November 21, 2016

Austin Nichols Dismissed, Major Loss for UVA Basketball

We can't have nice things.

My thoughts...

First, and most importantly: Go to hell, Austin Nichols.  Took up a scholarship for two seasons, put yourself in a position where we were really counting on you for this season, and... you did whatever it is you did to get yourself kicked off the team.  So, go to hell.

Second, I hope he gets whatever help he needs, and/or I hope this was the wake-up call he needed to get his head out of his ass.  I'm mad as hell, but I'm still pulling for you, Austin Nichols.

Second, it's good to know that our general righteousness is hard-earned and deserved.  I really don't see this happening at Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, UConn, UNC, etc cetera.

Fourth.  It's Mamadi Diakite time, bitches.

Dunk you very much.

(I'm going to stop with the numbers, and just give it to you free-flowingly.)  It's shit or get off the pot time for Jack Salt, Jarred Reuter, Devon Hall, and Darius Thompson.  For the record, I have my doubts about Devon Hall and Jack Salt.

Wondering aloud: Are we a bubble team now?  Jesus, I kinda think we might be.

My expectations were already lower than most Hoofans'. I was thinking 21-9, and a 5-seed, with Elite Eight upside (this was never going to be a 2017 Final Four team). I was trying to be realistic.  Without Nichols, I think this is now a fatally flawed team.  We'll work around it with the Bennettball systems, the Pack Line, and with grit, maybe with guys like Shayok and Wilkins taking the next step, maybe with young guys getting it done... but I've adjusted my expectations.  Now I'm thinking 6- or 7-seed, Sweet Sixteen ceiling.

Take last year's team and trade Brogdon, Gill, and Tobey for Guy, Diakite, and Jerome.  Assume improvement from the returnees (especially Shayok), but I still think a ~20% slide is fair to expect.  The ACC is tougher and our OOC schedule is a bear.  Last year's 24-6 (13-5 ACC) regular season becomes this year's 19-11 (11-7 ACC).  I really really really hope I'm wrong, but Austin Nichols was a huge part of our predicted success this season.  Our ceiling has lowered.  Choosing to underestimate this loss is choosing to stick your head in the sand.

Considering the potential silver linings, I hope Nichols' dismissal opens things up for the following to occur:
-- Kyle Guy accelerating his ascension to stardom.
-- Marial Shayok taking the reins as our top scorer and lead dog.
-- Isaiah Wilkins proving and improving his offensive game.
-- Jack Salt steadying into a consistent physical force in the low post.
-- Jarred Reuter carving out a reliable and important role.
-- Mamadi Diakite emerging as a captivating future star.

I'm actually more excited about this season than I was before. Overcoming this struggle is going to be a very interesting, entertaining storyline.

Tony Bennett already had the world's respect.  He's doubled it by booting Nichols.  Now he has to prove his coaching chops, and it's going to be fun as hell to watch.

Bottom line: With Nichols, Virginia was a bona fide Final Four contender in 2016-2017. Without him, I don’t think that case can be made right now.


  1. Simultaneous "go to hell" and "I am rooting for you". Nice. Nichols' departure certainly opens the season for plenty of what-ifs, but no questions about CTB's badassness.

    The Yale game echoed your thoughts here though - Shayok, Guy, and Diakite rising up with London and Zay making it all gel. I think we avoid the bubble through some real strides at the end of the season.

    1. I think it's a tight, seven-man rotation, just the way Tony likes it. Perrantes, Guy, DT, Shayok, Zay, Diakite, Reuter. Salt is a starter in name only; won't play much more than 7-9 mpg. Devon Hall is a lost cause. Shayok takes his starting spot against Iowa and never looks back...

    2. Funny as Hall has been the stabilizing force all year.

  2. I disagree that our ceiling is automatically lower - we still have one of the best coaches in the business with tons of talent. You could easily argue that the talent is unproven and may not develop into a dominant force, but that would lead to my argument that the only thing that is dramatically altered by Nichols' dismal is the team's floor. We could have a relatively dismal year, but we also have the talent to really make some noise in March. With increased playing time, the freshmen we need to develop quickly may actually do just that.

    1. But I definitely DO like your point on floor vs. ceiling. That's a good point.

    2. That may have sounded like my head in the sand, but it is certainly not. Nichols was a huge loss that will be felt at points during this season. I just think if everything goes right, we could make up for the loss. But when does everything go right for UVA??

  3. We didn't lose anything.... whatever the reason for his dismissal we are better off. I think UVa has plenty of talent.

    1. Still think that after seeing the bunzai attack tonight?

    2. We don't need a distraction on our team. Did you see what happened at Notre Dame and what's happening at unc? As far as the talent goes, I will stick with what we have rather then compromise. I think we are fine, I trust in Tony, this is not the first five star Tony gave the boot to.

  4. I think we went from a top team, somewhere in the 2-3 seed range in the NCAA tourney, to a good team that will be under that upper crust, but still capable of knocking one of those teams off.

    I'm thinking we settle somewhere in the 4-7 seed range, our defense will be too good and our experience is too much to fall much lower than that. If Guy gets settled in enough to play 25 minutes a game, we can score enough to beat most teams and have a puncher's chance at a deep tournament run. Our offense was concerning and even alarmingly bad at times against Yale, but by the end of the year I think we'll be more cohesive as the new kids get more experience.

    My head is not in the sand, I just think we'll be able to guard teams well enough to not really fall too far outside of the Top 25.