When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.
Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.
Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.
While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.
“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”
Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.
With the NCAA now allowing schools to begin practices 42 days before their first game (30 practices within that timeframe), Friday marked the beginning of the 2015-16 season for many programs across the country. One of those programs is Virginia, which is looking to finish atop the ACC regular season standings for a third consecutive season.
However with the tournament winner serving as the ACC’s official champion (last season it was Notre Dame), Tony Bennett’s team is in a position where they’re looking for a second ACC title in the last three seasons. That may be a little confusing to some, but that’s been the rule since the ACC Tournament began.
And the Cavaliers have the players needed to accomplish that goal, even with the departures of first-round draft pick Justin Anderson and ACC Defensive Player of the Year Darion Atkins. Three starters, led by first-team All-ACC guard Malcolm Brogdon return to lead the way for a group expected to contend both in the ACC and nationally.
Virginia got things going bright and early Friday, beginning practice at 6:30 a.m. Above are some clips from the Cavaliers’ first practice of the season, courtesy of Virginia Athletics.
With junior wing Justin Anderson sidelined with a broken left hand, No. 2 Virginia has continued to go about its business in hopes of winning a second consecutive ACC title. And in Sunday’s home game against Florida State, which the Cavaliers won 51-41, Tony Bennett had to account for another personnel loss in the second half.
While playing defense guards Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes collided, with Perrantes’ nose meeting the side of Brogdon’s face. While both left the game to be attended to, Brogdon was able to return to the court. The same could not be said for Perrantes, and on Monday the program announced that he suffered both a broken nose and a mild concussion.
Perrantes is considered to be day-to-day moving forward, with the Cavaliers visiting Wake Forest Wednesday night.
Without Perrantes freshman Devon Hall saw time at the point, playing nine minutes in the second half. And there were also occasions in which, once he returned to the game, that Brogdon was used to initiate the offense for Virginia. Should Perrantes have to miss game action, those two will share the responsibilities at the point for the Cavaliers.
Brogdon finished the game with ten points, with forwards Anthony Gill (13 points, nine rebounds) and Darion Atkins (11) leading the way for Virginia. Freshman wing Marial Shayok added seven points and six rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench.
Yet even with the recent injury issues the pack line defense remains a constant for Virginia, which held Florida State without a field goal for the final 10:33 Sunday night. Following a Jarquez Smith jumper that gave the Seminoles a 37-36 lead, Florida State scored just four points (all from the foul line).
Whether or not Perrantes has to miss time, Virginia will continue to rely on a defense that has been right there with No. 1 Kentucky when it comes to the nation’s best.