Following Tuesday night’s drubbing at the hands of Houston, the Virginia Cavaliers desperately needed a bounce back win to get their season back on track. In a 68-52 victory over Coppin State, the ‘Hoos did just that. With the win, there’s plenty to gather about this team as it heads to New Jersey next week for the Legends Classic.
Coppin State is bad
If it wasn’t obvious coming into the game, this was not a good opponent for the ‘Hoos. This was the definition of a get-right game, and that’s exactly what it was for UVA. Making any large scale assumptions about this team from this game would be ill-advised considering that this is likely the worst team Virginia will tip off against this season.
Coppin State entered the contest shooting 27.4% from beyond the arc, so the Eagles’ 9-34 outing against the ‘Hoos wasn’t a surprise. There was very little that the Eagles could do compete with Virginia.
Nevertheless, there is something to be said for doing what was necessary and expect in burying a bad team early and giving them little to no room to breathe from then on.
Some offensive adjustments
Following a poor offensive performance on the road against Houston on Tuesday, adjustments were undoubtedly made for tonight’s contest. There was still a solid volume of usage for the mover blocker offense that dominated Virginia’s offense in the first three games.
But, there was more of an emphasis on alternative offensive sets against the Eagles. Triangle and three man sets incorporating ball screens were used more while the ‘Hoos also further integrated spread ball screen actions with personnel meant to provide necessary spacing.
Virginia didn’t roll out anything revolutionary or unprecedented. Nevertheless, it was good to see Bennett acknowledge the issues the team had against Houston and further experiment with different looks. It will be interesting to see whether or not the ‘Hoos revert back to more mover-blocker possessions against stiffer competition in the Legends Classic.
Igor Milicic Jr. impresses in first significant minutes
After getting very limited time in the first three contests of the season, Igor Milicic Jr. played 13 minutes against Coppin State as he checked in halfway through the first half. He finished with 11 points on 3-6 shooting.
The beautiful fade-away corner three he hit immediately after stepping on the floor was the first bucket of his career. As he quickly followed that up with a smooth midrange pull-up, Milcic Jr. displayed an encouraging level of comfort from the jump against Coppin State.
If he is able to survive defensively against stiffer competition, Milicic Jr. could be a massive weapon for this team offensively as he provides a versatility that the team is lacking on the wing. He’s a lights out three point shooter with some nice range and handles that are surprising for his size at 6’10”.
Considering how Virginia has struggled on offense this season, Milicic Jr.’s presence is at the very least a new wrinkle for the ‘Hoos as they look to generate more easy offense.
Another rotational shift
After playing just seven players in the opener against Navy, then incorporating Taine Murray and Carson McCorkle into the rotation for the Radford and Houston contests, the Virginia coaching staff made yet another rotational adjustment for the game against Coppin State.
That change came in increased time for Milicic Jr., 14 minutes for preferred walk-on Malachi Poindexter, and both Murray and McCorkle only getting in late in the second half after featuring more prominently in the previous two contests.
Bennett’s rotation clearly isn’t decided yet as he’s displayed a willingness to give guys opportunities to prove themselves. That’s encouraging considering this team’s inexperience and the number of young guys who are still very green. Bennett seems to be aware that he’s going to need some of his underclassmen to step up if this team is going to hit its potential.
Bigger picture offensive woes persist
While this was a get-right game for Virginia from a results perspective, some of the issues that plagued the team against Navy and Houston reared their ugly head against Coppin State as well. Most notably, three-point shooting was poor once again as the team finished 5-18 from deep.
Armaan Franklin struggled for his third game of four this season, shooting 0-4 from three-point land. Considering that Franklin was expected to be Virginia’s primary shooter among the starters and in the backcourt, his 26.1% success rate on the season so far is disappointing.
Turnovers also continue to be a problem as Virginia was sloppy once again which stunted the offense even against such inferior competition. Considering that the ‘Hoos had eleven turnovers on the night Bennett won’t be pleased with his team’s continued struggles to take care of the basketball. Fortunately, UVA only turned it over three times in the second as the team grew more comfortable as the game progressed.