Malcolm Brogdon

POSTERIZED: Virginia’s Darius Thompson finishes with authority

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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)

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

Associated Press
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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.

VIDEO: Virginia begins quest for another ACC title

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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.

No. 2 Virginia’s starting point guard day-to-day with broken nose, mild concussion

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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.

No. 3 Virginia takes away Jerian Grant in win at No. 13 Notre Dame


Saturday’s matchup between No. 3 Virginia and No. 13 Notre Dame set up to be a highly entertaining affair, with the Cavaliers boasting one of the nation’s premier defenses and the Fighting Irish being the most efficient offense in the country. A key figure for Notre Dame is senior guard Jerian Grant, who spends time both on and off the ball and entered the game averaging 17.2 points, 6.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game. And while the Fighting Irish have multiple weapons capable of hurting opponents, it’s Grant who serves as their most important player.

Virginia took Grant away, limiting him to just six points (2-for-7 FG) and six assists, with junior guard Malcolm Brogdon getting the assignment for most of the game. And that was a major factor in the Cavaliers leaving South Bend with a 62-56 victory that rates among the best true road victories in college basketball this season.

Virginia made things difficult on Grant, playing him tight when he had the ball and making his work to get touches when Demetrius Jackson initiated the offense far tougher than usual. But what made this matchup so intriguing is the purpose of the pack-line defense, which is to keep teams out of the paint, matching up against Notre Dame’s ability to knock down perimeter shots.

The Fighting Irish hit ten three-pointers, with Pat Connaughton (21 points, eight rebounds, 4-for-9 3PT), Jackson (12 points, six rebounds, 3-for-6 3PT) and V.J. Beachem (12 points, 3-for-6 3PT) responsible for the makes, but they struggled to find any consistency inside of the arc. Notre Dame made just ten of its 35 two-point shots, with the resulting percentage (28.6%) well below the 63.6% clip at which they’re converting those shots (which is tops in the country).

Not only does Virginia make it tough for teams to get close to the basket, but they also do a very good job of challenging those shots once opponents find a way inside of the arc.

Offensively it was all about balance for Virginia, with Darion Atkins (eight rebounds) scoring 14 points, Brogdon (four assists and three rebounds) 13 and Justin Anderson (four rebounds) 11. The Cavaliers shot 49 percent from the field, and after a Martinas Geben layup gave Notre Dame a 40-39 lead with 9:10 remaining Virginia scored on eight of its next 11 possessions.

This is a very efficient offensive team that, like Notre Dame, entered the game ranked in the top five nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers and that’s how things played out down the stretch.

As a result of this win Virginia has a trio of true road victories that few (if any) teams in America can match right now, as they’ve also won at Maryland (now ranked 11th nationally) and VCU (20th). Last year’s group managed to win 30 games and the program’s first ACC title since 1981. These Cavaliers are capable of not only repeating as ACC champions, but also making a run at their first Final Four appearance since 1984.

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.