite enough.)

And it bears repeating over and over and over again, til every thick-headed drooling idiot that thinks it's a good idea to curse out Steven Proscia or Shane Halley or whoever is the most convenient goat in his small mind gets the point: Fantastic season all around. Fantastic. Unbelievable. Magical. The best of any of our teams this year. Yes, better than the utterly dominant swim teams (which did not do as well on a national level as baseball), and better than the Final Four lacrosse team (which didn't win an ACC championship despite facing half the number of teams.) Perhaps one of the top three seasons in any sport in this decade. They've turned baseball in Charlottesville from a fun little spring pastime into an honest-to-mercy Big Deal, which is a rare and exciting sort of transition, one that I wish the basketball team would get around to.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the recruit: Ryan Cobb

Name: Ryan Cobb
Position: ILB
School: Don Bosco (NJ)
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 215

ESPN: 73
Rivals: NR
Scout: NR

For those who follow recruiting like it's their job, because it is their job, Ryan Cobb is a familiar name; Don Bosco has a football machine and when you stand out there, it's hard not to get noticed. Cobb is a two-way player there at linebacker and tight end - he's athletic and talented, and has been racking up various camp MVP awards ever since he was a freshman. All the usual suspect schools have been recruiting him for quite some time now - you don't even need a Rivals subscription to look at his page there and see where he's been visiting: Notre Dame, Iowa, Rutgers. He's got the profile of a kid who we'd have to battle the Penn States, Boston Colleges, and Marylands of the world for, and battle hard.

Smart? probably, with Stanford and Notre Dame and such after him. Athletic? definitely - if you play both ways, your athleticism isn't in question. Talented? more than likely, if you think all those camps mean anything. So why have the services not bothered to rate hims, and why, at the time of his visit and commitment in June before his senior year, does he hold exactly four offers, none of which besides ours would you call competitive? Navy, Harvard, and Yale, to be precise. Harvard and Yale - so, change "probably" to "definitely" after "smart?" then.

Well, I don't know. But I suspect. Take a look at this camp rundown, where Cobb earned the linebacker MVP nod, and check out his listed size: 6'0, 210. Fast forward two summers - that is from May 2007, when Cobb had just finished his freshman year - and he's still listed in the 210s. Sometimes the low 220s, but he hasn't grown an inch upward, either. I'm gonna hazard a guess that much of this early attention assumed that he'd follow a normal growth curve, which might put him around 6'2 or 6'3, 225-230 by now. This he is not. If he were on the roster right now he'd be the shortest linebacker there, and be competing for the title of lightest with Steve Greer.

Ah, but there you go: Greer, despite being listed at 218 pounds and being a redshirt freshman (I doubt he's that light, but whatever) is a very strong contender for a starting spot on the inside. Cobb's size indicates a near-certain redshirt in 2010, but his pedigree indicates he'll be right in the mix when it's his turn. Might well be that we're hearing in a few years another one of those stories announcers like to tell where the undersized kid just needed one coach to believe in him blah blah blah - if so, enjoy it, because it'll be another piece of evidence on the giant pile of proof that Al Groh knows what he's doing when he's evaluating linebackers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

three totally unrelated things

Got two things I've been sitting on for a little bit and then one that can't wait til tomorrow, because it's about tomorrow's game with Arkansas and that's important stuff.

Blog stats

I don't do a lot of horn-tooting or self-promotion, but since the birthday celebration is still going on in the form of the poll which you should vote in if you haven't already, I thought it'd be fun to offer up a little bit of a peek into the blog's first year. Specifically, geographically speaking.

In one year of existence this blog is a lot better traveled than I am, and I've been around. Google Analytics reports hits from every continent not populated solely by penguins and slightly nutty scientists, and 51 countries around the globe as well as all 50 states - though, Montana and Wyoming record exactly one each. Top five states: DC (it counts separate, yes), North Carolina, Georgia, New York, and, obviously, Virginia, which accounts for 40% of all hits on the blog. I bet you're surprised.

Drilling down a bit by city, Charlottesville accounts for 41% of all hits from Virginia and 17% of all total hits. I bet you're totally surprised. Other than Charlottesville, within Virginia the top five cities are Richmond, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Glen Allen, and Arlington; nationwide (again, besides Charlottesville) the top five are NYC, Washington, Richmond, Norfolk, and Atlanta by just a smidge over Chesapeake and Philadelphia; this last, I suspect, is almost entirely the work of a certain very classy three-man operation, because there aren't that many Hoos in Atlanta, are there?


By now it's no secret that the president of the University plans to retire. That little bit of news showed up on Friday in the inboxes of those on any kind of alumni mailing list. By now also, the opinion of the fanbase in general is completely clear and follows this rule almost entirely without exception: if you did not attend the University, you see John Casteen as an obstacle to athletic success and are happy to see him go, even celebratory; if you are an alum, you may or may not agree with the obstacle thing but you aren't in a celebratory mood.

As a proud alum, naturally, I fall into the second category. I have always been very pleased with Casteen's commitment to student self-governance, a pillar of the University's principles. Simply put, he doesn't meddle - a temptation too great for many university presidents to overcome. I don't know how many university presidents open the doors of their residence for an open-house for incoming first years, but I was always impressed that Casteen did. I believe John Casteen is a man of integrity and honor - the latter, obviously, a very important distinction at UVa - and I salute him for his stewardship of the finest University in the land.

I'm going to take this one step farther, though. Here's the thing. In most situations that engender strong opinions, I might think your opinion is wrong but I don't think you're wrong to have that opinion, if you follow. For example, I didn't think either Leitao or Groh deserved to be fired after these last seasons, I think Groh was right to have Vic Hall at cornerback these last few years, and I hate the idea of a college football playoff. Obviously, not everyone agrees. I may argue, but opinions are opinions and people have them, and I don't begrudge them. Usually. I make an exception here: if you are in the camp that's happy to see Casteen go because you think he's been holding back the football and basketball teams, you're wrong. Not necessarily wrong that he's meddling with the teams (I don't know for sure nor do I greatly care to what extent he does) but wrong to have this opinion in the first place. Casteen's job is the school. It's irresponsible to judge him based on athletics. It's not wrong to form an opinion of the man and take into account his dealings with the athletic department; it is wrong, and frankly unacceptable, to condemn him for those alone. "It's a great day to be a Hoo" because Casteen is leaving; that is a sentiment I cannot accept.


Tomorrow, Arkansas; we've already eliminated two Big West teams and one SEC team, so it's only fitting that we continue the pattern and make it an even two here, two there.

Much talk was on the baseball board at TheSabre yesterday of Arkansas's inability to hit a baseball; my considered opinion is that their game against LSU was terribly misleading. Lest we forget, the Razorbacks dropped 10 runs on Fullerton; 16 in two games against Florida State; and 38 in three regional games including 28 in two games against national #7 seed Oklahoma. These guys did nothing but hit until they ran into LSU.

The other bad news is they look to have most of their pitchers available, although that also counts as good news because their pitching is crummy. They don't have a starter with an ERA under 4. Then again, we're probably starting Poutier and don't have most of our best pitchers available either; the lesson here is don't you dare forget to tune in tomorrow at 7 because it's gonna be a barn-burner.

Our own pitching situation is a little tenuous. Hultzen might be available for an inning or so, but if it comes to that we're in trouble anyway. Ideally here's what happens. Tyler Wilson more or less breezed through his inning against Fullerton and should be good for two more tomorrow. Packer and Arico can hold down one each as well; that's the last four. If Poutier starts (I don't know for sure, but I assume he will; like any good coach, O'Connor is being coy about this) and lasts five innings we're golden; we have those three to work four innings, not to mention Carraway who could be good for a couple and Shane Halley in emergency duty. In an ideal world, we'd hang thirteen runs on Arkansas in the first and be able to ride Poutier for a long time - like, seven innings - and maybe even use someone like Halley who has yet to unglue his butt from the bench. In a best-case scenario, I think we get four or five innings from Poutier and scratch out the rest between Packer, Wilson, Arico, and if necessary, Carraway; in a best-best-case, some of those innings are five-pitch quickies and we don't even have to use at least one of those guys. Then we have Hultzen and Morey available to start against LSU in what hopefully turns into a two-game series.

Monday, June 15, 2009

weekend review

Well, fellow Hoos, we had an interesting weekend, did we not? It really only ended about 90 minutes ago (that's "as I type this" and probably not "as you read this") with the elimination of the national #2 seed from the College World Series. There's really something to be said for not being the first team out, and as much as I think this whole Omaha business is gravy and the season is already a rousing, smashing success no matter what happens next, I really didn't want to see us be the first team to leave. So that's nice.

Anyway, there's enough for a weekend review-type post - if you remember the football season, there was a big long one of these every Monday - and this was probably a more eventful weekend than a simple football Saturday, so let's dive in. Baseball first.


A 1-1 weekend is perfectly satisfactory. Let's get that out there to start with. Sometimes the announcers will tell you the first game in these double-elimination brackets is the most important. I can see the logic - if you win, you have only to win two more games and you're in like Flynn, and if you lose, you have to win four or you're done. I still say that's so much baloney. The most important game is the one right after the one you just lost. After four of these games, one team will be 2-0, one will be 0-2, and two will be 1-1; and 1-1, whether you win the first or second game, puts you in the same spot. An elimination game instead of a bye come Wednesday is not the ideal spot to be in, but it's a better spot than Fullerton will be in by then, which is - Fullerton. And not Omaha.

So I'm pleased. I don't care who wins between Arkansas and LSU, we'll have to beat them both anyway if we want to advance. And we can take LSU. I don't know about you but I was actually pretty encouraged by that loss; we've clearly got the bats to hang with anyone, we just needed a little more clutch hitting to get it done.

And pardon me, but I did not just hear the announcers in the game say, "Virginia is playing Fullerton baseball." Oh yes I did. And here I thought that phrase died with Irvine. Ah well - I'm content that our team has been the Scourge of SoCal this postseason - eliminating all those pesky Orange County teams and dealing a mortal blow to San Diego State and their special guy. Having played Irvine Baseball and now Fullerton Baseball - and seeing where those teams are now - I can't wait to play some Arkansas Baseball, some LSU Baseball, and maybe some Texas Baseball or UNC Baseball.

And finally mad kudos yo to the national Coach of the Year. This is an award that writers hand out because they have these preconceived notions of how teams "should" do, and don't like to admit that they were wrong; therefore they take a mulligan on a particular team that outshone expectations, chalk it up to coaching, and call that team's coach the Coach of the Year. It's well deserved though. O'Connor hit a few rough patches early on but he and his team have clicked this year at the best possible time. Congrats to the man.


Big weekend with a junior day planned. "Future Wahoo Day".....whatever, I guess you gotta try something to make it stand out, and other places are already doing BBQ's. Couldn't we have like, a pig roast or something? Pig roasts are cool.

Anyway, my opinion of it: so-so. Very so-so. We did move three players up from the lower regions of the board into the nice orange committed section. That's the good news - the bad news is, they'd pretty much already stamped their ticket to Charlottesville and their commitments were less a pleasant surprise and more of a confirmation. These are -

- LB Ryan Cobb: a rather lightly recruited New Jersey linebacker
- WR E.J. Scott: a slot receiver tailor-made for the new spread
- CB Kyrrel Latimer: a cornerback from DeMatha, which is an old French/Latin word for "pipeline to Virginia."

More on each of them later this week.

I'd have liked to also get Conner Davis on board, and his not doing so, in addition to the lack of surprise commits, made it a little bit of a down weekend. I know, I'm greedy. Can't be helped. So what say you to an update of the recruiting board? Here goes:

- Moved Cobb, Scott, and Latimer to orange, obviously.

- Moved LB Jeremiah Attaochu (gesundheit) and OT Robby Havenstein to blue. We've lost a bunch of tug-of-wars with Penn State already - notably Miles Dieffenbach and Luke Graham on the O-line - but the nice thing about that is that this is one area where past results affect future outcome. The coaches are going to be all over Havenstein now; Groh wants his linemen 8 feet tall and 500 pounds if he can get them, and Havenstein is the closest thing on the board to that at 6'7", 345.

- Moved CB Urell Johnson and S Nick Dew down to red. This week, Johnson got offers from LSU and Tennessee; that's as good a reason as any to assume he's not real likely to leave Louisiana. And I've basically given in to the fact that Dew is a Tech fan.

- Added CB Karl Butler (yellow) and, for giggles, DE J.R. "Ego" Ferguson (red.) Do not make the mistake of thinking that means our chances have improved any for Ferguson lately. It's as pipe-dreamy as ever; I only bothered because, what the hell, he's from Virginia. If he was not, I wouldn't have done it.

- Removed DE Kyle Baublitz (Penn State commit) and QB Sam Gibson (LSU commit.) I did not see one tiny mention of Gibson all weekend - I don't expect he was visiting. So that's over with.

Um, look, about that - removing guys and stuff. I really thought we had a fair shot at Baublitz, but, bummer - and Baublitz would have added some nice four-star cachet to this class. Take a look at that board, there ain't much of that left going on. There will always be a contingent of recruitniks who want to see the star-ratings and there will always be a contingent of recruitniks who demand a good showing in-state. If you are in either group, we will probably be hearing your disappointed and angry voice come February.

There's a better-than-solid chance we don't have a single four-star in the whole class; Blake Barker and Alex Kenney are the best shots, and neither is anything like a lock. There's also a way-better-than-solid chance the in-state haul will look nothing like last year's. You may notice we have five on board and none are from Virginia. It was just the opposite last year; the first five, not including the decommits, were all in-staters, and on board before May.

Here's the players from Virginia on the current Rivals 250:

Ego Ferguson - fuhgeddaboudit
Philip Sims - Alabama
Zack McCray - Tech
Justin Hunter - LSU
Travis Williams - we never offered
Evan Hailes - we were never in it
Nick Acree - we never offered

And additionally, more from the ESPN 150 watch list....

Nick Dew - Tech fan
Mark Shuman - Tech commit
Aramide Olaniyan - we never offered

That's basically the Virginia top ten. We're not getting any one of those. Ferguson's the only one we even have the outsidest of shots at. Our in-state crew is going to be the 11-20 guys.

Prediction time: By October 1, maybe even September 1, we will have verbals from Marcus Rush, Robby Havenstein, Conner Davis, and Henry Coley. Coley will be the first Virginia high schooler to commit; he, like Cobb, is lightly recruited. Davis is starting to see the offer faucet dry up a bit - what he's got, he's got, and I don't think he'll wait much longer. Rush visited Michigan and didn't commit, and Michigan is filling up fast on what over at MGoBlog are referred to as "deathbackers" and we at Virginia call "outside linebackers in the 3-4." Basically the same position, entirely different name. They now have like four of these, two of which we were recruting heavily (Jordan Paskorz and Ken Wilkins) - like Havenstein, Rush is going to get the full-court press from the coaches.

And even if the star power isn't there, the talent will be. I really, really like the offensive side of this class so far. Have I mentioned Kevin Parks is a studly stud of studlitude? (Gosh, that didn't make me sound like a 13-year-old girl in close proximity to whatsisface from Twilight at all. I'm one "dreamy" away from getting on some stalker file somewhere.) And the more I read about Tyler Brosius, the more I like. So - to sum up - lousy class on paper, quality on the field.

I have gone way overtime here. I count myself lucky if you read this far. Your reward for doing so is a nagging reminder to go vote in the Cavalier of the Year poll. No, I will not tell you who's leading, though I will say there is a surprise contender. Go vote and find out who.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

new video up

The video section is updated with the ACC championship win over TFSU. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

it's your turn now

OK. It's time to pick the FOV Cavalier of the Year. Or Co-Cavalier, if you go that route. I've done all the legwork for you. Now comes the easy part. The poll is posted. All you have to do is vote. That's it - that's the only requirement. Two simple clicks of the mouse. Of course, if you want to be a responsible voter, you might also click the mouse a couple extra times and go read the writeups on each candidate; for your convenience, there they are, right below the poll where you can't miss them. The winner gets nothing - there's no scholarship in their honor, or trophy, or anything really, although I'll probably whip up an amateurish yet nifty Photoshop or something to commemorate the occasion.

In the event of a tie, voting will run for an extra week with a runoff between the tied finalists.

There are, as you see, more than quite a few very talented athletes and scholars wearing the orange and blue of the University of Virginia. So admittedly, choosing one may actually be the hard part of this; nevertheless, 'Hoos everywhere - whether alum, student, future student, or just a diehard fan - should take a lot of pride in what these fine young men and women are doing for our school.

FOV Cavalier of the Year, #11/#12

Bleh. You're lucky I even bothered to crawl out of bed today let alone summon the energy to post something. There's much going on this weekend - one football commitment is already on the books, that being LB Ryan Cobb - but rather than spend all day trying to keep up with that, look for a few weekend review-type posts at the end of it. For now we're focused on naming our Cavalier of the Year, and maybe, just to keep my mind off, you know, things, I'll get cranking on YouTubeing some of those baseball games I've got in the hopper.

The official From Old Virginia Birthday is June 10, at which time this blog marks its first year of publication. For the birthday celebration, we - that is, me, and you the readers - will name the FOV Cavalier of the Year. My job is to pick the twelve finalists and write a few words about each that tell you all about their accomplishments. Your job is easier: to vote in the poll that will run once all twelve are finished.

Two of the finalists will be highlighted each day this week, through Saturday. They're in random order with no rhyme or reason implied or intended. Today: Tony Tchani and Paige Selenski.

Tony Tchani - Men's soccer - Midfielder

Team accomplishments:

- Made ACC tournament championship game after upsetting #1 Wake Forest
- Made second round of NCAA tournament

Personal accomplishments:

- ACC Freshman of the Year
- Second-team All-ACC
- First-team All-Region
- Led team with 9 goals despite missing eight games

Freshmen were the name of the game for the soccer team this year, and Tchani's the guy in front. He had multiple two-goal games, but his biggest goal of the nine he scored had to be the penalty kick scored near the very end of the North Carolina game, a 1-0 road win over the #12 team in the country that vaulted us into the rankings for the first time this season. You have to wonder how the postseason could have gone if Tchani's injury against Longwood (Longwood, argh) had been as mild as the CDP said it was; it wasn't, and all the prime-time scoring punch the team had was basically vaporized.

Paige Selenski - Field hockey - Midfielder

Team accomplishments:

- Spent entire season ranked in top 15 nationall
- Advanced to second round of NCAA tournament

Personal accomplishments:

- ACC Freshman of the Year
- National Rookie of the Year
- All-ACC selection
- First-team All-Region
- Participates on national U-21 field hockey team
- National Rookie of the Week for October 7
- Led team with 19 goals and 47 points; second in assists with 9

I'll be the first to admit I know squat about field hockey. But I know a little something about awesome, and National Rookie of the Year is awesome. You might have noticed a little theme in that there are quite a lot of these finalists with ACC Freshman/Rookie of the Year honors; Paige Selenski is the only one to reel in both that and national honors as well. Her national Rookie of the Week honors came after racking up four goals and three assists in two games, one of which was against the #1 team in the land. Spiffy. Like the men's soccer team, the gals here have a bright future with a lot of very good freshmen on the team, but Selenski's got not just her team, but the whole nation beat here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

FOV Cavalier of the Year, #9/#10




Mind: fried. Blogging: not easy. I was afraid of this - that I'd make a promise my nerves can't keep. The last hockey game of the year is TONIGHT and naturally, I didn't do anything at work today that could be mistaken for anything "productive" or "useful." For the sake of my sanity, pray for a Red Wings victory tonight, otherwise I will probably spend what should be a pretty exciting weekend for a UVA fan in a listless, life-is-meaningless fog. I don't even want to think about what happens if the Wings lose.

Anyway, blurb, and post.

The official From Old Virginia Birthday is June 10, at which time this blog marks its first year of publication. For the birthday celebration, we - that is, me, and you the readers - will name the FOV Cavalier of the Year. My job is to pick the twelve finalists and write a few words about each that tell you all about their accomplishments. Your job is easier: to vote in the poll that will run once all twelve are finished.

Two of the finalists will be highlighted each day this week, through Saturday. They're in random order with no rhyme or reason implied or intended. Today: Blair Weymouth and Yemi Ayeni.

Blair Weymouth - Women's lacrosse - Midfielder

Team accomplishments:

- 11-7 record
- First round of NCAA tournament

Personal accomplishments:

- Tewaaraton Trophy finalist
- Second-team IWCLA All-American
- Earned All-America honors four years in a row
- First team All-ACC
- Led team with 51 goals

Weymouth didn't actually lead her team in overall points as Danny Glading did - that honor went to Ashley McCullough - but DUDE: 51 goals. That's practically averaging a hat trick every game. And in fewer games than the men played. If that number doesn't impress the hell out of you, then I'm sorry, but you're dead.

The women, actually, did not enjoy the kind of success the men had. To be perfectly fair, though, all but one loss was to a team ranked in the top ten, including a heartbreaker against #1 Northwestern. But back to Blair Weymouth for a second here. The best women's lacrosse player ever at UVA? Maybe. Amy Appelt might have something to say, but she'd be the only one, and that's like saying, no, Sean Singletary wasn't the best basketball player, what about Ralph Sampson? Her list of accomplishments up there is impressive, but even more so when you realize she picked up most of that stuff every year she was here. 51 goals isn't even a career high. Her placement on the list of finalists here is justified enough for this year's achievements, but it wouldn't be out of line to vote for her as a sort of lifetime achievement award.

Yemi Ayeni - Men's track & field - Throws

Team accomplishments:

- Co-ACC champions (outdoor, which is what matters)

Personal accomplishments:

- Broke his own school record in shot put with 59' 9.75"
- Won discus titles at Penn Relays, ECAC/IC4A championships, and NCAA regionals
- Set ECAC/IC4A meet record at discus with 196' 7"
- Three-time All-American in discus
- Three-time ACC champion in discus
- Currently second place at NCAA championships in discus

I'm probably a little early writing this - like Danny Hultzen, Yemi Ayeni isn't done yet. He's made for himself a stellar career at UVA by being really, really good at chucking heavy objects great distances, specifically the discus, and as all those titles and records attest, is now better than anyone else this side of the Rockies at doing it, at least at the collegiate level. He stands second place in the discus throws at the NCAAs (a guy from Berkeley is first) and finishes up tomorrow. Frankly, this is also a little bit of a lifetime achievement nomination, but when the guy's been killing the competition for so long, why not? And I totally reserve the right to edit this if Ayeni brings home a national championship tomorrow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

FOV Cavalier of the Year, #7/#8

First some quick baseball links as the CWS approaches. Excited?

There are previews at the ACC Sports Journal (a UVA-only page, that one) and Baseball America (for the whole field, but very favorable indeed toward the Hoos), and a quasi-preview chat at ESPN.

Congratulations are also in order to the five Cavaliers drafted in the MLB draft this week:

- Andrew Carraway in the 12th round to the Mariners
- Jeff Lorick in the 20th round to the Braves
- Robert Poutier in the 29th round to the Padres
- Matt Packer in the 32nd round to the Indians
- Tyler Cannon in the 41st round to the Pirates

You have to figure the juniors (that's Lorick, Packer, and Cannon) will take their chances and come back for another year. Especially Packer, who would probably have gone at least twice as high if he'd been eligible last year.

OK - the standard blurb, then on to the next two finalists.

The official From Old Virginia Birthday is June 10, at which time this blog marks its first year of publication. For the birthday celebration, we - that is, me, and you the readers - will name the FOV Cavalier of the Year. My job is to pick the twelve finalists and write a few words about each that tell you all about their accomplishments. Your job is easier: to vote in the poll that will run once all twelve are finished.

Two of the finalists will be highlighted each day this week, through Saturday. They're in random order with no rhyme or reason implied or intended. Today: Matt McLean and Danny Hultzen.

Matt McLean - Men's swimming - Distance freestyle

Team accomplishments:

- 10th ACC championship in 11 years
- 9th place finish at NCAA championships (best finish ever)

Personal accomplishments:

- First swimmer in ACC history to earn ACC Championship MVP two years in a row
- Third place and All-American finish at NCAA championships in 500-yard freestyle
- Three honorable mention All-American finishes at NCAA championships
- Broke four individual and relay ACC records at championship meet

Like the women, the men also have the ACC wrapped around their pinky finger in the pool. Matt McLean and Mei Christensen bring a little bit of a different talent set to the starting blocks; Christensen is a multi-stroke star, McLean owns all the distance races. The results are the same, though: medals, and lots of 'em. Distance swimmers like to point out how many yards they swim at a meet as compared to sprinters, and it ought to be noted that McLean swam over three miles at the ACC championships and, having set records in pretty much all his events, did it faster than anyone in the ACC - ever. Having made plenty of history in the pool, he capped it off with one more bit of history: the first swimmer to earn ACC championship meet MVP two years in a row, which is impressive enough without me having to mention that he's only a sophomore. But I did anyway.

Danny Hultzen - Baseball - P/1B

Team accomplishments:

- Advanced to College World Series (and maybe later on we'll be able to say better, yes?)
- ACC champions
- Undefeated at ACC tournament and at NCAA regional
- 48 wins (and counting) is highest total in team history
- Last team in the nation to lose a game

Personal accomplishments:

- ACC Freshman of the Year
- NCBWA Freshman All-American and second team All-American
- Named to USA Baseball National Team Trials
- ACC Pitcher of the Week after striking out 13 against TFSU
- Leads team in IP with 86, ERA among eligible pitchers at 2.09, and wins with a 9-1 record
- Batting .333; perfect on 8-of-8 steal attempts

If you don't know by now that this is the best baseball season UVA has ever achieved, then you never cared much about it to begin with. And they've done it without a lot of real star power. There's no Stephen Strasburg or Dustin Ackley. That said, there will be real star power in a couple years when Danny Hultzen has grown up a bit. Even now he's the one bringing in all the honors, and there are certainly a lot of honors. But there's a bit of that Sylven Landesberg loyalty to the school, too, which is more than admirable. See, Hultzen was a draft prospect out of high school. A big-time draft prospect. Like, top five rounds. Maybe first round. He chose college instead, and went out of his way to tell major-league teams he wanted that college experience. Even then, he was taken in the 10th round. Hultzen would be a millionaire and pitching, probably, at the very least in high-A ball right now, maybe AA, had he spurned UVA, and few would blame him. Instead he's in Omaha right now, and it's a safe bet neither he nor his teammates would be if he'd gone pro out of high school.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

recruiting board update

Weekly update to the ol' recruiting board. This is where we stand before a pretty big weekend. Lot of recruits in town. Tyler Brosius broke the long commitment drought a bit early, but this is the sort of weekend where you can read that board and wonder to yourself how many more and who exactly will be in the orange section this time next week. Should be exciting.

- Added QB Tyler Brosius to orange, obviously. It's nice to finally expand that orange section a little.

- Dropped LB's Chris Smith (Arkansas commit) and Ken Wilkins (Michigan commit.)

- Moved QB's Andrew Hendrix and Sam Gibson to red. Hendrix more because we got the Tyler Brosius commit, and Gibson because he sort of, uh, committed to LSU, but maybe only sort-of committed because might still be planning to visit this weekend? If he's in Charlottesville, he'll stay where he is; otherwise, dropped at next update. Also dropped QB Robert Bolden, I'm not sure he was ever considering us seriously and it was always sort of a dartboard offer anyway.

- Added DE Andrew Tallman, who likes us ($) pending maybe some other offers, to blue.

- Added LB's Jeremiah Attaochu (gesundheit) and Henry Coley to yellow; also OG Shane Johnson.

FOV Cavalier of the Year, #5/#6

The official From Old Virginia Birthday is June 10 - that's today - at which time this blog marks its first year of publication. For the birthday celebration, we - that is, me, and you the readers - will name the FOV Cavalier of the Year. My job is to pick the twelve finalists and write a few words about each that tell you all about their accomplishments. Your job is easier: to vote in the poll that will run once all twelve are finished.

Two of the finalists will be highlighted each day this week, today through Saturday. They're in random order with no rhyme or reason implied or intended. Today: Mei Christensen and Sylven Landesberg.

Mei Christensen - Women's swimming - Backstroke/freestyle/IM

Team accomplishments:

- Repeated as ACC champions
- 12th place at NCAA meet

Personal accomplishments:

- ACC Swimmer of the Year
- ACC Championship Meet MVP
- All-ACC Academic Team
- Took six first-place finishes at ACC championship meet
- Set new conference records in 100- and 200-yard backstroke
- Set new school records in 50- and 100- yard freestyle
- Member of four conference-record-setting relays (200- and 400-yard freestyle, 200- and 400-yard medley)
- Earned All-American status with 5th-place finish in 100-yard backstroke and 6th-place finish in 200-yard backstroke at NCAA championships
- Member of All-American 400-yard medley relay
- Member of three honorable mention All-American relay teams

Swimming was my high school sport, so I admit to being a touch biased when talking about the swim teams; that said, I think the facts back me up: The men's and women's swim teams are the most dominant thing we have going here at UVA. The men's tennis and baseball teams have done some fine work, but nobody rolled the ACC like the swim teams. Not only that, but we have more All-ACC Academic swimmers than any other school, which means we have both the fastest and smartest swimmers.

And believe me - it takes high-quality depth, more so than in most other sports, to be successful at swimming. But even with the plethora of great athletes to choose from, Mei Christensen is an easy choice here as a finalist. She's got enough hardware to make Home Depot jealous and more records than U2. And she's a junior this year, which means she'll be back next year to take aim at her own records; one nice thing about being dominant in the Olympic sports is your athletes tend not to go pro after two years.

Sylven Landesberg - Men's basketball - Guard

Team accomplishments:

- Beat Maryland and VPISU
- Otherwise, sucked.

Personal accomplishments:

- ACC Rookie of the Year
- Six-time ACC Rookie of the Week
- Unanimous selection to ACC All-Freshman team
- Second-team Freshman All-American
- Led team in scoring and ACC in rookie scoring with 16.6 ppg
- Team's second-leading rebounder and assist man
- Projected as second-round choice in NBA draft

The basketball team wasn't very good. In fact, it was lousy. Let's just get that out of the way now. That said, Sylven Landesberg was very good, and also, whatever you consider to be the exact diametric opposite of lousy. Landesberg singlehandedly brought a measure of respectability to an otherwise undertalented, inexperienced, and occasionally dysfunctional outfit. But maybe Cavalier of the Year isn't earned only on the field of play (or court, or pool, or whatever); Landesberg was generally considered nearly NBA-ready, and a strong set of pre-draft workouts could have vaulted him into the first round where the guaranteed money is. Despite that, as well as the firing of the coach that recruited him, Landesberg will be back next year, never a guarantee in basketball circles. He was the conference's best and one of the nation's top freshmen - next year, he'll look to take his place among the country's elite.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

FOV Cavalier of the Year, #3/#4

The official From Old Virginia Birthday is June 10, at which time this blog marks its first year of publication. For the birthday celebration, we - that is, me, and you the readers - will name the FOV Cavalier of the Year. My job is to pick the twelve finalists and write a few words about each that tell you all about their accomplishments. Your job is easier: to vote in the poll that will run once all twelve are finished.

Two of the finalists will be highlighted each day this week, today through Saturday. They're in random order with no rhyme or reason implied or intended. Today: Eugene Monroe and Dominic Inglot/Michael Shabaz.

Eugene Monroe - Football - Left tackle

Team accomplishments:

- Beat two ranked ACC teams, and Maryland by 31.
- Um.....that's about it.

Personal accomplishments:

- Selected 8th overall in the NFL draft.
- Winner of ACC's Jacobs Blocking Trophy as league's best blocker.
- First-team all-ACC selection with third-most votes overall.
- ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week following win over ECU.

It's pretty clear by the inclusion of team accomplishments in these lists that I sort of intend them to be taken into account in the voting, and the football team is one of the few UVA teams that had a lousy year. That said, it's not as if there weren't bright spots, and Eugene Monroe was the brightest. He established himself as the ACC's premier offensive lineman and one of the clear best in the country, rewarded for a fine season with an invite to sit in the green room at the NFL Draft and come out on stage to pose with the commish when his name was called with the 8th overall pick. He was the third ACC player taken, but the second one taken that nobody said "WTF???" after. He came to UVA as a top-ten prospect nationally and left the same way - the only one in that group that can claim that.

Dominic Inglot/Michael Shabaz - Men's tennis - Doubles

Team accomplishments:

- Third consecutive ACC championship
- Won NCAA regional
- Made NCAA quarterfinals
- Undefeated regular season
- Extended streak of consecutive matches won against ACC to 45

Personal accomplishments:

- Won national doubles championship
- That's "National. Championship."
- Defeated #1 pairing in the nation in the first round of NCAA doubles tournament
- Won 10 of 13 sets in NCAA doubles tournament
- 41-8 record as a doubles pairing

Unlike yesterday's women's basketball pairing, Inglot and Shabaz are here specifically as a pair. When you bring home a national championship, I don't care if it is in an under-the-radar sport like tennis, finalist status for CotY is guaranteed. Even had they lost every single other point they played all year. But they didn't, mind you - they won an incredible 84% of their matches, finished the year as the #1 doubles pairing after starting off as #2, and roared through an NCAA field (playing three higher-seeded pairings on the way) to bring home the only national championship that UVA has seen this season. (So far. Keeping my fingers crossed for the baseball team.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

the recruit: Tyler Brosius

Name: Tyler Brosius
Position: QB
Hometown: Waynesville, NC
High school: Tuscola Senior
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 232

ESPN: 77, #43 QB
Rivals: three stars, 5.7, #24 pro-style QB
Scout: three stars, #64 QB

Surprise! Next weekend was supposed to be the one we're being patient for, as it's going to be "Future Wahoo Day", at which Al Groh puts advertising execs through their paces in order to find the best one to replace the name "Future Wahoo Day." And hosts a bunch of football recruits, too. But the coaches had a few guys around this weekend too, and one of them was Tyler Brosius.

Brosius has been on the very edge of our radar screen, far enough off that I didn't have him on the recruiting board; his recruitment didn't pick up nationally until late, and by the end of April he still had only one I-A offer, from Central Florida. Dude doesn't even have a thread on Recruiting Planet. Waynesville is kind of in the sticks though (actually, scratch that, Waynesville is the sticks) so sometimes it takes a while for the secret to get out. But things got hot in May and were probably going to get hotter very soon. He's now got offers from Pitt and Maryland and looks as though he was just about to get one from NC State; his commitment here will put a stopper in the flow but it's a safe bet there were more on the way if he'd held out through the summer. This weekend, though, Brosius got his look at the Grounds, went WHOA!, went home offer in hand, and decided he didn't need to see anything else. That's pretty similar to my process, actually, except the admission letter was like eighteen months later and it wasn't to play football. Or any sport. Or give me any money.

The recruiting services are all in pretty close agreement as to his rankings, and they have lots of video. A solid three stars all around - 5.7 is a medium-high three star as Rivals has it, and ESPN's 77 equates to about that too. They have a full sophomore and junior year to go off of so unless Brosius totally explodes this coming season, it'll stay that way.

Regardless of whether Brosius turns into Matt Schaub or not, though, this commitment tells us one thing loud and clear. Any notion that the arrival of Gregg Brandon meant we'd be leaning much more heavily toward mobile running types under center took a little bit of a hit when we started recruiting Andrew Hendrix heavily and is now totally shattered with the Brosius commitment. The guy's 230 pounds, alright, and quite possibly still growing. Mobility is not his strong suit. However, Brandon is not the head coach, Al Groh is, and Groh has never been shy about playing whatever quarterback he thinks is the best and working the scheme around that instead of the other way round.

I'm sure we're not done taking quarterbacks. One more is probably on the way sometime this year. The depth chart now says five scholarship guys will be on the roster in 2010, but two of them (Smalls and Hunter) are fair candidates to get moved somewhere and it's probably a safe bet that at least one of them will. I'm still a big Kevin Parks fan, and ESPN has this to say about Brosius: "Good prospect that has somewhat of an 'it' factor." "It" is the #1 trait that a quarterback needs; it is also #2, #3, #4, and part of #5. Height and arm strength and speed and all that shit come way later. It's also a judgment you can't make til you watch, so I will call myself cautiously excited here and hope very much ESPN has it right. Put these two together and I very much like how the class shapes up so far, even if it's small.

Speaking of Parks, I've updated his "recruit" post to reflect the ratings that came out in May; you can check that out here.

FOV Cavalier of the Year, #1/#2

The official From Old Virginia Birthday is June 10, at which time this blog marks its first year of publication. For the birthday celebration, we - that is, me, and you the readers - will name the FOV Cavalier of the Year. My job is to pick the twelve finalists and write a few words about each that tell you all about their accomplishments. Your job is easier: to vote in the poll that will run once all twelve are finished.

Two of the finalists will be highlighted each day this week, today through Saturday. They're in random order with no rhyme or reason implied or intended. Today: Danny Glading and Monica Wright/Lyndra Littles.

Danny Glading - Men's lacrosse - Attackman

Team accomplishments:

- Final record: 15-3
- Reeled off 12 straight wins to start the season
- Made NCAA Final Four in Foxborough, MA
- Defeated #1 Syracuse at Syracuse
- Won longest game in NCAA D-I history: 7 OT against Maryland

Personal accomplishments:

- Led team in points with 63: 32 goals, 31 assists
- 5th overall pick in the Major League Lacrosse draft
- Tewaaraton Trophy and Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist
- Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Player of the Year
- 3-time All-ACC selection
- First-team USILA All-American

Glading was the point man on the country's most potent offense; UVA led the nation in points and Glading led UVA. Simply put, part of what makes UVA lacrosse UVA lacrosse is the presence of that dominant player that every opponent game-plans for. We had Ben Rubeor, and Matt Ward before that; this year, that's Danny Glading. It's a proud tradition.

Monica Wright/Lyndra Littles - Women's basketball - Guard/forward

Team accomplishments:

- Record: 24-10
- Second round of NCAA tournament
- Wins included upsets of #5 Tennessee and #8 Maryland; also undefeated against VT
- Winner of Mariott Cavalier Classic

Personal accomplishments (Wright):

- Led team in scoring with 20.5 PPG
- All-tournament team at Mariott Cavalier Classic and WBCA Classic
- VaSID Co-Player of the Year
- Wade Trophy finalist
- Appeared on Wooden Award ballot
- All-ACC first team
- ACC Player of the Week for November 24

Personal accomplishments (Littles):

- Team's second-leading scorer and rebounder with 19.9 ppg and 6.4 rpg
- Taken 17th overall in the WNBA draft (2nd round)
- Mariott Cavalier Classic MVP
- Two-time ACC Player of the Week
- All-ACC first team

There are quite a few UVA sports I don't follow regularly, except to take note, applaud, and do a little scoreboard watching when they're doing something really good. Nobody has time to be a fanatic of everything up to and including wrestling, volleyball, and indoor track. Women's basketball happens to be the most readily available and most follow-able of these, I must admit. So if there's a difference in the impact these two made that you can't tell without watching - like, say, a noticeable lack of whatever while Littles was out with injury - then yes, I missed it. That said, even if you'd never heard of "women" let alone "basketball" and you looked down the stat sheet, you'd have no trouble figuring out that this year was the Wright & Littles Show. Or Littles & Wright Show. Having spent the better part of an hour trying to find a good reason to make this about one and not the other, I took the path of least resistance and made it about both. On the one hand, Wright scored 35 to lead the upset against Tennessee; on the other, the absence of Littles was a big factor in losing to Gonzaga. Against Maryland: 30 points and 28 points. First round of the NCAA tournament: 13 each. How do you separate the two? You don't. So here they are, one of two tandems to be FOV CotY finalists.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

making history is so much fun

I got back in from my class reunion exactly in time to see the first pitch of today's game, or I would have if UNC-ECU hadn't been finishing up. Seriously - I turned on the TV and the TiVo was in the process of changing the channel to start the recording. So that's some quality timing.

I bet you want to hear all about the reunion weekend, by the way. I just bet you do, and it's my blog and I've already said I reserve the right to go off on a tangent once in a great while. So a couple words. I found that it was a lot like showing up at the beginning of the fall semester every year, in that you think you know your way around but you need to adjust your paths for whatever new construction is blocking a thoroughfare somewhere. Those construction walls never get taken down, they just move. As I mentioned before it was the first time back on Grounds in a solid four years. I like to keep up with the ongoing projects in the report that comes out once a quarter, so it came as no surprise that various parking lots now had buildings in them; still, little surprises show up all the time ("hey, they actually bothered to get rid of the concrete steps that nobody ever uses on the back pathway to the A-school") and eventually you start noticing enough changes that it comes as a small surprise that there are still things that are the same ("oh look, the Teeter's still there.") A good time was had, in any event. The only complaint about the schedule is that there are so many school lunches and class dinners and stuff that it's nigh-impossible to eat at all the old hangouts you intend to hit up; still, I managed to get to the Italian Villa and Littlejohn's, which still does much of its best business at 2:30 in the morning. All in all a very reminiscent sort of weekend; I even got a parking ticket, just for old time's sake - four years of run-ins with (Anti)Parking & Transportation were obviously not enough. (For the record, PTS was ticketing all sorts of folks they weren't supposed to - I was not the first person going back to Alumni Hall with one after parking in a spot we were told was kosher - and the reunion organizers had to have a chat with some folks. SHOCKING, I know.)

If I have one complaint it's that you could fit all the Class of '04 attendees on one sheet of paper, and I know because they handed out a list, and if I have two, it's that my rental car was a Toyota with a Maryland license plate, which is pretty close to the most offensive thing you could give a Detroiter and UVA grad.

So, the baseball games. Clearly I'm not the only 'Hoo who had a good weekend - Brian O'Connor and his boys have been enjoying it too. GOING TO OMAHA! For the first time in history! It's more than we could have asked for out of this year, but that won't stop me from getting greedy. For my money, the players of the weekend are the newly resurgent Matt Packer, who pitched in all three games and did not allow an earned run; and Franco Valdes, who is clutch as hell - Valdes had an RBI in all three games, including the tying run in Game 2 and the go-ahead in Game 3. Ole Miss must feel like the baseball gods are against them, with all the difficulties they've had in the super regionals lately. I myself got that impression when Danny Hultzen snared a liner that had triple written all over it, which he was only able to get because he was holding a runner on first, and then fell onto the base for the double play. That's a rally-killer and worse, a spirit-crusher, and the game was about over at that point.

For the uninitiated, the College World Series is basically the first two rounds of the tournament, redux: two four-team double-elimination brackets with the winners playing a best-of-three. We have LSU first, but think of this as a regional with us, LSU, Fullerton, and Arkansas. LSU's flying just as high as we are - they haven't lost since the first game of the SEC tournament, and they eventually won said tournament. ACC champs vs. SEC champs. It's for conference supremacy.

A final word; this week, June 10 to be precise, From Old Virginia celebrates its first birthday. Yay! There will be no birthday cake, funny hats, or streamers. Boo! There will be presents, however. A present, actually, though it's just for fun and no actual trophy or benefit or any such thing exists in the physical sense. This week, each day I'll highlight two of our athletes (or in certain cases, pairs of athletes) that have had exceptional performances this year. It's worth being reminded that the money sports may not have had the best seasons, but there have been a lot of accolades handed down to our teams and players that are worth noticing and applauding. At the end of the week on Saturday, I'll post a poll, and you spend the next week voting on which of our athletes should be the FOV Cavalier of the Year. Here is a preview of the twelve I've chosen:

Baseball - Danny Hultzen
Men's basketball - Sylven Landesberg
Football - Eugene Monroe
Men's lacrosse - Danny Glading
Men's soccer - Tony Tchani
Men's swimming - Matt McLean
Men's tennis - Dominic Inglot/Michael Shabaz
Men's track & field - Yemi Ayeni
Women's basketball - Monica Wright/Lyndra Littles
Field hockey - Paige Solenski
Women's lacrosse - Blair Weymouth
Women's swimming - Mei Christensen

They'll appear two per day, paired randomly, with a blurb detailing their accomplishments, honors, achievements, and so forth. Enjoy!