Tony Bennett's Washington State teams did three things consistently: they took care of the basketball, they ignored offensive rebounds, and they controlled the defensive glass. Dave Leitao's last Virginia team did none of those things, but Bennett has managed to craft the Cavaliers in his image in no time flat--working with pretty much the exact same roster. That's impressive. Guy knows what he's doing.
(Note to Coach Lowe: this is what it looks like when you have a clearly defined philosophy and get your team to buy into it. "We're gonna run! haha j/k" is not a viable anything, it is a useless cosmetic fixation.)
|TO% (rk)||OR% (rk)||Opp OR% (rk)|
|Washington St. (2007)||16.5 (6)||26.8 (319)||31.5 (76)|
|Washington St. (2008)||16.6 (9)||28.1 (305)||29.6 (42)|
|Washington St. (2009)
||19.0 (83)||28.2 (305)||25.3 (2)|
|Virginia (2009)||20.6 (188)||34.6 (101)||33.0 (183)|
|Virginia (2010)||16.8 (14)||31.6 (222)||27.2 (13)|
Virginia's strengths have largely carried over into conference play, though they are less pronounced. The grind that is league play will do that. Turnovers have been a big deal for the Cavs, who finished last season with a -17 turnover margin in conference play. Through six games this year, they're +17. Nobody's taking better care of the ball than they are, and they're doing a nice job turning opponents over as well.
ACC foes have grabbed a third of their misses against Virginia, not a great defensive rebounding percentage in raw terms, but very good in context. Five of the six teams they've played rank in the top 40 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage.
Both of those strengths were apparent in their first game against NC State. In the second half of that game, Virginia turned the ball over three times in 34 possessions. They also locked down the defensive glass, which was important because the Wolfpack shot just 41.1%. The Pack needed an opening and Virginia wasn't willing to give them one.
If the outcome is going to be different tonight, NC State, for starters, has got to match Virginia in those areas. State did that well enough the first time but failed to maximize their effective possessions with good shooting. Against Virginia, there's usually no other way. For Sidney Lowe's teams, it's always been the only way: shoot well or meet your doom.