December 21, 2012

UVAMBB Power Rankings -- 12/21/12

Previous editions:

At regular intervals during basketball season, I will unveil the power rankings for all of the players on the basketball team. This is essentially a relative measure of how they've been performing in recent games, coupled with an in-order listing of each player's value to the team moving forward with the season.  On with it...

#1 Joe Harris (previous rank: #1)
The Ultimate Weapon hasn't really been carrying the offense, but only because he hasn't had to.  With Big Fun and Darion Atkins stepping up, Joey Buckets has been free to fill complementary roles where needed.  I look for him to assert himself a bit more once we get into the grind of the ACC schedule.  Believe it or not, Akil Mitchell is currently hot on his heels for this #1 ranking.

#2 Akil Mitchell (previous rank: #2)
If you round 9.5 up to a 10, Big Fundamental is averaging a double-double, with 13.5 ppg to go along with those 10 rebounds.  Add two assists, a steal, half a block, and 72% free throw shooting to the mix, and you have a high-impact forward on your hands.  Fun has been playing great basketball so far this season, and has now overtaken Jerome Meyinsse as the latest, greatest testament to Tony Bennett's ability to develop raw bigs into players.  Amen and Hallelujah.


#3 Darion Atkins (previous rank: #3)
Akil has been playing extremely well, but it is Atkins who is the biggest pleasant surprise so far this season.  His 17 points against Morgan State paced the team, and there doesn't seem to be signs of that production slowing.  With two legit bigs for the first time since I can remember (Junior Burrough and Yuri Barnes, maybe?), this year's UVA team has the goods to deliver some consistent production in the paint, and Darion is a huge part of that equation.  ATKINS DIET!  52% from the stripe is going to bite us in the ass at some point, though.  Also, Atkins is still not totally immune to picking up cheap/stupid fouls.  So there are some things to clean up, but he's still only a sophomore, and he's still clearly the team's third-most important player right now (a healthy Jontel Evans could challenge that ranking).

#4 Teven Jones (previous rank: #5)
I'm officially drinking the kool-aid on this kid.  As I told my friend Karl at the Tennessee game, "Teven has a little motherfucker to his game."  For a point guard, that's something I really like -- a little bit of swagger, a little bit of a chip on the shoulder.  And I'm not trying to make this comparison, at all, but if you squint really hard and concentrate you can see a little Isaiah Thomas in Teven Jones.  I know that's an insane projection, but I can't put red ink on the eyeball test.  Teven's contributions can't be judged by the box score, as he simply gives the team an energy and an edge when he's in the game.  Plus, and I really love this in a point guard -- he's knocking down his free throws at a 93% clip.

#5 Justin Anderson (previous rank: #8)
He's suffering from the weight of expectations, but he's slowly coming around and learning how to translate his immense physical gifts into on-court production at the college level.  His field goal percentage (.390) and three-point percentage (.211) are both horrible, but like with Teven Jones, his contributions go beyond what you can track with stats.  I like him a lot as an energy guy off the bench this season, and if those shots start falling with a bit more regularity, look out.

Plus... this move... this dunk...

#6 Paul Jesperson (previous rank: #7)
He's our glue guy, and his length on the perimeter is a real x-factor defensively.  His 3-for-4 performance from the bonusphere against Morgan State was very encouraging.  He fits well into the defense, and if he can keep making some shots in each game it will be a really big deal for this team.  I rank him #6 here, but he probably deserves the #4 ranking on this list just based on the solid play he's given.

#7 Evan Nolte (previous rank: #4)
It kills me to drop Nolte three spots on this list, as he's a player I really, really like.  But the fact of the matter is that since the Wisconsin game, he just hasn't made much of an impact.  1-for-8 from behind the three-point arc over the course of the last four games coupled with minimal rebounding means his role is slipping a bit.  I think he'll settle into about 12 minutes per game as the 8th man in the rotation.  That's certainly enough for his positive development, but not enough for a big-time impact this season.  That being said, this team definitely needs complementary shooters from the perimeter, and if Jespy and/or Anderson aren't getting that done, Nolte would be given more of a chance.

#8 Mike Tobey (previous rank: #9)
He is what he is -- a still-raw yet offensively-talented center who needs serious work in the packline and lots of time in the weight room.  I think he's going to be a really good player for us down the line, but right now he's just the big we'll bring off the bench when Mitchell or Atkins need a breather or get into foul trouble.  I bet he has a few big games this season, but nothing in the way of regular, consistent, reliable production.

#9 Jontel Evans (previous rank: #6)
He could be as high as #2 on this list, but the team is learning how to play - and win - without him.  He'll eventually be healthy and will work his way back to importance, but he's pretty far from that right now.

#10 Taylor Barnette (previous rank: #10)
He'll play about 15-18 mpg as long as Bub is out.  He'll also get a crack at some perimeter shots as the 4th guy in the pecking order for the "complementary shooter" role.  Overall, I'm still not impressed by Barnette, but he's played pretty well in these two most recent games.

#11 Doug Browman (previous rank: NR)
As the #4 point guard, he deserves mention while Evans is out.  But he's far from being a key cog in the machine.  If you see that enormous melon in the game, it either means we're involved in a blowout, or we're in deep shit.

We currently sit at 9-2 overall, with two quality wins on our resumé.  After seeing the other ACC teams in action, I think I can make a decent educated guess on how the rest of the schedule will shake out...

Old Dominion - W, 10-2
Wofford - W, 11-2

North Carolina - L, 11-3 (0-1 ACC) -- I just can't predict a win here, as it makes it too easy to go pollyanna on this entire schedule projection.  That said, I think we have a very good chance to win this game.

@ Wake Forest - W, 12-3 (1-1)
@ Clemson - W, 13-3 (2-1)
Florida State - W, 14-3 (3-1)

@ Virginia Tech - L, 14-4 (3-2) -- We'll lose two of our first five ACC games, so I'm going with this one to give us the most painful loss available.

Boston College - W, 15-4 (4-2)
NC State - L, 15-5 (4-3)
@ Georgia Tech - W, 16-5 (5-3)
Clemson - W, 17-5 (6-3)

@ Maryland - L, 17-6 (6-4) -- Maryland is pretty damn good this season.  Well-coached, and with some real frontcourt firepower.  This is a bad matchup for us.

Virginia Tech - W, 18-6 (7-4)
@ North Carolina - L, 18-7 (7-5)

@ Miami - L, 18-8 (7-6) -- Many of our fans hit the panic button.  But this is just how the schedule breaks.

Georgia Tech - W, 19-8 (8-6)
Duke - L, 19-9 (8-7)
@ Boston College - W, 20-9 (9-7)
@ Florida State - L, 20-10 (9-8)

Maryland - W, 21-10 (10-8) -- We'll be on the bubble, and the JPJ will be rocking.  After peaking in mid-January, we'll have to grit through .500 ball in February and March in order to go dancing.  But we win this game and make it in... as a 9-seed.  We spring the 8/9 upset, and take the 1-seed to the brink in the second round.  Solid progress.

1 comment:

  1. Catching up after the holiday. Love these ranking posts, K.