Home Will UVA go small to counter Belmont?

Will UVA go small to counter Belmont?


uva-basketball newWhen you see Belmont, think Davidson, a quick-pace, jump-shooting team that uses four-guard lineups, and played UVA tough in an 83-72 loss in Charlottesville on Dec. 30.

Actually, think Davidson, just a little smaller. Davidson’s starters in that game at JPJ went 6’7”, 5’11”, 6’4”, 6’0” and 6’7”, with bench minutes from 6’9” and 6’8”. Belmont will get the bulk of its minutes from four players – Craig Bradshaw, Evan Bradds, Taylor Barnette and Reece Chamberlain – who go 6’3”, 6’6”, 6’3” and 6’1”, with post minutes split between starter Amanze Egekeze (6’8”) and backup Nick Smith (6’8”).

6’11” center Mike Tobey started the Davidson game for UVA, but only logged 17 minutes, and not because of foul trouble. Tobey and Darion Atkins (6’8”), who played 18 minutes, and also had just one foul, were relegated to the bench mainly because UVA coach Tony Bennett decided to counter Davidson’s four-guard lineup with a four-guard lineup of his own.

6’8” forward Anthony Gill played 34 minutes as the post player in the four-guard lineup for Davidson, and put up nice counting stats (25 points, 11-of-16 shooting, 13 rebounds) in the win. And though Atkins also had a nice game (13 points on 6-of-8 shooting, 10 rebounds), Virginia was at its best in that game in the second half with Evan Nolte playing a stretch-four.

Nolte logged 17 minutes in the Davidson game, 11 in the second half, as many minutes as Atkins played in the second half even as Atkins was scoring 11 points in the second half on 5-of-6 shooting.

Presaging the role that Nolte would play for the Cavs later on when he filled in for an injured Justin Anderson, Nolte didn’t impress in the counting stats (two points, two rebounds, one steal, and that was it), but he had a plus-minus rating of +15, which was, naturally, tops on the team that night.

Expect Anderson to get his first start since the Feb. 7 Louisville game in which he went down with the broken finger when the ball tips on Friday afternoon, and with this history as a guide, expect Nolte to be the first ‘Hoo off the bench, and for Nolte to log 22-25 minutes, essentially splitting time at the four and five with Gill and Atkins, with Tobey as an afterthought in the game planning.

Also expect a seven-man rotation with freshman guard Marial Shayok rotating into the backcourt with Anderson, Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes, with Tobey and redshirt freshman guard Devon Hall on call if there’s foul trouble to work around.

– Column by Chris Graham



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