Monday, February 9, 2015

Calling all Cavaliers for Payback Thursday vs. Duke

Calling all Cavaliers - your Virginia women's basketball team needs a signature victory on Thursday night.

And look who's coming to John Paul Arena.

That would be mighty Duke, sporting a No. 11 national ranking and and fresh off a 39-point spanking of didn't-know-what-hit-'em Clemson. A tall order, no question. But for a Virginia team running out of time to launch a serious push for ACC and NCAA tournament relevancy, the high-flying Blue Devils are hitting town at just the right time.

Now we know these Cavaliers will bring the effort and want-to. And of course, they'll always have Faith. But against a team of Duke's caliber, that may not be enough.

That's why we're calling all Cavaliers - the women's basketball fans, naturally, but the men's basketball and football faithful, too, the frat boys and sorority girls, leather-lunged children in and around Charlottesville, anyone with even a modicum of U.Va. loyalty - to show up loud and proud to put some wind at their Cavaliers' backs and make this Payback Thursday.

What's Payback Thursday? Well, remember football season? The Cavaliers were 4-2 heading into their showdown at Duke; they fell 20-13 (to a backup QB, no less) and finished the year 5-7 and out of the bowl game mix. Virginia fans can blame a lot of things for having to sit out yet another gridiron postseason. Why not blame Duke?

And Virginia's 21-1 men's basketball team; remember who dealt the Cavaliers that lone blemish, stealing victory with some unconscious 3-point shooting in the final minutes? When what looked for all the world like a glorious ESPN Gameday showcase morphed into simply another notch in Coach K's 1,000-notch belt?

Cavaliers fans, surely you don't want to see this ugly trend continue. To paraphrase the late, great Al Davis, this time Duke must go down, and Duke must go down hard.

Now, these Blue Devils won't rattle easily. But that doesn't mean thousands (and thousands! as the Rock might say) shouldn't come prepared to try and rattle them anyway. Of course, we don't advocate taunting; we'd like to think of fan interaction as more of a public service. See, JPJ is such a cozy, inviting venue the Blue may go through pre-game warmups feeling as though they're at home. But if thousands of fans unleash a double-barreled shot of boos so fierce it makes the blue hairs stand up on the back of their necks, well, shoot, that's not taunting. That's just letting 'em know that "hey, guys, this ain't Durham."

And suppose, say, Duke guard Ka'lia Johnson jacks up a shot that misses everyone, but she thinks it may have grazed the rim. If thousands of fans scream "Aiiiir-ballllllll!" well, shoot, that's not taunting. That's just helping the young lady out.

So scarf up those tickets, folks, and fill up JPJ Thursday night. Boyle's Brigade, Sarah's Soldiers, Faith's Faithful, call yourselves what you will. Just be there.

The women's basketball team needs to beat Duke. Virginia needs to beat Duke.

Help make it happen.

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