Last season in 2019, I was the first person to admit that I was completely wrong about the Virginia Cavaliers. Even though I had always believed that Tony Bennett was a fantastic head coach, I just could not fathom the idea that he would win a championship with his system. Especially after being the first ever number one seed to lose to a sixteen seed the year prior. It was a loss that was so historic and monumental — one that I did not think a team would recover from. I remember all of the jokes and the mockery on social media that lasted for months. The Cavaliers were not only a laughing stock, but also were a proverbial punching bag for fans across the country.
Sure enough, that only fueled the fire for what happened the following year. Virginia proved all of the doubters wrong and became the National Champions. What a statement that was! Kudos to that squad for coming back and shutting everyone up. I didn’t think they would be able to score enough points to accomplish it, but they did. I have since vowed to myself that I would never again claim that Bennett’s system is built for failure in this day and age. If it happened once, it could happen again. That being said, I think I speak for most hardcore college basketball fans when I say this: I really, really, hope they don’t win again.
The Cavaliers have certainly earned my respect, but the hatred has never went away. It’s not a hatred of the university, the fans, the players, or the coach. For example, while Malcolm Brogdon attended UVA, I thought he was one of the best players in the country. Hell of a player in the NBA too. What it boils down to is that I cannot stand the way they play the game. Even when they were more than competent on offense last year, I still loathed watching them. Watching Virginia play is like watching “The Blair Witch Project.” You’re intrigued until you realize nothing is going on. You’re waiting for the exciting, heart racing moment to be revealed, but it never happens. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate the fundamentals. They set stone wall screens, shoot mid range shots, and their pack line defense is always among the best. Those are some things that are somewhat of a lost art in today’s game. That is where the problem lies, though. Virginia sets basketball back fifty years. The defense is so elite but the offense is usually so horrendous that almost every single game is a struggle. It’s like watching a tug of war between two people that are asleep. It’s that damn snail paced offense that kills me. If they played faster even by the smallest of margins, it wouldn’t be such a train wreck. You might still miss a thousand shots, but at least you weren’t holding the ball until the shot clock expires. If I was a UVA fan I would despise it too! They have to see it every single week! I have nothing but admiration for the season ticket holders, you each have the patience of a God.
After losing their three stars in Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, and De’Andre Hunter, I was interested to see how they would fare this time around. It turns out that UVA has regressed substantially this season. Newsflash: Those three players I just mentioned were very, very good. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to replace them, but I didn’t think they would be as bad as they are. We are already halfway through this year and right now Virginia’s record is a mediocre, 12-6 overall. They have no wins against any teams currently in the Top 25 and already have three losses at home. As expected, they still are a top notch defensive team as they rank number one in scoring defense. They allow just under fifty points a game. Their problem this year is that they cannot score. They are one of the worst in the country, scoring a dreadful 55.5 points a game. Let me tell ya, It’s unbearable to sit and watch more than ever before. If you do decide to do just that, I suggest you have someone there to watch it with you. It might help ease the pain by sharing your misery with another.
Now some of you might say, “Well, how about you just stop watching them?” Believe me, I don’t go out of my way in doing so. However, I try to watch as many games as possible; being a basketball junkie will do that to you. If I don’t watch, how am I supposed to know how good they are when I fill out my bracket in March? The eye test are as important as the stats and record in my book. Is it worth the torture? Probably not, but then again, that’s what you get with following sports anyway. In conclusion, I just want to reiterate my sentiments here. I don’t hate Virginia, I just hate the system. I think that’s fair. Even some of your most loyal fans would agree with me. If it works, it works and it definitely has for them over the past few years. So I can see why they probably don’t care as much — they’ve got their title. That being said, that’s not the point here. The point here is that we all just need to be honest with ourselves and admit that none of us enjoy watching them. Even the media folks who praise them on a daily basis should just come out and say it. No one will judge you. One of my many desires in sports is for Virginia basketball to be irrelevant again so we can all move forward. Until then I will keep watching this paint dry. By the way, I actually do like “The Blair Witch Project.” It was the best analogy I could come up with.