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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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn't sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It's obvious your calling wasn't coaching and you weren't meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn't have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn't your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that's how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “It's not what you say, its how you say it."

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won't even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don't hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That's the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she's the reason I continued to play."

I don't blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn't working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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ASU Baseball Is Already Knocking It Out Of The Park

All eyes are on the Sun Devils as they enter the national poll this previous week. The Sun Devils are the last unbeaten team left in the NCAA.

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Starting off the season 18-0? Not bad, considering the Sun Devils' haven't gone undefeated at the start of the NCAA baseball season since 2010 when they went 24-0, but honestly where did this come from? In the 2017-18 season, the Devils finished off with 23-32, sitting towards the bottom of the Pac-12. Now they're the top of the conference, past the usual Pac-12 baseball powerhouse, Oregon State.

On a team with only 27 on the roster, which makes it the smallest team in the Pac-12, you wouldn't really expect such an explosive start to the season. Take a look at the improvements made, though, and you'll see why.

For starters, catcher Sam Ferri is back healthy and ready for this season to start with both pitchers Alec Marsh and RJ Dabovich, who've both thrown some great games, but if we're being honest here, have been a little inconsistent with a few errors, but have been backed up by the offense to get the job done.

On offense, Hunter Bishop and Spencer Torkelson are the ones to watch out for. Torkelson was named Pac-12 freshman of the year last year, after setting the Pac-12 freshman record of home runs. Now he's back with some deadly at-bat presence, as you can always expect a few RBIs from him, and also doing a great job at infield (#TorkBomb). Bishop's following suit, with major at-bats against Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Xavier.

Safe to say being ranked #23 right now is huge for a program that struggled majorly in the past seasons and has had some great players transfer out recently. Despite being faced with huge adversity before the season, this lineup is really producing some good stuff this year, and by being undefeated through the first month of play really exemplified that.

Hats off to Head Coach Tracy Smith for helping these young men after having the program suffer for a while.

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