Virginia D takes Pitt out of its rhythm

virginia coach tony bennettPitt shot 39.1 percent from the field, was just 2-of-13 from three-point range, and had to scramble to get to 50.

Which means Virginia coach Tony Bennett was happy.

“This was one of our better position games defensively for most of the day,” Bennett said.

To the point that Pitt, with two dominant post players, Jamel Artis and Michael Young, scored just 14 points in the paint on the afternoon.

Artis had 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but did most of his damage, as did Young, who had 12 on 4-of-11 shooting, on the perimeter.

UVA doubled Young when he got the ball in the post, as the ‘Hoos usually do, with post-to-post doubles.

“We didn’t know if we should stay with the double team or leave, because when he gets his dribble he plays kind of like a wing, where he can back you up, hit a shot and go to work. I thought we just did a good job of not giving him easy looks,” Bennett said.

“We said, If he can hit contested shots, we’ll live with that, but let’s try not to let him get by us in the lane. When you go against a player that’s playing as well as he is, you’ve got to get the ball out of his hands or make him see a crowd. For the most part, we did that.”

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said his team is used to see post doubles, but for some reason couldn’t handle what Virginia was doing.

“I thought it was the worst we’ve done as far as attacking,” Dixon said. “We knew it coming in, and we practiced it, and we do it as well as play it. I think we handled that poorly. Spacing was not good, and the decision-making was not good, and that had something to do with it as well.

“We had too many jump shots, they got glances and got threes. We got mid-range jump shots, and they were contested the entire game,” Dixon said.

So the bigs got pushed out to the perimeter, and had to knock down jumpers to get anything going. The guards, for their part, couldn’t get anything going. Case in point: point guard James Robinson, averaging 9.9 points per game coming in, didn’t score, missing all seven of his shots from the field, with London Perrantes harassing him all day long

“I played a lot of help defense,” Perrantes said. “We talked about, if he was going to beat us, he has to beat us through shooting the ball. Both Young and Artis were playing pretty well and getting into the lane, so I think my goal was to just keep them out of the lane and just live with James shooting the three.”

– Story by Chris Graham

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