Monday, December 29, 2014

Hey, Virginia, stuff happens

Hey, the Davidson kids are on scholarship, too.

And when scholarship kids with good coaching catch fire, watch out. It hadn't happened a lot for these Wildcats, who packed a six-game losing streak for their weekend trip to Charlottesville. But it all came together Sunday, when Davidson sprinted off on a 29-4 run and stunned Virginia 67-57 at John Paul Jones Arena.

So let's start by giving credit where it's due - to the winners, particularly junior forward Hannah Early, who went off for 24 points - one shy of her career high - and nailed six of the Wildcats' 11 3-pointers.

As for Virginia, this wasn't about coming out flat and "not being ready to play." The Cavaliers were up 14 with less than four minutes to go in the first half. No, Virginia was ready to play. Virginia just got beat.

Now we'd be lying if we said we saw this coming. But for anyone that saw the Cavaliers' previous game against Howard, Sunday's result can't be totally shocking. The final score (74-53) against the Bison masked the fact that Virginia got away with doing a lot of things (25 turnovers) that typically get you beat.

Howard didn't have the weaponry to exploit the Cavaliers' mistakes. Davidson did.

Look, this isn't about what Virginia used to be, or what Virginia should be. It's about what Virginia is right now, and that's a promising group heavily dependent on first- and second-year players trying to learn how to collectively max out.

One look at Virginia's non-conference schedule - heavily weighted with home games against rebuilding/mid-tier foes - was coach Joanne Boyle's signal to the masses that she knew this was going to take time. So Cavaliers fans have spent November and December watching the sausage get made. And as we all know, that ain't always pretty.

Also - and this can't be overlooked - the fact that Boyle was away for 16 days during her adoption journey could not have helped. Now, Virginia has a crack staff of assistants, and that Twitter picture of Boyle and her new daughter brings tears of joy to our eyes every time we look at it. We could not be more happy for the two of them.

But in pure building-a-basketball-team terms, the Cavaliers had to have missed their leader.

That said, nothing that can't be overcome occurred with the loss to Davidson. In fact, it might actually speed the team's maturation process. I mean, it's one thing to acknowledge mistakes after a 21-point victory. It's another thing entirely to recognize them from the loser's locker room after a game many expected you to win going away.

Since we like to keep things on the optimistic tip here at LadySwish, that's the theory we're rolling with. So as strange as it may seem, we're actually more bullish on these Cavaliers today than we were heading into the Christmas break.

Prove us right, Cavaliers.

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