clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Stock up, stock down from Virginia’s narrow victory over Northeastern

Reece Beekman rescued the ‘Hoos from a potential nightmare loss after a lethargic performance

North Carolina Central v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

The Virginia Cavaliers eked out a narrow 56-54 victory against Northeastern at JPJ as Reece Beekman’s game-winning layup with three seconds left prevented a disappointing performance from turning into a disastrous result. An initially lethargic Cavalier squad dug itself into a 16-4 hole in the game’s opening minutes and fought an uphill battle for the rest of the game. The ‘Hoos trailed for 32 minutes, but thankfully led when the clock hit zeroes; Beekman’s 21 points and five assists turned the worst game of the season for the Cavaliers into a win.

Despite coming out on top, there weren’t many positives in this Virginia victory. Here’s our stock up and stock down review of the result:

Stock up

Reece Beekman

On a night of subpar offense and sleepy defense, Reece Beekman almost single-handedly rescued the Cavaliers from an embarrassing home loss to Northeastern — the sort of defeat which tanks a team’s résumé come tournament time. Reece finished with 21 points on 9-18 shooting, including the game-winning layup to break a 54-54 tie with three seconds remaining. He also somehow led the Cavaliers in rebounds and tacked on five assists.

There’s not much left to say about Beekman that hasn’t been written before. He’s this team’s heart and soul and the engine which keeps the offense humming. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more valuable guard in the ACC right now.

Elijah Gertrude

Gertrude provided a spark off the bench in the first half when the Cavaliers came dangerously close to letting this game slip away with a totally anemic offensive performance out of the gate. The Cavaliers trailed 16-4 eight minutes into the contest and looked stuck in the mud running triangle; Gertrude’s presence, defensive energy, and burst to the rim produced a 16-2 UVA run once he entered the game. In his 15 minutes on the court, Virginia outscored Northeastern by 12 points.

Stock down

Andrew Rohde

Credit where credit’s due in one area of the game: Andrew Rohde made some big passes — most importantly a smart swing for an Isaac McKneely three which gave Virginia their first lead of the second half — and paced the team with six assists. However, a scoring wing just can’t finish with zero points in 31 minutes of game time. Rohde struggled to get anything going all night, attempting just five shots and one free throw. The consistent length of Northeastern clearly bothered him attempting to get downhill out of the triangle offense, which isn’t a good sign for how Rohde will match up against better opponents. Hopefully his struggles tonight were a product of rust from a nagging injury rather than a sign of things to come.

Ryan Dunn

Like Rohde, it wasn’t an entirely negative game for Dunn: switching him onto Northeastern big man Chris Doherty and going to extreme small-ball provided the impetus for Virginia’s final surge to take the lead. Defensively, he still put together an excellent game even if the “stock” numbers (2 blocks and 0 steals) weren’t gaudy. But also like Rohde, Dunn needs to produce offensively if the Cavaliers are to succeed against higher-level opposition. He finished with five points in 29 minutes: a free throw, a transition alley-oop from Beekman, and a dunk at the rim assisted by Beekman. It’s not fair to expect Dunn to immediately become an isolation scorer or knockdown shooter, but he needs to be more active off the ball as a cutter and attacking the rim off the catch.

The triangle offense

Before Virginia reverted back to its traditional sides/mover-blocker offense in the second half, the Cavaliers were on pace for one of their ugliest offensive performances in recent history: 24 points in 22 minutes against a team which entered the night ranked 317th in adjusted defensive efficiency. The triangle generated all the wrong sorts of looks tonight: contested midrange jumpers for iffy jump shooters. Frankly, while the idea of a more flexible offensive scheme compared to the rigidity of mover-blocker sounds appealing in theory, the reality right now is that Virginia functions much more effectively when sticking with the familiar pin-downs and circular motion of mover-blocker instead of demanding self-creation in the midrange from players not suited to the task.

Blake Buchanan

The uber-athletic freshman big looked on paper like a positive matchup against a Huskies squad whose tallest player was only 6’8. Instead, Buchanan failed to grab a single defensive board in 16 minutes of game time and posted a team-worst -16 plus-minus in limited action. His defensive rebound percentage this season is worse than Isaac McKneely’s. The box-outs are a major issue. Oh, and he also air-balled two free throws.

Free throw shooting

Speaking of free throws — the Cavaliers air-balled THREE total attempts on the night (two by Buchanan and one by Ryan Dunn). Virginia made just 10 of their 18 attempts from the charity stripe. To be fair, they looked good in comparison to Northeastern (0-3 at the line), but that’s not saying much. Virginia’s 67.1% from the line this year ranks 291st in the NCAA as of this evening: just not good enough.

Three-point shooting

Following three consecutive games of nine or more made threes, Virginia crashed back down to earth beyond the arc in an ugly way: the ‘Hoos finished 2-14 beyond the arc. Both made triples came from Isaac McKneely, whose 2-6 performance from three didn’t live up to his usual standard but certainly stood out in comparison to the rest of the team. The ‘Hoos just couldn’t buy a make — even when Jake Groves did initially make a three late in the game, the officials reviewed the shot and ruled his foot was on the line. Last year’s team, not exactly renowned for their sharpshooting, never put up a performance this bad (14.2%) beyond the arc. Hopefully it’s a one-off and not a sign of things to come.

Team rebounding

Joe Pridgen, a 6’5 guard for Northeastern, grabbed 13 rebounds tonight. That was more than double any Virginia player’s total. The ‘Hoos were outclassed on the glass 35-28 tonight, including seven offensive boards. The bigs in particular need to work harder inside: Ryan Dunn, Jake Groves, and Blake Buchanan combined for a grand total of six boards in 67 minutes of playing time. Part of that is scheme (boxing out so that Beekman and McKneely can vacuum up rebounds), but part of it is also just getting outworked.

Virginia’s KenPom rating

The Cavaliers fell to 30th from 25th despite winning, but no one who watched the game can reasonably complain about that drop-off. Don’t get me wrong, wins are better than losses — especially for the NET, where avoiding an ugly Quad 3/Quad 4 defeat in non-con could prove vital come tournament time — but everyone’s expectations for this team should be tempered a bit following an ugly, ugly home victory over a bad Northeastern team.