During his post-game conference after No. 2 Johns Hopkins’s 11-7 victory over No. 7 Syracuse Saturday, coach Dave Pietramala immediately cast the Blue Jays as underdogs for Saturday’s road contest against No. 1 Virginia, citing the program’s winless drought in Charlottesville, Va., that extends back to 1998.
That suggestion drew chuckles from Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia, who joked, “I don’t even know why they’re coming. What’s the point?”
Asked whether Pietramala’s comment was coachspeak, Starsia replied, “Absolutely. And it’s sort of the fun of college sports. You try to find different angles to motivate your team. Whatever I tell my team and Dave tells his team, you’re just trying to get the kids’ attention a little bit. But I don’t think we’re going to need a lot of that. We’re going to have these two teams ready to play Saturday. I’ve been very impressed watching Hopkins play. Sometimes I’m shocked because they’re so much bigger than we are. They’re very impressive, and they’re playing much faster than they have in recent years, I think. That’s very noticeable.”
Still, Pietramala’s point is that Johns Hopkins has not fared well in Charlottesville, where Virginia has won six consecutive meetings. But Starsia pointed out that in three of the four years in which the Cavaliers have captured national championships, they have dropped the regular-season game with the Blue Jays.
Starsia could only speculate as to why his teams have outperformed Johns Hopkins when the contests are in Charlottesville.
“Part of it is that it’s a game that we know that we’re going to take very seriously,” he said. “We respect them a great deal, so they’re going to get the full measure of our attention. So that’s probably part of it. At the same time, we’re going to have a similar conversation before our game against Duke, and you’re going to say to me, ‘Why haven’t you beaten Duke in quite a few games?’ Those to me are statistical anomalies as much as anything else. Interestingly, in the four national championships that we have won, we’ve lost this game three of those years. It’s still only March in 2012. It may just be that our styles work better on this date in March. I don’t know what the reasons are exactly. It’s almost like what we talked about before the Syracuse game where the result almost doesn’t really matter that much here. Who we are going to be a month from now or six weeks from now is going to be even more of an issue. What we find out about ourselves from Saturday is probably going to be the most valuable piece of information coming out of this.”