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.
While their football team lost a heartbreaker to No. 9 Notre Dame on the gridiron Saturday afternoon, all was not lost for the Virginia fan base. Tony Bennett’s basketball program, which was hosting some important visitors this weekend, managed to land yet another talented prospect in the Class of 2016.
6-foot-7 small forward DeAndre Hunter (Friends Central HS), a native of Philadelphia who cut his list to 11 schools in August, made his pledge Saturday night. News of Hunter’s commitment was first reported by Scout.com, and he’s the fourth commitment for the Cavaliers in the Class of 2016.
Hunter joins guards Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy and power forward Jay Huff in Virginia’s 2016 class. And with Mamadi Diakite, who reclassified into the 2015 class, redshirting this upcoming season the Cavaliers will essentially have a five-member freshman class when the 2016-17 season begins. Add in Memphis transfer Austin Nichols, who like Diakite will redshirt this season, and that’s a good group for Bennett and his staff to work with.
Hunter, who played for the Philly Pride program on the Under Armour Association circuit this summer, is an important addition for Virginia given who they’ll lose at the end of the 2015-16 season. Virginia has to account for the fact that both Malcolm Brogdon, a first team All-ACC selection last season, and reserve Evan Nolte will be seniors.
With two sophomores in Isaiah Wilkins and Marial Shayok, Virginia will have some experience on the wing in 2016-17 and the additions of Hunter and Guy help as well.
Video credit: Courtside Films