Trying to put a positive spin on Virginia scoring, shooting woes

uva basketballYou didn’t think the Virginia offense could get worse. It’s getting worse.

Still haven’t broken 65 in a game this season.

Shooting 26.1 percent from three, 348th in the nation.

(There are 353 teams.)

Scoring 54.3 points per game. That’s 351st.

Again, 353 teams.

Adjusting for tempo, because you have to do that with Virginia: scoring 1.002 points per possession.

This is 12th-best in the ACC, 180th in the country.

At least turnovers hadn’t been an issue, until Sunday. Virginia had been averaging 12.1 turnovers per game coming into the game with South Carolina.

The 19 turnovers on 60 possessions helped lead to 16 fast-break points, which is more in an afternoon than Virginia teams normally allow in a month.

Point guard Kihei Clark had seven of them. For the season, Clark has 35 turnovers in 389 floor minutes.

As a freshman last year, Clark had 39 turnovers in 1,019 minutes.

It’s like the UMBC game playing on a loop basically from the opening tip at Syracuse.

The guards aren’t getting free off screens. The bigs aren’t getting position in the post, not getting open off dives.

It feels like more shots are coming off a guy, usually Clark or Mamadi Diakite, just deciding at the end of a shot clock to try to do something one-on-one, and the numbers actually indicate that.

A tick under 56 percent of Virginia’s baskets in 2018-2019 were assisted; we’re down to 49.3 percent there this season.

And those late shots haven’t been nearly as effective. According to Hoops-Math.com, Virginia had an effective field-goal percentage of 47.9 percent on late-offense shots, defined as coming within five seconds of the end of a shot clock.

This season: 33.9 percent.

We’re 11 games in now. A third of the way through the season.

Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter, not walking back down that tunnel.

Sam Hauser is on the scout team.

Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Reece Beekman, still playing high-school ball.

The only way it gets better is if the guys in the rotation now get better.

There’s at least a positive attitude in the locker room.

“We’re young. It’s not that we don’t know how to play, we just need to learn and know when we need to do certain things. I think the guys are getting there,” said Diakite, who had a career-high 21 points in the loss, mainly because he had to.

No one else ended up in double figures in a game that saw the Cavaliers shoot 43.9 percent in addition to the 19 turnovers.

“Today I saw some flashes offensively,” Diakite said. Sometimes guys will be open and just let it go. At the beginning of the season, guys were holding it or scared. They weren’t doing what they were supposed to do when they got the ball. The guys like Kody (Stattmann) and Casey (Morsell) were able to get those open looks and let the ball fly.”

That’s really trying to find a positive there, crediting guys for taking open shots. Stattmann, Morsell and Tomas Woldetensae, the perimeter guys being relied on to take, and then maybe even make, those open looks, were a combined 5-for-14 from the floor in the loss.

You don’t normally get too excited about your guards shooting 35.7 percent in a game, but then, they’re shooting a collective 27.1 percent for the season.

So.

“I think we are going in the right direction,” Braxton Key said after the South Carolina loss. “Tonight was just turnovers. We have to take care of the ball. If we had been playing better offensively and defensively, I think the outcome would have been different. When you are not getting shots, it makes offense a lot harder, obviously, and you can’t score points without taking shots.

“We just have to regroup, watch film and we will be better next game,” Key said.

Story by Chris Graham



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