Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cavs slash Lancers 91-56

In a game like this, where on paper you completely outclass your opponent, you look to just take care of business. A loss is crippling, a win expected. Virginia handled Longwood as they should have, maybe not perfectly, but still very well and gets their record to 13-9 (6-5 ACC) on the season.

The first half was mired by sloppy defense on both sides. Virginia had any shot they wanted all game long, but for much of the first half so did the Lancers. Virginia head coach Dave Leitao could not be happy with such a lackadaisical effort, and it showed. The second half Virginia's defense got into shape and the blowout was complete. Longwood hit a jaw-droppingly pathetic 6-32 from the field in the second half, that's 19%. It allowed Virginia's reserves some well earned playing time and kept the lead growing instead of dwindling.

Virginia was led by Singletary was always, as the sophomore continues to show that he is one of the best in the nation with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 25 minutes. Reynolds had foul trouble early but still managed to pull off 16 points with 4-9 shooting behind the arc in 24 minutes. Adrian Joseph was the only other Cavalier in double figures with 11. His jump shooting has become spot on, but it's pretty easy with the defense Longwood played. The Cavaliers shot 61.8% in the first half before cooling down considerably in the second (although walk ons had something to do with that too). Virginia had every single player on the roster score except Matt Deasey. This was also the return of T.J. Bannister to action, who showed his amazing vision again with 5 assists. It's amazing how good Bannister could be if he could hit the jump shot.

Longwood was led by Kirk Williams and Clayton Morgan who both had 11 points each. Dana Smith chipped in an extra 10 points with 4 offensive rebounds. The best big man was Tunji Soroye of Virginia who had 4 blocks, 7 rebounds and two steals. Soroye showed probably some of his best moves all year long. As a player he has always been sort of an enigma, while every other player has been great strides this year, Soroye has taken a sidestep. Maybe this game will give him some confidence and help him compete with Jason Cain and Lars Mikalauskas for crowd's cheers.

Next up for Virginia are the Florida State Seminoles. The Noles are coming off a bad performance against N.C. State on the road. FSU is one of those schools like Virginia with a chance to go to the NCAA, but not a great one. The Seminoles are 15-7, 5-6 in the ACC and right on the bubble. The Virginia game for them is really a must win, they have Miami and VT on the road, Duke and Maryland at home. Those are four very tough game and so the pressure is on for Leonard Hamilton and his players because they will be desperate on Saturday.

Virginia is pretty close to desperate too. At 6-5, they are 13-9 and really would need a strong showing for the NCAA. While it would be difficult, Virginia has shown the ability to compete with any team in the ACC. Virginia has 3 road games and 2 home games left. Virginia will really need to win both home games and probably steal either Clemson and/or FSU on the road. If Virginia does that, it could be time for dancing shoes. It's a tall task, but it all starts Saturday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hoo Crew or Boo?

In the past few weeks, lots of people have chimed in on the new student group. While I am just one voice, I feel the need to add my two cents because people have really become too polarized on this issue.

First of all, I think I shoud address the good. Hoo Crew is what we need to reach a higher level in basketball. At its best, Hoo Crew gives U-Hall the home court advantage that our team so desperately needs game in and game out. Let's face it "Vick kicks harder" and "Curfew" for the Liberty game are really funny and unique. The problem is they're also rare. That VT game proved to me that Hoo Crew is still a work in progress, "Let's Go Wahoos" (clap-clap, clap-clap-clap) is cute and all, not 30 times. In fact contrary to Hoo Crew's belief there are other cheers that require different rhythms of clapping. I understand some people are opposed to cheer sheets. Get over it. There has to be some sort of coordination or an entire nation sees how uncreative our student body is on live television. I understand the detractors from Hoo Crew, but if they put in as much energy cheering for our team as they do making fun of Hoo Crew we'd be the loudest crowd in the ACC (Okay maybe not, but a helluva lot closer than you might imagine).

At the same time, Hoo Crew, don't act all high and mighty yet. I think some fans really let it go to their heads that they're in Hoo Crew and believe that makes them a better fan than those non-Hoo Crew fans. This causes an unnecessary division and hurts overall team spirit. You need to recognize that there are fans just as spirited, if not more, on the opposite side of U-Hall. In fact, it's pretty hard not to be mad at Hoo Crew, they get an entire section reserved and don't show up until 30 minutes are left, because what's the point, it's reserved. The non-Hoo Crew fans have to wait hours upon hours with a very uncoordinated event staff and have to hear the PA announcer give a shout out to the Hoo Crew (i.e. the rest of the you are not important).

On one important side note, this is my own venom spewing but....I hate saving seats. I hate it with a passion and I think it needs to change. If I get there 2 hours before a game, and someone beats me by ten seconds and then saves two rows by himself, is that fair? It's not even close to fair. But if you make a scene you seem like a jerk, and what are the event staff doing...NOTHING. They're making sure you don't say the word "sucks". Event staff, do your job. I think it's time we make a rule that each person can save ONE seat, total. You want a good seat, how about you get off your lazy butt and get it yourself! I think that would really help make an intimidating environment since twelve people during shoot around is not a scary sight. I also think it'd be nice to have a rule that says all those physically able to stand must do so for the last two minutes of a game (unless it's a blowout). Maybe this seems trivial, but with men's basketball actually doing well, I need something to harp on and it's something that bothers me greatly.

Next year could be a disaster when Hoo Crew invades football. All I have to say is if I show up 3 hours early, I deserve a seat that merits the time spent. Football games already show the most spirit BY FAR of all the other sports. Hoo Crew really needs to focus on what it said, bringing students to the other sports, the less popular but probably better sports of lacrosse, tennis and soccer. That is a noble and worthy goal. They can make a big difference in basketball too, if cheers are organized and inclusion welcome. needs to be left alone.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Hoos Handle Hokies in OT 81-77

It wasn't easy, but sweeping your rival is always a sweet feeling.

Virginia led by as many as 15 against the Hokies of Virginia Tech last night while the snow fell outside of U-Hall. The Hokies started to catch fire and made it close. In the end there were 13 ties and 16 lead changes in what turned out to be another classic. Despite a wonderful first half and a poor second half, Virginia was able to get things together in the OT, avenging the ghosts of the FSU OT game.

"I told the team at the end of regulation, that if we could rewind a little bit, we found ourselves in this position against Florida State and we didn't do the things necessary in the final five minutes," Virginia coach Dave Leitao said. "We weren't perfect in executing sometimes as well as we wanted to, the defense was good, okay at times, but the last five minutes I thought we did what was necessary in rebounding the ball."

This is true. On paper, Virginia and Virginia Tech both had 36 rebounds. The Hokies had 3 more offensive rebounds. Yet, it was the Cavaliers who grabbed the big boards when it mattered most. They were needed to because the Hokies would take a 75-72 lead in OT with less than 3 minutes to go.

"They made a big three-pointer to make the score 75-72. At that time we were getting a little bit antsy," Leitao said. "The possession afterwards we did a really good job of being calm."

It was Mr. Cool himself, Sean Singletary who made two free throws to give Virginia a one point lead at 76-75. Then with a under a minute to go Reynolds found Mikalauskas underneath the bucket and the freshman made a big layup. Then a miss on the other end, and two Adrian Joseph field goals locked up a big win for the Cavaliers, and another nail-biting finish for the Hokies.

"There is such a fine line between winning and losing," Hokie coach Seth Greenburg said. "We're in position to win a game."

It's hard to beat Virginia when Reynolds had a game like he did last night. The junior had 19 points, which is solid in its own right, but add 12 assists and you have an all-star performance. Sean Singletary had another spectacular outing with 23 points and 6 rebounds. Jason Cain also continued his stellar play with 10 points, 8 rebounds, just short of another double-double. Adrian Joseph rounds out the list with 15 points, continuing his tremendous progress as a shooter.

The Hokies were led by Jamon Gordon who had 24 points in defeat. A.D. Vassallo continues to be a huge addition to the repetoire as the freshman added in 19 points along with 10 by Zabian Dowdell. The loss puts VT at 3-8 in the conference. It also means that UVA now has a 10-4 edge in the inaugural Commonwealth Challenge, as the Cavaliers secured another point.

The win takes Virginia to 12-9, 6-5 ACC. Next up for the Cavaliers is a home contest against Longwood. This out of conference game should be a great chance for Virginia to improve on its record and keep momentum going into FSU next weekend. It will be important the the Cavaliers stay focused, even if they have the edge on paper, Virginia cannot take anyone lightly. Take care of business and Virginia will be ready for one tough stretch run that could mean the difference between the NIT, the NCAA or nothing at all.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Cavs fall to Maryland

The electric first ten minutes could not equal the disasterous last ten minutes.

The Virginia Cavaliers came into the Comcast Center hoping to pick up a big road win and help their NCAA profile. Virginia looked to avoid a slow start, like their last two road games and they were anything but cold. Virginia hit threes and jumpers like they were free. They got every rebound and the Terps looked completely outclassed. At 24-10 UVA would hold it's biggest lead and looked like Virginia might just win its first game outside of the state of Virginia.

Maryland was not to be denied, they heated up and started to put on some pressure at the defensive end. Travis Garrison, a senior, provided a spark off the bench and Maryland closed the gap to 5. Virginia ended the half in style though, instead of folding they went on a late run and reached halftime with a 38-30 lead.

The second half was not what the Cavaliers wanted. They were able to maintain a comfortable lead for the first bit, but not easily. J.R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary were mired by foul trouble. When both got four personals fouls, Virginia was in big trouble. Neither player could be as aggressive on offense or defense. The other players did not respond and Maryland capitalized. The Terps took their first lead of the game 53-51 with less than 8 minutes to go. Nevertheless, Virginia held on to tie it at 60-60 with 3:09 left. In the end, the Cavaliers just couldn't get it done. Foul trouble and suspect calls aside, Virginia shot an abysmal 9-32 in the second half. I might not have agreed with every call, but adversity is part of the game. While Leitao's squad has met every challenge this year, they did not handle this game like they should have. The 76-65 loss is not indicative of the game itself.

Virginia had another impressive performance by Jason Cain, who grabbed his 6th double-double on the year with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Singletary and Reynolds continued their stellar play, even if both were mired by foul trouble. Both men contributed 18 points each. Adrian Joseph had 8 points early but could never add on to his total when Virginia needed players to step up.

The Terps had four men in double figures with D.J. Strawberry's 19 points leading the way. The best performance was by Ekene Ibewe whose 14 points, 15 rebounds all but assured the victory. The victory was big too for it allowed head coach Gary Williams to pass Lefty Drisell for the most wins at Maryland. It was an emotional moment for the coach, and who better to beat than one of his main rivals. Problem is, that's exactly what the Cavaliers did not need.

The loss puts Virginia to 11-9, 5-5 ACC the NCAA pipe dream takes a big hit, but still NIT postseason aspirations are pretty legitimate and amazing considering preseason expectations. The Terps keep their NCAA hopes alive at 15-7, 5-4 ACC. They should be going to the "Big Dance" but their is alot of basketball yet to be played. Next up for Virginia are the Hokies of Virginia Tech. UVA won 54-49 in their first meeting but much has changed for both teams since then. The Hokies misfortunes earlier this year have subsided a bit and they are now 3-7 in the ACC after starting 0-6. Despite that terrible start, VT would only be one game behind UVA if they win on Saturday. Also the Hokies have found a new contributor in A.D. Vassallo. Virginia needs T.J. Bannister. They need his experience. They need him to give Sean Singletary a rest every 35 minutes or so. His reaggravation of an injury has cost UVA, they are 1-3 without him in this new stretch, the one win a very close one against Wake Forest. The season is not over, but it'll come to a close sooner than Virginia wants if Bannister cannot get back on the court.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Baylor Beat Down 6-1

The early onslaught of top teams cost Virginia it's number one ranking in men's tennis, but it got them their biggest win in the teams history.

The 7th-ranked Cavaliers had a home match against the 8th-ranked Baylor Bears and proceeded to register one decisive victory in front of a near capacity crowd at the Boar's Head Sports Club.

The match started off on the right foot with a victory in the doubles matches as The No. 25 ranked team of Darrin Cohen and Doug Stewart registered the first victory over Lars Poerschke and Vladimir Portnov 8-4 at No. 3 doubles. The doubles were then clinched by Rylan Rizza and Nick Meythaler taking down the No. 31 ranked team of Jon Reckewey and Matija Zgaga 8-4 at the No. 2 position.

Baylor was able to tie up the score early when Lars Poerschke took revenge against Doug Stewart 6-3, 6-2. The momentum was short lived however as Cohen took down Jon Reckewey 7-6, 6-2. After that it was only a matter of time as the crowd and excellent play kept the wins coming. Rizza downed Michal Kokta 7-6, 6-1. Treat Huey would get the deciding point when he came back to defeat Will Ward 4-6, 6-0, 6-3. Marko Miklo and Somdev Devvarman each racked up points, and the result was the biggest UVA victory over a top ten team in school history. The win was also Virginia's 18th straight at home.

Perhaps the biggest storyline was the record-breaking crowd. 890 was far from awe-inspiring but it shattered the previous record of 627 and it shows the growing prominence of men's tennis. Head coach Brian Boland has created something special here at UVA and the two-time defending ACC champions look to be primed for another spectacular season. The crowd is also a credit to the new student group at UVA the Hoo Crew. At the Wake Forest basketball game, this match was heavily advertised, and rides were provided by the group to help make that record number possible.

"I was really pleased with our overall performance tonight," said Boland. "The crowd was amazing. They gave us a boost in doubles and that momentum lasted throughout the night. I was particularly pleased with the play of our doubles, and by guys like Marko and Rylan in singles. Tonight was an indication of our improvement as a team this season. We now are looking forward to another match tomorrow against a really good Michigan team."

That's right, tomorrow. No rest for the weary tennis team, and no rest for the Hoo Crew. The 52nd ranked Wolverines will be a challenge already 4-0 on the year, but that's just how 5-2 Virginia likes it.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Virginia Survives Wake 75-73

When you're the co-captain, it must be fun to try and outdo your counterpart.

In the Wake Forest v. Virginia game, Sean Singletary has 19 points, but J.R. Reynolds had 21. Those two proved critical, for Reynolds made a huge jumper with 3.8 seconds to go that would prove to be the game winner for Virginia in an epic 75-73 duel.

Singletary still deserves some credit, his performance was Herculean with 8 assists and 6 rebounds to go with the 19 points. Freshman Mamadi Diane had 10 rebounds, the biggest coming with less than a minute in the game in the 73 stalemate. His offensive board allowed UVA to hold for the last shot and secure the win.

"The guys gave him an ovation in the lockerroom after the game." Head coach Dave Leitao said. "We told them at halftime that you can make other contributions in the game. If you defend, rebound, move your feet, those kinds of things, you'll find yourself much more involved in the game. He did a tremendous job."

The win was not assured though until Justin Grey of the Demon Deacons hit the rim on a long three at the buzzer. He didn't miss much though, scoring 18 points and 5 assists to lead his team. Big men Trent Strickland and C Eric Williams helped out with 17 and 14 points respectively. The shocking stat in this game was rebounding. Wake Forest came into the game wit the biggest rebounding margin in the ACC. They were outrebounded 47-25. Virginia had 21 offensive rebounds compared to WF's 5 and 19 second chance points compared to the Deacs 6. This proved critical for Wake's shooting proved to be incredible, shooting 51% for the game, 60% in the second half.

Of course some of that offensive efficiency came from defensive breakdowns. Virginia had trouble containing the big men and got in some foul trouble early and often. The symphony of whistles brought on an unsatisfied fan base who seemed ready to put on the black and white jerseys themselves. This led to a very chippy second half, 20 fouls for each team in total.

The loss sends Wake Forest spiraling. Already last in the ACC before this game, they put a little cushion on the cellar with a 1-8 record, 12-10 overall. They seem like a team full of talent that can't seem to get things together. Skip Prosser must be feeling like nothing can go right for his team, his losing 8 of the last 9 games seems rather reminiscent of his mentor Pete Gillen.

Gillen's successor Dave Leitao has his team at 11-8, 5-4 in the ACC. The road towards the NIT could have taken a huge hit but it didn't. Wake Forest went on a 22-9 run in the first half that threw UVA for a loop. Leitao had a technical foul after throwing his jacket on the floor. He is one passionate man, and his team resembles him. When the chips were down, Virginia responded yet to see another day.

Next up for Virginia are the Maryland Terrapins. The Terps are 4-3 in the ACC, 14-6 overall. UVA's rival from the north looks to be in good shape for the NCAA tournament but are hurting as of late because of Chris McCray's academic ineligibility. McCray was the heart and soul of Maryland and his absence gives the Cavaliers a much better chance. Virginia took the Wolfpack down to the wire, they certainly should be able to do the same at College Park. The Cavaliers will look to their own depth and hope that T.J. Bannister can come back after two games sat out. If he can, watch out ACC, Virginia is not done yet.

Friday, February 03, 2006

What's Going On?

Marvin Gaye sung it, the Virginia women's basketball team is living it.

Just a few weeks ago, the Cavaliers laid the smackdown to interstate rival Virginia Tech, 78-59. This time the roles reversed at U-Hall and the lady Cavaliers lost 65-54. The loss takes Virginia to 13-7 overall, 2-5 in the ACC. Virginia got out of the gate slowly and had to play catch up all game long. This has been an unfortunate trend for the women's team this year and it resulted in a common end, a loss. Tech took an 11-4 lead early and every time Virginia would fight back, the Hokies responded. When the Cavaliers closed the gap to 26-23 at the break, the Hokies scored 4 straight points out of the box. They took a ten point lead 52-42 with 2:17 and Virginia could never get closer than 6.

"We're mired in a slump right now," head coach Debbie Ryan said. "We can't stop digging."

It's hard to point to the exact problem of this team, in reality, it's probably a whole lot of minor things. This game was a lot about poor defense and unbalanced scoring. I mentioned last time that Virginia needed a star, well I doubt Sharnee Zoll read my column but she took it to heart. Zoll scored 17 points shirking her usual pass first, shoot second mentality. The problem is she only had two assists and NO ONE else scored in double figures. Stars make their team better and Zoll did not do that. Playing the point guard is the hardest of all positions because you're the coach on the floor. It's hard to balance shooting and passing, Zoll still needs to find that balance as Virginia continues to play in the ACC.

Defense is also big, especially when you get down early. Carrie Mason of the Hokies had a big game, 24 points on 7-13 shooting, 4-5 from behind the arc. Dawn Chriss has a big game as well with 17 points on 6-14 shooting. As a team the Hokies shot 45.5% from the field, 12% better than their counterparts. They also outrebounded the Cavaliers 34-33. All of that means a loss for Virginia and a point for the Hokies in the Commonwealth Challenge. Virginia Tech is now 15-5 on the season, but also 2-5 in the ACC. This win was critical for their team but also for their school as the Hokies trail 9-4 in the Commonwealth Challenge.

Next up for Virginia is Maryland, a team that beat the Cavaliers at U-Hall in overtime 84-74 earlier this season. The fact is it's really really really time to worry if you're a Cavalier. You're already 2-5 in the ACC and this was the easy part. These next three games are all against teams in the top 6, at Maryland, at Duke and at home against the undefeated first-ranked Tar Heels.

Good luck Debbie Ryan and crew, you're gonna need it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Results Are In

Recruiting confuses me.

I'll be the first to admit it too. I love sports but recruiting is an aspect that unless you take part in it, you can't fully understand. This Wednesday was National Signing Day, where all the universities across the land laud their great incoming classes of football heroes. Al Groh has been one hard worker at recruiting. He assembled top 25 classes like nobody's business in the beginning and why not? This guy was an NFL head coach, he worked under Bill Belichick, the beloved Patriots head coach with all the rings. He got stars like Heath Miller, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Ahmad Brooks. In all honesty, this graduating class might have been one of the best classes in UVA football history. The class of 2006 however, is not.

Recruiting is not an exact science, some high ranked prospects never pan out, and there are always surprises. Therefore, ranking teams is one problematic thing to do. Even the different entities that do the ranking have a hard time. How hard you ask? Rivals Inc. has UVA's class of 2006 as 39th nationally (not too bad), has it at 52nd (uh oh) and ESPN has it ranked 70th (very bad). Now I don't know about you but that's a real discrepancy. In fact, ESPN has UVA's class ranked dead last in the ACC, that's right behind Duke, Wake Forest and UNC. Maybe ESPN is off their rocker, Rivals and are the more respected recruiting forces. However, even if the players Virginia got turn out to be better than 70th in the nation, the bigger story is who Virginia did not get.

Virginia picked up 24 recruits, but only 8 are from the state of Virginia (that's one third, math majors). These eight weren't the biggest names either. Before you can become a national power, you HAVE to win the battle for the recruits in your state. Virginia did that early on in Groh's tenure but lately with Virginia Tech's ascendancy, the return of Penn State as well as those darn Florida schools, it's no longer the case. Plus these top prospects were wide receivers, the one position Virginia desperately needs help at more than anything else. I mean linebackers are wonderful, but when you're overbooked, you're overbooked.

It's also about holding on too. Virginia had two great players at running back Kordell Young and Brent Carter that decommited, instead opting for Rutgers and Penn State respectively. I don't know why they decommited, but I do know this...if you're losing football recruits to Rutgers, this is not good!

As fans, we want to believe that we can reach that elite level. It's hard in an ACC with two Florida schools, with the high academic standards we adhere to, and the parity present in today's football. Nevertheless, UVA needs to take advantage of situations when it can, and so must Al Groh. I think Al Groh is wonderful and so do pretty much all fans. He has completely changed the intensity and attitude towards football on Grounds. The nation likes Groh too, but he is starting to build a dangerous reputation as an "underachiever". In 2004-2005, Virginia looked poised for the ACC Championship and folded horribly in its 3 biggest games. Last season, Virginia did not win one ACC road game. Al Groh has responded when the pressure has really been on. Despite all the coaching vacancies, the Cavaliers beat a very good Minnesota team in the Music City Bowl. These vacancies certainly hurt recruiting this time around but now it's over.

It's officially time to look to next season and Coach Groh and staff need to focus on this season. It's time to prove that Virginia can break through that shell of mediocrity. Al Groh preached that this would not be the George Welsh era of ties and pep bands. Well George Welsh got us winning seasons too, one of the longest streaks in the nation, he got us our first bowl game and picked up two ACC Championships. If Coach Groh truly wants the fans to step up their commitment and effort to the program to get us to the next level, it's time for the team to do their part. It's not too lofty a goal, it's what has been asked of us by our coach. We responded...

State Squeaks By Virginia 66-64

When you are playing a top 25 team on the road, you need skill, determination and luck.

Against 18th-ranked N.C. State the Virginia Cavaliers had a little bit of all three, but not when it mattered most. Sean Singletary was given the ball by C Jason Cain with 3.2 to go after a missed Wolfpack free throw with a chance to win. Coach Dave Leitao had used all his timeouts so it was Singletary who had to run the court and throw up a prayer. The shot was good...but not good enough, allowing N.C. State to defend their homecourt and drop the Cavaliers to 10-8, 4-4 in the ACC. While the loss is certainly demoralizing, 4-4 is an amazing accomplishment already. Nevertheless, it's not time to pack it in and call it a season. Virginia still has 9 games left, 8 conference games and a tournament. This season has turned into more than just avoiding embarrassment, but really making some positive strides. Coach Dave Leitao recognized that after the game, once again proving he saw no such thing as a "morale victory".

"I've said it 100 times. There's nothing pleasing about losing."

The beginning of the game was far from pleasing for Virginia fans. The offense started off badly for the third game in a row. After the 20-2 debacle against Duke, Virginia was behind 20-8 early on and looked to be in trouble.

"We didn't come into this game with a lot of energy but we were able to regain our focus and execute a little bit," Singletary said.

That they did, J.R. Reynolds was able to make some aggressive moves and piece by piece Virginia clawed back in it. The Cavaliers ended the half strongly, cutting a 9-point deficit to 3 trailing 29-26 at the break. The second half was a tug and war of momentum. Virginia would come close but the Wolfpack would answer. Finally, late in the game, Virginia took its first lead 53-52 with 7:44 to go. At 61-57 Virginia had its biggest lead and a chance to pull away. The Wolfpack were struggling, but the Cavaliers could not deliver the final blow and that proved critical. Ilian Evitimov and Cameron Bennerman worked to get the Wolfpack the lead at 64-62. Then Engin Atsur, who had played with freshman Mamadi Diane all day was able to get open and make the critical yet wide open lay up.

That lack of defensive execution also came at the front line where Lars Mikalauskas and Tunji Soroye could not contain sophomore center Cedric Simmons. Simmons had 15 points and 3 blocks which complimented Tony Bethel's 16 points and 7 rebounds. When a clutch play was needed, Bethel responded through the game with a big three-pointer or a key rebound.

For Virginia despite some mishaps J.R. Reynolds still had a solid outing with 16 points and 5 assists. Singletary had 13 points and 5 assists, a sub-par game for him that still included Kodak moments of jaw-dropping execution. Mikalauskas despite 4 fouls was able to put up 10 points and Cain had a very good game rebounding 10 rebounds to go with his 7 points. In fact, Virginia had a big margin in the rebounding war, most importantly they had 12 offensive rebounds to 4 for the Wolfpack. Still it was all about execution down the stretch and that is where the Wolfpack shined.

The win takes N.C. State to 17-4, 6-2 in the ACC. They avenged a beat down by Seton Hall last week which was their first home loss of the year. The Wolfpack seem to have locked up an NCAA bid now, but for Virginia it's all about keeping the team together for the stretch run.

Let's be honest, Virginia was not expected to do anything this year. Now that they have, it's hard to just call it a season. Certainly the players don't want to, and neither do the fans. Virginia has proven it has loads of potential and promise but that doesn't make a difference in the win-loss column. The Cavaliers simply do not have room for error if they want some postseason play (NIT or NCAA). Next up are the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, a team that has inexplicably struggled this year without Chris Paul. The Deacons are LAST in the ACC at 1-7. Nevertheless, Virginia cannot look past this team. WF has the talent that can help them beat anybody on a given night, they have just been unable to get everyone to work well in concert. If UVa looks past them as a win, they will most certainly lose (and it's a loss they can ill afford). Win this and Virginia is back above .500 in the ACC and the NIT looks like a great possibility. Lose this game and Virginia is reeling with 3 straight losses and a road game at Maryland on the horizon. The season may not end be on the line this Saturday, but the Cavaliers need to play like it is.