news what did we just see six observations after virginias 66 64 loss at 22 miami
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What did we just see? Six observations after Virginia’s 66-64 loss at #22 Miami

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Photo: UVA Athletics

Miami made Virginia go ‘small’

Miami plays small. Coach Jim Larranaga went for 90 percent of his minutes with nobody on the floor taller than 6’7”, the emphasis being on using quickness to counter Virginia’s size.

Tony Bennett stayed conventional in the first half, going with 6’11” starting center Kadin Shedrick for 10 minutes, and his backup, 6’11” Francisco Caffaro, for five.

Neither did much – they had a total of two rebounds in the first half, had one blocked shot between them, and contributed six points on 2-of-3 shooting from the floor, and two Caffaro free throws.

The smaller Miami team outhustled the bigger Virginia team to a 20-14 rebounding advantage, and blocked five Cavalier shots as the ‘Canes went into the break up 10, 36-26.

Bennett had Shedrick on the floor to start the second half, but Shedrick subbed out a minute and six seconds in after a turnover, and never checked back in.

Caffaro played the next 2:26 before leaving after picking up his second foul, and he would not return.

Virginia was down 15, 41-26, when Caffaro checked out at the 16:28 mark.

The Cavaliers would outscored Miami by 13 the rest of the way.

Dunn answers the call

Ryan Dunn, the 6’8” freshman, checked in for Caffaro at the 16:28 mark, and he was in most of the rest of the way.

Dunn’s counting stats were almost non-existent – he didn’t score, was 0-of-2 from the floor, had two rebounds, a steal, two turnovers – but his plus/minus was interesting, at +13.

With emphasis: he had +13 plus/minus in a game that Virginia lost by two.

That’s Isaiah Wilkins-like.

What Dunn was able to do was stabilize things on the defensive end, help keep Miami’s smaller, faster bigs from getting rebounds with good boxouts, and he helped make sure the ball moved on offense.

Every team needs somebody who doesn’t care about the box score, is willing to do the dirty work, et cetera.

Jason Williford was that guy on the early 1990s teams at Virginia.

Wilkins was that guy in the latter half of the 2010s.

Dunn was that guy for Virginia Tuesday night.

The something that isn’t right with Armaan Franklin

I wrote a piece this week on the increasing minutes that freshman Isaac McKneely has been getting as senior Armaan Franklin has been in a bit of a funk of late.

Franklin, you remember, had a breakout game in the 86-79 win over then-#5 Baylor on Nov. 18, going for 26 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

That one was his second 20+-point game of the then-young season.

Over the seven games since the Baylor win, he has scored a total of 43 points (6.1 points/g) on 16-of-52 shooting (30.8 percent) from the floor and 8-of-26 shooting (30.8 percent) from three.

Against Miami, he put up a goose egg – no points, on 0-of-7 shooting, 0-of-3 from three, in 13 minutes.

Franklin played just five minutes in the second half.

His plus/minus was a ghastly -24, and he only played a total of 13 minutes.

Being delicate here, there is a reason – not an excuse, but a reason – for why Franklin may be struggling so much.

Franklin was close to each of the three UVA football student-athletes – Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry – who were shot to death on Nov. 13.

The shooting deaths rocked so many in the UVA community, but it’s been getting around that Franklin has been taking the deaths particularly hard.

We can tend to think of athletes as robots who just go out there and perform no matter what, but they’re obviously not.

We can hope for Franklin that he can work through his struggles with the deaths of his three friends.

And if that translates into him doing well on the basketball court, that would be an added bonus.

Why does Kihei play (verse 4080)

I got this in a text from my colleague, Scott German.

Time to sit KC.

This was as Kihei Clark was subbing back in at the 7:36 mark of the second half.

At that point, Clark was 1-of-8 from the floor, had three points, three assists, in 23 minutes.

He wasn’t the only guy struggling, but it doesn’t matter if other guys are struggling when Kihei is struggling.

The game doesn’t come down to the last second if not for Clark.

He only made one more bucket, a driving layup with 26 seconds left, but he was 8-of-9 at the line, creating fouls with dribble-drives and pump-fakes, and his steal with 34 seconds left was what allowed Virginia to make it a one-possession game in the final seconds.

His final statline: 13 points, 2-of-10 shooting, three assists, three steals.

And this: he willed his team back into it.

Quibbling with Beeks

Watching the game, not looking at the stats, did you think Reece Beekman had a first-round NBA Draft pick kind of impact?

I didn’t.

His statline: 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, nine rebounds, nine assists.

And he had the ball in his hands on the final play, as should be the case, because he’s this team’s Malcolm Brogdon.

That he turned it over, meh.

You win with your guy, sometimes you lose with your guy.

Of course, if Kihei had turned the ball over on a dribble-drive in the final couple of seconds, the internet in and around Charlottesville would have literally melted.

Which is the aberration?

Virginia’s offense in the first six games (including wins over this week’s #12 Baylor, this week’s #16 Illinois, at Michigan, which is 7-3, with losses to UVA and Kentucky): 1.164 points per possession, which was at the time ranked fourth in the nation.

Virginia’s offense in its last four (narrow wins over Florida State and JMU, losses to this week’s #2 Houston and this week’s #22 Miami): 1.000 points per possession, which would rank 223rd for the full season.

The first six games had us thinking that this team’s ceiling projecting out to March (and April?) was through the roof.

The last four has to make you worry that either they peaked way, way too early, or that November was otherwise just an aberration, and what we’ve seen recently has been a reversion to last season’s mean.

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Chris Graham

Chris Graham

In addition to being the editor of Augusta Free Press, I've written seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For my commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to my YouTube page, youtube.com/chrisgrahamAFP. Want to reach me? Try [email protected].

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