Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Virginia Preview

Virginia has two extremely talented players, and several other servicable role players. Sean Singletary gets the bulk of the press, but the story in conference play so far has been JR Reynolds. His last game at the JPJ he went off for 40 points, and has done over 34% of UVA's scoring in ACC play. Both Reynolds and Singletary are shooting lights out - Reynolds' numbers are 1.31 PPWS, .593 EFG%, .527 2pt%, .452 3pt %, and .886 FT%; Singletary goes for 1.27, .583, .533, .407, and .871 in the same categories. They also share and share alike - 32.7 assist % for Singletary, 28.4% for Reynolds. The only negative is that both have been vulnerable to the turnover. That's actually been the knock on Singletary his entire career - too often his game veers across the line that separates frenetic and out of control from high paced yet in control. Still, you simply can never count the Hoos out of a game with these two involved, particularly the way they've been playing.

Virginia is a high paced team that scores in bunches and loves shooting the 3. No ACC team has gotten a bigger share of its points from beyond the arc than the Cavaliers. They'll put a lot of pressure on Duke's perimeter defense, which hasn't been all that great in defending the 3 in conference play. However, they'll put almost no pressure on the interior. Adrian Joseph is afraid of contact (in one of the most astounding stats of the season, he's played 141 ACC minutes and shot precisely zero free throws), and Laurynas Mikalauskas and Tunji Soroye are, well, offensively challenged. Only Jason Cain is capable of being a true interior threat, and his conference shooting numbers have been not so hot (.94 PPWS, .432 EFG%). However, Cain is an excellent rebounder on both ends of the court, and his ability to stay on the court is a crucial element to Virginia's success.

Virginia will really try to push the pace against Duke and get the Devils playing faster than they want to. Singletary loves to run, whether it's after a turnover, missed shot, or made basket. The Devils will have to get back in transition after every possession. Pocius could actually see a healthy number of minutes tomorrow night, since UVA plays the kind of run and shoot and slash game that has a little more of a European flavor (and Virginia runs reasonably small lineups a lot of the game). Duke would also be wise to try to establish the interior early on the offense - Virginia is a terrible shot blocking team, and their big men, especially Cain, are foul prone. Duke also may have an advantage in the turnover category - UVA is not particularly adept at forcing turnovers, but is liable to give the ball up, at 22.7% in conference play.

This is really a divergent moment in the season for these two schools. For Virginia, this is one of their hardest remaining games - it's debatable whether this game is more difficult than at Virginia Tech or at Maryland, but those are the biggest remaining threats on the schedule. For Duke, the only game likely to be easier is at home against Georgia Tech. The Devils and Cavaliers sit tied right now in the standings, but face very different paths down the home stretch. Tomorrow's game will be tough, and is likely to be a fight to the finish. Virginia is extremely good at home, and has beaten several superior teams on its home court in the past 3-4 years. The crowd will be up for this one (biggest marquee home game of the year), as will the players. Duke will have to bring its A game to come out with a win.


Boston College takes out agression from Duke dismantling on lowly Hartford. BC shoots ungodly 19 of 22 on 2 point field goals. Dudley shoots 8 for 8, pleads with Skinner for more shots, and sits (for 5 whole minutes!).

UNC dismantles Miami, thoroughly dominating almost all aspects of the game. Hansbrough gets 22 and 13 in just 25 minutes. Quentin Thomas (yes, Quentin Thomas) picks up 8 assists in 14 minutes. His assist rate is now an absurd 50.3% (but you won't see him on the leaderboard, since he doesn't play qualifying minutes. Heels outrebound Miami 49-24 and kill the Canes on both ends of the glass - 14 of 31 offense, 35 of 42 defense.

NC State shocks Virginia Tech. Third biggest upset of the conference season (behind Miami @ Maryland and these same Hokies over UNC). Tech shoots only 21 of 60, including just 36% on 2s (ay caramba!). Engin Atsur (a/k/a Turkish Wes Miller) shoots 10 3s out of 11 shots, preserves distinction as player most likely to never see taking a layup. Ben McCauley posts 20 in an iron man full game. Dowdell goes for a hard fought 16 in loss; continues to cement status as first-team all-ACC candidate (his only competitors at guard play together in the UVA backcourt).

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