The Good Ol' Blog Archive for May, 2009
Thursday, May 21st, 2009
When Virginia dropped a tortuous 16-5 decision to Duke in the ACC Tournament, the message board reaction was interesting. Among the thoughts: Why haven’t UVa’s coaches made adjustments to counter not only the Blue Devils, but other potential opponents in the upcoming NCAA Tournament?
Since then, the Cavaliers have exploded with back-to-back bashings of Villanova and Johns Hopkins to reach the Final Four. And, yes, the Hoos made a few changes, added a few small wrinkles. Among those is playing the Bratton twins on the same line more often. During a media session Wednesday afternoon, I asked head coach Dom Starsia about the challenges of tinkering with a 15-2 product without breaking it altogether.
“That’s sort of the dilemma of coaching,” Starsia said. “At the same time, there’s enough examples where I would tell you that I think you need to be bold. You can’t be afraid to make changes. You’re not going to do it just for the sake of making them, but there are changes that you think are going to make you better – we’re tinkering with some things on the field right now that I’m not convinced we’re going to be ready to use on Saturday, but I’d like to have those tools in the shed if we do need them. I think it gets the players thinking and gets their attention, but at the end of the day it’s about the fundamental things we’ve been doing for nine months here that is going to carry the day here so we’re not going to change things too dramatically.”
Certainly, Cavalier fans are hoping the team keeps hitting the right notes this weekend against Cornell whether those adjustments show up or not.
Thursday, May 21st, 2009
When new Kentucky coach John Calipari mentioned that Virginia-Kentucky might be part of the 2009-2010 schedule in a tournament in Cancun, there wasn’t a whole lot of information available beyond a blurb in The Daily Progress. In an article about Calipari’s start at Kentucky, ESPN’s Andy Katz mentioned the event again:
Kentucky’s schedule has its usual daunting spots with games against North Carolina and Louisville, the series against Indiana and a tournament in Cancun, Mexico, against a rebuilding Stanford team and a reshuffling Virginia squad under new coach Tony Bennett.
The event in question is The Cancun Challenge, which made its debut last season with 10 teams participating. Vanderbilt, New Mexico, Virginia Commonwealth, Central Florida, The Citadel, Central Arkansas, South Dakota State, Grambling, Drake and Morehead State. The Cancun Challenge’s Web site has not been updated with new teams for 2009, but the event is similar to The Philly Classic that included Virginia in 2007. In that tourney, UVa hosted and Drexel, Howard, and Penn before playing Seton Hall at the Palestra in Philadelphia. UVa posted a 3-1 mark in those games, losing only to the Pirates.
Last season, the Cancun tournament had a similar format with some teams hosting games before the other match-ups in Cancun. Vandy, New Mexico, VCU, and Drake hsoted two games each over the course of 10 days before Thanksgiving. The weekend after Thanksgiving, all 10 teams played two games each at the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, Mexico. The tournament is organized by Triple Crown Sports (preseason and postseason women’s NIT, etc.); last season, all fans had to book travel packages through TCS in order to receive game tickets to the Cancun games.
Monday, May 18th, 2009
If you’re one of the legions of Twitter users out there – and no, I’m not one of them – you can follow UVa women’s basketball coach Debbie Ryan.
Monday, May 18th, 2009
Ben’s series on the Dear Old U.Va. blog continues with Assane Sene. Here’s a peek:
In short, Sene was the defensive heart of the team.
However, as he matures, Sene’s energy needs to be more focused. He often picked up fouls too far away from the basket or bad over the back calls when was clearly boxed out. These silly fouls often drew Leitao’s ire; not that it really took that much to bring it out. Add those fouls to the ones Sene picks up blocking shots (warranted fouls, in my opinion) and Sene spends a bulk of his time on the bench in foul trouble.
Make sure you check out the full entry!
Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
The Daily Progress posted a blurb about a potential Virginia-Kentucky match-up this coming season in Cancun.
At a press conference in Lexington, Ky. on Wednesday morning, new Kentucky coach John Calipari said that there was a possibility that UK and Virginia would be playing each other in Cancun this coming season.
Friday, May 8th, 2009
The Washington Post’s Josh Barr blogged about DeMatha basketball recruits Jerian Grant and Victor Oladipo. He quotes DeMatha coach Mike Jones on UVa and new coach Tony Bennett:
“Notre Dame came in to see Grant a couple weeks ago, Marquette came in to see Grant and Oladipo a couple ago weeks ago,” Jones said. “Then Virginia is trying to play catchup, doing a good job of it. Georgia Tech and Clemson are both trying to recruit them both as well. Maryland got [Montrose Christian All-Met junior forward Terrence] Ross, so I don’t know if it’s a priority right now but they’re still showing interest.”
As for new Virginia coach Tony Bennett, Jones said he the Cavaliers are working on establishing themselves locally. “They’re trying,” Jones said. “Coach Bennett is not someone people on this side of the country really know. He’s hired a pretty decent staff so far. We shall see.”
Everyone knew that Bennett would be fighting an uphill battle from a familiarity standpoint for East Coast recruiting, but the Cavaliers’ new coach addressed some of the concerns up front with his assistant coaching choices. Throw in some quick meet-and-greet legwork and it looks like Bennett is already building relationships on the right side of the country. Will it pay off in commitments? Stay tuned.
Thursday, May 7th, 2009
Ben’s Wahoo in Review series over at the Dear Old U.Va. blog continues with Sylven Landesberg, the latest Virginia player to spark thousands of Cavalier man-crushes. Ben gushes and more in this week’s entry. Don’t believe me? Take a look …
I could quote stats all day telling you how good he is. Instead, I’d like to focus on just one aspect that makes me gush: body control.
Landesberg represents a very rare species at this level of basketball: he’s not that athletic, but amazingly effective player. What Landesberg lacks in athleticism, he makes up for it in effortless grace. He attacks the basket with determination, yet artfully drops shots in the paint. His offensive game is a beauty to behold.
The control allows Landesberg to absorb contact, keep his shoulders square, and routinely finish the old-fashioned three point play.
Check out the full post!
Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
It’s goodbye for now…Well as much as I’ve tried to avoid it, it’s almost that time. Graduation is a week and a half away and my time at The Sabre.com is almost up. In fact, after a tennis feature scheduled to run later this week, I am done. I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you.
Around this time last year, I took a very generous offer from Kris for a one-year internship on the site. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the passionate readership I was about to inherit.
Little did I know what was to come in the year ahead. What an incredibly humbling experience! As Kris and I have joked many times, I interned in the arguably the worst back-to-back major sports seasons in recent memory. As I’ve been reminded many times this season, anyone can find a great story in a winning team but the real challenge is to write three stories a week on a losing team.
But I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. I have learned much more in the last year than I ever thought possible. The Sabre.com and the unique role you all play on the site, has pushed me to grow as a journalist and as a person. You all have been an incredibly accepting, supportive and at times yes, a constructively critical audience. I appreciate every word of feedback and for allowing me to grow as a writer during my year at The Sabre.com. The ultimate thank you must to go to Kris and Mike who treated me like a professional from day one, always valuing my input and appreciating my hard work.
I’m moving on to yet another internship, this time at MLB.com. I hope some of you (baseball fans) will continue to check out my work there. [On a related side-note: If anyone is feeling super generous and wants to give me a job in August, I’d be eternally grateful ☺]
As a life-long Cavalier, I’m not really going anywhere. I will still be a Sabre contributor and I’ll see you all around the boards, I’m sure.
Thanks again for a great year of memories!
Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
ESPN has released a story about the collapse of the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility and there’s a mention of UVa draftee John Phillips (hat tip to HK Hoo for the message board link!). Those who know or have met Phillips won’t be surprised at the report:
The stories of heroism in the face of grave danger will continue to emerge, but it sounds as though sixth-round draft choice John Phillips, a tight end from the University of Virginia, played a significant role in the impromptu search-and-rescue mission. Scouts Will McClay and Henry Sroka were buried facedown in a pile of debris on the east side of the building when they heard the crashing of glass. The sound came from Phillips, who was thrashing through debris to get to McClay and Sroka. Phillips helped at least three men to their feet and then raced off to look for more survivors.
“There were a lot of heroes in that building,” said one Cowboys employee. “But you better have [Phillips] pretty high on the list.”
Monday, May 4th, 2009
Highlighting a strong week, Virginia Men’s Tennis coach Brian Boland announced last week the signing of Dino Dell’Orto, Jarmere Jenkins, and Julen Uriguen to the 2009 recruiting class. The week was made even better by the announcement that the Cavaliers were once again awarded the No. 1 overall seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Both moves combined with Virginia’s latest strong season have led to positive feelings surrounding the program. I talked with Boland about the program’s status last week following the tournament announcement. Here are both Boland and Sophomore Michael Shabaz’ reaction to the program’s current high:
Boland on the program’s status:
“There is no question we have a lot of momentum. We’re proud of where the program is right now. It’s as strong as its every been. There is a tremendous amount of momentum. It is a great environment. It’s really a place where young men want to come and train and they realize what an opportunity it is to develop and maximize their potential. Honestly, we’re excited about where we’re at. I think we’ve kind of taken advantage of some of the opportunities that have been presented to us in the last seven or eight years and done a good job executing those areas that really needed to be improved on within our program. We’re in a good place and I’m really pleased with the foundation and the strength of the program.”
Boland on continuing that momentum:
“[A deep NCAA run] certainly helps. One of the things our guys have done such a good job at is just kind of controlling what we can and realizing that we don’t control what kind I of run we have at the NCAA tournament. We just control the level of preparation we have which creates opportunity for us and then we just leave it on the court every day.”
Shabaz on attracting the new recruits:
“The school sells itself with the academics being so great here. I think when you have such good coaches and coaches who care about you so much, I ask the question, why wouldn’t you want to come to a school like this when you’ve got the best of both worlds. He’s really starting to convince the recruits that you can get the best of both worlds here and you can definitely improve and go on further whether it’s in life or in tennis.”
Shabaz on the team’s momentum:
“I was joking with Coach Boland the other day saying there was a new era in town when signed a few of those recruits and he started laughing. I definitely feel like with last year’s success, even though we didn’t win it all we knew it was a success, and now with this year, we’ve followed the same path.”
Stay tuned to The Sabre later this week for even more NCAA Tournament coverage of the Hoos!