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UVA's Struggling Offense, Elijah's Turn, and Visiting Recruits
HoozGotNext

UVA's Struggling Offense, Elijah's Turn, and Vi...

UVA Spring Sports Roundup
Category_Softball

UVA Spring Sports Roundup

Virginia Set to Host 10th Ranked North Carolina
Josh Burton

Virginia Set to Host 10th Ranked North Carolina

UVA's Struggling Offense, Elijah's Turn, and Visiting Recruits HoozGotNext

UVA's Struggling Offense, Elijah's Turn, and Vi...

By Kevin Cook

Virginia's offensive struggles continued in Saturday's loss to UNC.  Freshman Elijah Gertrude appears to be moving into a bigger role.  And the Hoos had visiting recruits on hand this weekend.  

Offensive Struggles

Virginia is in quite the offensive funk.  They’ve failed to reach 50 points in three consecutive games.  After reeling off eight wins in a row, they’ve since lost three of their last four and find themselves back on the edge of the dreaded NCAA Tournament bubble.  Their struggles seem to have the coaching staff searching for answers. 

“They’re really keying in on a few guys and really playing off some others.”  Tony Bennett said following Saturday’s 54-44 loss to North Carolina. “ We’re trying to do a few different things. They’re figuring some things out that are tough for us.” 

Taking Away Shooters

The Wahoos have shot the three-ball pretty well this season, 36.4% as a team.. They were in the top 20 nationally in that category before this awful recent stretch.  However, they don’t get many attempts.  The problem has worsened of late.   In the last four games, only 24.8% of UVA’s shot attempts have come from behind the arc.  That would be the third lowest rate in the country over a full season.  

Opponents are making it difficult for Virginia to get quality three-point attempts.  They’re keying on shooters as Bennett alluded to, specifically Isaac McKneely and Jake Groves.  Open looks are few and far between.  They’ve nearly dried up completely for Groves.  He’s only had a total of six field goal attempts in the last three games, after being such a crucial factor in their earlier winning streak.  

Fewer Assists 

Nearly 63% of Virginia’s made shots have been of the assisted variety, the 7th highest rate in the country.  Over the last four games, it’s dropped to a very average 52.5%.  Bottoming out with just five assists on 16 field goals in Saturday’s loss to UNC, all of them credited to Reece Beekman

What that means is that UVA isn’t creating shots within the flow of their offense as well as they were earlier in the season.  Players are being forced to make individual plays more often.  Since Beekman is by far their best option for making those plays, an even heavier load is being placed on his shoulders. 

Both of those stats, the drop in three-point and assist rates, are signs of an unhealthy offense.  In particular, for a “system” team like Virginia.  It’s not just a case of shooting poorly. The offense isn’t generating good shots.  Teams have figured out the blueprint for defending the current personnel within the sets they're running.  Look for Bennett and the staff to continue making adjustments, schematically and perhaps in the rotation as well.  

Changing of the Guard

A lot of fans have been outspoken about wanting to see freshman Elijah Gertrude back in the rotation.  They got their wish on Saturday.  The electric guard from Jersey City logged a season-high 19 minutes in the loss to the Tar Heels.  His stat line doesn’t look great, 6 points on 1-7 from the floor.  But he provided a spark.  He brought badly needed assertiveness on offense, and added a pair of steals too.  

It’s been a merry-go-round in the third guard spot for UVA.  Sophomore Andrew Rohde has held on to his starting job, despite averaging just 4.5 points.  Taine Murray has eaten into his minutes a little.  They’ve gone big at times, sliding Ryan Dunn out to guard.  Backup point guard Dante Harris is in the equation too.  All of them have had good moments, but none have been a consistent offensive threat.  

Bennett still had Gertrude in to finish the game on Saturday.  That’s usually a good sign going forward.  I completely expect him to be in the rotation at Boston College on Wednesday.  There’s a wide open opportunity for a guard to step up and grab a big role.  It's Gertrude's turn to take his swing.  

Visiting Recruits

A Saturday afternoon game means recruits in the house.  Virginia had several on hand for the UNC game. 

They had a pair of important class of 2025 recruits seated behind the bench on unofficial visits, both holding UVA scholarship offers.  Southern Durham (NC) wing Jackson Keith is no stranger to Charlottesville, having visited multiple times before.  The Hoos are battling NC State and Tennessee for him.  

And despite having a game of his own to leave early for, prized local 2025 recruit Chance Mallory was on hand for the second time this season.  Later Saturday night, he led STAB to a conference championship, and was named conference Player of The Year following the victory.  Maryland and Clemson are among the other contenders for Mallory.  

 

 

There were also two in-state 2026 recruits in the first row.  Latrell Allmond, a forward out of John Marshall in Richmond, already has an offer from the Wahoos.  This was his third unofficial visit to UVA since the fall.  And a new one to know, point guard Styles Clemmons from Princess Anne High in Virginia Beach.   

(Featured Image Credit: Getty) 

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UVA Spring Sports Roundup Category_Softball

UVA Spring Sports Roundup

By Josh Burton

By Josh Burton


I am pleased to announce that this spring season Locker Room Access will be bringing you weekly roundups of how your favorite sports are doing. The main focus will be on baseball, with updates on other sports along the way. Let’s take a look at where things stand as the spring season has just kicked off.

Baseball

The first weekend of the season was fairly successful for #14 UVA Baseball, as they picked up the weekend sweep of Hofstra. The offense was certainly ahead of the defense to start. The Hoos scored a combined 42 runs over three games compared to Hofstra’s 20. For the first weekend, the starting pitchers were:

Friday - Jack O’Connor

Saturday - Evan Blanco

Sunday - Jay Woolfolk

Wednesday saw the Hoos pick up their first shutout of the season, as they defeated ODU 8-0. Cullen McKay got the start in this one.

 

 

Offensively, the Hoos have gotten off to a pretty good start. Seven players have already collected 5+ hits, with Indiana transfer Bobby Whalen and the uber-talented first-year Henry Ford leading the way, hitting .600 and .533, respectively. Harrison Didawick is the early leader in the clubhouse with 3 home runs, with both Ford and preseason All-American Griff O’Ferrall right behind him with 2 apiece.

The Wahoos are in Jacksonville this week, where they will face Wichita State (2/23 at 2 pm), #18 Iowa (2/24 at 4 pm) and then Auburn (2/25 at 4 pm). Blanco will start Friday with O’Connor getting the nod on Saturday while Sunday is TBD as head coach Brian O’Connor has suggested that Woolfolk may be needed in relief earlier in the weekend.

If you haven’t seen it yet, @UVApride7 is doing excellent work giving live play by play updates over in the 2024 Baseball thread. Feel free to catch up on all the action there anytime!

Lacrosse

The UVA Men’s Lacrosse team is looking for another banner year as they have already picked up wins over Michigan and at Richmond. Along the way, Payton Cormier became the program's all-time scoring leader. They will be back in action this weekend at home against Ohio State (2/25 at 1 pm).

 

 

Roundup

Men’s Tennis sits at 8-4 after entering the spring reason ranked #1. They are currently #7 and will be back in action on March 1st when they will host Wake Forest.

Softball has started the year at 6-4. They will be in action in Charlottesville all weekend, beginning with a double header against Delaware first, followed by Lehigh. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 pm on Friday.

Women’s Lacrosse is off to a strong 3-0 start and is currently ranked #15. Business will pick up for them on Friday as they host #8 North Carolina. This one is set for a 5 pm start time.

Check back in all season long as Locker Room Access will have coverage!

(Featured Image Credit: Emily Faith Morgan/UVA Athletics) 

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Virginia Set to Host 10th Ranked North Carolina Josh Burton

Virginia Set to Host 10th Ranked North Carolina

By Josh Burton

By Josh Burton


Coming off their worst showing of the season in a 75-41 drubbing at Virginia Tech on Monday, the University of Virginia Men’s Basketball team now sits at 20-7 (11-5 in ACC play) and will look to right the ship as they host #10 North Carolina this weekend (Saturday, 2/24). This game is scheduled for 4 pm EST and will air on ESPN.

About North Carolina

The North Carolina Tar Heels are led by head coach Hubert Davis, in his third season. Davis is 69-27 overall, going 38-17 in conference play. This season, UNC is 20-6 overall and leading the ACC at 12-3. They last played on Saturday against Virginia Tech, a 96-81 victory for the Tar Heels.

Speed is the name of the game for the Heels. They like to push the pace and get out in transition as much as possible. To go along with their top 25 offense, this season Carolina also boasts a top 20 defense (per Torvik). Carolina has settled in on a rotation of 7 players who average double-digit minutes. They start out as follows:

PG - RJ Davis (6’ Senior) Averages 21.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game while hitting 41% from three.

G - Elliott Cadeau (6’1” Freshman) Averages 7.8 points and 3.9 assists per game.

G - Cormac Ryan (6’5” Covid-year Senior, Notre Dame transfer) Averages 10.8 points and 3 rebounds per game.

F - Harrison Ingram (6’7” Junior, Stanford transfer) Averages 12.5 points and 9.1 rebounds while hitting 40.7% from three.

C - Armando Bacot (6’11” Covid-year Senior) Averages 14.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

Get Right Game

Things really couldn’t have gone much worse for the Hoos on Monday in Blacksburg. How they respond to such a dreadful performance will be crucial for not only the rest of the regular season, but also for their postseason prospects.

I had been nervous going into Monday night that the Wake Forest game on Saturday would take its toll on such a short rest. I was hoping to see both Jake Groves and Taine Murray provide some spark for the Cavs off the bench as they had during the key stretch for UVA. They played 30 minutes combined and scored 4 points between them with neither attempting a three-point shot. For the Hoos to be successful, that can’t happen going forward as both are relied upon for their offensive ability, especially being able to space the floor.

The good news for the Hoos is that the last time they played on a Monday and got the extended rest until Saturday, they had what was probably their best offensive showing of the season, An 80-point outburst against a good Florida State defense in Tallahassee. Isaac McKneely set a career-high 29 points while hitting 5 three’s in that one. Coming off back-to-back performances not reaching 50 points, I’m looking for the Cavalier offense to wake up and hopefully bounce back in a major way.

The offense wasn’t the only issue for UVA, however, as the defense was also pretty bad. Especially inside. Virginia Tech rolled to the rim relentlessly and dominated the Hoos inside. This couldn’t have sat well with either the players or the coaching staff as the pack line is designed to prevent these types of looks. Part of the problem may have been Jordan Minor getting into early foul trouble, but neither Blake Buchanan or Groves were good in his place (and Minor still wasn’t great later in the game). It was essentially a failed showing by the entire frontcourt rotation, and I expect it to be addressed and cleaned up this week. 

Styles Clash

This game couldn’t get any further apart in styles. It’s said over and over, but whichever team can control the tempo should control this game. In the past, UVA’s style of play has proven to be very difficult for the Tar Heels to contend with, especially when the Wahoos have played decent offense to go along with it. Since the 2013-2014 season, UVA is 12-6 against North Carolina, and also has won every matchup in JPJ since the 2012-2013 season.

Matching Up

This Carolina squad isn’t much different from recent versions that have had success. RJ Davis runs the show and is the front-runner for ACC Player of the Year. He will undoubtedly be checked by reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year Reece Beekman. Elliot Cadeau is less of a scoring threat who does most of his damage by getting into the lane and creating for his teammates. I’m expecting Isaac to start on him, but would not be surprised to see different looks through at him as other Cavaliers rotate in. Rounding out the backcourt is Cormac Ryan, a capable scorer who can knock down the open look. Starting with Andrew Rohde on him to provide length will most likely be the initial look.

The frontcourt is where things really get interesting. In a matchup of X-Factors, Ryan Dunn will look to keep Harrison Ingram contained. His shooting has provided even more spacing for Bacot to work with this season, and he should be a player the defense is keying on to prevent getting good looks. Dunn should have his hands full.  But as a contender for National Defensive Player of the Year, I expect him to be ready for the task after a poor showing on Monday.  

Finally we get to Armando Bacot, who could prove to be the most difficult matchup for the Hoos. Bacot has a great combination of size and strength and truly is one of the most dominant interior players in the game. With so many other weapons, doubling Bacot may prove risky as he is a decent passer. Jordan Minor will certainly have his hands full with what should be his toughest matchup of the entire season. Jordan has brought a physicality to this team, and he will need to do his best to be physical while avoiding foul trouble in this one.

On the Horizon

Following Saturday’s epic clash, UVA will head to Boston College on Wednesday (2/28). Before that though be on the lookout for a Locker Room Access event to come before the Carolina game, details will be available on forum!

(Featured Image Credit: Josie Drumheller/UVA Athletics) 

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