Some days all I want to write is, "That sucked." I figure if I left it at that, there wouldn't be much else to say, really. But maybe I owe you a little more than two words. I wrote a few more than two for ITA this week, and you should go check that out as sort of a starting point for the rest of the ramblings on where we stand, one-sixth of the way into the ACC hoops season.
The injuries are nothing new. We get slammed with those all the time. It's like all you have to do is impress the fans at the JPJA and then the injury gremlin shows up in the night and chops off your foot. Jeff White points out that Akil Mitchell re-injured his ankle in the Clemson game, which is no surprise since high-ankle sprains get reinjured like it's their job. Oh, and Darion Atkins is essentially week-to-week with what Tony Bennett called a "stress reaction." Like shin splints on steroids. As with anyone who's ever had any kind of a symptom of anything, I know how to look things up on WebMD and the like, and a "stress reaction" apparently is "a preceding stage to a stress fracture."
So now we're playing almost entirely without the two players that really made the engine purr in November and December. Joe Harris is the main scorer, but Mitchell and Atkins were drawing just all kinds of rave reviews for their athleticism, activity, and ability to light up a stat sheet on both ends of the floor. Remember that? We had shot-blocking, rebounding, killer double-teams, and best of all, they had post moves that worked. Now, according to Whitey Reid, it might be back to the four for Harris, which is a terrific way to get murdered in the post when we're on defense and destroy Harris's scoring value.
It's not like they're both declared out for the FSU game this coming Saturday, of course. The week away from game action might help. But until further notice, even if they play they're both likely to be pretty limited, and they're not getting any practice time.
If that weren't bad enough, we now have a point guard going on tilt. Against Clemson, Jontel Evans played probably the worst game I have ever seen out of a UVA point guard, and Calvin Baker could conjure up a real stinker sometimes when he had to play the 1. There's no sense in beating around the truth, though: Evans was absolutely horrible against Clemson. He's well aware of the need to take care of the ball, of course - it seems to me he's too well aware. He was indecisive, which in turn caused turnovers. (Case in point: a semi-transition moment when he thought about passing to Mitchell, decided not to, and traveled.) He didn't want to risk a turnover by attacking the basket, so he dribbled around the entire halfcourt everywhere but near the basket. That only ever resulted in shot-clock violations, or a hurried shot at the end of the time limit, which is just as bad. Against Clemson the offense was a chaotic mess, and yes, the finger needs to point squarely at the senior point guard.
Among UVA fans, you very often see premature quitting on the season. There is this thought that if you bring in the future starters right now, they'll gain the experience they need and, magically, the program will be so much better next year. It's an attitude that is almost willfully ignorant of the many other pieces of the puzzle, such as the should-be-obvious fact that if you lose a lot of games this season by playing your greenest players over your best players, recruiting tends to suffer. I hate this attitude. And yet there'll be a lot of merit to the idea of having Teven Jones start if Evans keeps playing like that. Not just to give Jones experience for next year so he can be a useful bridge to the era of Devon Hall and London Perrantes, but because if Evans keeps that up, Jones will be the best point guard we have.
There clearly is no better time for a week off, followed by a home game in front of what should be a decent crowd.
-- Always two there are, a master and an apprentice. If Jeff Banks looked like a perfect fit for UVA's football staff, I guess you got no choice but to say the same about his replacement, Larry Lewis. Lewis coached Banks when Banks was punting at Washington State and gave Banks his first coaching job, at Idaho State. Otherwise I probably can't do much of a better job outlining Lewis's career than the official release plus Jeff White's take, so I won't try. I also assume that when London (or Jon Oliver, or both, I dunno) interviewed Lewis, they asked the question, "You're going to at least stick around to help coach a practice, right?" So I figure UVA landed on its feet here after being spurned by Banks. Godspeed to Lewis as he tries to fix one of the brokenest units UVA has ever seen.
-- UVA isn't the only program in the state hiring assistant coaches. Tech settled on an offensive coordinator to replace Brian Stinespring, and hired Scot Loeffler from Auburn's recently fired staff. As a Michigan fan I know a great deal of Loeffler's history; he was Tim Tebow's QB coach, which earned a fair amount of mockery from my fellow blue-and-orange brethren, but Loeffler, it should be noted, was also Tom Brady's first QB coach, and also tutored Chad Henne. And Henne owns every passing record at Michigan that matters and threw more touchdowns than all but one Big Ten quarterback, ever. So I wouldn't cast too many aspersions on his ability to coach QBs. As for track record as an OC, well.....that's a different story.
-- I'll fix the recruiting board later, but for now the basic story is essentially trading Hipolito Corporan for in-state recruit Connor Wingo-Reeves. I listed CWR on the board as a linebacker since that's where all the services place him, but I think he's more likely to be a fullback. A real fullback, the run-into-linebackers type, which is refreshing. As for Corporan, he's off to Utah, a place he'd been hinting for a while now that he'd probably end up. UVA is definitely deep enough at cornerback to absorb the loss.