March 30, 2011

Perfection.



98 pitches.

No hits.

No walks.

No errors.

No baserunners.

Nothing else even remotely like it.

Last night, junior starting pitcher Will Roberts (UVA's midweek starter, aka 4th starter) threw a PERFECT game to propel the #1-ranked Virginia baseball team to a 2-0 win over visiting George Washington, to its 2,000th victory in program history, and to a 25-2 overall record (8-1 ACC).


Will Roberts Throws First Perfect Game in Virginia History

Perfection: Roberts Throws Perfect Game

March 29, 2011

UVA Lax vs. John's Hopkins


My dear, dear friend Paul is a huge lacrosse fan, and was able to attend the UVA/Hopkins game this past weekend.  His report...

UVA Lacrosse vs. Johns Hopkins


I had the chance to watch the #2 ranked Hoos take on #11 JHU this weekend. Hopkins has been slipping (last year was their first sub-.500 season since 1971) and this was a chance for us to bury their young squad early in the season. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way. The Hoos lost a thriller, 12-11, with our front-line furiously attacking their net in the final seconds. It was really, really close. For me this is a ‘undergrad vs. grad school’ match, but I’ve always hated Hopkins lacrosse as well as their fans. Saturday was no different.

Despite the Hoos being mere inches/seconds from tying this thing up at the end of regulation, I left the stadium feeling mostly pessimistic about our showing. While we absolutely have one of the most talented rosters in the NCAA, the team looked sluggish, confused, and unprepared for two and a half, almost three quarters of play. We had several really dumb penalties that hurt us at key moments. There was little cohesion between units, and while the Hopkins attack was having its way with our D, our offense was relying WAY too much on the Bratton twins making athletic moves and trying to get open shots. These shots usually ended up being fairly well defended, and were often way off the net. Oh and as usual, we were getting owned on the face-offs.

I don’t know what happened in the middle of the third quarter, but everything changed. Ground balls started going our way, we won some face-offs, and the offense started clicking. We scored 4 goals in a 63 second span. Give some credit to Hopkins, because they hung in there through the Wahoo run, and eventually regained their composure and put this thing away, scoring the go-ahead goal with less than two minutes left.

If we’re gonna make any hay in the NCAA tournament, we’re gonna need to see 4 solid quarters of play, not this garbage I mostly saw on Saturday.

The loss dropped us to #4 in the rankings. Everybody knows the team has talent, but they’re gonna have to get it together a little bit to beat teams like Syracuse and Duke.

Just noticed Notre Dame at #2? Yeah I’m not buying that, people. You’re a football school, ND. Stop pretending in lacrosse like you did in hoops this season.

Great stuff, Paulie!  Thank you for offering it up to the mighty Wahooze.  I really, really appreciate it.

Pre-Pre-Preseason ACC Hoops Power Rankings



Fun read from the ACC Sports Journal's Andrew Skwara:

Pre-Pre-Preseason ACC Hoops Power Rankings

March 27, 2011

VCU!



I'm absolutely ECSTATIC to see VCU in the Final Four.  And if I'm being honest, I think they have looked the best of the four teams on their way to Houston.  They basically owned Kansas today.  I think they have an actual legit chance to win the national championship.  Butler has flaws, as does UConn and Kentucky.  If the Rams stay hot, they can beat any of those three teams.

That being said, does it make me petty to be feeling a tinge of jealousy right now?  UVA fans huddle together, hoping for mere competency and a shot at making the NIT.  VCU flexes nuts, wrecks teams from every single one of the so-called power conferences, and goes to the Final Four, just like George Mason did five years ago.

Is Tony Bennett the coach to get us back into the NCAA Tournament?  Is he the coach to win games in March?  Can he take us to our rightful Final Four appearance?

We have the arena, we have the recruiting footprint, we have the built-in strength of conference to buoy our RPI.  We should be going to the Tournament on the reg, making runs like this one VCU is making.

I'll fully admit, watching VCU's run has made me feel a bit more impatient about our rebuilding project here in Charlottesville.  I think it's got to be NCAA TOURNAMENT OR BUST for Tony Bennett in 2012.

But until then...

GO RAMS!

March 24, 2011

UVA Bball Dynasty Rankings

Learn to love this face.  He's #2 in these rankings.


For all of you who aren't fantasy sports geeks...  "Dynasty Rankings" are rankings that take into account not only the current value, but also the future value of a player, extending to the end of his career (in this case, the exhaustion of his college basketball eligibility).

I thought it might be fun to take a quick look at the dynasty rankings of the players on the Virginia basketball roster.  With both short- and long-term relative value in mind, which players are the most important to the program as Tony Bennett heads into the "show me" year(s) of the rebuilding mission?

Here are the rankings.  (Year in school listed for 2011-12 season.)

#13 Thomas Rogers / So. / G-F
He's a walk-on, and likely won't consume a scholarship at any point in his career, barring attrition elsewhere on the roster.  So in that regard, he's a bargain player.  He's a good shooter who could carve out a niche role as an upperclassman.  After seeing what Bennett did with Will Sherrill, I won't count out any walk-on, especially the ones that were actively recruited to walk on at Virginia.

#12 Will Regan / So. / PF
We didn't see much from Regan in a season where the team was perilously thin in the frontcourt.  That doesn't bode well.  I assume he'll improve with added strength and experience, but he's already been recruited over and seems to have a minimized role moving forward.

#11 Assane Sene / Sr. / C
He'll likely be the starting center next season, unless James Johnson is good enough to push him to the bench.  I love the way Sene has improved, but with only one more year to play, he doesn't have much more opportunity to have an impact on the program.  If he takes another big step forward and is a key player on a team that wins a game or two in the NCAA Tournament in 2012, then this ranking will be too low.

#10 Jontel Evans / Jr. / PG
You might disagree with what I'm about to say, but I'm saying it anyway.  The ceiling for the team is relatively low as long as Evans is its primary point guard.  He's a limited player, with a few flaws he'll never be able to overcome.  I love him coming off of the bench as a defensive-minded role player, but I just don't see him as a critical piece to the ongoing puzzle at this time.

#9 Sammy Zeglinski / Sr. / PG
Like with Sene, the clock is ticking with Sammy.  If he can stay healthy and step up to take the reins of a successful team next season, it could be the breakthrough campaign that paves the way for future success... and I will have ranked him too low here.  In 2011-12, he'll be the best we have at the point guard position, so he's a pivotal player in that regard.

#8 Darion Atkins / Fr. / PF
I don't think he'll see much playing time in 2011-12, but the three years after that he'll be one of the top frontcourt players, alongside James Johnson and Akil Mitchell, and eventually Mike Tobey.  He's a potential three year starter, if he can beat out Mitchell at the 4.

#7 Paul Jesperson / Fr. / SF
He's a bit redundant with Joe Harris, but minus explosive, dynamic guards who can create their own scoring, we need players who can shoot and who are true shot-makers.  I get the sense that Jesperson is an excellent version of the type of sweet shooting wing Tony Bennett wants to build his offense around.

#6 Akil Mitchell / So. / F
I'm sold.  I think he's going to be a very good defender and the kind of athletic frontcourt player who can keep possessions alive and make positive things happen when the conventional plays break down.  Every good team has at least one player like this.

#5 KT Harrell / So. / G-F
He had a rocky freshman season, but I still believe in his talent.  A mid-range scorer is a really unique weapon in today's game, and Tony Bennett knows how to take advantage of that.  Harrell's defense should quickly improve, also.  To me, he looks like a key complimentary player for the balance of his career; a #3 scorer type.

#4 James Johnson / RS Fr. / PF-C
Buy the hype.  It's been a long time since we've had a big man with these kinds of physical abilities and skill sets.  He might never be a guy who you dump the ball down to on the blocks to generate sure points, but at worst he'll come close to being able to provide that.  I don't want to say he's a program-changer, but he's the kind of player UVA basketball has lacked since Travis Watson graduated.  In other words, a banger with the skill to do more than just deliver five hard fouls.

#3 Mike Scott / Sr. / PF
He will be the best player, leading scorer, and leader on the 2011-12 team.  If that team breaks through into the postseason, Mike Scott will have played no small part in delivering the program from the abyss in which Pete Gillen and Dave Leitao plunged it.  I'm excited to see what he can do with Sene, Johnson, and Mitchell taking some of the pressure off of him in the post.

#2 Malcolm Brogdon / Fr. / G
I know this ranking is really high, but -- stick with me here -- watching the NCAA Tournament this year I realized that you cannot be a Sweet Sixteen type of team without a guard who can go get you points and make things happen.  Brogdon is the only thing even remotely close to Kemba Walker that Virginia basketball has to offer.

#1 Joe Harris / So. / G-F
Simply put, he's a perfect fit with Tony Bennett.  I fully expect him to be the face of the franchise in his junior and senior seasons, after serving as the secondary scorer to Mike Scott next year.  Great shooter, with a rapidly improving floor game.  His defense is coming around, too.  He's close to being a complete player, minus the ability to create shots on his own on a regular basis.  If we're ever able to pair him up with a playmaking point guard, look out.

40 Minutes of Hell



Very few people know this about me... but prior to being accepted to attend UVA, I had a #1 and a #1a college basketball team. Virginia was the #1a. The #1 was Arkansas. The Corliss Williamson / Scotty Thurman / Corey Beck / Clint McDaniel / Dwight Stewart / Alex Dillard Razorbacks team that won the national championship in 1994 was (is) probably my favorite college basketball team of all time. Once those players cycled off the roster and Nolan Richardson melted down with his accusations of racism in the Arkansas administration, 40 Minutes of Hell seemed to have been lost forever.

News broke yesterday that Mike Anderson (Richardson's former lead assistant) accepted the offer to leave Missouri and head to Arkansas and attempt to restore the 40 Minutes of Hell.

And while Virginia will now always have the top spot in my heart, I once again have a #2 team to pull for in college hoops. No system is more exciting and fun to watch. And while I'm highly invested in Virginia Basketball, and Tony Bennett's slow it down and grind it out philosophies... I'm downright giddy to watch Arkansas again, with the intense fullcourt pressure and transition offense.

Welcome back, 40 Minutes of Hell.  College basketball really missed you.





(And for the record, when Arkansas and Virginia played in the 1995 Elite Eight, I was pulling for Virginia... but only because like two months earlier I had been accepted to attend UVA.)

March 22, 2011

Breaking Down the 2011 Football Schedule

The 2011 schedule was released while I was on my Wahiatus, so I missed the chance to comment on how I think it fell into place for Virginia.  I plan to cure that ill NOW.




9/3 -- William & Mary
Yes, I know we lost this game in 2009.  I don't expect a repeat in 2011, even though we'll be breaking in a new starting QB.  Superior talent should win the day.  1-0

9/10 -- @ Indiana
This game scares me a little bit, but we're a better program than Indiana with better talent across the board.  Should be a win.  2-0

9/17 -- @ UNC
I don't like our matchups against Carolina this season, especially on the road.  I think they win a close one.  2-1 (0-1 ACC)

9/24 -- Southern Miss
This is a pivotal early season game.  Make no mistake, Southern Miss has a good team and could very well be favored to win this game.  If we want to get to six wins and a bowl game, this is one we really need to win.  It's a big game, and the kind of stepping stone that could elevate us from "bad" to "mediocre."  I have faith that Mike London will have the team ready, and that the home crowd will provide a lift.  Win.  3-1

10/1 -- Idaho
The Vandals have a terrible football tradition, but their teams have been decent of late, with Mike Iupati on the offensive line and Nathan Enderle at QB, both NFL talents.  Unfortunately for Idaho, they are both gone now, and this game is being played in Scott.  Win.  4-1

10/15 -- Georgia Tech
I love that we have a bye week to prepare for this game.  It's winnable, but we'll need a good gameplan against that option attack.  My head says it's still likely a loss, but my heart says it's a hard-fought win and another stepping stone for the program.  I'll allow my gut to break the tie.  Win.  5-1 (1-1 ACC)

10/22 -- NC State
Hope and pray that Russell Wilson chooses baseball this summer.  If he does, we have a good chance to win this game.  If he sticks with football for another year, this is a near-certain loss.  As a Virginia fan, I have come to expect the worst.  I'll say this is a loss, to sort of even out the odds on the GT pick.  5-2 (1-2 ACC)

10/27 -- @ Miami
Ha ha ha.  They'll get us back for last year, count on that.  Loss.  5-3 (1-3 ACC)

11/5 -- @ Maryland
I hate that they stumbled across a franchise QB in Danny O'Brien and I hate that they stumbled across a good coach in Randy Edsall.  It pains me to say it... Loss.  5-4 (1-4 ACC)

11/12 -- Duke
With FSU and VT left to play, we'll need to win here to get to bowl eligibility.  I think we'll [finally] take care of Duke.  Win.  6-4 (2-4 ACC)

11/19 -- Florida State
If you asked me which game we are least likely to win this season, this would be the one.  Loss.  6-5 (2-5 ACC)

11/26 -- Virginia Tech
Big game for Mike London.  I think a win here buys him an extra year of goodwill from the fanbase, while a loss makes 2012 a make-or-break season.  I've got a hunch that we'll hang tough.  But a win?  I can't call it either way.  7-5 (3-5 ACC)

MILITARY BOWL, BABY!

Bennett Reflects on Season of Highs and Lows



Awesome interview with Tony Bennett, from Jeff White.

READ THIS.

March 19, 2011

Told you I'd be back...

Here's a bacon-wrapped date for you:

Whitelaw Reid -- "Making the Grade"

Beautifully wraps up the basketball season with a player-by-player report card.  My favorite snippet:

At least one of the turnovers that Evans made in the last loss to Miami was a result of wanting to get rid of the ball before he could be fouled and sent to the line. If Evans wants to be in at crunch time next season, he needs to want the ball at the end of games, not play hot potato with it.


Well said, Whitey.  Explains perfectly why I want Jontel coming off of the bench for the rest of his UVA career.  His tenacious on-ball defense can change the tone of a game, but his spotty scoring ability and general inability to hit his free throws means he's just not an ACC-caliber starting point guard.
 
Another part I like:
 
At 6-foot-9, Johnson is the most athletically gifted big man Virginia has had in a while. It should be fun watching his development in 2011-12. Johnson should provide a rugged interior presence that has been missing.

Can't wait to see THE BEAST next season.  His presence in the frontcourt mix along with Mike Scott, suddenly effective Assane Sene, and rapidly improving Akil Mitchell... should be a thing of beauty.

 
Anyway, read the article.  It's not long, but it's darn good.

I'm coming back.

I promise.

But we might have to adopt some formatting changes.

For example, fewer long-ass well-developed posts, and more quickie tweet-esque posts.

Fewer big five course meals and more small snacks.

Not fast food, but maybe fast casual.  Not Outback, not McDonald's, but maybe Chipotle.

Not Diet Wahooze, mind you... but maybe Wahooze Tapas.

Anyway, I will be back, and it will be glorious.

But right now, I'm hungry.  Time for a snack.