To kick off the season and the conversation. We have a Locker Room Access Roundtable featuring:
Mark Jerome: Username @marktykobe on the forums. High School, AAU Coach and Father of Ty Jerome. Played point guard in NYC and D1 and has been around the game his entire life. Mark hosts the “Hangin’ with the Hoos” Series on youtube with Locker Room Access.
Doug Smith: Username @Dfresh11 on the forums. Played point guard at UVA from 1990-93. Played on teams with Bryant Stith, Cory Alexander, Junior Burrough and more. Live in NYC and will also host throwback thursdays on podcasts, videos, and on the message boards.
Hooz Got Next: Username @hoozgotnext on the forums. Is the #1 Basketball Recruiting analyst for UVA and knows the insides and outs of the program with analysis and interviews from all players, coaches and family members.
TW Huang: Username @hoostw on the forums. A business partner with Locker Room Access and an all around fan of UVA basketball (CLAS ’99).
Mark Jerome (@marktykobe): I don’t wanna give a prediction right away, but here’s what’s going to happen. Barring injuries, we know how that effects teams, we learned that 2 years ago. But you know this team will get better as the year goes on. Tomorrow, we may struggle we may not. How many good shooters do we have vs. this zone. Can we shoot the ball well? I just don’t know, because we’re losing 3 dominant players as we all know. Who is gonna make up for that? I think Braxton Key is gonna have a really good, may be great year, same with Kihei, does he continue to shoot the ball well like he did in the tourney? Where is the offense gonna come from? The first years are gonna get better. I know fans want instant gratification, but I think we’ll see us improve and improve as the year progresses.
Doug Smith (@DFresh11): I agree with Mark though. Last year’s team didn’t need games to get better. But this year’s team has to play better in real situations. Not in scrimmages, or international games. Tomorrow’s game will mean everything and nothing, we’ll get some real game situations and see how they respond vs a zone. But again, it’s the first game. My biggest question is the point guard position after Kihei. He obviously improved his game along with really great players, but he can’t defer this year. He has to shoulder the burden of bringing the ball up and having the ball in his hands 90% of the time. That’s tough to do and under estimated thing he has to do. Unlike Mark, I’ll give a prediction. I think top 4 in the ACC. I don’t know about nationally which I don’t think is important, but may be top 10 by end of the season.
Hooz Got Next(@hoozgotnext): I think that’s kinda where I have them. I think top 4 in the ACC is optimistic, honestly. If they continue to improve all season. Plus it’s a down year in the ACC. How good will you need to be to win the ACC this year? There’s no Duke team with Zion like last year.
@Dfresh11: You always gotta be really good to win the ACC, but yea.
@marktykobe: Duke struggled in the preseason vs a D2 team, I think.
@hoozgotnext: I think the media predicted Duke and Louisville is trendy with returners and a good recruiting class. I don’t think Duke will win the league. I wouldn’t be surprised if FSU wins the league, but seems like 6 teams could win the league.
@Dfresh11: Think about Kihei, Braxton, Mamadi, Huff. Look at who they played against in practice last year. At least they’ll have that to lean against. They’ve seen the real stuff.
@hoozgotnext: Can they be THE GUY? That’s probably an adjustment for anyone.
@marktykobe: But you still have to be able to shoot the basketball. No matter what experience you have, you gotta make shots.
@Dfresh11: I’ve been impressed with Kody Stattman. He’s gained some weight, he looks like he can shoot and play. That’s who I’m interested in?
@hoostw: Who do you think will jump in and surprise us?
@hoozgotnext: I don’t think Casey counts and I’m not sure Justin McCoy or Caffaro will get enough PT to be a surprise.
@marktykobe: We’ll need to find a 5th or 6th guy who can score.
@hoozgotnext: What about Tomas W? The juco Kid? Nobody is talking about him.
@marktykobe: Word on him is that we don’t know how he’ll defend and that will determine his playing time. We won’t really know until we get into the ACC or B1G challenge. He’ll get a chance early, but we wont know for a while. Cause once you get into the ACC games, you’ll see for sure. He’s gonna be like’ . Oh man…”
@Dfresh11: Well if he’s coming from Juco, basically every defensive possesion is a possesion off. Compare that to defense in the ACC and it’s night and day. So yea, we’ll see.
@hoozgotnext: Look at his highlights on youtube and I think you’ll see that ring true. They touched a 100 in a few games because of that.
@Dfresh11: Another key is how Tony Bennett (CTB) is going to let the guys play. Will he trust them and just let them play. Or will he feel like he has to manage them and rely on the system.
@marktykobe: I think they’ll need success in order to get that. Ty had a good relationship with CTB, but it took time. At some point, he was able to take risks & CTB was OK with it. Think about the Syracuse game last year. They let it fly and they had a record number of 3s…as long as they’re succesful, I don’t think CTB is going to complain. When they got in the high post and backed it out vs Cuse, that worked everytime AND they (we) got really hot. I say “we”, like I was on the team. I can’t help it. Doug, you can say it, cause you were on the team.
@Dfresh11: No, we can all say WE. Let’s say WE. I noticed about CTB last year, he was deferring a lot. He got real input from Jason Williford a lot. I think he was just a lot more inclusive with players, But THIS year? I doubt that happens.
@marktykobe: It won’t be the case. They do have a lot of experience. Look at Mamadi. Is he going to do a lot more than he should? If he’s succesful, it’s going to be a great year. How many shots does he take? 12? 15? Where are his shots coming from? Inside? the perimeter? Again, this opening game will be strange, because it will be about how we shoot. If we play poorly, is everyone gonna play zone against us? Duke? UNC? FSU? They all playing zone because we can’t shoot?
@Dfresh11: I wanna ask this. How do you think coming off a national championship will change this team? Is it good? Bad? I have no idea. In my time, an ACC title was an adjustment. But a national title? I think it will be positive for a few guys, but the newer guys?
@marktykobe: I don’t think it matters for the younger guys. They may feel a little frustration. Because as a coach and player after a year like that. You’re expectations are so high, because not everyone is at that championship level yet. Now, it may not happen all the time. But there will be frustrating moments. We know we’re replacing the guys, but you can’t help but think. Why can’t you do this or why don’t you know where to go? That will be an adjustment.
@Dfresh11: Who is gonna be pissed off like Ty Jerome and just take over the game?
@marktykobe: I think it’s Mamadi, at least everyone will look at Mamadi to be that guy. But I think the dynamic of Braxton and Mamadi, can do it. Look at that front court. Plus Mamadi, Braxton, Kihei, Jay…They can do it. That’s a lot of experience if they work together.
@hoozgotnext: Jay’s been there 4 years, but doesn’t have the on-court experience. I can’t believe we haven’t mentioned Jay Huff.
@marktykobe: if Jay bangs down low, rebounds and plays physical. He will play 30 minutes a game if he is willing to bang.
@hoostw: My question is… Can he defend the pick and roll? Because that seems to be where Tony Bennett has issues. When he has to hard hedge and can’t recover, I’ve seen our defense struggle. In the past, that’s typically when he gets yanked out of the game.
@marktykobe: Yea, that’s true, but who replaces him? I think we have to live with that because of what he offers on the offensive end.
@hoozgotnext: His pick and roll defense reminds me of Mike Tobey. Can we keep both him and Mamadi.
@hoostw: What are the adjustments we make, will we see less hard hedging when Jay is in? Does his offense makeup for this?
@hoozgotnext: That’s what we begged to see with Tobey, but it never happened.
@Dfresh11: The last two years, we didn’t need him to do that. We lost only 6 games and won a national title. So this is the year! I don’t think the system changes for him. I don’t see anyway he doesn’t have to hard hedge. We’re gonna play him. I’m not down on Jay at all, AT ALL.
@Marktykobe: This is where that question of Tony Adjusting comes in. Does he let him play through it, or does he pull him? Does he tell his assistants to remind him that Jay needs a longer leash. Because who is gonna replace him on Offense?
@Dfresh11: I think we’re talking about the knowns. These guys are experienced, it’s just how they adjust. My biggest question is still. Who are the ball handlers. This is not a knock on Kihei, but who else is gonna help with this?
@hoozgotnext: that’s why I say Casey Morsell is gonna be that guy. He is the key to the season because they have nobody else.
@marktykobe: What are the other options?
@Dfresh11: Last year we had Kihei and Ty. Kyle didn’t really handle the ball like that. We need someone other than Kihei to be able to bring up the ball and be steady with it. If you tell Kihei, you have to bring the ball up for 35 minutes a game, and everyone is coming after you. That’s HARD. It’s an adjustment. Ty grew into it. I mean, I tell Mark all the time, he mastered it. From the outside, it looks easy…but it’s not. I’m not saying Kihei can’t do it. I’m just saying it’s gonna be hard.
@marktykobe: Kihei gets a lot of heat (me included), but we may not beat Oregon, Auburn, the Purdue chase down…I mean, he was HUGE.
@Dfresh11: Will teams press us just to tire him out. What is going to happen?
@hoozgotnext: How do you guys feel about opening the season with Cuse?
@Marktykobe: I don’t mind it, I kinda like it. You get experience early on. Then you go on and play some games where you can improve against teams that aren’t ACC caliber. The only reason I don’t love it…is because it’s the zone.
@hoozgotnext: I just don’t like that it’s a conference game. This shouldn’t mean something in terms of conference standings.
@marktykobe: Right, at the end of the year, this game could change the standings.
@hoostw: the good news, Syracuse’s zone isn’t as good in November. They usually take a bad loss early in the year because the zone hasn’t been figured out. So hopefully we take advantage. But again, who knows.
@Dfresh11: What’s everyone’s prediction on the score tmrw?
@hoozgotnext: oh man, I think it’s going to be low like 57-52
@Dfresh11: I’m gonna say way under, like 37-32.
@hoostw: I think we’ll see a teen halftime score, but end up 48-45. But we could get hot again.
@Dfresh11: My perspective from playing in the 90’s. My old teammates always look at this team and say, they don’t look that good. I don’t know…but ever since Tony’s gotten here. You look up and they are at the top of the conference, 30-3.
@hoozgotnext: This might be different because the staff wasn’t ready for the big 3 to leave. You have to go back to the first year of TB to have this many unknowns.
@marktykobe: Look at Villanova last year. They lost 4 NBA guys and if they’re not playing in the Big East…If it was a tougher conference, they probably struggle.
@hoozgotnext: They really had a great season, all considered.
@marktykobe: They really struggled early, but they had a BIG time NBA player in Eric Pascall. They were good. But needed the time to get better. They finished as a what 6 seed?
@hoozgotnext: If we end up a 6 seed this year. that’s a good year…we lost what? Over 80% of scoring?
@DFresh11: I don’t know all the advanced stats, but I think we have more than you expect back in terms of efficiency.
@marktykobe: when you look at the overall points that the guys brought. It was a lot. Plus, as you mentioned, the ball handling and distrubuting. And their ability to score off the dribble or screen.
@hoozgotnext: That’s the unknown. Who can get their own bucket this year?
@marktykobe: Who is going to curl around screens and score like Kyle?
@hoozgotnext: Do we run Blocker Move? Or pick n roll? Is Kody going to be the guy? May be it’s Tomas? He’s brought in for shooting.
@marktykobe: The guys will get better during the season in this system.
@Dfresh11: I think Kihei is going to see guys playing off him and force him to hit 12 3s to beat him. I hate comparing him to the other guys, but Kyle and Ty hit shots. Kihei hasn’t done it at that level. They won’t be on Tomas and the newer guys out of the gate…