Notebook: Observations from #9 UVA’s win over Columbia

UVA basketballColumbia coach Jim Engles was asked after his team had lost 60-42 to #9 UVA what it is about the ‘Hoos defense that makes it stand out.

“It’s just their physicality. They’re just extremely physical. I don’t think until you play them do you actually understand that,” Engles said, after his team shot 28.6 percent from the floor in the loss.

“It’s really hard to get in the lane against them, and we had some actually decent shots at the rim, and Jay Huff was able to just take them away,” Engles said.

Huff had five blocked shots. Virginia blocked nine Lions shots all told on the afternoon.

“They’re just set up really well defensively for the way they play,” Engles went on. “The system is an amazing system. You get worried as a coach when you walk into the game, and you see Syracuse had 34 points and 26 percent, and we aren’t Syracuse, so I was actually happy with some of the things we did today.”

***

Another theme postgame from the reporters in the media room was to ask the Virginia side what is gained from a relatively easy win like this one.

Bennett was first to respond.

“We respect everyone. They took Wake Forest to a tight game, and they run difficult stuff to guard,” Bennett said.

He was referencing the 65-63 Columbia loss at Wake Forest last weekend.

That one definitely got his attention, and his team’s attention.

“Their player, Mike Smith, is so clever with the ball, and he puts pressure on the defense, so you better figure out what you’re going to do when either he’s coming off of handoffs or ball screens,” Bennett said. “They pressure you that way, and they run some Princeton-like action that’s cutting and moving, so it tests your discipline, and at times exposed a few things where we weren’t disciplined.

“We’ve gone against two teams that played primarily zone, and this team played kind of a similar pack defense, and they played the ball screens a little bit differently,” Bennett went on. “Every opportunity for us is huge to try and forge our identity. I think we know what our identity is, but we have to show it, and show it for the majority of the game.”

Continuing with the theme, next up, Braxton Key.

“With a team like that with a pressing offense and the same discipline on defense, just trying to not let them get backdoor,” said Key, who had nine points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes in the win. “They’re a good team. They’ll do a great job in their league. Mike Smith is a really good point guard. He can make plays for them. Just paying attention to detail is the main thing.”

Finally, let’s go to Kihei Clark.

“I think that they were the best offensive team so far, so I think they really tested us defensively,” said Clark, who had 10 points and five assists in 29 minutes. “I thought that we were able to use our size to our advantage, I thought that Jay and Mamadi (Diakite) did a great job in the post, but I thought that this was a good test for us.”

Notes

  • The Cavaliers have limited their first three opponents to fewer than 50 points for the first time in the shot clock era and first since the 1948-49 season.
  • UVA held its third opponent to 30 percent or less field goal shooting (Columbia – 28.5%).
  • UVA had a season-high nine blocked shots.
  • Huff matched a career high with five blocks, tying the JPJ record.
  • Huff has a career-best, three-game double figure scoring streak.
  • Kody Stattmann had a career-high three blocked shots.

Story by Chris Graham

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