Worst Reality Check: The UVA men's basketball team's pleasantly surprising 8-1 start behind the play of freshman phenom Chris Singletary comes screeching to a halt when the nation's fourth-ranked team pays a visit to U-Hall, Sunday, January 2. The Cavs are unable to play a full 40 minutes of basketball, as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (12-1, 1-0 in the ACC) break open a close game in the second half and cruise to their seventh consecutive victory in an 89-70 rout. "We just pretty much stopped playing," Virginia's Jermaine Clark told the Daily Progress. "We didn't defend. We didn't rebound. We didn't execute on offense." The road will not get any easier for the Wahoos, as they have only faced the first match on an extended slate of vital conference games ahead.
Best sign of closure: Despite the most disappointing season (6-10) in Joe Gibb's coaching career, the Redskins close out the 2004 season on a high note with a 21-18 triumph over the playoff-bound Minnesota Vikings (8-8) Sunday, January 2. "I think the most important thing is that our guys went out and finished strong," Gibbs told The Washington Post at Fed Ex Field. I think they made a commitment there with nothing on the line but pride." With his comeback season complete, Gibbs now heads into the important six-month offseason campaign planning to work hard to return the Skins to the "glory days" he remembers so well.
Ugliest victory: It was only a matter of time before the young Washington Wizards would be forced to overcome adversity. In the midst of a two-game losing streak that included three losses in the past four games, the Wiz found themselves in a dead heat with one of the NBA's weakest franchises. Behind the home MCI Center crowd, Washington gutted out a 104-101 victory over a feisty Atlanta Hawks (5-24) squad. "With good basketball comes ugly basketball sometimes," the Wizard's Larry Hughes told the AP. "We definitely weren't in sync and weren't in rhythm, but we got it done in the end."
Most exhilarating week of hoops: After an uncharacteristically shaky 4-3 start, the UVA women's basketball team runs off its fifth consecutive victory Sunday, January 2. UVA rolled past South Carolina 66-49 at U-Hall just four nights after legendary head coach Debbie Ryan achieved the major milestone of earning her 600th victory. "There was a little bit of a letdown after Wednesday night," Ryan told The Daily Progress. "I think you expected that because it was such an emotional game." Despite Ryan's modesty, the Lady Cavs responded by dismantling the Gamecocks and confidently heading into conference play with a solid 9-3 record.
Happiest high school holidays: The Albemarle High School girl's and boy's basketball squads earn second and third place finishes in the eight team Daily Progress Holiday Classic tournament. The AHS boys (9-1) snapped their perfect season streak at eight games as they dropped their semifinal match to the undefeated Heritage Pioneers (10-0), The Pats quickly recovered the following day to defeat arch-rival Monticello 39-35 in the consolation third-place game.
The AHS girls (6-3) rose to the occasion reaching the final round only to fall in a hard fought battle ending in a 55-45 defeat to Spotswood. "We're already over the loss. The next goal is to win in the district," AHS center Shawna Terry said. "The tournament raised our confidence for the rest of season. It shows people how good we are."
The Week Ahead
Saturday, January 8 @ 7pm vs. Minnesota (16-12)
Wednesday, January 12 @ 7pm vs. Portland (14-15)
The Wiz welcome two fellow playoff contenders from the West.
UVA MEN VS. MIAMI (9-2)
Wednesday, January 12 @ 7pm
The Wahoos look to prove they are still a force to be reckoned with despite the recent embarrassment at home.