Defense, Spurlock, And Other Hot Topics

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Tony Bennett’s team has lost seven straight games.

I’ll be honest. I have no idea what unique angle to search for when it comes to writing about this Virginia losing streak. After all, it’s a bit of a broken record. Inconsistent defense. Inconsistent shooting. Consistent results. Add Sunday night’s 67-49 loss to Duke as the latest game to follow the pattern.

So rather than focus solely on the defense and shooting themes, I thought I’d do some scattershooting – hat tip to my old Daily Progress boss Jerry Ratcliffe on that one – about the hot topics surrounding this team and my opinion on those issues. Have your own opinion, agree or disagree, on something you read below, let me know …

Hot topic: Did the increased interest/fast start in ACC play (remember when UVa was 5-2 in the league? It seems like forever ago.) and changing fan expectations impact the team?

Coach Tony Bennett addressed this line of thinking after the loss to the Blue Devils: “I would hope not. That’s the disappointing part, that we got off to a great start, and now it has slipped away. That’s the hard thing. At that point when we were 5-2, I was very thankful for our record but knew we had a long way to go, and I still see that. It is disappointing. I wish we were finishing stronger. But we play Wednesday, and we have a couple of practices to prepare for that.”

My take: It did. It shouldn’t and as Coach Bennett said, you hope it doesn’t. But I think it did for this group in the confidence category. Everything seemed to be clicking and the Hoos were finding ways to win games, but then those two overtime losses to Wake Forest and Virginia Tech at home happened. The Cavaliers tried to follow the plan and path to victory by playing team defense within the system, by working for team shots, and sticking to gritty efforts on the hustle plays. It didn’t work. They lost. Twice. And then it happened again at VT. Subconsciously, I think this triggered a crisis of confidence, a ‘wait a minute, this isn’t