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TD: Virgisions

Date: 1/15/2011

Two Dukies  
Posted By: Matt (tinkering)

Volume XIV, Episode 13
January 15, 2011

Matt’s comments in blue.
The Most Interesting Man in the ACC's comments in white. 

VIRGINIA (10-6, 1-1) @ #1 DUKE (15-1, 2-1)

Many of you ever so kindly e-mailed me after I solicited your feedback, and many of you offered remarkably similar suggestions for a better, more improved Dukies.com.  An astonishing number of those suggestions dovetailed with some of my own long-held suspicions about defects in my approach, but as far as acting on them?  Yeah, that had never happened.  Until now.  I have now added "Requires 40 People to E-mail Similar Suggestions in Order to Realize that They're Good Ideas" to my resume, and expect it to propel me to new heights in short order.  Seriously, thanks, readers.  Awesome response.   

So let's try a few things here, and see how this works. 

How Good Is Virginia
Bad.  They have one quality win all season - - at then-#15 Minnesota in the Big Ten Challenge. 87-79.  Does that point total look weird?  It should - - something even weirder than Brett Favre's text-o-genitals iPhone app was operating in Minny for that game, because UVa is averaging only 63.8 ppg on the season (including that outburst).  The only other four times they've even hit 70 points in this campaign came against bunny schools (USC Upstate; Oklahoma); British royalty (William & Mary), and a really nice guy who doesn't play much defense (Howard).  More typical is 60 points at Stanford.  63 points at Washington, in a game requiring two relief scoreboard operators to tally the Huskies' 106.  58 points at Wichita State.  57 points at awful VPI.  54 points in a home win over Radford.  50 points in a stirring defeat of Norfolk State, also at home, by a massive one-point margin.  53 points in a loss at home to Seattle, a school that just rejoined Division I, but probably felt like it was back in Division XIV after seeing Virginia's level of play.  47 points in a home loss to Iowa State.  

Virginia's Last Game?  
Lost to the Tools, 56-62, at home on January 8.  The honestly quite bad Cryolina team played horribly and only Greedo Zeller reached double digits, but Virginia had nothing and gave the game away.  

Projected Starters and Pithy Comments
-Will Sherrill, 6-9 SR PF - - total stiff whose feet are laden with cement; nice guy and smart, though; also playing on a hurt leg
-Assane Sene, 7-0 JR C - - Senegalostiff who is one of the worst shooters you'll ever see at his height
-K.T. Harrell, 6-5 FR SF/SG - - talented rookie who can't do it all by himself
-Jontel Evans, 5-11 SO PG - - awful playmaker, too short to compete on defense, doesn't try to do too much
-Mustapha Farrakhan, 6-4 SR SG - - twelfth-year senior is Virginia's only real high-scoring threat  

What Happened to Mike Scott?
Gone.  The 6-8 senior reinjured his previously hurt ankle and is probably out for the season.


Most Likely to Bootsy Award:
6-7 FR Akil Mitchell, because his career high is only nine, and Duke won't game for him. 

Virginia's Likely Gameplan:
Have Harrell take about 22 shots, bomb away from outside again and again, dial down the possessions to try keep the game in the 50s, and attempt to goon up Duke's recently soft frontcourt with Sene and Sherrill.  I seriously cannot believe these two guys are starting for an Atlantic Coast Conference team.  Tony Bennett, of course, is an actual coach, unlike many impostors in this league, and is not to be underestimated.   

Two or Three Sabermetric Stats about Virginia:
-They are #311 out of 345 in three-point defense (38.8% of opposition treys find their mark).
-They never get to the line, scoring less than 20% of their points from the stripe, although they can shoot freebies, at 71.9%. 
-Minister Farrakhan, Harrell, and 6-6 FR Joe Evans shoot 36.6%, 39.5%, and 40.6% from threeland, and all of them shoot better than 50% on two-point shots.   

Two Weird or Cool Tidbits:
-Virginia's last road game was on December 5, 2010. 
-Virginia last won in Cameron during the Gaudet Protectorate, in January of 1995. 

Duke Appraisal
Everyone knew that the Blue Devils would lose to Florida State, and the media meme here will be "Boy, you sure hate to be Tony Bennett's Virginia team, catching Duke after a loss."  K would never admit it, but he didn't care if the Blue Devils lost or not in TeeHee; either result had benefits.  If Duke loses this game, they're not making the Sweet Sixteen this season unless Kyrie Irving comes back - - along with two clones of himself who are somehow also eligible.  What to watch for is Duke's execution and poise, and the margin of victory, tempered by the total points scored by both teams, because UVa will hold the ball a lot.  But let's stick with Duke's points scored as a barometer.  Here's a handy chart: 

Duke's Point Total                 Your Mood Should Be 
80+                                       Ecstatic 
70-79                                    Giddy
65-69                                    Nonplussed 
60-64                                    Tuning to the NFL 
59 or fewer                            Suicidal*

*unless Duke wins, in which case you should just be mildly depressed.           

Who Is Blathering Over The Sound of the Game?
ESPN - - Mike Patrick and the Len Elmore Index.     

Bottom Line This For Me, Please:
Duke should bounce back with a huge win against a Virginia team that, without Scott, wouldn't know a rebound if it accosted the Whos on the street.   

The Missing Link(s):
Virginia's roster.
Virginia's stats.
Virginia's state-run propaganda

Score Prediction:
Duke 75, Virginia 55.

Other ACC Action
@ Villanova 75, Maryland, College Park 71. 
@ Florida State 58, North Carolina State 55. 
@ Miami (Florida) 68, Boston College 66.
@ Virginia Polytechnic 72, Wake Forest 58. 
North Carolina-Chapel Hill 65, @ Georgia Institute of Technology 48.    

Last Edition:
Matt 1-0

This Season:
Matt 12-0
Guests 1-0

Please add your thoughts below, or use the space to post your comments during the game. 


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Posted by: Matt Date: 1/18/2011 4:16:49 PM  
Wow - - thanks to everyone for the great comments. Please, keep them coming!!! No matter how long I go on, there's ALWAYS room for more insights. Thanks again.

Posted by: KD Date: 1/17/2011 10:33:08 AM  
Matt - great work on the two editions this past week. Keep 'em coming. Your UVA preview was pretty much spot on - I don't think anybody saw the third half of the FSU game unfolding in Cameron against UVA (except David MacMillan - good comment on poor shooting performance almost certain to happen again). Fortunately, there was no FSU fourth-half and things started looking a little more normal after what was surely a pointed half-time K diatribe. Thanks to our guards for finding some aggressiveness in the second half and abandoing the game of "let's play catch outside the arc and shoot a contested 3".

I made the trip to Cameron this past weekend for the first time in forever, and took my son to his first game. Despite both of us almost being in tears to think that a very weak UVA squad was going to deprive him of a very positive first memory at Cameron, we pulled it out in the end and being down and having to fight back made it even more amazing. What an incredible atmosphere and we truly are lucky to be fans and alumni of such an incredible program. It was very cool that Austin Rivers and Shabazz Muhammed were in the house - Crazies in typical fashion made them feel right at home with some good chants.

Post-game talk focused on the frustration with the regression of the Plumlees. At times, Mason just looks bewildered and has a confidence problem. He did steady himself in the second half with some great D and let's hope it was a turning point for him. Miles is planted firmly in the K Doghouse for some reason - hard to say if we will see him much again this season. Ryan Kelly is showing some signs of life - let's hope so as someone in this group is going to have elevate their play very soon.

One other observation from being at the game and watching the bench a little more closely - a friend of mine made a great point that Kyrie is really the leader of this team. When things were looking down, he goes out of his way to get in the face of Andre, Seth and even Nolan to say some choice words. Although this may not make much sense with Nolan and Kyle on the floor, Kyrie's leadership is more important to this team than his obvious talent suggests. We need him back, this week. I hope he can make a quick recovery.

Posted by: CDG Date: 1/16/2011 7:29:25 PM  
Awesome job Matt!

Posted by: Al White Date: 1/15/2011 8:35:19 PM  
Fantastic format and comments, Matt! There is a rumor that K used it as a motivational example to get the team going in the second half.

Can't wait to see if the Devils can deliver a more consistent performance against the Pack on Wednesday.

BTW, why is Mason either trying to roll the ball across a shelf or break the backboard on his layup attempts? Maybe some drills against his doghoused (?) brother would help.

Posted by: SanFranSoxFan Date: 1/15/2011 6:55:08 PM  

Like you, I'm "Giddy." I would have been "Ecstatic" if it weren't for the atrocious 3-point shooting in the first half. Great Pre-cap! I think Dre and even Seth are starting to find their way. Seth's ballhandling took some pressure off Nolan, and he always responds both then, and when he goes back to Point. Need Seth and Tyler to combine for at least 15 mins a game at Point and Nolan can go 39. Dre is a beast! Who knew last year? Not me.

Posted by: Matt Date: 1/15/2011 5:02:27 PM  
Whew. Just the way they drew it up, right?

Nolan Smith is a baller and Andre Dawkins should be give multiple three-point attempts from the right wing (see also Baylor last season) when possible.

Talk about dodging a bullet. I'm sure everyone back in China was fairly confused at scrappy, unranked Duke hanging with #1 Virginia in the first half.

NFL time. Recap forthcoming.

Posted by: Matt Date: 1/15/2011 2:50:19 PM  
Thanks, Short Fuse and Jake. Jake, great comments. You're absolutely right - - winning this game tells us exactly nothing about Duke.

However, at the moment that's actually not much of a concern.

Posted by: Jake Date: 1/15/2011 1:48:07 PM  
Great to see you back!

I like the new to-the-point approach. Still gives you lots of room to make smart and delightfully snarky comments. Keep it up.

As for UVA, it's true that they're averaging only 63 points a game. That's the same point average, I believe, as FSU had prior to their game against Duke. Not that I think that means anything of course.

But if UVA really is a bad as many say, what do we really learn from a Duke home win against them? If it's a blowout Duke win, is it from lessons learned against FSU or because UVA is so gosh darn bad? If it's a close victory for Duke, well it's a home game and of course we're gonna win the thing. My point: we won't know for sure if Duke really learned much if anything from the FSU disaster until we play another couple away games against decent ACC opponents. I don't think we'll stumble again at NC State as last year, but if we do that will be a bad sign. The real test is going to be the February 2 game at Maryland. If Duke is back on its game, that'll be the first really dangerous outing.

Posted by: The Short Fuse Date: 1/15/2011 12:49:28 PM  
Thanks Matt! :) So glad you're back!

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