Virginia D doesn’t seem to be forcing as many turnovers: Impact?

uva basketballAs recently as the first Louisville game, back on Jan. 31, the story with the Virginia defense wasn’t that it was ranked #1 in the nation in efficiency, fewest points allowed, etc. That’s dog bites man, agate at best, basically.

The story was how the Pack Line was suddenly a turnover-producing machine, and the Cavaliers were turning opponent turnovers into points.

To wit, that Louisville game on Jan. 31. Virginia wins by 10, forces 13 Cardinals turnovers on 61 possessions, and translated them into a 22-6 advantage in points off turnovers.

Duke had 16 turnovers on 66 possessions in UVA’s 65-63 win in Cameron on Jan. 27, and the ‘Hoos had a 14-4 advantage in points off turnovers.

It was a 25-8 edge over Clemson, which had 19 turnovers on 62 possessions in its 61-36 loss in Charlottesville.

Those aren’t cherry-picked examples. This was the season-long trend.

And then: it went away.

Starting with the second Syracuse game, the 59-44 win in the Carrier Dome on Feb. 3, Virginia opponents have turned the ball over on 15.2 percent of their possessions.

Up to that point, the ‘Hoos had forced turnovers on 24.2 percent of opponent possessions.

The difference being: 24.2 percent is top five in the country kind of turnover defense, 15.2 percent is bottom 20.

I can’t pinpoint any one thing that the last eight opponents, starting with Syracuse on Feb. 3, have done to cut down on turnovers against the Virginia Pack Line.

I wonder if there might be a factor of familiarity at play. Among the eight, UVA played Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Louisville a second time each this season. Maybe adjustments by coaches are a factor.

Virginia went 7-1 in the stretch, losing only to Virginia Tech, in overtime, on Feb. 10, in a loss that wamuch about a poor offensive showing as anything.

Worth noting that the eight opponents averaged 53.0 points per game, basically online with the 52.8 points per game allowed for the season.

And that the teams are scoring an aggregate .913 points per possession over the stretch, a bit up from the .839 points per possession allowed season-long.

The slightly bigger difference that I see actually comes on the offensive end. Over that eight-game stretch, the ‘Hoos offense has generated 62.1 points per game, down from the 67.3 points per game season-long, and is scoring 1.071 points per possession, down from the 1.154 points per possession it has scored season-long.

Bottom line: the defense has been about as stout, but the turnovers had been fueling the offense, which has not been as effective having to run more in the halfcourt.

The margin for error, thus, is tighter.

Story by Chris Graham


Have a story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected] Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.