One thing lost in some ways during the postgame shuffle of Virginia’s 72-64 win against Georgia Tech over the weekend has been the Cavaliers’ defensive effort and their ability to control the tempo of the game. The Yellow Jackets average more than 70 points per game on the season and entered the contest with UVa off of back-to-back ACC wins. They topped UNC 78-58 and Wake Forest 74-39. Against the Hoos, Tech couldn’t get things going until a late flurry cut the final margin to single digits on the scoreboard.
UVa freshman guard KT Harrell said the defensive effort was a key part in the win.
“We just worked on making them play how we wanted to play. They wanted to play an up-pace game so we wanted to make sure that we got back in transition and not let them do it and make them play at the pace we wanted to play,” Harrell said. “I think we did that.”
Without question, the Hoos ability to handle the Jackets’ ball pressure defense – something coach Tony Bennett cited as a key before the game – and control the tempo proved pivotal. The Hoos kept GT below its season average and held the visitors to just two fastbreak points. When asked about the improvement in transition defense since the Marquette scrimmage, Harrell took a second to reflect. Message board fans will remember the reports of lackluster – and that’s generous – transition D in that scrimmage.
“Uh (big exhale) I can’t even tell you. We’ve worked on it so much every single day and we’ve gotten so much better at it. We’ve still got a lot of learning to do and we still can get even better at it,” Harrell said.
Sabre user CLC-UVA made a post this afternoon on the EDGE message board that made me wonder how Virginia fans are feeling right now about the men’s basketball program. First, CLC-UVA’s post:
Subject: Funny feeling … Posted by: CLC-UVA on Fri Jan 21 2011 12:11:53 PM Message: We’ve lost three games in a row. All were winnable; in fact, all required avoidable lapses to “earn” the loss. Our best player is out for the year. Our line-up is a mix of youngsters and marginal upperclassmen. The big dance looks all but impossible this year, and even .500 is looking more and more unlikely.
Yet I feel better about UVA hoops than I have in years.
Normally I’m leery of the “good loss” tag – and obviously I would have loved to see the W’s – but I can’t shake the feeling that every one of these recent losses shows near-term progress and will have long-term payoffs. And more generally, it just feels like we’re getting better. Slowly, and unevenly with respect to individuals, but overall we’re looking more and more like a team with a consistent approach, and more success in executing that approach. You can just see how TB is going to win over time. And even this year, with MS out and a bunch of first years on the floor, you get a sense that we’re a team people aren’t going to relish playing. Add a few more pieces and give these kids another year of seasoning, and I think we may have something.
So what about you fellow Wahoo? Do you feel better about UVa hoops than before Tony Bennett was hired? Is this the most promising outlook in the past 10 years? Vote in TheSabre.com’s poll below, open through next Friday, and let us know! Want to share why you feel the way you do about the hoops program? Join the EDGE conversation here or let us know on the men’s basketball message board!
I decided to bounce around some of the blogs listed on The Good Ol Blog’s links list and landed on former Cavalier Jerome Meyinsse’s blog page. He’s playing pro basketball in Argentina and has roared into the new year with some monster stats … and “a few vicious dunks” … so he says at least. Only kidding Jerome, only kidding. Here are the stats for Meyinsse for the first four games of 2011:
Not bad at all. On the season, Meyinsse averages 16.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. Think a redshirt season way back when might have helped the UVa program considering this season’s post injuries? Meyinsse, had he redshirted as a freshman, could have been a fifth-year senior on this roster. He didn’t really start to blossom until his senior season a year ago (6.5 points, 4.1 rebounds) when Tony Bennett was hired to coach the Cavaliers.
I also bring all of this up as a way to circle back to Virginia’s James Johnson, who is redshirting for the Hoos this season as a freshman. For anyone still uncertain about the decision to bank the year for Johnson, the Meyinsse situation is the perfect case study for what still-developing big men can accomplish with a plan in place. Lucky for Hoo fans, Bennett has a plan. Let’s hope Johnson’s development sees the positive results down the road!
This season I’ll be breaking down the X’s and O’s of Virginia basketball along with the X’s and O’s of opposing ACC squads. The installments will be available for EDGE Subscribers going forward but for the opening of ACC play here is a sneak peak at a look at some of UNC’s playbook.
Heading into Saturday’s game with UNC, Tony Bennett will be preparing to face offensive and defensive systems that are as well known as any in college basketball. The systems employed by Roy Williams are the same as those run by his mentor Dean Smith with some new twists and variations. Despite being such a well-known and studied system the Carolina attack is still as difficult to defend strategically as it ever has been.
I will focus on the Tarheel transition attack, their secondary break and their defensive sets below.
The UNC transition attack hasn’t undergone significant changes in a long time and its goals are simple: increase tempo and create easy scoring opportunities. The Heels get the ball up the floor as fast as they can and attempt to take advantage of number advantages or mismatches that are difficult to compensate for in a quick change situation.
Here are the basics of the Tar Heel transition look:
5 secures the rebound while 1 sprints ball-side to receive the pass. 4 immediately takes off down the center of the court while 2 and 3 get wide and look for a pass up the sideline.
Multiple outlets reported this week that Hermitage (Richmond, VA) linebacker Curtis Grant has narrowed his list to four schools, including Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State and Virginia.
The 6-3, 220-pound senior, currently in San Antonio (TX) preparing for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, made an official visit to Ohio State last month and is scheduled to take an official to Florida next weekend.
ESPN affiliate GatorCountry.com has two reports on Grant this week, including its most recent report here. According to the report, the 5-star prospect intends on announcing his college choice on Signing Day, which is Wednesday, February 2.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl can be seen on Saturday, January 8, at 1 pm EST on NBC.
H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) senior Darius Redman has de-committed from the University of Virginia and is now a member of Virginia Tech’s 2011 recruiting class. Redman, a 6-4, 240-pound tight end/defensive end prospect, confirmed the decision this morning.
“Yes sir,” Redman wrote via text message when asked if he had committed to Virginia Tech.
On Monday of this week, the Washington Post reported that Redman planned to switch his commitment from UVa to Virginia Tech this week. Contacted by phone on Tuesday afternoon, Redman initially denied the report but acknowledged that he would take an official visit to Virginia Tech on the weekend of January 21.
The H.D. Woodson star, a second-team Washington Post all-metro selection at tight end, had hoped to enroll early at UVa but fell short of the needed SAT score. He expects to learn today whether or not he will be able to enroll early at Virginia Tech. Defensive back prospect Adeboye Aromire, Redman’s teammate at Woodson, will enroll at Tech this month.
UVa now has 24 commitments in its 2011 class. Two of those prospects, Hampton (VA) QB David Watford and Phoebus (Hampton, VA) LB Daquan Romero, are set to enroll this month.
Greater Atlanta Christian (Atlanta, GA), led by Virginia-bound guard Malcolm Brogdon, won three games and lost one to claim fifth place in the 16-team Beach Ball Classic that took place last week.
GAC is 7-2 on the season.
Brogdon, a 6-5, 210-pound guard, received praise for his performance throughout the tournament. In the final game, a 72-49 win over Rice (N.Y.), Brogdon had 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He made 2 of 3 3-point attempts, 7 of 12 field goals and 12 of 13 free throws in the win.
Fellow Virginia 2011 class signee Paul Jesperson scored 24 points — all 24 coming in the final three quarters – to help Merrill (WI) defeat 64-42. The Blue Jays, now 4-5 on the season, have won three of the last four games and take the court again on January 7.
Prized Virginia football recruit Demetrious Nicholson (Bayside H.S., Virginia Beach (VA)) will be in action on January 5, when he takes the field in the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Florida. The game takes place at 7:00 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.
Nicholson, a cornerback who will play for the White team, was recognized for his play in this article on ESPN.com.
Top Virginia target Darius Jennings (Gilman, Baltimore (MD)) was expected to play in the game as well, but he will have to sit after suffering a concussion during the Chesapeake Bowl on December 30. The 6-0, 175-pound athlete, a wide receiver target for the Cavaliers, has narrowed his list to Ohio State, Virginia, and Wake Forest. He has taken official visits to OSU and UVa and will next visit Wake Forest the weekend of January 14.