Home What did we just see? Five observations from Virginia’s 76-67 win at Wake Forest

What did we just see? Five observations from Virginia’s 76-67 win at Wake Forest

Chris Graham
ben vander plas
Photo: UVA Athletics

BVP is the starter at five from here on out

Wake Forest had its two seven-footers on the floor for 28 minutes, and its two 6’10” guys for 48.

If there was a game that would make Tony Bennett rethink his move to go with 6’8” Ben Vander Plas at the five spot, this was it.

Bennett still went with BVP as the starter at five, and he went 29 minutes with a +11 plus/minus in the 76-67 Virginia win.

Vander Plas didn’t put up huge numbers – eight points on 3-of-7 shooting, seven rebounds, two assists – but he outplayed opposite numbers.

Matt Marsh, a 7’1” sophomore who started and played 25 minutes, had a modest four points and four rebounds.

His 7’0” backup, Davion Bradford, did nothing in his three minutes off the bench.

Kadin Shedrick, the starter at the five until recently, got three minutes off the bench, and had an assist to show for his efforts.

Francisco Caffaro, who hasn’t been the same since we started pronouncing his last name CAFF-uh-ro, did score a stickback bucket in his four minutes off the bench.

Neither played in the second half.

Corollary: Dunn is the first big off the bench from here on out

So, Vander Plas is the guy at five. Jayden Gardner had better watch out, because Ryan Dunn might soon be the starting four.

Dunn got 30 minutes on Saturday, and scored five points and pulled down eight rebounds, and had a team-best +13 plus/minus.

Dunn drained an open three, had a key follow-up dunk, and an even more key block on a Tyree Appleby rim run with Wake threatening to go on top.

Dunn has logged 71 minutes in Virginia’s last three games – 23.7 minutes per game – and he’s averaging 5.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game over that stretch.

Dunn’s cumulative plus/minus over those three: +22.

(For reference, Virginia has won its last three by a combined +28.)

Gardner had another subpar game, scoring five points on 2-of-7 shooting with two rebounds in 20 minutes.

Gardner, the leading scorer and rebounder last season, has gotten 61 minutes of PT over the past three, and is averaging 6.7 points and 3.0 boards over those three.

His cumulative plus/minus over the past three: -7.

The Wake guards can draw fouls

My unofficial count had Wake guards Tyree Appleby and Cameron Hildreth drawing 10 foul calls, six of them on Virginia guards Reece Beekman and Kihei Clark, who had to sit a significant stretch of the second half with four fouls each.

Hildreth ended up getting five trips to the free-throw line, converting on 9-of-10 on his way to a 16-point day.

Appleby, who had come in averaging 18.1 points per game, had a modest 13 on Saturday, on 4-of-16 shooting, and only got to the line twice, where he was 4-of-4 on the afternoon.

But the fouls he drew in the second half that didn’t necessarily lead to free throws still got Beekman and Clark off the floor, which helped Wake narrow a 19-point first-half deficit to one, before Bennett went back to his guys at the under-eight timeout.

That Virginia was able to hold Wake to 12 points on 3-of-13 shooting in the final 7:36 with both Beekman and Clark having to nurse their four fouls says a lot about them and about their teammates with great help D behind them.

Another nice game from iMac

Isaac McKneely, he who needs to take the parking brake off, came up big again on Saturday, scoring 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting, 3-of-6 from three, in 23 minutes off the bench.

In the ongoing five-game winning streak, McNeely is averaging 8.8 points per game and is shooting 50 percent from the floor and 57.1 percent from three.

He still needs to shoot it more, IMO.

Player of the Game: Armaan Franklin

Franklin finished with a career-high 25 points on 9-of-21 shooting, 5-of-13 from three, and 10 rebounds.

Over his last eight games, Franklin is averaging 16.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, shooting 44.2 percent from the floor and 38.2 percent from three.

Remember that Franklin put up a goose egg in Virginia’s 66-64 loss at Miami on Dec. 22, and at that point, he’d been averaging 6.2 points per game over his past seven games, on 32.0 percent shooting from the field and 30.8 percent shooting from three.

Nice bounceback for AF since.

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].