Virginia Fans: Stay Calm, Patient, And Grateful
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Virginia Fans: Stay Calm, Patient, And Grateful

The team is fine, the season is young, and you're in a good place.

Let's look back: It's New Year's Eve as 2014 approaches, and Virginia's men's basketball team sits at 9-4, fresh off a 35-point drubbing at Tennessee. The team appears to be treading water, where they have been most often since Ralph Sampson's departure: somewhere between a cellar-dweller and a run-of-the-mill Power Five program. But then the clock hit midnight, and everything changed.

Fast-forward over three years, and the Cavaliers have just suffered their first double-digit loss since that Tennessee game, and a panic is slowly arising in a fan base that's not accustomed to back to back losses.

Hold it right there. Instead, 'Hoos fans should be feeling calm, patient, and grateful.

If fans take a moment to remember where the team was just three years ago, a last-second home loss to a talented Florida State team and an overtime loss at the Oakland Zoo should not be cause for alarm. Even at this point last year, Virginia was on their way to a 2-3 start in ACC play, with losses to mediocre Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech squads and no marquee road win like this year's team grabbed at Louisville. Last year's team ended up as top seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Sure, this team doesn't have a first team All-American like Malcolm Brogdon to lead the resurgence. But the team is still rated fifth on, a highly respected advanced metrics site, which is cause for optimism.

Virginia fans have quickly learned all too well that seasons are made and broken in March where anything can happen, and coach Tony Bennett's defensive system will keep the team close in every game.

Virginia fans must also stay patient. Expectations for this season had to be re-calibrated after the dismissal of Austin Nichols. No program can lose arguably their most valuable player after the graduation of a signature class and expect to maintain the same level of play.

With how close the losses have been, having a talented player like Nichols playing big minutes in a struggling frontcourt would have this team at 14-1 or even 15-0. The team was constructed as if Nichols would play a big role, and to fault coach Bennett or the players for how this season plays out would be an unfair standard.

Fans must stay patient as players like Mamadi Diakite and Jarred Reuter face an accelerated development schedule. Patience until the end of this season will quickly be rewarded: with London Perrantes the lone expected departure after this season, a senior-laden team with incredibly talented underclassmen should have Virginia back as a top-five team next season.

Most importantly, fans must maintain perspective and continue to be grateful for where the program is situated. Since New Year's Day 2014, no Power Five program outside of Kentucky has won more games than Virginia's 91. But while blue-bloods like Kentucky and Duke pile up wins as expected, Virginia's dominance is the only one that exudes inexplicable brilliance.

The traditional powers of college basketball have produced sustained success through the modern template for building a national title contender: bring in top-10 recruits and produce top-10 draft picks. Virginia has done neither, making the players, coach Bennett, and the program all the more likable.

After one NCAA Tournament appearance in eight seasons, Bennett has transformed the program into one with three combined ACC regular season and tournament titles and two NCAA Tournament one-seeds in three years. Falling short of ACC titles and Final Fours has become a failure in the eyes of some Wahoos fans that used to beg for NCAA tournament appearances.

So Virginia fans: I urge you to enjoy this young, goofy team regardless of the losses that are bound to come ahead. Just remember how fortunate we are to have an elite basketball program with an elite coach.

It's not always worse to lose with dignity than to win at Duke. Withstanding the "rocky" start this season by the high standards that Bennett has set, two things remain certain for Virginia Cavaliers basketball: the present is bright, and the future is brighter.

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Ginny Thrasher is Better Than You At Life

She's in college and is an Olympic gold medalist.

The first gold medal at the Olympics in Rio was won by an American. More specifically, it was won in the women's 10-meter air rifle by Virginia "Ginny" Thrasher.

She's a college student like one of us writers here at FlockU, but while we're here, she's down in Rio winning gold. So Ginny already has you beaten in the "cool" factor there.

Born and raised in Springfield, Virginia, Ginny actually did not think she would grow up with a gun in her hands. She originally wanted to be a figure skater.

But she switched her sport just like a college student switching her major. She realized she wasn't very good by her freshman year of high school. So is she like the rest of us who just chooses to just go into the world of business, or the world of communications?

No, she puts a goddamn gun in her hands.

She went on a hunting trip with her grandfather in 2011, and she loved the experience so much she took up shooting. Who knew that it would lead to her competing in an Olympic Games five years later?

And if you're sitting there saying, "Oh I've been hunting and shooting my gun for years" then where is YOUR Olympic gold?

Ginny takes a pic with the Rio 2016 mascot! #rio2016 #teamusa

A photo posted by USA Shooting (@usashooting) on

After what she described as a very difficult qualifying round, she ended up defeating Du Li and Yi Siling, two former rifle gold medalists. Are you afraid of taking the hard route and prefer the easy way out? Guess what, Ginny just got another point on you.

And what is she like without the Games? Well, she is a rising sophomore at West Virginia University, and she is a successful member of its rifle team there. Her major? Engineering. Yeah, another point to her for understanding something I have no idea what I would be doing in.

Ginny's cooler than you, she's cooler than me, and she's cooler than the ice that's in your freezer. Not only that, she's successful, and she's going to continue her success with her rifle skills and her engineering studies.

You go, Ginny.

Ginny Thrasher is off to do the victory tour! Catch her on @nbcolympics coverage later today! #teamusa #rio2016

A photo posted by USA Shooting (@usashooting) on

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The Big 12 Playoffs Hopes Are Slim

Baylor and West Virginia killed all remaining hope.

At the start of the season, it seemed like the Big 12 had a lock in the College Football Playoff with the Oklahoma Sooners. However, once Oklahoma lost early in the season to Houston, the Big 12 seemed doomed. But, with the emergence of Baylor and West Virginia in the past few weeks, the Big 12 and its fans were able to breathe again. Until both teams lost this week.

With the college football season coming down to a close soon, these late season losses will hurt team's stocks to reach the Playoff. West Virginia seemed like the Big 12's best bet to make the playoff after picking up some nice wins these past few weeks. But, after a road loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Mountaineers' playoff hopes are all but gone.

Baylor also faces a similar situation with a loss to the Texas Longhorns this week. Baylor's strength of schedule does them no favors either; so don't expect the committee to help Baylor out during the voting. It seemed like Baylor or West Virginia had to go undefeated to at least get a shot at the playoff, but with each of them having one loss and Oklahoma having two losses, there is a very slim chance that a Big 12 team will make the College Football Playoff.

It doesn't help that the Big 12 doesn't have a title game at the end of the season. Usually, that either helps or hurts teams, but in this case it'd only help the Big 12 get a chance the playoff. It may be a disadvantage because there's no chance to prove themselves to the committee, but in 2017, all of that will change.

The Big 12 will finally have a title game at the end of the season so there can be an outright winner of the conference. However, there will still be no divisions in the conference so the top two teams in the conference will play for the title.

Besides the fact that Baylor and West Virginia lost, the Big 12 is now the only college football power 5 conference without an undefeated team this season. Multiple teams have more than one loss and with neither of the top two teams being undefeated anymore, the Big 12 could be looking from the outside again this year during the playoff.

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If Super Bowl Cities Were College Basketball Teams

As told by a completely biased Virginia fan.

By now I'm sure you've heard the news: the 2019, 2020, and 2021 Super Bowls are going to be held, respectively, in Atlanta, South Florida, and (go figure) Los Angeles.

What a surprise.

A bunch of old, rich white guys deciding to award the most watched sporting event in the United States to a bunch of warm cities that, frankly, could survive with or without the Super Bowl, just to stuff their fat-cat pockets. Why not give it to Jacksonville, huh? Or Cleveland? Okay maybe not Cleveland, but you get my point.

And that got me angry. And when I get angry, I think about other things that make me angry. And there's one thing that makes me angrier than anything else: college basketball.

And what better way to vent my frustration than by bashing both basketball teams I hate and cities I have absolutely no connection to by comparing the two? So get ready for the poison pen (or keyboard, I guess).

This could get ugly.

Atlanta? Hmmmmmm... you know what Atlanta, I really don't have anything bad to say about you. You seem like a great city, and the few people I know from Atlanta are pretty cool.

But you're kind of irrelevant right now. Especially in the realm of sports.

The Braves are currently tied for the worst record in the MLB at 12-34. The Falcons have been less than satisfactory for the past few seasons, and the Hawks...

The Hawks? There good in the win-loss column, but really? Who's excited about the Hawks? I mean, I love watching Kyle Korver hit threes just as much as the next guy, but the Hawks? Come on.

And that's why, Atlanta, you are the city-embodiment of the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Not great, not horrible. Just kind of there. Very Hokie-esque. And going even further, while Tech was, at one point, pretty good at sports in general (especially football) now they're just kind of, how do I put it... meh.

You had your sporty heyday, and now you basically just exist, and that's it.

Just like the Hokies.

South Florida (probably Miami)
You just think you're so great, don't you Miami?

This is, what, the 10th time you get to host the Super Bowl? Everything else just isn't enough for you?

The cars. The beaches. The food. Noooooo, you guys just want everything you can possibly get your hands on.

You keep suffocating the little man, Miami, taking and taking without regard to any of the other cities that haven't had the pleasure of hosting even half as many Super Bowls as you. And that's why you're the worst of the worst Miami, the epitome of evil.


Just like Duke absorbs the number one recruits in the country every year, you just absorb Super Bowls. You take from the little man and just look back with a smug grin on your face.

While other cities are desperately running towards Super Bowls to boost their fledgling economies, you just stick your leg out like Grayson Allen, make them faceplant, and then embrace it.

Damn you Miami. I thought you were better than this.


Los Angeles
Everybody know the story about how LA finally got their "beloved" Rams back, right?

No? Well here's a brief summary: one frugal, rich white guy got together with a bunch of other frugal, rich white guys and agreed to steal the Rams from St. Louis and bring them to the one place that old white guys might actually love even more than themselves: sunny Los Angeles, California.

Sound a little fishy to you? A little bit of rule-bending? Kind of like, dare I say it, collusion?

You don't even have a stadium yet, but you're already set to host a Super Bowl?

Typical LA! You think you can just have anything you want, even if it means depriving a hard-working, American city like St. Louis. And nobody cares because, let's face it: LA gets results. It's a great city and people love going there.

Hmmmm... kind of sounds like Syracuse.

Take some leniency with your drug testing, write a couple student papers, hand out some improper benefits here and there, take your punishment, and then just let everything get swept under the rug and forgotten about.

Then make a run in the NCAA tournament, beat my Cavaliers to make it to the Final Four (and make me cry), and all of a sudden, everything's back to normal.

Just like LA: steal a city's team in one of the most corrupt deals in NFL history, have your future owner tell some little white lies to the public, promise a massive stadium to make NFL owners happy, and now hope everything goes away because you're going to host the Super Bowl.

Way to go LA. Way. To. Go.

And before this is over, let me just leave you with one parting thought:

Duke sucks. Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

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What Happened To Virginia Basketball?

The scoring woes are worse than ever.

On a night in which Malcolm Brogdon, the former star point guard now playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, was in the building to have his #15 jersey was retired, Virginia dropped a game to the unranked visiting Miami Hurricanes in overtime. Even with an extra five minutes, the score was 54-48.

In the last 80 minutes of regulation, Virginia has scored 84 points. That is awful for a team that was conceivably a one or two seed just a couple of weeks ago. However, with the recent skid, losing four games in a row and dropping six out of the last eight games, Virginia looks more like a six or seven seed.

Low scoring is characteristic of Virginia even when they are winning games due to their slow, half-court style of play and unbelievable defense. But to give you some more mind boggling stats about how stagnant Virginia's offense has gotten, the Hoos have shot 32 percent from the field and 19 percent from deep in their last three games (Duke, @UNC, Miami). You cannot win games shooting that poorly, no matter how stingy the defense is.

The Cavs look completely lethargic on the offensive side of the ball. There is no fiery leader on the team like there has been in all of Tony Bennett's tenure, such as Joe Harris, Justin Anderson, and Malcolm Brogdon. London Perrantes is the leader of the team, but he looks a bit too cool for how the team is playing right now.

Somebody needs to light a fire under these guy's asses and it won't be Tony Bennett or Perrantes. It just isn't their style.

Perrantes' career should not be remembered by this season. He has had an unbelievable career at UVa and deserves more respect than how the team is making him look this year. Unfortunately, short memories usually prevail and London won't be remembered for the greatness he has given Virginia fans over the past four years.

All it takes is to get hot in March. We know this Virginia team is capable of it. They started the year off on a great note, but are really struggling to find any kind of rhythm on offense in late January and February.

They have the ability and mental capability to make a run in March, but they need to find their old rhythm and do what Virginia does best. Take the whole shot clock, but penetrate rather than pass the ball around the perimeter for 20 seconds (like they've been doing), and play stifling pack line defense. There is still time for Tony Bennet to turn this ship around, but it better happen fast if they want to make any noise in March.

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Virginia Will Be a Team To Watch Again This Year

Embrace the pace, baby

Virginia was a top-10 team for most of last season before falling to Syracuse in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Deep runs into March have become the norm in Charlottesville, and this year should be no different.

The Wahoos lost Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill, but not to worry. London Perrantes is still around for his fourth year and his personality suggests he will embrace the leadership role of the team. He is a solid point guard bringing the ball up the court, dealing with pressure defense and passing the ball around, but he's an even better shooter.

If losing big man Anthony Gill makes you doubt these Cavaliers, Memphis transfer Austin Nichols has served his year off the court from transferring and is ready to make John Paul Jones Arena a block party every week. Seriously, Nichols averaged 3.4 blocks per game as a sophomore at Memphis.

Virginia has a lot of players that fly under the radar, due in part to Coach Bennett's style of play, which is all about the pack line defense. The pack line is all about putting pressure on the perimeter and forcing ball-handlers into double teams.

Some of these players include Mariol Shayok, Darius Thompson, Jack Salt, Devon Hall, Isaiah Wilkins, and Jared Reuter. These guys all put defense first, which is the mindset that is necessary to play for Coach Bennett. There are also five exciting freshmen coming in who will able to add value for the eighth ranked Wahoos.

Virginia basketball program was struggling before Bennett came to town from Washington State, where he had won a national coach of the year award. The Cavs were coached by Dave Leitao who was the opposite of Coach Bennett.

Leitao's strategy was to make the players feel terrible about themselves so they supposedly would work harder and he focused on offense and style points. Bennett makes the players feel like they have unlimited potential and tries to extract that potential from his players.

Bennett doesn't care if his squad scores 40 points as long as the opponent scored 30. Style points do not matter. He would prefer a guy to lay the ball up rather than dunk it and gloat about it. Shot clock violations are what get the Hoos and all the fans more pumped than anything else (though they still do dunk).

The ACC will once again be the top conference in the country with the consensus number one team in the Duke Blue Devils (no surprise there) and four top 10 teams including these Cavaliers. It will be stiff competition, but the Hoos have the coaches, leadership and supporting cast to go further than last year.