Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Cavs Weather the Hurricane, down Miami 71-51

Virginia is good.

The expectations this season for Virginia were low, beyond low. In fact, there WERE no expectations. Virginia has had one topsy turvy season so far, but now they are kicking on all cylinders and it is scary good. Miami became the latest team to see just that as they lost to the Cavaliers 71-51. Miami started out hot, making their first 6 of 12 shots. They led by as many as 8 and Virginia was a bit slow out of the gate. The defense picked back up though. So much in fact that Miami would miss 19 of their next 21 attempts. Virginia was able to capitalize on Miami's offensive futility to take the lead and never looked back. The Cavaliers took a 32-26 lead to the half.

The second half was the Sean Singletary show. The PG scored 7 points in the first half, but took over in the second to notch up 22. His quickness was unmatched. His confidence was undeniable. His leadership skills were more evident than ever. When he was not stupefying defenders he barked out commands to his players, and to their credit they obliged. With the lead 12 points to go with three minutes left it was Sean who put the game away with basket after basket.

A sour note for Virginia was the hard hit J.R. Reynolds took after an aggressive move to the basket had him land hard on his head. Reynolds was dazed and down for a long time. He went to the bench and later the locker room but returned with 8 minutes to go. Reynolds however did not go back in, fortunately however he was not needed. Before he left he had 12 points in another solid effort. Jason Cain also had a rough day, only 2 points but he did have 8 rebounds. Foul trouble cost him much playing time in the second half but Lars Mikalauskas picked up the slack.

If Jason Cain's emergence was amazing, the rising confidence of Lars Mikalauskas is simply miraculous. After having the game of his career against UNC he did it...again. This time Mikalauskas registered 12 points and 8 rebounds on 5-6 shooting (No, that's not a typo). His enthusiasm for the game is contagious and the fans truly have embraced this freshman. His play has made Virginia a very VERY dangerous team now. Maybe I'll let the Coach explain:

"One part of building a program is that you can play the type of basketball that your players like and your fans appreciate." Coach Dave Leitao said. "I like to think, and I've heard it, that since we've started, our guys are playing hard. That's the first and most important part of being appreciated--that you play the game the right way. I think they really appreciate these guys because they are putting their hearts out every night."

Miami suffered from a terrible night shooting. They ended the game on 19-60 shooting, 6-27 from behind the arc. Guillermo Diaz played hard with 10 points and Anthony Harris led the way with 13. This loss takes the 'Canes to 11-8 on the season, 3-3 in the season.

For Virginia, the hits just keep on coming. The Cavaliers have won three ACC games in a row, 4-2 on the year and 10-6 overall. This is a team that won 4 ACC games ALL YEAR last year and now they've matched it when a year ago at this stage they had none. Virginia must leave U-Hall now after two huge home wins to take on 2nd-ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor. If ever there was a test, this is it. Virginia could play great and still lose because the Devils have established themselves as the best team in the land. It may be hard, but these type of games will make Virginia even stronger as the year goes on. The ACC season is long, and there will be bumps along the way. If the Cavaliers can handle adversity, this season might just be one for the ages.


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