Thursday, March 13, 2014
game preview: Florida State
Date/Time: Friday, March 14; 12:00
Record against the Noles: 20-22
Last meeting: UVA 78, FSU 66; 1/18/14, Charlottesville
Last game: Md. 75, UVA 69 (3/9); FSU 67, Md. 65 (3/13)
UVA: 61.4 (#343)
FSU: 66.9 (#149)
UVA: 114.1 (#25)
FSU: 111.9 (#47)
UVA: 90.2 (#4)
FSU: 98.0 (#54)
UVA: .9367 (#5)
FSU: .8209 (#38)
PG: London Perrantes (5.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.8 apg)
SG: Malcolm Brogdon (12.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.6 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (11.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.4 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (7.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.3 apg)
C: Mike Tobey (6.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.4 apg)
PG: Ian Miller (13.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.0 apg)
SG: Aaron Thomas (14.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.0 apg)
SF: Montay Brandon (8.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.6 apg)
PF: Okaro White (13.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.0 apg)
PF: Michael Ojo (2.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.3 apg)
Working your way into the top five in the rankings and winning the outright regular season title are terrific things, but they come with their own set of problems: namely, you get to this time of year and it's like they didn't happen. Especially if you fail at taking care of business. UVA earned the ACC's double bye in the tournament, which means it's now time for business. Florida State put an early end to Maryland's tourney run (and probably, their NIT bubble hopes) in the 8/9 game, and thus is UVA's Friday opponent to open up UVA's postseason.
At stake on Friday: simply the chance to do something UVA hasn't in almost 20 years, which is play on Saturday. So if the Hoos lose, it's just par for the course historically, but expectations render that excuse even more undesirable. Time to get it started.
-- UVA on offense
Speaking on FSU's statistical profile, they remain basically the same team they were in January when UVA demolished them twice. They do most things pretty well. They block a lot of shots, courtesy mostly of their seven-footers, Michael Ojo and Boris Bojanovsky. Okaro White gets in on that action as well. They also rebound like crap.
This remains utterly bizarre, as FSU is one of the very tallest teams in the country. Bojanovsky is a pitiful defensive rebounder given his size. (In fairness, Mike Tobey has similar numbers, but there's a reason for that: UVA's defense forces a ton of long shots, which take rebounding opportunities from the centers and give them to the guards. Also, there's nothing wrong with Michael Ojo's rebounding.)
It's a little strange, then, that UVA's elite offensive rebounder - that'd be Tobey - didn't have great games either time out against FSU. He did score 13 in Charlottesville, but not via mega-rebounding, and put up a goose egg in Tallahassee. Still, he, as well as Akil Mitchell and Anthony Gill (both registering in the national ranks of offensive rebounders in their own right), ought to be a weapon - the odds favor it happening sooner or later.
Despite what FSU does well, though, they've been sliding downwards in the defensive rankings. When last we met, the Noles were the KenPom #6 defensive team in the country. Now they're 54th. Even being among the top teams in the conference in field goal defense, they're in the bottom half in total D-rating in conference play - the result of too many second chance shots and, for that matter, first chance shots, as they rank pretty low in getting turnovers, too.
For a team like UVA, then, who shares the ball and doesn't depend on individual playmakers trying to get through the teeth of the defense, and who doesn't turn it over and who also happens to rebound well, this is the right matchup.
-- UVA on defense
The Florida State starting lineup has changed since January; back then, they brought a lot of scoring off the bench, but Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas were semi-recently moved to the starting lineup. Miller took over starting point guard duties from Devon Bookert, and forward Robert Gilchrist has seen his minutes reduced to almost nothing after spending two-thirds of the season in the starting lineup.
Like on defense, FSU has one tremendous flaw: turnovers. This hasn't improved all season; even in the win over Maryland, they turned it over 19 times. UVA took full advantage of this tendency in both games against the Noles, getting free possessions more than 1 out of 4 FSU trips down the court. Having no point guard exacerbates this problem; neither Miller nor Bookert are suited for those duties and the disastrous Montay Brandon experiment ended ages ago.
If they didn't turn it over so much, they'd be pretty dangerous. In ACC play the Noles were the best 3-point shooters in the conference. Bookert and Miller are very dangerous in this regard. They're very selective about when they pull the trigger, though, preferring to work inside when they can. Okaro White has always been really athletic and he uses this to good effect. Boris Bojanovsky is an efficient and probably underused scorer - though he does have a lot of similarities to Mike Tobey in terms of consistency and is a lousy passer. There's a lot of synergy between their inside game and their distance shooters, and they really just need a London Perrantes to orchestrate things.
They haven't got one, though. They have two turnover-prone shooting guards trying to play the point. And those guards don't get a lot of help from the team. White is the least turnover-prone of the whole bunch, and his 17% turnover percentage (which isn't terrible) is bettered by no fewer than five Hoos. The turnovers sabotage this offense to a tremendous extent.
Based just on point margin in games against the 8 and 9 teams, it was clear which was the better matchup for UVA. Statistics back it up - and UVA is well-suited to take advantage of FSU's glaring weaknesses. Any trepidation I have about this matchup is based on history and being a UVA fan and knowing how that goes - not the opponent. FSU is just good enough to take advantage of history, but not if Tony Bennett keeps on smashing that history to pieces.
Final score: UVA 67, FSU 56