Monday, January 10, 2011

now what?

The weekend brought two pretty significant clarifiers to the next two months of basketball. First, a loss to UNC that could easily have been a win, and second, the thoroughly unsurprising news that Mike Scott will undergo surgery and seek a medical redshirt.

Scott's news is barely even news, really. The longer he was out the more likely it became that he and the operating table would enter the ring for round two. It did come as a surprise that UVA held an 11-point lead in the second half against UNC. We learned that if we'd had Mike Scott, and if the refs ever called UNC for the moving screens and over-the-backs they commit, and if our guys really gut up and play nasty defense, and if they hit shots, and if they have a good, sold-out crowd at their back, they can almost win a game against a really good team.

Which naturally is a useless lesson on a team consisting of freshmen and Mustapha Farrakhan. I promise you there will be at least one game later this season where the team looks they have no idea why someone hung an iron circle over the pretty wooden playground, and they'll try to knock it right off its pegs. But it's nice, at least, to know what they're capable of when they play defense.

I do feel pretty confident in saying that would have been a win with Mike Scott. Once UNC figured out what we were up to on offense, they were able to use their superior athleticism to harass our guards on the perimeter and effectively put a stop to it. Hell, simply having Scott's five fouls would have been a plus; our bigs shuffled in and out all day with foul trouble. Will Regan and Akil Mitchell simply don't have the strength to consistently nullify the height disadvantage they had, and Will Sherrill is a gimp. (His effort in this game, and probably the rest of the games going forward, should not be overlooked. I refuse to go the the gym for an hour if my muscles are too damn sore from the day before; Sherrill's leg bone still isn't all in one proper piece and he goes diving onto the floor for loose balls. Then he asks to come out of the game because his tibia just bit him in the shin and gimps right back in a minute later because someone picked up a fourth foul.) Given these obstacles, the quality of defense played on the interior was astoundingly good. Regan and Mitchell are in for a baptism by fire these next two months, but that was a good start and matchup-wise they won't have it much rougher than that going forward.

The goal for the season, simply put, should be a winning record, for which we'll need to go 6-8 the rest of the way. Easily done if Mike Scott was in the lineup; a scratch-and-claw battle without. The lesson from UNC is that continuing to play like that will probably make it happen; the lesson from last season is there's no telling how many times we'll see it.


A quick recruiting board update is in order, with two removals due to commitments: QB Gary Nova to Rutgers and WR Demetri Knowles to Tech. Knowles is blazing fast, and the UVA staff probably would have accepted his commitment in the summer when UVA was his only offer, but he dawdled. It became clear as time went on that guys like Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell were keeping UVA in their minds, and the class started filling up for serious, so the bus left the station. When's the last time Tech was picking up UVA's leftovers and not the other way round?

A 2012 recruiting board is in the works and should debut soonish.

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