Saturday, January 28, 2006

Duke-UVA Preview

I've gotten to see an awful lot of UVA this year, being up in Charlottesville, and it's been very easy to see that their recent conference success has been the result of two things - commitment to defense, and control of the boards. Virginia has the conference's second best in-conference defensive efficiency, and is the best team in the league in terms of shot defense - 1st in eFG%, 3pt%, PPWS, and 4th in 2pt%. Their defense of choice has been the 2-3, with a healthy amount of 2-3 matchup mixed in (so it looks a lot like a 3-2 sometimes, depending on the way the opponent's space the floor). However, since they sit back in the zone, they don't force a lot of turnovers (18.4%, 9th in conference). Duke should be able to get a lot of shots against the zone, and with the Devils' shooting proficiency, will probably get plenty of points. Singletary and Reynolds are both quick enough to harass perimeter shooters, and Mikalauskas, Cain, and (to a lesser extent) Soroye are solid on the inside. Soroye has been starting at center, but he plays fewer minutes than Mikalauskas, and the Cavs have been a lot better this year when the big Lithuanian is on the floor. He and Cain are very good offensive rebounders - in fact, their numbers alone (they grab 28.4% of Virginia's missed shots while they're on the floor) are better than Duke's (just 28.2%).
The offense, however, is another story. Well, let's not mince words - it's really bad. They never seem to be in sync - neither Soroye nor Mikalauskas really knows what to do in the post, Adrian Joseph is an O'Kelley-esque gunner who probably shoots on at least half the touches he gets, and Singletary, as exciting as he can be to watch, makes some unbelievable atrocious decisions. Against Miami on Tuesday, in the first minute or so, he did a 360 dribble into a triple team, left his feet, and dumped the ball off to an empty space on the court that no teammate was within 8 feet of. That being said, he can do some pretty amazing things when he's on. In the second half against Miami he was on fire - with Reynolds hurt and Cain on the bench with 4 fouls, he simply took the game over. He's very quick with the ball, and may find success penetrating on Duke. But he's still not as polished a point as he could be - he turns the ball over a lot (22.8% of his possessions used) and despite leading the team in scoring, he's only 5th on the team in offensive rating and 4th in eFG%.
Virginia has had a nice run so far, but it's generally been against the poorer teams in conference - they sport wins over Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami, and UNC. Their next four are at Duke, at NC State, home v. Wake, and at Maryland. Really only the Wake game looks winnable, and that's no guarantee. They're about to slide back to a record that's much closer to the pre-season predictions, and it'll start with a loss to the Devils tonight. Best case scenario - they hold on to the ball, keep the possessions low, and get a lot of offensive rebounds to make up for the shots they miss. Even then, they probably won't hold Duke under 65, and I'm not sure they can score that much tonight.

1 comment:

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