Home UVA Hoops Notebook: Hard-working Taine Murray, Jordan Minor key win over NC State

UVA Hoops Notebook: Hard-working Taine Murray, Jordan Minor key win over NC State

Chris Graham
uva jordan minor defense
Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

Tony Bennett noted after Virginia’s 59-53 win over NC State on Wednesday that we’re almost three months into the 2023-2024 season, and he’s still figuring things out with his team.

The time marker came up in the context of discussing the roles that Taine Murray and Jordan Minor played in the OT win – Murray scoring 11 points, hitting a couple of threes and helping seal the game at the free-throw line, and Minor going for 10 points and nine boards, and battling State big man DJ Burns one-on-one in the post.

“Taine came in and gave us a great lift. I was so proud of him and happy for him,” Bennett said. “You know, we’ve been using that, don’t grow weary in doing good in due time, you know, and he, he found himself ready. You know, you got two guys in Jordan Minor and Taine Murray, who, you know, a couple months ago, Bach (sports information director Erich Bacher) and I were talking on the way here, you’re three months in, you’ve been like, well, I don’t know where this is gonna be, but look at the roles they both played. Because, you know, Jordan was so physical with Burns, that was somebody, you know, them leaning against each other and going at it hard. And you just look at the rebounding deal, and that’s effort.”

Minor’s work on the defensive end on Burns, who finished with 11 points, on 5-of-12 shooting, and three rebounds in 27 minutes, was the foundation of this win.

In the 76-60 loss at NC State on Jan. 6, Bennett went with 6’11” freshman Blake Buchanan on Burns, who on paper has 50 pounds on Buchanan, which necessitated double-teams to try to keep Burns out of the post.

Burns was able to spin the ball out of the doubles to find open shooters, a key to how State went 10-of-28 on threes in the win.

Minor was able to go one-on-one with Burns, and though he scored those 11 points, he had to work for them.

And because Minor was able to go toe-to-toe with Burns without help, the open shots that came out of the doubles that had been used down in Raleigh dried up.

In Wednesday’s rematch, NC State was just 4-of-14 from three.

“Schematically, yeah, we just we thought we had to make some adjustments,” Bennett said. “And again, Jordan didn’t play as much, so we obviously just, where Burns catches the ball, a lot of times, it’s pretty far out, so if you run and double him, he’s one of the better big man passers in our game, or in our league, for sure. And we weren’t sharp on our traps there. A couple times, it was good, but played a little more one-on-one, and just did a few other things that we thought would keep us a little more connected.”

“Jordan was kind of the major point for us, him able just to stand DJ Burns out and make him hit tough shots was big,” said Ryan Dunn, who finished the night with 13 points, 12 rebounds and six (!) blocks.

“But also, I think at Raleigh, they turned the corner a lot on us on ball screens, where they were able to get around. In this game, I feel like they were able to a little bit, but we also had guys that were able to help tag the roller, and then they were able to bounce them out,” Dunn said.

uva taine murray ncst
Taine Murray. Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

Dunn also had high praise for Murray, whose minutes come and go – he got double-digit minutes in five straight games from Dec. 19 to Jan. 6, but then just three minutes in the wins over Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech last week.

“Taine is probably one of the hardest workers on this team,” Dunn said. “There’s days where we have an off-day, he’ll come in and work out at seven in the morning, he’ll stay at night to come shoot, it can be whatever, and I see it, and you guys able to see it, too, now. His work came to light today. And we needed him today, and he stepped up, and I’m really proud of him. You know, it’s kind of the message that it’s, like, hard work just shows now when you put that work in.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].