Saturday, February 23, 2013
game preview: Georgia Tech
Date/Time: Sunday, February 24; 2:00
TV: ACC Net., ESPN3
Record against the Jackets: 34-39
Last meeting: GT 66, UVA 60; 2/3/13, Atlanta
Last game: Miami 54, UVA 50 (2/19); UNC 70, GT 58 (2/19)
UVA: 60.6 (#339)
GT: 66.3 (#174)
UVA: 109.2 (#42)
GT: 95.8 (#249)
UVA: 88.3 (#21)
GT: 87.0 (#10)
UVA: .8979 (#20)
GT: .7292 (#82)
PG: Jontel Evans (4.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 5.1 apg)
SG: Paul Jesperson (5.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.1 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (16.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.2 apg)
SF: Justin Anderson (6.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (12.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.5 apg)
PG: Mfon Udofia (8.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.0 apg)
SG: Chris Bolden (7.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.3 apg)
SF: Marcus Georges-Hunt (10.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.2 apg)
PF: Robert Carter (9.8 ppg, 6.9 ppg, 0.9 apg)
C: Daniel Miller (7.7 ppg, 6.6 ppg, 2.2 apg)
UVA's last two losses aren't actually all that distressing - they played well enough against that Lunardi actually moved them up in his last bracketology - but they still represent missed opportunities. As such, there's not much margin for error any more. The Hoos remain in the drivers' seat for third seed in the ACC, but they have to win the winnable games or else have the selection folks cast doubtful eyes in their direction. Losing to GT on the road didn't help, but fortunately, the last time we had a revenge game at the JPJA, it went OK if you consider a 37-point blowout win OK.
-- UVA on offense
The score on Georgia Tech hasn't changed much since the last time we saw them. Really bad on offense and pretty excellent on defense. In fact, their KenPom numbers have trended even further toward the extremes since that last game. The last time a team scored better than a point per possession on them was NC State on January 9. UVA was on pace to do just that, and then went FLUB.
Daniel Miller remains a dangerous shotblocking fiend, with his stats for both blocks and fouls in excellent shape. His shot-altering presence was a big reason UVA wilted in the second half last time. I had hoped at the time that Mike Tobey could help draw him away from the basket, but Tobey only played nine pretty ineffective minutes and was probably starting to feel the effects of the mono that's kept him out of every game since. On the off-chance he returns - unlikely - Tobey isn't going to bring much but some semi-useful breather minutes the way Darion Atkins has been relegated to doing.
There are other ways to get Miller away from the rim, which UVA used to some effect last time, but Robert Carter does a lot of good cleanup work even when your scheme for Miller works to perfection. Keeping our (thin lineup of) bigs on the move is important, and guys who attack the rim need to be aware of the backdoor block. Against GT, drivers need to be more aware than usual of the possibility of kicking to an open three-point shooter. (Who must then of course knock the shot down.)
If anything has held UVA back on offense this year, at least in the ACC portion of the season, it's simply finishing opportunities. Unfinished chances were a big problem against Miami and they were a big reason for the last GT loss; UVA could never quite find the dagger they needed to put the Jackets away. Georgia Tech isn't a great team and UVA needs to find that killer instinct and bring it to every game. That'll be the difference if they do what they couldn't in Atlanta.
-- UVA on defense
Another reason for the Atlanta loss was a breakdown in interior defense. This is always going to be a thing as long as Akil Mitchell is the only healthy post player and Evan Nolte is left guarding guys his own size only much more athletic. Miller is a solidly efficient player and Carter has a lot of athleticism that needs refinement into consistent post scoring.... but is very dangerous when given space to operate in. Plus, Kammeon Holsey can bring it off the bench as well.
I seem to recall trashing GT's guard play last time out; in that respect, nothing's changed. Brian Gregory tries to minimize the minutes played by his guards, letting Mfon Udofia run the point (at which he's become respectable if not exactly dangerous) but otherwise keeping the ball in the hands of the frontcourt as much as possible. Three-guard lineups are rare. Marcus Georges-Hunt is a forward who takes up a lot of the responsibilities of a two-guard since Brandon Reed and Chris Bolden are such awful shooters.
So scheme-wise, the matchup shouldn't be a problem. The pack-line defense loves it if you try and work the ball inside because more often than not, it'll handle that. Personnel-wise, it's tricky. Nobody's really athletic enough, big enough, and at the same time, healthy enough to guard Carter and Miller at the same time. That plus Holsey was a problem. Expect Tony Bennett's game plan to focus on finding ways to keep Carter and Holsey out of the paint.
Yeah, I know this didn't go so hot last time. But up until it started going badly, it was actually going pretty well. And even on a two-game losing streak, UVA's on a long playing-pretty-good streak. Tony isn't the kind of coach to let the same thing bedevil his team twice, and I think there'll be an answer for some of those interior defensive problems. If GT starts raining threes from everywhere, then you tip your hat and move on, but that's not their game and it should allow the UVA defense to come up with some solutions for stopping GT's frontcourt. It's a good day to bounce back in more ways than one.
Final score: UVA 64, GT 56