Monday, November 11, 2013

game preview: VCU

Date/Time: Tuesday, November 12; 7:00


Record against the Rams: 10-1

Last meeting: UVA 86, VCU 70; 11/13/98, Richmond

Last game: UVA 61, JMU 41 (11/8); VCU 96, ISU 58 (11/8)


UVA: 63.1 (#340)
VCU: 68.7 (#81)

UVA: 107.6 (#53)
VCU: 112.1 (#16)

UVA: 89.7 (#4)
VCU: 93.2 (#17)

UVA: .8901 (#15)
VCU: .8923 (#13)

Projected lineups:


PG: Malcolm Brogdon (9.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 apg)
SG: Joe Harris (5.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.0 apg)
SF: Justin Anderson (5.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (7.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.0 apg)
PF: Anthony Gill (13.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.0 apg)


PG: Briante Weber (9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 8.0 apg)
SG: Rob Brandenburg (12.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.0 apg)
SG: Treveon Graham (14.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.0 apg)
PF: Juvonte Reddic (13.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.0 apg)
PF: Terrance Shannon (14.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 apg)

It's probably a good thing this game is so early.  UVA fans weary of the pitiful showings in Scott Stadium have something to distract them from football, and have headed indoors to sell out the JPJA.  Probably with a small assist from VCU fans, but something about a top-25 matchup essentially for supremacy of the state has got UVA fans interested in basketball.  If the season goes as everyone expects, both of these teams will be in the NCAAs without a great deal of worrying about bubbles and such, but that also means both teams are good enough that the winner will have a really nice shiny prize on their resume.  Always good in the seeding discussions.

-- UVA on offense

All that running around VCU does requires a deep bench, and the Rams had 11 guys going 10 or more minutes in their season opener against Illinois State.  Which they won, handily.  Nobody played more than 25, which may have been a function of the blowout score as much as the VCU style.  But they really do have no qualms about frequent substitution.  One of the upshots of that: they won't be as bothered as a lot of teams if they get in foul trouble from the tighter emphasis on hand-checks.

Last year, in the tournament, Michigan showed the whole world how to beat the VCU press: get a good point guard and a big man who can run the floor.  Elite players like Trey Burke don't come around too often, and try as I might I can't find one on our roster, but then, we don't need to crush the Rams into fine powder like Michigan did, either.  And we do have floor-running bigs.  Probably not quite on the level (or size) of Mitch McGary, but we can rotate them just about as quickly as VCU can.

The point guard is the question.  Malcolm Brogdon's abilities against this kind of press are a mystery, and London Perrantes has one college game under his belt.  Joe Harris is a good ballhandler but gives up quite a bit of quickness to VCU's guards.  Justin Anderson's athleticism could come in handy; breaking the press is a team effort, after all.  Not that he'd play the point in a halfcourt offense, but one does not get picky when press-breaking.

Once settled, UVA should have a size advantage.  VCU does have forwards to match the size of ours, for the most part, but in the backcourt, there are plenty of smaller guards.  Brogdon may well be able to post up on a defender, and Harris should have little trouble shooting over them.  While VCU does have some bigger guards - primarily Treveon Graham and bench player Jordan Burgess - UVA will usually have larger guards in the game, and VCU will usually not.  VCU's halfcourt game suffers from simplicity at times since they work so much on the press and depend on it for points.  And of course, Tony often preaches that he lets his teams run when the time is right to run.... but he also has no aversion whatsoever to draining every drop from the shot clock to limit another team's frantic pace.

-- UVA on defense

The best way to break a press is not to let them press, right?  Don't let them score and they can't press - that's the usual mantra.  VCU will go right into the press from their halfcourt offense, so the actual key is defending and following it up with a good outlet pass.

VCU is tough to analyze on offense because they get so many easy points from their press.  It causes everyone's numbers to look really shiny.  Offensively, the best players are Treveon Graham and forward Juvonte Reddic.  Graham is a biggish wing, and can score a lot of different ways; Reddic is a low-post threat that can match ours basket for basket.  The Rams will probably miss Darius Theus at the point; Briante Weber is decent enough but more of a threat on defense (he averaged nearly three steals a game last year.)

If Graham and Rob Brandenburg get hot from three, it could be a long night; there's not much that's more demoralizing than giving up a three, turning the ball over, and giving up another one right away.  Ouch.  UVA will likely lose if this happens no matter how well they break the press because of VCU's pick-me-up pace.

However, let's not forget that in the halfcourt, it's VCU that has to find ways to contend with UVA's stifling defense.  The more time we spend playing halfcourt ball, the better we're going to like it.  VCU's 38-point win over Illinois State was impressive; VCU should be equally wary of UVA's 93.9% defensive rebound rate against JMU and the fact that the Dukes only shot six free throws.

-- Outlook

This game is fairly easy to analyze.  If UVA can take care of the press with reasonable consistency, they'll probably win.  If not, they'll probably lose.  The thing I don't know, and nor does anyone really, is whether yes or no.  It's the early season and we're brimming with either bubbly optimism or laughable naivete, so let's go with yes.

Final score: UVA 65, VCU 59


Anonymous said...

That just tore my heart out. Proud of the guys and that was a great game, but man did it hurt.

I would blame it on the free throws, but VCU was inexplicably even worse at the line.

pezhoo said...

I blame the free throws. I thought our guys handled the press pretty well and I give Bennett credit there. We played a top 15 team to the last seconds and they won on a long contested shot. I figured the game was 50/50 and I think we can get wins just as good against Wisconsin and Tennessee. I'm disappointed but not down on the season at all.

I loved our defense and rebounding. I really like Brogdon, maybe not as a point guard but still, he's good. Harris delivered a big game as well. If we'd made 4 more free throws, 70% for the game, we'd have won.

Anonymous said...

The team is good enough this year -- talent, coaching, depth -- that we should beat the #15 team in the country on our home floor.

The good news is, this is the first time in a long time that such high expectations have been warranted. The bad news is, we didn't get it done. Ah well. I'm still extremely bullish for the season. Very disappointing, all the same.

Sandmeistr said...

MB shouldn't be our starting point and I fully expect LP to have that position sewn up by mid season.

Shoulda put TJ back in the game with the seven point lead. His defense changed everything VCU was trying to do in the first half and we would've buried them.

CTB is lacking something at the end of close games; shoulda called a time out to set a play for our best player. Definitely should not have called one before MB's FIRST free throw.

Speaking of JH, I sure wish he were clutch in addition to being really good.

Good game out of DA. Exact opposite from JA. WTF?

Too many missed free throws, too many silly turnovers. Sloppy coaching in the last four minutes. Tough to overcome all that against the #14 team in the country. Hope we can shake it off before Davidson.

Anonymous said...

Good points SM, but IDK what you're saying most of the time, WTF? Maybe use players' last names instead, OK?

P.S. JK!