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Basketball(M)

Virginia + / - Navy

Posted on December 29, 2019 in The Team by Val Prochaska.

Virginia scored just three points in the first 10 minutes of the second half as the Navy Midshipmen erased 37 – 29 halftime deficit and took a 41 – 40 lead. The Cavaliers looked thoroughly defeated as they trudged over to Tony Bennett at the timeout. Was this game slipping away too?

 

Navy56
Virginia65

 

 

Positive

A win is a win is a win. There was upside aplenty for the Cavs in this game, but yet again, they let an undermanned opponent hang around for far too long. And for every upside, there was an equal and opposite downside. Welcome to the 2019 – 2020 Cavaliers!  It’s going to be a bumpy, albeit interesting, ride.

Negative

The eye test. With four minutes left in the first half, Virginia had played a pretty good game: the team was 4 – 7 from 3 (!), we’d forced Navy into a pair of shot clock violations, the team had just a single turnover, Navy was 1 – 7 from distance, and yet the score was just 28 – 20.  How was it that close?

Positive

Braxton Key. Key is back. He’s still got the cast on his wrist – he lost a great feed under the bucket as the ball dribbled off his fingertips – but he was all over the court, leading the team with 15 points, 3 steals, 7 boards and a pair of fastbreaks.  Oh, and there was this play:

Braxton Key!

Negative

Failure to close out the first half. Yet again the Cavs allowed a buzzer-beater at the close of the half. What should have been a moderately comfortable 11-point halftime lead was just 8 points. The energized Midshipmen were bouncing as they retreated to the locker room and they came out for the second half on fire.

Negative

The first 10 minutes of the second half. It was ugly. After doing a great job protecting the ball the first half, the Cavaliers subsequently threw the ball away five times. Evan Wieck, something of a stiff at center for Navy, got matched against Mamadi Diakite one on one on three occasions, and he abused him all three times. Virginia went 1 – 8. Jay Huff had position on Wieck for a defensive rebound and the ball slipped through his fingers. It was a 10-minute stretch as poor as Virginia has played this year; and that’s saying something.

Positive

That time out. Who says Tony Bennett can’t make in-game adjustments? Wieck never saw the ball again without being doubled and he was effectively taken out of the game. The Cavaliers went on a 12 – 0 run that was as gorgeous as the previous 10 minutes had been dour. Kihei Clark made a short jumper in the lane, Key got a block and finished the fast break with +1 three.  Huff had a block that lead to a Key alley-oop slam. Huff had an alley oop. And Casey Morsell had bucket. 12 points in 2 and a half minutes. Game over.

Positive

Kihei Clark. He set the tone early, protecting the ball in the first half: one turnover vice 7 assists.  In the second, he did have one turnover in that awful 10-minute stretch – it wasn’t his fault – but he finished the game with 13 assists, 4 boards and 10 points.

Positive 

Three point shooting.  How about that?  Virginia went 8 – 19 and five players made a three. Morsell made a pair, Tomas Woldetensae made a pair (he’s gone a very excellent 8 – 17 the past four games) and even Huff made his one three. 8 for 19 may not be torrid, but it is MUCH better than we have shot this season.

Negative

Last Dance. This is a 10 part documentary on the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls coming out in the spring. 10 episodes?!?  WTF? Ken Burns covered the Civil War in 9 episodes.

Positive

Championship burn.  The networks are still leading with video and pics of last year’s title run. As this season has been something of a comedown – we’ve got huge targets on our backs after all – the frequent reminders of the championship are a pleasure.

 

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Navy (Basketball(M), December 29, 2019)