What UVA basketball fans need to know about James Madison

uva basketballDefending national champion UVA opens its 2019-2020 home schedule on Sunday with JMU coming to JPJ.

The Dukes won their season opener over Charlotte, 79-74, on Wednesday, beating former top Virginia assistant Ron Sanchez in the process.

JMU, picked fourth in the CAA in the preseason, got 22 points from 6’5” junior Matt Lewis, who also had a career-high 13 rebounds in the win.

Sophomore Deshon Parker, a 6’4” guard, had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Zach Jacobs, a 6’8” forward, added 15 points, six boards and two blocks.

Madison shot 49.2 percent from the floor and held Charlotte to 40.6 percent shooting.

Charlotte led 34-22 with 6:03 to go in the first half before JMU closed the half on a 13-2 run to go into the locker room down one.

The game was played at a breakneck pace: 77 possessions, a bit of an uptick for the Dukes from what they did under coach Louis Rowe in 2018-2019, when they averaged 65.2 possessions per game, 301st among the 353 teams in Division I, according to KenPom.com.

Virginia held Syracuse to 23.6 percent shooting in a 48-34 win in the Carrier Dome on Wednesday in a 58-possession game.

Rowe’s rotation goes seven-deep, including 6’5” junior Darius Banks, who averaged 12.3 points a game and shot 49.3 percent from three-point range in 2018-2019; 6’6” freshman Michael Christmas, a three-star recruit from Virginia Beach; Julien Wooden, a 6’8” freshman from Roanoke; and Jayvis Harvey, a 6’3” freshman from Durham, N.C.

UVA coach Tony Bennett shortened his bench for the season opener, which was also a rare season opener against an ACC foe, getting just 53 minutes from his bench, 29 of those from 7’1” center Jay Huff, who had been expected to be a starter.

JMU is likely to start just one post player – the 6’8” Jacobs – with the 6’8” freshman Wooden his one post off the bench.

It will be interesting to see what Bennett does in terms of his lineup to counter defensively. You may see Huff at five and Diakite some at a stretch four chasing around Banks or Lewis, though it’s more likely that Huff and Diakite will split minutes at the five, with Key at the stretch four, and JUCO transfer Tomas Woldetensae, sophomore Kody Stattmann and four-star freshman recruit Casey Morsell getting minutes at the two and three, alongside sophomore point guard Kihei Clark.

Story by Chris Graham



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