Home Virginia, getting set for NC State rematch, is a different team with Jordan Minor at center

Virginia, getting set for NC State rematch, is a different team with Jordan Minor at center

Chris Graham
uva jordan minor vt
Jordan Minor. Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

The Virginia team that lost by 16 at NC State on Jan. 6 only got seven garbage-time minutes out of Jordan Minor, who has since become the team’s starting center, and has given the Cavaliers a dramatically different look and feel.

“I mean, you have to be good against the ability, you know, for NC State, how they can score inside and out. You have to have bodies, you have to be physical, whether you trap the post, or sometimes you can’t because of their spacing, you just have to be good,” UVA coach Tony Bennett said on Monday, as his ‘Hoos (13-5, 4-3 ACC) are preparing for the rematch with the Pack (13-5, 5-2 ACC) on Wednesday at JPJ.

State’s offense runs through its 6’9”, 275-pound-ish center, DJ Burns (12.2 ppg, 4.3 rebounds/g, 2.8 assists/g, 52.7% FG), an able back-to-the-basket scorer with plus passing skills.

Bennett, in the first game, tried to counter Burns by using 6’11”, 225-pound freshman Blake Buchanan on Burns, and from a counting-numbers perspective, Burns didn’t do all that much – six points, four assists in 22 minutes.

But basketball doesn’t account for what we call hockey assists – the pass that sets up the pass that leads to a bucket.

If it did, Burns’ impact would have been more pronounced in the final accounting.

Bennett tried to use post doubles to force the ball out of Burns’ hands, but State’s spacing – setting Burns up wide to create cutting and passing lanes – often had the help defenders out of position.

Minor, at 6’8”, 242, has the size and strength to be able to hold his line against Burns without needing consistent help, and the ability on the offensive end to make the big guy have to work to get stops and avoid getting into foul trouble.

“I just hope Jordan’s improvement will help us more,” Bennett said of Minor, who is averaging 12.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game since being inserted into the starting lineup on Jan. 13. “He is our most physical player, so you need to sometimes have that against, you know, their interior. Burns is a great passer, great scorer, and, you know, I hope we’re better prepared for him, and I’m glad that you know, Jordan has stayed patient and just kept working, and it showed. We will have our hands full with Burns again.”

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].