January 24, 2014

UVAMBB Power Rankings -- 1/24/2014

I did it all season last year, and it's time to dust it off and bring it back!

I'll admit it.  I was extremely butthurt over losing that home game to VCU.  But finally - after lots of awesome winning - I'm over it.  I'm over it and ready to really sink my teeth into Virginia Basketball again!

Here's how the UVAMBB Power Rankings work:

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 playing in recent games, coupled with an in-order listing of each player's value to the team moving forward with the season.  After the player rankings, I'll share my power rankings for the 15 teams in the ACC.  (Also, don't forget to look to the right to see the frequently-updated Virginia's NCAA Tournament Résumé!)

On with it...

#1 - Joe Harris
He struggled early in the season, deferring too much to his teammates, playing too passively, not hunting his shot.  But now, finally, he's back.  And the steps he took as a leader after the Tennessee game (showing up at Tony Bennett's house for a one-on-one meeting, leading a team meeting to rally the guys around Bennett's system) really entrenches him as the #1 guy for this year's team.  The best news, however, is that we have proven ourselves able to win without Joe.  Since the concussion, Joe has poured in 11, 16, 15, 18, and 16 points including 14-for-27 (52%) from behind the three-point arc.  That's the work of a confident, aggressive sniper.  And his free throw shooting has improved a little bit, too (16-for-21, 76% over the last five games).  Joe Harris is our star.

#2 - Akil Mitchell
I know the free throw shooting has turned atrocious (currently 43%), and I know he suddenly kills us when he tries to do too much offensively (scoring average now 6.7 ppg, down from 13.1 last season).  But lately, he has settled into full ownership of his role -- defender, rebounder, and garbage scorer.  And in that very specific role, he is an awesome player.  One of our best ever.  I worry about next season, not because we'll lose Joe, but because we'll lose Akil.  His toughness and ego-less athleticism will be very difficult impossible to replace.  In any case, I'm just focused on enjoying the last half of the senior season of one of my favorite Wahoos ever.

#3 - Malcolm Brogdon
Let's talk about finding the right role for specific players, seeing them embrace that role, and seeing their effectiveness take off.  That's Brog at the 2, attacking the basket.  He's the only guy who can do it really effectively (other than Justin Anderson when he's under control), and Brog's the only guy who is money from the line once he gets fouled.  Add that to solid defense, and we have a rising star on our hands here.  Brog is ice cold efficiency, poised to assume lead dog status for this team once Joe graduates.

#4 - Justin Anderson
He gives us two things that nobody else on the team can provide -- overt emotion, and into-the-rafters athleticism.  My wife and I have started calling them "Justin plays."  You know what I'm talking about.  The baited layups, rejected.  The insane putbacks.  The matrix-style pursuit of loose balls.  Justin plays.  "When he's in the game, something is going to happen."  That's what I usually say about him now, and it's so totally true.  That "something" isn't always good, but it's always a helluva lot of fun to watch.  Justin's falling in love with his perimeter jumper right now, and shooting 32% from deep, that love affair isn't a good thing.  But otherwise... he's the straw that stirs the drink.  (Sorry that I overuse that expression on Justin, but it's completely apropos.)  He's a kind of player I don't think Tony Bennett will be able to recruit into this system very often, so I'm just trying to really enjoy Justin Anderson for what he is, while we've got him.

Fuck yeah.
#5 - London Perrantes
8 points, 9 assists, 2 boards, 2 steals, with only 1 turnover and 1 foul.  For my money, Perrantes was our MVP against UNC.  He's really coming into his own, and showing the world how good Bennettball can be when there's a real point guard running the show.  Some Hoofans knock London's lack of pure footspeed, but I contend that guile and cunning, moxie and chutzpah can compensate for any lack of quickness.  The sky isn't the limit for Perrantes --- he's got a ceiling somewhere up there --- but I think he can be a very, very good ACC point guard, and easily our best since Sean Singletary.  For this year's team, he is indispensable.  We're not the same team when he's on the bench.

#6 - Anthony Gill
"The Janitor" (thanks Mike) continues to grow on me, especially as he gets more and more confident and comfortable in creating his offense.  He's still a garbage man, but there's definitely some finesse-style upside there.  I love him coming off the bench, facing our opponents' backup bigs, who are generally too raw to contend with Gill's quickness off the floor and well-rounded array of low post moves.  Like everyone else, he's kind of settling into his role, and the team is much better because of it.

#7 - Mike Tobey
I'd really like to have Mike Tobey - a starter and rightfully so - ranked a little bit higher right now.  He's not playing poorly.  He's a part of the offense, and he's become surprisingly good on the offensive glass.  But here's why he's #7 on this list: 43% from the field.  He's become a black hole, and his poor shooting around the basket hurts what is the single most important trait of Bennettball offense -- its efficiency.  I still love Tobes, and I still believe he has legit NBA upside, but since the Tennessee game he has gone 0-4, 3-11, 6-11, 2-9, 4-11, and 2-4 from the field.  That's 17-for-50 from the field.  That's 34%.  A horrible number for anyone, and especially horrendous for a big man who gets a mass majority of his shots from in close to the basket.  What excites me is that we all know that Tobey is better than that... so imagine how much better the team will be when he gets it back up around 50-55% (he shot .530 as a freshman).  We're playing great basketball right now, but the ceiling is higher and a big part of that potential lies with Mike Tobey.

#8 - Evan Nolte
Nolte is carrying a bit of a mercenary sniper role right now.  As in, come into the game and hit a three, usually when Joe's on the bench.  And that's okay, that's a role.  That's 5-10 minutes per game, and Nolte is shooting 57% from deep since we started playing well after the Tennessee game.  Sometimes the matchups dictate that he doesn't play at all (he's a defensive liability, not quick enough to guard the 3, not big or strong enough to guard the 4), but for all intents and purposes, he's the third guy off the bench and thus, #8 in this ranking.

#9 - Darion Atkins
I wish I knew what in the hell is wrong with Darion, and why in the hell he hasn't been able to develop past his crippling inconsistencies.  As the season moves along, his role is being further minimized.  The tightening of the rotation has been a boon to the team's performance, and someone had to hit the pine to make it happen.

#10 - Teven Jones
Right around 5 mpg in Perrantes/Brog relief and as part of the flood of scrubs when we're running out the clock at the end of blowouts.  That's a sad destiny for our scrappy little point guard, but just like with Atkins, Teven never seems able to work through his weaknesses.  Now he's been recruited over (twice, if you count Devon Hall), and he's pretty close to sharing the same fate as Solomon Tat as a four-year guy who was a great teammate but ultimately never a contributor to the team's on-court success.

BONUS! -- ACC Team Rankings

At this point, I have seen all 15 ACC teams play at least once, and following the conference as closely as I do, I feel at least somewhat qualified to share this ranking.  This is a ranking of how good I think the teams are, not based in any way on wins/losses/RPI/etc.

#1 - Syracuse
Easily the cream of the crop in the new-look ACC.  I have Cuse @ UVA circled on my calendar -- March 1st, bitches.

#2 - Duke
That's right.  #2.  Just because I know they'll be playing 8-on-5 in an obscene number of games, and because I think the collection of parts is going to gel as a team as the season drags along.  Fuck Duke!

#3 - Pitt
The way they dominated a good Clemson team... It's clear these guys are for real.

#4 - Virginia
5-1 today, 13-5 at the end of the ACC schedule.  Book it.

#5 - Florida State
Size, athleticism, defense.  That's the Leonard Hamilton recipe, and this year's FSU team is no different than any of the others, other than a general lack of impact guard play.

#6 - Clemson
I knew Brad Brownell would be a success at Clemson.  Right now, they're winning in a way very familiar to Virginia fans -- by grinding it out.  Littlejohn gives them a nice home court advantage.

#7 - North Carolina
Too much talent not to pull it together at least a little bit.  Roy can't coach his way out of a wet paper bag, but these guys will find a way to run around and attack the basket enough to get to a .500 record in the conference.  UNC on the Tournament bubble?  Should be fun to watch.  (Of course, they'll get in.)

#8 - NC State
That this team is so close to being in the top half of the conference is a testament to how down the ACC is this season.  State isn't very good, they're super erratic, but they have the talent to bubble up and beat anyone they play.

#9 - Maryland
Talented, but dysfunctional.  It's good to see them fade away into meaningless nothingness as they pack their shit for the move to the Big Ten.

#10 - Wake Forest 
I buy their nice start... to a certain extent.  The "Bzdelik Factor" is naturally going to doom them, though.  Also, these guys just cannot win on the road (other than in Blacksburg).

#11 - Notre Dame
Going nowhere fast with Jerian Grant out.

#12 - Georgia Tech
They look like a 6-win ACC team to me.  There's talent on this roster, but I'm not convinced Gregory is anything other than one of the three worst coaches in the ACC.

#13 - Miami
They have some pieces and parts, but it doesn't fit together very well.  Switching to the matchup zone was smart, but they still can't score.

#14 - Boston College
I still believe in Olivier Hanlan.  Frankly, I'm shocked that they are as bad as they are.  But losing is losing, and BC is doing a whole lot of it this season.

#15 - Virginia Tech
They suck.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with Pierce in my full bore BROGDOR love. Loved this post, K.