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Previewing Virginia

What? It's time for a conference game already? Seems like we should still be munching on comfort food at this point in the season. But I guess the directional schools can wait.

Virginia Offense 05-06Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG%46.9268Turnover Rate21.2165Off Reb Rate34.978FTM/FGA26.7107Virginia Offense 06-07Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG%53.774Turnover Rate20.992Off Reb Rate42.818FTM/FGA35.624











UVa's offense in the last year of the Gillen era was more or less the same as its offense in Leitao's first season. The big difference: offensive rebounding. The Cavs ranked 270th in offensive rebounding percentage in 2005; last year, they ranked 78th. This season's numbers are even better, but it's far too early to know how much more they've improved in this area--if they have at all. Besides, the real question is whether or not the Cavs can sustain better field goal shooting in 2007. As you can see, they were bricktastic in '06 (so it's a damn good thing they got better at grabbing their misses). They were similarly bad in '05.

Here is an early, early positive indicator: both Singletary's and Reynolds' usages are down a bit this season, which means they've not been carrying quite the offensive load that they have in the past. If they get more help this season, they can shoot more selectively; that's definitely going to help the team's overall efficiency. We know the Cavs are going to rebound. If they add improved shooting to that, they'll have an excellent offense rather than merely a mediocre one.

The Cavs were excellent at home in 2006.

Starters:

Sean Singletary (6-0, 185) -- Off to a great start, though he hasn't seen much improvement in his shooting (47.2 eFG% so far). He is, however, doing a great job distributing the ball. Singletary averages 8.1 assists/40 minutes (that's 6.6 per game) and boasts a nice, low turnover rate (17.8%). Assist-to-turnover ratio: 2.5:1. Also, he's getting to the line like crazy--his free throw rate, 75.5, is unbelievably good. Check last season's leader's to put that into perspective. Nine-point-nine free throw attempts per 40 minutes. Oh, and he's 39-of-40. What a nightmare.

JR Reynolds (6-2.5, 188) -- Has a 53.6 eFG% this season (markedly better than '06), but is turning the ball over much more than usual (25.8 TO%). Leading the team in usage and %Shots at this point.

Mamadi Diane (6-5, 197) -- Diane has been nothing short of brilliant in the first five games of his sophomore season. He is--dare I say it--en fuego.

%MinO Rtg%PosseFG% %ShotsPPWS2FG%3FG%TO%Pts/40Diane 200655.292.617.737.820.70.8538.624.218.210.8Diane 200774144.917.580.219.71.6578.954.221.222.2
About the same usage, about the same proportion of the team's shots while on the court, only with drastically different results. Just look at the change in points-per-40-minutes; his 22.2 figure leads the team. Not Singletary, not Reynolds. No Cavalier has been a more productive scorer on a per-minute basis than Mamadi Diane. We'll see how he holds up as the schedule gets tougher.

Jason Cain (6-10, 225) -- Emerged as one of the best rebounders (at both ends of the court) in the ACC last season and became one of my favorite players in so doing. What he didn't do was emerge as a scoring threat--he shot 48.4%, which is awful for a post player. Can he add efficient scoring this year? Maybe; he's shooting 61.8% through five games, and like Diane, has upped his per-minute production significantly. Anyway, this is a man who will bludgeon you dead--club you and eat your bones, he will--on the glass if you aren't careful. Put a body on 'im!

Adrian Joseph (6-7, 205) -- Light usage so far (13.8%), so not likely to be a big part of the offense, but he's shooting the ball quite well and is a perimeter threat.

Bench:

Minutes will be spread among Will Harris (6-6, 230), Laurynas Mikalauskas (6-8, 255), Ryan Pettinella (6-9, 238), Jamil Tucker (6-8, 230), Jerome Meyinsse (6-8, 230), Tunji Soroye (6-11, 245). Soroye and Harris were banged up earlier this season.

Pettinella could start the game in place of Joseph, though Joseph will get more minutes.

Harris has been the bench player getting the most time, and his %Shots is 24.2, so he'll be a factor while on the court. As for the others...who knows. They average between 10-17 minutes per game.

Virginia Defense 05-06Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG%49.0137Turnover Rate18.9288Off Reb Rate29.965FTA/FGA34.2127Virginia Defense 06-07Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG%44.960Turnover Rate19.5285Off Reb Rate27.964FTA/FGA29.664











Virginia's D isn't going to block shots or force a lot of turnovers; they get stops with FG defense and good defensive rebounding. Our turnover rate, then, is going to be dependent on how many unforced errors we commit. Protect the ball and we'll get plenty of shots at the basket; that's the good news. The bad news: very few second chances will come our way.