Monday, January 24, 2011

weekend review

So, two things happened this weekend: basketball and recruiting. At the same time, too, what with all the prospects being in attendance at the game. First, hoops:

It bugs me when we control a game pretty well and the score doesn't really reflect it. So I guess you should take it with a grain of salt when I say I wish Will Sherrill had taken the layup that he was handed at the end. I mean, I certainly don't fault him for passing to a teammate to try and run the clock to the end, though the execution could definitely have been better: Sherrill was so surprised to be in his own zip code under the basket that he heaved the ball out of bounds in an attempt to pass to the first teammate he saw. I totally get that you don't want to run up the score, but GT was pressing with the shot clock off. If they want to play ball, play ball. I was even less impressed with Tech's Maurice Miller, throwing down an emphatic slam dunk that did nothing but pump up his own stats when nobody else was bothering to give a shit. Trashy.

Anyway, it's nice to see what you can do with shooters. It's not that uncommon to see a team shoot better from three than they do from two; at one point late in the game UVA was shooting better from the three-point line than the free-throw line. Tony Bennett's push to get some big-league shooters is paying off.

Bullet thoughts:

- We have very underrated point guards. The offense is obviously better when Jontel Evans is in the game. People look at his shooting percentage and conclude he's hurting the team; nothing could be further from the truth. Defenses still go oh-shit when he drives; they collapse, he kicks. He makes an outstanding kick-out pass. Sammy Zeglinski doesn't run the offense quite as well, but he does make timely shots. Both play very good defense. Jontel really is the bulldog he's reputed to be. Even with 2.5 seconds left in the half and forty feet from the basket. He'll learn timing.

Criticisms: Sammy needs more of a sense of urgency. Too many of his misses come with a second left on the shot clock. He's running the offense, he's the one that needs to avoid that situation. And Jontel: when you have the ball outside the arc and the closest defensive player is five feet away and standing behind your own teammate, that is when you are supposed to shoot. That guy didn't even care if Jontel shot or not. Time to shoot.

- I didn't mind the double-technical on Jontel and Maurice Miller. First and foremost the refs have to keep the game under control, and you could see why they felt like it might be slipping away. It's not like Jontel was asking Miller about the weather on the way down the court. Fine, slap 'em both with T's and lo, the chippiness was over for the most part. (Except for Miller's silly dunk.)

- I don't know who's playing basketball in Mustapha Farrakhan's uniform, but I like it. The guy's got the same quickness and athleticism as Mu, but he's more assertive and - get this - way more consistent. All of a sudden the pendulum has come to a stop, and the result is a guy filling the Mike Scott leadership void on the court. I hope what we've seen from Mu in the last couple weeks lasts the season and we don't go back to shooting 1-for-12.

- The other player due for major accolades on his improvement is Assane Sene. He still looks suprised when someone passes to him down low, but he doesn't drop it (much) any more, and he's developed a finishing touch. And he's really hustling. If this improvement trajectory continues, ours will be among the best frontcourts in the ACC next year with Mike Scott, an improved Sene, a redshirted James Johnson, and a developing Akil Mitchell and Will Regan. The latter two have also shown noticeable improvement as the season goes on.

- Now if only anyone else could finish a layup.

- The next two games worry me. Maryland always worries me. I don't know what to make of their season so far, and Gary Williams always has his team ready to play. Two days later we'll be visiting Wake Forest with less than 48 hours of preparation, while Wake has the whole week to get ready for our visit. That's a dastardly setup and it's how you become the only number in the win column of a horrible team.


Now for the recruiting. With three of the remaining four targets in town, and the other (Darius Jennings) having finished his visits, everyone was hoping for maybe a commitment to happen this weekend. And it did! And LOL SUPRIZE it's not exactly what you thought, is it?

The newest addition to the list is safety Mason Thomas, whose body is made of the same stuff they used to build the F-117. Other team's coaches and quarterbacks are gonna be really surprised when the ball magically stops short of what they thought was a wide-open receiver and starts floating back toward the other end zone all by itself. Woooooo it'll be voodoo magic. No, it'll be our invisible safety, Mason Thomas.

There are two things to read into this:

- One, even though Thomas is basically a I-AA player according to the scouting services and his offer list, the coaches must reeeeeeeeeally like him. They didn't bother re-recruiting Nick Menocal even though he flipped from Miami to Georgia Tech this weekend. They haven't gone back to Ryan Malleck even though he's like thisclose to decommitting from Maryland AND we lost this class's tight end (Darius Redman.) They told Cormac Craigie there's no room. And yet Mason Thomas gets his offer on Sunday, and the coaches did it knowing full well he'd commit.

- Two, a few more shoes are likely to drop. Thomas's commitment gives us room for two more in the class. We have 25, we can fit 27 because of the two early enrollments. You can't fit four guys into two slots, and Curtis Grant is likely to be the last one to decide: there is no way the coaches squeeze him out of the class. And the Scout folks think both Dominique Terrell and Darius Jennings will be 'Hoos.

So there's probably decommitment and/or prep news we haven't heard yet, but that the coaches know. It's recruiting silly season, after all. Maybe Jordan Lomax commits to Iowa, since that's where he is right now. Maybe Kyrrel Latimer isn't getting it done in the grades department at Fork Union. Maybe there's another prep candidate, like (please say it ain't so) Clifton Richardson. Maybe there's a thunderbolt coming from the blue. It's UVA, there always is.

I will tell you what, though: I think we'll be some happy campers come Signing Day.

Anyway, this necessitates a recruiting board update. And no more green or yellow positions. Everyone is basically either A Top Target or Not A Target, and the red players are now there mostly as a reminder of what was. I don't think we'll take anyone who's not in the blue now. Of course, I also thought that before I'd ever heard of Mason Thomas. So. Changes:

- Added S Mason Thomas to orange.

- Moved CB Jeremiah Hendy from green to blue.

- Moved RB Nyjee Fleming and WR Timmy Keith from yellow to red.

- Removed TE Rory Anderson, who committed to South Carolina.

Depth chart changes coming when I feel like it. 2012 recruiting board coming....tomorrow!

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