|Off Reb Rate
|Off Reb Rate
It's been a tough year on and off the court for Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers. Sylven Landesberg left school in the offseason, and that was followed by injuries to Sammy Zeglinski, Will Sherrill, and Mike Scott. Scott only played in ten games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
They've shown some flashes of potential despite the setbacks--they swept Virginia Tech and won at Minnesota--but this is also a team that lost to Seattle (to clarify: not the Super Sonics) at home, barely fended off Norfolk State, and handed Wake Forest its only conference win to date. When things go bad for this Virginia team, they go really bad.
As I noted last week, the only difference between Wake's historically bad offense and Virginia's is turnovers. Virginia has a terminal case of Chronic Brick Fatigue Syndrome; their offensive rebounding percentage in conference play ranks 12th by a wide margin. You get down into the 22-23% range and you're in "we only grab what we can't avoid because they came off the rim right to us" territory. That is the saddest goddamn stat I've seen in a while. If I didn't know any better, I'd picture the Cavaliers in grainy black-and-white film as a bunch of 5-10 white guys from 1947. They weren't a whole lot better last season, but Scott's absence clearly makes a big difference here.
They've rebounded a third or more of their misses on just five occasions. (NC State has done it 17 times.)
Where they miss Scott and Landesberg the most is in and around the paint. Scott has been a reliable 50+% shooter in the post for years, and while Landesberg wasn't nearly that good, he'd also help UVA improve on its dreadful 41.1 2FG% in conference play. The team's full-season 2FG% is 43.5, which ranks 311th in the country.
Making matters worse, they don't get to the line, and they've gone from one of the best free throw shooting teams in the country to one of the worst. After hitting nearly 76% of their FT attempts in league play last season (ranked first), they're at 63.8% in 2011, which ranks dead last. Here again the absence of Scott and Landesberg clearly hurts: Landesberg made 81% of his 137 attempts a year ago, while Scott was 52-59 before getting hurt in mid-December.
What has gone right: three-point shooting. They're 31st overall, first in league play, and they take plenty of them. A couple of their first-year contributors are over 40%, Mustapha Farrakhan is having himself a career year, and Sammy Zeglinski is always a threat. They've done so well outside and so poorly inside that their three-point percentage in ACC play (38.5) is not that much lower than their two-point shooting percentage (41.1). It's made this possible, according to some recent game notes:
• In 10 games this season, Virginia has shot better from 3-point range than 2-point range
• UVa accomplished the feat just seven times in the previous two seasons combined
• Virginia has shot better from 3-point range than 2-point range in the last two
games and in four of the last five games
Four of six after the recent loss to BC. Still an impressive run that should in no way be considered a feat. Feat, noun, "an achievement that requires great courage, skill, or strength." This is no sign of skill--it's the sign of a horrible offense.
Jontel Evans (5-11, 190) --I'm guessing poor Jontel has a lot to do with the fact that Virginia has had 11% of its shots blocked. (That's a lot.) Evans is 59-150 (39%) inside the arc, which is where he does the vast majority of his shooting. Maybe Ryan Harrow can discuss the art of the floater with him. Fortunately for the Cavs, Evans is far from a primary contributor and takes a back seat to the other guards.
Sammy Zeglinski (6-1, 185) -- Zeglinski has improved on his turnover rate quite a bit, though that may have more to do with Evans handling the distributing than anything else. Between last season and this one, he has established himself as a solid outside threat, but that's about all he's good for.
Mustapha Farrakhan (6-4, 181) -- Virginia is fortunate to have gotten a big year from Farrakhan, seemingly out of nowhere. After putting up eFGs in the 42% range in 2009 and 2010, he's at nearly 51% in 2011. He is more accurate than he's ever been both inside and out, and he's taking a quarter of Virginia's shots while he's on the floor.
Joe Harris (6-6, 202) -- Sure, it's been a season full of bad news, but UVa has at least found a good building block in Harris. He's quietly had one of the best freshman campaigns in the ACC, and he's been critical to the Virginia offense. His height makes him difficult to guard along the perimeter, where he has made 41% of his 145 three-point attempts.
Assane Sene (7-0, 239) -- Who could've guessed that Sene would prove so important to the team this season? He was barely a factor in the rotation during his freshman and sophomore years. Now he's one of the few true forwards on the roster, which makes him a necessity no matter how he's playing. Though he hasn't been bad; he's hit 51% of his twos in a secondary scoring role, he rebounds well at both ends which is hugely valuable in this case, and he's an excellent shot blocker. He is prone to turnovers and fouls, however.
Will Sherrill (6-9, 226), KT Harrell (6-4, 204), Akil Mitchell (6-8, 221). Sherrill is a decent inside-outside threat but isn't talented enough to impact the game as anything other than a spot-up shooter. He'll have to play to help Virginia match up in the paint. Harrell is a high-usage freshman like Harris, a less-frequent outside shooter but every bit as deadly. State needs to do a good job of closing out and making him put the ball on the floor; he's far less effective inside the arc. Mitchell is another freshman. He has five fouls to offer the team.
|Off Reb Rate
|Off Reb Rate
I'm always appreciative of a good poster child for the pointlessness of rebounding margin. Virginia is a horrible offensive rebounding team but they're pretty damn good at the other end. Somehow.
It's a good thing that they are, what with those middling numbers in the eFG% and TO% categories.
The Pomeroy Predictor likes Virginia by a point. State has advantages all over the floor, so one last road win for Sidney Lowe is well within the realm of possibility. If the Pack can overcome their usual impediments--stupidity, lame effort--they'll win going away. But that's an "if" the size of something totally gigantic.