Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Virginia Basketball Screed

Last night left me boiling mad. The #15 UVA Men's Basketball team went to Morgantown to play the #18 WVU Mountaineers. Virginia lost 68-61. I broke my Twitter blackout and monitored the game while watching it on television. I did not Tweet any of my own thoughts, as that violates the spirit of the blackout--and so I have a thousand things I need to get off my chest.

First, UVA has had remarkable success under Coach Tony Bennett, and I am glad that he is there. But man, does he make me sometimes. Mad you say? How can the most mild-mannered coach in college basketball make you mad, Bryan? Is this a personal issue?

He makes me mad because everyone in the known universe knew that West Virginia was going to full-court press us last night. Everyone. Why? Because that's what West Virginia does. To everyone. And Virginia simply wasn't ready for it. UVA's guards -- Kyle Guy and especially Ty Jerome -- simply could not handle the pressure. But this is not out of the ordinary--the most effective way to beat a Tony Bennett coached team historically -- even the very good ones -- is to press them. The unbelievable fold in the Elite 8 a few years ago to Syracuse is the bleeding sore of this type of game, but last night was right up there. As was last year's loss to WVU in Charlottesville. And two losses in the tournament to Michigan State.

Ty Jerome is not a point guard. He is a spot up shooter, just not as good of one as Kyle Guy. Jerome's ball handling is sloppy, and his passing is lazy. Maybe he'll improve, but he's simply not a floor general.

I'm not at all sure what Jack Salt is doing on the floor. I keep hearing that his defense justifies his utter lack of any offensive output, but I just don't buy it. Diakate should be starting, and Jay Huff needs to get some minutes--especially when offense is needed. The word on Huff is that his defense is suspect, but my God, we need some scoring.

But here's the thing that has me maddest. I follow a lot of folks interested in UVA Basketball in my Twitter feed, and an overwhelming majority of them seem to treat the team and its players like they are a bunch of adolescents who must be coddled. Many hide behind a veil of anonymity, yet STILL comment like they are part of the obsequious press corps that covers the team. Listen to a UVA post-game someday, and you'll hear little in the way of tough questions for the Coach, mostly it seems out of a fear that he'll cut off access if they get too uppity. That this applies to FANS boggles my mind. There is this silly code of Omerta among the UVA followers that you can't criticize the team or the coach, that these are "kids", that all will always work out fine, that every loss is a learning experience, yada, yada, yada. Bullshit. This is pro-basketball's farm system, and pointing out obvious criticisms is not disloyal.

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