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Depleted Virginia will need to rely on defense until its shooters step up

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 04 Virginia at Purdue Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Let’s face it, we’ve been spoiled by the Virginia Cavaliers over the last few seasons.

From Joe Harris to Malcolm Brogdon. From Devon Hall to London Perrantes.

Most importantly, from Ty Jerome to Kyle Guy to Deandre Hunter.

Despite what the popular storyline might be, under Tony Bennett, the Cavaliers have actually been pretty efficient on the offensive end of the floor. Last year, the Hoos finished No. 2 in offensive efficiency. The UMBC year, 30th. The year before that 50th and the year before that 8th. Obviously, they’ve become known for their defensive prowess, but all those guys mentioned above could make the shot when called upon.

Particularly from beyond the arc.

Joe Harris shot 40% from three for his career. Brogdon shot 36% including 39% his senior year. Devon Hall was at 38% and 43% his final year. The UVa Three Party that ended the season in Minneapolis last year was lights out too: Jerome 39% for his career and 40% last year, Guy 42% overall and 42% last season, and Hunter was at 41% over two years and 44% last season.

Losing three players early to the NBA draft is a borderline nail in the coffin. No matter how well built a team or a program is, that is hard to overcome, but the 2019-20 Cavaliers’ team is struggling more than normal.

As it stands, they are 120th in offensive efficiency and are shooting a paltry 23.8% from beyond the arc. The arc was moved back, which probably does not help matters, but that 23.8% is good for 347th best in the country. Only six teams are currently shooting worse.

Mamadi Diakite and Jay Huff have made strides to improve their game and the loss of Braxton Key is a major set back. None of those three were expected to stretch the floor significantly.

Kody Stattmann, entering his second year with the Hoos, and Tomas Woldetensae, the sharp shooter who rained threes last year at Indian Hills Community College were supposed to step up and be adequate. Though both were expected to produce from long range, combined, they are only 4 for 35, or just above 11%.

Freshman Casey Morsell struggled on the offensive end of the floor early but has found a groove of late, just not yet from three, is 4-36 and has yet to make multiple threes in a game.

Cavs Corner’s Justin Ferber made a great point during the Purdue game that this is not the team most expected to be playing right now. If you had asked people last January who they expected would lose to the draft, most—including the coaching staff—would have likely told you Deandre Hunter. Maybe if they were scared they would have said Ty Jerome. March and April came and now they’re all getting paid to make threes.

What’s left is an exposed Virginia team depleted of its shooters and still trying to realize the potential of its promised offense.

The season is just a quarter of the way through and even though they have yet to make many, they are getting open looks from three. Eventually, some will drop and a rhythm might be established.

As it looks now though, the Hoos are going to have to play historically amazing defense to make it through the ACC schedule near the top.

Just like we spoiled UVa fans have come to expect.