Virginia welcomed Maine to the JPJ as the Cavaliers concluded their slate against New England (Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine.). To date, the Black Bears had only beaten Division I newcomer Merrimack and some school called the Maine Maritime Academy. How would they fare against the best defense in the country?
A win is a win is a… Oh hell, even I can’t write that for this one. This was a depressing win, and how often can you say that about a victory? To date we’ve played the 268th hardest schedule in Division I and the only benefit I can see to playing such a lame lineup is that it gives coach Tony Bennett the ability to work through his rotations and get everyone ready for the ACC grind. Except that it’s not working. The Not Ready for Primetime Players still don’t look ready.
Sure, we held Maine to 26 points and a total of 8 made buckets and forced 21 turnovers, but this was a poor team. And we played down to their level. We had 13 TOs of our own and were pushed around under the boards: Maine had 11 offensive rebounds to our five.
We’re going to struggle against the zone. We’re just not shooting the 3 well and it’s starting to look like more than rust or newcomer adjustments. Casey Morsell, Tomas Woldetensae and Jay Huff combined to go 2 – 12. Most of these were good looks; we’re just incapable of making the shot. Honestly, I think I could go 2 – 12. Compounding the problem, neither Huff nor Mamadi Diakite can seem to establish position in the low blocks, which means the pound-the-paint remedy for poor shooting is not an option.
Jayden Nixon. He got 10 minutes of playing time. What’s with that? I thrill as much as the next guy to seeing walk-ons playing in meaningful moments (he came in at the 13 minute mark in the first half), but we already have a walk-on in Chase Coleman who is actually going to play in the ACC and needs the minutes to develop. How is Nixon getting any of Coleman’s minutes?
Maine Coach Richard Barron. Barron previously coached the women’s team at Maine and when he moved to take on the men, he brought along as his assistant, Edneisha Curry. Curry is currently the only female coach in men’s Division I basketball, and only the fourth woman ever to have this position. Mad props to Coach Barron. Curry was overdressed on the night, but women’s appearances are scrutinized more than men’s.
It was a 20-point win but because we pretty much failed on the offensive side of the side of the court, Bennett was never able to bring in Living Legend Grant Kersey. He’s only seen one game this year, but his “story” last season was a big part of the team’s chemistry and on-court joy. This year is going to be a slog.
Braxton Key is out indefinitely following surgery on his wrist. Kody Stattmann, who needed the out-of-conference slate to develop his game, has now missed four games and counting. This was not a deep team to begin with. This does not help.
Me. I had just written in my notes that Andrew Fleming, Maine’s highest scoring player on the season, had been held to zero points in the first 23 minutes of the game, when he, of course, scored five quick points.