Inside the Numbers: What’s up with Kihei Clark?

Kihei Clark comes off the bench

tony bennett

Tony Bennett talks with his team. Photo by Andrew Shurtleff/courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

Tony Bennett didn’t start preseason second-team All-ACC point guard Kihei Clark Tuesday against Saint Francis, and didn’t seem to want to talk about why after the game, calling it a “personal decision.”

Freshman Reece Beekman got the start, and while he didn’t stuff the stat sheet – two points, four assists, three steals, no turnovers in 22 minutes – the team seemed to play better on both ends of the floor with him at the point.

This column is called Inside the Numbers, so I probably should point out that the team didn’t just seem to play better: Beekman’s plus/minus was +28, tied for best on the team (Tomas Woldetensae was also +28 in his 23 minutes).

Clark seemed to sleepwalk through his 15 minutes, picking up two first-half fouls that limited him to six minutes, on his way to finishing scoreless, on 0-of-2 shooting, with three assists and three turnovers, and a plus/minus of +5.

The analytics were less kind, if that’s possible. His efficiency rating, per StatBroadcast, was -2, his game score -3.1, his net points a team-worst -4.

It’s great that Beekman is developing. Virginia is going to need Clark to be the guy who was the glue of the 2019 national title team and the backbone of last year’s gritty ACC runner-up.

Ball movement

Virginia had five assists on its 21 made baskets in the 61-60 loss to San Francisco last week in Bubbleville.

The problem: too much hero ball.

Problem solved Tuesday. 18 assists on 30 made baskets.

The ball movement helped make the ‘Hoos more efficient at the rim.

Against San Francisco, UVA was just 8-of-22 on layups and dunks.

Against Saint Francis, the Cavaliers were 17-of-21 at the rim.

Game ball

I’m going with Sam Hauser, who had a 122.2 offensive efficiency rating and a team-best 62.0 defensive efficiency rating.

Hauser had a modest 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting, but everybody had modest numbers – the game was 32 points at halftime, and nobody played more than 23 minutes.

Jay Huff is my runner-up: he had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting in 14 minutes, for an offensive efficiency rating at a team-high 145.8, and his defense was solid – Huff had an 85.3 defensive efficiency number for the afternoon.

(The lower the number on defense, the better.)

Story by Chris Graham


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