Late January tends to be the time at which team weaknesses are exposed and exploited. By then there is enough regularity in player usage, offensive and defensive tendencies, and film against quality teams for opposing coaches to come up with an effective game plan. Last year we saw it start against Ga Tech and then take full effect vs VT. This year in the second half of January we play WF, @Pitt, @NCSt, Lou, @ND. I wonder which of those teams is going to show an effective game plan and who may have the horses to exploit our weaknesses.
December and January are fun for us because we learn who is getting PT and what their initial roles are and playing styles. With so many new players, it will be pretty interesting to watch and I’m sure there will be some frustrations of growth. February is when we will really learn which players have diversity to their game and can adjust when opponents take away initial strengths. Last year was rough because we didn’t have that diversity, and we got exposed against FSU, Duke, and NCS along with other close calls (in a weak ACC). I suspect this year may be a little rough as our guys figure each other out. Hopefully they continue to grow and build toward a potentially strong 2022-23 campaign.
I think a key to watch for early is the outside shooting of Reece and Kihei. Those are our returning starters and key ball handlers. If they are able to shoot from the outside with confidence and knock down some threes (doesn’t have to be volume), that opens up so many other things. If other teams can continue to just back off those guys, it clogs up whatever other offensive sets we try to run. The rest will be other guys developing and Reece/Kihei understanding the strengths of their teammates and how to use them.
Mostly, I think Tony shortens his bench when ACC play gets here, so predictions of McCorkle or Stattmann (or someone else) losing substantial playing time in conference make sense. But I think the number of players who’s playing time expanded substantially in conference play is fairly small. I feel (yep, no stats to back this up) like if a UVA player is going to emerge, he usually gets a decent amount of playing time in OOC too because he’s shown something in preseason practice. But maybe Jerome and a few others I can’t remember fit your Igor/Taine prediction? While Hunter really upped his game in conference and his playing time expanded his rFr year, I think he got a lot of run for the most part in OOC too.
It’s usually NC State, right? They play that aggressive defense which pushes out on our guards and forces us to make plays off the dribble. We even struggled with them a bit our natty year, right? (Edit – I also think they switch screens, which gives us agita anytime we don’t have a Malc or Ty at PG. Duke, too.).
Just get mentally prepared for it now. Casey is going to play pressure hounding defense on the perimeter, and I’m going to be complaining that we never saw that at UVa! (Maybe we did, maybe we didn’t, but I will be rolling, and in the moment I will be convinced it’s 100% correct). Then he’s going to look good in transition and make me look like a fool for saying he’d be so-so at best in transition. I’m angry already just thinking about it.
(serious point, though – we may have more “escape valves” with ability to score going to the hoop / at the hoops than we had last year).
On the 1-4 questions, I only have an answer for #4 (will rotation shrink, and if so, who). The answer is of course the rotation will shrink. In non-con, we will play probably 10 guys at least 8-10+ minutes or so (Kihei, Reece, Armaan, Jayden, Kadin, Kody, Papi, Taine, Igor, Carson). Then 2-3 guys will drop out as we get to the meat of ACC play. I’d say Kihei, Reece, Armaan, and Jayden are near locks for the 7-8 man rotation. Which means 3-4 of Kadin, Kody, Papi, Taine, Igor, and Carson (6) will join them in the rotation, and 2-3 will drop out. Kadin is a near “near lock”, so that means the real struggle is for 2-3 spots among the other 5.
One thing I loved in the extended cut that I don’t think was in the initial footage is that skip pass Kadin makes out of the post to Kody. He could be significantly better this year if he’s made a leap as a passer
I need to kill all the hype I have for this season and just let it play out. Tony being honest there with the “people who hate our style might want to really tune out this season” lol. Have shooters at the guards (Franklin, Taine, McCorkle) but until they show it in game, which I think they can, we really will be that grind it out defensive squad of stereotypical past. Tony seems really excited about the physical aspect this season despite losing the shooting and experience from the front court.
Yeah, w/o getting too lost in trying to predict what will happen (which I’m bad at anyway), I think this year is going to be super fun. For me, 18-19 was super fun just because I loved watching that team play. Remember that Marshall game? (Chris Farley voice…) That was awesome. The natty run was amazing, but that team was super fun to watch from the jump. For me, the 19-20 team was a bit of a slog to watch: comedown after the natty, not a super fun brand of hoops to watch, and then the tourneys got wiped out (even though Swofford, in his eminent wisdom, still decided to give out the ACC trophy). Last year, I was just happy to have a distraction, but it was its own thing. No fans, you had to focus on protocols and pauses as much as the games. This year, it will just be fun to watch them and see how things shake out. Should be more a normal fan environment (knock on wood). If we do really well, we shock the world. If not, we get to watch how things shake out for the out years. New faces, old faces doing new things. Can’t wait (insert Bart Scott gif).
Edit - I guess I should address the potential contradiction here: In 19-20, we won with slog-ball. I watched the whole Wake game and I’m still waiting to have my time reimbursed for that one. While we won’t have the shooters we did last year, this year’s team can’t win with slog ball like 19-20 could. We don’t have that level of defense. So it may be in the slog direction, I don’t think we will be winning many games in the low 50s this year.
Oof. I was there the night before for the 64-56 score-fest win over LaSalle. Was kind of odd that team struggled to score, tbh. Brogdon, Gill, Tobey, Justin (in the midst of three-point shooting renaissance), and London. Even Darion could get you a bucket.
While I agree this year will likely be a return to the rockfight style team as we’ve seen in years past, there is just no way the offense is going to be as bad as it was in 19-20. We have too much talent for it to be that bad. Granted, we probably won’t be quite as stout on D as that team was, but hopefully more balanced.
Literally anything is better than have 3 6’8+ guys just standing on the perimeter looking for an open 3 and being unable to create for themselves.
I am absolutely on the train that this year’s team will be better than last year’s team but that isn’t saying much considering last year’s team wasn’t good. Even Tony alludes to it “not to downplay what we accomplished last season… but the acc was down last year”. They only looked competent because the rest of the acc sucked. I have a hard time believing last year’s team was better than our 2019-20 team. Better 3pt shooting? Sure but the defense of the 19-20 team from Mamadi and Braxton definitely puts them over the top.
That being said even though I think we will be better this year, I am very much coming into this season with no actual expectations. Game by game and looking forward to seeing how we develop and overcome the early road bumps of growing as a team. Will be fun for sure.
what worries me the most is the lack of roster continuity we have going and that momentum. Ty Dre Kyle leave early (of course) followed by no NCAAs year with covid followed by transfers out transfers in… lot of moving parts to deal with.
Not to mention some sickness and injuries to key guys who were developing last season
I think is the kind of thing that makes the difference in real runs tourney time and just happy to be there