Wednesday, March 27, 2013

game preview: Iowa

Date/Time: Wednesday, March 27; 7:00


Record against the Hawkeyes: 0-1

Last meeting: Iowa 73, UVA 60; 3/13/97, Salt Lake City, UT; NCAA tournament 1st round

Last game: UVA 68, SJU 50 (3/24); Iowa 75, SB 63 (3/22)


UVA: 60.8 (#330)
Iowa: 67.5 (#102)

UVA: 107.3 (#69)
Iowa: 109.0 (#48)

UVA: 88.6 (#13)
Iowa: 89.4 (#20)

UVA: .8768 (#25)
Iowa: .8833 (#23)

Projected lineups:


PG: Jontel Evans (4.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.9 apg)
SG: Paul Jesperson (4.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.9 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (16.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.2 apg)
SF: Justin Anderson (7.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.3 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (13.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.5 apg)


PG: Mike Gesell (8.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.8 apg)
SG: Roy Devyn Marble (14.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.9 apg)
SF: Aaron White (13.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.4 apg)
PF: Melsahn Basabe (7.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.5 apg)
C: Adam Woodbury (4.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 0.6 apg)

Is this heaven?  No, it's the NIT.  And UVA is really one game away from the NIT's heaven, as it were: Madison Square Garden, which only had Delaware between it and UVA in the early season.  Iowa is a much more formidable opponent than Delaware, but UVA is better equipped and more seasoned now.  If the Hoos can get to MSG, they'll find a very familiar foe awaiting them.

-- UVA on offense

The good passing and movement that UVA displayed against St. John's will be even more vital here.  Iowa has one major weakness on defense: they get absolutely ruined by good point guards.  They've allowed two 90-point games this season, and to two of the elite PGs in the country: Trey Burke and Erick Green.

UVA doesn't have a point guard of that caliber, obviously.  They'll have to hope that Iowa is equally susceptible to good playmaking from all corners of the court, rather than elite playmaking from the primary ballhandler.  Trying otherwise to score on the Hawkeyes has been tough.  They're a long, tall squad in a similar way to UVA.  Big guards and long forwards that use that advantage to good effect.  Melsahn Basabe exemplifies it as a better post defender than his 6'7" height might suggest.  Aaron White is a 6'8" quasi-wing type who will probably draw the assignment on Justin Anderson.  And Roy Devyn Marble (who uses his middle name to distinguish himself from his father Roy Marble, an Iowa star of old) is a big, long shooting guard.

Marble's defense might be wasted on Paul Jesperson, whose shot has been poor lately.  Too flat.  Much too flat.  Marble may be able to prevent Jesperson from ever getting off a shot, and has a good chance of reaching one he's already let go.

The size that Iowa has is the likely reason why they've been the 9th-best team in the country at defending the three.  Opponents are shooting less than 30%, and UVA's three-point shooting of late has been at best adequate and at worst crippling.  They'll defend the post well, with two centers combining for about 25 minutes a game, and of course, Basabe.

Also look for plenty of press action.  St. John's even tried a token one, which had the clear mark of a team who'd practiced it specifically for UVA.... and only for UVA.  Iowa is not VCU, but they're more adept at the press than the St. John's idea of just putting some guys on the other side of halfcourt in a basic press formation and seeing what happens.  UVA isn't a disaster against the press any more, but no sure thing either.

-- UVA on defense

UVA must be careful here, mainly not to get into foul trouble.  Iowa's backcourt options are limited.  It's Roy Devyn Marble or close to nothing, especially with freshman PG Mike Gesell (you may remember him as a guy Tony Bennett recruited pretty hard) limited with a foot-bone thing very similar to what Darion Atkins has going on with his shin.  Stress reaction that's not quite a fracture, but could be if one is careless.  Gesell missed several games in early March and hasn't been the same at all since returning.

That leaves Marble, essentially the only Hawkeye who can create for himself.  This he can do quite well.  He's not a great three-point shooter (nobody on Iowa is) but he can get to the rim and draw fouls, post up smaller guards, and at times run the offense as a second point guard.  In fact that's what Iowa called on him to do against Stony Brook, and brought Gesell off the bench.

Down low, there are several options.  Aaron White draws a ton of fouls as he tends to draw shorter defenders.  He can knock down the resulting free throws, as well as the occasional face-up jumper, and he can post up too.  Melsahn Basabe has more strength than White, and crashes the offensive boards hard.  Both he and White do, actually.  And Adam Woodbury is a skilled freshman center whose minutes are somewhat limited, but he was a top recruit and flashes some of that skill from time to time.

UVA will definitely get all it can handle down low.  Marble provides the spark from the backcourt.  And Iowa, unlike UVA's previous two opponents in the NIT, can rotate in some scoring punch too.  Eric May is another big guard who can shoot some, if not create the way Marble can, and Zach McCabe is a sizable forward with some versatility.  UVA can't take any possessions off because they're not likely to be bailed out by crap shooting, as has been the case at times the past two rounds.

-- Outlook

I want to win, but I might not leave feeling cheated if I can watch Fran McCaffery completely melt down.  McCaffery has the best combination of fiery personality and not-at-all-fiery looks in all of coaching.  Bobby Knight looked like a dude who might heave a chair.  McCaffery looks like the admissions director, not the basketball coach.  Except when he does this.

Anyway, this is a proper test.  Iowa could have been dancing in a weaker conference.  They went 9-9 in the very deep Big Ten, and not just by feasting on Northwestern and Penn State.  They've beaten four tourney teams, including Iowa State.  This could go either way, truly; on paper and on the court it's a 50/50 matchup.  I have to give UVA the slight edge for playing at home.  But no result between a 25-point Iowa win and a 25-point UVA win would surprise me.

Final score: UVA 68, Iowa 66


pezhoo said...

I remember Roy Marble at Iowa. One of my friends at UVa used to say you HAD to refer to him as "the high-flying Roy Marble" because that's what all the announcers did. I looked his stats up, he was a double figure scorer all four years, shot 77% (!) his sophmore year and scored 20ppg his senior year. The 77% shocks me, how does a 6'6" player do that? Anyway it appears he flamed out quickly in the NBA and began (or continued) a dizzying descent into drugs. Another cautionary tale of athletes tearing up their golden ticket. Truly unfortunate. His son is shooting 41% this year so I'm hoping we keep him in check tonight.

Anonymous said...

The future of UVA basketball, the near future, really needs to revolve around Justin Anderson and Mike Tobey. Joe Harris has done a yeoman's job as the leader, but Tobey offers interior size and scoring, while Anderson offers shot-creating potential. Joe and Akil would be nice complementary pieces to them, with guys like Jesperson/Nolte offering shooting off the bench.

Would love to beat Maryland a 3rd time, but it looks like that isn't going to happen.

pezhoo said...

I'm disappointed anyone would refer to Harris' year as a yeoman's job. Since 1983, I think the list of Virginia's 1st team All-ACC players reads: Stith, Singletary, Scott, Harris. Did Harris wear down and peak for the Duke game? Yes. Are Tobey and Anderson going to contribute more next year, building on a substantial base this year? Yes. But to say Harris won't be the focus of the offense next year, I don't agree with that. He is a great (not just good) player.

Brendan said...

"Yeoman's work" is a compliment, although I agree that I don't see Harris taking a back seat next year. On the other hand, I don't see him being used as a crutch the way we've been doing, either.