January 29, 2015

New Role for Sborz

Great read from Jeff White today on Josh Sborz's movement to the closer role, a move this blog has been hoping to see since he arrived on Grounds two seasons ago. Sborz is potentially the next in a long line of dominant closers at UVA, following Nick Howard, Kyle Crockett, and Branden Kline in this new breed of converted starters. Sborz has absolutely lights out stuff and should slide right into this role perfectly. It also opens a slot in the weekend rotation for Connor Jones or potentially Jack Roberts.

Two weeks until opening day!




January 19, 2015

What If JA Goes Pro?

Anonymous question from the comments section of my previous post:

Love it Kendall. One question about item 3 above:

3) As good as we are, this season isn't even our best crack at a national championship. NEXT SEASON is when we'll have the real Virginia Basketball Juggernaut on our hands.

What if JA goes pro?



Okay, so WHAT IF Justin Anderson goes pro?  We'd be losing a lot, no doubt.  Our [current] leading scorer.  Our best pure athlete.  A plus-plus defender.  Our [current] best perimeter shooter.  That's a lot to lose.

Full disclosure: I expect Justin to go pro after this season.  Why would he stay, other than to get a crack at a national championship (if we don't win it this season)?  His current NBA stock is solidly in the first round, which is guaranteed contract territory.  If that status holds, he'd be a dummy to not make the jump to the Association.  So I am assuming he will go pro.

And I still think that next season is our year, even without Justin Anderson.

Here's why.

PG) London Perrantes -- In his third year as the unquestioned starter, full command of the offense, further exploring his offensive game.  There won't be a better point guard in the ACC... or in the nation, given the full context of what a team really needs from its point guard and how much benefit an experienced point guard brings to Bennett's systems.

SG) Malcolm Brogdon -- Brog will be a 5th year senior in 2015-16, a true grown-ass man playing against boys.  With Justin gone, Brog will be the focal point of our offense, our superstar, the guy at the center of the poster.

As good as Anderson has been, I still think Brogdon is our best player.
See also: the BC game.

SF) Marial Shayok -- This is me, going on record, saying that the drop-off from Justin Anderson to Marial Shayok will be miniscule.  Shayok doesn't have the size and isn't the athlete that Justin is, but he's every bit the shooter/scorer, and might even end up being a better perimeter defender in the packline system.  Seriously.  Super Marial doesn't jump out of the gym and he isn't a 6-6, 230-pound freight train, but he's already got all of the skill and polish that Anderson had to work three seasons to obtain.

PF) Anthony Gill -- Stud.  Like Brog, he'll also be a 5th year senior, and will bring all of the craftiness and physical development that only time can give a man.  Brog'll be the focal point of the offense, option #1... but Gill will be option 1a.  Plus, he should be an even better defender and free throw shooter than he is now.

Best UVA big since... Mike Scott? Travis Watson? Norman Nolan? Junior Burrough?

C) Mike Tobey -- The position, and all of the playing time, will belong to Tobes in his senior season.  No team in America will be able to boast this much experience - or skill - in its starting frontcourt.

~~~ Off the Bench ~~~

Here's where I expect to see the real improvement from 2014-15 to 2015-16.

6th Man) Darius Thompson -- Mark my words.  Like Gill in 2013-14, Thompson will be a revelation to Hoofans in 2015-16, after his transfer redshirt has been served.  He's the kind of guard who you bring into the game to catalyze the action.  He's a defensive disruptor and a slashing scorer.  I think Thompson will prove to be a more dynamic 6th man than what we currently have in Shayok/Tobey.  I know, big statement.

If you're not already excited about DT...
you should be.

7th Man) Isaiah Wilkins -- Tony Bennett's staff is at its best when it's developing bigs.  Expect to see HUGE improvement from Wilkins from this season to next.

4th Guard) Devon Hall -- Good handle, can score, solid defense, should be able to provide some quality minutes in the deep rotation.

4th Big) Jack Salt -- Big banger should be ready for some minutes as a redshirt freshman.

X-Factor) Evan Nolte -- His shot will start falling eventually... right?



So to summarize, I think we'll be better next season, even without Justin Anderson, BECAUSE we'll be bringing back three starters, and seven of our top nine players, plus adding Darius Thompson and Jack Salt (and maybe Jarred Reuter - if he doesn't redshirt) to the mix.  We'll have two 5th year seniors at the heart of the squad.  We'll have a point guard who has survived and excelled through two full seasons of the ACC grind.  Marial Shayok will be better as a starter (with starter's minutes and the associated ability to get into a rhythm and the flow of the game).  We'll have depth everywhere.  We'll have the confidence born from having two highly successful seasons behind us.  The defense will be rugged, with by far the most experienced Virginia team playing it.  The offense will be balanced and dynamic.  The five fingers will be formed into a fist, and this "great fighting" Rocky Balboa might become an Apollo Creed-style great fighter.

I guess we'll see.  Justin would be a huge loss, I'm not trying to spin it any other way.  And we'll miss Darion Atkins, too.  I just think that those vacated minutes will be going to highly qualified applicants, while the supporting cast will be another season bigger, stronger, smarter, and better.

But up first is the remainder of the 2014-15 season.

GO HOOS!



January 16, 2015

Basketball Links

All along, my goal for Wahooze was to give you something you couldn't find anywhere else.  That only partially explains my lack of posting about basketball to this point in the season.  I mean, we're a freaking juggernaut now.  #2 in the nation.  Legit national championship contenders.  In basketball.  Wow.  Because of that, there's a lot more out there being written about the Hardwood Hoos... and lot fewer angles for me to hit here on Wahooze.

Yeah, so my goal is to give you something you couldn't find anywhere else.  Failing that, I at least want to point you toward articles that I found to be especially good.  That's all I'm doing today, while still plotting course on my big blowout basketball post for January 2015. In the meantime...


Pack-Line Progeny: How Tony Bennett Used His Father’s System to Turn Virginia Into an Undefeated Defensive Powerhouse


Patience, practice propelled Justin Anderson to starring role at Virginia


Titus’s Top 12 NCAA Power Rankings: Virginia Is Playing Near-Perfect Old-School Basketball
Really, you should be reading Titus weekly.  He's BY FAR my favorite college basketball writer.





Okay, here's a quickie Wahooze exclusive, that special sauce you can't taste anywhere else...

Why I think we might be a legit Final Four (and national championship) contender:
It's not the defense.  It's not the offensive efficiency.  It's not any specific player or any specific system or any specific scheme.  It's confidence.  This team, these 2015 Hardwood Hoos, are a confident bunch.  They believe in what they're dong, they trust one another, and they have confidence that they will succeed.  Last season's team was awesome... but I never got a sense that they were all that confident.  This year's team is totally different in that regard.  Oh, and the other teams in college basketball (other than Kentucky) are just not all that good.  The field is a bit watered down in 2015.  So confidence plus lack of competition equals a deep run in March.  But there's a flip side to that coin.

Why I'm not so sure that we are legit Final Four (and national championship) contenders:
Penetrating, drive-and-dish guards kill us.  We haven't been good defending the pick and pop.  Our defense hasn't quite been up to the standards set forth by past teams, and we really miss Akil Mitchell.  Odds are good that, in the NCAA Tournament, we'll come up against a team with a guard like Miami's Angel Rodriguez who can split the perimeter defenders and drive to the hoop, and we'll be forced to try to win a shootout.  If we're not hitting our 3s, we could lose said shootout.  Every team has an achilles heel, and this is ours.

All of that being said, I want to go on record saying three things:
1) If Virginia faces Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, Virginia is going to win that game.
2) Virginia matchup or no, Kentucky will not win the 2015 NCAA Tournament.  (If you let me bet Kentucky vs. "the field," I'd take the field, and I'd take it with great confidence.  I guess this is all to say that I do not quite buy all of the hype surrounding this Kentucky team.)
3) As good as we are, this season isn't even our best crack at a national championship.  NEXT SEASON is when we'll have the real Virginia Basketball Juggernaut on our hands.



January 5, 2015

Predictions for 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Wahooze Nation!

Look, I know you want more from me. I know you need more from me. I'll do my best to accommodate.


To get the year kicked off right, here are my predictions for 2015...



Winter...

UVA Basketball maintains top-10 status, despite dropping a few toughies in conference play. We end up tying Duke for the regular season title at 15-3. In the ACC Tournament, we lose a heartbreaker to Louisville in the semis. We end up getting boned by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, as they nail us with a 3-seed when we clearly deserve a 2. However, we ride that 3-seed to the Sweet Sixteen without really working up a sweat. Once there, we top 2-seed Arizona via a key London Perrantes three inside the last minute. Then we run 4-seed Utah (who upset 1-seed Villanova) out of the building to advance to the Final Four. Malcolm Brogdon is named Most Valuable Player of the Regional, and Justin Anderson finishes 4th in voting for the Naismith Player of the Year award. We play Kentucky extremely tough before bowing out in the Final Four, a game shy of the championship game. Kentucky goes on to crush Wisconsin, and our Final Four game against the Wildcats ends up being - by far - the toughest test they face in their run to the National Championship.

Swish, motherfucker.

Meanwhile, the ladies make the NCAAT after a surprising 10-8 record in the ACC. They lose in the second round, but Coach Boyle's program appears to have finally turned the corner.


Spring...

Typical ho-hum season for Virginia Baseball. 45+ regular season wins and a national seed. We breeze through the Charlottesville Regional, 3-0. Then we top some shitbag SEC team 2-1 in the CVille Super Regional. College World Series, our stellar pitching guns us to a 2-0 start, but we drop the third game (to a shitbag SEC team), then rally to win and advance to the Final Series, against... ugh... Vanderbilt. The Commodores win a pair of 4-2 games to win the National Championship, and the Hoos appear stuck on a [very high] plateau.

Time for the yearly dogpile.

UVA Lacrosse plays better in 2015 than they have the last two years, and grit their way to the NCAA Tournament semifinals, where they lose to Duke or Maryland or some similar team we friggin hate. Still, a nice improvement for Dom Starsia's squad after a few seasons of struggle.

Craig Littlepage announces his retirement at the end of the athletic season. Hoofans rejoice nervously, with a stinkeye focused on Jon Oliver (who is hovering around, hoping for a promotion)...

Adios.


Summer...

Virginia shocks the world by FINALLY doing the right thing and unceremoniously kicking Jon Oliver to the curb, then dumping a pile of cash on Kansas State's John Currie to take over as Athletic Director. One of Currie's first acts as UVA's new AD is to pluck Derek Dooley from the Cowboys to step in and serve as Virginia's Associate AD for Football Operations. I celebrate all of this by drinking gallons of bourbon and Shock Top. Literally, gallons. Gallons.

Jon Oliver surfaces at Boise State in some sort of meaningless administrative role. Or maybe scrubbing toilets.

Meanwhile, Virginia Football works through a quiet training camp. Reports indicate that Greyson Lambert has strongly taken the reins of leadership and has really turned the corner. We all take it with a giant grain of salt. Football recruiting, meanwhile, is in the crapper. We stand at just 7 commitments for the 2016 class, and our recruiting ranking for the cycle dips to outside the top 50. These struggles do not go unnoticed, as the Mike London sycophants slowly begin to realize that Year Two of a Dead Man Walking as our head football coach kinda sucks.



Justin Anderson goes pro and is taken at #25 overall... by the San Antonio Spurs.

Oh, and men's tennis wins a national championship somewhere in there, too. Whenever tennis season is.


Fall...

Virginia Football goes 4-8, but looks pretty good at times. The obnoxiously difficult schedule dooms us. Average attendance dips to below 35,000 per game, and the downturn in recruiting dooms the head coach. Mike London finally, mercifully, is fired.



One of either men's or women's soccer wins a national championship. Maybe neither. Maybe both. In semi-related news, Virginia's Twiddly Winks team finishes as national runner-up, and our Midget-Tossing squad sees their run end in the national semifinals.

Currie orchestrates an expert head football coaching search, and reels in Mark Hudspeth from Louisiana-Lafayette. Houston's Tom Herman and Tulsa's Philip Montgomery finish tied in runner-up status. We surprise many by handing Huddy a handsome $3.2 mil / season contract, flexing nuts with our deep pockets that nobody thought we had.

Mother-fuckin Mark Hudspeth, y'all.


Winter...

Despite losing Justin Anderson, Virginia Basketball opens the season ranked in the top five, and looks every bit like a serious national championship contender. Darius Thompson is a surprise stud, and Marial Shayok takes over the 3, set for a run as a three-year starter on the wing. London Perrantes, Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, and Mike Tobey form the veteran nucleus of a team that nobody is surprised to see playing at a super-elite level.




What do you guys think? Any predictions for 2015?



HAPPY NEW YEAR, Hoofans!


December 28, 2014

Carousel Update

Hope y'all are having a nice holiday. Not to dump a lump of coal in your stocking but I thought we should take a minute to review what could have been for UVA football in a coaching search. Kendall did a beautiful job assembling a massive list of coaching candidates, but I've narrowed this down to 11 that I think realistically would have considered and potentially come to Virginia considering where they ended up. Additionally it will highlight some guys that are still out there we may be able to get our hands on after maybe next season, though who really knows with this administration.

Pat Narduzzi-Pittsburgh
In terms of winning right away, I thought Narduzzi would have been the best hire we could have made. Narduzzi was hired to replace Paul Chryst at Pitt and I think is going to do a great job up there. Complete no nonsense guy who can make a great defense out of scraps, which is what Pitt has at this point. With a returning QB and that James Conner guy still mauling people at running back, I think Pitt is going to get better next season with Narduzzi.

Chad Morris-SMU
Honestly I doubt UVA was ever really going to have a chance with Morris if he wanted to get back to Texas badly enough to take the SMU job, best of luck coach.

Mike Bobo-Colorado State
After losing Jim McElwain to Florida CSU went back to the SEC well with Georgia. Bobo probably wouldn't have lit up this fanbase, but he certainly knows how to win. CSU also does a great job as a stepping stone getting a nice date with Florida and a massive buyout for McElwain. Considering the Penn State rumors after the peach bowl season, this could explain why London's buyout was so huge too.

Tom Herman-Houston
My guess is Houston gets Braxton Miller with this one too. Nice package. I really liked Herman for the UVA job based on his intelligence and pedigree. If he can recruit athletes well enough (he'll be competing with Morris at SMU for second tier Texas kids.) I think he'll have a lot of success. Who knows if we keep treading water with London long enough maybe he can make the list part X.

Phil Montgomery-Tulsa
Total fartsound. The fact that Tulsa, SMU, and Houston are all going to have high flying offenses and we have another season of read "options" and bubble screens is just infuriating. Montgomery is known as a very quiet guy, but shockingly I can't imagine UVA is all that much louder than Tulsa. What in the world has happened here.

Still Available!
Luckily we still have the following guys available ranked based on my preference:
1. Mark Hudspeth
2. Matt Wells
3. Pete Lembo!
4. Rhett Lashlee
5. Scott Frost

Frost, Wells, and Lashlee all apparently were offered interviews for Tulsa. Hudspeth is still my top choice, but he is going to cost a fortune. Hopefully the ACC TV money can make that happen for us. My top priority still is getting a coach in here who has built a program before, however if we get a hotshot young OC from a big time program, I would be ok with that too.

So we missed out on some big guys, but there are still plenty left. THERE IS STILL TIME CRAIG!!!!!!