The college basketball season is underway and the Virginia men’s basketball team has made quite a few headlines, both on and off the court.
Overall the team has been dominant in its first 4 games and is off to a great start at 4-0. Although this record is to be expected of the Cavaliers when you look at the competition, what no one could have predicted was just how great they would be on the defensive side of the ball. The Virginia Cavaliers are leading the nation in scoring defense, only giving up 38.8 points per game. Along with that, the team is averaging 75 points on offense. These numbers show just how dominant UVA has been against the recent competition.
The non-conference schedule begins to ramp up with 4 straight games against power 5 conference teams, which features 3 teams from last years NCAA tournament. UVA will look to keep up the strong play on defense and continue to run an efficient offense.
The biggest off the court headline made by the Cavaliers was the dismissal of highly touted forward Austin Nichols. Nichols was the star of Memphis during his two years there and his addition to the Cavaliers made UVA a viable candidate to make the Final Four. Losing Nichols will be a huge blow for the offense at the forward position but since his dismissal, the Cavaliers have not missed a beat. Although the ceiling of this team has been lowered, Virginia has always carried a “Next Man Up” attitude and it always seems to come together for Tony Bennett and company.
On the court UVA has had both ups and downs so far this seasson. The main ups have been the stellar play of Marial Shayok and Kyle Guy off the bench; the two lead the Cavaliers in scoring. Along with the offensive spark from the bench, Mamadi Diakite is showing his coaches and all the fans that he is here to be the rim protector that Virginia has been needing. The future is bright in Charlottesville if these guys keep up the great performances, but in order for the Cavaliers to make the next step into being a nation title contender the play of London Perrantes will need to improve.
The 4-year starter at the point guard position is undoubtedly the most important piece on this team with the loss of Austin Nichols. If Virginia hopes to go far in March, or just continue to win as the competition gets better, he will have to step up and be the main man. Currently he is averaging 8 points and is shooting 25% from the free throw line and 28% from beyond the arc. Perrantes received high praise from ESPN which ranked him the #2 player in college basketball, and in order for Virginia to win the ACC or go far in the NCAA he’ll have to play at the level that earned him that spot.
Overall Virginia still has one of the deepest teams in the country and has the potential to do big things this season. If the defense can stay elite, London Perrantes gets back to his normal form, and some guys step up at the forward position, Tony Bennett can expect to see a lot of wins and hopefully cut down a few nets.