Bad loses. Inconsistent. Injuries. Worse loses.
Heading into the Duke game this evening, it was hard to think a 19-8 team who was 4th in a major conference had much to worry about come NCAA selection day. But this is Virginia and whether it is the National Media, the pontificates at ESPN, or even the North Carolina blue bloods, Virginia still was searching for a signature win to hang their hat on. And, sadly, we all knew it.
The game against Duke started about how most saw it. Virginia opened up strong, then the Blue Devils battled back, but something seemed different. As John Paul Jones Arena was watching with much intent of a major swing in momentum, the Cavaliers held strong. Suffice to say, while the first 4 minutes were exciting to watch, the last 4 minutes of the half showed the resolve of this team that had carried this team all season.
Yet a 5-point halftime lead was nothing. It was nice, but in the grand scheme of things, it matter very little. The Hoos had to carry the intensity that was exhibited at the beginning of the game into the 2nd leg of the game. Again, Virginia executed. Even when Cook and Curry were raining down threes, the Cavaliers seemed to be pulling away. But time is a cruel master, and while every heart was racing throughout the Hoos in Hooville, the clock seemed to slow down. A 13-point lead was reduced to 7 in less than a minute. Yet, the Hoos seemed to do just enough to hold them at bay before the final 70 seconds.
The measure of Virginia fandom can be quantified in the last minute of a basketball game. Too many times have we had to endure leads dissipate into the vast coliseums and arenas, only to leave the questions of ‘what if’ rattling around in jaded minds. Tonight luckily was not that night. As the horn sounded, Virginia ended an 11 year drought against a Duke team that had thwarted UVa’s chances of taking that next step into basketball greatness.
While The Corner in Charlottesville will do its best Bourbon Street impressions tonight, the overall goal is not yet achieved. Virginia must turn around and head to Chesnutt Hill on Sunday to play a Boston College team that will be viewing UVa the same way we were viewing Duke tonight. Yet this team has a moxie that is four years in the making under Tony Bennett.
I see great things in this Virginia team, and with the proverbial pressure off of the Hoos, it will be time to show the ACC how well this team can play. Enjoy the win tonight and lets gear up for the home stretch.