Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Lesson Learned

The game that shall not be mentioned.

If you're a Virginia fan, than the Fordham 62-60 loss in mid-December is a game one likes to forget. Singletary didn't play, that is enough of an excuse right there...right?

Fordham finished well in the A-10 (9-7), a conference that had a particularly down year. Still the Rams had a record of 1-6 when they played the Cavaliers, and it was a match that Virginia should never have lost. With Singletary out, the impetus was on co-captain J.R. Reynolds to fill the void. Instead Reynolds scored just 8 points on 2-8 shooting and had 4 turnovers. He was far from a leader and Virginia fans were left anticipating another season in the bottom of the ACC ranks. This wasn't new though for Reynolds. Many people wondered if the drill sergeant technique of Dave Leitao would work for the junior shooting guard. He had struggled off and on throughout the season to this point, let alone his entire career. He seemed visibly frustrated out there. Some people wondered if Reynolds even had the game to make it in the ACC. Well, Fordham might have been a loss on paper for the Cavaliers but it was a win for the program.

Since then, it's been goodbye old Reynolds and hello new. J.R. has scored in double figures every game since the debacle. He has become Singletary's wingman and together the dynamic duo made mincemeat of every backcourt they played this year. Reynolds shining moment came against the Boston College Eagles where he scored 28 points. He had also had two highlight reel shots with a Redick-distance 3-pointer and a pull away dunk en route to a Virginia drubbing of the newest ACC member. As a result, the man questioned about his merits to be in the ACC made the third-team all ACC list.

More than his skills, it is his leadership that has people impressed. One man in particular that Reynolds has pushed all year long has been Laurynas Mikalauskas. The freshman from Lithuania was not highly touted nor very polished. Yet, in his first year at Virginia, the power forward stepped up his game to the delight of his coach and the fans. Just look at the groups on facebook, or the ecstasy in fans voices when Lars nails a baby hook. His progress has inspired the fans and his teammates. Pushing people to do their best should be old hat. It worked for him, now Reynolds is making sure it works for everyone else on this team.

Time will tell just how good he learned his lesson.


Post a Comment

<< Home