Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Views from the couch

A COUCH IN BOTETOURT COUNTY -- Muchas gracias, Craig Littlepage.

Hey, the Virginia athletic director issued a clear missive Friday afternoon. In a press release announcing that the UVa-Wake Forest game would be played as scheduled at noon Saturday despite the snow, Littlepage said: "We encourage [columnists] having to travel by car to stay at home and watch the game on television."

OK, so he said "fans" and not "columnists."

Either way, you don't have to encourage me twice.

Besides, the Wahoos weren't playing the only big game of area interest. The Hokies had a huge one of their own at 4 p.m. in Blacksburg, against Clemson. Both local teams were chasing their biggest wins of the season in terms of opponent RPI. Wake is 20th in those rankings, while Clemson is 32nd.

So, heeding Littlepage, I dipped into to the Super Bowl snacks a day early, dented the couch and made a few observations:

  • If ever there were a game that illustrated the importance of Mike Scott, this was it. The UVa forward went 5-for-5 from the field as the Cavs took a five-point lead into halftime. After that? Zero-for-10 as the Cavs fell 64-61 in overtime.
  • Granted, we're only midway through the ACC slate. But right now? The Hokies look worthy of an NCAA bid. To beat Clemson 70-59 less than 48 hours after a key win over UNC shows this team has that extra quality that separates in from out.
  • Wake's Ish Smith is a brutal matchup for anybody, but how many times does he have to cleave a double team before defenders quit biting on outside fakes? He's going to go between you, guys! To put it in football terms, tighten up those Pack Line splits a bit.
  • Tech guard Malcolm Delaney looks like he's been hit by a sledgehammer every time he's fouled -- and even sometimes when he's not. But if it helps you get 13 points in a half without hitting a field goal, more power to ya.
  • Kudos to the Raycom announcers in the early game. When Wake's L.D. Williams staggered to the bench in the second half, I expected the typical "We don't want to speculate on injuries" garbage. Not these guys. "Looks like it could be his back!" one said. Doesn't matter if they're right. They're there; we're not. We want their best guess.
  • Nice job by Hokies radio man Bill Roth pinch-hitting as the lead announcer on Raycom's Tech-Clemson coverage because of travel difficulties for Mike Hogewood. Roth's a pro. We're fortunate to have him in the area.
  • Probably the worst thing to happen to UVa on Saturday was for Will Sherrill to make three shots. At the end of overtime, Sherrill panicked, heaving up a rushed 3-pointer while back-pedaling toward the corner. Hard to blame a guy for wanting to make a play, but there is such a thing as too much self-trust.
  • Is it just me, or does Tech's Jeff Allen seem to be ... I don't know ... actually enjoying the game of basketball these days? If he is, great. Because when you combine his talent with an upbeat attitude, Tech becomes much more difficult to handle.
  • "I'm just gonna ... guesstimate." Another solid commercial from the folks at Geico.
  • Combos are the most underrated snack food. Triscuits are the most overrated.
  • Nice turnout by both student bodies at Tech and UVa on Saturday. It'll never happen, but I'd love to see every college team in America set aside one home conference game as "Student Appreciation Night." Pack in the kids and plug your ears.
  • Can we stop going to the monitor after every 3-pointer? Sherrill's foot clearly was on the line when he nailed a long jumper in OT -- the official was standing right there and correctly called it a deuce immediately -- yet they still wasted 90 seconds reviewing it. College football already has replay overload. We don't need it in hoops, too.
  • If you start 0-for-9 from the field and still go to halftime with a lead, as the Hokies did, you're playing a little defense.
  • One exchange that proves you shouldn't quit your job:

"Daddy, when are you leaving?"

"I'm not leaving."

"I thought you said you had to work?"

"I am working."

"You're watching TV."

"Yes. Yes I am."

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