Sandberg dines with Cavaliers
Cub great speaks at fundraising banquet
By Jay Jenkins / firstname.lastname@example.org | 978-7247
January 27, 2007
Ryne Sandberg could not believe his eyes.
The Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and former Chicago Cubs second baseman had heard about the quick rise of the Virginia baseball program, but he had no idea the team had a bona fide Major League star on its pitching staff.
To Sandberg, it certainly appeared that way as he strolled around Davenport Field with UVa baseball coach Brian O’Connor.
“The only person I saw on the field was Billy Wagner,” Sandberg joked referring to the New York Mets closer. “He was working on a sinker or a change-up. That was pretty impressive.”
Sandberg crossed paths with Wagner again Friday night - the former Cub addressed a crowd of over 600 inside Memorial Gymnasium as a part of Virginia’s annual Step Up To The Plate! fundraiser. Those in attendance included not only Wagner, but also numerous former Virginia baseball stars such as Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and Boston Red Sox reliever Javier Lopez.
During his visit to the commonwealth, which he admitted was a rarity in his lifetime, Sandberg had a chance to meet with Virginia’s entire roster.
One thing stood out.
“The players were very respectful,” Sandberg said. “You could see them wanting to ask a question and getting excited.”
Sandberg joins an ever-growing list of baseball dignitaries to speak at the annual event.
O’Connor, who has also welcomed in former L.A. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and Baltimore Orioles stars Cal Ripken Jr. and Brooks Robinson, said the pressure mounts every year to deliver a top-notch speaker such as Sandberg.
“It’s a great list of Hall of Famers that we’ve rolled in here,” O’Connor said. “I have been telling people that you would think having a one-run lead with two runners on against Clemson in the bottom of the ninth is pressure. That’s not pressure.
“Pressure is trying to find a speaker for tonight’s banquet, and that’s why I feel so fortunate that Ryan agreed to take time out of his busy schedule to do this.”
Sandberg, who was recently named the Class A manager for the Peoria Chiefs, said he walked away with a better feel for college baseball and Virginia.
“To see the support that UVa has here ... it’s a first-class program,” he said. “I have been impressed since I got here and there seems to be some avid baseball fans here [at Virginia].”
UVa's guard duo doing all that's asked
By Jerry Ratcliffe / email@example.com | 978-7251
January 27, 2007
Dave Leitao wasn’t kidding the other night when he said that Virginia’s basketball team would go as far as the Cavaliers’ two guards will take them.
He’s probably just hoping that the dynamic duo won’t run out of gas along the way.
The real deal
UVa fans have been getting a real show out of the Cavaliers’ starting backcourt of senior shooting guard J.R. Reynolds and junior point guard Sean Singletary. It has been a while in these parts since the Wahoos have featured a scoring tandem as lethal as this pair.
Singletary leads the ACC in scoring and Reynolds is fourth (they’re both in the top five in free-throw shooting in the league). What the two have done in recent games has been magical.
Just three nights ago, the Virginia guards cut N.C. State’s defense to ribbons in front of 15,000 horrified Wolfpack fans at Raleigh’s RBC Center. Reynolds scored 29 points, 24 of them in the second half, and during one stretch reeled off 18 straight points. Singletary did most of his damage in the first half when he had 15 of his 27 points.
Together, they have been almost unstoppable when they’re on target.
Since returning from a disastrous road trip to San Juan before Christmas, Reynolds and Singletary have combined to average 46 points per game over the last eight contests. Singletary has averaged 23.9 per game, Reynolds 22.1 over that span.
Leitao will take his flying circus on the road to Clemson for the last of an unbelievable seven Sunday games this season, and hope that his guards can continue to send the scoreboard into astronomical gyrations. It wouldn’t hurt his feelings if a couple of more Wahoos decided to join the party, but as he said, Virginia may have to ride out the guards’ scoring spree as long as possible.
“In both cases they’ve gotten into a mental rhythm as much as a physical rhythm,” Leitao said Friday. “They’re playing at a high confidence level. It’s far for me to calm or slow them down. I’m trying to get the others to raise their level.”
That’s what it may require for the Cavaliers to tame the Tigers, coming off a heart-wrenching, last-second loss at Duke on Thursday night. How come there always seems to be clock issues at Duke in close games, and how come it always seems to favor, say, Duke?
But that’s another story.
Clemson bounced back strong from its earlier loss to North Carolina with an impressive home performance, something the Cavaliers will have to contend with on Sunday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Unlike Duke, which reportedly spent a lot of time trying to develop intricate plans to get former sharpshooter J.J. Redick open looks the past two seasons, Virginia hasn’t gone crazy with that idea.
“We haven’t done a ton of things,” Leitao said in terms of finding ways to get Reynolds shots. “We have done some things specifically like we did the other night to get the ball in his hands.”
That’s when they kept running Reynolds baseline, allowing him to come off screens in what looked almost like the senior at one of those Pop-a-Shot games. He knocked down 9 of 15 (5 of 8 from Bonusphere), while Singletary hit 9 of 18 (5 of 10 from beyond the arch). Both threw enough scare into the Wolfpack that when either drove the lane, they were usually fouled and the duo took full advantage by sinking all 10 of their free-throw attempts.
Leitao is also running more motion offense than in the past, and as he pointed out, in doing so, everybody’s hands get on the ball. It’s just that Reynolds and Singletary have no fear. Sometimes UVa goes away from the motion to get one of the guards a specific look for a shot.
Naturally, this is creating quite a physical toll on both, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the coaching staff. But when the rest of the team combines to shoot 6 of 23 for the game, Leitao doesn’t have a lot of options other than to put the team’s fate in the guards’ hands.
Reynolds, particularly, has to keep running to get the open look while Singletary patiently tries to find him at just the right spot.
“That’s very demanding [on Reynolds],” said Leitao, who reminded that then Reynolds has to turn around and guard the opponents’ best offensive threat on the perimeter.
“But to whom much is given, much is expected,” Leitao said in reference to the age-old axiom. “Ask players around this league and around the country and they would like to be in J.R.’s position to have a green light like he does.”
But the coaching staff keeps a close watch on both Reynolds’ and Singletary’s practice times, while trying to give them as much rest as the situation allows just because their game days are so eventful.
Thinking well ahead of those demands, Leitao, his coaching staff and conditioning expert Sean Brown decided last spring to try to get Reynolds to shed about 12 unnecessary pounds in anticipation of what would be required of the senior this season.
“We were just trying to cut down his body fat to make him a little sleeker, a little more durable,” Leitao said. “The weight was less significant than the body fat.”
The strategy has paid off as the UVa backcourt is easily the most lethal scoring combination in the ACC.
Reynolds, who started the season ranked 37th on Virginia’s all-time scoring list, has already climbed into a tie for 18th with Lee Raker (1978-81) with 1,423 points headed to Tiger Town. Fifteen more points will glide him by Jim Connelly (1965-67) and legendary Barry Parkhill (1971-73).
Considering that Clemson ranks ninth in the ACC in both field-goal percentage defense and 3-point percentage defense, it at least leaves the notion that it could be another one of those 40-plus point nights for the Cavalier backcourt.
At least that’s what Leitao is hoping for.
But both Wahoo guards would be the first to admit that they’d like a little help from their friends.
For Goulds, it's all about uprights
U.Va. kicker jumps on Bears' bandwagon as brother goes to work
BY JEFF WHITE
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Jan 27, 2007
At the south end of Soldier Field stood the uprights through which Robbie Gould would try to kick the football. If he succeeded, Gould would lift the Chicago Bears to victory over the Seattle Seahawks and into the NFC championship game.
In the south end-zone stands sat Gould's family members. The game was tied 24-24 in overtime. Gould's kid brother wasn't worried.
"I'll leave that up to my mom," Chris Gould, a University of Virginia junior, said yesterday. "She doesn't like to watch when we kick field goals. I don't get too nervous. I think every time Rob- bie goes out there, he's going to make it. He's really had a wonderful year."
So have Da Bears. Robbie Gould, a Pro Bowl selection, made that 49-yard field goal on Jan. 14 to eliminate Seattle, and a week later Chicago crushed New Orleans 39-14, also at Soldier Field. And now Chris Gould is headed to Miami to watch Chicago battle Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLI next Sunday.
The Gould brothers grew up in Haven, Pa. Their father, Robert Gould Jr., starred in soccer at Lock Haven University. Robbie Gould kicked at Penn State. Chris Gould signed with U.Va., where he took over as the starting punter late in the season as a true freshman and kept the job as a sophomore.
For most of his junior season, he handled extra points, kickoffs and field goals, as well as the punting duties. U.Va. coach Al Groh eventually reduced Gould's load by turning most of the punting over to Ryan Weigand, an arrangement that's expected to continue this season.
"I think it'll help a lot this year," said Gould, who made 11 of 19 field-goal attempts in 2006. "It'll give me one less thing to worry about. That way, I can save my legs and not try to be a super hero out there."
For Gould, the Super Bowl will be the fifth straight Bears game he's attended. He and his brother -- they have a younger sister, Lindsay -- were three grades apart in school.
"We grew up basically best friends," Chris Gould said. "We talk two, three, four times a week. Playing sports and being on the same teams, you get close and learn to depend on each other."
The Bears' roster includes two former All-Americans from U.Va.: tailback Thomas Jones and John St. Clair.
"I've actually met both of them," Chris Gould said. "It's neat to get to talk to some old alumni."
Gould leaves Friday for South Florida. His prediction for Super Bowl XLI? Brace yourself.
"I gotta stick with the Bears," he said.
Out-of-state recruiting analysts turn backs on Tech, UVa
Doughty “discovers” Kendrick Pressley
By Doug Doughty
In reading SuperPrep’s All-America issue, for which I rate the top senior football prospects in Virginia, what surprised me was the relatively low rankings for some of the the out-of-state prospects who have committed to Virginia and Virginia Tech.
The Cavaliers and Hokies each have received two commitments from South Carolina prospects and none of the four is rated any higher than Virginia recruit Dontrelle Inman, a wide receiver who was 20th on the South Carolina list attributed to Phil Kornblut.
The other UVa recruit from South Carolina, offensive lineman Landon Bradley, is 35th out of 35 players on Kornblut’s list. The two Tech-bound South Carolinians, tight end Andrew Lanier and all-purpose threat Kendrick Pressley, were 25th and 28th.
Tech did get the 14th-rated prospect in North Carolina, linebacker Barquell Rivers, but another Tech recruit, running back Josh Oglesby, was 32nd on analyst Sammy Batten’s list. Another Tech recruit from the Tar Heel state, Kwamaine Battle, went unranked.
Tech-bound tight end Rhett Ellison is 115th on SuperPrep’s list of the top 148 players in California, Hawaii and Nevada.
How should one interpret that?
In the process of processing that information, my cross-checking revealed that the name, Kendrick Pressley, never has appeared in The Roanoke Times. Or, at least, it hadn’t appeared with that spelling or a reasonable facsimile.
So, those are the kind of guys who do these evaluations, older guys like me who forget things. However, I do think that the early commitments made by many of the Tech and UVa recruits tend to hurt them in the rankings.
That isn’t the case with in-state recruits, particularly prospects like Tyrod Taylor (Tech) and Peter Lalich (UVa) who had a dozen or more offers in May of their junior year, but when you’ve got a kid from South Carolina who commits to Virginia Tech in the middle of the summer, he’s out of sight and out of mind.
ONE TECH RECRUIT who did fare better than some might have expected was Hunter Ovens, a Sarasota, Fla., linebacker who was rated the No. 18 player in his position by SuperPrep, which qualified him as a SuperPrep All-American.
This is the same Hunter Ovens who briefly reconsidered his commitment this fall when he sensed that Tech wanted him to enroll in January 2008. Tech may not have the numbers crunch it once anticipated, in which case the Hokies wouldn’t need Ovens to enroll at midyear.
Other out-of-state Tech recruits and how they were rated: tight end Brandon Barden, No. 37 in Georgia; tight end Chris Drager, No. 16 in Pennsylvania; running back Darren Evans, No. 41 in the Midwest (third in Indiana); and defensive linemen Justin Young and Courtney Prince, Nos. 12 and 15 in the Mid-Atlantic.
It’s funny how SuperPrep does these lists. There is a separate list for some of the smaller states, like Kentucky and Mississippi, but not for Indiana or Maryland. If you separate the Maryland players from the rest of the Mid-Atlantic (D.C., Delaware and West Virginia), Young and Prince are fourth and eighth.
UVa recruits Nick Jenkins and Lamar Milstead are seventh and ninth in the Mid-Atlantic 36 but they are the third- and fourth-rated prospects, respectively, in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Other out-of-state Virginia recruits and how they were rated were wide receiver Chase Minniefield, No. 1 in Kentucky, and tight end Andrew Devlin, No. 19 in Pennsylvania.
Two other Pennsylvanians headed to Virginia, tight end Mark Ambrose and Zane Parr, were mentioned in Devlin’s capsule but were not ranked among the state’s top 35 prospects. Another UVa-bound Pennsylvanian, defensive back Dominique Joseph, wasn’t mentioned at all.
It’s hard to believe that UVa would sign four players from Pennsylvania and three wouldn’t be in the top 35. But, there are a bunch of us knuckleheads out there.
AT LEAST ONE VIRGINIA fan has left a voice message and inquired why The Roanoke Times hasn’t reported the commitment that first-team All-Washington Metro wide receiver Vincent Hill has made to the Cavaliers.
I held off on Hill because what I’m hearing conflicts with Hill’s assertion that he will sign with Virginia in February but attend prep school in the fall. UVa likes Hill and will be happy to take his commitment but whether he will sign Feb. 7 is another matter.
The other hot rumor was that West Springfield’s Lalich would transfer to Western Albemarle for the second semester in order to be closer to the UVa program, but his West Springfield coach, Bill Renner, thinks there would be too much red tape involved to make that a reality.
VIRGINIA TECH WILL NOT GET a visit from Ahoskie, N.C., defensive lineman Tydreke Powell, who was to have been in Blacksburg this weekend but canceled his visit after making a commitment to new North Carolina coach Butch Davis.
On the other hand, Tech will get a visit from Desmond Roberts, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound offensive lineman from Northampton-West High School in Gaston, N.C. Roberts, rated the No. 34 prospect in North Carolina by SuperPrep, committed to North Carolina State in August but decided to look at other schools following the dismissal of coach Chuck Amato.
SuperPrep reported that Roberts is looking at Penn State, Tech and North Carolina, which suggests that he may be underrated at No. 34.
ACC: Time stood still at Duke
Clemson’s Purnell does not buy into conspiracy theory as league admits error at end of game
By PAUL STRELOW
CLEMSON — Oliver Purnell believes in conspiracy theories. Just
not this one.
The ACC admitted Friday that a timing error was made with five seconds remaining in No. 19 Clemson’s 68-66 loss Thursday night at No. 10 Duke, which gave the Blue Devils enough time to go the length of the floor for a game-winning, buzzer-beater layup.
Various fan message boards subsequently took off over the perception Duke — along with North Carolina — receives preferential treatment from the conference and/or officiating crews.
Purnell would not go down that road. He sounded reluctantly satisfied the ACC at least reviewed the procedural aspects of the episode.
“I think mistakes were made, and I don’t think anybody made mistakes to help Duke make another win,” Purnell said.
Purnell said he spoke Friday morning with John Clougherty, ACC coordinator of basketball officials, who first admitted the error.
During that conversation, Purnell said he was not informed whether the league would take any action against those to blame for the mistakes.
There were five seconds remaining in Thursday’s game as Duke center Josh McRoberts searched for a teammate to throw the inbounds pass to.
McRoberts’ errant pass went to Clemson guard Vernon Hamilton at the top of the key. Hamilton briefly hesitated, then sank a game-tying 3-pointer that threatened to force overtime.
However, the home clock operator did not get the clock started until Hamilton’s shot reached directly above the rim.
Time ran off until Duke called timeout with 1.8 seconds left, after which the officiating crew of Tom Lopes, John Cahill and Mike Kitts convened at the scorer’s table to discuss whether the remaining time was correct.
Purnell said halfway through the timeout, he was informed that 4.4 seconds were remaining.
While officials added 2.6 seconds as an adjustment to the time that ran off between Hamilton’s shot and the timeout, it is unclear if and how they overlooked the timing error at the beginning of the play.
The ACC released a three-sentence statement acknowledging the error, and Clougherty did not return calls seeking additional comment.
“We came to this conclusion after completing a review of the game film as well as internal conversations with the crew of officials, both head coaches and conference office staff,” Clougherty said in the release. “At this point, as with most league officiating matters, this situation has been handled and resolved internally.”
League spokesperson Amy Yakola said Clougherty would not elaborate further. ACC associate commissioner for men’s basketball Fred Barakat deferred questions to Clougherty.
Lopes was the subject of an SEC review for calls made in the Alabama-Georgia game last Saturday, according to published reports.
With 4.4 seconds remaining, Duke guard Jon Scheyer collected a pass at the opposing foul line, dribbled three times to midcourt and found streaking forward David McClure for the decisive lay-in as time expired.
Afterward, Purnell said he would reserve judgment on how the situation was handled until seeing a taped replay.
“Obviously, after watching the tape, I feel differently,” Purnell said Friday.
Clemson (18-3, 4-3) now turns its attention to trying to remain in the top half of the ACC when it plays host to Virginia (12-6, 4-2) Sunday at 1 p.m.
Purnell said he does not expect players to have a residual hangover for a loss they could partly blame on circumstances outside their control.
“I told players a couple of times after the game to forget about it. Forget the clock situation because we’ve got to play better to get it done. And they have listened to me pretty well through the course of the season.”
The way the Precision Time Systems technology that the ACC has used for clock operations since the 1999-2000 season works, the clock starts when a referee presses a button on his belt pack or, as a backup, when the timekeeper starts it from the sidelines. Essentially, whoever presses their button first starts the clock.
Stopping the clock after a made basket is the responsibility of the timekeeper. The referee can stop the clock by blowing his whistle, but whistles aren't blown after made baskets.