Least lucky seven: The Washington Wizards' amazing seven-game win streak comes to a screeching halt following a monumental triumph over the NBA's best team. Washington ignited a capacity MCI Center crowd with a thrilling fourth quarter rally to knock off the Phoenix Suns, 108-103 Saturday, January 15. The victory did not come without its burdens however, as the Wiz lost one of their leading scorers in Larry Hughes, thanks to a broken thumb that will sideline him for the next 4-6 weeks. Then just 48 hours later, Washington (22-14) is dismantled by the San Antonio Spurs (31-9) on the road, 101-73. "We always said that Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes play so well together," Wizard's coach Eddie Jordan told the AP. "I don't know if Hughes' absence affected Gilbert. He didn't shoot the ball well, but I thought he tried to run the team right away."
Worst Devil sightings: Debbie Ryan's UVA women's basketball team's magic finally runs out as America's No. 1-rated Duke Blue Devils (16-1, 3-0) invaded Charlottesville Friday, January 14. The Wahoos (13-4, 3-1) could sense a major upset with just a two point deficit as the second half tipped off, but the Devils quickly trounced these dreams with a 14-3 run that extended the longest win streak in the nation (14 games) with an 87-65 victory. Despite the setback, UVA quickly rebounds with their own 21-4 second half push to throttle the Clemson Tigers (7-8, 1-2) 69-48 at U-Hall Sunday, January 16. "I just felt like we were still playing the Duke game for some reason. I just felt like we were still in that game," Debbie Ryan told The Daily Progress as her team sat deadlocked in a 28-28 halftime tie. We just talked (at halftime) about our energy level and made sure they understood that there wasn't going to be any excuses today. You have to get out there and play."
Best established district leaders: It's only mid-January, yet the local high school hoop's scene continues to heat up as every district game begins to take on major playoff proportions. Central Virginia's fifth-ranked Western Albemarle Warriors and fourth-ranked Albemarle Patriots each take control of their respected districts with key victories over the holiday weekend. In the clash of the two Jefferson District unbeatens, WAHS (9-5, 4-0), behind the loyal support of the "Crozet Crazies," shut down Central Virginia's top-ranked Fluvanna Flucos (12-2, 3-1) 57-46, Friday, January 14. The Patriots (13-2, 5-1) meanwhile won a tight road game at Brooke Point Friday night, and then returned home Saturday to defeat the Stafford Indians 53-40 and also climb into first place. "We're a third quarter team," AHS junior guard Price Thomas said.
Biggest baby step: Despite falling to 0-4 in ACC play, the struggling UVA men's basketball squad finally shows some life with a valiant effort against a powerful opponent in a hostile environment. The Cavs fall 80-66 in Durham against the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils, (13-0, 3-0) but walk out of Cameron Indoor Stadium with a slight boost of confidence. "We took some steps forward," coach Pete Gillen told the AP. "Now we need to play well and win."
The Week Ahead:
WIZARDS VS. TORONTO (16-23)
Friday, January 21 @ 7pm
Short-handed Wiz look to get back on track. Various tickets are still available.
UVA MEN'S BASKETBALL VS. CLEMSON (10-6, 1-3)
Saturday, January 22 @ 7:30pm
If there is a "must" game for UVA, it falls right here. Game is sold out.
UVA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL VS. DARTMOUTH (4-6, 1-0)
Sunday, January 23 @ 2pm
Never underestimate Ivy League basketball. Admission $6 Adult, $4 Youth.