Wake Forest vs Virginia Basketball Preview Reading A Post-Mortem on the Pitt Loss and Some Gut Checks Ahead of the Final Stretch of ACC Play Next Virginia vs Virginia Tech Basketball Preview

A Post-Mortem on the Pitt Loss and Some Gut Checks Ahead of the Final Stretch of ACC Play

A Post-Mortem on the Pitt Loss and Some Gut Checks Ahead of the Final Stretch of ACC Play

All records are meant to be broken, but that doesn’t mean it’s supposed to feel good when it happens. The ‘Hoos 23-game home win streak was snapped on Tuesday, as the ‘Hoos were outplayed, out-coached, and out-hustled by Pitt in Charlottesville. This is no time to freak out, this is an okay loss to a good team.

Pitt has more road wins against top 50 NET teams in the past month than #2 Purdue, #6 Kansas, #12 Baylor, #13 Auburn, #14 Illinois, #17 Creighton, and #19 BYU have all year, combined (Thank you, Danny Neckel for the stat). That’s honestly crazy. And when a team shoots 14-32 from three on the road, it’s simply tough to beat. UVA (19-6, 10-4) is squarely on the right side of the bubble for now, and there’s no reason to sound the alarms yet.

The reality is, as well as the ‘Hoos were playing as a team the past month, we were in part riding the coattails of phenomenal three point shooting from Isaac McKneely and Jacob Groves. In the game against Pitt, the two combined to shoot 3-10, just above our team’s game average of 28.6%. So it’s not necessarily shocking we dropped this one. After all, we had to lose one sometime before the NCAA tournament, right? The monkey’s off our back. I’m glad we lost!

My main takeaway from this game is that this team is only at its best when Jordan Minor is on the floor and playing good packline defense. This is not a plea to the coaching staff to play him more (#InTonyWeTrust), but the team is lacking a physicality and inside scoring presence with him on the bench. Minor started the game but finished with just 8 minutes, the majority of his time soaked up by Dunn’s 35, Groves’ 24 and Buchanan’s 13 minutes.

Early on in the first half, Tony yanked Minor out of the game after failing to properly hedge a ball screen or two and sat him next to none other than Assistant Coach Isaiah Wilkins, one of the best to ever do it (Darion Atkins, Akil Mitchell, Jack Salt I’m not forgetting you). I’m not a basketball X’s and O’s guru, but I can tell when a packline defense isn’t rotating properly, and on Tuesday it for sure was not. Minor needs to work out the kinks with hedging screens and rotations, otherwise this team will continue to struggle with front court depth with him on the bench.

Now this take might be unpopular, but here we go: Ryan Dunn is not ready for the NBA. Which, if you’re asking a self-interested UVA fan, is a good thing. Most NBA scouts disagree with me (Dunn is listed at 24th in Bleacher Report’s latest Mock Draft), and for Dunn’s sake I hope I’m wrong. He’s a ridiculously talented defender with a great frame, instincts, and athleticism, but he has a limited offensive game (outside of his thunderous dunks). He’s not a threat to shoot, he doesn’t have a post-move package, and he’s averaging less than one assist per game. When the ball is in his hands he usually looks like he wants to get rid of it (unless we’re in transition, of course). I am not suggesting he should play any less, he’s undoubtedly one of our best players. But with Minor on the bench, and even with our projected first rounder on the floor, we still lack an inside offensive presence.

My final bone to pick is with Dante Harris. The Georgetown transfer’s transition to UVA was stunted by an early season ankle injury, but he is yet to hit his stride nearly three weeks out from the end of ACC play. To be fair, Dante Harris is a true point guard, and he’s playing behind one of the best true point guards in the nation, Reece Beekman. It’s not easy to be in that spot. Harris brings important backcourt depth to this team, and we’re lucky to have his ball handling and on-ball pressure when teams crank up the pressure and pace. The issue is that he’s shooting 26% from the field on the year, and 15% from three. Those are some gnarly numbers. Of course, contributions to a basketball game go beyond shooting statistics, but his offensive numbers are not encouraging. Going forward, he’ll need to make the open shots and pass up on anything outside 16 feet and continue his elite on-ball defense.

Wake Forest comes into town tomorrow at high noon boasting a roster full of explosive guards. The Demon Deacons average 80 points per game, with a lot of their offense coming from off-the-dribble drives from guards Hunter Sallis and Kevin Miller (as a team, they are 306th in the nation in assists per game). Beekman, McKneely, Rohde, and Harris will have their work cut out for them on the defensive end. Check out Josh Burton’s Wake Forest preview to learn more about the match up.

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