[This series is special to Hoos Place from rushdacote, who is in Crete watching the FIBA U19 World Cup.]
Crete is not excited for UVA basketball, nor is it excited for the U19--many players are 19, so let’s please rename it U20--FIBA World Cup. I arrived Friday night, and I didn’t see a single sign in town about the tournament. Similarly, I dare you to try to find online where the University of Crete’s stadium, the site of half the games, is. No matter, I like an adventure.
Because I couldn’t find the exact stadium location online, I went to the bus stop 90 minutes before game time for a 20 minute ride. After a while waiting for a bus that wouldn’t come, I hopped a different bus to a hospital near the University of Crete. In the hospital lobby, a pair of confused Aussies seemed to also be searching for the stadium, so we scoured the hospital for a back exit together. After asking a few people for directions, we found ourselves in the basement passing the kitchen and a sign for the mortuary (which is probably better than passing the mortuary and a sign for the kitchen.) Even after finding the back exit and getting onto the campus Grounds, we couldn’t find the stadium or a sign or anyone who knew where the stadium was. Finally, the third person we asked was a gem and led us straight to the arena.
I arrived at Australia-Canada two minutes before the game. There were 85 fans around a nice court. The middle section was 50 Aussie fans The next section was college coaches in team gear--mostly assistants I didn’t recognize plus Mark Turgeon. I sat behind him with my Virginia Law shorts and orange-billed UVA baseball hat, and he immediately initiated a conversation. He was really nice and kept the conversation going. In the first quarter, he even turned to me and said, “You know there is a UVA coach here too, right?” I did not know that.
At half, I went to where he had pointed, and who did I see? Brad Soderberg!
After I introduced myself as UVA’s biggest fan in Europe, Coach Soderberg asked me for a ride to Francisco’s game across town after Kody’s. Classic Sodie! I told him I was going to ask him for a ride.
I sat behind him and a North Dakota State coach for the second half. That coach was from Serbia, where I live and whose flag I had around my neck, so we traded info on Belgrade during stoppages. After the game, I said, “Coach, let me go outside and see if there are any taxis. We can split one to the Argentina game.”
When I got outside, there were no cabs, but I saw a guy in a Memphis Grizzlies shirt who seemed to be ordering a cab. I asked him if Coach Soderberg and I could jump in the cab, and he agreed. Then another assistant coach (Xavier? definitely somewhere in Ohio) came out and we all begged him for a ride.
Xavier assistant coach driving; me in the passenger seat; Grizzlies scout, European freelance scout, and Sodie in the back! What an adventure! What do assistant coaches talk about when they run into each other? Recruiting of course!
“Hey where is so-and-so going?”
“School X is on him, and I think Y has some traction.”
“What about other so-and-so?”
“I told Z he is their type of player. But let’s see if Duke and Kentucky come in because they’re Duke and Kentucky.”
(I’m not obfuscating player names. I hadn’t heard of the guys they mentioned, so I don’t remember names.)
We got to Argentina’s game, and the Fab Five went in five different directions. I had to get my ticket. I grabbed a prime seat and watched warmups. Coach Soderberg came up a few minutes later and asked if I had a wifi password, which I didn’t, but I hotspotted him for the rest of the afternoon, and he hung out next to me for the Argentina game.
If I had to describe him in one word during the game, he was a fan. When Papi--he said during Caffaro’s visit, they asked what to call him, and FC said “Big Papi” plus FC’s Argentine coach was calling him “Papi” during the game--did something good, Coach Soderberg would pump a fist. When he made a mistake, there was a groan. It was like watching a recording of me watching UVA.
Stattmann Stats and Info
Kody started and played 33:38 (FIBA games are 40 minutes) including the entire second half.
Australia lost by five, but was only -1 with Kody on the court.
Kody was 3-9 on 2s, 4-11 on 3s and 3-4 on FTs. He also had 2 TOs. That’s 21 points ending 24 possessions, .875 PPP, which is not very good. UVA almost never scores under 1 PPP, and we play against a lot better defenses than Canada U19.
18 of his 21 points were after the half. Coach Soderberg remarked positively that he scored 21 and led the team even without playing particularly well.
Kody took about 33.4% of the shots while he was on the court. I found that encouraging because it told me that Australia probably considers him the best player if it lets his usage get so high and because usage and efficiency are negatively correlated, so his poor efficiency can be excused by his heavy usage. For comparison, last year’s highest shot% was 24. Two years ago, it was Guy at 29% and three years ago Shayok at 29%.
Kody’s stat sheet was pretty bleak. He had 4 DR, all of which were uncontested and just fell to him. He had zero assists. On the plus side he was credited with 4 blocks, though I only had him for 2.
Kody’s defense ranged from adequate to bad. At best, I saw Joe Harris. Do you remember how he used to backpedal with his arms up and dare people to drive and shoot over that? Kody did that a few times and predictably caused some misses.
On the other hand, he also fell asleep a few times. Coach Bennett likes “continuous” players and players who move on the pass. Kody doesn’t do that yet. To give one example, he was guarding a player who didn’t have the ball and stood at the three point line. Another player started to drive and Kody stepped off his man to help and kind of dig at the ball. That’s great. But he turned away from his man and began to ball watch. That’s bad. The driver kicked it to Kody’s man, and Kody lunged to try to recover. His man drove right past him for a layup.
On offense, Kody is a fantastic shooter. I asked Coach Soderberg who shoots better between him and Tomas. Coach said that it was probably Kody, but Kody hasn’t proven he can do it versus college competition and Tomas has. Last year we also say Kody (in green team action) pump fake and get to the rack. He tried that a bunch today. He usually got close to the rim but missed the shot. These weren’t Braxton Key misses where you’re thinking “What a take! How did he not finish!?” These were more like getting near the rim, but with a defender still in good position in front of you and awkwardly throwing up a prayer. To my untrained eye, he needs more quickness or a trickier move to get himself open layups he can make at the rim.
Bottom line after game one for Kody: I see him just how I saw him last year. I don’t think he’s ready to be a rotation player for us in 2019-2020.
Big Papi Stats and Info
Papi started and played 33:17 (of 45 minutes including OT)
Argentina beat Russia by 2 in overtime and was +1 with Papi on the court.
Papi was 7-12 on 2s and 3-9 on FTs. Coach Soderberg said he had worked very hard on free throws including greatly improving his form. It didn’t show today. He also had 1 TO. That’s 17 points ending 16 (three of the FTs were and-1s) possessions, for 1.06 PPP, which is adequate.
Papi took almost exactly 20% of the shots while he was on the court--ie his fair share. Ideally he’d be a bit more of a ball hog at this level.
Papi had 2 OR and 3 DR. A couple of them were really nice. Both ORs led to immediate scores. Two of the DRs were sky high and really kept the ball away from the other team. But the total is bad! He got about 6.4% of total rebounds while he was on the court. There are only ten guys, and you’re the tallest. You have to do a lot better. Coach Soderberg said he was watching Papi’s rebounding, and indeed he reacted strongly whether or not Papi got a rebound.
Papi has a lot of confidence. Coach Soderberg said he could be Jack Salt plus a great offensive game, which sounds like an amazing player to me. He also has a lot of emotion. Sometimes that’s good. And sometimes--like when you punch the rebound after you miss your third straight rebound and almost get T’ed up--that’s bad.
Papi’s technique is good on post moves--there was one wicked drop step. And it’s good on defense--he frequently went straight up like Salt did. That won’t get you a block, but it won’t get you a foul either. Speaking of that, he got two fouls in two minutes in the second quarter, but otherwise had none. So he was able to play a lot of minutes, something our bigs frequently struggle to do.
Bottom line, I saw a player who I don’t think will be huge factor next year, but could be a star in the future (possibly 20-21, maybe 22-23, the cool thing is we get him that long.) When was the last time we had a legit post threat? Caffaro will be the next UVA post threat.
Improving on my game-watching technique from Kody’s game, I timestamped a lot of Caffaro’s interesting plays that you can find in the YouTube video:
9:22 help defense, contests shot straight up
9:00 goes straight up again on D
7:40 misses, then muffs a great entry pass for a turnover
7:03 awesome drop step and-1
6:40 offensive rebound and-1
6:10 defense: good contest
4:40 good pass from post to open shooter
2:43 best Argentine player goes down and Papi carries him off court in his arms
2:27 turn around air ball
2:05 skies for a great DR
0:25 hit in throat, goes out for rest of half but returns with no ill effects
8:58 missed DR on FT box out
6:35 great DR
6:09 D leads to travel
4:05 bad defensive sequence
3:12 good post up but then an awful pass
3:00 misses FT, punches ball, near technical foul
9:40 good D then immediate post up and score on O
2:05 doesn’t fall for a fake on D, then gets a block
0:04 down 1, gets an OR in traffic and gets fouled. Hits 1 of 2 FT
2:30 misses a shot and hops after the release, coach sends a sub to scorer’s table but Papi waves him off, 50 seconds later he is subbed out for good