On Columbus Day, we're just 32 days remaining until tip-off. And 32 means it's London Perrantes time. So let's take a closer look at the Hoos PG.
That's usually the first word that comes to mind when people describe London Perrantes. Especially when those people are basketball coaches or analysts. He looks smooth. Hailing from Los Angeles, he's got that "Cali-swag" going on.
It is funny how Perrantes is sometimes seen as the straw that stirs the Hoos' drink. After all, for a team that is known for great defense, Perrantes is an average defender. Wahoo fans know that Malcolm Brogdon usually covers the opponents' top perimeter threat. Marial Shayok was also given that job at times last year. Perrantes is plenty quick, that's not the problem. But he doesn't have the length that both Brogdon and Shayok present, which gives them an advantage.
But on the offensive side of the ball, Perrantes might be the Hoos most important player, especially this year. Last year, generally speaking, the Hoos offense went as Perrantes went. When London played well, the Hoos offense was potent and efficient. When he didn't, the Hoos offense struggled.
On the season, Perrantes had a 148/49 assist-to-turnover ratio, nearly 3 to 1. However, in the Hoos 4 losses, that dropped to 15/9, barely half of this overall season line. And while London did not shoot the ball particularly well all season long (31% on threes), his numbers again dropped in the Hoos losses (23% on threes).
Of course, the Hoos 4 losses were all to very good teams (Duke, Louisville, UNC and Michigan State). So, it may not be surprising that Perrantes struggled in those games. But, in some of the Hoos best wins (UNC, Louisville, Notre Dame, Maryland and VCU), Perrantes had a 31/6 assist to turnover ratio. He still did not shoot the ball well (just 18%) in those contests.
Perrantes' shooting was a problem last year. Outside of a few games here and there (most notably, the Hoos' double overtime win @Miami), he simply could not get into a rhythm shooting the ball. Shooting 31% from downtown isn't THAT bad, but he shot 43% from outside as a freshman in 2014, on a similar number of attempts. His free throw shooting also dropped from 86% as a freshman to 78% last year.
On a bright note, his shooting on 2 pointers actually went up significantly (39% versus 31%). Of course, 39% on 2s is still pretty bad, but at least there's improvement. As much as anything else, this was due to Perrantes being stronger. His quickness and ballhandling allow him to get to the rim almost at will. But his finishing is poor. And because he's such a good passer, teams are often staying with their man, as the attempt from in close is preferable to a dunk for Anthony Gill or another UVA big man.
Tony Bennett has repeatedly said that Perrantes shoots the ball well in practice. And based on his freshman season, we know he can shoot the ball. One wonders if Perrantes spent too much time prior to his sophomore season working on getting stronger and being able to finish inside. And perhaps that affected his outside shot.
Perrantes' shooting this year is going to be one of the keys to the Hoos season. Perrantes steadiness running the point and his distributing are not in question. But the Hoos are going to need all 5 guys on the floor to contribute to the scoring load. If he gets his 3 point shooting back into the 40% range, the Hoos are going to be deadly. And if he can continue to improve his finishing at the rim, he'll find more open passes.
Here's highlights from London's big game in Miami.