June 29, 2010

2010 Football Schedule, Part I


 

 
A year ago, as one of my first efforts behind the wheel of Wahooze, I offered up a four-part overview of the 2009 football schedule.  Well, it's time for the 2010 version.

 
This season, it really doesn't matter how well we perform in terms of wins and losses.  Well it does (see below), but not when it comes to the vitality or duration of Mike London's "honeymoon" as our head coach.  I think expectations are extremely low, and they should be.  Virginia went 3-9 last season, and it wasn't pretty.  So I'm sure the administration, the big-time donors, and most reasonable fans will give Coach London this season (and probably next season also, and maybe even the season after that) to get the ship righted and to turn the team around, free of the weight of expectations.  Al Groh drove this program into the ground, and Mike London will need a few years to dig it out, pick up the pieces, and rebuild it from scratch.  There will be some struggle as our coaching staff fleshes out the offense, finds a quarterback, settles on position switches, and begins bringing in hand-picked talent and cultivating that talent into good players who can fill the required roles.  The process will take time, and there will be some losing along the way.

 
That being said, Mike London has used the concept of a fresh start and a new energy in order to sell the program to recruits... and he has been wildly successful in the recruiting game so far by delivering that message.  However, "new energy" and "fresh start" will quickly begin to ring hollow if there isn't tangible evidence of progress on the field.  If the new energy doesn't produce an effective offense and a feared defense, and if the fresh start doesn't put Virginia clearly pointing in the right direction, recruits will quickly lose interest in the program's renaissance.

 
To keep recruits enthralled with the concept of the *NEW* and *IMPROVED* version of Virginia Football, I think the 2010 team needs to show:
  •   That there is an actual offensive philosophy and an overall plan.  The O doesn't need to be good per se, but it at least needs to show the framework of being effective.  We need high school quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, and offensive linemen to be able to look at our offense in action, squint their eyes, and imagine themselves playing in that system and being successful.
  •   An identity on offense.  This was sorely lacking under Al Groh after Bill Musgrave fled to the NFL, and in the later years of his regime it became a damning problem.  It kind of fits in with the first point, above, but recruits need to be able to clearly see what our offense is, and what it intends to become.  Will we run the ball between the tackles?  Interior o-linemen and power backs will like it if we show a commitment to power running.  Will we use play action to throw it deep?  Fleet wide receivers will like to see us putting the ball in the air.  Et cetera.  I think you get the point.
  •   Just like with the two points about the offense, this season needs to show that the newly-installed 4-3 defense will be effective.  More than that, that it will be exciting and impactful.  Recruits need to want to play in the system, et cetera, et cetera. 
  •   That Coach London can cultivate talent and send players to the NFL.  This one hinges largely on Ras-I Dowling, our only current slam-dunk prospect for the 2011 NFL draft.  If Ras-I plays at an elite level all season and then goes in the first round of the draft, then that's just great.  If he struggles under London's guidance... well, not so great.  Additionally, if other legit draft prospects emerge during the season, it will be a boon to the recruiting effort.  Guys like Jared Detrick, Cam Johnson, Rodney McLeod, Joe Torchia, and Dontrelle Inman all have a chance to play their way into the 2011 NFL draft discussion, and if it happens, it will be a great thing for Virginia Football. 
  •   That as far as Virginia has fallen, we're not at ground zero.  Recruits are interested in helping to rebuild a program into something special; they aren't interested in toiling in complete futility.  We have to be able to sell hope, and hope begins with winning some games in 2010. 
  •   That this team isn't so far away from being able to compete on a high level, go to bowl games, and flirt with winning the ACC.

 So yeah, he should not be burdened by expectations, but Mike London does need to win some games this season.  I'd say three... at a minimum.  Four or five would be great.  Getting to six or more wins would well exceed even the most optimistic hopes for this season, and send a very strong message to recruits: The rejuvenation of Virginia Football will be swift and exciting.  Join the effort NOW!

 
 
That was all a bit of a ramble.  Apologies.  But I really needed to communicate the necessity of accumulating some wins this season, without coming right out and saying that we need to win X number of games.

Of course, the talent on hand, and how the team is assembled and how it ultimately performs will tell most of the story.  We'll get to that once we get a little bit closer to the start of the season, once we see where the roster chips begin to settle.

The rest of the story will be told by the schedule the Hoos play this season.  Are there cupcakes to snack upon, to build up a few easy wins?  Do key games fall at the right spots on the schedule?  Just how good will each of our twelve opponents be this season?

Virginia needs to win a few games this season, to maintain traction with recruits.  But will the schedule cooperate?

Here's my raw stab at the 2010 football schedule, and some *WAY WAY WAY TOO EARLY* predictions.
 

 
Richmond -- Sept. 4

 
The Spiders replaced London with Virginia's wide receivers coach, Latrell Scott.  He had never before been a coordinator... and now he's the youngest head coach in D-1 football.  I honestly think Scott is in over his head.  But the good news for Richmond is that London left a very well-stocked cupboard in his wake.  The Spiders won't need to rebuild, they'll just reload from last year's 11-2 campaign that ended in the FCS quarterfinals.  They lost their starting QB (Eric Ward) and four of their starting offensive linemen.  Stepping in at QB will be USC transfer Aaron Corp.  So this FCS team will have a talented, extremely capable FBS-level passer at the helm.  Defensively, the Spiders should remain extremely tough.  The story for Richmond's season will likely be that o-line.  If they can cobble together an effective unit, they could be really, really good.

When it comes to U of R vs. U of VA on September 4th, I think it's fair to state a few fact-based opinions.  1) No matter how good or how talented a FCS team is, a FBS team should be more talented.  I think UVA's talent trumps Richmond's talent.  When it comes to the size, speed, and ability of the players, we are better than they are.  This was true in 2008, when we beat them 16-0.  They went on to win the FCS national championship that year.  We went on to finish at an entirely unremarkable 5-7.  2) The Richmond players might feel motivated by some sense of revenge, trying to show their old coach that he made a mistake by jumping from Richmond to Virginia.  Meanwhile, Coach London's knowledge and experience with that Richmond roster means he knows their weaknesses and the best ways to attack those weaknesses.  Therefore, I think Coach London's knowledge trumps Richmond's revenge incentive.  3) Richmond plays its home games in front of ~22,000 fans in City Stadium.  They are used to playing in front of crowds around that size.  For London's first game as coach of the Cavaliers, I expect Scott Stadium to be close to capacity... and excited... and a more or less full throat.  Will Richmond be affected by the Wahoo faithful?  I think the UVA fans trump anything the Spiders have seen or will see in a regular season game at the FCS level.

In this game, I see us grinding it out on the ground and attacking the rebuilt Richmond o-line in an attempt to rattle the rusty Aaron Corp.  Let's say Dominique Wallace churns along for 100+ yards and a TD, while Perry Jones offers a dynamic change of pace and slashes and dashes for another 50 yards and a score.  The Orange Crush tallies three sacks, including one by Cam Johnson.  The game is too close for comfort, but the Hoos prevail, 24-16.


Coming soon: Part II

June 27, 2010

"Bennett's Six Shooters"


This past week, the Daily Progress ran a series of six fantastic articles, profiling our six incoming freshmen basketball players.  These articles are required reading for all Wahooze enthusiasts.







Enjoy!

June 26, 2010

Thank God.

This means we don't have to give a shit about soccer for another four years, right?

We can go back to calling it a "field" instead of a "pitch," right?

We can go back to calling it a "team" instead of a "side," right?

Seeing a stretcher taken out on the field means somebody is actually hurt now, right?

And child please... stoppage time?  Really?

Screw soccer.  Screw the World Cup.

June 22, 2010

Flashforward: 2011 Virginia Baseball

I've been plotting this piece for about a week now, and have decided to keep it short and sweet.  Listed below are the players I expect to see contributing on a daily basis, and the roles I expect them to fill on the team.


PITCHING

Staff Ace / Friday Starter: Danny Hultzen

This is a role Hultzen has filled since early during the 2009 season, and it's a role he is extremely comfortable with and one in which he excels.  His junior season will likely be his last in Charlottesville, as he will almost certainly be a first round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft.  Hultzen is a crafty fireballing lefty, the best player on our team, and perhaps the best pitcher in the long history of the Virginia program.  Grade: A+

Saturday Starter: Branden Kline
He was lit up in his last start of the season, the Monday night elimination game against Oklahoma.  But in the two months prior to that start, he earned the trust of the coaching staff by way of efficiently eating up innings and battling his way through some elite lineups.  It was easy to see why Kline was the gem of our 2009 recruiting class.  I fully expect him to take the next step forward in 2011, capably replacing Robert Morey's spot in the rotation.  Kline is capable of throwing some gas, but he's at his best when he is locating his fastball instead of trying to overpower batters.  Grade: B+

Sunday Starter: Scott Silverstein
This big (6-6, 235) flame-throwing lefty entered the Virginia program amid as much hype as Danny Hultzen.  But while Hultzen quickly worked his way into the rotation, Silverstein was battling injuries that eventually held him out of both his freshman and sophomore campaigns.  He should enter 2011 fully healthy, and ready to launch back into his former career trajectory as a top-line college starter and legit MLB prospect.  I expect big things from this kid in 2011, and I know that an extra left-handed pitcher in the weekend rotation will be an extremely good thing for the team.  (It is perhaps a bit of a surprise that I am projecting Silverstein into the spot that Cody Winiarski held down for much of the 2010 season, but I think the staff prefers Winiarski coming out of the bullpen.  I also think that Silverstein's superior talents and tools will rise to the top in that battle for a spot in the weekend rotation.)  Grade: B-

Midweek Starter: Tyler Skulina
Coach O'Connor landed two elite pitching prospects in the 2010 recruiting class -- Justin Nicolino (from Orlando, FL) and Tyler Skulina (from Strongsville, OH).  Nicolino was drafted by the Toronoto Blue Jays in the 2nd round (80th overall), and has already made the decision to forego his college baseball career and chase his dreams of playing in the Big League.  Skulina, meanwhile, wasn't picked until the 46th round (1385th overall) by the Oakland A's, and will almost definitely head to Virginia.  This kid is a monster, at 6-6, 235.  He throws a mid-90s fastball, and by all accounts has developed a truly nasty changeup.  If history is any indication, the Virginia staff will want to get this potential ace on the field as soon as possible... which means starting the less important midweek games in order to receive some valuable on-field experience.  Grade: A-

Long/Middle Relief: Cody Winiarski
Winiarski gives the team a lot of flexibility.  He's been a weekend starter, and he's fully capable of stepping to the mound in that role again if we face a quick turnaround with a depleted staff during the postseason.  He has also pitched out of the 'pen, and has shown a propensity for being able to grind along and eat up innings.  He doesn't have anything special when it comes to tools, but he has decent command of his pitches and a nice array of off-speed stuff to throw.  He's a bit of a junk pitcher, but is a good complement to the fastball pitchers that will start most games.  Grade: C+

Closer: Tyler Wilson
The only true "bulldog" on the staff, I wouldn't be surprised to see Wilson stay in his set-up role, or even to step up and take that coveted spot in the weekend starting rotation.  That being said, I think he'll come back for his senior season for one reason and one reason alone -- to assume the role he most enjoys in baseball.  Wilson has patiently waited his turn while the Hoos have ridden successful, record-setting closers like Casey Lambert, Michael Schwimer, and [most recently] Kevin Arico.  Now it's his turn.  Coach O'Connor has structured his pitching system and style of play such that the closer role is one of the true glamour positions on the team.  Oak prefers upperclassmen in the role, gobbling up saves.  Tyler Wilson is a perfect fit, and one of the few slam dunk projections for the 2011 team.  Grade: A

The Bullpen
Virginia suffered from a decided lack of left-handed pitching during the 2010 season, but it was an issue we were mostly able to battle through... until the super regional against the seven left-handed batters that Oklahoma threw at us in their regular lineup.  It's no surprise that only Danny Hultzen and little-used reserve Neal Davis (also a lefty) were able to enjoy some success against the Sooners.  Is this glaring lefty deficiency going to haunt the Hoos again in 2011?  I'm thinking it won't.  Silverstein adds another left-handed option to the starting rotation, and freshmen lefties Ryan Ashooh, Kyle Crockett, and Derek Justice should all see some action out of the bullpen.  Rising sophomore Aaron Stull can also provide some left-handed relief pitching.  The experienced relievers include righties Whit Mayberry (who many think could emerge as the Hoos' new go-to set-up man), Chad O'Connor (no relation to the head coach), Shane Halley, Will Roberts, Justin Thompson, and Corey Hunt.  This is a deep and talented bullpen.  Overall it lacks experience, however.  Grade: B-


THE LINEUP


Leadoff / Center Field: Mitchell Shifflett
Shifflett, an incoming freshman, is reportedly a very good contact hitter who runs a 4.3 in the 40 yard dash, and is a top-notch centerfielder.  It's said that he is the fastest player Brian O'Connor has ever recruited, and that the staff will likely insert Shifflett directly into the starting lineup and let him sink or swim at the beginning of the 2011 season.  With accomplished sluggers like Phil Gosselin and Jarrett Parker moving on, it makes sense to try to get more speed on the basepaths in an effort to manufacture runs.  Still, this is a freshman batting leadoff.  Grade: C-

Two-Hole / Second Base: Keith Werman

Werman, aka "Big Werm," aka "NINJA," is a fan favorite, and for good reason.  He's a very good defensive second baseman, despite his diminutive stature.  But more than that, he is probably the most difficult out on the team.  He bites and claws his way onto base (.414 batting average and .486 on-base percentage in 2010), and once he's there he is a smart, heady, highly accomplished baserunner.  It's also worth noting that Werm is a true artist when it comes to laying down bunts.  Grade: A





Three-Hole / Right Field: Dan Grovatt
After being drafted in the 11th round (327th overall) by the Pirates, I think Grovatt is a lock to return for his senior season with the Wahoos.  The team desperately needs him to fill the leadership void left behind by Jarrett Parker, Phil Gosselin, and Franco Valdes.  I know that Grovatt himself considers his 2010 season (.291 average, 9 HRs) to be a major disappointment.  If he can bounce back to his regular .350-.375 range and knock a few more dingers, he'll greatly improve his draft stock... and he'll greatly improve the Virginia lineup in the process.  Grade: B+

Cleanup / Third Base: Steven Proscia

Proscia has had his moments of shakiness playing third base, and he's endured his ups and downs as a streak hitter as well.  But as he enters his third season in the Virginia system, I think many of his flaws will begin to be ironed out.  He's a good power hitter who really needs to take the next step in his development if UVA hopes to make it back to Omaha in 2011.  Grade: B






#5 Hitter / Catcher: John Hicks
Hicks could see time at first base or even in the outfield, but make no mistake -- Brian O'Connor will do whatever it takes to keep his bat in the lineup.  Entering the 2011 season, Hicks has the potential to be UVA's best hitter, and I think he's more than up to that challenge.  At catcher, he's barely mediocre, so he'll need to improve defensively if that is going to be his everyday role.  Hicks is a scrappy guy who is a big part of the overall gritty personality of the Virginia team.  Grade: B+

#6 Hitter / Designated Hitter: Stephen Bruno
During his freshman season in 2010, Bruno hit an extremely serviceable .388, with a .479 OB% in 98 at-bats.  His three homers were just a small sample of his power potential.  The coaching staff believes that Bruno is the type of hitter who will be able to crank out extra base hits, which is perfect for batting sixth in a lineup that will need to generate runs via stringing hits together.  Grade: B-

#7 Hitter / Left Field: John Barr
Barr was red-hot in the postseason, especially during the first round regional played in Charlottesville.  He's a solid contact hitter and a good clutch hitter who should be able to be a productive part of the lineup.  He's also a more than adequate left fielder.  Grade: C+/B-

#8 Hitter / Shortstop: Reed Gragnani
Knowing that Gragnani would be an important part of the everyday roster in 2011, the coaching staff crammed him into the lineup in every way possible during his freshman season in 2010.  Gragnani acquitted himself well, hitting .365 in 63 at-bats.  Projecting him to shortstop is a complete guess on my part.  I'm admittedly not sure what his defensive capabilities are... but somebody has to play Tyler Cannon's vacated position.  It might end up being slick fielding Chris Taylor, but Gragnani is a much better hitter and this team needs as much offense as it can muster.  Grade: C+

#9 Hitter / First Base: Kenny Swab
Swab, a JUCO transfer in 2010, is a rising senior who is basically assured a spot in the starting lineup in 2011.  He's a well-rounded player who won't wow scouts, but who will quietly produce.  He hits for average, he's got a little bit of pop in his bat, and he's smart on the basepaths.  He's the perfect candidate to continue Virginia's new tradition of production from the #9 spot in the lineup.  Grade: C+/B-



OVERALL
After losing elite-level college baseball stars like Phil Gosselin, Jarrett Parker, Tyler Cannon, Robert Morey, and Kevin Arico, a little bit of regression is to be expected.  However, I doubt that Coach O'Connor will allow this team to slip very far.  He will need to go back to his smallball roots in order to buoy this team.  The Hoos will win with great pitching, solid defense, timely hitting, and aggressive baserunning.  That is "Virginia Baseball" in the purest sense, and I'm excited to see us playing more of that style in 2011.  I'm also excited to see what the young players can do with such greatly expanded roles.  Guys like Branden Kline, Tyler Skulina, Scott Silverstein, Stephen Bruno, and Reed Gragnani will have a lot to say about the ultimate success or failure of the team.  Expectations will and should remain high...  I think another postseason appearance is a lock, with hosting a first round regional to be a bit of a longshot.  Can the Hoos advance to another super regional?  They'll need to get hot at the right time, like in 2009.  Can they make it all the back to Omaha?  I wouldn't bet on it.  There's just not enough big-time hitters in the lineup.  But you should never, ever underestimate Brian O'Connor.  He and his team tends to thrive under the umbrella of reduced expectations.

Overall Grades:
Coaching -- A+
Starting Pitching -- A
Bullpen -- B
Hitting -- B-
Defense -- B+

Prediction: 38-40 wins, 2-seed in a first round regional.

Virginia's Fab Five... er... Six

K.T. Harrell


UVA's incoming class of basketball recruits are now on campus, playing pick-up ball with the holdovers.  Here are two GREAT pieces from the Daily Progress, highlighting Virginia's Fab Freshmen:

The experts weigh in on Virginia’s recruits, Jerry Ratcliffe

Bennett’s Six Shooters, Whitelaw Reid

My favorite excerpt from the articles:
“This game is pretty simple when you’re Tony Bennett,” said Telep. “If you look, he’s been successful when he’s brought in guys that he likes, that fit how he plays. You’re not winning at Virginia right now even with Ed Davis [who chose UNC over UVa a couple of years ago]. However, you’re fighting to get to the place where you can legitimately show Ed Davis [or someone like him] that this is where we are, take us to the next step. This is a foundation class.”

Francis said this class kind of reminds him of some of former Virginia coach Terry Holland’s recruiting crops.

“Right off the bat, you get four or five players that can really play in that first recruiting class, then be selective and bring in two or three guys that are in the top 30 to top 100 range, get a good nucleus and have those guys together for three or four years,” Francis said. “Holland had it right, and if you get a Ralph Sampson on top of that, great. If you’re Virginia, you don’t have to win the ACC, you just have to be three, four or five every year. Do that consistently and you’ve got a nice string of NCAA tournaments going.”




Adding these six frosh to the nucleus of a [reportedly rededicated and driven] Mike Scott, Sam Zeglinski, Mustapha Farrakhan, Assane Sene, Jontel Evans, and Will Sherrill could lead to a pretty interesting season in 2010-11.  I know I can't wait to see these new Hoos in action.

Also, with the freshmen now officially enrolled, the updated roster has just been released on virginiasports.com  Some interesting notes:

-- As part of Mike Scott "reinventing his game," he has changed jersey numbers.  He will now sport the #23 recently vacated by Jeff Jones.

-- James Johnson is listed at 6-9 and 230 pounds.  Plenty of beef to bang in the ACC.  J.J. will wear #34.

-- Will Regan is not far behind, at 6-8, 220.  He's wearing #4.

-- The rest of the freshmen numbers: K.T. Harrell -- #24, Joe Harris -- #12, Billy Baron -- #15, and Akil Mitchell -- #25.

June 16, 2010

CE&R Update -- 6/16/10


While full-blown REALIGNMAGEDDON has been [temporarily?] averted by the noble efforts of the Texas Longhorns to hold the Big XII together, we still have a few small seismic shifts to sort through...

1) It looks like Utah moving to the Pac-10 is "imminent."  In fact, the announcement could be made as soon as Friday. 
Utah will join the Pac-10 Conference as its 12th team -- with an announcement coming as soon as Friday, a source tells ESPN.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah's Board of Trustees will hold a public meeting Thursday afternoon. The meeting agenda was not revealed.

Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson, interviewed Tuesday, would only say that he has been in contact with the Pac-10 regarding Utah.

"I did state yesterday morning that I had not spoken to [Pac-10 commissioner] Larry Scott," Thompson said during a break at the Collegiate Commissioners Association meetings. "Twenty-four hours is a long timeframe."

Asked if it was his understanding that an invitation had been extended to Utah to join the Pac-10, Thompson said, "I don't know. I just need to defer all comments."

The Pac-10 grew by one last week when Colorado accepted its invitation to leave the Big 12. Meanwhile, Scott also attempted to lure Texas and four other Big 12 schools. The conference would have become a 16-team league had Texas joined with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

Instead, those schools decided to stay in the Big 12.

When the news came down that Texas and the rest were not joining Pac-10, Scott said he called Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe to congratulate him for saving his conference.

The addition of Utah is likely to bolster the Pac-10's football profile. Since 2003 the Utes have been a powerhouse in the Mountain West -- a perfect 6-0 in bowl games during that span, including a 2-0 mark in BCS games which capped off undefeated seasons.

Additionally, the Utes bring Salt Lake City's TV market, which is the 31st largest in the nation.

I wonder how Boise State feels, to join the Mountain West one week, and then see one of its new conference's best football programs ditch the league the next week?  Boise and the MWC's quest to obtain *automatic qualifier* status with the BCS is taking a major shot with the Utes' defection.  Could the MWC move to replace Utah?  Houston?  One of the WAC leftovers, like maybe Nevada or Fresno State?  SMU?  Tulsa?  Blech.  These are not great options.  I honestly feel bad for the Mountain West.  It's a nice little conference with some very good football programs -- Boise, TCU, BYU, and Air Force deserve better.

2) Meanwhile, you gotta believe that adding Colorado and Utah wasn't exactly what the Pac-10 had in mind when it decided to expand.  They'll spin it like it's a good thing to get to 12 and the ability to stage a championship game, while also accessing the #16 and #31 TV markets... but the Texas gambit was what Larry Scott gambled on, and he (and his conference) definitely lost that roll of the dice.

3) The Big XII is perfectly content at 10 teams, and won't be looking to make any additions.  Their championship game goes by the wayside, but Texas and Oklahoma view this as a good thing --- it's one less potential stumbling block between them and the BCS championship game.  Also, a true round-robin schedule will be a very good thing for the conference and its members.

4) The Big Ten has a decision to make: stay at 12 or expand further.  As I understand it, the ball is in Notre Dame's court.  If the Irish decide to join, the Big Ten will also snatch Rutgers and then stay at 14, or make a move toward 16 by targeting Maryland and Syracuse.

5) The SEC is content at 12, but might be inspired to make a move if the Big Ten gets bigger.  Potential targets for the SEC do not include Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech or Clemson, but do include Virginia Tech, Memphis, and potentially Maryland.

6) The ACC wants to stay as is, but if Maryland goes to the Big Ten, the conference's crosshairs will be on Pittsburgh.  If the ACC needs to replace multiple teams, the pecking order is probably UConn, Louisville, and ECU, in that order.


It seems like things are settling down quite a bit now.  Notre Dame could be the pin in the next grenade, and it could be pulled at any time, so stay tuned.

June 15, 2010

REALIGNMAGEDDON... averted?


So here's the latest from the world of college football conference expansion and realignment:

-- Texas has decided to save the Big XII.  With Nebraska off to the Big Ten and Colorado off to the Pac-10, it looked like a foregone conclusion that Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State would ditch Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Iowa State, and Missouri and join the Pac-10.  But an 11th hour bid to restructure the league and reform its TV contract (to include a network just for the University of Texas athletics) seems to have saved the conference.

-- Will the Big XII stay at 10?  Or will they court schools like TCU and Houston to get back to 12 and re-gain the ability to stage a championship game?

-- The Pac-10 was able to pick up Colorado, which is a good school, but only has very mediocre athletics (and "mediocre" is being generous).  You have to think the conference moved so quickly on the Buffaloes in order to be sure that the Texas state government didn't big-time the process and force Baylor into the spot reserved for Colorado.  Now, the Pac-10 is stuck with the Buffs, without the ultimate cherry of Texas.  The silver lining for the Pac-10 is that they now have an "in" to the Denver market.  Small consolation.

-- Will the Pac-10 stay at 11?  Or will they court Utah to get to 12 and gain the ability to stage a championship game?

-- The Big Ten seems poised to relax and stand pat at 12 teams.  But make no mistake -- they are still waiting for Notre Dame to decide in their favor.  And if it happens, they won't stay at 13.  They'll invite Rutgers, and maybe two more Big East teams.  And they might do that anyway, prior to the ND decision... if the Big Ten can cripple the Big East, it could ironically force Notre Dame's hand.

-- It appears now that the SEC is content and that the ACC is safe as is.

-- Funny aside:  The Big "TEN" now has twelve teams and the Big "XII" now has ten.  Ha.


This is all an uneasy peace, and it might be temporary, but for now it seems like realignmageddon has been successfully averted.

June 14, 2010

CRUSHED.

Yep, that was a pretty crappy way to end the season. Not only were we destroyed, 11-0, by Oklahoma, but a few other things were crushed in the process:

The notion that we have elite starting pitching... CRUSHED.

Our two-year run of not being shut out... CRUSHED.

The notion that we are a top-notch defensive team... CRUSHED.

Our streak of not losing back-to-back games this season... CRUSHED.

The ball, hurled toward Oklahoma bats... CRUSHED.

The notion that we always come through with timely hitting... CRUSHED.

Our dreams of returning to Omaha and the College World Series... CRUSHED.


It's been a great season. 51 wins. The ACC regular season championship. Nine MLB draft picks. I'm sure this team's expectations were to make it to Omaha, but it just wasn't to be.

Congratulations to Oklahoma, which is a great young team that should be able to fare pretty well in the CWS. I'll be watching and pulling for them, actually.

*sigh*

If you're new to being a Virginia fan, get used to this feeling. It happens a lot. It takes a lot of character to be a Wahoo fan. A lot of patience. The capacity to endure a lot of pain.

We'll get 'em next year. Hultzen's back. Kline. Maybe Dan Grovatt. Big Werm. Proscia. John Hicks. Stephen Bruno and Reed Gragnani. Et cetera. There's a lot of talent in this program, and it's led by a truly outstanding coach. We'll be back on this stage; it won't take long. And next time... we'll be the ones doing the crushing.

GO HOOS!


(And with that, the Virginia spring sports come to a close. Tomorrow, I'll have a more in-depth look at what we can expect from the 2011 version of Virginia Baseball. And coming soon, I'll begin breaking down the 2010 football schedule, as we slowly shift our frame of mind and our focus from baseball to football.)

Monday Miscellaneous -- 6/14/10



Lots of Wahooze bubbles bouncing around in my head, not a lot of time to stroke the blog. So here's your quick-hitters for Monday, June 14, 2010. (And if I enjoy this format, it might just become a weekly thing.)

-- Danny Hultzen is back! He was the MVP in Friday's win over Okie. He wasn't exactly dominant, but he was effective. Most importantly, he got the win.

-- Conversely, Robert Morey is still lost in the woods. He struggled mightily against the Sooners yesterday, and hasn't been pitching well at all since he got lit up by Florida State in Greensboro. If we survive and advance to Omaha, we desperately need Morey to bounce back from his last three starts, all of which have been... well... not very good.

-- A week ago, we survived an elimination game against St. John's. This week, we face the same situation against Oklahoma. Just like last week, freshman fireballer Branden Kline will be taking the mound. This might be heresy to say with bonafide and established studs like Hultzen in the rotation, but Kline has been our single best pitcher since the exam break in late April. I'm extremely confident in the kid as he strides to the bump for tonight's game.

-- Speaking of St. John's, I see a TON of similarities to the Johnnies in this Oklahoma team. Young. Talented. Scrappy. Live bats. Deep bullpen. These two teams are actually spitting images of each other. We were able to beat St. John's when we had to. Here's hoping the same rings true against the Sooners.

-- This week, John Paul Jones Arena plays host to two big recruiting events: The UVA Elite Camp on Monday and Tuesday, and the NBA Top 100 Camp Wednesday through the weekend. These events are when Tony Bennett really got the 2010 recruiting effort cranked up and whirring audibly last year. He needs to manage the same feat this year, to sort of spark what has been a slow start to the recruiting push for the 2011 class.

-- Meanwhile, in the world of football recruiting, Mike London is straight up ballin' right now. The 2011 class currently sits at 14 commitments, including a bunch of in-state studs in DE Diamonte "Diomond" Bailey (Richmond), OL Ross Burbank (VA Beach), DT David Dean (VA Beach), DB Kameron Mack (Portsmouth), RB/WR Clifton Richardson (Newport News), and LB Caleb Taylor (Hampton). We have gone head to head with Virginia Tech and pulled Mack, Richardson, and Taylor. So yeah, it's confirmed. Mike London can recruit, his staff can recruit, the focus is on the state of Virginia, and (at least right now) there is a palatable buzz for the underdog Cavaliers. Some of these kids seem jazzed about the thought of being the group of players that turn Virginia Football back into a winning program.

-- In addition to the 757, it looks like London has pinpointed the DC-Metro area, along with Maryland, as areas that should be Virginia's stomping ground in recruiting. DT Vincent Croce (Olney, MD), OL Kelby Johnson (Hyattsville, MD), DE Marco Jones (Baltimore, MD), DB Jordan Lomax (Hyattsville, MD), and TE Darius Redman (Washington, DC) all hail from the area.

-- If you noticed that most of the recruits above play defense... well... I noticed the same thing. The 2010 class was more offensively oriented, so it makes some level of sense that we'll go D-heavy this year. That said, I'm kind of getting the impression that Mike London wants to build us into a team that wins games with its fast, attacking, playmaking defense... kind of like the way Frank Beamer built his early teams at Virginia Tech. Hate the Hokies, but at least be intelligent enough to acknowledge the fact that they have laid out a blueprint for how to win and win fairly big with less-heralded recruits, mostly from within the state borders.

-- REALIGNMAGEDDON UPDATE: Nebraska to the Big "Ten." Colorado to the Pac-"10." Boise State to the Mountain West. That all happened last week. This week, we're waiting to see what Texas decides -- will the Longhorns lead their junta to the Pac-10 to form the Pac-16? (Maybe.) Will they join Nebraska in the Big Ten? (Probably not.) Will they stay put and try to repair the Big XII? (Maybe. And this possibility is surprisingly gaining steam.) Will they go to the SEC? (No.) Make no mistake, Texas is the next domino, then Notre Dame. Depending on what those two schools decide, we'll see if the fallout from the mushroom cloud extends all of the way to the ACC. There is one piece of good news, via reliable sources at ESPN:
Looking beyond the Big 12 for expansion, specifically to the ACC for schools such as Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida State or Miami, was not in the SEC's plans, sources told ESPN. The sources saw no way the SEC would raid the ACC and added serious doubt that Virginia Tech could be pried away from Virginia.
I haven't decided if VT bolting for the SEC would be good for Virginia or not. On one hand, you know they'll go from a perennial 10-win ACC team to a perennial 7- or 8-win SEC team, and that's being generous to the Hokies. On the other hand, the idea of playing in the SEC tends to dazzle recruits, and I'm not sure I want VT having that sell point.


That's it for now. Be sure to tune in to tonight's game -- 7:00 PM (EST), ESPN2.

GO HOOS!

June 11, 2010

Bring on the Sooners!



Itching for a nice, compehensive preview of this weekend's Charlottesville super regional action?

Yahoo! Sports' college baseball guru, Kendall Rogers, offers up this great preview piece: Virginia eyes back-to-back Omaha trips

Enjoy!

GO HOOS!

June 10, 2010

Realignmageddon

Well, the shan has officially hit the fan.

Click here.

Nebraska to the Big Ten

Colorado to the Pac-10.

Texas and Texas A&M have petitioned the Big Ten, seemingly shunning the Pac-10's advances.

Oklahoma has petitioned the SEC. The SEC has indicated that the Sooners would need to identify a partner to join the conference in order to keep the SEC at an even 14.

Oklahoma State is close to being the next to join the Pac-10.

My head is spinning.

CE&R Update -- 6/10/10

"CE&R" is my new acronym. It stands for "conference expansion and realignment." Follow along! Keep up! Pay attention!

Here's a US map. It might help you better visualize this crap as we wade through it.



Okay, so the fresh-e-freshy in the rapidly-evolving world of conference CE&R is as follows:

-- Nebraska to the Big Ten. It's a done deal.

-- Colorado to the Pac-10. It's also a done deal.

-- Texas, A&M, TX Tech, Oklahoma, OK State to the Pac-10 also seems pretty likely. I'd handicap it at around 70% likelihood at this point. The main roadblock is the Texas government's concern over Baylor... which mirrors Mark Warner's concern over poor little Virginia Tech back in 2003. But the Pac-10 vehemently does not want Baylor, and it might end up being a total deal-breaker. Another stumbling point is the fact that the Pac-10 academic elite schools - Stanford, Cal-Berkley, and UCLA namely - don't want tier three academic schools like Oklahoma State in their conference. Money talks and bullshit walks, however. In the end, I think these five from the Big 12 South will join the Pac-10.

-- What will happen to the Big 12 leftovers? Kansas won't be left out in the cold, no way, no how. Some conference will scoop them up. K-State goes where the Jayhawks go, as I understand it. That leaves Missouri, Baylor, and Iowa State...

-- Mizzou is probably holding out for its invitation to join the Big Ten. That invitation may never come, if Notre Dame decides not to take the plunge. With just the addition of Nebraska, the B10 is at 12 teams, and doesn't need to expand and won't expand further unless it lands the big fish (read: The Fighting Irish.)

-- Maybe four of the five Big 12 leftovers will join forces with the Mountain West plus Boise State to form another 16-team SUPERCONFERENCE? TCU, BYU, Utah, Air Force, Wyoming, UNLV, SDSU, New Mexico, Colorado St., Boise, Kansas, K-State, Baylor, Missouri... they could stay put at 14, or move to snatch up a couple of schools like Houston, Nevada, Fresno State, and/or Tulsa to get to 16. That's not a bad little football conference, and Kansas alone (along with Mizzou, BYU, UNLV, K-State, and Baylor) gives it decent basketball cred. Plus, the Mountain West already has it's own network -- "The Mtn." The infrastructure is in place and the dominoes appear to be falling in the right directions for the MWC to be the biggest winner of all in the expansion hullabaloo, just by virtue of being patient and intelligent enough to cherry-pick the crumbling Big 12.

-- Poor Iowa State. Nobody seems to want the Cyclones. If the MWC, Pac-16, and Big Sixteen figure to be the biggest winners, ISU looks like the biggest loser. The Pac-16 doesn't have a spot for ISU. The B10/B12/B14/B16 doesn't have a spot for ISU. Even the new-look Mountain West doesn't have a spot for ISU. Conference USA for the Cyclones? Yikes.

-- Notre Dame to the Big Ten is the next major linchpin. I'd say that move is 50-50. Flip a coin on this one. If it happens, that puts the B10 at 13 schools, which means they would need to add one (Rutgers or Missouri), or three (Rutgers and Missouri, plus one of Syracuse, UConn, or maybe Maryland) to get to either 14 or 16. The ultimate fate of Missouri is thus tied very closely to ND's decision. For Mizzou, it's either join the Big Ten along with Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Rutgers, or scramble for a spot in the re-made Mountain West. That's a mighty big swing. I'm pretty frickin nervous if I'm a Mizzou fan right now.

-- Shunned by belle of the ball Texas, the SEC now seems content to stay at 12 and not expand. This is good news for the ACC. If the SEC changes its mind, however, look for Virginia Tech to be on their short list of candidates. VT potentially offers them entrance into a few good markets in the DC-Metro (#9 media market), Hampton Roads (#43), Richmond (#58), and Roanoke/Lynchburg (#67) areas. I could also see Florida State being a candidate for the SEC, though I'm sure Florida would do everything in its power to block that move. Miami, Clemson, and Georgia Tech make geographic sense for the SEC, but they only offer up redundant markets to what the SEC already has with Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia. I've heard NC State mentioned in connection with the SEC, also. Not buying that one at all.

-- So where does the ACC stand? Probably dodging all of this craziness, but potentially losing Maryland to the Big Ten, and potentially losing Virginia Tech or maybe FSU or NC State to the SEC. If we need to replace one school, I'd pounce on Pittsburgh. I think Pitt would be a slam dunk addition to our conference -- strong academics, good football, good football tradition, good basketball. If we need to add more than one, go for Syracuse or maybe UConn, depending on who the B10 takes. Beyond those three, I guess Louisville, ECU, or USF would be a marginal fit.


God, this is getting exhausting. But it's really lots of fun to follow.


Meanwhile, just for gits & shiggles, here is the ranking of the top 50 US media markets. I've connected a few dots and am listing the schools that successfully deliver those markets or shares of those markets.

#1 New York -- Rutgers? Syracuse? Army? Does NYC even give a fig about college football?

#2 LA -- USC & UCLA

#3 Chicago -- Northwestern & Illinois

#4 Philadelphia -- Temple? Ha ha ha ha ha! I'm thinking Penn State owns the Philly market.

#5 Dallas/Fort Worth -- Texas, obviously. But also TCU, Texas A&M, and to a lesser extent, Baylor and SMU.

#6 San Francisco Bay Area -- California and Stanford. San Jose State?

#7 Boston -- Boston College? Boston is a lot like New York. Not really a college football town.

#8 Atlanta -- Georgia & Georgia Tech

#9 Washington, DC -- Maryland, Virginia Tech, Penn State... and Virginia.

#10 Houston -- Texas and A&M again, but also Houston and Rice.

#11 Detroit -- Michigan

#12 Phoenix -- Arizona St. & Arizona

#13 Seattle -- Washington

#14 Tampa -- South Florida via location, but it's mostly a UF town.

#15 Minneapolis / St. Paul -- Minnesota

#16 Denver -- Colorado. Colorado State and Air Force are nibblers here.

#17 Miami -- Miami. Maybe also FIU, via location alone.

#18 Cleveland / Akron -- Ohio State! Kent State and Akron are also present, but it's all Buckeyes all the time in the state of Ohio.

#19 Orlando -- UCF via location, but from what I understand, Orlando is UF country.

#20 Sacramento -- Cal & Stanford

#21 St. Louis -- Missouri & Kansas

#22 Portland, Oregon -- Oregon & Oregon State

#23 Pittsburgh -- Penn State & Pitt

#24 Charlotte -- UNC, Duke, NC State, ECU

#25 Indianapolis -- Indiana

#26 Raleigh-Durham -- UNC, Duke, NC State, ECU

#27 Baltimore -- Maryland & Penn State

#28 San Diego -- SDSU, USC, UCLA

#29 Nashville -- Tennessee and Vanderbilt, with Middle Tennessee State gaining traction.

#30 Hartford -- UConn

#31 Salt Lake City -- BYU, Utah, Utah State

#32 Kansas City -- Kansas & Missouri

#33 Cincinnati -- Ohio State, Cincinnati, Miami (OH)

#34 Columbus, OH -- Ohio State

#35 Milwaukee -- Wisconsin

#36 Greenville / Spartanburg / Asheville / Anderson -- Clemson & South Carolina

#37 San Antonio -- Texas

#38 West Palm Beach -- FAU & Florida

#39 Harrisburg / Lancaster / Lebanon / York, PA -- Penn State

#40 Birmingham -- Alabama, with maybe a hint of UAB.

#41 Grand Rapids -- Michigan, with a faint whiff of Western Michigan.

#42 Las Vegas -- UNLV, and all other college football power programs that people enjoy betting on.

#43 Hampton Roads -- Virginia Tech & (hopefully) Virginia

#44 Albuquerque -- New Mexico

#45 Oklahoma City -- Oklahoma & Oklahoma St.

#46 Winston Salem -- Wake Forest + UNC, Duke, NC State, ECU

#47 Jacksonville -- Florida State & Florida

#48 Austin -- Texas, duh

#49 Louisville -- Louisville & Kentucky

#50 Memphis -- Memphis & Ole Miss


You can bet your ass that all of the movers and shakers in the CE&R world have a list like this in their hands. If you need to understand the motivation for certain moves, this should help.

Happy Birthday, Wahooze.



Wahooze is ONE today. Happy birthday, my beloved blog!

I'd like to thank everyone who has visited Wahooze over the past year, and especially those of you who post comments and give me feedback. Wahooze is nothing without you guys. It's been a blast discussing UVA sports with you, and I hope we can celebrate many, many more birthdays together.

June 9, 2010

*UPDATE* Nebraska to the Big Ten.




It looks like it's official. Nebraska is making the move to the Big Ten.

Meanwhile, it's also looking like Texas, A&M, TX Tech, Oklahoma, OK State, and Colorado are going to the Pac-10 (Pac-16?), according to Chip Brown, who has been absolutely on point with all of the scoop regarding Texas so far in the various grindings of the expansion rumor mill.

Fascinating, frightening, exciting stuff.

How will it all impact UVA? We'll see...

The Plates are Sliding



After this report on Orangebloods.com about the Pac-10 preparing to extend offers to Texas, A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, OK State, and Colorado, the tectonic plates of conference expansion and realignment have really begun shifting sliding. The tremors will potentially be felt all the way in Charlottesville. Here's the latest:

-- The Mountain West has decided to not invite Boise State... yet. The MWC probably wants to wait and see if the Pac-10 gobbles up the Big 12 South and the Big Ten brings in Mizzou and Nebraska. If schools like Kansas, K-State, Baylor, and Iowa State are there to be cherry-picked, the Mountain West would probably be interested. My guess is that there will eventually be a place for Boise State (and maybe even Nevada) in the MWC, but they will have to wait until the Pac-10 and Big Ten make their moves. Those moves, however, might be happening very soon...

-- ...because Nebraska could be Big Ten bound by as early as Friday. It looks like Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe might have killed his conference by opposing a playoff system and issuing ultimatums to Big 12 member schools. Is the Big 12 about to destroy itself? Did it already?

-- Missouri is playing it close to the vest, but it's pretty clear to me that they are Big Ten bound.

-- It also looks like Colorado is as good as gone, as the Buffaloes are really a slam dunk fit for the Pac-10. Colorado won't (and shouldn't) hesitate to ditch the rapidly crumbing Big 12.

-- If you're looking for a tidy wrap-up, SI's Stewart Mandel offers up a gem in his Sixteen Scenarios for How the Expansion Dominoes May Fall.


Pac-10, Big Ten, Big 12, Mountain West... but how do these tectonic shifts rumble all of the way to ACC country?

That answer is pretty simple: it's all about the SEC. IF the SEC decides it needs to expand in order to keep up, and IF Texas remains unavailable to them (so far, the Longhorns have said that the SEC isn't a possibility because of the poor academic fit), and IF the SEC then decides to chase schools like Florida State, Miami, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and/or Virginia Tech, the ACC might be left to scramble. That's a lot of IFs, and a lot of dots to connect. I'm not really worried... yet.

June 8, 2010

Kline & Arico Deliver, Hoos Advance!

From Jay Jenkins at the Daily Progress:

Baseball will be played this weekend at Davenport Field.

Securing such an extended look at the top-ranked Virginia baseball team for locals took the efforts of two likely heroes performing in two unlikely fashions.

Rookie Branden Kline and junior Kevin Arico served as a masterful 1-2 punch en route to sealing the first super regional in Charlottesville.

Behind the two arms, Virginia won its first regional at home, something it failed to do three times prior, as the Cavaliers held off third-seeded St. John’s 5-3 in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,801.

An evening after squandering a lead, both heroic pitchers were not comfortable until the final out was recorded as left fielder Phil Gosselin parked under a fly ball lifted by Red Storm catcher Josh Daniel.

“What a relief,” said Arico, who pitched a career-best 3.2 innings in relief. “It was a great game. Both teams battled all game long.”

As the No. 5 seed nationally, Virginia (50-12) advances to the round of 16 and will host Oklahoma in the super regional in a best-of-three series format that will begin Friday or Saturday, depending on the desires of the NCAA and ESPN. The schedule for the regional itself will be announced today.

Getting to the super regionals took something special from Kline and Arico.

Called upon to start less than 48 hours after he made a three-inning relief appearance against Ole Miss, Kline went 5.1 innings, allowing just six hits and three earned runs.

Kline (5-0) said he took a deep breath, however, after he was spotted an early 1-0 lead.

In the bottom half of the first, Gosselin delivered his fifth hit of the regional with a leadoff single for the Cavaliers and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Keith Werman, and later to third when Dan Grovatt reached on error on a grounder that rolled up the glove of SJU first baseman Paul Karmas.

With Steven Proscia batting, Virginia grabbed its first run as it executed a double steal to near perfection - Grovatt was thrown out at second and Gosselin crossed the plate without a play.

“That was a big run,” said Kline, who struck out five and walked just one. “It allowed me to attack the strike zone.”

While Kline had faced the minimum of six batters to open the game thanks to a double play in the second, the Cavaliers tacked on another in the bottom of the second when catcher Franco Valdes, starting for the fourth straight game, scored on an RBI single from Gosselin. Virginia’s John Barr tried to cross the plate on the play as the trail runner, but the umpire at home Jeff Henrichs ruled that Barr’s foot never reached the plate before the relay throw reached catcher Joe Witkowski.

St. John’s, which made the NCAA tournament by winning the Big East tournament, cut the lead in half in the third as Paul Karmas connected on a solo homer.

Virginia wasted no time getting the run back in the third as Proscia drove home Werman on a sacrifice fly, putting the Cavaliers up 3-1.

In the fourth, Valdes continued his clutch ways by plating Hicks with a single through the right side on an 0-2 pitch off St. John’s starter Kyle Hansen.

Valdes was named to the all-regional team after collecting four hits and driving in four runs.

“It was great to contribute for my team,” he said. “I had a rough season and I am glad that the coaching staff had faith in me to put me in that situation.”

The game remained notched 4-1 under Kline’s care until Jimmy Brennan and Matt Wessinger hit back-to-back singles in the sixth inning.

Kline, who also made the all-regional team, promptly loaded the bases by walking Joe Panik on four pitches.

Virginia coach Brian O’Connor, who had been checking in with the bullpen, a rarity, had seen enough.

Jeremy Baltz, who hit two homers on Sunday — including a game-winning blast off Tyler Wilson — was due up.

O’Connor turned to Arico, who had 16 saves in 26 appearances, but had never appeared in the sixth inning this season.

“I sent Kevin a text message late [Sunday] night … and I just told him, ‘Hey, you’re our guy, and you need to be ready at any point for us for an extended outing,’” O’Connor recounted. “The plan was, if we got in a difficult situation where the game could potentially be on the line after the fifth inning, that we were going to go to him.

“It was time for him. He was either going to do it or he wasn’t. The guy continued to grind it out out there. It didn’t concern me that he needed to go three-plus innings.”

Arico gave up a fielder’s choice to Baltz, which drove in a run, and a run-scoring single to Jimmy Parque, but the right-hander was efficient enough to escape the frame with the Cavaliers leading 4-3.

Virginia added an insurance run in the seventh, something that Arico did not need as he completed his career-best outing.

For the game, Virginia finished with nine hits and stranded seven runners.

While not perfect, it mattered little to a team that celebrated with handshakes and smiles.

“It was exactly what we set out to do,” Valdes said. “It took a day longer than we would have liked but it feels just as good.”

In all, Arico went 3.2 innings and scattered five hits. Leaning on his slider and throwing 14 first-pitch strikes against 20 batters, the closer did not walk a batter.

Virginia must now study a new opponent - Oklahoma.

“I am very familiar with the history of Oklahoma’s baseball program,” O’Connor said. “I knew that they were a national seed last year. I can’t tell you a whole lot about their ball club, but I knew that they were at the top of the Big 12 this year, which has great baseball. They obviously faced great arms with the likes of Texas and Texas A&M.

“I am sure that it will be another battle.”



Here's the press release about the super regional against Oklahoma:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The NCAA announced today that Charlottesville, Va., has been selected as one of eight Super Regional host sites for the 2010 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship. Virginia will play host to Oklahoma in a best-of-three series, which will run June 12-14 at UVa's Davenport Field. The teams will play at 3 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday and 1 or 7 p.m. Monday (if necessary).

All three games also will be televised on the ESPN family of networks. The Saturday game will be broadcast on ESPNU, the Sunday contest on ESPN and the Monday game on ESPN2 (if necessary).

Virginia (50-12) will serve as a Super Regional host site for the first time. The winner of the Super Regional will advance to the College World Series.

Ticket books may be purchased in person at the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office in Bryant Hall, by calling the Ticket Office at (800) 542-8821 or logging on to VirginiaSports.com. The Virginia Athletics Ticket Office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

After several expansions this season, Davenport Field now will seat 4,801 for postseason play.

Super Regional all-session ticket books currently are on sale and may be purchased for $24 for General Admission seating. Super Regional Reserved ticket books are sold out.

Customers may pick up their tickets at the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office in Bryant Hall through Friday or at Davenport Field Will Call on game day beginning two hours prior to first pitch.

If available, single-game tickets for the Super Regional will go on sale to the public on Saturday (June 12). Single-game tickets will be $16 for Reserved and $12 for General Admission, with $4 per ticket upgrades available from General Admission to Reserved on game day.

All parking will be paid parking for the entire postseason. Parking on game day will be $5.

Because of the success of the Virginia baseball team this season and increased ticket demand, the Super Regional games at Davenport Field are expected to sell out. Fans are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance, as it is the only way to guarantee they will be able to attend all tournament games.

All sections of the grandstand (Sec. 101-109) and the first base bleachers (Sec. A-F) are considered Reserved seating for the entire NCAA Tournament. General Admission seating is located on the grassy hillside down the left-field line and in the bleachers beyond the outfield wall in both left and right field. Standing room is also available for General Admission ticket buyers.

For further information on NCAA baseball tournament tickets, please call the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 542-8821 or log on to VirginiaSports.com.

GAMES BEGIN FRIDAY, JUNE 11 - All Times are Eastern
TCU (49-11) at No. 2 Texas (49-11)
3 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 1 p.m. (ESPNHD), 4 p.m. (ESPNHD)

Vanderbilt (45-18) at Florida State (45-17)
Noon (ESPN2), 1 p.m. (ESPN), 1 p.m. (ESPN)

Cal St. Fullerton/Minnesota winner at No. 6 UCLA (46-13)
10:30 p.m. (ESPN2), 7 p.m. (ESPN2), 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

Miami (Florida)/Texas A&M winner at No. 3 Florida (45-15)
7 p.m. (ESPNHD), 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD)

The following four best-of-three super regionals will be played Saturday, June 12, Sunday, June 13, and Monday, June 14 (if necessary).

GAMES BEGIN SATURDAY, JUNE 12 - All times are Eastern
Arkansas at No. 1 Arizona St. (50-8)
9 p.m. (ESPNU), 10 p.m. (ESPN2), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Alabama (41-23) at Clemson (41-22)
6 p.m. (ESPNU), 7 p.m. (ESPN2), 1/7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Oklahoma (47-15) at No. 5 Virginia (50-12)
3 p.m. (ESPNU), 4 p.m. (ESPN), 1/7 p.m. (ESPN2)

South Carolina (46-15) at No. 4 Coastal Carolina (55-8)
Noon (ESPNU), 1 p.m. (ESPN), 1/7 p.m. (ESPN2)



Rolling into this super regional, I'm feeling really good about three of our pitchers: Branden Kline, Tyler Wilson, and Kevin Arico. I'm nervous about Cody Winiarski, Danny Hultzen, and Robert Morey, the guys who will likely start the games this weekend. We really need Morey and especially Hultzen to bounce back from shaky performances in the regional.

Meanwhile, our bats are pretty hot right now. We should bring plenty of offense to the table against the Sooners.

It will be fun, no doubt.

GO HOOS! LET'S GET BACK TO OMAHA!


Note: Of college baseball's "Sweet Sixteen," 3.5 of the teams are from the ACC. Other than Virginia, 2-seed Clemson beat out Auburn to win the Auburn regional and Florida State dominated their regional. The 0.5? It's Miami, who is currently up 3-2 over Texas A&M after a rain delay stopped the game last night. I assume they'll finish that game today, so stay tuned. The ACC teams that lost in the regionals were 1-seed Georgia Tech, who succumbed to Alabama in the Atlanta regional, 3-seed NC State (Myrtle Beach regional), 2-seed Virginia Tech (Columbia regional), and 3-seed North Carolina (Norman regional). The Sweet Sixteen and super regional matchups are comprised of Arizona State vs. Arkansas, Clemson vs. Alabama, Virginia vs. Oklahoma, South Carolina vs. Coastal Carolina, Texas vs. TCU, Florida State vs. Vanderbilt, UCLA vs. Cal St. Fullerton, and Miami/Texas A&M vs. Florida.

Click HERE for the brackets.

June 7, 2010

Win or Lose...



I just want to take a quick second and say:

Win or lose, it's been a great baseball season for the Hoos. I think we've taken another solid step forward, and have cemented our place among the college baseball elite.

A loss tonight will be a bitter pill to swallow, but I don't want to have anything this team has accomplished be diminished. 49 wins. The ACC regular season championship. A national seed in the NCAA Tournament. It's been a great year.

It's been a great year, but I would hate to see it end tonight.

GO HOOS!

Do or Die

From Jeff White:

CHARLOTTESVILLE -- For now, at least, the season comes down to one game for the UVa baseball team.

Win Monday night at Davenport Field, and Virginia, the No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament, will host a best-of-three super regional against Oklahoma next weekend.

And if the Wahoos lose?

One of the greatest seasons in school history -- UVa has spent much of the spring ranked No. 1 nationally by Baseball America -- will end on a shocking note.

In a regional that opened Friday with four teams, two remain: UVa (49-12) and St. John's (43-19). The Red Storm rallied to beat the Cavaliers 6-5 on Sunday night to force a winner-take-all rematch in the double-elimination regional. The teams will meet Monday at 6 p.m. at Davenport.

Virginia, which advanced to the College World Series in 2009, has not dropped back-to-back games this season.

"Is there pressure? Sure. I'd be lying to you if I told you that there wasn't," Cavaliers coach Brian O'Connor said Sunday night.

"You're a national seed, you're hosting a regional, and -- this is what I told the team after [the game] -- everybody assumes that you're supposed to just walk through it and win three games. That just is not the way it works. You're playing a great opponent, and you gotta go out and take it. I think we'll come out loose and ready to play [Monday] and give it our best shot."

The most dangerous batter in this regional -- St. John's freshman Jeremy Baltz -- staged an unforgettable show Sunday night. Earlier in the day, in an elimination game against Mississippi, the Big East rookie of the year had gone 1 for 3, with an RBI, in the Red Storm's 20-16 victory.

Against UVa, he ramped up his production. In the fourth inning, Baltz's two-run home run to right field pulled St. John's to 5-4. In the eighth, with two outs, after swinging through two sliders from reliever Tyler Wilson, Baltz blasted another two-run homer to make it 6-5. This shot sailed over the wall in left.

"That's what makes him so special," St. John's coach Ed Blankmeyer said of the 6-3, 190-pound left-fielder. "He's got power to both fields."

Baltz's 24th homer of the season -- no Cavalier has more than 10 -- came on another Wilson slider and silenced most of the sellout crowd of 4,801. The 'Hoos went quietly in the ninth, retired in order by left-hander Kevin Kilpatrick, who pitched five-plus innings of shutout relief against a team that in its first two NCAA tournament games had totaled 28 runs and 33 hits.

"I just had to pitch like it was the last time I'd pitch for the year -- or forever," Kilpatrick said.

Baltz, a member of the all-Big East first team, has hit four home runs at Davenport. He's batting .500 (6 for 12) at the regional.

"I've been watching him all weekend," O'Connor said Sunday night. "He's got a great swing. He's got really good bat speed. I mean, we were throwing him some fastballs at 92, 94 miles an hour, and he wasn't late on them. He had the home run to right field, he had the home run to left field. That kid's a special player. We gotta find a way to get him out [Monday]."

Virginia fell behind early, on St. John's first baseman Paul Karmas' two-run homer off starter Robert Morey in the second. Morey, a junior right-hander, retired the Red Storm in order in the third, however, and then the 'Hoos put up five runs in the fourth.

Two came on a majestic home run by junior Jarrett Parker, his 10th of the season and 26th of his UVa career, and second baseman Keith Werman added a two-run single later in the inning.

Trailing 5-2 in a hostile environment, St. John's didn't panic. And when Baltz homered in the fourth off Morey, who'd walked the leadoff batter, suddenly it was a one-run game.

"The problem is, we let 'em hang around," O'Connor said. "We had a chance to put them away on the mound when we got the five-spot in the fourth inning.

"We let 'em hang around, and when you have an opportunity to put somebody away, you have to do it, both offensively and on the mound."

Parker and sophomore John Hicks had two hits apiece for Virginia, but four of the team's most accomplished veterans -- Phil Gosselin, Dan Grovatt, Tyler Cannon and Franco Valdes -- were a combined 0 for 15.

"It was a difficult loss, obviously," O'Connor said. "We had our opportunities to win and didn't do it. But this is why you go 2-0 in the tournament. You have another opportunity [Monday] to win the championship, and as I told the team after the game,
this team has bounced back all year long."

UVa's starter in the finale will be junior Cody Winiarski or freshman Branden Kline, O'Connor said. Winiarski started Friday but lasted only four innings in Virginia's 15-4 rout of VCU. Kline pitched three strong innings of relief Saturday night in a 13-7 win over Ole Miss.

Also available will be closer Kevin Arico, who has yet to pitch in the regional, and Wilson, who has appeared in two games.

"I think we're going to be fine," Morey said. "We've bounced back all year after tough losses, and this is a new season. We have one opponent ahead of us, one game to look forward to, and that's [Monday]."

O'Connor said he's not worried about his team's mindset.

"We're over 60 games into the season," he said. "I think I know our players, I know they're tough kids, they're very resilient. I've got to have complete confidence that they're going to come out [Monday] with everything we have. They haven't shown me anything this year to feel any differently."

Near the end of his press conference Sunday night, O'Connor was asked about his strategy against Baltz, who's now hitting .398 for the season. When Baltz came to the plate, Matt Wessinger, who had singled with one out, was on first.

"Well, I can tell you this: I would have never pitched around him, and I would have never walked him or tried to do anything like that," O'Connor said.

"That guy's the winning run. Sure he's a threat to hit it out of the ballpark, but if he hits the ball out of the ballpark, he hits the ball out of the ballpark. The guy's human. The guy's not going to hit every ball out of the park. So you've got to try to make your pitches. Unfortunately, Tyler just didn't get the ball exactly where he needed to, and [Baltz] made him pay for it."

June 6, 2010

One Win Away



After last night's wild, woolly 13-7 win over Ole Miss, Virginia Baseball is now poised to win the Charlottesville regional and advance to the super regional. Ole Miss plays St. John's (who beat VCU yesterday, 8-6, to eliminate the Rams) at 1:00 PM today. The loser is eliminated, the winner advances to play the Hoos tonight at 6:00 PM.

Whichever team we face, they would need to beat us tonight and then again tomorrow in order to slip past us to win the regional. An interesting fact: the Hoos haven't lost back-to-back games all season.

Last night, staff ace Danny Hultzen pitched six innings and was credited with the win, but he struggled through most of those innings. Freshman Branden Kline relieved Hultzen and surrendered a home run on his first pitch... but then dominated the rest of the night. Robert Morey is set to take the mound tonight against the Ole Miss / St. John's winner, and Tyler Wilson is ready to pitch again after a short stint on Friday. Closer Kevin Arico has yet to see action this weekend, so he's ready to go, too. If we lose tonight and have to play tomorrow, Cody Winiarski and Branden Kline should both be ready to eat up a few innings.

The big advantage right now is that tonight's game will be our 3rd in three days, while our opponent will be playing their 4th. In other words, their bullpen will be much more chewed up than ours.

Meanwhile, the Cavalier bats remained hot last night. The Hoos stroked 17 hits in scoring the 13 runs. John Barr led the Virginia offense by going 4-for-4 with four RBIs. Jarrett Parker and Tyler Cannon each scored three runs as every starter had at least one hit for the second straight day. Impressive stuff.

Tonight's game could be the one in which we slam the door shut against our regional opponents. Let's get it done. GO HOOS!


In other ACC action...

-- Virginia Tech stayed alive in the loser's bracket of the Columbia regional by shelling Bucknell, 16-7. The Hokies get a rematch with the Citadel for the right to take on South Carolina for the regional crown.

-- Miami crushed Texas A&M, 14-1. The Canes are now sitting pretty in the Coral Gables regional, just like the Hoos in CVille.

-- Florida State slipped past Oregon, 6-4. The Noles are also at 2-0 and in the command position in their regional.

-- Ditto Georgia Tech, who beat Alabama, 5-2.

-- North Carolina lost a heartbreaker to Oklahoma, 7-6. The Heels play Oral Roberts in an elimination game today, with the winner facing the Sooners for the right to advance out of the Norman regional (and face the winner of the CVille regional in the super regional.)

-- NC State was eliminated by Stony Brook, 6-2.

-- Clemson took charge in the Auburn regional by beating the host Tigers, 5-2.

June 5, 2010

Rolling...



It started out kind of shaky, but the Hoos were able to overcome some spotty pitching and bury the VCU Rams under an avalanche of runs in yesterday's first game of the CVille regional. The Hoos won in dominant fashion, 15-4.

Some assorted thoughts and facts:

-- Cody Winiarski (our #3, Sunday pitcher) didn't pitch very well at all. He faced two bases-loaded-with-no-outs jams in the 4th and 5th innings before surrendering VCU's four runs and ceding the mound to bulldog reliever Tyler Wilson. Winiarski still notched the win, but we will definitely need him to pitch better as we move forward (if we move forward...)

-- Speaking of Tyler Wilson, he was simply magnificent in long relief against the Rams. Three innings pitched, five strikeouts, no runs allowed, all on just 37 pitches. I love this guy.

-- With the Hoos up big late in the game, seldom-used reliever Corey Hunt pitched a marvelous 8th and 9th inning. If we can get a few good innings from Hunt here and there, it gives us great bullpen depth. These two innings were just his 13th and 14th of the season.

-- For us to beat VCU so handily, with them pitching their ace and us pitching our #3 starter bodes very well for the Hoos in the NCAA Tournament. I would actually even make the argument that Winiarski is our #4 starter --- I think freshman Branden Kline has surpassed him late in the season.

-- Offensively, the Hoos EXPLODED on the Rams. 15 runs on 16 hits, including a home run from Jarrett Parker that completely cleared the bleachers in deep right field. It was just a towering blast. All nine starters tallied at least one hit, and eight different Hoos knocked in an RBI. The offense is awake.

-- Ole Miss beat St. John's in the night game, 10-5. The Rebels pitched their ace, Drew Pomeranz, who went seven strong innings in the effort. The Hoos now face the Rebs tonight at 6:00 PM, with the winner taking a position of absolute strength in the double-elimination regional tournament. On the bump for the Hoos: our ace, Danny Hultzen.

-- The ACC was 6-2 in the tournament openers. The losers? NC State to College of Charleston and Virginia Tech to Citadel.

-- I'm a person who always has at least one wandering eye gazing ahead to the future. This 2010 edition of Virginia Baseball is loaded for bear, and (God willing / knock on wood) should be able to advance pretty far in this NCAA postseason, hopefully back to Omaha for the College World Series. But once this season is over and the dust settles, who are we losing, and who will return for the 2011 season? Among regulars, INF Tyler Cannon, C Franco Valdes, and relief pitcher Neal Davis are graduating. The draft-eligible juniors include OF John Barr, INF/OF Phil Gosselin, OF Dan Grovatt, OF Jarrett Parker, utility player Kenny Swab, closer Kevin Arico, Saturday starter Robert Morey, Sunday starter Cody Winiarski, and relievers Tyler Wilson and Corey Hunt. I'm guessing that JP and Goose are as good as gone, along with Morey. Grovatt, Arico, and Wilson will have tough decisions to make. I'm guessing Barr, Swab, Winiarski, and Hunt are all back for the 2011 season. Also returning are underclassmen INF Stephen Bruno, INF Reed Gragnani, INF/C John Hicks, INF Steven Proscia, INF Keith Werman, ace pitcher Danny Hultzen, and mid-week starter Branden Kline (who will likely move to one of the weekend roles next year). Oh yeah, we'll still be really good next year.


That's it for now. Tonight's game is absolutely HUGE. Win, and we're one win away from the super regional. Lose, and we face a tough three-game stretch of must-wins to make it out of this regional. Like I said, this game is HUGE. Tune in on the radio, or follow it on GameTracker!

GO HOOS!

June 4, 2010

The CVille Regional is Underway!


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Virginia baseball team begins the 2010 NCAA Tournament at 4 p.m. Friday when it plays host to VCU in the first game of the NCAA Charlottesville Regional at Davenport Field. The No. 5 national seed and top seed in the regional, Virginia will be playing at home in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.
Ole Miss and St. John's will play the nightcap Friday with an 8 p.m. contest. The complete regional schedule is as follows:

Friday, June 4
Game 1 - No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 VCU, 4 p.m.
Game 2 - No. 2 Ole Miss vs. No. 3 St. John's, 8 p.m.

Saturday, June 5
Game 3 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 1 p.m.
Game 4 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 6 p.m.

Sunday, June 6
Game 5 - Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 1 p.m.
Game 6 - Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 4, 6 p.m.

Monday, June 7
Game 7 - Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6, 6 p.m. (if necessary)

All Virginia games are carried locally on WINA 1070-AM and online at VirginiaSports.com for free through V-Pass live audio. In Richmond, the Friday game against VCU will be carried by WXGI 950 AM (the VCU school broadcast). Saturday (either time) the game will be carried on WRVA 1140-AM. Sunday (6 p.m. only), the contest will be carried by WRVA 1140-AM. Monday, the game would be carried by WRNL 910-AM

Counting this year, Virginia has competed in each of the last seven NCAA tournaments and 10 overall. UVa is 18-19 all-time in the NCAA tournament. Under Brian O'Connor (since 2004), UVa is 12-13 in the NCAAs, including a 6-3 run to the College World Series last season.

A national seed for the first time this year, Virginia is one of 14 Division I baseball programs to reach the NCAA tournament each of the last seven seasons (including 2010). The Cavaliers are one of four schools in the ACC to hold that distinction, joining Florida State, Miami and North Carolina. The other programs are Arizona State, Arkansas, Cal State Fullerton, Missouri, Oral Roberts, Rice, South Carolina, Southern Miss, TCU and Texas.

Virginia has plenty of experience when it comes to the NCAA tournament. The Cavaliers' position players have combined to play in 119 NCAA tournament games, including 16 from Tyler Cannon over the last three seasons. Four UVa pitchers have combined to throw in 20 tournament games.

Virginia faced 10 teams this year that advanced to the NCAA tournament (Clemson, Coastal Carolina, Dartmouth, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, Miami, VCU, Virginia Tech). Twenty-seven of Virginia's 58 games were against NCAA qualifiers (46.5 percent) - UVa went 19-8 against those teams.

No. 2 seed Ole Miss (38-22, 16-14 Southeastern Conference) received an at-large berth in the tournament. The Cavaliers and Rebels also played in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, with Virginia winning two of three games in the Oxford Super Regional to earn a berth in the College World Series. The Rebels are led by All-America starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz, who went 8-2 with a 2.21 ERA this season. He also is one of the nation's leaders in strikeouts with 134 and is expected to be a first-round pick next week in the Major League Baseball Draft. Matt Smith leads the team in batting (.344), home runs (12) and RBI (51).

No. 3 seed St. John's (40-18, 16-11 Big East) captured the Big East's automatic berth in the tournament by winning the Big East Tournament title. The Red Storm swept four games to win the championship, including a pair of wins over Louisville and a victory in the title game against Connecticut - both Louisville and UConn earned host sites for the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Freshman Jeremy Baltz leads St. John's with a .393 batting average, 20 home runs and 74 RBI.

No. 4 seed (VCU, 34-24-1, 17-7-1 Colonial) earned the CAA's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament after defeating UNC Wilmington, 7-5 in 12 innings, Saturday in the CAA championship game. The Rams are familiar foes with Virginia and played in Charlottesville May 4, with UVa earning a 10-5 win. Joe Van Meter is one of the nation's top hitters, with a .433 batting average.

Ticket Information is as follows:
Ticket books may be purchased in person at the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office in Bryant Hall, by calling the Ticket Office at (800) 542-8821 or logging on to VirginiaSports.com.

As of Thursday morning, over 3,400 tickets have been sold for the Regional tournament. After several expansions this season, Davenport Field now will seat 4,801 for postseason play.

Regional all-session ticket books are currently on sale and will be sold for $45 for General Admission seating. Reserved ticket books are sold out. Thursday is the last day fans will be able to purchase all-session ticket books.

Customers ordering tickets from now until game day may pick up their tickets at the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office in Bryant Hall through Friday at 10 a.m. or at Davenport Field Will Call on game day beginning two hours prior to the first session of the day.

If available, single-session tickets for the Regional will go on sale to the public on Friday. If available, single-session tickets will be $12 for Reserved and $8 for General Admission, with $4 per ticket upgrades available from General Admission to Reserved on game day.

All parking will be paid parking for the entire postseason. Parking on game day will be $5.

Because of the success of the Virginia baseball team this season and increased ticket demand, NCAA tournament games at Davenport Field are expected to sell out. Fans are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance, as it is the only way to guarantee they will be able to attend all tournament games.

All sections of the grandstand (Sec. 101-109) and the first base bleachers (Sec. A-F) are considered Reserved seating for the entire NCAA tournament. General Admission seating is located on the grassy hillside down the left-field line and in the bleachers beyond the outfield wall in both left and right field. Standing room is also available for General Admission ticket buyers.