The start of the Virginia Basketball season is right around the corner, and we are counting down the days until the Hoos welcome Towson to John Paul Jones Arena on November 6. The season starts in 32 days, and before we look forward, let’s take a look back on some of the best and worst moments in 2017-18.
Truly, the 2017-18 Virginia Cavaliers basketball season was a magical ride that made believers of every Wahoo, as what appeared to be the best team in program history swept through the ACC and looked destined for a trip to San Antonio and its first Final Four in more than a generation.
Fate, as you doubtless know by now, had other intentions. Six days after beating the North Carolina Tar Heels to win their second ACC tournament title in five years, UVA was victim to the most ignominious loss in college basketball history as they lost to the UMBC Retrievers. Let’s look back at the journey that was and, indeed, could have been.
Ty Jerome’s three-pointer to clinch Virginia’s first road win over the Duke Blue Devils since 1995 belongs in Cavalier lore along with Sean Singletary’s fall-away against those same Blue Devils, Barry Parkhill’s pull-up against South Carolina, Ralph Sampson’s teardrop against Maryland, and another shot we’ll get to later on. Not just for the long distance he hit it from, not just because he drained it with Trevon Duval all up in his grill, and not even because of one Duke cheerleader’s hilarious reaction. It was the patently absurd ball-fake to nobody except the Cameron Crazies that caught Duval totally out of position. Not a bad way for UVA’s ever-poised point guard to secure the second-biggest regular season win of the Tony Bennett era.
As bitter of a pill to swallow as the UMBC game was due to the finality and the historical implications attached, there was something about the February 10 loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies that stung in a way that’s rare for a regular season loss. Certainly, the belief that a first No. 1 ranking in 35 years had been forfeited was killer — even if that didn’t ultimately come to pass. The overtime collapse on a national stage after holding a five-point lead with 39 seconds to go didn’t help matters, nor did a 4:42 stretch midway through the second half in which no team scored and the Hoos went 0-7 from the floor. And of course it was to that team after winning five straight against them in Charlottesville, and it robbed the fans of a chance to celebrate a milestone victory together. All that being said, this is certainly not the loss that people will remember this team for.
For some reason, I never did turn the TV off that March night as the seconds wound down against the Louisville Cardinals. I still don’t understand why.
Because even if Jerome made that three, they’re still down by two with six seconds left without the ball. And of course Louisville made both their free throws, this thing’s ov- wait why in God’s name would you foul him? Eh, it’s not like the odds of this are too gre- lane violation? Are you kidding me? Whatever, let’s just move on to Senior Night. We’re still in good shap- he couldn’t run the baseline? This should be fun. Oh no, that’s way to high of an arc-
OHHHHHHHH MYYYYYYYYY GODDDDDDDDD
Ladies and gentlemen, De’Andre Hunter.
You’re probably a little bit more over it than I am. As fun as this team was, and as great as they were from the jump, that’s what made that loss a bit more painful. Maybe if it had happened in 2014 when sweeping the league like they did was far more than anyone could have expected, or in 2016 when they had already lost a few times earlier in the season to teams like Georgia Tech and Florida State, it wouldn’t have hurt as badly. As it stands, it’s the sort of loss that defies description to this day. Although that game might have given us a glimpse into the “worst” that Virginia basketball has to offer, Bennett’s reaction showed us what makes this such a special program in all the right ways.