Chris Graham: No respect for this UVa. basketball team
It’s hard to imagine this, but we could have an ACC regular-season champion that doesn’t land a single player on the All-ACC first team. That would be UVa., if the Cavaliers are able to take down #4 Syracuse in Charlottesville on Saturday.
UVa. doesn’t have a scorer among the top 20 in scoring in the ACC, for example. The team’s leading scorer is Malcolm Brogdon at 12.4 points per game. Joe Harris, a first-team All-ACC selection in 2013, averages 11.5 points per game.
Not saying that neither is deserving of first-team recognition, but let’s be honest about how these honors are bestowed: it’s about stats, stats and then stats, and the stats that matter are offensive stats. Virginia, under Tony Bennett, isn’t about putting up big numbers on the board, but rather keeping big numbers off the board. The ‘Hoos lead the nation in scoring defense and are fourth in the nation in points per possession; it’s defense that has fueled Virginia’s 15-1 start in ACC play this year.
Now, UVa. is also quite efficient offensively, ranking third in the conference and 42nd nationally in points per possession, but the slower pace of play in the Bennett system is one issue, and the other, bigger issue, is Virginia’s depth. Nine players average more than nine minutes per game, which is a key reason why this year’s UVa. team will play longer into March than any of Bennett’s previous teams, for whom lack of depth was the big issue.
So you’ve got a lot of guys playing, an emphasis on defense, an offense that has produced just two occurrences of individual 20-point games this season, and what does that add up to?
Don’t expect anybody associated with the Virginia program to mind.