Anthony Gill

Associated Press

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

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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.

New Year’s Resolutions: Virginia Cavaliers

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Justin Anderson (AP Photo)

Conference play is right around the corner, so over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams should resolve to do with the New Year right around the corner. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood. Thank Jessica Simpson.

MORE: The rest of our New Year’s Resolutions | Midseason catchups

VIRGINIA PROMISES TO: Be better from three.

  • It will happen because: As a team, the ‘Hoos are shooting 37.2 percent from beyond the arc this season, but that includes Justin Anderson’s freakish and impossible-to-keep-up 58.8 percent shooting. Take away Anderson — a career sub-30 percent shooter — and Virginia is just 25-for-87 from deep, or a cool 28.7 percent. That’s what happens when three of a team’s best shooters — Malcolm Brogdon, London Perrantes and Evan Nolte — all suddenly lose the ability to shoot. Last year, they were a combined 38.5 percent from deep. This year? That number’s down to 25.8 percent.
  • But it might not because: There is no Joe Harris on the roster this season. I wrote about this extensively earlier this month, but Harris is the kind of player that could drag a defense with him when he ran off of screens. Everyone on the floor had to be aware of where he was at all times, and that created opportunities for the rest of the guys on the roster. Virginia doesn’t have someone like that this season. As I wrote on Tuesday, Justin Anderson’s damage has been done mostly as a spot-up shooter and a target in transition. He’s not Joe Harris, even if his numbers may look like it.

VIRGINIA ALSO SWEARS THEY WON’T: Stop giving Anthony Gill the ball.

  • It will happen because: Mike Tobey is the guy on this Virginia team that has played with Team USA; he made the same U19 roster that Jahlil Okafor did two summers ago. He was more highly-regarded and is probably more skilled inside than Gill, who isn’t as good of a defensive player as Darion Atkins is. But neither of them are able to produce the way that Gill has this season. He’s really good moving without the ball and has excellent hands, he’s active on the offensive glass and he seemingly finishes everything around the rim, as he is shooting 66.7 percent from inside the arc. Like Anderson, Gill is not really a go-to guy in this offense, but as long as he is making the most of his opportunities, you keep the touches coming.
  • But it might not because: Eventually, Virginia is going to run into front lines that are bigger, stronger and more athletic. Gill, for everything that he can do on a basketball court, is not going to grow anymore. What happens when the Cavs run into teams like Louisville and Duke and North Carolina, teams with bigger big men? Well, if they keep shooting like they have been this season, the touches that Gill gets in the post are not going to be as clean as they have been.

No. 7 Virginia with a dominating, statement win at VCU

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I say this without a hint of exaggeration or hyperbole: There aren’t ten tougher home court environments in the country than the Siegel Center, the home of VCU and ‘Havoc’.

Ram Nation packs that place to the brim, turning the roughly-7,000 seat building into a sweat box packed with rowdy Richmondians and the best pep band in the country, making it difficult to hear yourself think while trying to deal with handling the ball against a swarming defense that forces more turnovers than anyone.

And on Saturday, No. 7 Virginia went into the Siegel Center and put a beating on the Rams, winning 74-57.

Now, the final score is a bit misleading. VCU got three straight threes from Treveon Graham to make the score 59-55 with just over five minutes left in the game, and at that point — after Virginia had started to feel the effects of playing against that press for a full game, getting sped up and committing live-ball turnovers in bunches — it looked like the Rams were ready to finish off a game-changing run. But Virginia answered, scoring 15 straight points and hitting six straight shots from the floor to put the game away.

It was very, very impressive.

And it was a common theme all afternoon.

VCU’s pressure would bother Virginia in short spurts, but the Cavs’ back court of London Perrantes and Malcolm Brogdon did an excellent job of getting Virginia into their sets when they did break the press.

I wrote extensively on VCU and Havoc two weeks ago, essentially explaining why I thought the system had a ceiling. In short, it’s because good teams with good guards will not get flustered by the pressure, and that the Rams struggle too much on the defensive end in half court situations. Saturday’s game was a textbook example of that. Virginia committed 16 turnovers, with eight of those coming from Brogdon and Perrantes. They also shot 68.4% from the floor, 6-for-11 from three and routinely got dunks and layups once they broke the press.

I also wrote on Virginia last week, questioning just how good they will be offensively without the presence of Joe Harris on that end of the floor. I still think that may be an issue, but if Brogdon (18 points), Perrantes (nine assists), Justin Anderson (21 points, 3-for-4 from three) and Anthony Gill (18 points, 7-for-9 from the floor) continue to place somewhere close to that level, then my questions will end up looking foolish.

Top 25 Countdown: No. 6 Virginia Cavaliers

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Malcolm Brogdon (Getty Images)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 college hoops preview package. We continue our countdown today with No. 6 Virginia.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | NBCSports Preseason Top 25 | Preview Schedule

Head Coach: Tony Bennett

Last Season: 30-7, 16-2 ACC (1st), lost to Michigan State in the Sweet 16

Key Losses: Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell

Newcomers: Devon Hall, B.J. Stith, Isaiah Wilkins, Marial Shayok, Jack Salt

Projected Lineup

G: London Perrantes, So.
G: Malcolm Brogdon, Jr.
F: Justin Anderson, Jr.
F: Anthony Gill, Jr.
C: Mike Tobey, Jr.
Bench: Evan Nolte, Jr.; Darion Atkins, Sr.; B.J. Stith, Fr.; Marial Shayok, Fr.; Isaiah Wilkins, Fr.; Jack Salt, Fr.; Devon Hall, Fr.

They’ll be good because … : There is one thing that we can always be sure of when it comes to a Tony Bennett-coached team: they are going to play tough, pack-line defense that forces you into tough shots and keeps you from getting to the offensive glass. That will not change this season despite the fact that the Cavs will graduate Joe Harris and the ever-underrated Akil Mitchell.

Tony Bennett (AP Photo)

The Cavs do bring back every other member of their rotation while adding a solid recruiting class into the mix. Malcolm Brogdon may be the nation’s least-appreciated player. He’s a 6-foot-5 playmaker that should embrace being this team’s leader. London Perrantes grabbed hold of the starting point guard job early on last season and spent the season burying open jumpers and running offense without turning the ball over. Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey are big bodies with quite a bit of potential, and Justin Anderson is one of the ACC’s best athletes and the kind of player that will be among the league leaders in floor burns.

But they might disappoint because … : There are two major concerns I have with this team, and both of them involve the players that they will be losing. Joe Harris did not have a great senior season, statistically speaking, but what he provided the ‘Hoos was a knockdown perimeter shooter and a go-to guy. Harris wasn’t a great one-on-one player, but he was terrific running off of screens; Bennett could call his number and know he was getting a good shot out of it. Who plays that role for Virginia this season?

As for Akil Mitchell, he versatility defensively is going to be missed. Tobey is probably a better low-post scorer than Mitchell (particularly with the way he played as a senior) and Gill is probably better getting to the offensive glass. But neither of them has the lateral quickness of Mitchell. In other words, Mitchell could not only hedge and recover on ball-screens, but he could switch out and guard a wing if needed. Tobey and Gill don’t have that kind of athleticism.

Outlook: Virginia’s basketball program is as good as it has been since Ralph Sampson was roaming the paint three decades ago. They are coming off a dual-ACC title this past season, and they not only returned all but two of their rotation players from a year ago but only one player currently on their roster is a senior. Virginia will not only be good this season, the program’s future looks just as bright.

As far as this season is concerned, it’s going to be difficult for Virginia to repeat as dual-ACC champs even if their team, as a whole, is better than the one they put on the floor a year ago. That’s because the conference is loaded at the top this year. Duke, North Carolina and Louisville are all top ten teams, and that’s to say nothing of programs like Syracuse, Notre Dame, Pitt, Miami and N.C. State. The Cavs could very well finish in fourth place in the ACC’s regular season and I’d still call them a legitimate Final Four contender.

Offensive struggles prove costly for Clemson against No. 17 Virginia

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The month of February is all about separation. For the best teams it’s about making a final push for a conference title, with an eye towards improving their seeding for the NCAA tournament as well. And for other teams, separation refers to the need to rack up quality wins in order to simply earn a spot in the 68-team field. That was the case for the Clemson Tigers entering their game against No. 17 Virginia on Saturday, with a win bolstering a resume that currently features a win over No. 8 Duke.

But the Tigers failed to take advantage of the opportunity, falling 63-58 with the combination of Virginia’s stout pack line defense and Clemson’s relative lack of offensive options being the cause. With Virginia shooting just 34.6% from the field in the second half Clemson had an opportunity to grab a needed quality win but they weren’t much better themselves, shooting 35.0%.

And outside of K.J. McDaniels, who scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, no Tiger managed to score more than six points in the game’s final 20 minutes. That won’t get it done against a team like Virginia, which finished the game with four players scoring in double figures. Two of those four were forwards Mike Tobey and Anthony Gill, who scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Saturday’s performance represented a needed step forward for both Gill and Tobey, with the former looking to rebound from a one-point night against Maryland on Monday. As for Tobey, he’d accounted for a total of six points in Virginia’s last three games. If Gill and Tobey can consistently contribute alongside Mitchell, who grabbed five of Virginia’s 13 offensive rebounds on Saturday, Virginia becomes a tougher team to defend with Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon both being capable scorers on the perimeter.

At 12-1 in ACC play Virginia is clearly the biggest threat to Syracuse in the Orange’s quest to win the ACC in its inaugural season. As for Clemson, while this was a game they needed there will be other opportunities between now and the ACC tournament. But in order to take advantage of those chances, Clemson’s going to need more from players not named K.J. McDaniels on the offensive end of the floor.

Late Night Snacks: No turkey hangover for Villanova, Arizona

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GAME OF THE DAY: Villanova 63, No. 2 Kansas 59

In a day full of great games, Villanova knocking off No. 2 and previously undefeated Kansas takes the cake. The game was hardly pretty, but that doesn’t much matter to Jay Wright. In fact, it seemed like Wright’s game plan against Kansas was to play in the mud — a physical, grind-it-out kind of battle. Ryan Arcidiacono hit only one shot all night, but it was a critical one as his three-pointer from the corner put Villanova on top 61-59 with ten seconds remaining.


1) All five of Arizona’s starters scored in double figures as the Wildcats handed Duke their second loss of the season in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden. Aaron Gordon filled up the box score with ten points, seven rebounds, and four assists, and showed why he is in the same class as the other top freshmen across the country.

2) San Diego State acquitted themselves well when they played Arizona earlier this month — a 69-60 loss at home — but they confirmed they are a true contender in the Mountain West with an 86-80 victory over Creighton. There’s no doubting just how good Doug McDermott and the Creighton offense are, but their defense leaves much to be desired. Spotting the Aztecs a 19 point lead in the second half was too deep a hole to climb out of in the end.

3) It took three overtimes and delayed the start of the marquee game of the day between Arizona and Duke, but Drexel outlasted Alabama 85-83. The Dragons are now 4-2 with a good win over Alabama, and strong showings against UCLA and Arizona, despite both being losses. Chris Fouch was an absolute warrior today playing 54 minutes and willing Drexel’s way to the win. Bruiser Flint has a good group who will challenge for the CAA title.


1) Mercer’s Jakob Gollon had a day. The senior forward entered Friday’s game against Valparaiso averaging 6.4 points, but exploded for 37 points in the Bears’ triple overtime win over Valpo. Dropping 37 points on 17 shots is remarkably efficient. To go along with the scoring effort, Gollon also dished out seven assists and pulled down seven rebounds.

2) There may not be another player in the country whose team missed him as much last season as Penn State did with Tim Frazier. Frazier demonstrated just how important he is to the Nittany Lions as he propelled his team to an overtime victory over St. John’s going off for 29 points. He didn’t shoot particularly well — just 5-14 from the field — but he got to the free throw line 20 times, making 17 of his attempts.

3) Langston Galloway filled up the stat sheet in a big way for St. Joseph’s in a 78-66 win over Siena. The senior guard poured in 27 points (6-10 3PT), had seven rebounds, three assists, and five steals.


1) It was a bad time for Southern Mississippi to play Louisville as this was the Cardinals first game following their loss to North Carolina. The Golden Eagles, who entered the game 6-0 and are one of the top teams in Conference USA, scored just 13 first half points and shot 29% as a team for the game en route to a 69-38 loss.

2) The transition to Division 1 hasn’t been a pleasant one thus far for Abilene Christian. Entering tonight they were 2-6 with their only wins coming against sub-D1 teams, and five of the losses being blowouts. Tonight, they suffered their seventh loss of the season to West Alabama, a sub-D1 team.

3) Chris Bolden has had a rough start to the season. He was suspended for the first three games of the season for a violation of team rules, and since he has rejoined the team he has been less than stellar shooting a combined 7-34 in four games. Against Mississippi, a 77-67 loss, Bolden was 1-8 from the field. Bolden will need to be better if Georgia Tech has any chance at have a good season.


  • Missouri moved to 7-0 with an 83-70 win over Nevada. Jabari Brown, Earnest Ross, and Jordan Clarkson did nearly all the scoring as they combined for 73 points.
  • Tennessee bounced back with a 64-49 win over Xavier a day after losing to UTEP.
  • No. 5 Oklahoma State had a 44-30 halftime lead over Butler, but nearly gave it away in the second half. They ended up winning 69-67 and will meet No. 21 Memphis in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic.
  • Behind 19 points off the bench from Anthony Gill, Virginia defeated SMU, 76-73.
  • Cincinnati moved to 6-0 with a win over Kennesaw State, but the Bearcats’ schedule has been hardly challenging to date.
  • Denver lost to Pepperdine in the Great Alaska Shootout to move to 0-4. A tough start for a team looking to challenge for the Summit title.
  • Penn State earned a good win over St. John’s in overtime 89-82 at the Barclays Classic.
  • No. 15 Florida slipped by in-state rival Florida State, 67-66.
  • It wasn’t easy, but Texas squeaked past Texas-Arlington, who was 2-5 entering the game, 72-69.
  • In their first game playing without point guard Cody Doolin, San Francisco beat Vermont, 72-61.
  • Harvard beat Green Bay to advance to the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout where they will meet TCU.