Pruett denies involvement; Tynes recants statements
By The Associated Press
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former Marshall football coach Bob Pruett
has denied allegations he was involved in an academic scandal or made athletes
lie about a jobs program that drew NCAA sanctions in 2001.
One of the former players who accused Pruett in a sworn affidavit has since recanted his statements.
Pruett gave a sworn deposition in May in a federal lawsuit filed by David Ridpath, Marshall's former NCAA compliance officer.
Former strength coach Mike Jenkins said in an earlier deposition that Pruett assured the football staff at a spring 1999 meeting that several players would be eligible for the 2000 season because they were assured of perfect grades in a physical education class.
Pruett indicated he never said that.
"I don't know why he would give this statement ... unless he just misunderstood or misremembered,'' Pruett said.
Pruett "vigorously'' denied Jenkins' contention that Pruett and others on his staff initiated the academic fraud.
Volunteer assistant strength coach Bruce McAllister gave seven athletes copies of final exam answers before the actual test was given. The NCAA's 2001 report said when McAllister's action was exposed to other students in the class, the professor gave everyone an "A'' in the course.
Pruett said McAllister came to his home and said he gave the test.
"I said, 'Well, you can't be with our program, you've put our program in harm's way,''' Pruett said.
Two players also implicated Pruett in earlier affidavits in a booster's high-paying summer jobs program for freshman players who were not academically qualified to participate in athletics.
Linebackers Sam Goines and Charlie Tynes didn't qualify for scholarships during their freshman seasons. NCAA bylaws prohibited them from receiving work benefits arranged by the school during their first year in school.
Goines and Tynes said Pruett told them during their recruitment that jobs would be available to them upon their arrival at Marshall. Both players said they were paid $25 an hour but were forced to sign documents at Pruett's direction indicating they were paid $12.50 per hour.
Tynes, who doesn't have a published telephone number, recanted his statements in an interview Wednesday with West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
"He never said to do that,'' Tynes said. "I never even went into his office to sign any papers dealing with this whole incident.''
Tynes also said Pruett never mentioned promises of an awaiting job.
"I've never been to coach Pruett's office period as far as anything dealing with a job. He's never approached me about a job,'' Tynes said. "I never asked him about a job.''
When asked why he gave a sworn affidavit that includes false information, Tynes said, "I may not have understood everything that I did sign off on.''
Goines said he was told that if he didn't sign the document, he couldn't play. When Pruett was asked if there would be a reason that Goines wouldn't provide truthful testimony, the former coach said Goines was upset about a lack of playing time during his senior year that hurt his consistency on the field.
The NCAA suspended Goines for one game and Tynes for four games during the 2001 season.
Pruett denied direct involvement in the 2003 firing of Ridpath, who claims he was made a scapegoat after the Huntington university was placed on four years probation and was stripped of some football and basketball scholarships.
Pruett said he believes the NCAA infractions were a factor in whether he would be considered for head coaching openings at Kentucky, Kansas, Temple and Mississippi.
When one of Ridpath's attorneys pressed him about university-related issues, Pruett said he retired in 2005 after nine seasons as Marshall's winningest coach for family reasons.
"My brother was dying of cancer. I wanted to see him,'' said Pruett, who was hired this season as defensive coordinator at Virginia. "My grandson was a junior in high school. I wanted to watch him play. I wanted to help my son coach. It was just time. It was of my own volition.''
Ridpath's lawsuit seeks $1 million in damages and is set for trial in October in Huntington.
Groh decides on U.Va. kicker
Reyering expected to kick off Cavaliers' season versus USC
Friday, Aug 22, 2008 - 12:07 AM
CHARLOTTESVILLE - University of Virginia football coach Al Groh isn't ready to say who'll start at quarterback in the Aug. 30 opener against Southern California, but he's settled on a kicker.
"If it keeps going the way it is, we'll start the game with Yannick Reyering," Groh said yesterday on a teleconference with reporters.
Reyering, a 6-5, 205-pound senior, is from Mettingen, Germany. Until late this spring, he'd never kicked a football - let alone worn a football uniform - but he's an accomplished college athlete. Reyering was one of the ACC's best soccer players in his three seasons on U.Va.'s team.
He has one season of football eligibility.
Groh said he expects Reyering to handle kickoffs, extra points and field goals against the Trojans. Reyering beat out redshirt freshman Chris Hinkebein and true freshman Robert Randolph for the job. Hinkebein came to U.Va. as a scholarship player last year. Randolph is a walk-on.
"All three of them have done a nice job," said Groh, who added that U.Va.'s kicking operation "has taken a big upswing from where it was in the spring."
Groh said he hasn't decided whether he'll publicly name his starting quarterback before the USC game. The candidates are sophomores Peter Lalich and Marc Verica and graduate student Scott Deke.
- Jeff White
Groh settles on kicker
By Doug Doughty
Reporters covering Virginia's football team were hoping for an announcement Thursday, just not the one they got.
While head coach Al Groh declined to identify the Cavaliers' starting quarterback for their opener Aug. 30 against Southern California, he did designate a No. 1 place-kicker.
"If it keeps going the way that it is, we'll start Yannick Reyering," Groh said.
Reyering, a 24-year-old ex-Cavalier soccer player from Mettingen, Germany, did not join the UVa football team until this month. He will handle kickoffs, field goals and extra points.
Reyering said earlier this month that he has become a football fan since coming to this country in 2004 and Groh isn't worried about his familiarity with the rules.
"There's not too many rules you need to know there -- getting a kick off before the 40-second clock [expires] and don't grab a guy's face mask when you tackle him," Groh said. "He's not going to be in many positions where he has to block anybody."
Reyering is in his fourth year at UVa, but he was limited to three years of soccer eligibility by the NCAA after it looked into his involvement with a German semi-pro soccer team as a teenager.
Reyering, twice named first-team All-ACC in soccer, suffered a torn ACL late in the 2007 soccer season and required reconstructive surgery.
That prevented him from playing for FC Dallas, which selected him in the second round of the Major League Soccer draft.
Redshirt sophomore Chris Hinkebein and freshman walk-on Robert Randolph have provided Reyering's competition in the preseason.
"All three of them have done a nice job," Groh said.
"Chris has made significant strides with his work. Rob Randolph [is] very promising.
"With the addition of Rob and Yannick and the diligent work of Chris, [the kicking] has taken a big upswing from where it was in the spring."
Reyering would have a second and final season of football eligibility if he chose to return for the 2009 season.
An ex-UVa soccer player has not kicked for the Cavaliers since Jeff Gaffney in 1986.
In his lone teleconference with reporters during the offseason, offensive coordinator Mike Groh had indicated Monday that the Cavaliers might settle on a No. 1 quarterback by Wednesday, 10 days before the opener, but that did not occur.
"A number of things can happen between now and then," said Al Groh, who has said since July that he was in no hurry to make a decision.
"Somebody might drop a weight on his foot. Or, somebody all of a sudden gets stage fright and doesn't know if he's up to it.
"Rather than do something here that there's really no need to do, other than to fill up newspaper space, it makes things a little bit saner and a little bit quieter for them. We'll stay with this approach into next week. The quarterbacks are pretty happy with things the way they are."
As for when the quarterbacks will know, Groh isn't sure.
"Here in the next few days, Mike and I will sit down with them and say, 'Hey, look, if you're the guy who ends up taking the first snap, give us your thought on what would be a good time to find out.' "
Groh said that he and his staff have monitored practice repetitions so that quarterbacks Scott Deke, Marc Verica and Peter Lalich are getting equal time with the first-team offense.
Announcement regarding UVa's quarterbacks? Forget about it...
UVa offensive coordinator Mike Groh successfully managed to get the Cavaliers media horde all atwitter Monday when he said the coaching staff might have a decision by Wednesday regarding the identity of the team's starting quarterback.
Apparently, it was a false alarm.
Cavaliers coach Al Groh said today the news about the quarterbacks is there's no news. The competition between Peter Lalich, Scott Deke and Marc Verica is ongoing, and could stretch well into next week.
"There's something new everyday," Al said. "Do we have any news on it? Not necessarily.
"A number of things could happen between now and (the Aug. 30 season-opener against No. 3 Southern California). Somebody could drop a weight on his foot. Somebody all of a sudden gets stage fright and doesn't look like he's up to it or whatnot. So, rather than do something here there's no need to do other than to fill up newspaper space, it's not going to make any difference in the turns the quarterbacks take and how they study tape. It just makes things a little bit saner and more quiet for them, so we'll probably stay with this approach well in to next week and then see where we go with that."
Will we know who the starter is before the USC game?
"It just depends on how it all goes," Al said. "It could be either way. The quarterbacks, in talking with them, they're pretty happy with the way things are and I take that in to more consideration than what anybody else wants to know. They kind of like the sanity of it and the quietness of it. All they have to do is come to practice and not have to deal with any outside circumstances, so they seem to be most comfortable with it and that's the most important thing in my consideration."
...and that's that. So, nothing new to report on who the actual starter will be for the USC game, but Al did offer some insight into how he's splitting up reps for each quarterback in practice.
"What we're trying to do is really keep a close monitor on the plays that each one are getting," Al said. "In the rotation, what we're trying to keep a monitor on is any particular pattern to make sure that one quarterback isn't getting a surplus of that pattern to the detriment of the other quarterback or quarterbacks, or that he's not getting a whole lot of one pattern and he's not getting enough of another pattern. We're monitoring that on an ongoing basis to make sure they get the looks that they all need to get."
Posted by Norman Wood on Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 12:45 PM
College Preview - Virginia
J.P. Giglio's analysis
The offensive line, always a staple of Al Groh's best teams, is strong enough to overcome the inexperience at quarterback and clears the way for running backs Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson.
Receiver Kevin Ogletree returns from ACL surgery and keeps defenses honest and off Peerman and Simpson.
The kicking game continues to be a strength.
The defense finds new stars to step in for ends Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald.
Buoyed by a respectable effort against powerful Southern California, the Cavaliers string together four straight wins before splitting with East Carolina and North Carolina.
A 2-3 finish gives them seven wins and makes Groh the ACC coach of the year.
All the close wins -- UVa won an NCAA-record five by two or fewer points -- turn into close losses.
The defense can't generate a pass rush without Long or Fitzgerald and isn't fast enough to compensate for all of the vacated zones created by the necessary blitzes to create pressure.
None of the three quarterbacks can capably stretch a defense that will be geared to shut down Peerman and Simpson.
The kicking game is in shambles without Chris Gould.
The Hoos falter at home, where they have been superb under Groh, and get skunked on the road for a 2-10 disaster.
Since Groh's first season, UVa is 31-7 at Scott Stadium. With seven home games this season, three of those will likely end with the Hoos singing their version of "Auld Lang Syne."
They repeat their last trip to Duke, a 37-0 laugher in 2006, and maybe find a fifth win. Given the personnel losses, 4-8 might be all Joe Sweatshirt can cajole out of his troops.
Groh finds a kicker
By Jay Jenkins
Published: August 21, 2008
The wait is over.
Virginia coach Al Groh announced the winner of a heated three-way battle for a starting spot in the Cavaliers’ season opener Aug. 30 against No. 3 Southern California.
The position pegged, however, was not nearly as glamorous as the most anticipated battle up for grabs.
Just weeks after being added to the program’s roster, Yannick Reyering has been given the early nod as the program’s placekicker. The former Cavaliers soccer star is slated to handle placement kicks and kickoffs.
“If it keeps going the way it is, we’ll start the game with Yannick Reyering,” Groh said.
Reyering, a senior from Mettingen, Germany, is penciled ahead of redshirt freshman Chris Hinkebein and walk-on freshman Robert Randolph.
For now, and perhaps until the first snap is taken on offense against USC, UVa’s quarterback battle remains wide open. Pete Lalich, the frontrunner, is battling fellow sophomore Marc Verica and senior Scott Deke.
“Do we have any news on it?” Groh said Thursday. “Not necessarily.”
Perhaps designed to keep the collection of quarterbacks focused on potentially starting, Groh said a “number of things” could happen over the next eight days to impact his final decision.
“Somebody could drop a weight on his foot,” he said. “Somebody all of a sudden gets stage fright and doesn’t look like he is up to it or whatnot. So, rather than do something here, there’s no need to do other than to fill up newspaper space. It’s not going to make any difference in the turns the quarterbacks take and how they study tape.”
Virginia offensive coordinator Mike Groh had said Monday that he wanted a No. 1 signal caller in place when the training camp schedule shifted to prep work for Southern Cal, which occurred on Wednesday.
That view — at least publicly — was not shared by his father and the quarterbacks.
“It just makes things a little bit saner and more quiet for [Deke, Lalich and Verica],” Groh said, “so we’ll probably stay with this approach well into next week and then see where we go with that.”
The three quarterbacks are “pretty happy” with the current competition, Al Groh said.
“All they have to do is come to practice and not have to deal with any outside circumstances, so they seem to be most comfortable with it,” the elder Groh added. “And that is the most important thing in my consideration.”
Lalich is the lone quarterback in the mix to have completed a pass in a contest. The sophomore played in eight games last year, including the first four, passing for 321 yards.
Jackson finds a position
By Jay Jenkins
Published: August 21, 2008
Nobody could blame Rashawn Jackson had he checked Virginia’s roster to see what position he was slotted at before the start of training camp.
Every season during Jackson’s time with the program, he has moved from one position to another, providing versatility to positions of need for everything from the scout team to the starting lineup.
“I went from tailback to linebacker to fullback,” Jackson said. “Just help the team win is my motto.”
It appears, for now, that Jackson’s moving truck has parked. With deceiving athleticism for a massive-bodied weapon a role as a bone-crushing fullback appears permanent.
Jackson could care less.
“However I can contribute to a win is the most important thing to me,” he said. “Whether it as a running back, a linebacker … heck, if I have to be a DB, I will do whatever it takes.”
With Mikell Simpson’s 96-yard scamper against Texas Tech serving as a lasting memory from the Gator Bowl, few will remember that Jackson actually started the New Year’s Day contest and received a career’s worth of carries.
In fact, Jackson started the game in a single-back set and carried the football 14 times for 52 yards. The New Jersey native had registered just six carries and seven receptions during the regular season.
There was an explanation.
“I thought we had a pretty good idea of how to use him last year and then he ended up getting hurt,” said Virginia offensive coordinator Mike Groh. “He missed quite a bit of time with that hamstring so we really couldn’t get him going.
“Right when he started to get going he had that hamstring and then you have to play a different way when a guy is gone. It’s hard to change gears as soon as he comes back.”
The injury kept Jackson, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 253 pounds, off the field against Maryland and North Carolina State, but his performance in the postseason contest showcased the durability that the fullback can provide.
“He did a great job of carrying the ball for us in the Gator Bowl,” Groh said. “He kind of added an-other dimension to that position just because he is so much bigger than everybody else.
“He is a different kind of guy to have to tackle, but he’s got good enough feet where he can make some cuts in the hole and he’s got a good little burst once he gets in that second level.”
Jackson, while possessing the ability to block successfully on passing and running plays, said he appreciates being in an offense where fullbacks can get their hands on the ball.
“We are a good source to get a couple of yards,” he chuckled. “So, hey, why not use us a little bit?”
Jackson is inching closer to completing the requirements for an undergraduate degree in sociology in the spring.
With his career past the halfway point, Jackson is focused on remaining grounded as he balances his duties as a student-athlete.
“I am pretty much in awe because I remember being a guy that people knew from high school and now suddenly it is my fourth year,” he said. “It is amazing how time flies when you are having fun.
“I just pray and stay consistent in things that I believe in. I just go out there and try to perform for my team, whether it is academically or on the field. There are a lot of people that are counting on me.”
Virginia coach Al Groh said defensive end Sean Gottschalk has returned to practice on a limited ba-sis. Gottschalk has been considered the frontruner to start opposite Alex Field at defensive end in the season opener, but missed several practice sessions with an undisclosed personal health issue. His absence opened the door for redshirt freshman Matt Conrath to obtain the starting spot. ... Wide re-ceiver Staton Jobe (foot) remains in a walking cast as a precaution, and further explanation on the injury and others are expected Tuesday when Groh releases the team’s injury report. Groh said he would also disclose a list of players who will have surgery or be deemed out for the season.
Pettinella shocked by pal’s troubles
By Whitey Reid
Published: August 21, 2008
Ryan Pettinella was getting ready for his first professional practice with his new team in Italy when he heard the news that Lars Mikalauskas had been kicked out of the Virginia basketball program.
Pettinella, the former UVa center, said he was shocked.
“I was extremely sorry to hear about the situation with Lars,” said Pettinella, speaking by phone from Italy. “He was a good friend and a great teammate.”
Pettinella and Mikalauskas were like yin and yang from the moment Pettinella arrived on campus as a transfer student from the University of Pennsylvania a little over two years ago.
“I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors,” said Pettinella, who recently signed a two-year contract to play with Premiata Montegranaro and has not spoken to Mikalauskas.
Exactly what Mikalauskas’ endeavors will entail remains to be seen. The fan favorite, nick-named “The Pride of Lithuania,” has remained silent since his dismissal from the team on Monday night.
Mikalauskas is at home in Palanga, Lithuania, and plans on staying there until his university appeals hearing next week.
Sources have told The Daily Progress that Mikalauskas may have a decent shot of winning the academic-related case. However, convincing Virginia coach Dave Leitao to let him back on the team is another matter.
While there has been a large show of support from the UVa fan base for Mikalauskas’ return, Leitao is clearly at his wit’s end with the Lithuanian. This past season, he suspended the 6-foot-8, 245-pounder for an exhibition game against Carson-Newman for “reasons internal to the team.”
One source close to the program said that a member of the coaching staff has advised Mikalauskas to look into his other options.
If Mikalauskas chooses to continue his college career, he will likely have a handful of choices.
American University, where former Virginia coach Jeff Jones runs the show, has already expressed interest. Ironically, it was Jones who originally helped Mikalauskas come to the United States just before high school. Jones also aggressively recruited Mikalauskas after he took over the reins at American.
Southern Methodist, La Salle and Radford have also made contact with Mikalauskas. Brad Greenberg, the brother of Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg, is the head coach at Radford and Mikalauskas has extended family in the area.
One dark horse could be Belmont University, located in Nashville, Tenn. The Bruins, who play in the Atlantic Sun Conference and nearly upset Duke in last year’s NCAA Tournament, have piqued the Lithuanian’s interest.
Of course, how Mikalauskas’ appeal works out and his resulting academic standing will affect which schools he can consider.
If Mikalauskas were to transfer to a Division I school, he would have to sit out a year, per NCAA transfer rules. But if he were to transfer to a Division II school or lower, he could play immediately.
In the end, Mikalauskas — who will be turning 23 in October — may eschew all of those options and opt for a pro career, just like his good buddy Pettinella.
Mikalauskas speaks about dismissal
By Whitey Reid
Published: August 21, 2008
The Lithuanian voice on the other end of the phone line sounded all too familiar.
It was the one that had screamed in jubilation at Arizona fans and television cameras after Virginia’s huge upset over the Wildcats in Tucson last season.
It was the one that had explained to a television broadcaster in Atlanta that the reason UVa had defeated Georgia Tech was that “somebody had to pay.”
It was the one that had stuck around to talk to reporters after Virginia’s dismal loss to the Yellow Jackets a couple weeks later in the ACC Tournament.
But there was something different this time.
On Thursday, big man Lars Mikalauskas made his first public comments since Monday’s announcement that he had been booted from the Virginia basketball team. As Mikalauskas talked during a brief interview, one thing was obvious — he was still in shock.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet that I probably won’t ever have the chance to wear a Virginia uniform again,” Mikalauskas told The Daily Progress by phone from Lithuania. “I was looking so forward to my senior year and giving the fans everything I had.
“My shoulder feels great and I think I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since freshman year … I just can’t believe this is happening.”
Mikalauskas, who likely would have been Virginia’s starting center this season, didn’t want to go into the details of his dismissal but confirmed that he will be returning to Charlottesville next week for an academic-related appeals hearing. If he wins his appeal, he will then make a final plea to coach Dave Leitao for his reinstatement.
Mikalauskas, who said his family members have been keeping his spirits up, does not blame Leitao for his predicament.
“I’m at fault for everything that has happened to me,” said the 6-foot-8, 245-pounder. “I had a lot of chances to turn things around. Coach did what he had to do…I just didn’t ever think it would come to this.
“What hurts the most is that I feel like I let my teammates and coaches down, and all the people that have helped me in my three years — and all the great Virginia fans. Whether I get another chance or not, I feel like I’ve learned a lesson that you can’t take anything for granted.”
Mikalauskas said he hasn’t decided what his next move would be if he doesn’t get reinstated to the team.
“I would really like to my degree from Virginia,” said Mikalauskas, an anthropology major, “[though] I don’t know if that’s going to be possible now. But what’s meant to be is meant to be.”
Swanson has high hopes for Cavs
By Whitey Reid
Published: August 21, 2008
Virginia women’s soccer coach Steve Swanson has enjoyed a great deal of success in his nine years at the helm, so it was pretty telling when he recently said that his team’s performance last year was “some of the best soccer this program has seen.”
UVa, playing without leading scorer Jess Rostedt, made it to the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 16 before losing in overtime to UCLA.
This season, Swanson is looking forward to taking another step forward.
Tonight, Virginia opens its 2008 campaign at home against Loyola, whom it defeated in the first round of last year’s NCAAs.
“My expectations have always been that we’re competing for ACC and NCAA championships,” Swanson said. “The nice thing about this team is I think we have good leadership, good experience and other veterans who have gone through this. I think we’ll rely on them.”
Virginia has seven starters back from last year’s squad, including six seniors. Throw in the fact that Rostedt looks like she’s going to be back at full strength — although she is questionable for tonight’s game — and you can see the reason for Swanson’s optimism.
Rostedt notched 50 points in her first two years on Grounds before suffering a meniscus tear in her left knee in the third game of last season that led to her taking a medical redshirt.
This season, Swanson will likely employ the explosive Rostedt as a central midfielder.
“I think it’s very effective for us to have her there,” Swanson said. “She does a great job with decision-making and knowing when to release it and when to take it herself.”
Joining Rostedt in the midfield will be sophomore Sinead Farrelly and possibly a combination of Kelly Quinn, Colleen Flanagan or Alli Fries.
Up top, Swanson has Caitlin Miskel, Meghan Lenczyk, Kika Toulouse and first-years Lauren Alwine and Maggie Kistner.
Defensively, Virginia’s backline remains pretty much intact. The only loss from last year was team co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn.
Nikki Krzysik, Sarah Senty and Alex Singer, all seniors, are back. Sauerbrunn’s spot could be filled by Fries, Flanagan or Amanda Stewart.
“I’m excited about the options that we have back there,” Swanson said. “You don’t replace a Becky Sauerbrunn, but I think we have a lot of options and a lot of experience. We’ll have to rely on that and see what roles people will take for us to be as strong a team as possible.”
Krzysik remembers when she and her defensive cohorts were freshmen. She says they’ve come a long way in three years.
“We’ve just learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to communicate better,” she said. “I think we’re ready to step up to the plate.”
That unit’s success will be vital because the one glaring question mark for Virginia this year will be in goal. The team’s incumbent, Chantel Jones, is redshirting this season while she plays for the U.S. under-20 national team.
“It’s an awfully difficult position to put these players in,” said Swanson, when asked about Jones’ decision to redshirt. “I feel for them. From their perspective, they don’t want to have to choose between their college team and the national team. They want to be able to do both. Originally when this was set, it was supposed to take place after the college season was over.”
Replacing Jones is senior Celeste Miles, who played in just two games last season.
“I’m very excited for her,” Swanson said. “I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for her — something she’s worked awfully hard for. She’s just an exceptional leader and works her tail off over the course of three years.
“I think the team has a lot of confidence in her. It’s obviously hard to lose someone like Chantel, but we couldn’t ask for someone better waiting in the wings than Celeste.”
Miles sounds like she’s looking forward to the challenge.
“This has been my goal all along here at Virginia,” she said. “To have this opportunity — I just can’t wait.
“I think we lost a couple of key players, but we have some awesome players ready to come in and step and a number of seniors who have a lot of experience. Knowing that this is the last chance to bring it home makes it that much more [special].”
This season, the Cavaliers play 12 of their 18 games against teams that participated in last season’s NCAA Tournament. Three of those opponents reached at least the quarterfinals, including reigning national runner-up Florida State.
Despite the challenging slate, Swanson believes the sky’s the limit.
“I think we have a lot of good players back,” he said. “We’ll have some challenges for sure like always in the ACC and losing some good players, but I’m pretty optimistic.”
Added Krzysik, a preseason candidate for the Hermann Trophy, given each year to the nation’s top player: “I think everyone’s on the same page and we’re ready to go out and have a great season.”
Virginia football, men's basketball don't make the top 10
Virginia's men's lacrosse and men's tennis teams top the list
By Doug Doughty
We usually try to coordinate these “Insider” columns, particularly now that we’re contemplating a change to a blog format, but there’s been one problem this week.
Randy King, who covers Virginia Tech for The Roanoke Times, remains hospitalized at Roanoke Memorial and probably won’t return to speed until next week.
In any event, the UVa Insider begins each year with a ranking of Virginia’s athletic programs based on where the program stands at this particular point.
With last year’s “Doughty ratings” in parentheses, following are this year’s ratings:
1. MEN’S LACROSSE (2) – The Cavaliers looked overmatched at times in both of their meetings with ACC rival Duke last season, but if Virginia had been able to hold onto a five-goal lead against Syracuse in the national semifinals, coach Dom Starsia might have won a fourth national title. (Ranking last year: No. 2).
2. MEN’S TENNIS (1) – Who knows when the Cavaliers will have a better opportunity to win a national championship than they did with two-time NCAA singles champion Somdev Devvarman, but coach Brian Boland knows how to recruit and has taken UVa to back-to-back final fours. (Ranking last year: No. 1)
3. WOMEN’S LACROSSE (4) – The Cavaliers were 11-7 losers to North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, a particularly ignominious outcome given Virginia’s 16-5 victory over the Tar Heels less than two months earlier, but few other UVa teams have the capacity to compete for NCAA championships on a regular basis.
4. WOMEN’S ROWING (6) – Only one coach in school history has won more ACC titles than UVa rowing coach Kevin Sauer and that coach, swimming’s Mark Bernardino, has had the opportunity to win them two at a time. The rowing team finished fifth in the NCAAs this year, their eighth top-five finish in 11 years, but somebody will have to explain to me how Brown and Yale, who don’t give athletic scholarships, could go 1-4.
5. SWIMMING (8) – How could you put swimming behind rowing when the Cavaliers won men’s and women’s titles last year? Rowing did better at the NCAAs, where the UVa men swimmers were 15th and the women were 20th. The return of Pat Mellors and Ryan Hurley from a year of Olympic preparation make the men a threat for the top 10 this year. Upgrade the diving facilities and maybe the top five is a possibility.
6. WOMEN’S GOLF (14) – The Cavaliers lost head coach Jan Mann and best player Leah Wigger from a team that finished ninth in the regionals and failed to make the NCAA championships in 2007. All they did under new coach Kim Lewellen in 2008 was take Duke to the wire in the ACC tournament and finish 12th at NCAAs. Last year’s top eight players return.
7. WOMEN’S SOCCER (9) – The most impressive thing about this Cavalier team in 2007 was the manner in which the Cavaliers lost. They were beaten by perennial power North Carolina in overtime in the regular season and by penalty kicks in the ACC Tournament. Then, they were eliminated by No. 1-ranked UCLA in overtime in the NCAA Tournament. Jess Rostedt, the team’s leading scorer in 2005 and 2006, returns for a redshirt junior season after a knee injury ended her 2007 season after three games.
8. BASEBALL (3) – How can you argue with five straight NCAA appearances from a perennially downtrodden program? UVa went to the ACC championship game and its 39 victories fell just short of a fifth-straight 40-win season, but seven potential 2009 standouts were lost to the major-league baseball draft. That’s not Brian O’Connor’s fault, but it’s hard to see the Cavaliers not skipping a beat. This looks like a rebuilding year.
9. MEN’S SOCCER (5) – The feeling was that George Gelnovatch’s program was ranked too low at No. 12 in 2006 and it may have been too high at No. 5 last year. A season-ending injury to offensive star Yannick Reyering helped short-circuit the 2007 season and we’re taking Gelnovatch’s word that his current squad is his youngest and most inexperienced since the late 1990s.
10. WOMEN’S BASKETBALL (Bottom five) – It was hard to knock the Cavaliers after they jumped from 19 wins in 2006-2007 to 24 wins in 2007-2008. Coach Debbie Ryan still struggles to land the top players from Virginia but recruiting has come to life in the last year. Cavs look to be a NCAA regional contender this year.
11. FOOTBALL (12) – It’s not a good sign when neither of your top two programs are in your top 10. I’m impressed by what the Cavaliers did in finishing 9-4 last year. I’m impressed by what they’ve done in recruiting for 2009. I’m not impressed by forecasts for 2008.
12. CROSS COUNTRY (10) – This is still the program that Jason Dunn built and you have to like the pedigree of his successor, Jason Vigilante, but it remains to be seen how much of Vigilante’s time can be devoted to cross country. He was the head cross-country coach at Texas but will be director of men’s and women’s track and field and cross country at UVa. The Cavaliers won ACC men’s cross country titles in two of Dunn’s last three seasons before he left for Stanford.
13. MEN’S BASKETBALL (7) – Some dropoff was to be expected with the departure of J. R. Reynolds and Jason Cain from a 21-win team in 2006-2007, but many expected a return NCAA trip when Sean Singletary elected to return for his senior year. It didn’t happen and now the Cavaliers have to try and improve on a 17-16 season without him.
14. FIELD HOCKEY (14) – After the Cavaliers got to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in coach Michele Madison’s first season, 2006, a first-round ouster in 2007 was less than impressive. It looks like they have one of the top players in the country this year in Inge Kaars Sijpesteijn, who has moved to an offensive position for a team that was shut out in five of its last 13 games.
15. WRESTLING (15) – A serious of goofy events prevented the Cavaliers from winning an ACC championship last year and there should be one in coach Steve Garland’s future, particularly since only four ACC teams sponsor the sport. Last year’s NCAA showing could have been better.
BOTTOM FIVE (in order)
VOLLEYBALL (15) – Back-to-back 23-8 and 18-13 seasons are no embarrassment, but they didn’t get Virginia to the NCAA Tournament and couldn’t save Melissa Aldrich Shelton’s job, although she technically resigned to become the head coach at William and Mary. Successor Lee Maes has tremendous credentials.
MEN’s GOLF (Bottom five) – This was the turnaround program at Virginia this past year. There’s still a lot of room for improvement in the ACC, where the Cavaliers were ninth, but they made the most of an NCAA Regional bid, moving from 16th to 10th on the final day to claim an NCAA Championships spot.
TRACK AND FIELD (Bottom five) – Clearly the Cavaliers were improved this year under Randy Bungard, who resigned in July. Bungard had been on the chopping block one year earlier, but the UVa men and women were fourth and fifth in the ACC and Bungard could have returned.
WOMEN’S TENNIS (13) – Great things were expected when Mark Guilbeau took over this Virginia program after his selection as Southeastern Conference coach of the year, but the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class failed to pan out and the jury is out. In three years, this program has gone from sixth to 13th to bottom five in the Doughty rankings.
SOFTBALL (Bottom five) – The Cavaliers improved on their 1-20 conference record in 2007 to 6-15 under new coach Eileen Schmidt. Virginia is always going to be remembered as the program that didn’t recruit Angela Tincher and this year it didn’t recruit Abbie Rexrode, who broke Tincher’s records at James River High School.