Sunday, January 13, 2008

Virginia Preview

Lineup questions are present for both teams heading into the final conference opener. For Duke, the questions center around Thomas' ability to play, and speculation about just how small we'll go if he can't - personally, if he can't go, I'd like to see K have some fun and go uber-small at least once, with a Paulus, Smith, Scheyer, Nelson, Henderson lineup, and play press-and-gun basketball. Luckily for Duke, UVA's frontline consists of a whole lot of guys who bring nothing to the table but size, so this is as good a game as any to be missing our starting and back-up big guys.

For Virginia, Dave Leitao has simply been schizophrenic about who plays. Coach K gets a lot of criticism for tightening the rotation too much, but Leitao has shown the dangers of going the other way and trying to play a 15-man rotation just because he can. With the exception of Singletary, Diane, and Joseph (and to a lesser extent Baker), no one on the Virginia team knows how much they'll play in any given game (if they play at all). The result has been maddeningly inconsistent play from the Cavaliers. To a certain extent, I can't blame Leitao - he has a ton of virtually interchangeable parts. There's not a whole lot of difference between Mikalauskas, Pettinella, Soroye (slightly better blocker, slightly worse rebounder), and Meyinsse; and similarly, there's not really much difference between Tat, Tucker, Harris, and Jones. The problem is not that these guys are all so good that he can't keep them off the floor - instead it's that none are very good, and that all can do things that hurt UVA on the court, and Leitao hasn't figured out which guys in these two groups he actually trusts. Until he does, he's going to keep the minutes for each going up and down like a yo-yo, and the Cavaliers won't build any consistency.

Sean Singletary's annual slow start hasn't helped things either. Much like last season, Singletary has not been an efficient offensive player early in the season. He shoots under 40% from 2 and turns the ball over a ton - he actually has the lowest offensive rating among UVA's starters. Yes, he's always capable of getting hot and just killing a team, but it hasn't really happened yet this year.

Singletary is just selfish enough and just inefficient enough that the Marco Killingsworth game-plan may work on him. When Duke played Indiana a couple years ago, the Devils decided to let Killingsworth do his thing and focus on shutting down everyone else on the court. It worked - Killingsworth had a big game, but got absolutely no help, and Duke won. Letting Singletary run loose in a similar manner may not be a bad game-plan. If he scores 30-35, but UVA only scores 60, the Devils are going to win. The key is making sure that the Cavs don't get multiple guys in double figures. Singletary can't beat Duke by himself.

Around the ACC

UNC is good. NC State is not. 25-0 is embarrassing.

Wake Forest will continue to struggle on the defensive side of the ball. Allowing 13-19 from 3 is ridiculous.

FSU may be better than we thought, and could be a serious threat if/when guys like Vaughn, Alabi, Reid, and Breeden come back. Numbers you don't see too often - 4 guys played 47+ minutes for the Noles and another played 41. Also, Trevor Booker is a beast - he's starting to take over this Clemson team.

Vazquez is struggling without 3 seniors taking pressure off of him in the lineup - 2-14 and 6 turnovers. There's a saying that not all close games are good games, and this one was a good example.

Miami has a tournament bid to lose at this point. I haven't seen anything to show me that they shouldn't finish above Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Virginia, Boston College, NC State, and FSU.

1 comment:

JP said...

Not sure if you check the comments at, but I posted this...

I like your gameplan for letting Singletary score and stopping the others. One quick statistic to support your theory...

Win/Loss PPG Splits

Mamadi Diane
Wins: 10.0 PPG
Losses: 6.1 PPG

Adrian Joseph
Wins: 8.4 PPG
Losses: 6.3 PPG

Cut off there #2 and #3 scorers and you definitely have a better shot at winning.