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Mar
07

As No.3 Seed, Hokies Will Now Participate In The Late Show

As I’ve always known, the best way to jinx something you’d like to see happen is to write about it.

So yesterday, when I wrote this about not wanting to play in the 9 PM game Thursday or be in the same bracket as Florida State, I just about guaranteed those two things would happen. And indeed, the two things that needed to happen to force that scenario occurred within hours of me saying it.

The first was Notre Dame’s shocking 83-73 upset of the Seminoles, throwing them into the group of teams at the top of the standings with four losses (the other three at the time being Virginia, Louisville and Virginia Tech), then Virginia excused the Cardinals from the group by handing them their fifth league loss of the season.

When the smoke cleared, Virginia was in first by virtue of having played two more games than Florida State, so their .765 winning percentage made them the top seed, while the Seminoles .733 percentage dropped them to second. The Hokies moved up to the No. 3 seed, which ties for the highest seed the Hokies have ever claimed in the ACC Tournament (Seth Greenberg did it in the 2006-2007 season), while Georgia Tech filled Louisville’s vacancy to take the 4th seed.

Louisville, by losing, got drop-kicked all the way down to the 7th seed. Virginia Tech WILL now be in the 9 PM (or later) game Thursday night and they WILL be in the same bracket as Florida State.

But it’s not all bad.

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Mar
03

At A Time When Most Needed, Cavaliers Have The Numbers

At a time when rivals are waging a war of attrition, Virginia has the benefit of a much-valued commodity.

Plain and simple, the Cavaliers have numbers.

Virginia used 13 players Monday night in a 62-51 victory over visiting Miami.

Only one UVa player logged as much as 30 minutes. That was Sam Hauser, who played 32 minutes

No Miami starter played fewer than 36 minutes and the Hurricanes' starting five combined for 188 of a possible 200 minutes.

"I think our effort is good," said Miami coach Jim Larranaga, once a UVa assistant whose Hurricanes got as close as 55-49 with 3:07 left. "It’s the fatigue factor. We can't sustain it for all 40 minutes.

"I think that was a big part of how [UVa]  got the lead at the end of the first [half] and even when we made our runs and got a little closer in the second half half. We just didn't have the bodies to keep the pressure on them."

Tomas Woldetensae had missed two UVa games as the result of contact tracing, and Cavalier hopes were lifted by news of his return, but there should have been enough firepower to fill any void.

Indeed, Woldetensae, who started against the Hurricanes, played only 15 minutes and got his only bucket on a 3-pointer.

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Mar
01

Final Week Is The Real March Madness For Hokie Fans

Today is the first day of March, and starts off the final week of the regular college basketball season.

A week, which to Virginia Tech fans, is usually the real March Madness.

It’s the week when a great season can be completely erased by having a poor last week, and it’s not just the Hokies. Many a team has had a nice season only to lose the last two games of the regular season, then carry that funk into a conference tournament and get eliminated in the first round.

Despite a good record and some nice wins, your team goes from “you know we’re dancing” to on the bubble.

So having been a Hokie fan for 50 years, my first instinct this week is to look at the standings and try to figure out which scenario will be the biggest dagger in my heart, so I can prepare myself. And as the life coach in the Geico commercial tells his group while they’re in a home improvement store, “we all see it. We all see it.”

In first place with only 3 losses in the ACC is Florida State. Since they finish with two teams with losing records – Notre Dame and Boston College – I’m going to concede first place to the Seminoles because they’re not losing this week. Three teams are technically tied for second with 4 league losses: UVA, Virginia Tech and Louisville.

If you’re an optimist, you could look at the scenarios where the Hokies win their remaining two games with Louisville and N.C. State. Beating Louisville reduces the tie to only two teams, and if UVA and VT finish with only 4 losses, VT beat the Wahoos in their only meeting. I’m not sure how the league would treat this because UVA played more games, so you’d have a 13-4 versus an 11-4, and if you went on winning percentage, Virginia would win the tie.

But that still casts a worst-case scenario of being in the top 3. Now look at it as a pessimist.

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Feb
27

Cavaliers Continuing Their Success In SEC Country

Virginia signed a combined nine players from Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama in its 2020 football recruiting class, and early results indicate the trend is continuing.

Five of the 2020 recruits were from Georgia, and the Cavaliers' 2021 class, according to Rivals.com, includes all-purpose back Rodney Hill from Statesboro, Ga. and 6-7, 218-pound tight end Karson Gay from Chattanooga, Tenn.

Gay has been listed with offers from Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and South Carolina, among others.

Remember when Virginia did not put great emphasis on the tight end position? Now, the Cavaliers' staff can point to Tony Poljan, who had 38 receptions for 411 yards and a team-high six touchdowns in 2020.

In addition to holdovers Grant Misch and Mike Kosar, UVa will be adding a transfer, 6-7, 260-pound Jelani Woods from Oklahoma State. Woods, like Poljan, was a quarterback in high school.

The Cavaliers' 2020 recruiting class, announced in December, included 6-6, 225-pound tight end Jack Witmer from Cypress, Texas.

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Feb
26

Remember, There Is No Such Thing As A Stupid Question

Earlier today I wrote a story based on an Andy Bitter mailbag column in The Athletic. Which of course led to this question that was asked by a friend of mine.

“Why don’t you have a mailbag?” came the predictable text from the friend.

“For the same reason I don’t have a yacht,” was my reply, “because neither of them would get much use.”

But then I got to thinking about all the questions people would like to ask. Not of me, but of Doug Doughty. I’ve got a few I’d like to ask him right now, like why are groups who don’t perform Rock & Roll in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame? Or why he didn’t have Lawrence Taylor ranked in his Top 25 High School Football Prospects in the state of Virginia when it ran around Christmas time in 1976?

Or maybe a question regarding if he had to choose between his two dogs and a close friend, and could only pick one, does the close friend even have a chance to survive?

So starting next Friday, we will start running a regular mailbag column. The questions can be to any of us involved in the site (which would be Doug, Dave or Maggie) and we will do our best to answer these questions in an honest and entertaining way. The email address to send them to is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I’ll start asking for them by Wednesday of each week so we have time to make stuff up answer them.

So hit us with your best shot. And remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Well, except for Twitter 😊

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Feb
25

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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Feb
24

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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Feb
21

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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Feb
21

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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Feb
19

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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Feb
17

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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