The Virginia Cavaliers men’s basketball team played its Blue-White scrimmage yesterday afternoon, and after typing up a live play by play, keeping live stats, and putting together five takeaways, we know have our latest basketball mailbag to address further topics about the team coming out of yesterday’s contest.
Again, these questions come from Twitter, so if you’d like to get in on the action of asking, give me and/or our site account a follow and your question could be included next time I write one of these!
Should we be making dramatic conclusions on individual players based on an intrasquad scrimmage? ;) — @BrianBailey22
Starting this with this question to say that no, we should not be making dramatic conclusions on individual players based on intrasquad scrimmage. Players perform differently day to day, practice to practice, game to game, and taking one game as a sign of what’s to come (especially for players we haven’t seen before this) would be unwise.
That doesn’t mean we can’t extrapolate what happened yesterday while also considering that it was just 28 minutes of basketball. So with that in mind here’s all of my hot takes from the equivalent of 70% of a typical game.
Do you think Bond has shown enough to start or will you still go Rohde? — @Tmcquadehoos
The third starting spot in the UVA backcourt is a tricky one to figure out. Reece Beekman and Isaac McKneely should have starting spots, and Ryan Dunn will be the starting four who could play the three on offense if Bond is the guy to fill that spot.
Yesterday’s scrimmage suggests Bond (13 points, 6-8 shooting) is on his way to significant minutes in his first active season... but Rohde and Dante Harris are probably still above him in the pecking order. Lest we forget, Bond scored 10 points and Isaac Traudt scored 12 in last year’s Blue-White scrimmage before the both redshirting. This isn’t the most predictive setting out there.
That being said Bond’s jump shot looks cleaner than it has before and he seems to have expanded his range. He’s a reliable defender with plus athleticism and a nifty skillset in the paint despite being 6’5”.
Where the whole starting conversation gets tricky is remembering what Tony Bennett and Virginia value the most. With that in mind, despite Dante Harris shooting 2-9 in the scrimmage, I think he or Andrew Rohde (2-11 yesterday) still get that starting spot. Harris is perhaps a better on-ball defender than Kihei Clark, and that strength leads me to think Bennett will roll with him in the backcourt alongside Beekman. Although those two never played on the same team in the scrimmage... if that matters.
Yesterday leads me to believe that Bond will have a more significant role than I’d previously expected him to. He’s right up there in the conversation for a starting spot, and I think he’ll miss out mostly because of positional value and Bennett’s desire to have more ball handlers on the floor. But he should be in the rotation to start the season.
Should we be worried that Rhode is not who we hoped he would be? — @gregory_furlich
Along with Bond, Rohde was another player who’s really hard to analyze after yesterday’s scrimmage. He missed nine shots, and he missed most of them badly, but he did create a lot of looks for himself and some of them bounced out unluckily. There were times where it looked like he was trying too hard, pushing too much, and perhaps still adjusting to playing at this level. Once he gets a better feel for ACC defense and the superior athleticism, I think he’ll settle in more than yesterday’s outing suggested.
I would caution anyone who thinks Rohde will be an elite three-point shooter for this team this season. That’s just not his biggest strength. Watching him in person proved just how big he is, and he’s a very controlled slasher who can generate good shots in traffic, he just has to be less rushed when getting a shot off. The three-point shooting will be fine, probably in the 35-38% range. But where he’ll make the difference is on the wing as a slasher. He could absolutely still start for this team and be a top-four scorer.
Is Tony still the handsomest coach in college basketball? — @HillaryMacSwain
Was it ever in doubt?
Saw the box score [of the Blue-White scrimmage]. Tough to score against this defense? Or, expect another season with shooting woes? — @toJamesConnor
Little bit of both, as is the case in intrasquad scrimmages. If the offense goes off, that means the defense stinks, and vice versa. Sometimes it’s just random.
UVA missed a bunch of open threes that you’d expect them to make. It’ll be rare for Isaac McKneely to shoot 0-3 from deep, and a number of those misses and others just barely rolled out.
But yeah I do think there will be games this team loses because they can’t hit a high rate of threes at a high volume. McKneely will be great, but there’s a drop off after him. Rohde, yes. Beekman, yes. Harris, probably. Groves, yes. Dunn, probably. But none of those guys are established high clip high volume three-point shooters, and that showed yesterday.
The defense was typically very good though, especially on the white team (that had most of the projected starters). There are some reeeeaaaalllly fun potential defensive lineups on this roster, and how far along this group is on that end of the floor stood out. It’s not just a couple guys who flashed defensively, it’s most of the team. Off the top of my head, Beekman, Dunn, Harris, Buchanan, and Bond all made defensive palys that made me double take.
CTB generally sticks to a 7-8 man lineup. Last year saw him move away from that a smidge. Any guesses on whether CTB will continue to test the waters or stick with tried and true approach? — @jennleacole
I think it’s less the number of guys he plays and the standard Bennett has for putting guys in the game. Bennett has to trust a guy to play a guy, so it comes down to how many guys he trusts come February and March.
If I had to categorize it right now, I’d say it falls somewhere like this:
Guys he 100% trusts: Beekman, McKneely, Dunn
Guys he’ll likely trust (in no particular order): Harris, Rohde, Bond, Buchanan, Minor, Groves
Guys he might trust: Gertrude, Murray
Guys who have to earn it: Robinson, Bliss
That says to me that an eight man rotation is most likely with Gertrude probably the ninth guy who could make a push and Anthony Robinson the true darkhorse outsider. There’s a world where one of the five he’ll likely trust falls out of there and the rotation is down to seven. But no matter what Bennett’s gonna hold his players to his standard and not stray from that.
Does Gertrude play at all this year or do you see them redshirting him to give him more time to heal with all the depth we have at guard? — @Tmcquadehoos
Timely question. Yes I do think he plays, no I don’t think he redshirts to heal or because of the other guys at guard. He played in the Blue-White scrimmage and was dunking pregame. Only sign of the ACL injury he suffered in his senior year of high school was a sleeve on his right leg.
As for the depth of the backcourt, he’s probably the fifth guard at this point in time, but I don’t think that’s a problem really. He’s good enough to crack the rotation and I honestly don’t think there’s much value to redshirting him, nor do I think he’ll want to redshirt. There’s less of a gap between him and, say, Harris than most would think. Getting live action in college basketball is valuable, and I think he’ll get minutes in non-con play and then spot opportunities as the season progresses in conference play.
What did you see in the scrimmage from the players at the 5? Any hope for post offense, except for a few cuts, putbacks, and rolls? — @guyncville
We went into it in depth in our five takeaways from the scrimmage, but I mostly liked what I saw from guys at the five. Buchanan look comfortable in the defense and stood out as a help defender, Minor made the right plays at the right time, Groves will be a threat to shoot the ball, and while raw Anthony Robinson is a freak athlete.
But most of the caveats that exist for each of those players held true. Minor will need to adjust to no longer being able to physically dominate his opponents. Buchanan will have to grow in the college game and find his footing before making a tangible offensive impact. Groves is a question mark on defense who might not be much more than a stretch option on offense. Robinson is still really raw on either end.
There could be a smidge of hope for post offense. Minor and Buchanan went back and forth a little bit with some post moves and scores. But yeah it’ll be a relatively small part kf the offense this season.
What odds are you putting on Reece Beekman being ACC POY? Three of the last four winners have been point guards. — @Adrian_Vigil
Whew I’m no betting expert, but I feel like maybe somewhere between 25/1 and 20/1 would be fair? UVA’s clearly an upper echelon team in the ACC, and he’s the team’s best player. He’s gotta be a top-10 favorite.. I’d put it there, roughly. I believe there’s more or less a 5% chance he wins it, maybe it’s closer to 10%. He’s special on either end, and he’s due for a breakout season on a much higher offensive volume.