[Ed. Note: This is the final installment in the series. We thank rushdacote for volunteering to cover this event for us. Please enjoy his final analysis below.]
I skipped game 5 to explore the island, went to game 6, and then chose Papi’s game 7 over Kody’s but Papi only played two minutes. Instead of recapping their game 6s, I’ll give their total stats, my predictions for their contributions at UVA, and at the end a rundown of the costs of this trip in case you ever want to do something similar.
Kody started all seven games and played 156 minutes, an average of just over 22 per game.
Australia went 5-2 and got 9th place. After losing to Lithuania (eventual 4th place) in the first round of knockout play, they ran off three straight wins. They beat host Greece in the 9th place game soundly, a team that split games against Argentina.
Australia was +65 total for the tournament, and Kody was +46, which means he had a higher percentage of Argentina’s point differential than his percentage of minutes played. That could mean something--or not because +/- has a lot to do with a coach’s rotation.
Kody was 20-43 on 2s (46.5%), 9-41 on 3s (22.0%), and 5-7 (71.4%) on FT. That 2P% is acceptable. Ty Jerome was 47% on 2s last year. Kyle Guy was 49%. Kihei Clark was 36%. That 3P% is obviously abysmal. For someone I expected to be a spot up shooter, Kody shocked me by taking just over half his field goal attempts (FGA) inside the arc. That matches up closely to Ty’s mix of FGA, and contrasts sharply to Kyle Guy’s. Guy took 64% of his FGA from 3.
Kody had 72 points on 84 FGA plus 3 trips to the line, that’s 0.86 points per attempt. Kihei was clearly our least efficient scorer last year and even he managed 0.96, and that was in the ACC not against these weak international defenses.
Kody’s per game stats were 10.3 points, 3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.4 turnovers, 1.1 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game.
Kody’s UVA Contribution
Barring an injury, I wouldn’t expect Kody to play much in close or important games next year. His offense was bad this tournament, but if a few more threes had fallen, the numbers would have been fine. And if he had been hot, the numbers would have been really great. It was such a small sample size that I don’t want to draw big conclusions from whether his shots went in or bricked.
What there was enough sample size to judge was the types of things he would bring to our offense and the level of his defense.
On offense, he’s not a catch and shoot player. He’s more of a catch and drive player who can also shoot (allegedly--I haven’t seen that yet but apparently our coaches have.) But right now I don’t think he has the agility or moves to finish in the ACC in 2019-2020.
On defense, I don’t think he can stay in front of ACC guards or wings. Furthermore he doesn’t get down into a stance and play continuously. That’s non-negotiable at UVA obviously, so as long as Casey Morsell, Tomas Woldetensae, and/or Justin McKoy can do that even a little bit better, I bet they see the bulk of the minutes that Kody is fighting for.
And if Kody doesn’t play next year, he’ll need to make an even bigger leap the year after to get playing time with Beekman, McCorkle, and maybe Abdur-Rahim coming in.
I hope I eat crow, and he’s First Team All-ACC next year. I am strongly rooting for him. He must be a good guy if Tony Bennett lets him play for UVA. He was certainly nice when I met him and is invested in UVA enough to move halfway around the world and to ask me for advice on picking a major. Right now I don’t see a role for him though.
Papi started all seven games and played 169 minutes, an average of just over 24 per game. In game 7, he only played two-and-a-half though, leaving with an injury to his right calf that he suffered in game 2. I am going to throw out game 7 for the rest of the stats.
Argentina went 5-2 and got 11th place. The big problem was they lost in the first round of the knockout stage to winless Puerto Rico, which capped Argentina’s possible finishing place at 9th. There were worse teams that beat better teams in Crete. That’s the nature of one-and-done basketball as UVA fans have learned many times in March. If Argentina had won that game, it would have been fun to see them fight some of the better teams for a much higher finishing spot.
Argentina was -3 total for the tournament, and Papi was -4.
Papi was 20-46 on 2s (43.5%) and 12-32 (37.5%) on FT. That 2P% is below what his competitors for minutes did last year. Mamadi Diakite was 57.1% on 2s. Jay Huff was 67.7%. Jack Salt was 60.2% on a mix of shots most similar to what Papi took this tournament -- everything in the post, no jump shots. The free throw percentage is really bad. Even Jack was 51% last year. Papi’s form looks fine, much better than Jack’s, so I bet he shoots in the 50-60% range next season.
Papi’s per game stats were 8.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1.2 turnovers, 0.7 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game.
Papi’s UVA Contribution
I think Papi will be the first big off the bench next year and will play about 15 minutes a game, highly dependent on matchups. The good matchups for Papi will be teams with traditional centers who want to bang down low. The bad matchups will be teams that have a stretch big man who wants to shoot 3s or drive from the 3-point line.
I think as his offensive game matures, Papi has the chance to be a star and could possibly make an all-ACC team.
On offense, Papi can provide a big target in the post and has some nice moves when he catches. A few times (check previous articles for time stamps so you can watch these plays yourself), he would free himself with one masterful dribble and dunk in traffic. His overall shooting percentage was unfortunately low, because any time he had to do more of a shot from the 4-8’ range, he tended to leave them on the front rim. If his touch improves, watch out!
Obviously at UVA, he’ll be asked to set a lot of screens. I didn’t see enough of that to judge his skill there. He’s got a Jack Salt body, so hopefully he can be a Jack Salt screener, too.
On defense, I was encouraged by his ability to protect the rim. He does it without a ton of blocks. (Hopefully Kody teases Papi for blocking the same number of shots this tournament as Kody did.) Papi’s defense is more like Jack’s defense. He’s strong enough to keep you away from the basket, and when you do decide to shoot he puts his arms straight up and jumps straight up. That is a recipe for efficient foul-free defense. Papi’s 4.5 fouls called per 40 minutes doesn’t sound great, but it doesn’t worry me for three reasons: 1) That’s already lower than Jack (5.2) and Jay (6.3) managed last season. 2) He will probably only play 15 minutes a game, so he probably won’t come close to fouling out. 3) At least one, and maybe two were technicals.
That brings me to my next point. Papi plays with a lot of emotion, probably a little too much. After he missed his third straight free throw one game, he punched the ball away and nearly got a technical. In another game, he picked up his third personal foul in the third quarter and a technical for his fourth foul immediately. I don’t know whether he was jawing with a player or a referee, but no matter: He can’t do that at UVA. Luckily, I don’t think he will because I think our coaches will rein that in better than his demonstrative Argentine coach did.
I hope and expect that Papi will be our first low post threat in years. Not only would that be great for the team, but it would help in recruiting future big men. You know other coaches tell them, “Why go to UVA? You’ll only set screens on offense.”
Costs of This Trip
In case you ever want to go watch some basketball abroad, it’s probably cheaper than you think. Here’s what I spent:
Game tickets: $56/50 euros (5 euros per gym per day for each of my sessions, I could have bought a ticket good for every single game for 68 euros.)
Airbnb for nine nights: $443 all in for a studio with a kitchenette in the pedestrian area of the old town
Transportation: $32/25 euros (several city bus rides, one 18 euro taxi, several free taxi and rental car rides from coaches and scouts at the event just because I asked if I could hitch a ride the way they were going)
Food: $135/120 euros (8 euros a day for lunch and 8 a day for dinner but some of the meals I cooked at home for about 2 euros each)
Flights: $257 (I flew Sofia, Bulgaria, where I was with some friends to Athens, stayed for four days, then on to Crete for nine days, then I fly home to Belgrade, Serbia. Obviously coming from the US, cash tickets are far more expensive, but frequent flyer mile tickets are very easy to book for miles plus about $100 in taxes from the US, so I don’t consider the flights to be a big problem.)
This is cheap for a vacation, although expensive to watch a bit of basketball. That’s why I wouldn’t ever take a trip like this just for basketball. I’d only go somewhere I’d otherwise want to go and just choose the timing based on the basketball schedule. For nine days on Crete, the chance to swim in the Aegean Sea, some great Greek food, and a trip to a 3,700-year-old palace and an amazing archaeological museum plus some basketball, this trip was a steal.