Saturday afternoon Virginia’s Darius Thompson threw down a dunk that is one of the best thrown down to this point in the season in the Cavaliers’ 67-52 win over William & Mary.
After the Virginia defense forced a turnover by William & Mary’s Omar Prewitt, Thompson and Malcolm Brodgon took off on a 2-on-1 with Daniel Dixon being the lone defender. Dixon tried but he could not keep Thompson from scoring, as the Tennessee transfer threw down a vicious one-handed dunk while being fouled.
Thompson, whose role became even more important when starting point guard London Perrantes underwent an appendectomy less than a week ago, continued his solid run of play with 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and four steals in Saturday’s win. Brogdon and Anthony Gill scored 16 points apiece to lead the way for Virginia, which scored 20 points off of 19 William & Mary turnovers.
As for the dunk, it brings back memories of Mustapha Farrakhan’s dunk on NC State guard Javier Gonzalez in 2010. That clip is below for those who need a refresher.
Thompson dunk credit: ESPN (Farrakhan’s dunk courtesy of the ACC Digital Network)
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.
VIDEO: Virginia begins quest for another ACC title
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.