Virginia Men's Basketball

Why Reece Beekman is Special, 2021 vs 2019 Virginia Offense, Visitors at the Bennett House, + UVA Basketball Schedule & More

Doug Smith tells us why Reece Beekman is such a special point guard. Zach Carey compares this year’s offense to the national championship team. I answer a few recruiting questions. Fans are stressing over Jabri. And who else was at Tony’s house when Joe Harris came knocking after the Tennessee loss?

Can you discuss Reece’s mentality and awareness at this point. Seems to be on par with our great past floor generals Ty and London at the same point. @aharrison2611

Doug: It’s very rare to see a first-year PG since back in our time come in and immediately be ready to run a Virginia team.  Playing in Bennett’s system presents certain challenges for any first-year, especially at the point.  As the coaches have said, he can handle a lot of things coming at him and process very quickly.  His ability to protect the ball and get to where he needs to be with it is special.  I personally think he is wisely holding back and not revealing his full arsenal yet. 

Also noticeable is his positioning on defense.  Rarely do you see him out of position.  He has great hands when guarding the ball, and does all the little things that make it hard to run an offense.  Lastly, he plays stronger than his frame suggests and that’s only going to improve.

With multiple guys a threat to hit 3’s this season, what changes does Tony do with the offensive sets? @bhc3

Zach: It’s not so much the fact that more guys can hit threes, it’s who is hitting them. With Trey Murphy, Jay Huff, and Sam Hauser as the team’s three best shooters, Bennett has had to find ways to generate shots from the perimeter. That’s part of why they’ve heavily used their triangle offense. Their spread ball screen stuff is also meant to take advantage of the shooters they’ve got, while their more recent use of Jay Huff at the point of the offense has a similar purpose.

Where’s Jabri’s head at, given the fact that we’ve gone to a 10-11 man rotation and he hasn’t gotten any real burn?  Why not redshirt (independent of eligibility) so not to deal with the pressure of playing a top recruit?  And how will this affect top target recruiting going forward? @ericgiesecke

Hooz: I’m sure he’s frustrated.  No doubt he expected to earn meaningful minutes.  It’s hard for a player with his talent to accept. But it’s important for him and us to keep in mind why he chose Virginia.  It wasn’t about the immediate.  He picked a coach and system where he knew his weaknesses would be challenged, for the long term greater gain.  

I don’t really see how officially redshirting him or anyone else would be an answer this year.   It would be more of an insult.  And as for the recruiting impact going forward, very little.   This was such a special situation.  Jabri is a bucket getter who needed to improve in other areas, especially on the defensive end.   Not many players like him would seriously consider Virginia.   If anything, it could still be a big boost if he stays the course and reaches his potential at UVA.

What are the top 2-3 reasons we been gradually improving over the last four games? @zanchema

Zach: First off, the team is gelling on both sides of the ball. Three of the five starters are still in their first season in a UVA uniform, so it was always going to take time for the team to get accustomed to playing together. Secondly, the coaching staff has adjusted the offensive and defensive schemes to fit the personnel.

Any update on the 2021 recruiting class? Have Tony soloed in on anyone within the 2022/2023 classes? Any update on Kody’s Heath? @BASKIN_myglory

Hooz: The season is always a quiet time for recruiting.  Trevor Keels is the only really active recruitment in the 2021 class as far as I know.   There’s limited high school games played and coaches can’t go out.  I expect there might be new seniors to emerge on the radar in the coming months, but there hasn’t been much opportunity for that yet.   

The only two class of 2022 offers extended have been to St. Anne’s Belfield guard Justin Taylor and Poca (WV) guard Isaac McKneely.  They’re after them both as hard as can be done under the circumstances.   I plan to do another blog post this week looking at some of the other prospects in that class that are receiving attention.  

Junior guard Kody Stattmann has been out since early December with a non-covid related cardiac issue.  I don’t know any further details.   There’s no time table for his return

How do you rank the final 3 for Trevor Keels? @rndsoccer

Hooz: With a recruitment that goes the full distance like this one, there are a lot of twists and turns.   When it all happens under the cover of what will be a year-long dead period, it’s not easy to identify where the turning points were.  I think it’s very possible, if not likely, he’s been close to committing to all three at various times along the way.   When he passed on the early signing period, it was essentially a new reset entirely.

Duke should be the unhappiest that Trevor held off on signing early. They had all the buzz in November. I still think they have the best odds, but they’re all very much alive now. Villanova probably comes next because they can offer a bit of clearer featured role. I think UVA would need his thinking to shift more toward the long term than the immediate, which could definitely happen.

What is the ceiling for this team? What is the floor? And what adjustments does Tony make to get them to consistently perform at their best vs their worst? @Hooch_29thID

Zach: The ceiling for this team is still likely a final four run. And, once a team makes it there, who knows what can happen. Obviously, a lot will have to go right for this squad to get there, but that’s the ceiling. Regarding adjustments that Bennett needs to make, as long as he keeps trying to cater to the personnel, there’s not much else he can do. The staff has already adjusted the offensive and defensive schemes to fit this roster while simultaneously looking to mitigate opponent’s strengths and exploit their weaknesses. If Bennett continues to do that, he’ll put the team in the best position to succeed.

What’s your prediction for the next game? @KeepingUpWithG8

Hooz: With Wednesday’s game postponed due to NC State’s covid issues, a home date with Georgia Tech is next up on Saturday night.  The Yellow Jackets are a good team.  It’s an experienced group that quietly finished 5th in the league last year.  I expect it to be a battle.  Hoos pull away late for a 71-60 win.

Does this year’s team wind up on par with 2019 UVA in terms of offensive efficiency? @sdowland

Zach: Short answer, no. The 2019 team’s offensive efficiency was elite. Like, elite-elite. According to KenPom, the only teams that are matching/exceeding that team’s efficiency this season are Iowa and Gonzaga. This is a talented bunch, but they’re by no means either of those offenses. As of now, UVA’s offensive efficiency sits at 115.3 compared to the 2019 team’s rating of 123.4. This team will likely continue to improve offensively, but nah, they aren’t hitting matching 123.4.

Seems like figuring out a lineup that works when Jay is on the bench is one of the keys to the season. Why Caffaro instead of McKoy the last two games? Where does Shedrick fit if/when he is healthy? @JoshSGoodman

Hooz: I think this is fairly simple.  Shedrick is the preferred option to backup Huff.  Maybe that’s a little matchup dependent on occasion when small-ball with McKoy can be used.  With Kadin out, Caffaro offers a more traditional lineup with some resistance at the rim.  It’s been an improvement the last couple games. McKoy at center wasn’t going well defensively, although I expect we’ll still see the small look when opponent’s lineup allows.

Who are your early favorites to fill the void at the 4 and 5 next year? @marksenell

Zach: Of the guys likely to be returning next season, I’d expect Trey Murphy and Kadin Shedrick to be the two guys who are most likely to fill that void. Obviously Justin McKoy could take minutes at the four while Murphy could play the three, but I figure the team will be better off playing three of their likely many guards alongside Murphy. Obviously, we could very well see a transfer come in and fill one of those spots as well. If I had to guess I’d say Bennett and the staff will be looking to nab a graduate transfer center to take over as the starting center since Shedrick likely won’t be quite ready to play thirty plus minutes per game.

Breakdown McKneely’s game vs Taylor’s. @cavfantx

Hooz: The two prospects Virginia has offered in the 2022 class share some similarities for sure. Isaac McKneely and Justin Taylor are both sharpshooters, among the best in the nation. They’ll both primarily occupy the off-guard positions, the 2 & 3 spots as we say. They’re high IQ tough versatile guards, the kind that thrive under Bennett. And they’ve been extremely well-coached.

There are also some contrasts. Justin has a more mature body, and I would say overall game as well. He’s more polished, and has competed against high-level competition more often. He’s a couple inches taller at 6’6. Isaac has more burst, quick-twitch ability. He has potential to at least fill-in as a point guard down the line. I think the release on his jumper is a little quicker. They both should be really good college players. We’ll be fortunate to have either, or potentially both if things fall right.

Did Akil really go with Joe to CTB house after Tennessee game? @brianlange77

Zach: Nope, Mitchell wasn’t there. Coincidentally though, a ten year old me was there since I was hanging out with Eli Bennett, CTB’s son and a childhood friend of mine. It was actually my idea to simplify the offense, and boy oh boy did I give Joe a piece of my mind regarding his recent shot selection. You could say I’m responsible for the program’s historic turnaround. I wouldn’t, but you could.

Post-game UVA 85- Clemson 50

Post-game UVA 85- Clemson 50

Posted by Locker Room Access on Saturday, January 16, 2021

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