STL Roundtable: Basketball Season Expectations

Lance King

As the season rapidly approaches, excitement is high surrounding Virginia Basketball.

It's about that time. The Virginia Cavaliers have broken into some pre-season Top-25 polls, so the STL staff discusses what they will consider a 'successful' season for the Wahoo basketball team. Leave your answers below, or let us know on Twitter using #STLMidnightMadness!

Brian Leung: So, I think to answer this question, we have to set a standard for what "success" means (Yes, I am a lawyer; deal with it.). If we're defining "success" as "Wow, do you remember that 2013 season? That was great," then that's one thing. If we're defining it as "Phew, we didn't embarrass ourselves," then that's another. Let's start with the latter: if we don't make the tournament, I will be disappointed in the season, and barring some epic string of injuries, I won't consider this a success. And by "epic string," I don't mean, say, just Joe Harris #Swoon getting injured. It'll take more than just one guy down to pull down this whole team (remember two years ago when we were down to 7 players and only 13 healthy hands? Like that.).


As to the former, I think in order to look back at this season and deem it a success, I'll need to see us in the Sweet Sixteen. I hesitated before I even said that because, well, we are Virginia fans, doomed to a life of disappointment. But really, with the talent level that we have on this team, there's no reason that, once we make the tournament, we can't make the Sweet Sixteen.

Paul Wiley: What I expect of this team: No embarrassing losses (looking at you, Navy, Liberty, Norfolk State and Virginia Tech games). Regular season ACC top four. ACC Tournament semifinals appearance. Sweet Sixteen appearance. That's right: I EXPECT this team to make the Sweet Sixteen. I will be disappointed if we don't.

What I think this team could be capable of: No embarrassments, plus a few big wins; home wins over Wisconsin and UNC-Chapel Hill, plus road wins at Duke and giving Maryland its well-deserved ACC good riddance. ACC regular season title. ACC Tournament finals appearance. Elite Eight appearance.

What I fear from this team: [redacted, as speaking may make it so]

Brian Schwartz: I don't want to get too specific here. At the end of the day, it'll be all about the cliche "overall body of work." What I think we would define as "success," is to compete for a spot atop the ACC (at the very least, we should get a top-4 bye), to break our streak of not playing on Saturday in the ACC Tournament, and to make at least the Sweet 16.

I don't think these are unreasonable goals. Heck, I don't even think these are unreasonable expectations. But, I do expect the unexpected more than anything else. We'll have some huge wins, we'll lose some games that we aren't supposed to, and we'll have a good shot at succeeding the crapshoot that is tournament play.

At the end of the day, I just can't wait to enjoy the ride.

Sully Sparks: For this season I hope to see us win a lot of games (obviously). Anything less than a top 4 finish in the ACC to me will be a disappointment. To me the team is too talented to finish any lower, and I would love to see us put ourselves on the "acc power" map. Marquee wins will be the most important, VCU/Duke/UNC come to mind. In addition to winning a few big time games, I hope we can avoid what I call the 'welp' moments against teams like Jmu/Vt/Davidson.

I think this team has sweet 16 potential if they get hot at the right time. The tourney is so dependent on match ups and who's hot at the moment. This team will go as far as Justin Anderson development has. We know Joe can ball, if Justin is a consistent second option like he was towards the end of last year, this team has potential.

Paul 'Tiki' Guttman: Expectations for this team are so high. Too high probably. Yes, we have a deep, talented team. But we're also playing in a new ACC, one that is better and deeper than any conference ever. 12-6 in the conference would be an amazing record. We've made the tourney three times in this millennium. To me, a successful season is making the tourney. Anything else is gravy. I'm afraid that a first round tourney loss will be a disappointment to many fans.

Now, if the team stays (relatively) healthy and we get a couple of good matchups in the NCAAs, we could make a run to the sweet 16 or even Elite 8. If that happens, I'll be elated. I'll also be surprised.

Matt Trogdon: In my opinion, until Virginia makes it to the NCAA tournament with any regularity, a trip to the NCAA tournament should be considered the definition of a successful year. That said, the team has so much potential for a special season this year, it might be time to be a bit greedy and ask for more.

For me, I'd like to see two notorious streaks end. First, I want Virginia to make it to the semifinals of the ACC tournament. Nothing aggravates me more than that bugaboo. Virginia has lost ACC quarterfinal games in every way imaginable since 1995. That needs to stop, if only for the sake of sanity.

Second, I want to see Virginia make it to the Sweet Sixteen. About 5 years ago, when things were really bad with the program, I created an excel file named "UVA Basketball Despair." It lists all of the teams that have been to a Sweet Sixteen since Virginia's last appearance. That list now stands at 97 teams and includes schools like Florida Gulf Coast, Valparaiso, Kent State, UT-Chattanooga, and more. I want to erase that list badly, and I think this is the team to allows me to do it.

Caroline Darney: Having expectations is petrifying. Seriously. I've been cautiously optimistic before, but this is a whole new ball game. I LOVE this team. I am so excited to get this season underway that I am legitimately scared. We have all the pieces for this to be an amazing season, from the great coach (I mean, he is the George Clooney of NCAA coaches!) to the balance of youth and experience to the enthusiasm and support of both the community and student body.

Oh, and maybe you've heard of Joe Harris (#swoon).

I will consider the first step to success beating VCU. I by no means will write the team off if they lose to a strong Rams squad, but oh my gosh I want to beat Shaka Smart so badly. The new ACC obviously complicates things, but as I think about all the weapons we have, I get super excited.

I want to compete for the ACC title, make it past Saturday in the ACC Tourney, and I think we can feasibly get to the Sweet Sixteen.

Wow. That's scary.

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