UVA Basketball May Have Lost, But They Still Deserve Respect

UVA Basketball May Have Lost, But They Still Deserve Respect

One loss to UMBC in the tournament does not define an entire season.
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At this point, I think that pretty much everyone knows that UVA basketball got crushed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. As of that game, no one left on ESPN's Tournament Challenge Website had a perfect bracket. UMBC essentially wrecked everyone. This was the first time that a 1 seed lost to a 16 seed and a lot of people are giving UVA heck about it.

People say that they've been overrated all season, that they can't cope with stressful situations in games, and, worst of all, that they don't deserve any respect anymore. I'm here to tell you that these are all false.

The Wahoos started the season as an unranked team just hoping to hit the pretty decent level they were at last year. They were a humble little team coached by someone who cares more about having good people than good players. But then something happened: they started winning. And not just winning, but winning a lot, winning frequently, winning big.

Suddenly, they were ranked.

Then, to the surprise of even the guys working for ESPN, they became the number one team in the nation and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. They play slow basketball, are defense-oriented, and care more about their character as people than their score on the court.

Statistically, they went 17-1 in the ACC and 31-3 overall. The closest team to that was Villanova, who went 14-4 in the Big Ten and 32-4 overall. They were ACC regular season champions outright and ACC tournament champions.

Tony Bennett was ACC Coach of the Year and is shortlisted for NCAA Coach of the Year. Kyle Guy was 1st Team All-ACC, Devon Hall Second Team, and Ty Jerome 3rd Team. Isaiah Wilkins was ACC Defensive Player of the Year and De'Andre Hunter was ACC Sixth Man of the Year.

So, still think they're overrated?

As to their not being able to handle the stress, I invite you to take a look at this video, in which Virginia managed to score 5 points in 0.9 seconds against Louisville to win the game and then talk to me about them handling stress. They might not have had a stellar game against UMBC, but they most certainly can play basketball down to the wire.

People saying that they no longer deserve respect is my biggest issue. First of all, everyone deserves respect. Second of all, this team is one that has fought hard all season to be recognized as being as good as they are. They worked and worked and worked and it showed on the court. Our starting 5 were great, but one of our great strengths was how strong our guys coming off the bench were, guys like De'Andre Hunter, Nigel Johnson, and Mamadi Diakite.

UMBC's live tweets during the game are now trending, but I want to address the one in which they demand respect. No self-respecting team with even an ounce of class would play like UMBC did during the last minute and a half of that game, no matter who their opponent was. To leave the starting 5 in and have them running down the floor dunking the basketball over and over on a team that had so obviously been defeated was uncalled for, classless, and just generally rude. This gets to the real heart of why UVA deserves respect: their attitude.

Tony Bennett leads his team as a family, as a group of good people who are also good basketball players. They are good humans first, good students second, and good players third. Bennett's 5 pillars that he expects each of his players to uphold are humility, passion, unity, servanthood, and thankfulness. He pushes them to be good people, toward what he thinks is more important than basketball.

The boys take these and apply them to everything, beyond just their time on the court or on the team, and I can honestly say that they apply them to their schoolwork.

UVA is no joke when it comes to schoolwork, being ranked the number 3 public school in the nation. I have personally sat in classrooms with athletes and let me just say that they are not any easier than my other classes. They are expected to meet the same demands as every other student.

Most of those guys came back to UVA after the loss just in time to start studying for midterms.

As for upholding the pillars on the court, I think their record and effort speak for that in itself. To look at this team and how far they've come in proof enough in itself. Yes, they had a bad game, but never say that they don't deserve respect.

Here's to another great season next year. Wahoowa!

Cover Image Credit: Instagram: @uvamenshoops

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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6 Best Feelings You Get When Playing Volleyball

While you're avoiding getting hit in the face, you just might gain something in return.

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Volleyball can be intimidating to get into, especially if you have had zero experience before. From the extremely bruised forearms to knee burns, it's understandable why people try to avoid this sport as much as possible sometimes. However, after the initial few weeks of struggle, the bruises will disappear, and the knee pains will feel much less terrible. In fact, after experiencing these six feelings, you will get hooked onto the sport.

1. When you get the perfect set

Every team needs a good setter, because without good sets, it is incredibly hard to get good hits. Every once in a while, when you do get that perfect set, you don't have to worry about repositioning closer or further away from the net or where to hit the ball. Instead, all you have to do is swing your arms and hear that satisfying bounce of the ball hitting the floor on the other side of the court.

2. When you dive for a ball and actually save it

Sacrifices to the knees are a must in volleyball, but a lot of times, they're sacrifices in vain. When a dive actually turns into a save, it can be one of the best feelings in the world. Not just because your knees didn't just take another bruise in vain, but because your reflexes have actually improved and you just saved your team a lost point.

3. When you get your first ace

Whether it was your serve that was too fast or the other team that just made a mistake, there's just something extremely satisfying about being able to serve a ball that others cannot return. It may also be due to the fact that you wouldn't have to run back onto the court or spend extra energy on this point, but nevertheless, the pride you feel when you get that ace is priceless.

4. When you find a good team

Some people work better with certain people than others, and when people on your team somehow naturally know how high you liked your sets or covers the areas that you can't at certain moments, as a team you will play much better. This can be attained through training and practice, but when you meet those people who naturally work well with you, you know the game is going to be good.

5. When you get a good rally going

When the ball is going back and forth for five or six times with 3 hits on each side, you have a good rally going on. At the end of it, even if your team loses the point, you'll feel an intense satisfaction from all the adrenaline still coursing through your veins. It's not every day that you can get everyone on the team on their feet, passing, hitting and making great plays!

6. When your teammates become some of your closest friends

This is probably the best reward that you can ever get from playing any sport. Whether it's a group trek to the local donut shop or just walking home together, you could end up meeting some of your closest friends. Volleyball is a team sport, and that bond established through numerous games is something that is irreplaceable. You'll naturally gravitate those who you work well with and find out that honestly, you guys get along pretty well off the court too.

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