Inside the Numbers: Where did UVA most notice Ty Jerome absence?

ty jerome uva basketballIn general, yeah, Ty Jerome, he’s clearly the most important player on the third-ranked UVA basketball team.

That was never more clear than it was on Saturday, which saw the ‘Hoos slog to a 56-46 win over Miami.

Ty Jerome didn’t dress out for the game, and … Virginia clearly needs him, even against teams like Miami that are having trouble getting wins.

Where that was most noticeable: on the offensive end.

Freshman Kihei Clark got the start in Jerome’s absence, and his counting numbers – nine points, six assists – were fine.

The six turnovers: not fine.

And the extra burden of having to run the team also impacted Clark on the defensive end, with Miami point guard guard Chris Lykes going off for 16 points.

But, all told, Miami finished with 46 points on 56 offensive possessions, which comes out to .821 points per possession, a tick better than the .844 points per possession that Virginia gives up on the season.

The offense was stagnant, and it wasn’t just the turnovers, though the turnovers – 14 for the team, 30 now in the past two games, including the win at NC State on Tuesday, the game in which Jerome injured his back and tried to play through.

The most noticeable issue was simply the lack of cohesion between Clark and his teammates, which is odd, at first glance, since Clark plays 25.3 minutes a game, so he’s been getting plenty of reps with the rotation guys.

Just, not as the primary initiator.

Clark can get into the lane with dribble penetration, but at 5’9”, he’s not a finisher, instead needing to drive and dish.

Opponents, of course, are onto him in that respect, and sag off him in the paint, able to make up ground to block a shot if it were to come, but putting the focus on whatever big happens to be in the vicinity.

Which makes it harder for Clark to find a passing lane to the big near the rim.

Eventually, Clark develops a teardrop jumper, like the one that we’ve seen Jerome use as a weapon the past couple of years.

This was a reason for a slew of frustrating turnovers in the paint on dribble-drives that you normally see Virginia turn into easy buckets.

The other issue without Jerome is Kyle Guy, who seemed lost Saturday without his running mate.

Guy is the master at running off the dizzying area of screens in UVA’s mover-blocker offense, but so much of the effectiveness of that is the timing that he and Jerome have developed in their three years together.

It seemed that what Guy was able to get against Miami was what he was able to get for himself, and in that context, 4-for-15 from the field, and 2-of-8 from three, is about par for the course when you’re a perimeter guy having to take care of yourself.

It was the little things, but they added up. Virginia shoots 52.7 percent on two-point attempts in conference play, but was 45.7 percent on Saturday, and just 54.2 percent in the lane.

The ‘Hoos are also a 40.5 percent three-point shooting team in conference play. Slight difference, but 35.3 percent Saturday, and the bulk of that being Guy, who is 3-of-13 from three the past two games, a sharp drop from his 45 percent shooting clip from long-range season-long.

I’m basically just saying here what my colleague Zach Pereles has already said, and probably better: Virginia needs Ty Jerome healthy, ASAP.

Column by Chris Graham

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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