Cure for the Xavier hangover – Duke
Story by Chris Graham
One oh eight to seventy. Not pretty.
And that’s the way Virginia readied itself for the beginning of the ACC season.
“Starting league play changes the complexion of everybody in this season – whether they’ve had a game in December or up until this point. Obviously next Sunday will be our first test, and no more difficult test than going on the road in this league, and especially going against one of the most respected and upper-tier teams in Duke. So obviously we have our work cut out for us,” Virginia coach Dave Leitao said yesterday in his weekly teleconference.
The memory of the Xavier debacle is still fresh in the Wahoos’ minds. The game wasn’t even as close as the blowout score might otherwise indicate – UVa. was not in the game from the opening minute, trailed by 31 at halftime and even lost ground in the second half.
And it’s not going to get any easier on the road at ninth-ranked Duke on Sunday night. Leitao sounds like he’s happy that he’s had extra time to get ready for the Dookies – the Cavs will not have played in nine days by the time they tip off this weekend in Durham.
“We have some time to prepare. We don’t play until then. So we’re just trying to make sure we spend enough time in the gym working on things that will continue to get us better, and also get prepared for what will obviously be a very difficult environment against a very, very good team,” Leitao said.
At 10-3 heading into the start of conference play, the ‘Hoos would seem to have their work cut out for them as far as getting into the NCAA Tournament is concerned – and given the high expectations heading into the season, on the heels of a tourney run in 2006-2007, well …
“The funny thing about all of this is that you could have the same exact team from one game to the next, never mind one year to the next, and have totally different results. So I don’t look at it like that. What happened two years ago is a distant memory. What happened last year is also a distant memory. And I think every coach would think of it in the same way.”
“This year we’re a totally different team with different personalities and different strengths and different weaknesses – so I don’t look at it in terms of that kind of carryover. You have to prove yourself each and every day you step on the floor,” Leitao said.
“The proof is always going to be on the floor – and that’s why you have to practice at a certain level. And when you’re into games, you know they’re going to be hard-fought, they’re going to be close, and they can go either way. So I don’t think that there would be any assumption that because you have done well last week or last year that you’re going to do well today or tomorrow,” Leitao said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.