|"Uncle" Malcolm Brogdan|
UVA Men's Basketball is 24-1, in first place in the ACC and ranked #2 in the country. This is close on the heels of last year's campaign in which they won both the ACC regular season title and the tournament title, which were followed by a #1 Seed.
The Hoos play a stifling brand of defense known as the "Pack-Line" defense. Virginia fans have come to appreciate the team's ability not only to shut down other teams offensively, but also to effectively neutralize the efforts of their best players. This hyper-defensive brand of basketball has created quite a stir in college hoops circles, with some writers suggesting that it is "boring" and "bad for the game." Anyone who watches UVA play cannot possibly agree with this, as the Hoos games are nothing, if not exciting.
But, I am worried. Very worried. I am worried that we--Coach Bennett, the team, and legions of Hoo fans around the country--have gotten all liquored up on our defensive prowess to the point where we have begun to dismiss offense as a necessary and proper part of the game. One of my correspondents, when i kvetch about this, just posts the number of wins, as if barely beating the likes of Wake Forest is something for the nation's #2 team to measure itself against. The plain truth of the matter is that while UVA is a great team, probably top 10, unless we figure out a way to score more points, we will not get ourselves over the next hump and into the Final Four. Not this year at least.
"But CW, one of your most potent offensive weapons got hurt a few games ago and is out for 4-6 weeks. Aren't you just responding to a wholly foreseeable dip in performance as a result?"
No. I'm not. Here's why. The player in question is Justin Anderson, and he is a force to be reckoned with when playing well. But before his injury, he was not the offensive force that he can be. In the ten games leading up to his injury, Anderson scored 11.4 points a game, including 2 against Louisville, 7 against Georgia Tech and 8 against Boston College. In the FIRST 10 games of the season--which included contests with VCU and Maryland, he scored 15.8 pts per game.
Now that he is gone, our offense has been JUST good enough to beat a few pedestrian teams. The game we lost--Duke at home--was a collapse of epic proportions that included once again, poor shooting not only by JA but by many of his teammates. Our team field goal percentage of .460 is 67th in the nation.
So where is all this leading? It is leading to a suggestion to my fellow Hoo fans that we need to be a little more objective about our team's strengths and weaknesses, that with JA we are a better team, but a team that needs to figure out how to get and to take better shots. Twitter wars with analysts who say we are boring may be fun, but there is a kernel of truth in what they say, and that truth pertains to our OFFENSIVE style and performance, one that occasionally shows signs of life, but which will not take us to the next level.