It doesn’t get much easier in the ACC than a trip to Boston College and a home game against Georgia Tech. However, as many teams have found, beating those teams is easier said than done. Virginia took care of business this week beating Boston College 62-49 and defeating Georgia Tech 71-54. The rest period is over however, as the teeth of the schedule comes this week. First the Hoos head to Notre Dame, one of the 6-1 in the ACC, and then they get a date with defending National Champion Villanova on Saturday. But before then, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and what to watch for...From the Rafters.
- Perrantes makes history - Last year about this time, Malcolm Brogdon established a permanent spot in the good section of from the rafters. Now it’s Perrantes’ turn. The senior point guard continues to impress and make his mark as a legend in this program. On Saturday he became just the fourth player in Virginia history to score 1,000 points and notch 500 assists joining John Crotty, Donald Hand, and Sean Singletary. It’s just an official recognition of the impact he’s had on the program. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite Cavaliers, not only for his play, but the way he carries himself on the court. Coming into the year, I questioned whether he’d be able to handle being the focal point of the team and he’s answered that and more. At one point in Saturday’s game, he took a three from almost half court. I didn’t bat an eye. I wasn’t mad. In fact, I was surprised it didn’t go in. He’s been that good.
- Salt makes his presence felt - Jack Salt is never going to light up the stat sheet like Mike Tobey would. But what Salt can do is make his presence felt (literally) and shut down an opposing team’s best front court scorer. And that is exactly what Salt did Saturday. Georgia Tech’s Ben Lammers came into the game averaging 14.9 points per game and Salt held him to just seven. Salt’s 35 minutes were almost double his playing time since early December. Not only did he stand out on the defensive end, he contributed five points, six rebounds, one steal, and one block. However, what was most encouraging was that the Cavaliers actually looked to get him involved at the offensive end. He had some missed opportunities, but in the end it was a great performance and one the Hoos will need going forward.
- Second scorers emerging - When you look at the UVA page on ESPN.com, it’s still a little frustrating that after Perrantes, the Hoos’ second leading scorer is Austin Nichols. Obviously, it’s a small sample size, but still somewhat disconcerting as not a single other Cavalier averages in double digits. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t guys other than Perrantes who can score the ball. Since entering the starting lineup, Marial Shayok has been on fire. He continued his scorched ways by dropping 19 on Saturday. What stood out most was the variety in which he was able to put the ball in the basket. He put the ball on the floor and got to the hoop. He hit two of his patented mid-range jumpers. And he even went 2-for-5 from three, confirming that teams have to guard him everywhere on the court. After Shayok, Devon Hall continues his emergence scoring in double figures each of the last two games and upping his season average to 7.9 ppg. Finally, Isaiah Wilkins had himself a game when the Hoos took down Boston College. His 11 points were the most by a Virginia forward since Mamadi Diakite put up 12 points back on December 6th. It was the type of performance many of us have been looking for all season and a good omen for the season to come.
- Guy has gone cold? - After seeming to come into his own as a go-to scorer right around the Christmas, Guy has cooled off a bit as ACC has heated up. This is more of a nitpick since it's hard to come up with anything bad after the Hoos won two ACC games by double digits, but the freshman guard hasn’t scored in double figures in his last five games. It could be that teams are scheming against him, but he hasn't seemed to find the open looks he was getting a month ago. That being said, on a scale of 1-10 of how worried I am about Guy, it’s probably close to a 0.75. He’ll be just fine. A monster night is coming. Let's just hope it's sooner rather than later.
What to watch for
- The Fighting Irish are for real - I’ve been skeptical of Notre Dame all season. Up until recently, I thought they just hadn’t played anyone. Then once they got into the conference season, I would point to their close wins as evidence that they were hanging on by a thread and their record was smoke in mirrors. The Irish are now 6-1 in the ACC coming off a shellacking of Syracuse. While the Orange aren't their typical selves, that game wasn't even close. It will be a great matchup as Notre Dame will be the best offense Virginia has played this season. However, the Hoos are easily the best defense the Irish have faced as well. With only one matchup between the two teams, this one will go a long way in the ACC race.
- To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man - A season ago, there was only one team in the country that beat three of the four Final Four teams and only one team to beat both National Championship contenders. That team was the Virginia Cavaliers. And don’t think the Villanova Wildcats don’t remember it. The Wildcats return almost their entire team, and don't think that despite their National Championship they don’t want revenge against the Hoos. It’s an opportunity for a statement win by both teams, more so for Virginia as a road win against the number one team in the country will go a long way to silence the doubters that believe this team can’t win having to replace Brogdon and Anthony Gill and after having dismissed Nichols.
The Hoos and Irish face off on Tuesday at 8 P.M. in a game that will be televised by the ACC Network. Then on Sunday, Virginia travels to Philadelphia to take on the Wildcats. That game will tip at 1 P.M. and can be seen on Fox. It's going to be a great week for UVA hoops, so stay with Streaking the Lawn and as always, GO HOOS!