Wednesday, March 16, 2016

game preview: Hampton

Date/Time: Thursday, March 17; 3:10

TV: truTV

Record against the Pirates: 7-0

Last meeting: UVA 69, HU 40; 11/26/13, Charlottesville

Last game: UNC 61, UVA 57 (3/12); HU 81, SC St. 69 (3/12)


UVA: 61.4 (#351)
HU: 72.2 (#44)

UVA: 118.4 (#9)
HU: 100.0 (#244)

UVA: 91.9 (#4)
HU: 104.8 (#192)

UVA: .9483 (#2)
HU: .3663 (#220)

Projected lineups:


PG: London Perrantes (11.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.4 apg)
SG: Malcolm Brogdon (18.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.8 apg)
SG: Devon Hall (4.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.8 apg)
PF: Isaiah Wilkins (4.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.4 apg)
PF: Anthony Gill (13.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 0.6 apg)


PG: Reginald Johnson (18.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.1 apg)
SG: Lawrence Cooks (8.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SG: Brian Darden (13.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.9 apg)
SF: Quinton Chievous (17.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 2.1 apg)
PF: Dionte Adams (5.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 0.6 apg)

Last chance.  This is the best senior class for UVA hoops in quite a while.  Three different players in it have won ACC honors of some kind - Player of the Year, DPOY, 6th Man, you name it.  The cruel reality of the NCAA tournament is that hundreds of seniors will end their college careers with a loss, and only a tiny handful can say otherwise.  Whether Brogdon, Gill, Tobey, Nolte, and Kirven can avoid the usual fate of seniors remains to be seen, but they're writing the last piece of their legacy regardless.

It's not just the careers of five seniors, though, that are wrapping up.  This is also the last page of the First Book of Tony in the UVA basketball bible.  These guys - Brogdon in particular, way back in August of 2010 - made their commitment very early in the Tony Bennett era.  We're still carrying over from the initial rise to the top.  (And yes, with ACC banners in the ceiling and being ranked at times #1 in the AP poll and in KenPom, it's fair to say UVA has been at the very top of the basketball world.)  This is the final chapter.  When this tourney is over, whether after one, two, or three weeks, the next time the sun rises on UVA basketball it'll be the same author, but a new book.  Hopefully it's more "Harry saves the day and gets rid of Voldemort for now" and less "holy shit, they killed Ned."

-- UVA on offense

Hampton, on the surface, is a respectable defensive team - the stat that really drags down their defensive efficiency is "free throw defense."  I maintain that's not entirely out of one's control - fouling other team's guards will generally result in higher free throw percentages than fouling their bigs - but Hampton's guards aren't very foul-prone.  Their bigs are; maybe they foul lane drivers a lot.  Regardless, Hampton has played solid defense all year long, to just go by the efficiency stats.

Against MEAC competition, that is.  Against bigger fish, their tempo has worked against them and they've been flattened.  Colorado scored 95 in 75 possessions.  SMU rolled up 105 points in just 69 possessions, which is more than 1.5 points per.

Hampton's lineup being essentially a four-guard setup just about all the time, opposing big men tend to have a field day on them, even in losses.  The best comparison is probably Colorado's Josh Scott, one of the Pac-12's best centers and scorer of 21 points and 8 rebounds against Hampton.  UVA has made no secret of their intent to feed the post early and often, and Anthony Gill should be about that productive.

Surprisingly for an up-tempo team, Hampton doesn't pressure a lot on defense, so UVA will have room to work.  Malcolm Brogdon and Devon Hall will both tower over whoever guards them, and outweigh them by 20-30 pounds, too.  Hampton does good work on the boards at both ends, but with the height advantage UVA has at any position you like, there'll be second-chance points, too.  Execute as per usual and the scoreboard will light up.

-- UVA on defense

The Pirates want to push on offense, so one thing that will limit those second chances for UVA is a likely extra emphasis on getting back - more so than usual even for Tony Bennett.  Some teams - like, some we know real well - will pass on a good shot in order to look for a great one.  Hampton just takes what's there and then crashes the offensive glass, hard.  They have three players in the top 300 in offensive rebounding, per KenPom's figuring.

For the most part, Hampton's starting guards are volume scorers.  Brian Darden is a low-percentage, high-volume shooter whose efficiency numbers are saved mainly by his almost impeccable free-throw shooting.  Reginald Johnson can get to the rim fairly well and gets fouled all the time, but he's a senior whose career three-point shooting is under 30%.  Doesn't stop him from shooting - he's launched 173 of them this year.

Hampton's biggest offensive threat - besides their propensity to try and beat you down the court - is the interior games of their biggishes, Quinton Chievous and Dionte Adams.  Chievous gets some putbacks, shoots 63% from two, and mainly eschews the jumpers - though he will at times shoot a three and very, very occasionally make one.  He's much more of a threat down low - but you can save a lot of points by fouling him, because he misses more free throws than he makes.  Hampton's biggest guy is 6'8", 250 Jervon Pressley, who's a shot-blocker but a liability on offense.

Conventional wisdom says you beat UVA by shooting threes, as aptly demonstrated by UVA's 1-3 stretch in January where the winning opponents (VT, GT, FSU) combined to make more than they missed, and UVA's only win (Miami) couldn't buy one.  Hampton cannot shoot threes.

-- Outlook

After the last couple years, in which both Coastal Carolina and Belmont put a scare on the Hoos and threatened to list them among the all-time tournament upsets, I ought to be highly cautious.  It's hard, though, when the opposing offense is so badly geared to succeed against one of the nation's best defenses.  One day, somewhere, a 16 seed will beat a 1, but there's no point ever trying to predict it.

Final score: UVA 82, HU 63

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