December 8, 2016

Kyle Guy Should Start Over Devon Hall

Our basketball team is like a football team without a running game. We better have a potent aerial attack (perimeter shooting) if we want to score enough to win. All arrows point to Kyle Guy.

Points per Minute / Points per 40 Minutes:
1 Shayok -- 0.527ppm, 21.1 p/40
2 Guy -- 0.506ppm, 20.3 p/40
3 Reuter -- 0.415ppm, 16.6 p/40
4 Diakite -- 0.406ppm, 16.3 p/40
5 Thompson -- 0.377ppm, 15.1 p/40
6 Perrantes -- 0.353ppm, 14.1 p/40
7 Salt -- 0.257ppm, 10.3 p/40
8 Wilkins -- 0.252ppm, 10.1 p/40
9 Jerome -- 0.247, 9.9 p/40
10 Hall -- 0.227ppm, 9.1 p/40

This is not bullshit -- Hall is the worst offensive player in our 10-man rotation. Of course, there's something to be said for efficiency, whatever, whatever, but you miss 100% of the shots you do not take (or whatever that cheesy adage is).

Other takeaways...

-- We need more from Perrantes. Gotta have it. He needs to be in the top 3 of that list.

-- This team will not score enough to win without Kyle Guy and Marial Shayok. At least one of those two needs to be on the floor at all times. One of them needs to start.

-- I'm ecouraged by the production of Reuter and Salt. Go ahead and pencil me into the camp of wanting to see more playing time for Reuter. 16mpg is not enough.

-- Wilkins really should be able to score a bit more than he is. It's a liability, though not as damning as with Hall.

-- This team is really, really fun to debate about. The amoeba-style ensemble offense is intriguing as hell.

-- I still think we might be closer to the bubble than many would like to admit.

-- Of course, you probably want to see the...

Efficiency numbers... True Shooting Percentage (including 2 pointers, 3 pointers and free throws) / Usage % (an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor):
1 Kyle Guy -- 71.3% / 21.2%
2 Jarred Reuter -- 69.2% / 21.3%
3 Mamadi Diakite -- 63.7% / 18.7%
4 Isaiah Wilkins -- 63.4% / 13.9%
5 Darius Thompson -- 62.9% / 21.1%
6 Jack Salt -- 59.3% / 14.5%
7 London Perrantes -- 58.1% / 20.5%
8 Ty Jerome -- 57.1% / 16.8%
9 Marial Shayok -- 51.1% / 31.4%
10 Devon Hall -- 44.8% / 16.7%

Efficiency absolutely matters, and no doubt it's the most important ingredient in Bennettball's successful offensive recipe. But look at the numbers! Pretty clear that Guy should be getting more playing time and more shots. Pretty clear that Reuter should be beginning to eat into Wilkins' minutes. Pretty clear that keeping the lid on Diakite is a big mistake.

Take the PPM and P/40 numbers coupled with the true shooting % and usage % , and then look at shots per game (Field Goals Attempted)...
1 Shayok -- 76 fga
2 Perrantes -- 74 fga
3 Thompson -- 56 fga
4 Hall -- 46 fga
5 Guy -- 45 fga
6 Wilkins -- 38 fga
7 Reuter -- 35 fga
8 Diakite -- 34 fga
9 Salt -- 33 fga
10 Jerome -- 16 fga


-- Kyle Guy should start, should see as much playing time as he can handle, and should lead the team in field goal attempts. Period.

-- Marial Shayok has been woefully inefficient with very heavy usage. Not sure what can be done about that, as he's really our best dribble-drive weapon. I think he just sorta needs to work through it while coming off the bench to play ~20 mpg.

-- Devon Hall to the bench, should be #9 in mpg.

-- More minutes and more shots for Reuter.

Is Kyle Guy on his way to breaking the UVA career record for three pointers made?  13 down, 400 to go (to tie Curtis Staples' record for made threes).  Keep track of the chase with the patented Wahooze Kyle Guy Threetracker, at the top of the sidebar to the right!

Fucking rad that Kyle Guy wears the same #5.

Last point: I'm starting to fall in love with what Jack Salt brings to the table in terms of providing a physical presence. I'm surprised, because coming into the season I was probably the biggest Salt-naysayer around. Happy to eat the crow on that one!

December 6, 2016

What I'm Reading Today -- 12/6/16

My mind is on the offensive line.  Specifically, on REBUILDING a shitty offensive line.





And then there's college football rebuilding, in general.


He’s bringing all of his experiences — NFL coach, growing up in Texas, a star defensive player — in hopes of resurrecting the orange and blue


December 2, 2016

Our Guide: Colorado

Colorado hired coach Mike MacIntyre, a defensive specialist with some head coaching success in the Mountain West (at San Jose State) in December 2012.

Prior to his hire:
2008 -- 5-7
2009 -- 3-9
2010 -- 5-7
2011 -- 3-10
2012 -- 1-11

The Mike Mac Era:
2013 -- 4-8
2014 -- 2-10
2015 -- 4-9
2-16 -- 10-2 (so far...)


The Buffs Are Back

And though Colorado isn’t quite better than ever, it’s stunningly in contention for a conference championship thanks to a defensive revival

November 28, 2016

Bitterly Disappointed...

...but patient. I recognize the depth of rot Mike London allowed to perpetuate within the program. Gotta rebuild both lines from scratch; find some QBs and playmakers. Year one of a three to four year rebuild.

Where do we go from here?

1) Bronco's end of season presser needs to be detailed and encouraging. He needs to convince skeptics that he "gets it."

2) Anae's offense needs to be very critically examined and vetted. That'll happen behind closed doors and we won't hear anything about it, but it needs to happen.

3) Three more OL in the 2017 class. Becton, Hunt, Swoboda, hopefully.

4) At least one more DL in the 2017 class, preferably two or three.

5) Playmakers. Darius Wise is a must-get, imho.

6) Get a head start on 2018 and 2019 recruiting. No bowl game, so use that time wisely.

7) Build some actual toughness in spring ball. Find guys who want to kill Hokies. Major focus on getting Jordan Ellis ready for the bellcow role.

8) Work the transfer market for big uglies and a mobile QB, along with whatever WRs with actual speed you can find. Bring Tim Harris back as a medical redshirt.

9) Choose a QB early in training camp. I hope it's Cross or a mobile guy who transfers in.

10) Install read option stuff heavily in camp. Anae's offense has to be spread-to-run, that's his wheelhouse.

11) Work miracles to get an offensive line that can pass for below-average instead of comprehensively awful.

12) Find a way, hell or high water, to feature Olamide Zaccheaus in the offense.

13) Get another wave of youngsters ready to play on defense. Trucilla, Brooks, Simmons, Stalker, Sharp, namely.

14) Be ready to start the season and not shit the bed against an FCS team.

15) Find a fucking offensive identity early in the season.

16) Win some games. At least four. FOUR IS BARE MINIMUM.

17) Meanwhile, deliver the goods on a top-40 2018 recruiting class.

At that point, the arrow begins pointing up.

Gonna be a grueling offseason. Glad Bronco wanted a challenge.

Why'd it go so bad this season?

I fully expected, at worst, 6-6. My call was 7-5.

Our o-line as a whole was worse than I thought it'd be. Disappointed in Smith, Matteo, English, and McDonald, none of whom were as good as I thought they'd be.

The poor OL doomed the running game. Too often plays decayed into Mizzell generating his own yards, which were never enough, and never reliable. He was plenty shifty, but not big, strong, or fast enough to serve as a true bellcow. For his part, Reid ran tough, but there weren't enough holes, or carries.

We never found a consistent go-to weapon at WR. Oz showed the potential, but lacked consistency/reliability. Other guys flashed at times, but couldn't keep it going. Drops were a problem. Again. So was a general lack of speed.

Benkert's arm talent was exciting, but poor pocket presence (unwillingness to step up into the pocket to deliver throws) and terrible pass pro ended up shattering his confidence. He clearly has a fragile psyche; a microcosm for the entire team.

DL was meh. Wilkins ate blocks, rarely made plays. Brown was inconsistent. The other guys battled, but were green and/or typically outclassed.

Kiser was a beast all season. The OLBs were young and played like it too often, even though they made some great plays at times. I wasn't impressed with Bradshaw, wanted more Word.

Blanding was hurt the first 2/3rds of the season, struggled to make the big plays we needed out of him. Rainey sucked.

Our top two corners missed the season. I thought Thornhill and Hall progressed well, but their youth held them below a glass ceiling. Injuries killed us at cornerback; we never had enough bodies.

Kicker was obviously a friggin disaster.

Conte was great, he'll be missed.

Overall, I thought ST play was much improved (other than the kicking). Hamm was a revelation returning punts. I was impressed by how the staff built longsnappers from scratch.

I expected much more this season, I'll admit. Main culprits of disappointment: offensive line, injuries in the secondary, youth across the roster, kicking, lack of psychological toughness (especially at QB).

But mostly, I just don't really want to talk about it right now.

November 21, 2016

Austin Nichols Dismissed, Major Loss for UVA Basketball

We can't have nice things.

My thoughts...

First, and most importantly: Go to hell, Austin Nichols.  Took up a scholarship for two seasons, put yourself in a position where we were really counting on you for this season, and... you did whatever it is you did to get yourself kicked off the team.  So, go to hell.

Second, I hope he gets whatever help he needs, and/or I hope this was the wake-up call he needed to get his head out of his ass.  I'm mad as hell, but I'm still pulling for you, Austin Nichols.

Second, it's good to know that our general righteousness is hard-earned and deserved.  I really don't see this happening at Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, UConn, UNC, etc cetera.

Fourth.  It's Mamadi Diakite time, bitches.

Dunk you very much.

(I'm going to stop with the numbers, and just give it to you free-flowingly.)  It's shit or get off the pot time for Jack Salt, Jarred Reuter, Devon Hall, and Darius Thompson.  For the record, I have my doubts about Devon Hall and Jack Salt.

Wondering aloud: Are we a bubble team now?  Jesus, I kinda think we might be.

My expectations were already lower than most Hoofans'. I was thinking 21-9, and a 5-seed, with Elite Eight upside (this was never going to be a 2017 Final Four team). I was trying to be realistic.  Without Nichols, I think this is now a fatally flawed team.  We'll work around it with the Bennettball systems, the Pack Line, and with grit, maybe with guys like Shayok and Wilkins taking the next step, maybe with young guys getting it done... but I've adjusted my expectations.  Now I'm thinking 6- or 7-seed, Sweet Sixteen ceiling.

Take last year's team and trade Brogdon, Gill, and Tobey for Guy, Diakite, and Jerome.  Assume improvement from the returnees (especially Shayok), but I still think a ~20% slide is fair to expect.  The ACC is tougher and our OOC schedule is a bear.  Last year's 24-6 (13-5 ACC) regular season becomes this year's 19-11 (11-7 ACC).  I really really really hope I'm wrong, but Austin Nichols was a huge part of our predicted success this season.  Our ceiling has lowered.  Choosing to underestimate this loss is choosing to stick your head in the sand.

Considering the potential silver linings, I hope Nichols' dismissal opens things up for the following to occur:
-- Kyle Guy accelerating his ascension to stardom.
-- Marial Shayok taking the reins as our top scorer and lead dog.
-- Isaiah Wilkins proving and improving his offensive game.
-- Jack Salt steadying into a consistent physical force in the low post.
-- Jarred Reuter carving out a reliable and important role.
-- Mamadi Diakite emerging as a captivating future star.

I'm actually more excited about this season than I was before. Overcoming this struggle is going to be a very interesting, entertaining storyline.

Tony Bennett already had the world's respect.  He's doubled it by booting Nichols.  Now he has to prove his coaching chops, and it's going to be fun as hell to watch.

Bottom line: With Nichols, Virginia was a bona fide Final Four contender in 2016-2017. Without him, I don’t think that case can be made right now.

November 17, 2016

My humble observations from UVA 72, St. Francis 32

I wanted to get this post out yesterday, but alas... work... stupid work...

Emptying my notebook after basking in the glorious 2016-17 home opener against St. Francis...

This team - St. Francis - sucks ass.  So take everything with a grain of salt.  JACK SALT, BITCH.

J/k, but the Terriers were bad.  Like, really bad.  They didn't help their own cause at all.

That being said, I think I heard somewhere that this is the 4th-lowest point total allowed to Virginia's opposition in the modern era.  So that's pretty good.  St. Francis is a D-1 team, so, you know... our defense is pretty good.

Other defensive notes from the post game notes:

SFB’s 13 first-half points marked the fewest allowed in a half by UVA since Georgia Tech’s 12-point second half on Jan. 22, 2015 (fewest in a first half since Harvard’s 8-point first half on Dec. 21, 2014)

UVA held SFB scoreless for 10:02 in the first half, extending a 15-11 lead to 35-11

UVA held SFB without a field goal for the final 12:48 of the first half and 14:29 total

UVA held an opponent to fewer than 40 points for the 15th time in Tony Bennett’s eight seasons

UVA is now 56-2 under Tony Bennett when limiting to opponents to fewer than 50 points

“Virginia is very disciplined in what they do. They don’t let you get to the basket, they trap the post, and they pressure the ball. For their offense, there is an argument of less is more. They don’t do a lot, but the things they do, they are great at.”  ~ St. Francis Coach Glenn Braica

I think I hit the nail on the head before the season when I used the phrase "ensemble offense."  After years of watching Mike Scott and then Joe Harris and then Malcolm Brogdon sort of dominate the shot count, it's refreshing to see a team that views multiple guys - anyone/everyone on the court - as potential go-to scorers, depending on matchups, situations, and the proverbial hot hand.  I kinda wonder if the ensemble effort is going to end up being a blessing (balance spreads opponents too thin), or a curse (lack of go-to scoring dooms us in close games), or both at different times.  I also wonder if Marial Shayok is actually going to allow this to be an ensemble effort, or if he's going to rise to the level of being out go-to bucket-getter.  (If he's not there already.  He has the look.)

My ongoing hypothesis is that trading Brogdon's elite-level perimeter defense for the presence of true live-wire shotblocking in the form of Austin Nichols, Mamadi Diakite, and an empowered Isaiah Wilkins is a net gain for the defense.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that we have so many upperclassmen on the perimeter now.  London Perrantes, Devon Hall, Marial Shayok, to a lesser extent Darius Thompson... these guys haven been percolating in the Pack Line for YEARS.  That experience matters.  It makes a difference.  Regardless, it's early, but I think our defense just might be better this season.

This is the deepest Virginia Basketball team I've ever seen.  I'm talking about QUALITY depth.  Tony will only go eight or nine deep in real games, but he could easily go 11.  Or burn the redshirts on Jay Huff and De'Andre Hunter and go 13.  Crazy, stupid amounts of depth.

Player-by-player observations and thoughts, in no particular order...

Austin Nichols -- He didn't start, and then when he got into the game he picked up two quick fouls and had to sit til the second half.  Once he was back in and eased into a bit of a rhythm, it was easy to see why he's been so highly regarded.  He's tall, strong, quick-footed, athletic, smooth, versatile.  I think his game is a bit more finesse-based that a lot of Hoofans have been expecting.  (We spent a lot of time watching Anthony Gill develop into the rugged badass he was last season, and Austin Nichols doesn't have that sort of game.)  Nichols likes to use his hook shot, a lot... maybe too much.  He's really animated on the court, and even during dead balls.  Kinda goofy, in a lovable sort of way.  He's a lot of fun to watch.  He hit the boards hard, like 'hit the boards hard' has been the primary decree pushed upon him by the coaching staff.  Aggressive defensive rebounding seems to be a primary focus for him right now.  I think he played well with both Jarred Reuter and Mamadi Diakite, showing good chemistry with both.  It's that ability to sort of fit in and mesh with his frontcourt mates (other than Isaiah Wilkins, none of the other guys really have that meshability that at this stage in the season) that will buoy Nichols' early PT, as Tony gets his rotations settled.  Nichols' game is very complementary to most of our other pieces and parts.  At the end of the day, I think there's little doubt that Nichols is out best overall big man, but I want to try to temper Hoofans' expectations here --- Nichols is not a star, at least not yet.  He'll score, rebound, block shots, defend, help us win, et cetera, he'll perfectly complement our other bigs, but he's not the kind of player to whom we can dump it down to in the post and trust to battle through doubles to go get tough buckets.  He's not that guy, at least not yet.  (And yeah, I got all of that from watching him play for 16 minutes against a shitty mid-major.)

London Perrantes -- He's the same London we know and love.  Don't worry about his 0-for-5 performance from deep, but maybe worry slightly about his 0-for-2 performance from the free throw line.  He's still a motherfucker, and it looks to me like his motherfuckerness has only grown during this past offseason, as he boiled over the Syracuse loss while realizing that it's his team to lead now.  Here's a short piece from Chris Graham that I think you should read, actually: "London Perrantes is the kind of guy you want leading you into battle."  There will be a handful of games this season, five or six of them, at least, in which a key London Perrantes shot is going to determine the winner.  It goes in, we win, it rims out, we lose.  He was 0-for-5 from deep against St. Francis, but I'm still expecting London to drill four of those six key, game-deciding shots this season.  Not to mention providing the perfect quarterbacking for this ensemble offense as the season moves along.

Marial Shayok -- Streaking the Lawn hinted at it, but let me go ahead and say it.  I'll even make it big and bold.  Marial Shayok is our best player.  He's the best pure scorer on the team.  He's a better defender than either Perrantes or Nichols.  He's one of two guys on the team who can consistently create his own shot (the other is Kyle Guy).  He came off the bench a little bit into the first half, and proceeded to score at will and bother the SFB offense.  I contend that between the wrist injury and the concussion(s?), Shayok was never right last season.  Now he's right... and man is he a weapon for us on both ends of the floor.  He'll either prove me right or wrong as the season grinds along, but I'm getting it out there now.  Marial Shayok is our best player.

Jack Salt -- Salt saw 16 minutes against St. Francis, hit a couple of layups and a dunk off of really good feeds from the ball handlers, and pulled down two rebounds.  Meh.  I really don't want to come across as a hater, but... meh.  He's big, he hustles, he rebounds, he can score when he's not bumped too much, he's becoming fundamentally sound... but he's limited.  I count four bigs that are better than him: Wilkins, Nichols, Reuter, and Diakite.  So any playing time Salt gets comes at the opportunity cost of a better player impacting the game more profoundly.  I like him as an end-of-bench 5th big who, when needed, can spell the guys in front of him, but that's about it.  His best potential utility in 2016-17 is to embrace the "five hard fouls" mentality and get in there and throw his body around in [very] limited minutes, but he seems hellbent on developing his game and trying to become a well-rounded, skilled, versatile big man.  Respect to him, I guess.  I just don't think he's going to help the 2016-17 Hoos very much.  (And then next year, we have Jay Huff coming off the redshirt, so Salt slides down one more seat and becomes the 6th big.)  I'm not bashful about pitching hot takes, so the windup... and the delivery... Tony made a mistake redshirting Salt in 2014-15.  The program would have been better served cycling through his scholarship more quickly, and/or giving him the option to transfer and sit out a year (if he transfers now, he'll lose a season of eligibility because he already redshirted.)  Salt played 16 minutes against SFB, but in a serious game with Austin Nichols not coming out of the doghouse, those 16 minutes should be closer to 6... or 3... or 0...

Jarred Reuter -- I sat next to a guy who didn't have this right, and it drove me nucking futs throughout the game, but I didn't want to be a dick by saying something to the dude... so let me vent that frustration now.  His name is "ROID-er," not "ROOT-er" or "RUDE-er."  It's "ROID-er."  Get the pronunciation right, dammit.  Think of hemorrhoids or steroids if it helps you, but get the fucking pronunciation right.  (I'll handle Diakite in a minute.)  So, Jarred Reuter... He's good, y'all.  Sneaky good.  Crafty.  Sound.  (That's a Tony Bennett word, "sound" and "soundness.")  Look, let's call a spade a spade; Reuter is short for a power forward.  He can't play much center, if any at all, just due to his vertically-challenged stature.  He's got a knack for using his low center of gravity and his big ass to his advantage; he clears space to operate, he's got good instincts on how plays develop, he gets open down low, he's got good, soft hands, and he's skilled at putting the biscuit in the basket.  He's a fine rebounder, maybe nothing special in that regard, but he boxes out like a champ.  Defensively, he'll struggle from time to time, but it's okay if/when he's playing alongside any of the shotblockers (Wilkins, Niochols, Diakite).  You probably don't want to see too much of the "Bang Bros" Reuter/Salt combo frontcourt, I suppose.  Against SFB, Reuter was our leading scorer in the first half (9 points), and easily could have gotten to 20 in this game if we didn't feature Nichols and the freshmen in the second half.  Reuter will sneak up on you -- he's skilled, and he can score.  I still struggle to envision a consistent game-in and game-out role for him this season, but I think we'll see him play and play well (read: score) when needed.

God damn right.
Mamadi Diakite -- "DEE-uh-KEY-tay."  Not {and I wince whilst typing this, embarrassed for those of you who have fucked this up til now} "DEE-uh-KITE."  Yeah, uh, um, this dude is legit.  Maybe a bit raw, but athletic as hell, aggressive, instinctive.  I don't want to gush, but he's just awesome.  14 minutes in his first game, 3-for-3 from the field (you can see a dunk, above), 4 rebounds, and a block into the stands.  The four fouls are reason for hesitation, but know this: he's going to be a star.  I get goosebumps thinking about the possibility of having him in orange and blue for the next four years.  His best is ahead of him, but it's pretty good already.  His challenge this season is cultivating a bit of fluidity in his offensive game.

Devon Hall -- In this game, he was steady-eddie, even-steven.  Nothing spectacular, but he was solid.  Important to note that he ran the point at various times when London was off the floor, and the offense didn't miss a beat.

Darius Thompson -- I think I might be guilty of under-estimating DT coming into this season.  He definitely brings an element of athleticism and physical play that we lack elsewhere in the backcourt.  He brings a certain edge, a certain swagger.  His shot looks better, more pure.  He hit the boards hard against St. Francis.  Maybe most importantly, he's clearly earned Tony Bennett's trust, so expect the ~20 minutes he played to be the norm for the season (unless Kyle Guy simply will not be denied playing time.)  DT is probably our best finisher on the break.  Wait, nope, that title belongs to...

Isaiah Wilkins -- I don't have a whole lot to say that I haven't said already.  Check it:
All the peripherals suggest that he's ready to take off this season. We already knew that he's a defensive force, and now it seems like his offense is catching up. He's kind of a positionless forward, but at this point in his development, he might be matchup-proof. I'm now looking for major minutes and flirtations with double-digit scoring this season.
I will note that Zay seemed to play more of an iron man role in this game.  I think he's in line for major, major minutes this season, as he supplies a lot of 'glue guy' stuff that we won't get anywhere else on the roster.  Like DT, it's clear that Wilkins has earned Tony's trust.

Kyle Guy -- Weird to say this in just second game of his UVA career, but it was a quiet game for Kyle Guy.  He looked good off the curl, hitting a pair of mid-range jumpers in the second half.  He's active, always moving, which is great to see.  I don't think he used his screens exceptionally well, but he's getting there.  2-for-4 from the field in 21 minutes of action constitutes a quiet game for Kyle Guy, I think.  Physically, he's small, but so clearly explosive and confident.  I am not tempering my expectations for him whatsoever... except to say that Shayok is going to lessen the need for Guy to handle so much of the scoring load.  There will be games where get 10 minutes and just a few points from Guy, and it'll be okay.  There will be other games where he plays 30 and scores 15-20.  I just wish people would build a fucking bridge and get over the man bun.

Ty Jerome -- His arms are short.  I never noticed that before, but he has kind of a T-Rex build.  Otherwise, I think he looked much better than he did in the scrimmage and against UNC-Greensboro.  I won't make any parallels with London Perrantes, except for saying that you can tell that Jerome has a similar kind of 'feel for the game' that Perrantes exhibited during his freshman season.  Jerome flashed a great eye for playmaking in this SFB game, and dropped a couple of truly nasty dimes.

Justice Bartley / Trevon Gross / Jeff Jones -- Doesn't really matter with a team this deep, but it bears mentioning that this is the best Green Machine we've had in Bennett's time at UVA.  Both Bartley and Gross seem capable of playing actual minutes, if needed.  (They won't be needed, of course.)  I do think the Green Machine will score points this season at the end of blowouts; like, they'll score more points than the backups and walk-ons usually score.

That's it!  GO HOOS!  BEAT YALE!

UVAMBB Preview...

...from Whitelaw Reid.