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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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Recent comment in this post
Guest — PopcornBuckets

Shoe/Apparel Companies factor

I think the involvement of shoe/apparel companies with high profile players and AAU/EYBL squads is also a factor in player ranking... Read More
Thursday, 25 February 2021 11:31
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This Is What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

Over a decade ago, there was a musical group called the Spice Girls, who had a hit with a song that started off “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want…”

Which is what I’m about to do involving a tin of popcorn and the marketing department at Virginia Tech.

What I want, as you can see in the picture with this story, is a one-gallon tin of popcorn with Coach Mike Young’s smiling face somewhere on it. It can have one flavor, or it can have three flavors, that doesn’t matter. But Young has made eating a bag of popcorn before each game sort of his trademark. And there’s a marketing opportunity here that the Hokies just shouldn’t miss.

The whole popcorn tie-in has been talked about for over a year, and the school did finally allow people to buy a replica of the kind of popcorn box you’d see in an old-time movie theater. It has a caricature of of Young, and it’s cute.

But it’s not what I want. And judging from the response to me posting this picture on social media yesterday, a lot of other people want the same thing I do.

 Popcorn is one of those products that is sold around the holidays, or special occasions, in one gallon tins. You can go online at this very moment and find quite a few options if you’re seeking this, and they range in price from the $15 range up to $29. Many prefer buying it this way because the tin has a lid that keeps the popcorn fresh for a longer period of time, and the tin can be decorated in ways that makes you want to keep it well after the popcorn is gone.

In my case, there is a tin sitting here in my office that was a gift from a friend after the Washington Nationals won the World Series. The popcorn was nice, but it will stay in this house for many more years because of the World Series printing on the can. It serves as an enduring memory to a special moment for me as a fan, and it will eventually get filled with either more popcorn, stuff from my workbench in the basement, or who knows what else I need to store somewhere.

But it’s not going to ever be thrown away.

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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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Two Weeks To Go, And I Still Have No Idea Who Wins

I think it is pretty safe to say this season is not turning out the way ACC media folks thought it would in looking back at their preseason predictions.

Also pretty safe to say it’s not turning out the way anyone thought it would, for that matter.

Back in early November, the ACC scribes liked Virginia and Florida State to be in the top 3, with Virginia the solid No. 1, Duke second and the Seminoles No. 3. As Meatloaf used to sing back in the day, two out of three ain’t bad.

That’s because there are only 13 days left in the ACC regular season and here is the top 3: Florida State is first with a 9-2 league record, Virginia is second at 11-3 and third is not Duke, but an 8-3 Virginia Tech team, which the pundits picked to finish 11th. Three weeks from today when the NCAA hands out bids to the Big Dance, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State look like the only teams in the league with a relative lock at getting in. The rest of the teams appear to be on the bubble or worse.

Yesterday’s games just added data points to the field known as “I really don’t know how this is all going to turn out.” North Carolina and Louisville were preseason picks to finish 4th and 5th, and a month ago the Cardinals were 9-1 and ranked No. 16 in the nation. North Carolina, conversely, hasn’t been ranked in 2021, and dropped to 12-7 a week ago while only scoring 48 points in a loss to Virginia.

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Recent Comments
Doug Johnson

Postponements Have Protected V...

VT's four recently missed games: UNC, UL and two with FSU. Likely VT would not still be in 3rd place if these had been played.... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2021 12:20
Dave Scarangella

I would agree

The lack of games has in some ways helped the Hokies, and this week we will see how much it has hurt them when they finally take t... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2021 12:28
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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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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Changing Times

Times have changed considerably since my arrival at UVA when 6'10" John Naponick not only played center for the 9-17 Hoot Gibson r... Read More
Friday, 19 February 2021 16:02
Dave Scarangella

I'm A Hokie So My Vote Doesn't...

But I would have said Barry Parkhill. I understand the statistical argument, but before Ralph, when you went to the playground and... Read More
Friday, 19 February 2021 16:14
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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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Dave Fulton

Not Unexpected

Based on this past decade, Hoos having a tough go in Tallahassee was not unexpected.
Wednesday, 17 February 2021 18:33
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Florida State Game Postponed, Hokies Still Waiting To Play

Earlier this week, I wrote a story about all the cancellations in the Virginia Tech basketball program, saying the Hokies would go 10 days between games. I did, however, add this disclaimer: “There is no guarantee 10 days will be all the delay there is, as the next opponent is North Carolina, which has had issues of its own. Then the next game is against Florida State, which started the string of postponements."

You may now call me Nostradamus.

Sure enough, the North Carolina game was postponed, and now today, the ACC has announced the postponement of Saturday’s game with Florida State. Since the team hasn’t played since Feb. 6, this means there will be at least a 17-day break, as the next scheduled game is a home game with Georgia Tech on Feb. 23.

Saturday’s Clemson-Pittsburgh game has also been postponed, so instead of these two games, Florida State will now play at Pitt at 4 PM Saturday. Additionally, the North Carolina at Boston College game for next Tuesday has also been postponed.

The ACC said in a statement on its website that “The postponements follow positive tests, subsequent quarantining, and contact tracing within the Virginia Tech, Clemson and Boston College men’s basketball programs. The teams are adhering to the outlined protocols within the ACC Medical Advisory Group report.”

So once again it’s hurry up and wait for the Hokies. I doubt any of these postponed games will be played, meaning Virginia Tech won’t face Florida State at all this season unless it’s in the ACC Tournament.

 

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Everyone Always Seems To Forget The Value Of The Stage

Yesterday, Jalen Johnson decided to opt out from playing the rest of the season at Duke, and with the decision came the predictable firestorm on social media.

Every time a player decides to do something in his or her own best interests, you see this. On one side are the people demanding players get paid. Words like “exploited” are thrown around like snowballs in Texas these days, as they almost froth at the mouth insisting the school is making millions while not giving the player a single red cent.

On the other side are those who proclaim that the player is indeed getting just compensation, documenting the value of the tuition, room and board, books, etc., usually adding how big a burden they are experiencing providing that same benefit for their own child.

Both sides have points that deserve merit, both sides make points that don’t.

I’m somewhere in the middle because I think both sides miss the point of where the true value is in this equation.

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Mailman

Then there was Petersburg, Virginia's Moses "Mailman" Malone who elected to go straight from high school to the Show.
Tuesday, 16 February 2021 18:01
Dave Scarangella

Lefty signed him to go to Mary...

Supposedly he was given a summer job (like many were back in those days) to guard the gym, then got offered a nice sum of money to... Read More
Tuesday, 16 February 2021 18:21
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With Each Day, Seems We Lose More Sports Heroes Of My Youth

One of my oldest friends is a guy named Tim, and the last two days have bought back memories of a wonderful spring in 1978. Unfortunately, the memories have been rekindled because of the passing of key sports figures of that time.

“Our class is graduating,” I always say to Tim, as with each year it seems like people we knew have passed away.

One was Wes Unseld, who passed away Monday at the age of 74. It does not seem that long ago that Tim and I were long-haired students at Virginia Tech (much like we were last week until the barber shops opened again) and we were at his apartment, watching Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

For weeks we had heard that “The Opera Isn’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings” thanks to Bullets Coach Dick Motta, but we knew that day somebody would be singing. We watched on Tim’s 19-inch color television with no remote control and no cable (and don’t get me started on no computers or internet) but in our caveman-like accommodations, we were able to see that the Bullets had a slim 101-99 lead and the Seattle Supersonics had just fouled Unseld.

Back then, Wes was an incredible rebounder, but he shot free throws like I dance: not that well and not that often. He had only hit 55 percent of his free throws all season, but Wes was one of those players who just always seemed to get the job done when needed the most. He hit both free throws, and a few seconds later Norfolk State alum Bobby Dandridge slammed home a dunk and the Bullets won the deciding Game 7 105-99. Unseld would be named the Finals MVP.

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Back In The Day, The ACC Tournament Was A Can't-Miss Spectacle...

Imagine, if you will, a time and place where college basketball players stayed four years. You had to win your conference tournament or you couldn’t play in the NCAA Tournament. Arenas were stuffed full of maniacal fans, and the pressure to win nearly drove coaches crazy.

That was the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball Tournament when I was growing up.

Today, the tournament means nothing other than the entertainment value of seeing your team play another game. If your team is good, they’re going to the NCAA Tournament the following week any way. If they’re bad, they could run the table and qualify for the NCAA’s the next week, but the odds of that happening are right up there with ordering a unicorn from Amazon, so in all likelihood, the season ends.

But go back to 1970. No matter how good you were, you had to the win the tournament or you went home. Before 1975, all conferences only got one bid to the NCAAs. Players couldn’t leave early for the ABA or NBA. Freshmen were ineligible. Heck, you weren’t even allowed to dunk. Getting a ticket to the event was like winning the lottery. The atmosphere was electric.

The 1970 tournament is the first one I really remember, and it featured a South Carolina team that had gotten through the ACC with a perfect 14-0 record. They had John Roche, Bobby Cremins and a host of players the rest of the league really hated. They were cocky, physical and very good. They were ranked No. 3 in the country and the only other team in the field ranked was No. 19 N.C. State.

They met in the finals back when the title game was on a Saturday night. The game was televised by C.D. Chesley and you found yourself humming along to “Sail With The Pilot” during commercials for Pilot Life Insurance. The Wolfpack slowed the ball down (this was also before the shot clock) and the game went into overtime. Twice. Although South Carolina was clearly the better team, Vann Williford and NC State prevailed

If you weren’t an ACC basketball fan then, this game converted you. South Carolina, even though ranked No. 3, 14-0 in the ACC and 25-3 overall, didn’t go to the NCAAs.

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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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