UVA's Glacial Pace - per Havlicek

DavetheWave makes a great point above so let’s have that discussion DTW! This is our biggest issue in my opinion because we never ever ever seem to get “easy baskets”. Define that how you want, but playing slowly and deliberately leads to fewer and fewer easy baskets, and it also increases the “value” of each possession. Missed shots hurt us more than our opponent. Turnovers hurt us more than our opponent. We essentially have a razor thin margin of error and that leads to a tightness in play that is really evident/visible at times. We also don’t rebound well offensively and we don’t run seemingly at all so it is rare when we get an easy one. All of this leads to those long scoring droughts which are tough to take when they are happening.

I also think our glacial pace at which we play would be fairly easy to recruit against. Granted, we have so many other strong selling points in our favor, but If I were recruiting against us, I would be quick to point out how few shots we take and what that would mean for the recruit.

Lastly, I hope the M’s don’t leave in search of playing time but I fear they might. I do feel like there were some opportunities this season to get these guys some meaningful minutes to keep them motivated, positive, and feeling like they were contributing. I’m sure there will be more as we head into March. Let’s hope we recognize that as I think they will be important players next year for us. Would hate to see any of them go.

So many great observations/opinions on this thread. We have smart fans. I love it.

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Among major teams, only St John’s Gonzaga, Arizona and Alabama are in the top 35 nationally in most possessions.
St John’s is at 74.6 per game.
UVA is at 60.3 per game and 358th - last.
Moving to 200th in the country would give us 8 more possessions per game at 68.3.
Simply moving to 306th would give us 5 more possessions per game at 65.3.
Is that too much to ask?
By the way Va Tech is 354th and still have 3.1 more possessions per game than us.


Can you explain this?

UVA is in a little different scenario than most teams in regards to possession per game though.

UVA ranks towards the bottom of possession length for both offense (20.4 seconds, 356th) and defense (19.2 seconds, 357th). Offense we have control over. Defense is a trickier question.

Easier to slow a game down than speed it up, but something tells me the defensive philosophy is almost as much at fault as the offensive philosophy.

Yeah - I sort of think this analysis doesn’t work at the game level. In a game, the opponent will have the same number of possessions as UVa (+/- one possession), so TO’s and missed shots weigh equally against both teams. It is interesting to see if our adjusted TO to Possession ratio (per 100 possessions) is out of whack so that we can say over the season the slower pace (i.e., lower possession) game hurts us compared to the average team. As to shooting, we are a poor shooting team period, so I’m not sure that a higher possession game helps us unless those 3-5 extra possessions are run outs with near 100% FTM. I think the answer is shoot better, with a higher effective FG%, by shooting and making more 3s (certainly recognized and addressed by CTB with IsaacSquared and to a certain extent with Taine and Igor and possibly Dunn).

As to CHav’s point about recruiting, the slow pace hasn’t hurt putting people into the pros. NBA knows talent and drafts talent, regardless of pace and individual stats.


Hasn’t hurt putting guys into pros? Maybe not pros but certainly NBA …. Because we don’t get many guys who are rated high enough to get there…
Currently 3 NBA rotation players:
Hunter, Brogdon, Harris
Scott is borderline rotation

I think that you are being a bit on the contrary side here. I think the question that recruits ask is “do you put guys into the league?” not “are you going to make me a star in the league?” UVa’s list of players in addition to the four you named who have gotten game time in the NBA, let alone G-League or overseas, is not overlooked by recruits (no proof of this, but seems kinda obvious to me). If we got really highly rated guys that are likely to be rotation players in the NBA, well we’d have “Duke” or “Kentucky” on our jerseys.

Your hypothesis is limited NBA rotation players is due to mediocre to bad recruiting is due to slow pace. Therefore we must change our slow pace.

Look, I agree and have argued for years on other sites that an increase of 4-6 possessions per game yields outsized results and pushing the pace on occasion is often the start of a cavalanche, which makes for an insurmountable hill for an opponent to climb given our normal pace, so they end up just sort of quitting. we haven’t seen many of those since 2019. But I don’t think that lack of talent is the reason for slow pace. I think it is so ingrained from CTB that unless you are 2-1 or better on a break, you will end up with a better shot by pulling up and running the clock. And its hard to get better than 2-1 when you keep three men in for defensive rebounding.


To that point our largest win in ACC play this year is a 13 point win. When was the last season our biggest win was that bad?

Without analytics to support my argument, I just feel like we played more tentatively and much slower this year than in years past. Perhaps it was because we had three very good shooters last year who had the green light to let it fly, and this year we didn’t have one (that played). Armand did some nice things for us, but he wasn’t a knockdown shooter. Maybe that’s why it felt so much more plodding and slow. Jwilly is on record as saying that they encourage the guys to run when the situation presents itself, but we just don’t seem to find ourselves in that situation very often. I just wish we weren’t last….or second to last or whatever we are.


Currently not in the NBA Mike Scott?


For what it’s worth, there is not much of a relationship between pace and offensive efficiency, at least when you look at the whole of the college game. I don’t think I can link to the exact chart, but this tool on Bart Torvik’s website allows you to visualize relationships between different statistics at the team level: https://barttorvik.com/team-maps.php?year=2022

I set adjusted tempo as the x-axis and adjusted offensive efficiency as the y-axis and looked at the last 4 years. 2022 and 2019 there was a small positive association (higher pace, higher offensive efficiency) and 2020 and 2021 there was a small negative association (higher pace, lower offensive efficiency). I’m taking that to be mostly random variance, as the sizes of the association are very small in any given year.

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And for what it’s worth, when you use that same tool, over the last 4 seasons there’s been a slightly larger negative association between pace and defensive efficiency (higher pace, worse defense).

Yes but a faster pace at similar efficiency levels creates separation in the score. It takes chance out of more games.

I’m not buying the argument that pace is holding us back on the court. From 2014 to 2019, I’m guessing we were the slowest team in the country and possibly had the most total wins during that span.

I do think it hurts us in some recruiting battles though.


But then wouldn’t a higher pace game give more possessions to make up that bigger spread? I was assuming that it would then wash out, but I’m open to data that would suggest otherwise.

Believe we were either 3rd or 4th in that stretch. IIRC Gonzaga was first and then UVA, Kansas, and Villanova were in a tight grouping 2-4.

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For me, pace is just one of a number of aspects where I think we are better when we can win multiple ways. For example, in 18-19, we could shoot, we could get to the rim, we could defend, we could score a lot of points, we could buckle down, we could run off ball screens, we could run ball screens. Then, the next two years, we were very one dimensional (defense, then perimeter shooting). Then, this year showed us that one dimension is better than zero dimensions.

We can certainly win without being able to play a faster pace (even in 18-19, we couldn’t really run). But I think it’s a good tool to have in the toolbox. If a faster pace fits our personnel, we should run at a faster pace.

(Generally, I wish Tony were a bit more agnostic about tactics, and I thought he was moving in that direction, but this year has been the opposite)

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Not if the additional 5 possessions are run outs that score at a 75% clip

Do you have evidence those run outs exist?

A thing I find very interesting is that Virginia was never dead last in pace until the shot clock changed from 35 seconds to 30 seconds in 2016. I remember the pundits saying it would cause teams like UVA to speed up and whether the Hoos would be negatively affected.
But Tony said I think I can top that.
UVA was dead last that year and the next and the next and the next and the next and the next and the next.
Current streak of 7 straight years dead last.
Or in Tony’s mind - 1st place. Seems as if Tony said I will prove them all wrong and play even slower with 5 fewer seconds to work with. This year’s pace is slower than all but one of his 35 second shot clock teams.