What a relief. It's nice to know, after a couple games which made one wonder, that UVA is still capable of delivering a good ass-beating. To be sure, the Hoos, after delivering a few stinkers courtesy of their own youthful inconsistency, this time took advantage of someone else's. Florida State is rebuilding, and you don't rebuild with experienced veterans. Still, we're in no position to complain about any wins.
Especially historical ones. It's one thing to hold Wofford under 40 points. It's another to do it to an ACC opponent; FSU's 36 points are the fewest any ACC team has managed against UVA since the shot clock. And yet the astonishing thing isn't the high school output from the Noles. The astonishing thing is that I'm not astonished. I should be; even for the pace of the game, which was the second-slowest of the season at 55 possessions, it's an excellent defensive effort; 0.65 points per possession is all FSU managed. That's real nice. I think the actual deal here is that I'm getting used to Tonyball. 56-36 is going to go down as one of the lowest scoring games of the year in the whole country and yet it didn't make my jaw drop. Maybe it should, or maybe defensive shutdowns like this are starting to become routine.
That would probably make Tony Bennett a very happy man. People may deride the slothy pace of Tony's games, but there are worse things than coming to be known for a completely impenetrable defense. The mass media's reticence in picking up the whole concept of pace can work to our advantage there. Keep this man around long enough and "you can't score on Virginia" will become as much a truism as "Calipari is probably still cheating." It'll attract exactly the kind of recruit Tony wants to attract.
In giving FSU the business, UVA places itself in the thick of an ACC race that's in dire need of untangling. After three weeks of play, seven teams are either 2-2 or 2-3. Opportunity lies ahead; the next two games are against two of the three teams that KenPom labels the three worst in the conference. (Of course, we went and lost to the other one, but never you mind that.) Even more fortuitously, the conference's three leaders - Duke, Miami, and NC State, all of which look tourney-bound - only appear on the schedule once. I have no doubt that at some point this season, the Hoos will look as crappy as they did two weeks ago, because it's a young team with a still-fluky point guard, but there's still no reason at all to put the dancing shoes in the closet.
-- Speaking of that point guard, KenPom has some interesting stats on Jontel Evans. His turnover rate, first off, is a positively disgusting 40.1%. Which is to say that when he's on the floor, he's got a 40% chance of giving the ball away. He did so five times against FSU. Now the good news: his assist rate is 36.2%. Which is to say that chances are damn good he will either turn it over or create a basket. I can live with that as long as he keeps playing like he did against FSU and not against Clemson. Remember I said he was putrid against Clemson: passive, indecisive, and lost. He was none of those against FSU. His turnovers were the result of aggression, not endless wishy-washy dribbling. I can live with that. Six points, seven assists, and five boards is a solid game, even with five turnovers.
-- You need no more proof of FSU's youthful foolishness than the power play possession they wasted. With Akil Mitchell very slow to get up from a hard fall, UVA had no other choice but to play something that I can only call a 2-2 zone. Or a 1-2-1; it looked diamondy. Most teams would've attacked the rim and tried to overwhelm with numbers. FSU made two passes and hoisted a stupid three-pointer; like thirteen of their other three-point attempts, it didn't go in. Dumb.
I would add this, too: this is something I can't say for sure, because the possession was so short, but what UVA was doing didn't look like what I would think the defense would look like if it were a pack-line with one guy left unguarded. It looked like a four-man zone defense. That might just be coincidence. It might also be that the team is coached to play like that if they're one man short. I don't have any way of knowing, but if it's the latter, you gotta hand it to the coaches; not too many teams would have a contingency plan like that.
-- If you showed me a picture of Mike Tobey guarding Boris Bojanovsky, but only from the chest up so you couldn't tell they were seven feet tall, I'd ask you what does middle-school basketball have to do with anything?
-- The one note of caution for those getting too excited over the sound beating we just witnessed is that we're not real likely to splash that many threes in one half again. The open looks were nice, but still. FSU's dismal 1-for-15 effort, though, is good reason to be pleased with the defense. Most of those shots were well contested and not a few were shot-clock desperation heaves.
Some very quick weekend review-type notes:
-- Vincent Croce is moving from DL to fullback, which gives us another candidate to smash heads the way I was talking about in the Connor Wingo-Reeves post. Croce ain't going there to catch passes.
-- No, I really don't think Taquan Mizzell's little legal issue from the big official visit weekend is even remotely going to be a problem.
-- Interesting article on UVA's new special teams coach, Larry Lewis.
-- I'm not going to waste much space on the whole Manti Te'o thing, but my God this has to be the best intentional-yet-unintentional humor ever. The Dallas Stars tried one joke, and it worked, but your inner 12-year-old will see another one.