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This Would Seem To Indicate Bede Isn't Coming Back

It’s never really been said specifically if Virginia Tech guard Wabissa Bede is coming back for the extra year the NCAA is allowing all players due to the COVID pandemic.

But this graphic Virginia Tech Men's Basketball sent out about Storm Davis today would seem to confirm he is not.

Storm coming to Virginia Tech is old news, and I wrote about it several weeks ago. But look closely at the jersey he’s wearing in the graphic. It’s No. 3. Bede’s number.

Now I suppose Bede could still come back and wear a different number. But there’s an old rule of thumb in sports: when they give your number to someone else, it’s a strong hint that you may not be a priority in the team’s plans for next season.

I think Bede still has a lot to offer and would be an excellent graduate assistant on the sidelines next season. He knows the offense, knows the player, and seems to still have a fire inside him for the game.

But as for suiting up and playing? When they give your number away, you’re probably not.

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Orioles Fans Are Pretty Agitated Right Now

Last night's postponement did Orioles fans no favors after last weekend's sweep by the Red Sox.

It was one frustrating series after another, as the O's have dropped five of six to those two teams up north. Yes, Orioles fans are pretty agitated right now.

Neither the offense nor the pitching staff is solely responsible for Baltimore's slide. But just looking at the hitters, it's hard to see this kind of futility continuing.

First things first: offenses across the league are struggling. In 2019, which was the MLB's last full 162-game season, the Cleveland Indians finished 15th in OPS at .756. This year, the Arizona Diamondbacks are 15th in OPS at just .693. The bottom 10 teams in OPS this season have an average OPS of .6345, while the same teams in 2019 had an average OPS of .7136. 

That's a pretty wide gap, a gap that isn't sustainable.

Yes, I'll grant you that the Orioles' lineup isn't exactly filled with stud sluggers who have track records of bonafide production. But they do have a track record of more production than what we're seeing.

We'll start with Trey Mancini, who already seems to be heating up. He's had an abysmal start to the season, slashing .189/.244/.405 for an OPS of .649. That said, Mancini went yard twice against the Red Sox in their last series. Mancini's career OPS is .816, a number I'd expect him to reach by season's end.

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Virginia Gets 6-7 Power Forward Who Averaged 18.3 PPG

For a Virginia men's basketball team whose top two scorers in 2020-2021 were senior frontcourt players, there was promising news Monday with the addition of a high-scoring transfer.

Headed to Charlottesville is 6-foot-7, 235-pound power forward Jayden Gardner, who averaged 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds last season for East Carolina.

Gardner, who came out of Heritage High School in Wake Forest, N.C., joined the UVa program two days after the Cavaliers landed Armaan Franklin, a double-figure scoring shooting guard at Indiana this past season as a sophomore.

Gardner was recruited this spring by N.C. State, Miami, LSU and Arkansas, according to various sites. He has two years of remaining eligibility.

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ACC Getting Closer To Telling Us What We Already Know

I’m not sure what the ACC is trying to accomplish, but they sure seem to be leaving a trail of breadcrumbs in regards to when Virginia Tech is going to play its season opener against North Carolina.

A month ago, the schedules were released for all the ACC Schools, but the time and date for the UNC-VT game was left intentionally vague. It was going to be either on Thursday September 2 or Friday September 3, and there was no time or what channel it would be televised on.

“It’s going to be a Friday game, probably at 8 PM on one of the ESPNs, probably the main one,” I thought.

Today the league confirmed at least the game would be played on Friday, Sept. 3, but still no word of a time or who is televising it. They did at least say it would be in prime time, again, something obvious. You don’t play a game at 1 PM in late-summer heat on a day people have to go to work.

I say it will probably be on one of the ESPNs because the only other option would be the ACC Network, which would mean ESPN – which owns the ACC Network – would be competing with itself. Plus the only other games scheduled for Sept. 3 are Old Dominion at Wake Forest, St. Francis at Eastern Michigan, and Northern Colorado at Colorado.

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Dave Fulton

Men's Souls

As the Kingston Trio once sang in their ballad about poor Charlie stuck on Boston's MTA, "These are the times that try men's souls... Read More
Monday, 12 April 2021 15:50
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These Are The Weekends It's Tough To Be Orioles Fans

Momma said there would be days like this.

A week after engineering a series sweep of the Boston Red Sox to kick off the 2021 season, the Orioles ended their weekend on the exact opposite end of the spectrum with three losses to that same team in Boston.

This weekend's series showcased all of the Orioles' issues. Anything known to be an issue coming into the season was packaged into the three games against the Red Sox.

It started with shaky pitching and ended with shaky pitching. The bookend starters of the series — Matt Harvey and Jorge Lopez — both struggled in their respective outings, allowing a combined 13 runs in nine innings. Lopez' outing was particularly poor, allowing seven earned runs over four innings.

The struggles extended to the bullpen, too. The O's relievers allowed three runs on Thursday in the opener, another two runs and a blown save on Saturday and a whopping six runs on Sunday. Even Rule 5 draft pick Mac Sceroler, who shined in the opening series against Boston, was charged with three runs in just one inning in his Sunday appearance.

Oh, and the offense was inconsistent. The O's scored just seven runs in the first two games of the series and scored nine in the finale.

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Nationals Experience A Lost Weekend In Los Angeles

California Dreaming, it was not. 

Hoping to end their ever-growing losing streak on the West Coast, the Nationals thought they might take advantage of the Dodgers being without All Star outfielders Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger this weekend, but it didn’t matter much.

The West Coast super-team and defending World Series champions used late-game heroics to take the series opener 1-0, cruised to an 8-5 win on Saturday that was decided earlier than the score indicates, and closed out the set with a 3-0 victory in Sunday’s finale.

Considering how poorly the season has started, including a current streak of five consecutive losses, it seems like a good time to look into some patterns: What’s gone right for the Nats, what’s gone wrong, and how can Dave Martinez blend it all together to create a winning on-field product?

Game One

Joe Ross started Friday’s game, opposed by Walker Buehler. Pitching wasn’t the issue in this game, but finding any source of meaningful offense was.

  • Joe Ross: five innings, two hits, two walks, no runs, four strikeouts, 67 pitches (40 strikes)
  • Luis Avilan: one inning, solo home run, two strikeouts, 17 pitches (10 strikes)
  • Wander Suero: one inning, one base runner (double), 11 pitches (seven strikes)
  • Sam Clay: one inning, no base runners, nine pitches (six strikes)

No one pitched particularly poorly, but it’s completely fair to wonder why Ross was removed from the game after five innings. The obvious answer – whether it’s sufficient or not – is twofold; his spot in the lineup was due up in the top of the sixth, and he hadn’t thrown more than 73 pitches in an outing this spring, after sitting out the entire 2020 season.

At some point, Ross has to be allowed to go deeper into games and face a lineup for the third time – something Martinez is notoriously weary of doing with his back of the rotation starters. Friday’s game was the perfect opportunity to stretch him to his limits, but Davey refused to do it, and the team paid for it when Avilan gave up a homer to Justin Turner the following inning.

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Casey Morsell Heading To North Carolina State

Casey Morsell, a top Virginia men's basketball recruit in 2019, is headed to North Carolina State after entering the NCAA transfer portal.

Morsell, a four-star recruit coming out of St. John's in Washington, D.C., played in 23 games for UVa this past season but averaged only 4.4 points, with three starts.

He shot 39.6 percent from the field and was 10-of-38 on 3-pointers.

Word of Morsell's destination came one day after Indiana guard Armaan Franklin's decision was announced, saying he was transferring to UVa.

Morsell's decision to transfer had been known for several weeks.

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Basketball's Plan I Understand; Football? Not So Much

I was talking to a friend the other day, and he mentioned I sure seemed more interested in Virginia Tech basketball these days than football.

I hadn't really thought about it that way, but I guess I am.

It’s certainly not a matter of disliking a coach, players or anything like that. Upon reflection, I'd say I've just gotten to a point where with basketball, I understand what’s going on. I can watch a game, see what Mike Young is trying to do, understand that it’s not just 5 guys out on the floor freelancing, and they are running sets, motion and plays specifically designed to counter the strength of the other team.

It doesn’t always work, and sometimes it blows up in Virginia Tech’s face, but I at least see the plan. More importantly, when I see something that doesn’t work, I tend to see in the next game a strategy designed at making sure that doesn’t happen again. No coach is ever going to have all the answers, and for every great win, there’s going to probably be a bad loss somewhere in there.

But after those bad losses, I look to see if the coach pushes buttons to address that. If the buttons he pushes work, it shows a control of his team and a respect from player to coach that both trust each other.

I also see in the basketball team a strategy that calls for certain types of players, and each year, it seems I can understand what Young thinks he needs. This offseason it looks like he needs a point guard who can score. BOOM. He gets one. He needs a legitimate center to free his talented forwards playing out of position in the lane and BOOM. He gets one.

It’s not a matter of me liking or not liking the moves, either. But the understanding of where the team is going, seeing the progress toward the strategy that seems apparent, and watching the entire group buy into this gives me confidence. And thus makes me more and more interested in every detail.

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Indiana Guard Armaan Franklin Joins UVa Backcourt

The Virginia men's basketball program took a step toward fortifying its backcourt Thursday when University of Indiana guard Armaan Franklin confirmed that he is transferring to UVa.

Franklin started 20 games for the Hoosiers, averaging 11.4 points while shooting 42.4 percent on 3-pointers.

His commitment to UVa followed the dismissal of Indiana coach Archie Miller, whose team went 12-14 this past season. Indiana's choice of Mike Woodson as Miller's successor apparently did not affect Franklin's decision.

Franklin, a product of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, had offers from Ohio State and Purdue, as well as Clemson and Louisville, as he was coming out of high school.

Franklin led the Indiana team in assists this year with 68 in 21 games and shot 42.9 percent overall.

Virginia's only returning double-figure scorer, with 11.6 points per game, is 6-9 Trey Murphy III, who was 52-of-120 from behind the arc. It is not for certain that he will pass up a final season of eligibility and turn pro after beginning his career at Rice.

UVa guards Casey Morsell and Jabri Abdur-Rahim earlier had entered the NCAA transfer portal, along with forward Justin McKoy.

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Dave Fulton

Mercenaries

I detest what is happening in college sports. Mercenary athletes swapping schools & allegiances to the highest bidder really sucks... Read More
Friday, 09 April 2021 22:23
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Virginia Tech's Aluma Testing The Waters With The NBA

Last night, Keve Aluma, Virginia Tech’s leading scorer this past season, tweeted he was putting his name in the NBA hat to see what interest pro teams may have in him.

“I feel blessed to have the opportunity to explore my options and enter my name for the 2021 NBA draft while still maintaining my eligibility as a Hokie,” Aluma tweeted. “Can’t wait to see what God has in store for me and go Hokies.”

I think it’s a good move, as he can see what the response is from the NBA and still return to college with no penalty. Plus I don’t think you have to worry about Keve not wearing orange and maroon next season either.

What Aluma is doing is no different than interviewing for a job you have a slim chance at. If you get it, fantastic. But more than likely in those situations, they tell you why you won’t be considered, tell you the skills and experience the eventual winner will have that you don’t have at the time, and allows you to go back home, develop a game plan, and put yourself in a situation to be ready to take that job a year or two later.

I like Keve doing this because he appears to be a goal-oriented hard worker. The player he was at Wofford – where he played in 68 games and averaged seven points and seven rebounds a game – is not the same player he was at Virginia Tech that averaged 15.2 points per game and 7.9 rebounds. It is clear he spent his red-shirt year working hard on his game, spent a lot of time in the weight room, and had a goal in mind of the player he and Mike Young wanted him to be.

It’s why he reminded me of an old saying about “I worked hard for years to become an overnight sensation” when announcers seemed to wonder where he came from. And I believe he knows he still has work to do if he wants to play in the league that pays you millions.

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Orioles Magic: They Win One They Probably Shouldn't Have

I remember hearing a baseball analyst say this as a kid, and it continues to stick with me to this day: "You're guaranteed to lose 60 games and you're guaranteed to win 60 games. It's those 42 games in between that you have to win in order to separate yourself from the pack."

On Wednesday night, the Orioles won one of those games in between.

The Yankees not only out-hit the Orioles by nine, but also didn't blow two saves. The Orioles still got it done 4-3 in 11 innings.

Baltimore should have lost this game. Consider, for example:

  • Teams shouldn't win when they register only four hits. Granted, two of those hits were homers, but a team's winning percentage can't be high when they register just four hits.
  • Left fielder Ryan Mountcastle misplayed a ball in the eighth inning that could've been caught. Instead, Gio Urshela drove in the tying run.
  • Two different relievers relinquished the O's lead in the later innings. Shawn Armstrong allowed two hits in the eighth inning before getting the heave-ho, and Cesar Valdez blew his first save in the 10th inning. 

Despite this, the Orioles won. They took advantage of Gleyber Torres' critical throwing error in the top of the 10th to take the lead, and cashed in both scoring opportunities they were given in extra innings, thanks to Major League Baseball's decision to automatically place a runner on second base at the start of extra innings.

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Doug Doughty

Doug Doughty

He's the dean of the UVA beat, and creator of College Notebook, which has entertained fans for 45 years. Meet Doug Doughty

Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

Stephen Newman

Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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