Sports: Thursday, January 14, 2021

Cavaliers Roll Past Irish, Caps Open Against Sabres, 3 NBA Games PPD

In college hoop, number 18 Virginia stormed to a 12-point halftime lead and cruised to an 80-68 win over Notre Dame yesterday. Forward Jay Huff led 5 UVA scorers with 18 points as the Cavaliers improved to 9-2 on the season.

Meanwhile, WVU has paused basketball activities due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the program. The Mountaineers’ games with TCU on Saturday and Oklahoma State on Tuesday have been postponed, with no makeup dates announced.

The NHL season opened last night with 4 games. The Washington Capitals open their 2021 campaign tonight against the Buffalo Sabres with a new head coach, Peter Laviolette. The Caps are the 5-time defending Metro Division champs, but were ousted in the first round of the playoffs last year by the New York Islanders. Face off tonight is at 7, on The River 95-3 and CBS Sports Radio 1450.

And 3 NBA games were postponed last night due to coronavirus issues, including the Washington Wizards’ game with Utah. That brings the total number of games postponed across the league this week to eight.

Sports: Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Hokies Take Down Duke, Cavs Host Irish Tonight, NHL Season Gets Underway

Virginia Tech rolled to a 46-34 halftime lead on the way to a 74-67 ACC win over Duke last night. Jeremy Roach had 22 for the number-20 Hokies, while Matthew Hurt added 20 points and pulled down 20 rebounds. With the win, Tech improves to 10-2 overall, and 4-1 in the league.

On the hardwoods today, 18th-ranked Virginia hosts Notre Dame at 4:30.

The NHL season gets underway today, and with the pandemic still raging, the league announced that 27 players have tested positive, 17 of them on the Dallas Stars. Each team will play a reduced 56-game schedule, with the NHL realigning teams to have an all-Canadian division to avoid border-crossing problems. The Washington Capitals open play tomorrow night at 7 against the Buffalo Sabres on The River 95-3 and CBS Sports Radio 1450.

And, the chairman of Augusta National said yesterday that there will be a limited number of spectators allowed for the Masters, as long as it can be done safely amid the pandemic. The Masters, which was postponed until the Fall last year, is scheduled for April.

A Beginning

SU field oversight
SU field oversight
Winchester Printers

Greetings from The Booth!

Well, almost.

It was “one and done” for The Washington Football Team on Super Wild Card Weekend, as the burgundy and gold lost to the ageless Tom Brady and the Bucs , as expected, 31-23. But the 7-9 WFT didn’t go down without a fight, and earned the respect of Tampa and a lot of the NFL who thought they didn’t earn a seat at the post-season table.

(At this point, I need to veer off-track with a few random thoughts. Why is the much-heralded Washington front four nicknamed “Maroon-4”? I get the reference to the musical group, but maroon isn’t one of the team colors. I’m reminded of former Redskins coach Jim Zorn, who in his opening press conference upon being hired, asked for “3 cheers for the old maroon and black.”

And, did you see the comparison-photos of 43 year-old Brady and 43 year-old George Blanda from back in the day? Blanda looked 70, while Brady looked 25. I’m pretty sure the reason is that in the late 60s, Blanda had no access to dieticians, massage therapists, and yoga pants. But the difference was striking.)

Anyway, on Saturday night, the WFT acquitted itself nicely, thanks to the efforts of instant folk hero Taylor Heinicke, who in his first start as Washington QB, almost single handedly willed his team to victory. The former ODU signal caller even came back out of the locker room late in the game after a shoulder injury, and in a “Willis Reed” moment, got the WFT within a TD at 28-23.

As disappointing as the loss was, it felt like more of a beginning than an end. In the last 20-plus years of the Dan Snyder regime, the playoff appearances have been few and far between, the post-season wins even more rare. And the playoff exits always felt like the end, rather than something to build on the following year. Even “Joe Gibbs 2.0″seemed like like a magic act performed with smoke and mirrors.

Saturday night’s loss felt different. Much has been written about the exciting young defensive line, led by rookie captain Chase Young. But there are some exciting young stars on the offensive side of the ball, and while this year might be the final chapter of the feel-good story of Alex Smith, and the end of Ryan Kerrigan’s time in DC, there is a lot to be hopeful about in 2021.

In a tumultuous year for the organization on many fronts, head coach Ron Rivera navigated his team through the rough waters of 2020 to a division title and playoff appearance, despite his own personal challenges. For that, he should at least be considered for Coach Of The Year honors.

We all know too well that ownership could mess things up without even trying, but Saturday night felt like the start of something big.

Until the next visit, so long from The Booth. GO WFT, GO HORNETS!

RW

Sports: Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Tide Rolls To CFP Title, WVU-Baylor Canceled, Hokies Host Blue Devils Tonight

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones threw for 464 yards and 5 touchdowns as the Crimson Tide rolled over Ohio State 52-24 to win the College Football Playoff Championship last night in Miami. Bama broke open a tight game with a 28-point second quarter, effectively ending the game by halftime. Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith hauled in 12 passes for 215 yards, as the Tide captured it’s 18th national championship.

In the latest AP College Basketball Poll, Virginia comes in at number 18, while Virginia Tech is number 20 this week. Despite losing 2 of it’s last 3, WVU moves up a spot to number 13. Gonzaga remains the number one team in the country.

On the docket tonight, the Hokies host number-19 Duke at 7, while the Mountaineers’ contest at number-2 Baylor has been canceled due to coronavirus issues on the WVU squad.

And, Bradley Beal poured in 34, as the Washington Wizards beat the Phoenix Suns, 128-107.

Sports: Monday, January 11, 2021

Wild Card Results, CFP Championship Tonight, Hokies Down Irish

In yesterdays NFL Wild Card games, Lamar Jackson passed for 179 yards and rushed for 136 as the Baltimore Ravens beat the Tennessee Titans 20-13. The Ravens defense held Titans RB Derrick Henry to just 40 yards on 18 carries as they advanced to next weekend’s Divisional Round.

The New Orleans Saints pulled away from the Chicago Bears to win easily 21-9. Drew Brees threw for 265 yards and 2 scores to lead the 13-4 Saints.

And in the nightcap, the Cleveland Browns raced to a 28-0 first quarter lead and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37. The Browns took advantage of 4 Ben Roethlisberger interceptions in winning their first playoff game since 1995.

The NFL Divisional Round games are now set. In the NFC, the Rams will travel to Green Bay, while Tampa Bay takes on New Orleans. In the AFC, the Browns head to Kansas City, while the Ravens travel to Buffalo.

The college football season ends tonight with the CFP National Championship Game. Number-1 Alabama takes on number-3 Ohio State. Kickoff is set for 8pm in Miami.

To college basketball, where Virginia Tech improved to 10-2 with a 77-63 win over Notre Dame. The Hokies erased a 7-point Irish halftime lead and outscored Notre Dame 42-21 after the break.

And, Harris English won the PGA’s Sentry Tournament Of Champions in Hawaii, defeating Joaquin Niemann in a playoff.

Sports: Friday, January 8, 2021

Super Wild Card Weekend Sked, College Hoop Slate, PGA Tour Underway

It’s Super Wild Card Weekend in the NFL, with 6 games on tap this weekend. Tomorrow’s games include the Washington Football Team hosting Tom Brady and Tampa Bay at 8:15. The day starts at 1:05 with an AFC matchup between Indy and Buffalo, and at 4:40 Seattle Takes on the LA Rams.

Sunday’s games feature the Ravens against the Titans at 1:05. At 4:40 Chicago plays at New Orleans. And Wild Card Weekend concludes Sunday night with the Steelers hosting the Browns at 8:15.

In college basketball, number-22 Virginia plays at Boston College tomorrow at 2. 19th ranked Virginia Tech heads to Wake Forest for a 6pm Sunday tip. And 14th ranked WVU will be tested when they host number-4 Texas tomorrow at 1.

And, the Harris English and defending champ Justin Thomas share the lead after one round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course in Hawaii. Both shot 8-under 65’s.

Sports: Thursday, January 7, 2021

Cavs Hold Off Wake, Hokies Fall At Louisville, Beal Scores 60 In Wiz Loss

In college basketball, number-22 Virginia outlasted Wake Forest last night in an ACC matchup, 70-61. A stifling Cavalier defense held the Demon Deacons to just 22 second-half points as UVA overcame a 5-point halftime deficit. Forward Sam Hauser led a balanced Virginia attack with 16. The Cavs improved to 6-2 with the win.

Meanwhile, 19th ranked Virginia Tech was nipped by Louisville 73-71. The Hokies raced to an 11-0 lead before the Cardinals climbed back for the eventual win. Jalen Cone poured in 23 for Tech, who fell to 8-2 on the season.

Bradley Beal’s 60 points were not enough, as the Washington Wizards lost a wild game to the Philadelphia 76ers, 141-136. The 60 points by Beal tied a franchise record, set by Gibert Arenas in 2006. Russell Westbrook added 20 for Washington, who fell to 2-6.

And, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has declared for the NFL Draft. The 21 year-old junior is expected to be taken by Jacksonville.

Hail To The WFT!

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SU field oversight
Winchester Printers

Greetings from The Booth!

Welcome to 2021, hopefully a year that brings an end to the pandemic, and a return to all things “normal,” like concerts, fairs, movies, and fans at sporting events. Before we move on to this week’s topic, many thanks to all of you who told us how much you enjoyed our “This Week In Shenandoah University Football” segments over the past several months. It was great to re-live some great memories from the last 20 years in “The Booth.”

For the first time since 2015, the Washington Football Team is headed to the NFL playoffs following Sunday’s 20-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. At 7-9, the WFT is only the third team with a losing record to make the postseason in a non-strike year. After a 2-7 start, Washington finished 5-2 to get into the playoffs as the NFC East champions. Much has been written about the feel-good stories of both Coach Ron Rivera, who battled cancer during the season, and QB Alex Smith, who should easily win the NFL Comeback Player Of The Year award.

Those two things, combined with the name change of the team, the negative publicity surrounding Dan Snyder and the culture within the organization, and the continuing drama of Dwayne Haskins, made for a season that was “so 2020,” as the saying now goes. It was only fitting that the WFT won the division almost by default.

Which brings me to this past Sunday night. In a game that the Eagles basically handed to Washington, the burgundy-and-gold on several occasions tried to give it back, before finally securing the victory. Philly coach Doug Pederson made several questionable decisions, including giving up what would have been a tying chip-shot field goal late in the game, instead going for the TD on fourth-and-goal (which failed). The most questionable move (just ask Giants fans) was replacing future franchise quarterback Jalen Hurts with backup Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter, which also backfired.

Many have accused Pederson of “tanking” the game to improve the team’s position in the draft, and one could make that case based on “the eye test.” This was not a good look for the NFL, which flexed the game to prime time, only to see two teams playing hot potato. Surely there will be more discussion about the “integrity of the game” in the weeks to come.

To the Giants (and their livid fan base), who needed an Eagles win to secure the division title, you should have taken care of business with a few more wins during the season. When you rely on help from other teams in a playoff scenario, you seldom get it. Washington fans have been there. If a 7-9 record isn’t playoff worthy to some, 6-10 shouldn’t even get a sniff of the postseason.

Someone had to win the “NFC Least,” and this year it’s the Washington Football Team, who now have to prepare for the GOAT Tom Brady, and the Bucs. The WFT is going to be looked down upon, much like the poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks who somehow crashes the country club soiree. In the words of Judge Smails, played by the great Ted Knight in the movie Caddyshack, “some people just do not belong.”

But don’t forget, this is the 2020 season, and Washington is playing with house money.

Until next time from The Booth, HTTWFT! and GO HORNETS!

RW

Sports: Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Smith Wins Heisman, Manning Leads HOF Finalists, Rivera May Rotate QB’s

Alabama’s Devonta Smith outdistanced Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence to win the Heisman Trophy last night in a virtual ceremony. Smith is the first wide receiver to win the coveted award since 1991. The other finalists were Smith’s teammate Mac Jones, and Florida QB Kyle Trask.

Peyton Manning leads the list of finalists for this year’s Pro Football Hall Of Fame class. Other finalists include defensive back Charles Woodson, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and defensive end Jared Allen. As many as five of the finalists will be chosen later this month for enshrinement.

Ahead of Saturday’s playoff game with Tampa Bay, Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera said yesterday he is considering rotating quarterbacks Alex Smith and Taylor Heinicke in Wild Card contest. Smith led Washington to Sunday night’s win over the Eagles, and was 5-1 as a starter this year, but is still favoring a calf injury suffered several weeks ago. The game is scheduled for 8:15 at Fed-Ex Field.

And, in college hoop tonight, number-22 Virginia hosts Wake Forest tonight at 9, while number-19 Virginia Tech travels to Louisville for a 6:30 tip-off.

Sports: Tuesday, January 5, 2021

WVU Stuns Ok State, Black Monday In The NFL, NCAA Tourney News

Down by 10 at the half, and by 19 with 11 minutes to go, number-14 West Virginia staged an epic comeback, as they defeated Oklahoma State 87-84 in Stillwater. For the second game in a row, the Mountaineers posted a 50-plus point second half, as they improved to 9-3 overall, and 2-2 in the Big 12. Derek Culver led the way with 22 points and 19 boards for West Virginia, which fell 6 spots in the AP poll earlier in the day.

In the latest college hoop poll, Gonzaga remains the number one team in the country, while Virginia Tech climbed to number 19. Virginia comes in at number-22.

Meanwhile, the NCAA announced yesterday that all March Madness Division I tournament games will be held in Indiana. The 67 games will take place at venues either in or around Indianapolis, which was already scheduled to host the Final Four. An announcement about the women’s tournament is expected soon.

And, it was “Black Monday” in the NFL yesterday, with the firing of a number of head coaches, including Doug Marrone of Jacksonville, and the Chargers’ Anthony Lynn. The New York Jets dismissed Adam Gase after 2 seasons.