UVA Basketball: ‘Hoos need to start knocking down some shots

uva basketballAt the first-half under-4 media timeout, his team up 22-20 on JMU, Tony Bennett made a slight adjustment to the UVA zone offense.

Bennett slid point guard Kihei Clark from the top of the key to the left wing, the idea being to give Clark space to create.

It worked, in terms of getting the struggling-to-that-point Virginia offense to wake up.

The ‘Hoos were shooting 10-for-29 from the floor as they walked out of the huddle.

The first play out of the timeout saw Clark get into the lane and find Mamadi Diakite for a dunk.

Next UVA possession: same thing, Clark to Diakite for a dunk.

The Cavaliers were 12-for-21 from the field over a 12-minute stretch from the late-first-half media timeout until Bennett starting subbing out his starters.

“We moved some pieces around to make some more room, and I thought it was better,” Bennett said after the ‘Hoos had concluded the 65-34 win.

Clark finished the night with five points and six assists, and could have registered at least a couple more dimes under hockey-assist rules.

“When the ball is reversing from side-to-side, and as the defense is shifted, it is easier to drive from the side than the top. And after I drive in there, we have guys like Kody (Stattmann) and Casey (Morsell) sliding and then Mamadi and Jay (Huff) at the rim,” Clark said.

Diakite and Huff at the rim did their jobs – Diakite was 8-for-16 from the floor in the win; Huff 5-for-6.

The poor outside shooting that prompted JMU coach Louis Rowe to go zone after the game’s first media timeout, as his team slid into an early 11-3 hole, never did get on track.

After shooting 4-for-25 from long-range in the 48-34 win at Syracuse Wednesday night, Virginia was 4-for-24 on three-balls on Sunday, which, yeah, yikes.

Morsell and Stattmann are expected to be the weapons from the perimeter, but they’re still getting their legs under them – at least UVA fans hope they are.

Morsell was 0-for-9 from the floor and 0-for-5 from three against JMU – and is 1-for-15 from the floor and 1-for-11 from three through two games this season.

Stattmann was 2-for-9 from the floor and 0-for-6 from three last night – and is 4-for-13 from the floor and 1-for-9 from three on the season.

“We know they’re both elite shooters,” Clark said. “It’s really their first year just getting on the floor and playing big minutes. I just tell them to keep shooting. They’re both elite shooters, and everyone on the team is going to need them to keep shooting.”

Well, yeah, the team is going to need Morsell and Stattmann to keep shooting, and they’re going to have to start knocking down some of those shots, or you’re going to see more coaches pack it in to try to put the clamps down on Diakite, Huff and Braxton Key (14 points, 5-for-8 shooting vs. JMU).

“I told the guys if it’s a good shot, you have to take shots at times, even if you miss them,” Bennett said last night, before noting that junior Tomas Woldetensae, a 47-percent shooter from three last season in JUCO ball, wasn’t available.

Woldetensae also struggled in the win at Syracuse, though, going 0-for-4 from the floor and 0-for-3 from three in 13 minutes.

“We knew our backcourt was going to be thin, but we finally got into the lane and got some penetration, and had some stuff at the basket, as opposed to standing like scarecrows around the perimeter and not looking to attack, but we’ll keep working,” Bennett said.

Story by Chris Graham

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