Back and forth on the seesaw we go. If you were listening in the past, you've been prepared and you know what it means. If not, you probably think UVA is a perfectly legitimate darkhorse to make the Sweet 16, win the ACC title, and why aren't we ranked yet anyway?
I wish I could say all that stuff is true, but there's work yet to be done to scrub away the memories of ODU and some crappy conference losses. For now, though, I don't mind riding a little high on the wave of three very decisive conference wins. The outlook for this basketball team should continue to be, on balance, optimistic. I might even let off a firework or two if they win tomorrow against NC State.
Because here's the deal. So far, we've had the easiest conference schedule, if you go by KenPom's numbers. Second-easiest, if you go by RPI, with only VT having it easier. Does that mean we're gonna make up for it in the last two-thirds of the schedule? Only a little. Of the three teams considered the likeliest to win the conference, we play each of them only once, and two of them at home. It's not an easy schedule, it never is in the ACC, but the games are winnable. I don't think you can ask for much more. Except health, which we never seem to get.
Some bulletized semi-issues from the past week:
-- There is this tendency - almost a desire, actually - to believe Teven Jones is "in the doghouse" because Doug Browman is eating up his minutes. After the BC game, Tony Bennett was even asked "where's Teven?" and his answer was basically that Browman was doing a better job at defending (on-ball screens were Tony's example) and knowing the system, by which I assume he means both offense and defense. This isn't hard to believe, given all the minutes that Will Sherrill got over Tristan Spurlock because Sherrill took to the system like the fat kid to the donut buffet. Browman has been receiving Bennett's coaching for four years now; Teven, barely one. People still want to say, "no, I think Teven's in the doghouse." OK, you know best.
-- It's almost like Tony read my scouting report on VT. The keys to winning were to shut down all the players not named Erick Green and shoot a zillion open threes because Tech will let you. Boom, 11 for 23 from three-land and Green scores 35 of Tech's 58 points while their next-best option (Jarell Eddie) shoots 2 for 11. I didn't even realize Green had so many points, either.
-- The stat sheet from that game is fascinating. Jontel Evans had six assists and no turnovers and the Hoos as a team had 21 and 6. They had more steals (nine) than VT had assists (six, and 14 turnovers.) It's a testament to coaching that the team in the hostile road gym was far more composed and together than the team playing for their home fans. By the way, Marshall Wood played for Tech after James Johnson had called it unlikely, but it might not've been the wisest move: if he hadn't picked up his one lone turnover he would've earned himself a seven-trillion.
-- UVA's length is starting to get to the opposition. Justin Anderson is becoming the master of the fuck-yo-shot out-of-nowhere swat, and guys like Joe Harris and Evan Nolte are putting themselves on the shot-block board too. Good positioning is the key to a lot of those; Anderson's extra athleticism is what turns the mundane into the spectacular.
-- By the way, I didn't have a big problem with Anderson's end-of-game dunk against BC. Partly because it let the UVA side of the score exactly match my prediction, yes. But the main thing is, he'd've dribbled out the clock, but BC double-teamed him. Hey, you keep playing, I'll keep playing. Anderson's apology to Steve Donahue was a solid thing to do, though.
-- BC's lineup, now that I actually think about it, is full of Reggie Cleveland All-Stars. Both ways, too. How is it that Olivier Hanlon and Ryan Anderson are black and Dennis Clifford is white?
More from around the world. The whole world. If your world is mostly UVA sports.
-- The CDP's headline that the notion of a UVA-Oregon football series is "premature at this point" is pretty much all the confirmation you need that it's happening. Penn State backed out of our game this fall and Oregon appears to be the replacement, with a 2013 and 2016 home and home. (From the way things have been sounding, by the way, PSU still wants to play the game, just not during their crippling sanction period.) It would appear the 2013 game is in Charlottesville, which would mean eight home games and not a single OOC game away from Scott Stadium.
There's a disturbing reaction from a wing of the fanbase that claims we should be scheduling Somalia State instead, in order to puff up our record and send the message that we're a team on the rise. Nonsense. If we're so lousy that we need fluffy cotton candy to squeak into bowl eligibility at 6-6, we got bigger issues. VT goes 6-6 and apologize for it; we shouldn't be needing to find the worst teams we can just so we can brag about six wins. If we can't get bowl eligible by beating Duke, Maryland, Ball State, VMI, and two more teams out of the eight others on the schedule, the problem is probably coaching, not scheduling.
Besides, sometimes the cupcake bites back. Ask Louisiana Tech. That was supposed to be a cupcake game, when it was scheduled. I'd rather be trounced by a top-5 team than by a WAC-snack. For the record, I'd really rather have replaced PSU with a quality-but-not-dominant Big Five team like Mizzou or Vandy, but any business of shying away from Oregon is proof we need a new attitude as a fanbase.
-- VT will be without starting cornerback Antone Exum for most of the offseason and maybe part of the regular season after he tore his ACL.
-- There's also an interesting CDP article today on Anthony Gill, the DeLorean in the garage, as Whitey Reid puts it. I wish by that he meant that we were going back to the Ralph Sampson years with this guy, but I think we're in for something interesting next year regardless.