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Basketball(M)

Virginia + / - UMass

Posted on November 23, 2019 in The Team by Val Prochaska.

Virginia took on the undefeated UMass Minutemen in the second game of the tournament with the absurdly long name. UMass cut into a large lead late in the first half, going on an 11-0 run to end the half and bring them back into the game. Would it be enough?

 

Massachusetts46
Virginia58

 

 

 

Positive

As always, a win is a win is a win. After the women’s soccer team loss on Friday to Washington State in the NCAAs, I personally needed a win. It wasn’t pretty, but then most of our games this year won’t be. There will be many, again this season, who will claim that UVa is setting basketball back 50 years. Ha! Bring on the haters.

Positive

Braxton Key making the bunnies. Last year UVa fans fretted over the very many sitters that Key missed throughout the year. In our season preview, we noted that he would have to make his close-range shots, given the scoring that we lost. This year he’s making them, today going 7 – 9 from inside the arc.

Negative

Jay Huff and Francisco Caffaro’s post defense. UMass freshman Tre Mitchell schooled both Huff and Caffaro, especially late in the first half as the Minutemen made their run. He was more mobile, stronger, and he pivoted around at least 3 double-teams to get to the rim. When Diakite played in the second half, Mitchell became an afterthought.

Negative

Which brings me to Coach Bennett’s two-fouls-and-you’re-out rule. When a player gets two fouls in the first half, Bennett frequently benches them for the remainder of the half, regardless of the flow of the game. In effect, Bennett’s rigidity means that a player can “foul out” in the first half. It seems like he’s giving the other team a tactical advantage. On purpose. I don’t understand it.

Negative

Three point shooting. Again. The Cavaliers did hold a good-shooting UMass team to just 5 – 26 from 3 (19.2%) but we were even worse: 2 – 14. Get out your calculator if you want to know just how abysmal that was because my keyboard will combust if I type it.

Positive

Epiphanies. They’re rare, and I had one. Two years ago, the Cavs did the ACC double and got a #1 seed all the while Jack Salt and Isaiah Wilkins were combining for 9.5 points in 47 minutes. Bennett can win with limited scorers on the floor if the defense is humming. So far this year, the defense is doing just that and our new Salt and Wilkins are Casey Morsell and Tomas Woldetensae and they combined for 14 points.

Positive

Free throws. How about that? The team, lead by Kihei Clark’s 8 – 8 performance, was 12 – 14 at the line. Clark hit both free throws when Umass coach Matt McCall was hit with a technical. This team is going to need every free point it gets.

Positive

Jay Huff’s impression of Jack Salt.

Jay Huff Channels His Inner Jack Salt

Positive

Cavalanche! The Minutemen did a nice job closing the first half on a trot, narrowing a 16 point Virginia lead to just 5 points. The Cavaliers responded by limiting UMass to just a single bucket over the first 15 minutes of the second half. They did make seven free throws, but the damage was done and the game was over.

Positive

Kihei Clark is a on a mission to prove that the Dia – Kihei Miracle was not a fluke.

Clark Magic!

Negative

And finally, for the two women’s soccer fans reading this, the women lost to Washington State in the second round of the NCAA tourney. So we have to say good bye to a quartet of talented seniors – Phoebe McClernon, Courtney Petersen, Zoe Morse and Meg McCool – who were/are every bit as good on the pitch as Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy and DeAndre Hunter were on the hardwood. Best wishes to them.

Seniors Phoebe McClernon, Courtney Petersen, Zoe Morse, and Megan McCool

 

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(n) Massachusetts (November 23, 2019)