The Virginia Cavaliers are coming to Raleigh, very slowly, today at 5:00pm to battle the Wolfpack; the game can be seen on ESPN2 with Dave O’Brien and Doris Burke providing commentary. Today’s game is important on many levels: the need to win at home, beating a high RPI team for resume building, and the fact I can’t stand losing to anyone who plays Sendekian. State leads the series 82-59 and owns a current win streak of 1, which came last year during the ACC Quarterfinals (75-56). Tony Bennett owns a 5-2 record against the Pack, Lowe (3-0), Gottfried (2-2); both losses to Gottfried have been in the ACC Tournament. Three of the last four games in this series have been decided by a single basket.
Tony Bennett and his sundial offense are a major pain in the rear for teams who aren’t disciplined or loaded with NBA talent. Their approach to slow it down, limit the number of possessions in the game, and then use their efficiency to win may be a purist’s dream come true but it’s usually boring as hell to watch. As you can see it’s not so much their offense that gets you but their defense, they force bad shots, they limit your second chances, and they don’t send you to the line, plus they force enough turnovers to be a problem.
Let’s take a look at who has the advantage when each team has the ball. Quick overview of the icons:
- One school logo = advantage
- Both school logos = relatively equal.
- Polar bear covering it’s eyes = they are so bad at that offensive category you need to avert your eyes.
- Statue with face in palm = the frustration all NC State fans feel when watching defense.
As we all know State’s offense works best in transition and if it’s forced into a halfcourt usually succeeds when they can get offensive rebounds. The problem is UVA’s defense plays to stop the transition game and force you to beat them by hitting your shots the first time, limiting second chances. It’s simply, we can’t afford a cold shooting night or being unable to get offensive rebounds. Plus, no more quick shots from inside the arc when there’s no one underneath to help you when you’re on a 1-on-3 fast break or any random 3fga if shooting 3′s isn’t your thing.
Surprisingly ours strengths match up with their strengths except for rebounding, the Pack must get better at it, especially with our size. I can’t say this enough, rebounding is about attitude just as much as fundamentals and positioning. They did great in the first half against ND but were lousy in the second, they must attack the boards for 40 minutes, it feeds the beast. In the end I think this game comes down to rebounding on both ends of the court.
KenPom likes UVA by 2, I’m going to say our bad luck against them in the regular season continues and hope my internal predictor is still wrong.
Joe Giglio (N&O)
NC State tries to build on Notre Dame win
N.C. State (11-4, 1-1 ACC) has lost each of the two regular-season games to Virginia in Gottfried’s first two seasons with the Wolfpack. It has cost N.C. State the tiebreaker in the seeding for the ACC tournament in both seasons, pushing the Wolfpack down to the No. 5 seed.
There are so many different parts from this season’s team from the previous two, Gottfried said he won’t even mention that to his team, but he did note the value of the losses to Tony Bennett’s team, which has been the No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament the past two seasons.
Gottfried was more concerned with how Virginia is playing now than in recent history. The Cavs struggled outside the ACC, losing to VCU, Wisconsin, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Tennessee, but their defense has found its form in the conference.
The Cavaliers beat Florida State 62-50 on the road last week and then pasted Wake Forest 74-51 on Wednesday night in Charlottesville, Va. The Wake win, after the Deacons had beaten North Carolina at home, got N.C. State’s attention.
“After seeing what they did to Wake the other night, we have to be on our toes, we have to be ready to play,” senior forward Jordan Vandenberg said. “Otherwise we’re going to be in for a bad day.”
Bennett’s program, known for its defensive prowess, is again one of the country’s best in scoring defense (55.9 points per game, third in the country) and third in the country in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted, tempo-free defensive metric.
Virginia vs. NC State preview: No, you’re slow, pal!
London Perrantes (6-2, 189) — His free throw rate is excellent, but he only occasionally shoots the ball, so his rate of 2.5 fouls drawn per 40 minutes is probably a better indicator of how often he’ll be creating problems in the lane in any given game. So when he tries to score, he’s good at getting a foul out of it; he just doesn’t try to score all that much. Solid assist and steal rates, poor turnover rate.
Malcolm Brogdon (6-5, 217) — Brogdon is shooting 36% from three after hitting 32.4% from outside last year, and considering both his modest 2FG% and high turnover rate, he seems like the sort you’d want to force to score off the dribble.
Joe Harris (6-6, 225) – Harris’ workload is down considerably, which makes little sense given his shooting percentages: 57.1% from two, 40% from three. He has a career-high TO% and a career-low FT%, and those things obviously aren’t helping right now, but they aren’t reason enough to start sending more possessions elsewhere. Go back to leaning on this guy more heavily, UVA. Or actually, wait until next game to do that.
Akil Mitchell (6-8, 235) — Mitchell was a significantly underrated asset last season, while this year, well … it’s tough to figure what’s happened. His shooting percentage inside the arc is down from 54.8% to 44.9%, his turnover rate is up, and he’s shooting a career-low 45.8% at the free throw line. Some of it might be explained by a larger role in the offense, except that his role has actually gotten smaller. Maybe last year was an aberration to some extent, but he hasn’t been this inefficient since his freshman year.
Mike Tobey (6-11, 253) — He wasn’t shy as a freshman, averaging 15.8 shots per 40 minutes, and that remains true in his second season. This time around, though, his 2FG% is way down. He’s been an exceptional offensive rebounder and shot blocker.
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
Three to know: Virginia at N.C. State
3. Pace yourself
N.C. State ranks ninth in the ACC by averaging 66.9 possessions per game, and Virginia forces teams to play at a slower tempo than they’d like.
The Cavaliers rank third nationally in defensive efficiency, but N.C. State is coming off a balanced effort at Notre Dame. Kyle Washington replaced fellow freshman Lennard Freeman in the starting lineup, and eight of the Wolfpack’s nine scholarship players were in the game for between 13 and 28 minutes. T.J. Warren played a team-high 35.
“I like the fact that in the first half everybody that played got a basket and at least scored,” Gottfried said. “They felt good about their contributions offensively.”
Virginia also controls tempo with an offense predicated on screening. The Cavs force defenses to be patient and disciplined.
“I think if you tried to document how many true screens they set and use in a game, I don’t know that we play anybody that sets as many,” Gottfried said. “Some teams have great movement. Virginia has great movement with also a lot of screens away from the ball. They really screen you left and right.”
It’s likely that N.C. State employs some fullcourt pressure, which can create more of an up-and-down game or reduce the amount of time the Wolfpack has to play halfcourt defense against the Cavaliers’ offense.
Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
Gottfried: Pack must continue balance, toughness
“I think that our team realizes that T.J. needs to score, but I think they also realize that we’re going to be better if some other guys step up, as well,” head coach [db]Mark Gottfried[/dd] noted. “There’s a good balance that we have to get to where other guys are hunting for baskets, but at the same time, we don’t want T.J. to lose that aggressiveness.
“I felt good about [everybody else's] contributions offensively against Notre Dame, but I feel like for us to become a good team, we do need a little bit more balance.”
Gottfried noted that toughness is one of the traits needed most when playing against Virginia, who the Pack will host on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Cavaliers rank second in the ACC for scoring defense (55.9 points per game) and have started off 2-0 in league play.
“I think they’re playing their best basketball without question,” he said. “Watching Florida State last night play on the road at Clemson and win made the Virginia win at Florida State a little more impressive. Then, against Wake Forest, I thought they were terrific from the tip-off, they were just good from bell to bell.
“They’re playing with a lot of confidence and we have to be able to match that. This is going to be a good challenge for our group, they have to learn how to really execute against a strong defensive team.”
Norm Wood (dailypress.com)
Virginia heads to Tobacco Road for daunting, two-game trip
Given how U.Va. (11-4, 2-0 ACC) played in victories at Florida State and against Wake Forest this week, the Cavaliers should have no shortage of confidence heading to Tobacco Road.
U.Va.’s re-energized approach to defense, which was responsible for holding FSU to 30.8 percent shooting from the floor and Wake Forest to 35.4 percent shooting, will be tested by offensively stout N.C. State and Duke. Sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon led U.Va. against Wake Forest with 14 points.
“These are two tough road games for us coming up,” said U.Va. guard Joe Harris, who showed no ill-effects Wednesday against Wake Forest in scoring 11 points after sustaining a concussion last Saturday at FSU. “N.C. State is very good. It’s a tough environment to play in. It’ll be a first for most of the guys on the team. I don’t think anybody besides Akil (Mitchell) and I and Darion (Atkins) and Malcolm have played at N.C. State before.
“We get to show we can play on the road. As long as we prepare the same way we have these last couple games, I feel like we should be feeling good about ourselves and have confidence going into those games.”
Norm Wood (dailypress.com)
ACC All Access: Virginia’s Joe Harris is recovering from concussion-like symptoms sustained at Florida State
Virginia coach Tony Bennett would love to take Joe Harris’ word that he’s feeling better after suffering concussion-like symptoms Saturday and leaving the game early in U.Va.’s 62-50 win at Florida State.
Bennett knows better. Admitting he’s hurt isn’t part of Harris’ nature. Instead of relying on Harris’ word, Bennett was hoping to get some encouraging results Monday afternoon from concussion tests administered to Harris.
“He’d lie to you and tell you he feels good even when he doesn’t,” said Bennett, whose team hosts Wake Forest (11-3 overall, 1-0 ACC) on Wednesday. “I think that the test will hopefully show that he does feel OK.”
Harris, a 6-foot-6 senior guard, was in the game at FSU for less than three minutes before he was injured during a loose ball scrum. He didn’t attempt a shot and sat on the bench for the rest of the game.