After the Virginia Cavaliers handled the NC Central Eagles on Monday by a final score of 73-61, UVA now hosts Monmouth tonight at 9:00 PM. As such, we’ve got you set with a game preview as we analyze either team and take a look at what Virginia needs to improve on from the first game of the season.
It was just one game, and the first one at that, but the team’s closer-than-it-needed-to-be win over NC Central opened up some tough questions about this team. Mostly on the defensive end, as the offensive output was solid.
Taine Murray only got a few minutes of playing time, and maybe this was the reason why. He is too slow with his rotation and his closeout and it’s an open baseline 3.
This isn’t bad defense, just good shooting. This is a shot clock buzzer beater. Prayer answered.
Again, it’s not really all that bad from Vander Plas. But it’s a mismatch after a switch. A switch? There’s no hedge here. Just a switch, leaving Vander Plas on a much quicker guy. It’s interesting to see UVA decide to switch one through five during the few minutes that Vander Plas and Gardner played together in a small ball lineup. That’ll be something to watch as the season progresses. As evidenced by the above clip, it didn’t work all that well against NC Central.
Again it’s a switch, leaving Gardner one on one with Justin Wright, a much quicker guy. And in this case, Wright is already moving downhill. This is never going to end well for Virginia.
This isn’t bad defense. These are tough shots that NC Central is knocking down. But if MEAC guards are knocking them down, you gotta assume ACC guards will as well. It’s hard to tell in just a highlight reel, but it seems like Virginia’s coaching staff is tinkering with the defense. In both of these cases, it’s McKneely as the primary defender. Is he too slow to recover on his man after the screen, considering the quickness of the Eagle guards? Is the problem with the bigs not recovering after the hedge so switching is necessary?
Again, it’s one game. The team is still learning how to play together. The rotations are still being worked out. Things will get better. But if this continues, ACC guards will feast on these switches.
Monmouth is up next, a team coming off a 27-point loss to Seton Hall on Wednesday. The Mountain Hawks won 21 games last year, with a roster made up almost entirely of seniors. Those guys are gone now, and that’s left a lot of sophomores and juniors who haven’t played much. Sadly, there’s no highlights around of the Seton Hall game, and no highlights for any of these guys from last year.
Myles Foster led the team with 18 points and 15 rebounds against Seton Hall. He averaged five points last year, in 12 minutes per game. Tahron Allen scored 11 after averaging one last year.
Against the Pirates, they shot just 28% from the field and just 10% from three. Obviously, those numbers will go up during the season. But, this team couldn’t shoot last year, and the early signs are that shooting will be a weakness again.
What this team does have is size and brawn inside. Foster is 6’7” 230. They have two legit bigs in 6’9” Klemen Vuga and 7’0” Amaan Sandhu. Add in some bigger wings (Allon is 6’5” 200, freshman Jack Collins is 6’5” 195) and this team can do some damage up front. They had 16 offensive rebounds against Seton Hall (Seton Hall also had 16 offensive rebounds in the game). Only junior PG Myles Ruth (6’0” 160) is undersized. He is important to Monmouth not just because he runs the offense, but because he’s really the only guy who can knock down a shot.
We saw on Monday what a hot shooting team can do. We actually saw it on both sides of the court.
We saw Wright hit a shot clock buzzer beating prayer. Here is Armaan Franklin doing the same.
If Virginia shoots 44% from three, they aren’t going to lose very often. But if they aren’t making threes, can the defense be good enough to win games? It seems crazy to ask that about a Tony Bennett team. It probably doesn’t matter against Monmouth, but it’ll matter next week in Vegas when they face Baylor and either UCLA or Illinois.