In what turned out to be a frustrating loss to Navy, the Virginia Cavaliers did show flashes of encouraging play on Tuesday night. In particular, Reece Beekman had an underrated but sound performance on both ends of the floor as he starts to take on more responsibility in his second season in Charlottesville.
On the night, Beekman scored eight points on 4-8 shooting (0-1 from three), dished out six assists, recorded six (!) steals, grabbed five rebounds, and only turned the ball over once.
Of course, he’ll get dinged for missing two free throws late in the game and for that one turnover coming when the ‘Hoos absolutely needed a bucket. But, otherwise, the sophomore out of Louisiana had an encouraging performance as he displayed signs of what very well could be a massive leap in his second year.
“I think he’s improved,” says Tony Bennett, noting that “we challenged him at halftime,” after Beekman failed to close out well to a shooter “and I thought he got better as it wore on.”
Bennett continues, praising Beekman’s six steals and emphasizing that “that is impressive,” while pointing out how “he has very quick hands and has an uncanny knack for tipping balls and making plays that way.”
As the Wahoo defense solidified in the second half, that playmaking ability from Beekman along with Kadin Shedrick and Armaan Franklin came to the fore. With Shedrick and Franklin each recording three steals of their own and each blocking a shot, it’s clear that this group has real potential on the defensive side of the ball.
“I think defensively we’re a great team,” says Beekman, as he notes how those numbers show “that we’re capable of being a great defensive team. We just have to fight it out every game and be continuous.”
As for Beekman’s offensive performance, Bennett says that “he’s a gifted player,” and lists how “he can create for his teammates, he can slash and get to the rim,” while noting that “when he gets a rhythm shot obviously he’s got to take it.”
All in all, Bennett emphasizes that “Reece is obviously going to be an important player for us this year and I thought he showed moments of some good basketball.”
Sure, Tuesday’s loss to Navy was an all around discouraging loss. But, there was still plenty to be excited about from this game as players take on new roles. Beekman is showing telltale signs of significant development from year one to year two and — for this team to get on track and hit its potential this season — he’ll need to perform as such.