Tuesday, March 19, 2013

game preview: Norfolk State

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 19; 9:00


Record against the Spartans: 1-0

Last meeting: UVA 50, NSU 49; 12/20/10, Charlottesville

Last game: NCSt. 75, UVA 56 (3/15); BCU 70, NSU 68 (3/13)


UVA: 60.5 (#338)
NSU: 68.6 (#56)

UVA: 107.5 (#67)
NSU: 93.0 (#289)

UVA: 88.9 (#18)
NSU: 98.8 (#130)

UVA: .8759 (#27)
NSU: .3498 (#224)

Projected lineups:


PG: Jontel Evans (4.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 5.0 apg)
SG: Paul Jesperson (5.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.9 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (16.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.2 apg)
SF: Justin Anderson (6.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (13.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.5 apg)

Norfolk State:

PG: Jamel Fuentes (5.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.0 apg)
SG: Malcolm Hawkins (11.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.2 apg)
SG: Pendarvis Williams (14.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 apg)
PF: Rob Johnson (9.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.8 apg)
C: Brandon Goode (7.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.2 apg)

Postseason here we go.  UVA will only play home games from here on out, thanks to being one of the NIT's marquee teams, unless they make it to Madison Square Garden, where they couldn't get to in November.  Regardless of only being asked to the junior prom and not the senior one, you have to admit that a season in which UVA swept Maryland and VT and beat all three Triangle teams is a pretty successful one.  The Hoos should be able to carry it forward for at least one more game, with instate opponent Norfolk State coming to town tonight.  UVA has only ever played Norfolk State once and needed a last-second tip-in to win it, but that was a much less talented team back in 2010-11.

-- UVA on offense

One thing that stands out on the KenPom scouting report for NSU is their 3-point defense, which is 9th in the country.  This makes sense for two reasons.  One is that NSU plays in the MEAC, which is not likely to be a place where awesome three-point shooters congregate.  Even the really bad defensive teams in that conference have better 3-point defenses than most of the rest of their metrics.  Two, NSU has a couple long and tall shooting guards-slash-wings, who would naturally be pretty good at contesting three pointers.

Fortunately, we nullify that some by having all our three-point shooters also be pretty tall.  That kind of defender has been giving our shooters some fits lately, but half of the problem is still just hitting the open ones, which hasn't been easy.

When UVA pounds it inside, seven-foot center Brandon Goode is there to defend for NSU.  Goode is a solid shot-blocker with two per game and nearly a 10% block rate.  However, Goode only plays about half of NSU's minutes, so UVA will otherwise find room to work inside.  Goode fouls a lot, too, a likely reason for his minutes limitations.  On the perimeter, the Hoos should watch for point guard Jamal Fuentes, who is so like Jontel Evans its scary.  More on that in a bit, but Fuentes is a good on-ball defender who gets his share of steals. 

NSU has overall done a great job on defense this year - albeit in a crap conference.  The thing dragging their ranking down, other than SOS adjustment, is their horrible rebounding.  Even Goode isn't a particularly great rebounder.  There should be chances for some putback buckets, all the more reason to work it inside.

-- UVA on defense

For all their success on defense, and the Spartans have had some this year, they're pretty poor on offense.  Stop me if you've heard this description of a point guard: never shoots threes, can get to the rim at times, high assist rate, good on-ball defense.  It's Jontel Evans, but it's also the Spartan PG Jamal Fuentes, who other than being four inches taller than Evans, could be a long-lost twin.  Fuentes is content to work the offense through his fellow guards, Pendarvis Williams and Malcolm Hawkins.

Williams is the most deadly of the bunch, and not just relative to the rest of them.  He's an excellent shooter from any area on the court, inside or outside the arc, and an 80% free-throw shooter too.  Williams is the lone starting-lineup holdover from last year's team that upset Missouri in the NCAA's.  He'll be a tough assignment for anyone.

Hawkins, on the other hand is a volume scorer, and volume scorers don't do well against UVA because we take away the volume.  Brandon Goode is a respectable force inside, but should be able to be limited if UVA uses the low-post double and forces him to pass, which is a weak point of his game.  Power forward Rob Johnson is another volume scorer, and probably less skilled than sixth-man Rashid Gaston, who comes off the bench to form a three-man rotation down low.

NSU is actually a little thin off the bench; there are back-end players they use but only seven in the main rotation.  The other is Kris Brown, a shooting guard of limited usage.  Fuentes is sometimes spelled by Marese Phelps, who isn't really a threat, but sometimes NSU just goes without for a few minutes.

-- Outlook

Expect a low-scoring game here.  Norfolk State is respectable on defense and not so hot on offense, and other than the NC State game, UVA's struggles have been almost exclusively on the offensive end.  Plus the Spartans will come out fired up; they'll have those memories of last year's big game on their minds as well as the added motivation of beating the big instate team in their own house.  What they fortunately won't have is Kyle O'Quinn (a Reggie Cleveland All-Star if ever there was one) tearing it up the way he did to Mizzou.  UVA's been kind of crummy lately but I can't bring myself to believe they can't at least get past an 8-seeded MEAC team at home.  If we lose this one, I'm glad it's the end of the season because I wouldn't want to watch anything else after that.

-- Final score: UVA 66, NSU 51


pezhoo said...

That was a terrible first ten minutes! They couldn't turn the ball over fast enough. Good last thirty minutes though. I'm having trouble finding one player to be worried about on the St. John's team. Their leading scorer is suspended for the year, they are the very definition of a slumping team.

Anonymous said...

That was a terrible FORTY minutes. I had no idea this team was capable of playing so poorly. How many times did a UVA player pass the ball to a spot where nobody stood? And the free throws... sheesh. We won, that's great, I'm delighted to move on, don't get me wrong. But that entire game was an embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

Okay, one nice thing: I see that the freshmen outscored the rest of the team 34-33, despite getting just under 40% of the minutes. And as a group they had only 3 turnovers, and went 15-21 from the line. Good signs for the future.

Brendan said...

I'll tease the SJU game preview a little bit: if you want to find someone to be worried about on the Johnnies, the answer is Chris Obekpa, who according to tempo-free stats is THE pre-eminent shot blocker in the country.