Tony Bennett’s team is off to an outstanding start this season, the Cavaliers are 19-0. Virginia was a good team last year, boasting one of the tougher defenses in the country. After losing several of their leaders due to graduation, the expectations surrounding the program in Charlottesville were considerably lower. Then, the season began and Virginia never looked back.
Anytime a team loses upperclassmen or leaders, other members have to step up and take on a larger role. A trio of juniors have stepped up to the plate to lead this team, all of which were complementary pieces last season. Justin Anderson, Malcolm Brogdon, and Anthony Gill have embraced the challenge and are a large part as to why UVA is ranked second in the land. Brogdon is the second leading scorer on the team (13.3 per), he’s shooting 46% from the floor and 38% from beyond the arc. Gill is leading the team in rebounding, he’s also made the most of his opportunities on offense, scoring 11.3 points a game.
Anderson appears to have made the largest jump, recruited as an extremely high level athlete, he’s morphed into a very good basketball player in a short time. He’s leading the team in scoring with 13.9 points a game, grabbing 4.4 rebounds and averages two assists per contest. The well rounded wing has been shooting the lights out, he’s shooting 50% from the floor and just under 52% from deep. Throw in that elite athleticism and you have a very talented player, one that Virginia is happy to have.
While the Cavaliers defense makes most of the headlines, their offense has played a role in this hot start as well. What makes them so dangerous is the ball movement, there’s not one ‘key’ player. Everyone touches the ball and the ball doesn’t discriminate, Virginia routinely takes good shots. Whoever has the ball last at the end of the movement will be taking the shot, it’s just that simple. Five players average seven points or more on this team, they are shooting 47% from the field on the season and just a hair under 40% from three point land (.395).
Defensively, there isn’t a team in the country better than the Cavaliers. They are holding teams to 49.2 points a game, almost a full 20 points lower than what Virginia scores themselves per contest. Both their defensive and offensive prowess will be needed going forward.
The Cavaliers have a tough stretch of games up next, three games that will change their season no matter the outcome. First, they host the Duke Blue Devils. Virginia should get a motivated Duke team, as the Blue Devils conference championship aspirations are teetering in the wind. Duke is 4-3 in the ACC at the moment, they can ill afford another loss, especially to a conference foe.
After Duke, the Virginia will be on Tobacco road to take on the Tar Heels. Carolina is 7-1 in the league, 17-4 overall. If facing Duke and Carolina back to back isn’t enough, Virginia comes back home to host Louisville.
Virginia’s season will be decided during this stretch, they can ascend to the number one team in the country or even fall out of the top ten. The Cavaliers aren’t exactly going in undermanned, this will be a great test for this team and a wonderful barometer to determine just how good this team may be.
How do you think UVA will do during this three game stretch, can they go 3-0?? Leave your comments below!