Augusta Free Press

Inside the Numbers: Room for improvement for #3 Virginia

Nitpicking Virginia’s 68-61 win over Syracuse on Tuesday, the first nit to pick is defensive rebounding, which for the second straight game was atrocious.

The Orange rebounded 51.4 percent of their misses in the defeat. Saturday, North Carolina, in a 61-49 loss to the ‘Hoos, rebounded 48.7 percent of its misses.

Sum total for the two games: rebounds are a 50-50 proposition on the defensive end for Virginia, which heading into last weekend had been 12th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 79.2 percent of its opponents’ missed shots.

As bad as the rebounding numbers have been, again, yeah, atrocious, it hasn’t hurt UVA yet. North Carolina had 19 offensive rebounds on Saturday, but scored just 12 second-chance points, and Syracuse, also with 19 offensive rebounds, had 17.

Consider yourself fortunate that neither opponent was able to translate its effort on the offensive glass into better productivity. Duke, which hosts Virginia on Jan. 27, leads the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, at 41.2 percent, and you can imagine that Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter are going to do a little better with their stickbacks than what we’ve seen the past two games.

Syracuse has success with late press

Tony Bennett had to have visions of Chicago in the Elite Eight in his head in the waning moments on Tuesday.

After a pair of Devon Hall free throws gave Virginia a 64-50 lead with 1:24 to go, Syracuse was twice able to get the margin to five after going to a full-court press and forcing the ‘Hoos into back-to-back-to-back turnovers, and converting them into a three and two layups.

Disaster was barely averted when a replay review overturned what would have been a fourth turnover with 14 seconds left.

Through 39 minutes of action, Virginia had committed just four turnovers, leading to just six Syracuse points.

You would think having already played two full-court press teams, VCU and West Virginia, would have had the Cavs prepared for the Orange when they went press, but nobody can press like Syracuse, which doesn’t play anybody smaller than 6’5”, making their double-teams in the corners that much more effective.

Story by Chris Graham