The Virginia Cavaliers just looked bad on Saturday night against a poor Northeastern team. Let’s hope that was just the product of rust and an off-night and not representative of things to come this season.
Nobody really thinks that team from Saturday is what we should expect going forward. A little bit of rust was expected. Missed jumpers were expected. But the effort and energy just wasn’t there from most of the team, and that was not expected.
The coaching staff also had an off-night, sticking with a lineup most of the game that simply wasn’t getting it done. Elijah Gertrude and Leon Bond provided more energy and production than the starters. Gertrude and Bond were each +12 on the night. Rohde was -4 and Dunn was -7.
The competition steps up in a big way for Monday night’s game against an 8-2 Memphis team coming off back to back wins over Texas A&M and Clemson, both ranked higher than the ‘Hoos right now in the advanced metrics. Their losses are Villanova in the Bahamas and Ole Miss on the road.
Memphis may be without starting center Jordan Brown, who has missed the last three games with an illness. His status for this game is unknown.
Game Time: Tuesday, December 19, 7PM Eastern
Three Players To Watch
The one-time Virginia recruit is at his third stop in his college career, never really putting it all together. He’s been fine, and remains fine. He’s not a great defender, not a great shooter (career 33% on 3s), and though he’s a very good passer, he’s also too turnover prone as a lead guard.
One thing Quinerly is doing well this season is getting to the line and making his free throws. He has more than doubled his free throw rate since last season. Whether that is sustainable is unknown, so far Quinerly looks dangerous getting into the paint.
He just uses his quickness and handle to get into the paint. Then he has the patience and skill to finish from that spot. This isn’t bad defense, but Reece Beekman is the best defender Quinerly will see and won’t get by that easily. Quinerly has been up and down a bit this year (and throughout his career). But when he produces, Memphis is tough to beat.
Memphis’ leading scorer, best shooter, best all-around player, Jones is averaging over 20 points and a team leading 6.5 rebounds per game. He’s 6’6’ 210, so similarly sized to Northeastern wings Chris Doherty and Joe Pridgen, who caused problems for the Wahoos on the interior.
Jones can stay outside and knock down the three. He was 4/8 from downtown in the win over Arkansas.
He was also 6/6 on 2s and 12/14 from the line in that game, totaling 36 points. Just a tremendous effort and he needs to be the focus of the Wahoo defense. Jones is a big wing, so does Rohde guard him? Rohde can hang with him on the perimeter, but Jones can be very physical inside.
There are three rotation players on this team who aren’t transfers. Two are Penny Hardaway’s children. Dandridge is the other. He’s in his fifth year with the team, and has never averaged more than about 15 minutes per game. He’s 6’9” 260, so he’s tough to handle inside. But he has a very high foul rate, and has struggled with conditioning. He had 9 rebounds and 2 steals against Clemson in 19 minutes.
This is where we talk about interior play. It wasn’t really the glass, which the Hoos actually handled OK. It was overall play in the paint. Northeastern shot 70% on 23 attempts at the rim, which is very good. Virginia shot just 55% on 20 attempts, which is very bad. For the season, Virginia is shooting 63% at the rim (good, not great) and allowing just 57% (outstanding).
Two Matchups to Track
Three Point Shooting
We have seen what this Virginia team looks like when the shots are falling. Since Virginia doesn’t really have an interior scoring threat, teams will play tight defense on the perimeter. Nobody is really concerned about McKneely or Jacob Groves making plays off the dribble, so teams aren’t helping off the shooters. Rohde and Dunn are better at attacking closeouts, but they aren’t hitting enough shots to make defenses respect them.
There needs to be a better effort to get shooters into open looks. There was too much dribbling with four guys standing around against Northeastern. The drives weren’t generating open looks, because off-ball movement was lacking.
Memphis also likes to shoot the three. Five different Tigers average more than 2 attempts per game. Most of those guys are not hitting enough to warrant the volume, although these are guys who’ve shot the ball well in the past. At other schools.
In their loss to Ole Miss, the Tigers made 3 treys, and the Rebels made 11, which is why they won. There is a very good chance the winner of this game is the team that knocks down more threes.
Memphis wants to go fast. They are currently 21st in the country in pace. Penny Hardaway likes to have a lead guard who can go coast to coast and be like a one-man-fast-break.
This is Quinerly, taking an outlet pass and going right to the rack for the finish. The transition defense against Northeastern was one of the many things Virginia did not do well, especially in the first half.
This one comes off a turnover, so it’s not entirely on the defense. But there were several instances of Northeastern getting the ball ahead of the transition defense. This is not usually something Virginia struggles with.
Tony Bennett’s teams are so good at dictating pace. There has been more transition this season because they are so good at generating live-ball turnovers. The easy points from those runouts have helped win games. Memphis will cough up the ball, but Virginia wants to be careful not to get into a fast-break game. The Tigers do not want to play offense for 26 seconds against a locked in Virginia defense.
That is assuming we see a locked in Virginia squad, and not whoever showed up to JPJ on Saturday.
If we get the same energy and effort we got on Saturday, this game won’t be pretty. It’s the first true road game of the season for the Hoos, and they haven’t looked great away from JPJ this season.
Assuming we get a better, more focused Virginia team, this is exactly the type of team Virginia usually handles. There is undoubtedly talent on this Memphis team. But it’s a little bit haphazard. They want to run, but they don’t really force turnovers. Outside of Quinerly, they don’t pass. Their offense is almost entirely isos and pick-n-rolls.
Prediction: Virginia 60, Memphis 56