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Three-Pointer: Virginia-FSU

Sunday, January 5, 2014 10:16am

College coaching consultant Denny Kuiper breaks down Virginia’s 62-50 win at Florida State.

Let’s see: Virginia got blown out by Tennessee in their last road game; the Cavaliers’ star player Joe Harris only plays two minutes and they are on the road against a very talented Florida State team. It would be logical to assume the Seminoles won this one. But logic doesn’t always have a place in college basketball. 

Virginia dominated the game from the beginning and, except for a bad spell late in the second half, the Cavaliers were the aggressor and the best team on the floor. Sometimes an embarrassing loss such as the one the Cavs suffered last week destroys a team’s confidence. But sometimes that blowout wakes a team up. In Virginia’s case it appears the Cavaliers’ pride was wounded and they came back to show that they were a team to be respected.

Let’s go to the 3 pointers to take a look at this game.

1. Comparing This Virginia Team With Previous Squads

This year’s team is more talented than previous ones under Tony Bennett. While for the most part that is good, it also can be a bit of a problem in that several players have the ability to be dominant players on the floor, making roles a little confusing. The Cavs have struggled with that early in the year but now appear to be making progress direction in determining who does what.

Last year I don’t think Virginia wins this game with Harris playing only the first two minutes of game (he left after suffering a blow to the head). Now though the Cavs have several players who can make plays.

 Akil Mitchell played like he did last year, ending up with 11 points and 13 rebounds.  London Perrantes, a freshman who is proving himself to be a pretty good point guard, scored 14 points with 0 turnovers against a very athletic FSU team. And Justin Anderson, the most athletic player on the Cav’s roster had 16 points, and did a little bit of everything.  Hopefully Harris will be back for the next game. I don’t think he has to be the star every game for the Cavs to win consistently.

And finally, while the Cavs are more athletic and fast break more and better than last year, they are not as good as a shooting team as they have been. They are especially not very good at the free throw line.

2. Questions For Florida State

Why aren’t Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas starters?  Why doesn’t FSU press more? 

Now, before we explore these two questions let me be clear: I think Leonard Hamilton is doing a great job as the head coach for the Seminoles. They will win a lot of ACC games this year, but at times, like last night, they can play very poorly.

I assume Hamilton likes the scoring power of Miller and Thomas coming off the bench.  Also, he may prefer to start his best defensive lineup.  I understand that thought mentality, but sometimes when scorers don’t play the first three to five minutes in a game, and then struggle to get and/or make shots when they do get in the game, they can feel frustration.  When that occurs they sometimes think they have to make things happen quickly, which can lead to forced plays and shots. That happened to Miller and Thomas tonight. They combined for 15 points on 6-16 shooting, well below their season averages. But then again, a lot of opponents end up below their season averages offensively against Virginia.

While FSU is a very good defensive team, I think if the Semninoles pressed more, either man-to-man or zone, they could force teams into mistakes. They are so long and athletic, which are keys to being a good pressing team. Sometimes the Seminoles struggle in half-court offense.  The press could help alleviate that by creating turnovers, which would lead to open court opportunities, where FSU excells.

3) Virginia Doubling The Low Post

Although Florida State does not have a great low post presence and does not throw the ball in there much, when the Seminoles did this, the Cavs doubled with their other big man.  UVa even doubled Michael Ojo, FSU’s raw 7-1 center, who has virtually no low post moves. 

The question is why double a non-scoring big man?  I believe the reason is to be aggressive.  When you aggressively double a big like Ojo, you are forcing him to be efficient in making the pass out of the double team. I like the strategy. It takes away much of a team’s low posting scoring and, if done aggressively as the Cavs did, turnovers can be created.

And One: 

Give Tony Bennett credit for subbing Evan Nolte into the game with just over six minutes to go.  The Cavs had been outscored 9-1 in the last four minutes and their 19-point lead had been cut to 11.  Virginia had the ball underneath its own basket. Bennett called an out-of-bounds play which got Nolte, a great shooter, open for a 3-pointer. Of course, it always looks like great coaching when the player makes the shot, which Nolte did.