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Cavaliers Need Woldetensae Back On The Floor

Impressions following a rare third straight loss for the Virginia men's basketball team:

Have the Cavaliers ever been so eager to get Tomas Woldetensae on the floor?

Woldetensae, one of UVa's most dependable 3-point shooters, does not have COVID-19, but has suffered the frustration of contact tracing, meaning he has been in the vicinity of people who did have COVID.

Coach Tony Bennett said after the Cavaliers' 68-61 loss to North Carolina State Wednesday that he expects Woldetensae to be available for UVa's final home game Saturday night against Miami.

Woldetensae currently stands seventh on the team in points per game (4.5) but he is a shooter at a time when it seems that only big men Jay Huff and Sam Hauser can be counted on to make a shot.

At his height, Woldetensae, who is 6-5, would best be described as a two-guard, but that's the problem. Aside from point guard Kihei Clark, who is listed at 5-9, all the Cavaliers have is two-guards and it seems hardly any of them can hit a shot.

Casey Morsell, a top backcourt recruit in 2019-2020, is shooting 26.5 percent (nine of 34) on 3-pointers for the season. Reese Beekman, a starter as a freshman, is shooting 26.7 percent (eight of 30) from beyond the arc.

Trey Murphy III, a transfer fron Rice, was shooting 46.2 percent on 3-pointers for the season until he went 0-for-4 against N.C. State. This was at John Paul Jones Arena on UVa's seemingly familiar home floor.

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Getting 5 Stars: Is It Your Talent, Or Who Is Recruiting You?

As the latest men's basketball game between Duke and Virginia unfolded Saturday, a common thread came to mind.

Duke invariably gets the highest-rated players coming out of high school, but I had never done the math till this weekend, following the Blue Devils 66-65 victory over UVa at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Starting with the 2016 recruiting class, Duke has signed 25 players who were rated as five stars on the five-star Rivals.com scale.

Over the same period, Virginia did not have a single five-star player.

All five Duke starters Saturday were five-star recruits.

Virginia's staring lineup included two four-star recruits, fifth-year senior Jay Huff, and freshman guard Reece Beekman. They were joined by three-star recruits Sam Hauser and Kihei Clark.

The fifth starter, Trey Murphy III, transferred to Virginia after spending his first two seasons at Rice. He is listed by Rivals.com as a 2018 Rice signee, but does not have any stars by his name.

My suspicion is that ratings/stars are determined by the schools that are involved with a certain player. As somebody who has been involved in putting together a list of the state's top football recruits over the past 40 years, I'll admit that a player's offer list is a major consideration.

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Do The Cavaliers Want Kihei Clark Taking 15 Shots?

No one should be surprised that junior point guard Kihei Clark played 38 minutes in Virginia's 66-65 loss Saturday night at Duke.

But, do the Cavaliers want him taking 15 shots?

Another starter, Trey Murphy III, played 36 minutes. He took two shots.

The argument could be made that Murphy needed to become more involved or that teammates didn't get him the ball. Clark was as involved as he could be and maybe moreso.

Seven-footer Jay Huff had a team-high 20 points to go with a game-high 12 rebounds and two blocked shots in a return to his home town. He also had a dunk that didn't count after a buzzer-beating attempt by Clark.

Virginia, now 15-5 overall and 11-3 in the ACC, had entered the game as a 3-point favorite over the Blue Devils (10-8, 8-6). Also top 2019-20 signee Jalen Johnson had left the team with six games remaining in the regular season.

On his radio show earlier in the week, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim had taken a shot at Johnson.

"That guy was hurting them, so they actually are much better now without him," Boeheim said. "They've got very good talent.

"You knew they were going to play out of this thing and now they're [the Blue Devils] playing very well."

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, in his postgame comments Saturday, seemed to be rejuvenated.

"It's sad that fans were not at this game," he said, not that they had a choice,. "This was an epic game.

"This was a great basketball game tonight. Every possession was fought. [It] seemed like every dribble at times. They're [the Cavaliers] poised and they play great defense.

"Huff is a great player. He and [Sam] Hauser are two of the great players in America. Jay is such a good basketball player [with] his footwork, his touch and his ball-handling. [Duke seven-footer] Mark [Williams] hasn’t guarded anyone like that."

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Who IS The No. 2 Player In UVA Men's Basketball History?

Without much in mind earlier this week, I found myself in an on-line debate as to the second-best player to come through the Virginia men's basketball program.

At the time I put in my two cents, there was ample support for Malcolm Brogdon as the No. 2 Virginia player after Ralph Sampson, although I'm not sure Sampson actually was  designated as No. 1.

That was a given.

Sampson wasn't just a three-time ACC player of the year. He was a three-time national player of the year, as well as the No. 1 pick in the 1983 Draft.

The only other former UVa player ever taken with one of the first five picks was De'Andre Hunter at No. 4 in 2019.

However, if you're looking at the top players to come through the UVa program, college performance has to outweigh draft placement.

Other UVa players to be picked in the top 10 included Wally Walker at No. 5 in 1976 and Olden Polynice at No. 8  in 1987.

Brogdon was picked by Milwaukee in the second round of the 2016 draft with the No. 36 pick overall, but has far exceeded any draft-day expectations.

After three seasons with Milwaukee, he signed a four-year $85-million contract with the Indiana Pacers, where he is averaging a team-leading 21.6 points after 29 games.

Does that make Brogdon the No. 2 player to come through the UVa program? Eventually, maybe it will. But, from a college standpoint, he ranks ninth in school history in scoring with 1,809 points.

That is more than 700 points behind Bryant Stith, who scored 2,516 points.

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Doughty On UVA Basketball: What Did Loss To FSU Mean?

What is one to make of Virginia's 21-point men's basketball loss at Florida State on Monday?

The first thing that came to mind was a resemblance to a Dec. 26 meeting with then-No. 1 Gonzaga, which blasted the Cavaliers 98-75 in Fort Worth, Texas.

As worriesome as that might have been at the time, the Cavaliers won their next seven games and 11 of the next 12.

Virginia customarily ranks among the men's basketball leaders in scoring defense and, two nights before the FSU game, had shut down North Carolina in a 60-48 romp at John Paul Jones Arena.

Freshman Walker Kessler had a team-high nine points for Carolina, which failed to have a single player score in double figures in a game for the first time since 1966, a 54-year span.

Who would have predicted, two nights later, that Virginia would fall 81-60 at Florida State?

Actually, Florida State was a 2 1/2-point favorite and now has won 11 of its last 12 games with the Cavaliers in Tallahassee, Fla.

Whenever the teams play, the head coaches -- UVa's Tony Bennett and Florida State's Leonard Hamilton -- invariably go out of their way to praise each other.

"We have the utmost respect for Virginia and their outstanding coach; he's one of the best in the country," Hamilton said. "Look what they've done in the ACC over the past five years; they've won more games than anybody.

"They have set the standard that now everyone in the ACC is being judged at. Us realizing we've stubbed our toe a couple times [against UVa] reminded us that we had to be at our very best. Our challenge now is seeing how close we can come to maintaining this."

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UNC Didn't Have A Scorer In Double Digits In UVA Win

Although Virginia has engaged in some low-scoring affairs during Tony Bennett's 12 seasons as men's basketball coach, it was the Cavaliers' opponent that had the statistic of the day Saturday.

In a 60-48 loss to the Cavaliers, UNC did not have a single double-figure scorer.

That hadn't happened since 1966, when  an overmatched Duke team held the ball against North Carolina in an ACC Tournament game, won by the Blue Devils 21-20.

That game was played without a shot clock,

Carolina's leading scorer Saturday was freshman Walker Kessler with nine points off the bench, followed by eight points from starter Kerwin Walton with eight.

Carolina's starters combined for 24 points. Virginia's starters had 52 points. The Cavaliers were 10-of-22 from behind the 3-point arc and UNC was 2-for-16.

UVa frontcourt players Sam Hauser and Jay Huff were a combined 7-of-11 on 3-pointers.

"We don't have a four and five man on the Blue [reserve] team that can go out there and make all those shots like they did," said Carolina coach Roy Williams, whose Tar Heels have lost the last seven games in the series.

It wasn't a two-man show for the Cavaliers. Freshman guard Reeve Beekman had an unusual stat line of seven assists, eight rebounds, one block and one steal, and Trey Murphy was 4-of-5 from the field and finished with 12 points.

"Coming from a high school, where you are the man and you can do anything, it's a big transition coming to a team like this," Beekman told reporters in a postgame Zoom opportunity

it was the fourth win in a row for ninth-ranked Virginia (15-3, 11-1 ACC) as unranked Niorth Carolina fell to 12--7 and 7-5.

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50 Years After Meeting, She's Still A Big Fan Of Bruce Arians

Geraldine Barber had no problem rooting for Tampa Bay to win the Super Bowl and not just because one of her twin sons had played 16 seasons for the Buccaneers.

Her connection with the Bucs' head coach, Bruce Arians, goes back to their college days at Virginia Tech in the early 1970's.

"This whole week is about Bruce," she said in a phone interview from her Maryland home. "I don't want to do anything to take anything from the focus on him because he is so deserving."

Arians' wife, Christine, is another Tech alumna.

"Chris reminded me last year, when we were together at a game, that it has been 50 years since we met each other," said Geraldine, who now goes by Barber-Hale.  

"Bruce was already [at Tech]. I believe this was right after Chris and Bruce had gotten married because they were long-time sweethearts. Before they had gotten married, Bruce and Tiki and Ronde's daddy, [J.B. Barber] were roommates and the first inter-racial teammates to be football roommates there.

"They got to be real good friends and then, when J.B. and I got married, I was taken into that friendship. Bruce and Chris were always there for me. When Tiki and Ronde were infants and were having problems with seizures, I could always count on Chris."

Geraldine later divorced from J.B.  Barber and moved to Roanoke, where she raised her sons as a single mom. 

"I didn't see them for years," Geraldine said of Bruce and Chris Arians. "We kept in touch but I didn't spend any time with them until I was at a [New York] Giants game and I think, at the time, Bruce was coaching with the Indianapolis Colts and they came to Giants Stadium.

"I was coming down to the back of the stadium with parents and guests and Bruce was headed to the visitors' dressing room and I heard somebody say 'G-e-r-a-l-d-i-n-e,' and I turned around and it was him. It was like seeing your long-lost brother.

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UVA, Bennett Continue Mastery Over Pastner, GT

If ever there were a time for Georgia Tech men's basketball coach Josh Pastner to collect his first win over Virginia's Tony Bennett, it would have come Wednesday night in Atlanta.

Instead, the Cavaliers rallied for a 57-49 victory at MacCamish Pavilion.

Pastner has faced Bennett on eight occasions, the first of which came in an NCAA Tournament game in 2014, when Pastner was the head coach at Memphis.

The Cavaliers were 78-60 winners over Memphis in a third-round NCAA Tournament game before losing to Michigan State 61-59 in a region semifinal.

As for the UVa-Georgia Tech series, it has become increasingly competitive. Prior to its 57-49 victory Wednesday night in Atlanta, Virginia had defeated the Yellow Jackets 64-62 on Jan. 23 in Charlottesville.

In their only meeting last year, a late rally lifted the Cavaliers to a 63-58 victory in Atlanta.

The Yellow Jackets, now 9-7 overall and 5-5 in the ACC, had beaten North Carolina earlier in the season and added victories over Clemson and Florida State when both teams were ranked.

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"You'll Start All 11 Games Unless You Break A Leg"

Bruce Arians had a place in Virginia Tech football history even before he coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory over Kansas City this past weekend.

From 1983-88, Arians, a former Tech quarterback, was the head coach at Temple, where his 1986 team finished 6-5.

That included a 29-13 victory over the Hokies in the Oyster Bowl in Norfolk.

At the same time, Tech was looking for a successor to head football coach Bill Dooley, who also had served as Tech's athletic director. Reports of possible recruiting violations had led Tech president William Lavery to replace Dooley.

Dooley was succeeded as AD by Dutch Baughman, whose first choice to succeed Dooley as coach was Bobby Ross, who had resigned as head coach at Maryland.  

Frank Beamer and Ross were the two finalists. Arians had interviewed Dec. 18 and removed his name from consideration three days later.

He had a 21-39 record in six seasons at Temple and later served as the offensive coordinator at Alabama and Mississippi State. He was an assistant for six different NFL teams, including Kansas City, the team his Tampa Bay squad team defeated Sunday in the Super Bowl.

Arians had a checkered career as a Virginia Tech player, where he passed for a total of 1,270 yards and six touchdowns from 1972-74 and only led the Hokies in passing once, when he passed for 952 yards and three touchdowns in 1974.

That was the Hokies' first season under head coach Jimmy Sharpe, a protégé of legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant.

After losing their first four games, the Hokies travelled to South Carolina, where they won 31-17. The next week, they headed to Virginia.

Arians, who was in his fifth year at Tech, had never played in a Tech-UVa game until Sharpe took over as coach.

Arians referred to it as "the biggest game of my life."

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They Finally Did It...

They Did It

After a long and bumpy road, The Washington Nationals finally won the World Series. And made an old man in Ashburn cry...

Never Grow Old...

Never Grow Old

A trip to Spring Training reminded me we're all still kids at heart, and no matter how old, you keep playing until they get you out.

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