With the out-of-conference season over and one big ACC game in the books, Virginia is 10-4. Despite some highs and lows for fans, the team is in pretty good shape if you must extrapolate forward toward March. However, there are plenty of areas for improvement, and some puzzling drop-offs from last year's performance. Here are some tidbids that could better illustrate what's working and what isn't working for the Hoos this season: (All stats are current as of games of January 5th, and culled mostly from KenPom.com and hoop-math.com, both fantastic resources).
UVA is currently #32 in KenPom (and #35 in RPI and #41 in ESPN's BPI). UVA ranks #5 in defense, but #145 in offense. The only team in Ken Pomeroy's top 50 with a less efficient offense is Florida State (and there are only 11 total teams in the top 100 with worse offenses).
The Hoos have allowed .895 PPP this season. However, in 5 games away from JPJ, the team has allowed 1.055 PPP.
The combined record of the four opponents who defeated the Hoos is 47-10.
Before the season, fans wondered whether the talent on the team would lead to a desire to play faster. This doesn't appear to be the case, as the Hoos are 340th (12th slowest) in adjusted tempo. That said, the average length of an offensive possession has decreased from 20 seconds to 18.7 seconds. In the ACC, NC State, Clemson, Miami, and BC all play slower on offense. It's opponents that are taking so long to shoot (19.4 seconds, 8th slowest in the nation). It would be great if UVA's foes stopped playing such a boring brand of basketball!
Our avg. poss. just 1.1 seconds longer than nat’l avg. Apparently 1.1 seconds is all it takes for basketball to go from exciting to boring.
The well-chronicled struggles of Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell are NOT close to being of equal magnitude. Joe Harris's ORtg (roughly points produced per 100 possessions) is static at 111 from last year, as he has been a tad less effective from three-point range, while making significantly more twos (though he has been plagued with turnover issues). Overall, his eFG% has increased from 56.2% to 57.8%. The one thing that has declined significantly is his usage rate - from 26.3% to 20.8%.
Akil Mitchell, on the other hand, has regressed significantly, with his ORtg dropping from 111 to 91 (his shooting percentage as dropped by 10%, with his FT% falling more than 20% from last year).
Mitchell isn't the only big man who is struggling. When he is in the game, Mike Tobey uses more possessions than any other player on the team, 24.9%. However, he hasn't been efficient in doing so, with an ORtg of 98.5. Last season, he used 25.9% of possessions with an ORtg of 109.1.
While we talking about on offensive rating, the team's leader to date is Evan Nolte at 112.4. He also finished off last year leading the team. (Only being in the game to take open threes, while rarely handling the ball to have a chance to turn it over, is skewing this). Anthony Gill is second at 111.5, with Harris on his tail for third at 111.0.
The team's shooting percentage "at the rim" is 55.7%, over 5% lower than the league average. Mike Tobey (51.6%) and Malcolm Brogdon (48.6%) need to finish better.
Actually, UVA is 16th in the nation in fewest free-throws allowed per field goal attempt.
Last season, the Hoos made 70.6% of free-throws, a touch over the league average. A 38% free-throw shooter graduated, and two players who combined to shoot 16 free-throws on the season transferred. The team added three players who shoot 90%, 84%, and 64% from the line. And the team's free-throw shooting percentage has dropped to 64.4%, 309th in the NCAA.
That 90% shooter is Brogdon, who is 34 for 38. Perrantes is at 84%, and Nolte at 80%. No other player on the team has shot over 70% from the line this season. Akil Mitchell's 45% rate is particularly painful, as he's shot 57 on the season, by far the most on the team.
Trivia question of the week (No peeking!): Who has played the most minutes for UVA this season?
Let me know about any other statistical quirks down in the comments.
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