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Virginia Men's Basketball

Five Takeaways from UVA’s Loss to FSU

Now that we’ve all had a few days to process Monday night’s loss, it’s about time we address what that game tells us moving forward and what we can expect from this squad moving forward. As such, I’ve got five takeaways from Monday. 

Let’s take a step back

As UVA fans we’ve undoubtedly been spoiled over the last seven plus years. Losing is an incredibly uncommon occurrence at this point. But blowout losses? Nearly unheard of. So, now that the ‘Hoos have lost two games by more than 20 points and another by 14 to their bitter rival, we’re in some uncharted territory. 

There are a variety of explanations for this team’s struggles which I’ll get to shortly. But, for a moment, let’s remember that college basketball is inherently balanced as a result of the makeup of the game itself. Bad teams beat good teams, good teams beat great teams, good teams kill other good teams, and so on and so forth. That’s how it goes sometimes. UVA will bounce back in short order.

A ridiculously unfavorable matchup

With that in mind, the matchup with Florida State was never favorable for UVA. Just off pure talent alone, the Seminoles boast a number of NBA talents who are matchup nightmares and gave the Wahoo defense fits. Raiquan Gray was an issue all night long as his skill at his size put Sam Hauser in early foul trouble as he consistently got to the heart of the UVA defense. Scottie Barnes also touched the paint at will and consistently found his teammates on the perimeter while MJ Walker shot the ball ridiculously well from behind the arc.

Additionally, on the other end, FSU’s ability to switch every single screen that UVA set forced the Wahoos to reinvent themselves offensively. The Seminoles don’t have a player shorter than 6’5” in their rotation and all of them are more than capable on-ball defenders. 

The impact of a lack of playmakers

Because of the Noles’ ability to negate any true offensive sets that UVA attempted to run, the game came down to whether or not the ‘Hoos could make plays for themselves. As we’ve seen with the previous abandoning of the 5-out spread offense, this team is lacking in the playmaking department. Generally, that’s not as big of a deal because the staff is able to experiment with various schemes to generate enough scoring opportunities so that the players can focus on executing rather than creating. 

Of course, in the second half run where the ‘Hoos cut the Seminole lead to seven, Kihei Clark’s ability to attack off the dribble kept UVA afloat. After struggling to get to the rim and finish or force the FSU defense to collapse and then find shooters in the first half, he did just that for the first six minutes of the second half. 

But, outside of occasional heroics from Clark, there isn’t much creation that UVA can rely on which suggests that they’ll continue to struggle against teams who can switch screens and force the ‘Hoos to play outside of their system. Additionally, because the UVA guards aren’t massive threats as outside shooters, they’re dependent on touching the paint to produce offense which is tough to count on against good individual defenders. 

Defense can’t stem the tide

Scoring droughts are fairly synonymous with UVA basketball. While the program has brought in greater offensive talents in recent years and has had some ridiculously efficient offensive teams, the system that Bennett runs is prone to droughts because the team is so reliant on designed sets. However, in the past, stellar defense mitigated the effects of the offense’s stagnant play which prevented opposing teams from making any massive runs. 

This season, though, the defense is not quite up to par with prior Bennett teams. While the offensive talent makes up for it in the big picture, the offense system is still fairly similar and is prone to those same scoreless stretches which make these ‘Hoos much more susceptible to massive runs against hot shooting opponents. 

Does this result reframe expectations?

After the ‘Hoos’ third loss by more than fifteen points to a ranked opponent, their potential in postseason play is up for debate. Fortunately, they’ve got just one bad loss and have won a whole slew of games against mediocre competition. Obviously, the canceled Michigan State, Florida, Villanova, Virginia Tech, and Louisville games have played a role in the lingering uncertainty surrounding this squad’s potential and expectations in postseason play. 

Still though, this is an incredibly talented roster that is pretty clearly a top-20 team in the country. It’s got the offensive firepower to beat just about anybody in the country and an always improving defense which can snuff out opposing offenses that lack go-to perimeter scoring. More than ever, the ‘Hoos have the potential to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as well as the opportunity to make a run to the Final Four. Who would have it any other way?

(Image — Miguel A. Olivella Jr. — ACC)

5 Replies to “Five Takeaways from UVA’s Loss to FSU”

  1. Vincent Martin

    I’ll say it again, Virginia is not Athletic enough or tough enough to compete with the Upper echelon of the NCAA. You can trap and press Virginia into turnovers, spread the floor on offense and score at will. Virginia will lose to Duke on Saturday, and Team’s here on out, will Physically try to bully Virginia and make them play to their game. Coach Bennett and that packline defense has run it coarse with this current lineup.

    1. John Garr

      Vincent, you and I would have written better article on hoo as you said NOT PHYSICALLY TOUGH TEAM, in all facets of game period. This team would probably lose to last years overachiever hoos bunch. That about covers it, and yes a loss to Duke is coming saturday….r. garr

      1. Vincent

        Sorry but last year’s team was NOT OVERACHIEVERS, That team had heart, grit and determination. This team doesn’t have a Floor General like Ty Jerome or a sharp shooter like Kyle Guy or a Game Changer like DeAndre. I love Virginia Basketball, but, this year Virginia is being exposed believe it or not, by it’s DEFENSE. And, to me Kiehi is good, but He’s not confident in his shot, and other team’s are starting to use his height against him. I’m still not convinced about Beekman or their second string player’s. Just my Opinion. Go Wahoo’s, This team isn’t done yet!!!

  2. BillNCville

    Turnovers have been the key to this team’s success or failure. I also think that using the depth of this group to give the starters more rest during games might support the consistent effort on defense that CTB refers to frequently.

  3. Stanley R Parham

    Jay Huff needs to be feed the ball more on the inside while he is close to the rim. He is nearly unstoppable if they toss it up to him.

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