Cavaliers get no break in next matchup
By Michael Phillips
Published: November 19, 2009
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Any thoughts the Virginia Cavaliers might have had about returning to form in an easy victory tonight were shattered when they watched tape of their opponent.
The Rider Broncs opened their season by dismantling then-No. 18 Mississippi State 88-74.
"They went into Mississippi State, and beat them pretty handily," U.Va. coach Tony Bennett said. "They're an experienced team, and they shoot the ball extremely well."
That's bad news for a Virginia squad trying to bounce back from a 66-49 loss at South Florida, where the team lacked a shooting touch.
One of the big advantages the Bulls had in that game was size -- they had two players who were at least 6-10, and Virginia was forced into a four-guard lineup because of available personnel.
Rider won't enjoy the same advantage, though the Cavs will have to stick with a four-guard look as they wait for center Assane Sene (suspension) and forward Jamil Tucker (leave of absence) to return to the lineup.
Sene will return on Saturday, though he rolled his ankle and only returned to practice yesterday. Bennett said that Tucker's status is still in limbo.
"If some of his issues are dealt with, then we'll reevaluate," Bennett said. "As far as practicing or playing, he's not doing that."
That sets up a battle of the guards as Virginia's defensive-minded perimeter players look to hold Rider's sharp-shooting guards in check.
The key for Virginia will be on the offensive end, as they try to get some shots to fall. The Wahoos' top scorer, Sylven Landesberg, went mostly silent in Tampa, and the team wasn't able to replace his production.
Bennett said that especially in a close game, it's important to focus on the types of shots that are being taken.
"I thought our shots against South Florida -- our shot selection hurt us," he said. "I'm not concerned when they come in the shot clock, but they've got to be the right shots."
When times are tough, most teams turn to their inside game, but with Virginia lacking that element, it becomes even more crucial to convert on first-chance shooting.
On defense, the Cavs showed signs of poise against South Florida, holding the Bulls in check most of the game. They'll face a similar challenge against Rider, which found its players open a number of times against Mississippi State.
"Whether they're driving and kicking, or whatever they're doing, you've got to be there on the catch and try to make them shoot contested shots," Bennett said.
Rider presents unusual mid-autumn challenge
Broncs top No. 18 Mississippi State, look to continue winning ways at JPJ; Cavaliers look to quiet MAAC foes
Will Van Wazer, Cavalier Daily Staff Writer
Men's Basketball / Sports
November 19, 2009 0
Rider is an unusual early season opponent for the Virginia basketball team, and not just because of its distinctive mascot: The Broncs.
Instead of being an early season “gimme” like many college basketball games major conference teams play in November, tonight’s matchup between the Broncs and the Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena pits two teams against each other that seem to be on the same level. Rider, which knocked off then-No. 18 Mississippi State Nov. 13, is one of the top three teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference this year and has many experts predicting that it has a chance to take down perennial MAAC champion and NCAA Tournament competitor Siena.
“We are working on improving our offense in practice and preparing for a good Rider team,” senior forward Jerome Meyinsse said.
Virginia similarly has high hopes for this season, its first with coach Tony Bennett. But after a loss to traditional Big East bottom-feeder South Florida, the Cavaliers must answer some questions about their offensive performance.
“When you’re struggling to score and missing some looks, it wears on your defense,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “Your defense has to hold you in there, but you gotta make some shots.”
Virginia’s defense will face a strong challenge in senior guard Ryan Thompson, who boasts a stat line that includes 17.5 points and five rebounds per game. Thompson, who was First Team All-MAAC and finalist for last year’s MVP, attended both LeBron James’ camp and Paul Pierce’s camp during the summer in an attempt to improve his pure shooting ability. The effort has paid off, as Thompson is shooting .600 from the three-point line this year, up from last season’s .422.
Apart from Thompson, the Broncs return three players that averaged double-digit points last season: junior forward Mike Ringgold at 11.4 points per game, MAAC All-Rookie selection Novar Gadson at 10.8 and junior guard Justin Robinson at 10.4. Ringgold is a tenacious defensive player and rebounder, especially on the offensive glass, while Gadson at 6-foot-7 presents challenges to those who try to guard him because of versatility. Robinson is lights out from behind the arc and has transitioned from point guard to shooting guard. The combination of veteran leadership and well-rounded talent makes Rider a particularly tough early season opponent.
“They’re an experienced team and they shoot the ball extremely well,” Bennett said. “That’s a team that’s very dangerous.”
For Virginia, the key to the game likely will be whether it can improve its offensive performance. The Cavaliers shot less than 33 percent from the field against South Florida, a dismal performance from a team that plans to play possession-style basketball and slow the game to take advantage of good offensive looks.
Another compelling story for Virginia against Rider will be whether Calvin Baker logs additional playing time. Baker, a focal point for many complaints about last year’s Virginia squad, is coming off knee surgery but saw some action against South Florida.
“He brings experience as a competitor, and certainly we wanna keep [him] — as long as he’s playing solid basketball and playing well,” Bennett said. “But he’s not 100 percent yet — I think he’ll tell you that — but he’s getting closer.”
Fashion choices, dangerous foes for Bennett
By Whitey Reid
Published: November 19, 2009
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After wearing an orange necktie during Virginia’s season-opening victory over Longwood last week, Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett didn’t wear one in the team’s loss at South Florida on Monday night.
But look for the return of one this evening when Bennett and Virginia play host to Rider at John Paul Jones Arena.
“At home, I will definitely wear a tie, and then on the road, probably not,” said Bennett, who was known for going tieless in his three years at Washington State. “That will be a good compromise.”
Bennett conceded to not having given his wardrobe a whole lot of thought, though. That’s probably a good idea when you consider Virginia (1-1) didn’t look very good on offense or defense for the majority of its loss to USF, and tonight’s opponent, Rider, could provide a tougher challenge than anyone imagined when the schedule came out late in the summer.
Rider, which went 19-13 last year out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, is coming off one of the biggest victories in its program’s history — an 88-74 win on the road at No. 18 Mississippi State on Friday.
“They went into Mississippi State and beat them pretty handily,” Bennett said. “They’re an experienced team and shoot the ball extremely well. That’s certainly a challenge. That’s a team that’s very dangerous.”
Rider (2-0) followed with an easy home victory over Lehigh on Monday.
“They have good guards and are crafty,” Bennett added. “I was very impressed watching them on tape and what they could do offensively. They made it look easy against their first two opponents, and Mississippi State has some talent and athleticism certainly.”
Coincidentally, Rider’s last loss of the season in 2009 was to Liberty, which was coached by Virginia associate head coach Ritchie McKay.
“[McKay] said, ‘That’s a dangerous team,’” Bennett said. “He said, ‘I remember when they came on the schedule that this is a team that knows how to play.’ I think they showed that with what they did at Mississippi State.”
Against Rider, Virginia (1-1) will clearly have to amp up its defense.
UVa allowed USF to shoot 53 percent on Monday, but Bennett wasn’t totally dishearterned with his team’s defensive play. In fact, he believes there was actually some progress.
“In the second half, I didn’t feel there were as many defensive lapses as in the second half of the Longwood game,” he said. “I thought they still worked at it and battled, but just weren’t as sharp as the first half.
“And I think when you’re struggling to score, it wears on your defense.”
Virginia shot just 33 percent (including just 2 of 12 from 3-point range) against the Bulls.
“We just couldn’t make shots really,” said Virginia guard Sammy Zeglinski. “You go on the road and you can’t make shots, it’s going to be hard to win.”
Tonight and Saturday’s game against Oral Roberts are part of the Cancun Challenge. Virginia plays Stanford on Tuesday in Cancun, then takes on the Kentucky/Cleveland State winner on Wednesday. ... Bennett gave updates on suspended center Assane Sene and on forward Jamil Tucker (on personal leave). He said Sene rolled his ankle recently and has only been able to practice twice since his suspension. The 7-footer is expected to return for the Oral Roberts game. Tucker, meanwhile, remains more of a mystery. “He’s not practicing or competing,” Bennett said. “When he has some of the personal issues dealt with, then we’ll re-evaluate where things are at.”
UVa Insider: Groh Departure Seems Certain
ACCSports Staff ACCSports.com November 18, 2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE — With a back-loaded schedule that includes
Clemson and Virginia Tech in the final two weeks, Virginia might have surmised
that a successful season would hinge on the middle part of its slate.
Instead, the Cavaliers (3-7, 2-4 ACC) are likely to end the season with a six-game losing streak and the team’s first nine-loss season since George Welsh’s first team went 2-9 in 1982.
The mounting losses certainly have made life easier for athletic director Craig Littlepage and his associates, who are likely to show ninth-year coach Al Groh the door by Nov. 30 at the latest.
That’s the annual deadline for Littlepage to exercise the rollover clause in Groh’s contract. The contract wasn’t rolled over following a 5-7 season in 2008, leaving Groh with three years remaining, and it certainly won’t be rolled over this year. Even if Littlepage didn’t exactly fire him, Groh probably would resign because of the instability caused by a two-year pact.
Given a drop in donations, season-ticket sales and attendance, Virginia might not have kept Groh at 6-6 or even 7-5. And, the strange thing is, it’s conceivable that UVa could have gotten to 7-5. A 14-10 loss to Boston College on Nov. 14 marked the fourth time this season that the Cavaliers lost a game in which they led in the second half.
It was the most heartbreaking of UVa’s setbacks in that the Cavs had the ball at the BC 12-yard line when they came up inches short of a first down on fourth-and-one with 26 seconds left. Quarterback Jameel Sewell had accounted for all 67 yards on an impressive two-minute drill, passing for 55 yards and running for 12.
“We’ve been working for 10 months to have a performance like that,” said Groh, who may have meant “10 weeks.”
But what was he thinking? The Cavaliers failed to gain 300 yards for the sixth time in as many ACC games and did not score an offensive touchdown for the second time in their past four conference outings.
It was the latest in a series of uninspired performances by two units that Groh had sought to rebuild through the offseason hires of Gregg Brandon as offensive coordinator and Ron Prince as special teams coordinator. Both had been Division I-A head coaches in 2008.
The Cavaliers had blocked two punts at Miami, but that was offset by a 60-yard return for a touchdown by the Hurricanes’ Thearon Collier. Against BC, a block in the back by UVa’s Mike Parker nullified what could have been a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown by Vic Hall.
Brandon was given a multi-year deal after coming to Virginia from Bowling Green, where he had been the head coach for six seasons. Add that to the two years Groh will get on his $2 million per year contract, and UVa is looking at an exit tab of approximately $4.5 million.
While some schools might be wondering if they can afford to fire their coach (Maryland comes to mind), that’s not a concern at Virginia. Littlepage uses the term “private philanthropy” to describe a possible method of buyout. The decision to fire basketball coach Dave Leitao last spring came at a cost of approximately $2 million.
At some point, UVa needs to become a little more careful either in its choices of coaches or the wording of its contracts. There was no buyout when Groh’s contract was renegotiated in 2005; while Littlepage and Co. were going through a basketball coaching search that eventually settled on Leitao, Groh reworked his deal at the university administration level.
From that point on, contracts have been handled more carefully, and it would be a surprise to see UVa hire a big-money coach and award fat contracts to big-name assistants. In all likelihood, a behind-the-scenes search has been taking place throughout the fall, and Littlepage and top aide Jon Oliver should be ready to move quickly.
To nobody’s surprise, Richmond coach Mike London has emerged as the frontrunner. London, whose two stints as a Virginia assistant included two seasons as the defensive coordinator, led the Spiders to the 2008 Division I-AA national championship in his first season as a head coach and had them 9-1 this year heading into their regular-season finale with William & Mary.
Richmond’s only loss in the last 19 games came by one point, 21-20, when its kicker missed an extra point against Villanova. It is felt that London would give Virginia the best chance to hit the ground running in its hopes of reversing some of Virginia Tech’s domination of in-state recruiting.
The funny thing about Virginia’s top prospects is that many of them have ties to Groh. Al Golden, whose Temple team won eight straight games to reach 8-2 in mid-November, was Groh’s first defensive coordinator at Virginia. (Temple had been one of the worst programs in America for decades.) Danny Rocco, who has built Liberty into a perennial Big South contender, was Groh’s associate head coach.
Some fans want no connection with Groh and talk about the need to “hit a home run” by hiring a big name such as former Ole Miss and Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville. There were many of the same sentiments voiced during the basketball search, but there since has been widespread approval of the hiring of Tony Bennett.
If there was a Bennett-type candidate on the horizon, it might have been Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley, a former UVa wide receiver and the son of long-time Georgia coach Vince Dooley. But Louisiana Tech has struggled this year, with a 3-7 record through 10 games. Another alumnus, Jim Grobe, is 4-7 at Wake Forest.
The new coach is not going to find a program set to advance to the next level. Recruiting has been substandard, and Groh has not made good use of the redshirt option. Of the 14 true freshmen he has used this season, only a handful had any business being on the field.
With the departure of Sewell, rising fifth-year senior Marc Verica looms as the No. 1 quarterback for 2010, but he has shown no resemblance to his 2008 self. That season, Verica passed for 200 yards or more in six straight games, but he had first-round NFL draft pick Eugene Monroe protecting his blind side. UVa’s offensive line this year has been atrocious.
Remarkably, Virginia has a core of good young assistants and recruiters. They include secondary coach Anthony Poindexter, running backs coach Wayne Lineburg, receivers coach Latrell Scott and d-line coach Chad Wilt. However, what kind of message would it send to keep multiple coaches from a staff that has experienced three losing seasons in the past four?
It should make for an interesting December in Charlottesville, but with the departure of Groh, hope will spring eternal.
Suggested candidates for Virginia's future
November, 18, 2009 Nov 1811:00AM ETEmail Share By Heather Dinich
With a 3-7 record, the future doesn’t look bright for Virginia
coach Al Groh. The Cavaliers have lost four straight games, and head into
another uphill battle on Saturday in Death Valley. Virginia has won one home
game all year, against Indiana, and fans have had little to cheer for, as this
will be the second straight bowl-less season for the program.
So it’s time to look ahead.
There’s no reason Virginia can’t be a successful football program again. Charlottesville is an attractive location, Virginia is a beautiful campus, and the state is a hotbed for some of the nation’s best recruits. All it needs is the right man for the job. I’ve got three who are great recruiters, have rebuilt programs, and have ties to Charlottesville.
Here are my top three suggestions for athletic director Craig Littlepage:
1. Temple coach Al Golden. Not only is he the perfect fit because of his history with Virginia, but if you can win at Temple, you should certainly be able to win at Virginia. The 8-2 Owls are leading the MAC and have made a dramatic turnaround under Golden, who was defensive coordinator at Virginia for five seasons prior to taking over Temple in December 2005. The 16 seniors on Temple’s current roster were 1-11 as freshmen, and are now bowl eligible for the first time since 1990. Both Golden and his wife, Kelly, received degrees from Virginia.
2. Richmond coach Mike London. Virginia’s former defensive coordinator led the Spiders to their first-ever FCS national championship last year. He’s familiar with the ACC, as he was also defensive line coach at Boston College from 1997-2000, and he knows the recruiting areas in Virginia as well as he does his own living room. His contract runs through the 2014 season. London has seven children, including his daughter, Kristen, who is a senior on Virginia’s women’s basketball team. His younger brother, Paul, was a defensive back at Virginia from 1991-95.
3. Liberty coach Danny Rocco. Rocco inherited a program that was 1-10 when he was hired in 2005. He improved Liberty to 6-5 the following year and earned the title of Big South coach of the year. Last year, the Flames repeated as Big South champs, and ended with the program’s first 10-win season. And Rocco did it using the 3-4 defense he learned in five seasons under Groh at Virginia and with the New York Jets in 2000. He also played at Wake Forest for two seasons under Groh, and coached the defensive line at BC from 1991-93.
A diamond for Tigers
Published: November 19, 2009
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From dugouts and dogpiles to touchdowns and tackles, Kyle Parker has already experienced an array of athletic memories in college that many experience only in dreams.
Oddly enough, Parker is just a redshirt freshman on the Clemson football team and heads into his third season of playing college baseball for the Tigers in February.
What the two-sport star has accomplished could be kicked up in historic fashion with a win on Saturday against Virginia (3-7, 2-5 ACC) — the Tigers (7-3, 5-2) can clinch the ACC’s Atlantic Division title with a victory or even before the game if Boston College loses to North Carolina.
The progression that Parker has made this season has coincided with Clemson’s on-field resurgence.
During a dismal start, the signal caller completed just 48.7 percent of his passing attempts. He also had a 1:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. It led to a 2-3 record for the Tigers and had many pondering if the correct coach was in place.
Parker, however, remained patient.
It paid off — he led Clemson to a five-game winning streak, completing 61.1 passes and throwing for 11 touchdowns. More importantly, he only had four turnovers.
Virginia coach Al Groh said Parker’s development was noticeable on film.
“For those of you who are not familiar with his background, this is a superior athlete, and I would use his resume, not my opinion to back that up,” Groh said. “That is during the spring of what should have been his senior year in high school he made all-ACC in baseball. I think he might have led the conference in home runs while participating in spring practice and acclimating himself to being a college student instead of going to his senior prom.”
Parker did, in fact, earn rookie All-American honors in 2008 as hit 14 homers and batted .303.
Last year, the Jacksonville, Fla., native saw his average tumble to .255, but the outfielder remained powerful with 12 homers.
“He’s got the type of eye-to-hand coordination that would be associated with somebody who could hit a speeding fastball or moving curveball as well as he does,” Groh said. “That’s a critical factor. I think you find that most quarterbacks were really, really good and have a high accuracy number.
“It’s not just about mechanics that you find that somewhere along the line — they’re either a real good scorer in basketball, high school basketball, or a good hitter or a good pitcher.”
Parker could face a financial decision in a matter of months if drafted high enough by a Major League Baseball team. He is currently ranked as the No. 76 prospect in the country by one draft service.
For now, however, Parker is focused on helping Clemson win its first ACC football title in 18 years.
That was evident last week against N.C. State as Parker was turnover-free and threw a pair of touchdown passes en route to a lopsided 43-23 road win.
“The one thing I’m real proud of about our team is we really didn’t get complacent,” Parker told reporters. “We knew we had to come out here and win and we prepared all week long like this was going to be big and we were going to have to play well to win.
“I think we came out every day last week and focused on what we had to do. We don’t need to put extra pressure on ourselves. If we just go out and do what we do, we’ll be fine.”
OUR LEAGUE: Plenty of motivation for Clemson
By Jerry Ratcliffe
Published: November 19, 2009
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Scattershooting around the ACC, wondering if Virginia can keep from getting blown out in Death Valley on Saturday ...
Clemson has everything to play for: the Atlantic Division title, a spot in the ACC championship game, a chance for revenge against Georgia Tech for a season-opening loss, a win in the last home game of the season and the last ACC game of the season and Senior Day, to name some motivating factors.
Virginia is playing for pride.
Hmm. That may not work if things get out of control early in a very tough place to play.
Cavaliers coach Al Groh said earlier this week that he wasn’t buying the ‘playing for pride’ thing. Some of his players remarked the past couple of weeks that all they were playing for now was pride.
“I think perhaps players say that because they’ve heard it or it’s the answer to a question,” Groh said. “Now that you guys aren’t playing for the championship, are you playing for pride? And the reason I preface my answer with that is, I thought that’s what we were doing every week.
“You know, I thought we were trying to prove something every week. I thought we were playing for pride every week. So, I think you hear it at the end of the season because players have heard other players say it, or, as I said, the question gets posed that way, so they answer it in the affirmative.”
Clemson’s players certainly took the pride thing seriously early in their campaign.
When the Tigers got off to a disappointing 2-3 start, coach Dabo Swinney kept pushing them to focus and get back on track. He believed that his team could still play for the ACC championship.
“Absolutely,” Swinney said during Wednesday’s ACC coaches teleconference. “[When Clemson was 2-3] we were 10 points away from being undefeated at that time. It’s not like we were being pushed around or whipped. We just had to fix some problems. You gotta believe.”
At least he’s honest
N.C. State offensive tackle Jeraill McCuller was refreshingly honest when discussing protecting Wolfpack QB Russell Wilson, particularly when it comes to holding an opponent.
“Sometimes I believe if you ain’t holding, you ain’t doing your job,” McCuller said.
He said it’s not unusual after a long N.C. State gain for him to walk down the field and look from the corners of his eyes to make sure there’s not a yellow flag on the turf.
“Usually, I’ll shoot my hands forward, and usually they’ll fly back,” he said. “When they come in, I just reload and I grab something. I lock out and hold onto them. When it’s physical, I’ll slap some guys in the facemask. And then I’ll look at them and say, ‘My bad.’ They’re trying to get to the quarterback. I’m trying to stop them.”
McCuller said it’s not holding if it’s not called and he said he knows who the best-holding lineman is in the entire ACC.
“I’d probably say myself,” McCuller said.
He probably deserves some award for just being honest.
Got his vote
N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien doesn’t get a vote for ACC player of the year, but if he had one, there’s no doubt who would get it: Clemson’s C.J. Spiller.
“I don’t see anybody who’s controlled a game as much as he has,” O’Brien said. “Especially in the last couple of weeks. He’s certainly taken it to a higher level in those games.”
Spiller scored three different ways against the Wolfpack and is having a record-breaking season for the Tigers.
Quote of the week
Asked about Heisman Trophy candidate C.J. Spiller, this is what Swinney had to say:
“God was in a real good mood when he made C.J. Spiller. He’s just gifted. He’s got everything you could possibly want if you were creating a football player. You don’t get many C.J. Spillers to cross your path. He’s a rare breed.”
Stat of the week I
Virginia Tech’s current 186-game scoring streak is the second-longest in ACC history. The last time the Hokies were shut out was in 1995 by Cincinnati.
The longest scoring streak by an ACC school is held by Virginia, 196 games, from 1984 to 2000.
Stat of the week II
Heading into last weekend’s game against Miami, UNC defensive back Kendric Burney was not in the ACC’s top 12 in career interception return yardage.
When the game ended, he was No. 2 all-time.
He picked off three Miami passes and returned them for an ACC record 170 yards, smashing the previous mark of 128 yards by Duke’s Dennis Taybron against Clemson in 1980.
Maryland could be headed for its first 10-loss season in school history if the Terps lose their last two games to Florida State and Boston College.
That’s a far cry from six bowl trips over the past eight years during the Ralph Friedgen era in College Park.
Maryland ranks no better than No. 100 out of 120 schools in major college football in 17 NCAA statistical categories, and are either No. 98 or 99 in three other categories.
With starter Chris Turner injured last week, Jamaar Robinson became the first QB other than Turner to start a game in the last 29 Maryland contests. Robinson threw for 104 yards but became the first Terp QB to run for 100 yards (he had 129 rushing) since Shaun Hill in 2001.
Keeping up with Jones
Groh was asked about what differentiates true freshman tailback Perry Jones, who saw action as backup in last week’s loss to Boston College, from the others in UVa’s backfield (Rashawn Jackson, Mikell Simpson, and Torrey Mack).
Jones is 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, for starters.
“He’s different from Jackson by about eight pant sizes,” Groh chuckled. “He’s different from the others by quite a few inches. He’s probably different in his quickness. He has very quick vision, he sees openings very quick, and has very good lateral quickness to get into openings. There is nobody, despite Perry’s physical stature, nobody in that group any tougher than Perry.”
Vote of confidence
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said he wants to come back and coach next season, and if the governor of Florida has anything to do with it, Saint Bobby will be back.
Gov. Charlie Crist, a Florida State graduate, said this week that there’s no question in his mind that Bowden should be allowed to call his own shot.
“I would certainly urge the school to do that,” Crist told USA Today. “I don’t think I’ll have to urge them too hard, because the man is beloved. He really is.
“If Florida State doesn’t give [Bowden] another year, I’d be heartbroken,” Crist said. “That would be shocking I think. I’m a loyal guy. I believe in loyalty, and he’s been so loyal to Florida State University and the Seminole Nation, if you will, and the state of Florida, he deserves at least that level of loyalty in return.”
Last week: 4-2. To date: 52-23. This week: Virginia Tech 42, N.C. State 20; Florida State 45, Maryland 10; Miami 38, Duke 17; North Carolina 24, Boston College 21; Clemson 50, Virginia 10.
Cavaliers travel south for duel with Clemson
Win for Virginia keeps Boston College alive in ACC title hunt; defense hopes to spearhead victory, end four-game losing streak
Ashley Robertson, Cavalier Daily Senior Writer
Featured / Football / Sports
November 19, 2009 0
Boston College last week cemented Virginia’s second straight season without a bowl berth. This week, Virginia will try to spoil a different team’s season by knocking off division-leading Clemson.
The No. 18 Tigers (7-3, 5-2 ACC) hold a half game lead and tiebreaker over Boston College and can clinch the Atlantic Division with a win Saturday. With its own bowl hopes squelched, Virginia (3-7, 2-4 ACC) could complicate Clemson’s path to a possible ACC title and BCS bowl game.
The Cavaliers, though, will approach the game like they would any other and are not thinking about being a ‘spoiler,’ Virginia coach Al Groh said.
“Pick out your target, block out all distractions and take dead aim,” Groh said, explaining Virginia’s mentality heading into the match against Clemson. “It takes everything a team and a player has got to get ready to compete successfully, much less think about those extraneous things.”
It will undoubtedly take everything Virginia has to stop the multifaceted C.J. Spiller. The senior running back’s versatility has made him a legitimate Heisman contender. Spiller has racked up 14 touchdowns this season on six rushes, four catches, four kick returns and even a passing touchdown.
Spiller is “unique in his overall skillset; he’s clearly a dynamic, hard to get on the ground runner,” Groh said. “His kick return record speaks for itself … He is the true all-purpose threat, maybe as great as we’ve seen in this conference in a long time.”
Even if the Cavaliers can contain Spiller, they still will face a formidable aerial threat in senior wide receiver Jacoby Ford. Clemson’s offense, though in part led by Spiller, revolves around Ford, who leads the team with 548 receiving yards.
“Those two guys — they’re very explosive guys,” Virginia’s senior cornerback Chris Cook said. “I think we’re all lookin’ forward to this challenge. I definitely know we’re not panicking about it because we have a pretty good defense.”
Virginia’s overall defense ranks 45th in the country and its pass defense ranks 19th nationally.
“We’re all gonna play as hard as we can to minimize the big plays that those guys have in the game,” Cook said.
Big plays from big players have keyed Clemson’s recent turnaround after sputtering out of the gates with a 2-3 record. The Tigers have battled back with a five-game winning streak. A sixth straight win would secure their first-ever ACC title game appearance.
During the streak, Clemson has torched opponents for an average of 42 points per game. Spiller has rushed for 95.2 yards per game and totaled eight touchdowns.
As Clemson has climbed the ACC standings, Virginia has moved in the opposite direction. The Cavaliers have lost four straight games and their reeling offense ranks 118th of 120 FBS teams.
To end the skid, Virginia must come out of Death Valley with a win. From a visiting team’s perspective, the notoriously hostile environment is aptly named. The Tigers are 7-1 at home this season, thanks in part to their raucous 12th man.
“When you go down there, you know a couple of things — it’s gonna be loud, and it’s gonna be challenging and it’s gonna be fun,” Groh said. “It’s a great atmosphere in which to play in. Their energy, it’s right up there at the very top of the ACC sites that we go to. There’s a real football fever — it’s not just a Saturday afternoon activity.”
Virginia hopes to catch football fever this Saturday. The Cavaliers may not have a bowl game looming, but the team’s seniors have found enough motivation in defending their pride.
“These are the last two weeks that all of us are probably gonna be together on the same team, trying to achieve the same goals in life,” Cook said. “We’re just tryin’ to do the same things — just go hard.”
Clemson can claim ACC Atlantic Division with win over Virginia
By Sports Network; The Sports Network
Published: 11/18/09 8:19 am | Updated: 11/18/09 8:19 am
The Clemson Tigers are set for a critical ACC game against the Virginia Cavaliers in Death Valley on Saturday afternoon.
Virginia brings a four-game losing streak into this contest, and that slide has dropped the Cavaliers to 3-7 overall and 2-4 in ACC play. At one point, the club was 2-0 in conference, so the sudden decline is clearly disappointing. Last weekend, a shaky offensive performance led to a 14-10 loss to Boston College. Surprisingly, however, head coach Al Groh seemed happy overall with the effort of his team.
"We made a lot of progress with our team today," said Groh after the game. "I'm proud of the effort the players put into it and the fight they showed. We've been working for 10 months to have a performance like that."
The Tigers can clinch the ACC Atlantic Division with a victory over Virginia. The team is 7-3 overall and 5-2 in ACC play, thanks to five consecutive victories. Last weekend, Clemson cruised to a 43-23 decision over NC State, and four of the five victories during the current run have come by 16 or more points.
Clemson owns a commanding 36-8-1 series advantage over Virginia, which includes a 13-3 victory over the Cavaliers last season.
Virginia is averaging 19.8 ppg to go along with 266.7 total ypg, numbers that reflect the struggles of the offense. The Cavaliers are rushing for only 93.6 ypg at a clip of 2.8 yards per carry, poor figures to say the least. Jameel Sewell is the team's quarterback, and he has completed just 53 percent of his passes for 1,568 yards and six touchdowns with seven interceptions. Sewell has also rushed for five scores, but his average of 1.0 yard per rushing attempt isn't going to scare Clemson, or anyone for that matter. Rashawn Jackson leads Virginia with 420 rushing yards.
Opponents are scoring 24.0 ppg against the Cavs, who are yielding 345.2 total ypg. The defense is allowing 165.6 rushing ypg at an acceptable clip of 4.0 yards per carry, and the unit has intercepted 11 passes while permitting just eight passing scores. Redshirt freshman linebacker Steve Greer is the top tackler for Virginia, as he has made a total of 80 stops. Nate Collins has recorded 66 tackles, and he has five sacks as well.
The Virginia offense was downright terrible last week against Boston College, as the lone touchdown registered by the Cavs actually came on defense. They finished with 298 yards, including only 77 rushing yards on 28 carries. Sewell passed for 221 yards, but he needed 41 attempts to reach that mark and was intercepted once.
"A tremendous effort on his part," said Groh of Sewell, who played through injury. "Under the circumstances, I thought it was one of Jameel's most courageous and best efforts here at Virginia."
It is hard to put much blame on the Virginia defense for the loss to Boston College last weekend, as the unit allowed just 14 points and got seven back on a 58-yard interception return by Chris Cook. Sure, it can be argued that both touchdown drives allowed spanned 70 yards, and that the final touchdown came midway through the first quarter. While those facts are true, holding an ACC foe to 14 points is a victory for the defense.
Clemson's C.J. Spiller may be the nation's best all-around player. Through 10 games, he has rushed for 836 yards and six touchdowns, caught 24 passes for 382 yards and four scores, thrown a touchdown pass, returned three kickoffs for touchdowns and one punt for a score. That's a total of 15 touchdowns that he has been responsible for, and in a season with as wide open a Heisman race as anyone can remember, Spiller deserves to be at or near the top of the list.
Kyle Parker has taken the majority of snaps for Clemson, and he has completed 54.1 percent of his passes for 1,848 yards and 16 touchdowns with nine interceptions. Jacoby Ford is the top receiver for the Tigers, as he has made 39 grabs for 548 yards and four touchdowns. Clemson is averaging 33.0 ppg and 371.2 total ypg, and the offense has generated 34 touchdowns.
Defensively, Clemson is allowing only 299.3 total ypg to go along with 17.9 ppg, numbers that most teams would be proud to boast. The Tigers are permitting a mere 132.0 rushing ypg, and they are allowing 3.3 yards per carry. While there have been some big plays made through the air against Clemson, the pass defense has been tremendous for the most part, as opposing quarterbacks have completed fewer than 50 percent of their throws and have been intercepted 20 times.
DeAndre McDaniel leads Clemson with eight picks, and Rashard Hall has five interceptions to his credit.
Last weekend, Spiller became the first player in school history to catch, run and throw a touchdown in the same game. He also broke the single-season program record for all-purpose yards. Spiller had two touchdowns in the game, and the Clemson offense rolled up 454 total yards.
"I'm just proud of C.J. - another ho-hum day for him," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said after the contest. "I don't know how many other 'first evers' the guy can have."
Defensively, the Tigers allowed 377 yards and three touchdowns to the NC State offense. Obviously, Clemson has played better defense than that, but Spiller and the rest of the offense were so good that it didn't matter.
Swinney: No let down on Saturday, even if BC loses
by David Hood -- Senior Writer Discuss E-Mail Print |
CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers may have the news that they have clinched the 2009 ACC Atlantic Division title before they ever run down The Hill on Saturday afternoon, depending on whether Boston College loses against North Carolina in a game that starts at noon.
A loss by the Eagles automatically gives the Tigers the division title and a berth in the ACC Championship Game, but Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said on Tuesday that the Tigers won’t pay one bit of attention to what is happening between the Eagles and Tar Heels.
“It doesn't matter. If that happens, hey, that's great, but there won't be any celebrating with this team until after we take care of business on the field,” Swinney said. “We'd like to win it outright. You won't see any letdown. It's senior day. We won't spend 30 seconds talking about Boston College, I can assure you. Nobody wants to lose at home. Nobody wants to lose ever. We want to do what champions do and that's take care of business."
Swinney said he doubts the Tigers will even get to watch any of the Boston College game.
"We leave the hotel around 12:55, so we won't be sitting around watching that one,” he said. “There won't be a TV going in the locker room. It just doesn't matter. We're preparing to try to win this football game."
Swinney was asked if he would tell the players to not get caught up in al the hoopla certainly surrounding a potential division title, and he said he was telling them to just enjoy every part of this last bit of the season.
“I tell them all the time to enjoy their journey,” he said. “Let's go enjoy practice. Enjoy sitting there in the meeting with those guys. I tell them all the time to don't get caught up in the hype. When we were 2-3 people were talking about how bad they were and how bad coaches were. I told them not to listen to that. Stays committed on the prize and take everything in stride. Stay focused on what we do and how we do it. They're human beings, yes. They're going to hear that. It's our job as coaches to get them focused and prepared so that they're ready to go play."
Swinney said that the simple that it is Senior Day should give Clemson all the impetus it needs to defeat the Cavaliers in Death Valley.
“This senior class didn't come together six weeks ago,” Swinney said. “They came together in January. They've been together. They're not any different than they were at Georgia Tech or Middle Tennessee or Maryland. They've been solid as a rock since day one. That's why I knew at the Georgia Tech game I said I knew that this team had a chance to be special, that they had what it took, how they responded and how they dealt with each other, how they went back to business and went back to work. They came together way back. Football teams aren't made during the season. They're made from January through August."
The head coach then said that Saturday will be an emotional day for him as he says goodbye to many of the players that have helped get the program to this point.
"I'll greet them as they come down the hill and take a picture with them,” he said. “They'll join their families on the sideline and then the team will come down the hill. When we kick it off, let's go to work. It's already an emotional thing for me. I'm really close to a lot of guys. It's all about relationships.
“It never gets old. Every year when you have to say goodbye to your seniors, it's a tough thing. It's a sad day. And that senior group last year was special, to deal with what they dealt with, to jump all in, and earn a bowl game and then pass the torch to this next group. We've got a great group of guys."
Swinney was about Jacoby Ford and C.J. Spiller, and said that each player has left an indelible mark on the program.
“I'm going to miss him,” Swinney said of Ford. “He's a special young man. Great family. One of the most pleasant guys you could ever be around. He's the exact same way to coach. He responds the right way. Always has. He just loves to play. He loves to work. He's going to graduate in December. He loves Clemson. He loves it here. To see where he has come from to being a dominant kind of guy, I'm just so proud of him.
“He has really grown and has developed into a great wide receiver. He's a tough kid, as tough as they come. He doesn't mind playing without the ball. He's another one of those guys who got a lot of votes for captain."
As for Spiller, Swinney said he had his favorite Spiller moment etched in his mind, and it didn’t happen on the football field.
"When he said he was staying at Clemson,” Swinney said of Spiller. Seeing this young man go up there in front of everyone and speak from the heart, that was a pretty special moment. Just proud of the man that he is. He's just a great role model."
The Cavaliers Are Coming
By MikeBullock | Wednesday, November 18, 2009 | ( 0 )
The Virginia Cavaliers are coming to Memorial Stadium this weekend and the coveted ACC Championship Bowl berth is coming with them. Nothing is certain in football until the game is played, but it’s a safe bet that the Tigers will maul the Cav’s and take their spot in the first ACC Championship game they’ve seen since 1991.
With electric running back C.J. Spiller lighting up opposing defenses, Clemson has averaged 42 points per game over the last five outings and show no signs of letting up now. While many teams are merely motivated to win a single game, there’s far more on the line for Clemson this weekend.
Spiller sits in the ranks of the Heisman hopefuls, where his intangibles may cost him the trophy but translate to a high pick in the next spring’s NFL draft. His rushing yards aren’t the equal of other Heisman worthy tailbacks, but Spiller sits just 103 yards shy of the all time all-purpose NCAA yardage record of 2,054. Unfortunately for Spiller, many who vote for the Heisman won’t take that into account, judging him merely on his ground gains from the tailback spot. However, an incredible performance this weekend, coupled with another in the Orange Bowl might be enough to push him into the top spot.
Speaking of the Bowl, Clemson hasn’t captured an ACC crown since 1991 and Coach Dabo Swinney can smell the trophy from here.
While Spiller will be fun to watch this weekend, the real shellacking should come at the hands of the Tiger defense, which is ranked 20th in the nation. When facing the 118th ranked Virginia offense, team interception leader DeAndre McDaniels and ten of his closest friends should have a field day on the Cavaliers.
Anyone looking for a highlight reel of just what the Clemson Tigers can do should tune in Saturday. This will certainly be one to watch, unless blowouts aren’t your thing.
Clemson prepares for Groh’s defense
BY TRAVIS SAWCHIK, The Post and Courier Wednesday, November 18, 2009
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CLEMSON – The No. 18 Tigers are saying all the right things about not overlooking Virginia (3-7, 2-4 ACC) Saturday.
In addition to playing for the program’s first Atlantic Division title, and the added emotion of the 3:30 p.m. kickoff marking the final run down Death Valley’s hill for seniors, Clemson (7-3, 5-2) should be focused for another reason — they have seen nothing like Al Groh’s pro-style defense.
It’s first 3-4 base defense - three linemen, four linebackers – Clemson will have seen this season.
“It’s one of the better defenses we will have played,” Dabo Swinney said.
“They’re a true 3-4 team. They’re the only team in the league that plays that [style]. They don’t really sub a lot. A real key for us is to be able to run the ball. They’re hard to move. They’re big, tough guys.”
If Clemson can’t run the ball, Virginia will sit back in a Cover-2 shell pass defense.
The 3-4 also offers zone-blitz looks the Clemson offensive line and freshman quarterback Kyle Parker have not seen this season.
Moreover, the Cavaliers are one of the biggest teams the Tigers offensive front will meet.
UVA defensive end Matt Conrath is 6-7, 270, nose tackle Nick Jenkins is 6-3, 285.
The Virginia secondary is super-sized, too, possessing three 6-foot-2 defensive backs, including standout corner Ras-I Dowling (3 interceptions).
Virginia is seventh in the ACC in total defense (345.2 yards per game) and is sixth in scoring defense (24 points per game), “They don’t give up a lot of big plays,” Swinney said. “You have to put drives together.”
The UVA offense is less of a concern.
Virginia ranks last in the ACC in scoring (19.8 ppg) and total offense (266.7 ypg).
The Tigers could become Atlantic Division champions before kickoff Saturday.
If North Carolina wins at Boston College Saturday, the game starts at noon on ESPN2, the Tigers will clinch a rematch with Georgia Tech in the ACC title game.
Swinney said the Tigers will watch little, if any, of the game.
“We leave the hotel [in Anderson] around 12:55 [p.m.],” Swinney said. “We won’t be sitting around watching. There won’t be a TV going in the locker room. … It just doesn’t matter.”
Keep away and wild cards
N.C. State elected to kick away from C.J. Spiller, and the Heisman contender anticipates similar treatment in his final home game.
How the Cavs keep the ball away from Spiller is another question, as they’ve utilized squib kicks, pooch kicks and bunts, Swinney said. UVA also has tendency to run fakes out of kicking formations.
Swinney said Andre Powell might not be able to sleep this week.
“They’ve done it all,” Swinney said. “They’ve faked extra points, field goals, punts, they’ve run reverses on returns.”
Both defensive end Da’Quan Bowers (knee) and guard Thomas Austin (foot) are listed as questionable for Saturday’s game
Swinney wary of Cavs' knockout punch
By PAUL STRELOW - email@example.com
CLEMSON - It was hard to tell whether Dabo Swinney was classifying Clemson as the heavyweight favorite, Virginia the overwhelming underdog - or both.
Regardless, Swinney figures the 18th-ranked Tigers have heard their share of outsiders declaring Saturday's 3:30 p.m. with the struggling Cavaliers (3-7, 2-4) a sure-fire victory to clinch the ACC's Atlantic Division title.
Virginia has lost four in a row, but Swinney thinks no one points out the Cavs dominated surging North Carolina on the road in early October.
CAVALIERS AT TIGERS
WHO: Virginia (3-7, 2-4 ACC) at Clemson (7-3, 5-2)
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Memorial Stadium
RADIO: ESPN Radio 93.1 FM
LINE: Clemson by 21
THESTATE.COM/TIGERS: Live chat with Paul Strelow, 3 p.m. Thursday
"Mike Tyson, I think, was 30-0 (37-0) when he went and fought Buster Douglas," Swinney said Wednesday. "(Douglas's record) wasn't very good, but when he left, he took the belt. And nobody cared that Tyson was (37-0). When you step in the ring, you'd better perform.
"Mike Tyson probably lost his focus on what made him successful in preparation and got complacent, that kind of stuff. This team has not done that. But you just want to finish. You can't overlook anybody in this deal."
Sophomore end Da'Quan Bowers (sprained MCL) is expected to return after missing the past two games.
Swinney was not sure how much Bowers will play, but he figured it might take a game for Bowers to shake some rust off, as it did when left tackle Chris Hairston played tentatively in his first game following a return from a comparable injury earlier this year.
"Hopefully, he'll be able to play some and get his confidence back," Swinney said. "I think that would be a real shot in the arm going into the final few weeks here."
Heading for cover
Rain forced Clemson indoors for Wednesday's practice, and Swinney said the Tigers probably have squeezed more from their inclement weather practices this season because of their increased frequency.
"It's really almost become routine for these guys," Swinney said. "We've been inside this year more than we were in all six years (as an assistant) for me combined."
Because they do not have a separate indoor practice facility, the Tigers must adjust their schedule to have either the offense or defense go to the indoor track, with the other unit conducting meetings before they swap positions.
Swinney acknowledged the inconvenience but said an indoor facility is far from atop his wish list.
"I've got a few other things in front of that on the list," he said.
Swinney declined to divulge his specific desires.
Upon further review
N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said Wednesday that the ACC informed him replay officials should have overturned C.J. Spiller's apparent fumble in the third quarter of last Saturday's game.
Clemson was ahead 24-14 in the third quarter when Spiller was ruled down, and the Tigers went on to score another touchdown.
"It was a huge play in the game and devastating for this football team," O'Brien said. "So I hope someone learns from it, and it doesn't happen again."
Spiller needs 140 all-purpose yards to become the fifth player in NCAA history to reach 7,000 for his career. He is 103 shy of the ACC's single-season record, held by former Virginia back Thomas Jones (2,054), who likewise had Andre' Powell as his position coach. ... ... Because of the ACC's schedule rotation, this will be Clemson's final regular season game against Virginia until 2013.
Only Carolina sits between Cavaliers and NCAA finals
Virginia hopes to win rubber match against Tar Heels, progress to national title game; Princeton, Maryland compete in other semifinal
Meryem Karad, Cavalier Daily Associate Editor
Field Hockey / Sports
November 19, 2009 0
The No. 2 Virginia field hockey has found itself in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998, facing a familiar foe in No. 3 North Carolina tomorrow in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The game will mark the third meeting between the two teams this season. They last collided in the ACC Tournament semifinals Nov. 6, when Virginia (20-3) claimed a 1-0 win against the Tar Heels. Previously, in an Oct. 17 match, North Carolina handed the Cavaliers their second of only two regular season losses in a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker.
“Having the experiences against UNC definitely helps,” sophomore midfielder Rachel Jennings said. “But it’s balanced out. Having beat them last, we know they’re going to come back for some blood. But we’re comfortable in that we’ve faced challenging teams.”
Virginia advanced to the Final Four as a result of a 3-2 overtime home win against Michigan State (18-4) Sunday. Sophomore midfielder Paige Selenski netted the game-winner 1:52 into overtime.
“I’m excited. I feel like it’s our year and we’re meant to go [to the Final Four],” Selenski said. “We’re not surprised in that we know we have the talent and skill but we also know nothing’s going to come easy for us. We work hard for it.”
The appearance will be the Cavaliers’ first in the NCAA semifinals with coach Michele Madison, and the team’s third overall. Madison previously took Michigan State to the semifinals in 2002 and 2004.
“The impact of the Final Four will not hit them until they are at the event; the professionalism and the magnitude,” Madison said. “I try to prepare my team and minimize the distractions. We need to stay organized but enjoy the moment.”
Though tomorrow’s match will be the first time many Virginia players see action in such a large-scale arena, the team remains adamant about taking games one step at a time.
“We have to be able to get 70 minutes together, come out really hard and play with intensity,” senior midfielder Traci Ragukas said.
North Carolina defeated Wake Forest 4-1 to earn its spot in the semifinals, despite Wake Forest holding the lead in shots (13-8) and penalty corners (7-3). To win, Virginia will have to continue its streak of outstanding defensive performances led by junior goalkeeper Kim Kastuk, who has recorded eight shutouts, 67 saves and a .788 save percentage this season.
Both teams’ experience with the opponent also grants coaches and players a degree of flexibility entering the match.
“It’s a matter of tweaking some thinks, really breaking down our game plan and fixing a couple things,” Madison said, “We know they’re a corner team. We can’t give up corners, we have to move on offense, find open players and play our game of hockey.”
Tomorrow’s game offers a matchup of two potent offenses. Selenski, who found the back of the cage twice against Michigan State, is the Cavaliers’ leading scorer with 26 goals. Having tallied 17 scores, senior back Melanie Brill leads the Tar Heels, while freshman midfielder Kelsey Kolojejchick has contributed 15.
If Virginia defeats North Carolina, it will face the winner of the Maryland-Princeton contest played earlier in the day. The Cavaliers lost to the Terrapins in the ACC Championship finals two weeks ago, while a Princeton contest would mark the first meeting between Jennings and one of her triplet sisters, Erin Jennings.
“It would be obviously hilarious, of course, and so fun,” Jennings said. “But we need to focus on UNC first.”
Virginia’s Shining moment
By Jay Jenkins
Published: November 19, 2009
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Chelsea Shine received a perfect birthday present from her teammates: the basketball.
Celebrating her 20th birthday, Shine torched USC Upstate for a career-best 27 points as Virginia rolled to an easy 110-63 victory inside John Paul Jones Arena.
“I knew that I was on, I guess,” Shine said with a smile. “Maybe because it was my birthday, but tonight I just played.”
Virginia, which climbed to No. 12 in the country on Monday, improved to 3-0 for the first time in three years. USC Upstate, formerly known at South Carolina Spartanburg, dropped to 2-1 overall.
Coming in the 1,000th career game for coach Debbie Ryan, the high-scoring contest was quite historic. It marked the highest-scoring game for the Cavaliers since a 116-point outing against St. Francis on Nov. 27, 2000.
It also came on the heels of one of the most anticipated contests in the short history of the JPJ — the Cavaliers host No. 6 Tennessee on Sunday at 4 p.m.
“I was hoping that we would come into this game and really focus on the task at hand and not think about the future,” Ryan said. “Obviously, I didn’t want us to dwell in the past, but stay right there with USC Upstate.
“It’s hard to do when you have Tennessee coming into your own gym [in the next game], but I thought the team did a great job with it.”
Up 54-38 at halftime, Ryan demanded “toughness” from her players in the opening moments of the second half.
It certainly came as the playing rotation was shortened. In fact, Shine scored the first six points of the second half for Virginia, sparking a 30-16 run that gave the Cavaliers a 30-point advantage with 10 minutes left.
“That’s really what put the game away in the second half,” Ryan said. “I wasn’t going to play everybody in the second half until it was pretty much a forgone conclusion to who was going to win.”
For the game, Virginia dominated in the paint. The Cavaliers outscored the Spartans 58-18 in the paint and had a decisive 29-rebound advantage.
“There was definitely a height difference that you could see with this team,” said Shine, who added 11 rebounds. “They were practically half of our size, but we still had to work. I was still getting tired out there because you have to get a stop at one end, come back and score.
“It was really good for us because we were able to get out and run. I think that’s when we are at our best, when we are running and getting transition. I love to run and love to get out there with the guards. I think that’s where it was easy for me.”
Simone Egwu and Monica Wright chipped in with 19 points each in the win. Wright also added six steals and five of the Cavaliers’ 27 assists.
As for Shine’s birthday plans?
“I got some homework to finish and it’s late,” she said, “but I might eat dinner with some friends.”
The victory, however, did not come without one scary moment.
After what Ryan described as a “throw,” Virginia rookie point guard China Crosby went to the floor in obvious pain just two minutes into the second half.
She limped out of the arena in obvious pain with what Ryan said was a broken tailbone.
It would appear doubtful that the rookie will be able to play on Sunday against the Lady Vols.
Due to Sunday’s NCAA tournament game in men’s soccer, Virginia officials pushed the start time for the Cavaliers’ showdown with Tennessee back two hours to 4 p.m. … USC Upstate, which competes in the Atlantic Sun Conference, opened the season with wins over North Greenville and Longwood. … Freshman forward Christine Nyobe, a Miller School graduate, had four points and three rebounds in 17 minutes for USC Upstate.