Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ballin in U-Hall?

With one game left in the regular season, the Virginia men's basketball team has a miraculous opportunity to finish the season .500 in the ACC. So why is all the talk out of Hooville negative?

Two straight road losses have taken the wind of out Virginia's sails after the Cavaliers dominated the 11th ranked BC Eagles at home. These two road losses against UNC and Clemson were complete annihilations, augmented by the fact Virginia is 1-7 in the ACC on the road (the one win a 54-49 decision against the Hokies). Virginia has not won a game outside of the Commonwealth all year long and it seems to be the one constant between Dave Leitao's team and his predecessor Pete Gillen. So why is it so hard to play on the road?

Obviously a large crowd can be intimidating, the noise level can cause confusion and turnovers but for the most part playing on the road is purely a mental thing. Mature teams realize it should be no different than a home game, but so far the Cavaliers have been a Jekyll and Hyde team. At home they appear unbeatable, on the road they appear the haphazard mess we had envisioned before the year began (or even halfway through it). Can Leitao put his team over the mental barrier which has plagued Virginia basketball for so long? It seems to be the hardest question to answer.

Another pertinent question seems to be what happened to Jason Cain. The junior center has barely played in the last two games, and it appears it is coming from an argument between Cain and assistant coach Seymour. Could it be Cain is simply injured? Could it be his attitude? Could it be his play is substandard? The fact is Virginia has no depth and without it's biggest surprise the Cavaliers are playing just as we had feared they would. Don't expect to get answers from close-lipped Leitao. He runs a tight ship and while it is very good for the team, it's not good for the speculative fan.

Next up for Virginia is Maryland, the final game at U-Hall ever, barring an NIT appearance. There should be a lot of pageantry and alumni, but will there be a game? The fact is Virginia's confidence seems to be at zero. Even if it is at home, can Virginia rebound after such resounding blows to their postseason hopes? Leitao has done everything to earn ACC Coach of the Year consideration, but he needs to end this season on a high note. Prove that this year is not a fluke, and that this team has truly progressed. Beat Maryland and the Cavaliers can look firmly to an NIT run with at least some confidence. Lose and the Cavaliers could spiral into a great year with a disappointing conclusion...whoa....deja vu.


Post a Comment

<< Home