Home Preview: Virginia heads to Duke, where a Cavalier Court Storm could help NCAA resume

Preview: Virginia heads to Duke, where a Cavalier Court Storm could help NCAA resume

Chris Graham
uva duke block
Photo: YouTube

Sorry, but I had to reference the court storm nonsense from last weekend that made Duke’s loss at Wake Forest more about the national conversation that we didn’t know we needed to have than about a team playing bad defense on the road.

Seriously, if it was Liberty fans rushing the court after a win over New Mexico State, one of them bumping into the Aggies’ center, who would go on to play 30 minutes next time out, it’s a tree falling in the woods with nobody there to hear it.

I’m still waiting for Jim Phillips to punish Wake by making them forfeit.

Other than that 83-79 loss, in which the Deacs shot 60.4 percent, Duke is playing as well as anybody in the country right now, with wins in nine of its last 11, the losses coming at Wake and at UNC, the latter being a month ago.

This was a Duke team that looked vulnerable early on – back-to-back losses to Arkansas and Georgia Tech (combined records going into this weekend: 26-30) had the Blue Devils sitting at 5-3 as the sun set on Dec. 2.

The one blip since was a home loss to Pitt on Jan. 20 in which D was also the issue – the Panthers shot 50.8 percent and were 10-of-20 from three in the 80-76 win.

Season-long, this is a pretty good defensive team. KenPom ranks Duke 25th nationally in defensive efficiency, though they are fifth in ACC games.

The Duke offense is well ahead of the pack in efficiency – the 1.162 points per possession in ACC games is a full 4 percent ahead of Clemson’s 1.117 PPP, and its season-long number of 1.224 PPP ranks eighth nationally.

Duke rotation

Sophomore Kyle Filipowski (16.6 ppg, 8.3 rebs/g, 2.9 assists/g, 1.6 blocks/g, 49.9% FG, 34.4% 3FG) is a projected lottery pick as a 7’0” stretch five.

He was Willis Reed on Wednesday, going 30 minutes in the 84-59 win over Louisville after taking the knee bump heard ‘round the world in the court storm at Wake the Saturday before.

An inspiration, that kid.

His frontcourt-mate is 6’9” sophomore Mark Mitchell (12.8 ppg, 6.3 rebs/g, 55.4% FG, 25.0% 3FG), with 6’10” senior Ryan Young (3.1 ppg, 3.5 rebs/g, 11.6 mins/g) and 6’9” freshman Sean Stewart (2.4 ppg, 3.1 rebs/g, 7.6 mins/g) getting bench minutes in the post.

The backcourt is led by 6’3” senior point guard Jeremy Roach (14.4 ppg, 3.0 assists/g, 49.6% FG, 48.0% 3FG), who has been around seemingly forever, and I’ve long thought he has been the key to the Duke teams that he has played on, dating back to when Dr. Naismith first put up a peach basket.

6’5” sophomore Tyrese Proctor (10.2 ppg, 3.7 assists/g, 44.0% FG, 35.7% 3FG) was back in the starting lineup for the Louisville game after coming off the bench for two games as he eased his way back after suffering a concussion in the 77-69 win over Wake Forest on Feb. 12.

A pair of freshman split the minutes at the other off-guard spot – 6’3” Jared McCain (13.6 ppg, 4.9 rebs/g, 46.0% FG, 41.8% 3FG) and 6’5” Caleb Foster (7.7 ppg, 43.7% FG, 40.6% 3FG).

How Virginia matches up

This one is where we wish we had Elijah Gertrude ready.

Roach and Proctor are basically both NBA point guards, so Duke has the edge over Virginia having one NBA point guard, 6’3” senior Reece Beekman (13.9 ppg, 5.9 assists/g, 2.1 steals/g, 45.1% FG, 30.5% 3FG).

Tony Bennett (and Ron Sanchez?) fixed the offense this week by going with a more traditional two-guard, two-forward, one-center lineup, with 6’9” stretch-four Jake Groves (7.4 ppg, 48.1% FG, 48.7% 3FG) starting in place of 6’6” off-guard Andrew Rohde (4.6 ppg, 2.8 assists/g, 30.5% FG, 27.7% 3FG).

This means 6’4” sophomore Isaac McKneely (12.3 ppg, 42.4% FG, 45.3% 3FG) has to guard either Roach or Proctor, depending on who Bennett puts Beekman on.

Flip side of that: Virginia gets a matchup advantage on the other end with Duke coach Jon Scheyer having to go with either McCain or Foster on Groves or 6’8” sophomore forward Ryan Dunn (8.4 ppg, 7.1 rebs/g, 2.3 blocks/g, 55.3% FG, 20.0% 3FG).

I would assume Scheyer would try to match his smaller guy up against Dunn, whose offensive game is limited to being able to finish on backdoor cuts.

Meaning: we’ll need Dunn to be active on offense to create some opportunities for himself through backdoor cuts.

The defensive matchup with Filipowski makes me think it might be better for Bennett to go with the more mobile Blake Buchanan (3.7 ppg, 3.3 rebs/g, 15.3 mins/g) over Jordan Minor (4.4 ppg, 3.1 rebs/g, 14.0 mins/g) in the matchup at center.

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].