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Matchups: Virginia, Louisville both have short turnaround for Big Monday

tony bennett
Tony Bennett. Photo by Dan Grogan.

Louisville has lost four of its last five, most recently falling 82-70 to Notre Dame in the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday.

The Cardinals head to Charlottesville a sort of mirror image of Virginia – with a nice neutral-site non-conference win (Louisville beat Mississippi State, NET: 44; Virginia has a win over Providence, NET: 38), some bad losses (Louisville’s include Pitt, NET: 203, and Western Kentucky, NET: 139; Virginia’s are JMU, NET: 182, and Navy, NET: 135).

They’re both 11-8, 5-4 in the ACC, and likely headed nowhere after getting back from Brooklyn in March.

Unless …

No. After Saturday, it’s plenty of time to sleep after Brooklyn.

Louisville’s rotation

Chris Mack doesn’t have any stars, so he’s compensating by going with a 10-man rotation.

Just two double-digit scorers – 6’3” Florida transfer Noah Locke (10.5 ppg, 36.3% FG, 37.7% 3FG) and 6’11” senior Malik Williams (10.0 ppg, 8.6 rebounds/g, 48.2% FG, 31.4% 3FG).

6’5” sophomore Dre Davis (7.6 ppg, 41.7% FG, 22.6% 3FG) has been in and out of the starting lineup at small forward.

6’3” JUCO El Ellis (7.5 ppg, 41.2% FG, 37.3% 3FG) is productive off the bench (17.6 minutes/g).

Matt Cross (6.8 ppg, 42.6% FG, 30.6% 3FG), is a Miami transfer who is getting 19.3 minutes per game off the bench.

Marshall transfer Jarrod West (6.4 ppg, 3.2 assists/g, 37.3% FG, 27.1% 3FG), is a 5’11” point guard who only recently has been coming in off the bench (17 starts, 28.0 minutes/g).

Samuell Williamson (6.0 ppg, 4.5 rebounds/g, 41.8% FG, 18.2% FG), is a 6’7” forward and spot starter (six starts, 17.9 minutes/g).

Mason Faulkner (5.5 ppg, 3.0 assists/g, 39.4% FG, 36.6% 3FG) is a 6’1” transfer from Western Carolina who has recently worked his way into the starting lineup.

Sydney Curry (4.8 ppg, 3.1 rebounds/g, 74.4% FG), another JUCO transfer, is huge (6’8”, 260).

The other regular is 6’8” sophomore Jae’Lyn Withers (4.7 ppg, 4.7 rebounds/g, 38.8% FG, 22.2% 3FG).


It’s a little like game planning for Florida State, which also plays a lot of guys.

You almost have to look more at the overview of what Mack tries to do on the offensive end. A lot of spot-up (24.7% of Cardinals possessions), transition (18.6%), pick-and-roll (17.5%).

Thing is, they’re not good at any of those three – Synergy Sports rates Louisville “poor” on spot-ups (33.9% FG, .808 points per possession) and transition (42.4% FG, .869 PPP).

Pick-and-roll ball-handler is “below average” (34.4% FG, .676 PPP).

Louisville is actually OK at lane cuts (63.8% FG, 1.197 PPP) and pick-and-roll man (52.3% FG, 1.068 PPP), and “excellent” at post-ups (47.5% FG, .941 PPP), so if you’re going to try to take away anything, it’s Williams (81.3%, 1.36 PPP on cuts, 51.4% FG, 1.067 PPP on pick-and-roll man), Curry (76.9% FG, 1.313 PPP on cuts, 80% FG, 1.067 PPP on pick-and-roll man) and Davis (52.6% FG, 1.077 PPP on post-ups).

Lane cuts, post-ups and pick-and-roll man are only 19.1 percent of the offense total. Maybe Mack should look at that more.

Instead, his team jacks up a lot of threes (24.5 per game, shooting 32.0 percent on them, 262nd nationally), which plays into Virginia’s hands.

How Virginia plays it

Virginia got exploited in the lane in its 77-63 loss to NC State on Saturday, not so much by State’s bigs, but by dribble drives.

It will be incumbent for UVA bigs Kadin Shedrick (6.3 ppg, 5.1 rebounds/g, 58.7% FG) and Francisco Caffaro (3.9 ppg, 3.8 rebounds/g, 50.0% FG) to stay disciplined on the back end of screens and cuts.

The ‘Hoos have lost three of their last five coming in. It’s not coincidence that 5’9” senior point guard Kihei Clark (8.9 ppg, 4.1 assists/g, 38.6% FG, 38.5% 3FG) has been going through a rough stretch of late.

Over the last five games, Clark is averaging 6.0 points and 3.2 assists per game, shooting 25.6 percent (10-of-39) from the floor and 28.6 percent (6-of-21) from three.

It’s to a point where you have to wonder if Tony Bennett maybe benches Clark in favor of moving Reece Beekman (8.3 ppg, 4.6 assists/g, 43.6% FG, 33.3% 3FG) to point, Armaan Franklin (12.3 ppg, 42.4% FG, 26.3% 3FG) to two and either Kody Stattmann (3.4 ppg, 35.5% FG, 39.4% 3FG) or freshman Taine Murray (2.6 ppg, 40.0% FG, 38.1% 3FG) at three.

Stattmann, in his last five games, is averaging 6.2 points per game on 39.3 percent (11-of-28) shooting from the floor and 50 percent (6-of-12) shooting from three.

Story by Chris Graham

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