It was another impressive showing from the Hoos over the weekend beating Iowa and Providence to win the Emerald Coast Classic. The tournament win marks the fourth year in a row that the Hoos have won an early season get together. It wasn’t all roses though as Providence made Virginia sweat a little bit at the beginning of the second half pulling to within five. Virginia is 6-0, ranked sixth in both the AP and Coaches Polls, and second according to Ken Pomeroy. The road gets tougher though as the Cavaliers face two top programs this week. But for now, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and what to watch for...From the Rafters.
- London Perrantes - Well it only took five games, but that’s the London Perrantes we expected at the beginning of the season. Actually, though that this team hasn’t had to rely on Perrantes up until this point has been a good thing for the Hoos. With other players stepping up game after game, the preseason All-ACC selection hasn’t needed to carry the load. But in the Emerald Coast Classic, the fourth year guard averaged 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists over the two games. His play helped propel the Hoos to shoot 48% from beyond the arc, with Perrantes chipping in five of the team’s thirteen three pointers. When he is scoring, he opens up the floor for players like Darius Thompson, Marial Shayok, and Kyle Guy. And with the way those guys are playing, this team might be scary good offensively.
- Continued Dominance - While the competition still isn’t up to the standard that Virginia will face the rest of the season (all but three ACC teams have a better KenPom ranking than Virginia’s highest rated opponent to date, Providence), Virginia hasn’t even been challenged so far. In addition, they’ve gone up against their opposition’s strength and completely disregarded it. On Friday night, Iowa came in to the game having scored at least 83 points in every game. One night of playing against a suffocating defense and the Hawkeyes could only muster half that (41). Furthermore, their offensive efficiency on the night was 69.0 points per 60 minutes, while they average 109 for the year. Then against Providence, the Hoos went up against a very solid defensive team. On the season, the Friars defense had only given up over 83 points per 100 possessions once (they gave up 106 to Ohio State). Then against Virginia, the Hoos made them look silly surrendering 119 to the Cavaliers. Given the question marks coming into the year, it’s been quite impressive to watch this team work.
- Free throw shooting - While their season average is a solid 70%, the Hoos’ free throw shooting was less than stellar in Florida. Virginia shot a mere 55% from the free throw line with Jack Salt, Ty Jerome, Guy all going oh-fer. While the season is still early and Virginia has been dominant, poor free throw shooting will be costly as the competition improves. For a stretch against Providence, the Hoos were held scoreless. Luckily they were able to pull out of the funk and turn it around, but in the future, they’ll need to shoot better from the line if they want to put away games and overcome lulls in the offense.
What to watch for
- ACC/BIG Challenge - In what is the premier conference vs. conference showcase of the year, Virginia will take on Ohio State Wednesday in the ACC/BIG Challenge. The Buckeyes come into the contest 6-0, 21st in Kenpom. They are 14th in adjusted defense and can claim to be one of the four teams to hold a division one opponent under 40 points (Virginia has done it three times, all the rest only once). Expect a defensive slug fest. In last year’s game Virginia struggled with the Buckeye’s big forwards Marc Loving and Keita Bates-Diop. Loving is in the midst of a big year and is coming off a 20 point, 14 rebound effort against Marshall. Bates-Diop has missed the last three games due to an ankle injury, but was a game time decision in their last outing. Also keep an eye on Jae’Sean Tate. The junior scored 12 in last year’s matchup and is averaging 14 points per game so far this year. For the Hoos, look for Darius Thompson to stay hot. In last year’s meeting he got extensive minutes with Perrantes being out after having his appendix removed. As of writing no appendectomies have been reported.
- Press Virginia - If facing Ohio State wasn’t enough for one week, the Hoos get a visit from West Virginia (AP 25, Coaches 19) on Saturday to round out the weekend. The Mountaineers come into the week with a Kenpom ranking of 18, and where they kill teams in with their tenacious pressure defense. Last year’s Mountaineers were second in turnover percentage (forced) on defense and this year’s team has improved upon that and lead the nation. They’ll stress Virginia’s ball handlers all game long, but between Perrantes, Thompson, Devon Hall, Guy, and Jerome, the Hoos are well equipped to have success.
Ohio State visits John Paul Jones on Wednesday with a tip time of 9:15 P.M. The game will be televised on ESPN2. Then Saturday, Virginia hosts the Mountaineers in a 2 P.M. game on ESPNU. Stay with Streaking the Lawn all week and as always...Go Hoos!