As some of you may recall, on Jan. 21 I posted a prediction, provided a brief summary of ACC teams and a detailed look at the Cavaliers. Since Virginia has played quite a few games since, I thought I'd provide an update as we head towards a game tomorrow that will decide the ACC regular season championship (and as a UVA alum who grew up cheering for Syracuse, where my Dad, attended, I couldn't be happier).
London Perrantes has continued his unflappable play at the point, turning over the ball as often as Mel Gibson plays a low-key role. In 7 of his past 9 games he has had no turnovers. What may have changed is this: Against Miami Perrantes went 5 for 5 from the field, hitting 4 three-pointers and one old-fashioned three-pointer (fouled on a made jump shot). Perrantes was a scorer in high school, has a nice stroke and has the handle to create space for a shot, but for the most part this year, he has deferred to others, creating sots for teammates, and shooting well (15 for 33 on three-pointers) but not all that often (2 three-pointers per game). The past three games he's 8-11. If that continues in Saturday's game, UVA will become considerably more difficult to guard.
Malcolm Brogdon has established himself as our best overall and most consistent player. While he is not especially quick, he uses his size, strength and smarts to drive to the basket and can shoot with either hand when he goes all the way to the hole. He's also a solid shooter with three-point range (most notably beating Pitt in the last second) and a good passer and strong rebounder for a guard. He's also a strong defender against all but the quickest guards.
Sticking to the backcourt, the first guy off the bench, Justin Anderson, has been a spark plug in defense, making game-changing blocks, and making life difficult on point guards, but his offense has been inconsistent. We've won without big offensive numbers from him, but if he gets hot, he's an x-factor.
Joe Harris is still our biggest deep threat but sometimes gets away from that too much; UVA is at their best when he becomes a major threat beyond the arc.
In the frontcourt, Mitchell has improved his play since I last wrote, making more offensive noise -- he will have a quickness advantage over just about any big man. Gill too has improved his play and has become a more consistent offensive threat. Tobey remains inconsistent; he's had several stellar games but he has been non-productive in some too, in part because he seems to get down on himself too quickly -- how he starts seems to affect how he plays moreseon than our other big men.
Also new from the last post, Atkins is playing more in the front court, getting double-digit minutes in 4 of the past 6 games after reaching that mark in only 2 of the first 10 ACC games. Atkins may be our most athletic big man and will be brought on if we develop problems with opponents penetrating the lane. Both our backup point, Jones, and our three-point specialist Nolte, continue to play limited minutes, playing almost every game but not all that much.
As a whole, UVA hit a lag period (much as Syracuse did) after my last post. But we have been playing better as of late,
Looking at the match-up as a whole, the one clear edge UVA has is depth. We essentially have 7 starters -- Anderson and Gill come off the bench but get just about as much playing time as the starting 5, We have an 8th player getting 10-15 minutes. And we have two other guys who have plugged in for short spans.
It's great to have you in the conference. No matter who wins tomorrow, I hope we meet in the ACC tourney finals.