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Another radical dumb UVA Hoops idea: How about starting Reece Beekman at the point?

reece beekman
Reece Beekman attacking the rim. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

Monday’s 62-51 win over Miami was a de facto live lab for UVA coach Tony Bennett, who was experimenting on the fly with lineup combinations, trying to find the right fit.

Tomas Woldetensae got the start at two in place of Reece Beekman, though the senior ended up only getting 15 minutes.

Beekman, the first guard off the bench, ended up getting 28, and he started the second half in place of Kihei Clark.

Jay Huff also was benched to start the second half, in favor of Justin McKoy, who was highly effective in his 21 minutes of floor time, scoring eight points on 4-of-7 shooting and pulling down six rebounds.

The different combinations out there no doubt contributed to some of the sluggishness on offense.

Virginia shot 40.4 percent for the game, and put up just 21 points in the second half, on 9-of-28 shooting.

Defensively, more minutes for Beekman (0.530 PPP, per Synergy Sports), Woldetensae (0.701 PPP) and McKoy (0.739 PPP) worked out, predictably, well – UVA held Miami to 51 points, 0.836 PPP, 38.5 percent shooting, 4-of-15 from three.

I was out there last week advocating for more minutes for McKoy, and pushing for Bennett to bench Beekman in favor of a two who can be a threat from the perimeter.

He went Woldetensae instead of sliding Murphy from three, but still, the effect was similar – getting more shooting on the floor.

For whatever it’s worth, I’m on a roll, in terms of guessing along with Bennett, in terms of fixes.

So, here goes, with more guessing.

Start Beekman at point

I’m not a Ki-hater, anything resembling.

I love me some Kihei Clark.

As I type this, I am looking out my home office window at an NCAA championship banner that would not be there without Kihei Clark.

I just happen to think it might be best for this team if he becomes the first guard off the bench.

Beekman is the team’s best on-ball defender, and it’s not even close – Synergy has Clark at 0.836 PPP – so you don’t lose anything there.

On offense, I’m the guy who went to Hoop-Math.com and looked up how many two- and three-point jumpers Beekman has managed to sink this season: and then report the number, which is 10.

(Clark has made 38.)

They’re comparable finishing at the rim – Clark at 54.3 percent, Beekman at 49.0 percent.

Clark averages 4.6 assists, and Beekman 2.9 – but when you do the math on their different usage rates, Beekman would be averaging a similar 4.6 assists per game if his usage rate was at 21.8 percent, like Clark’s, as opposed to his current 13.8 percent.

What you might gain, if you give the reins to Beekman, is a guy that opponents won’t want to allow entry into the lane.

Game plans of late have been predicated on, OK, we don’t want Huff, Murphy or Sam Hauser to beat us from the perimeter, so we’ll live with allowing the 5’9” point guard to penetrate, and if does touch paint, making him finish over our bigs.

Would the approach be similar with a more athletic 6’3” Beekman with the ball in his hands?

Beekman, per Synergy, is marginally better on pick-and-rolls (0.909 PPP, vs. Clark’s 0.863), and though Virginia doesn’t run much – just 6.5 percent of UVA’s offensive possessions are transition, according to Synergy – the difference between Beekman and Clark is noticeable.

Beekman rates “excellent” in transition, per Synergy, scoring 1.286 PPP; Clark scores 1.000 PPP.

Heretical as it probably is to say about a Bennett-coached team, it wouldn’t hurt this team, stagnant the past couple of weeks on offense, to get out ahead of opposing defenses in spots to try to get some better looks.

I think the transition numbers can also translate to what we can expect to see from Beekman once he does assume the one in the UVA offense.

Dude is a creator, a distributor, a finisher, and he’s currently so obviously miscast as a two that it’s not even funny.

Clark was an excellent complement to 6’5” point guard Ty Jerome two years ago because Jerome was a threat from three (39.9 percent) and the mid-range (38.1 percent), so if you needed him to slide over to two or three on offense, you could do so at not miss a beat.

Beekman isn’t there yet.

If I had to guess, his assignment this offseason will be shooting a thousand jumpers a day, every day, so that he comes back next fall with that one dimension to his game that is lacking, and will take him to the next level.

In the here and now, he’s an old-school point guard who can attack the paint, find his teammates, get to the rim, defend, but can’t shoot, stuck playing the two.

Everything I’m throwing out there about Beekman is conjecture, hypothesis, full of suppositions.

We know what we get with Clark. I think we’re getting everything we can from Clark.

With Beekman, we get more, the only question being, how soon?

This is your we need to start London Perrantes instead of Justin Anderson because we think it will make the team better moment.

It’s probably too late to be experimenting with this, but Reece Beekman needs to be the starter at the point for this team to have a chance reach its ceiling.

Story by Chris Graham


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