ACC Commonwealth Running Diary: UVA @ Syracuse & BC @ VT


Sorry, I got distracted with a phone call that I’m actually still on but I have a remarkable brain that allows me to multi-task. You can’t get away with playing one good half (minus the first couple minutes) and expect to win games. The Hokies learned that early in the season but that didn’t stop them from making the same mistake tonight. BC made some great plays and nearly late, but it’s to be expected somewhat at this point for two teams mired in mediocrity. The Eagles are pretty capable when they get some balanced scoring and that’s finally happened the last two games. That’s certainly encouraging for Jim Christian.



Boston College hasn’t won back to back games since before Christmas, deep into their patsy pre-conference schedule. This is a disappointing loss for the Hokies considering what was on the line, a matchup against the beatable Jackets, and putting off losing 20 games for just one more game. They’ll likely open against Wake on Tuesday in round one of the ACC tournament in a 14 seed vs 11 seed matchup. BC will face GT. Can I say yuck? Am I allowed to do that?

Boston College wins 66-59. Hokies drop to 20 losses. BC could still lose 20 as well by losing their finale and then their ACC tournament game. So their game against Wake on Saturday has some slight additional meaning.

VT meanwhile remains the lowest ranked RPI of any P5 school: 223. Next worst? USC at 205.



After a 16-2 VT run cut the lead to 54-46, BC answers out of at TO and extends the lead back to 11 with 7:30 to play. I have a 64 of Olde English that I’ve been letting warm in a sunny area for a few days now that I intend to drink to celebrate a 2nd consecutive 20 loss campaign if things continue.



Adam Smith of the Hokies playing with passion. Leads the team with 11 though they trail 52-36 with just under 13 minutes to play. The Hokies are still permitting BC to shoot 57.6%, with 6-of-14 from 3 being extremely damaging. Hokies have also given up twice as many FTs as they’ve earned (10-5). There isn’t a facet of this game where they can claim dominance.



The announcer wasn’t wrong about Olivier Hanlan’s chances at the NBA.

Olivier Hanlan’s game translates to the next level like Troy Bell’s did though as presently constituted. He was lightning quick, great mid-range game, could hit from college three point range, but he didn’t have 25 foot range, and wound up bouncing around. I think Hanlan needs to focus on his PG skills. He can distribute the ball nicely. And if he doesn’t decide to confuse matters like Michigan’s Trey Burke did in Utah by being a gunner of a PG (without the requisite accuracy), he could lead a team with his PG skills alone.



I have Better Call Saul on the DVR. But I so want to go watch it now. Or Gotham. But here come the Hokies, cut the lead to 16. If these Hokies had had the services of CJ Barksdale, Joey Van Zegeren, and Ben Emelogu, they might have been a contender for an NIT bid. Playing 6’3 Malik Mueller at starting PF has been a complete joke, to no fault of Mueller, who has battled as well as he could be expected to.



I wonder if there’s even a halftime performer tonight? If there is, Tech would probably let them make an open 3-pointer. Easily the worst half of defense on the season and I doubt Buzz is being gentle at the halftime break. Boston College clearly has some confidence after thumping NC State at home and everyone is seeing a big basket. The worst part for Tech is Olivier Hanlan is just hanging around waiting to see if he needs to expend any significant effort. That was the most casual 11-point half you’ll ever see.



It just never fails. Tonight it’s Demitri Batten who averages 6.7 PPG and he already has ten. Suddenly, the Hokies have fallen completely apart turning the ball over and getting beat back in transition. They’ve allowed BC to go on two 11-0 runs which is just awful. To their credit, Boston College is making lots of shots early making 61.9% from the field. Not a lot of defense in this one early.



BC shooting 68% and will have to regress to the mean. Nobody able to contain Hanlan off the dribble yet for the Hokies. VT loses and they finish last for sure. They definitely don’t want to go out at home by 15 to the #14 team! I think that VT will come back and make a game of this just as they have in other games at home this year. But they go into the half down 41-28, with the Eagles finishing 63% from the field.



Dennis Clifford hits his 4th three of the year, and Dimitri Batten has two threes. Nobody but Hanlan and Aaron Brown has been scoring this whole year. Against the Hokies, everyone is filling it up. It’s uncanny. Hokies trail by seven, 33-26.



After a Buzz Williams TO, the Hokies went on a 9-0 run to claim the lead at 19-17. But Olivier Hanlan snaked in for a bucket. Much like TJ Warren last year, he can get a bucket pretty much whenever he wants to. Then a BC 3 and we have a 22-19 Eagle lead.



Yeah I don’t want the guys to push me around in the yard. Just to tie a bow on the UVA-Cuse game this tweet is pretty astounding.

The Hokies are getting worked on defense early which is going to make Buzz Williams lose his jacket sooner rather than later. Traditionally in Tech-BC games some obscure role player goes off for 20 points. We’ll see if that holds true in this one or if Oliver Hanlan somehow scores 50.



Texas mercifully beat Baylor on a runner and now we can see the final 32 minutes of BC/VT. BC leads early 17-10 on Hanlan’s six. The rest of the team has contributed as well with at least a basket each, and BC isn’t known for that. Adam Smith and now Bibbs have hit big 3s….BC 17-13 now.



Cates is doing Prison Pull-Ups, Boston College….Boston College…..



Between Gbinije and BJ Johnson, Syracuse is 2-15, and 1-9 of three. They are 3-17 from beyond the arc all night. Refusing to play patiently, like the successful Boeheim outfits do has doomed this team. They will be playing an NC State team that is facing a must-win situation on Saturday in Raleigh. Syracuse will also mark the very depressing end to a campaign that ends in self-imposed sanctions. They fight hasn’t been there tonight at home, so I find it easy to place Syracuse squarely at 9-9 and in the very middle of the middle class. They had an easy schedule in the league at that.

Tony Bennett might do that thing where he lets another team score 50 right at the buzzer, so the narrative doesn’t turn out like some Matt Christopher story.




It was a nice job to cut it to 10, but then the Orange essentially punted on four consecutive possessions. There was a small window to come back, but as the Hokies learned Saturday few teams excel at closing those windows quite like Virginia. They’re just ruthlessly efficient and I question anyone who claims they’ll lose early in the NCAA Tournament or that their style is somehow boring. Patience and success are far from snooze-inducing.



Rakeem Christmas, in the top 5 in the ACC in rebounding, not setting the tone as UVA has the 36-16 rebounding advantage in his game on Senior Night?! Just three total as Atkins has 8, and Gill just picked one up off the floor and finger rolled it in over him. Being the Mayor of Syracuse is a grinding job I’m sure, but his performance tonight has been muted to put things politely.

UVA 4 minutes away from earning a 2nd straight regular season crown.



Syracuse got pushed around tonight. Atkins kept Christmas off his favorite spots and Tobey was right there with the help. Roberson wasn’t a huge factor, and the UVA backcourt toyed with the ‘Cuse kids. Down 14 with just under 7 to play, and Atkins steps out and hits one to add insult, that was beyond his usual range. And now UVA after a 1-11 start from the field is 48% on the night. Cooney answers and draws a whistle and the Orange will press.



Perrantes looking more and more confident in his shot, as that was good from 24 feet behind a half-#$&$ ball screen. As he stretches the floor it leaves more room for Brogdon (still growing, will wind up being Richard Jefferson size as a pro) to work one on one. Same with the slithery Anderson, who is just us happy to wind up a windmill on your head as he is to lead the ACC in three point shooting (48.1%).

Kentucky/UVA is something I am clamoring to see at some point now, at some level of the tourney.
With 10 to play its UVA by 10 and the Cuse is pressing out of the timeout. Perrantes missed from 27, let’s reel it in a bit LP.



Perrantes with 8 assists (3 created jump balls with quick hands also), Atkins 8 boards. Brogdon and Gill with 10 and 9 to pace the scoring. UVA leads 42-31 at the under-12 TV TO.

The UVA rebounding advantage 28-14 outstrips their unusually poor turnover totals.



Could Mike Tobey be as good as Chris Mihm was and earn an NBA check?


UVA is on a 35-12 run now. Jim Boeheim won’t speak to his players durings TO….that’s what happens when you allow a team to shoot 16-of-21 in a comeback in your building. Where’s the D? UVA getting dunks, 3s, putbacks…they’ve just wanted it a bit more since they got down with the early turnover barrage.



While Chuck was heating up egg rolls I was on the treadmill trying to type on my iPad which was about as effective as trying to use a teletype machine. As poorly as UVA started the half, they still outplayed Syracuse.

The Orange have an unfortunate habit this season of playing at a high level for stretches and then undoing any progress with scoring droughts and turnovers. They’re letting things slip away early in the second half with what should be their strength, post defense and rebounding. Virginia has dominated the entire game with 60% on offensive rebounds to 18.8% and 81.2% on defense to just 40% for ‘Cuse.



Game snack choice: Frozen Pagoda Egg Rolls. Yes, I could and should aspire to more.


Here’s your chalk talk:


Easy points inside and a 3 point play by Gill have sparked UVA to a 21-20 lead with UVA holding for the final possession.

Perrantes converts, and the 27-1 Cavs who had 2 pts until a little over 6 minutes remaining come away with the halftime lead.

Time for some chalk talk.

–Chuck Workman


Virgina has been living dangerously for a while now, but tonight they look far more rattled than we’ve seen them. If Syracuse wasn’t so miserable on offense themselves this would be a 20-point game. I’d like to see better ball movement on the perimeter by the Hoos in effort to create some angles in the zone to attack. They’re settling for bad outside shots and playing right into Jim Boeheim’s hands.



Bad call on Tyler Roberson’s tip. The play was physical both ways. Cooney on a curl after a UVA make and we have 17-12 as London Perrantes buries a deep three. UVA is opening it up a little bit.

They’ve also extended the pack line out a a foot or two. And Cooney is on a heat check as he knocks down a 3. And we’ve gone from 11-2 to 20-14 in a blink. Mike Tobey has two big putbacks for UVA.



Bad, bad shot by Cooney from 22 with a hand in his cace and now a 3 from Nolte, who got them started the other night against Wake. UVA has 5 points with 5:43 to play. And Christmas just put Atkins on his back and scored with ease inside the restricted area. Syracuse by 10.



Lunardi being generous with that bracketology. NC St shouldn’t be a lock with that bad loss to BC last Saturday. They need to tread lightly and win some in the ACC tourney.

This league has the potential to have five 9-9 teams, and NC St would have the toughest SOS but likely the worst record (Syracuse wouldn’t qualify anyway)



UVA’s Devon Hall missed a pair of FTs. Christmas can push the lead to 11 with just over 8 to play by making his pair here. They tagged Mike Tobey (good call) and Rakeem misses his pair.

I’m sweating the technique.




UVA is on pace for 36 turnovers 10 minutes in. Trevor Cooney just got the Carrier Dome crowd hype with a big three and its 11-2 Orange with 9:30 to play.



To be the first back-to-back regular season champs since the David Thompson/Tom Burleson teams in 1973-1974 would be a stupendous accomplishment, considering the great teams the ACC has turned out in the meantime. Unbelievable game planning, role mastery, and discipline by this UVA club.



UvA still scoreless 8 minutes in, and turned it over 7 times. And now forces Syracuse into a shot clock violation of their own. This is a battle of attrition so far. Painful for both teams. Tyler Roberson’s 4 lead everyone at the 12 minute TV TO



6 UVA TO’s in 7 trips. Just 3 FG attempts, no points. They are confusing themselves with the spacing on the offensive end. ‘Cuse goes up 6-0, and T Bennett wants TO. As I alluded to earlier in the blog, Roberson having a big night is not something UVA has an answer for.



Christmas stands alone being in the top 5 in pts, rebounds, blocks. This game is sloppy so far, with lots of coveted deflections. 4 uncharacteristic TO’s by Cavs. Trailing 2-0 at the 16 minute mark though. Syracuse fighting for space to take bad shots, UVA D per usual.


The more I watch him, the more I talk myself into believing Darion Atkins could carve himself out an NBA job. He’s definitely guaranteed to score an overseas gig.



Dave Pasch and Tim Welch on the call. We’ll miss Debbie Antonelli tonight. Rakeem Christmas already honored prior to the game.



Game sim over at has this as 63-58, UVA.




We’ll be here all night keeping an eye on the action for you.

5:35 PM

The Wahoos looked fantastic over the past week, doubling up Wake on the road and handling VT with relative ease at the JPJ. The Hokies played Duke and UVA back to back and acquitted themselves well in spite of losing both games.

Tonight the Hokies host BC in a rematch of last year’s tilt at the Cassell when Adam Smith took an ill-advised shot too early in a possession where VT should have held for the last shot, and BC rode those two VT wins last year to a 4-14 finish. This year in order to duplicate that finish, BC will need to win tonight and win the finale this weekend against Wake. If BC were to lose both, they’d finish last in the conference, as well as lose 20 games, which they last accomplished in 2012, topping out at 22 losses.

VT is just one year removed from a 20 loss campaign themselves, and need only lose one more to regain that mantle. Whether it be tonight or against Miami this weekend in the finale. So, there are some serious questions of pride on the line.

The Hokie have rangy defenders, and perhaps one can slow down Olivier Hanlan, who is averaging 24.5 ppg and almost 4 assists per game in February alone. They broke down an NC St’s team chance at an NCAA bid this past weekend at home behind Hanlan’s 24/8.

In the UVA/Syracuse matchup I might bet the under. And might even bet on the first team to 50 winning. Syracuse played with a ton of heart against Notre Dame in what has become a nice little rivalry, and Trevor Cooney even hit some big shots. Will he have the patience tonight against The Pack Line of UVA or will he go 4-15 from three? Tyler Roberson needs to take advantage of Justin Anderson’s absence (hand) and see if he can slither through for buckets. And for once Mike Tobey won’t have an out-and-out size advantage, and needs to remain disciplined against Rakeem Christmas on his senior night. Ultimately though I think London Perrantes and Malcolm Brogdon control the Syracuse backcourt and the UVA interior frustrates Christmas. If Michael Gbinije or Tyler Roberson can be the X factor, UVA might have some difficulty.

I am predicting a victorious night for the Commonwealth, as UVA wins the regular season outright over Duke, and VT wrests the 14th spot (if you don’t have Syracuse 15th) from BC. Funny thing, this year BC had to cede their well-earned spot in the ACC/B1G challenge due to some language in the tourney by-laws that prevented any one team from being left out two years running. BC had to eat crow this year as an undeserving team took their spot. This year, it appears as though VT may have to repay the favor.

Gametime at 7, I shall return.

–Chuck Workman


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