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Welcome Home, Champs

James Madison Dukes

After a disorienting start to the year, on the road in an ACC game, the Hoos come back to Charlottesville for a far more traditional home opener against an in-state Colonial foe. Will we see the Hoo offense round into form while maintaining the same defensive sharpness tha we saw in New York?

Game Details:

Date/Time:Sunday, November 10th, 6:00 pm ET
Location:John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
TV:ESPNU

 

What 'They' Say

Vegas:
TAPE:Ranks JMU #142, predicts a 77-51 UVA win, 99% confidence
KenPom:Ranks JMU #227, predicts a 75-50 UVA win, 99% confidence

 

Depth Chart:

Starters
PG#3 Deshon Parker, 6'4" 195, SO
39.0mpg 17.0ppg 6.0apg 25.0 3P%
SG#1 Matt Lewis, 6'5" 195, JR
38.0mpg 22.0ppg 4.0apg 14.3 3P%
SF#5 Darius Banks, 6'5" 220, JR
18.0mpg 10.0ppg 0.0apg 33.3 3P%
PF#23 Michael Christmas, 6'6" 225, FR
22.0mpg 9.0ppg 6.0rpg 75.0 FG%
C#11 Zach Jacobs, 6'8" 230, JR
35.0mpg 15.0ppg 6.0rpg 54.5 FG%
Key Reserves
G#14 Jayvis Harvey, 6'3" 200, FR
22.0mpg 6.0ppg 2.0apg 50.0 3P%
F#22 Julien Wooden, 6'8" 220, FR
23.0mpg 0.0ppg 1.0rpg 0.0 FG%
F#35 Devon Flowers, 6'8" 215, FR
No stats for this player

 

The ABC's of James Madison:

A) They were picked as a CAA contender. The CAA media picked the Dukes to finish fourth in the conference this year and even gave them a few stray first place votes. It's a bit surprising for a team that went 14-19 (6-12) last year, but they return four starters including an all conference player in Preseason CAA 1st-Teamer (and 2018-19 CAA 3rd-teamer) Matt Lewis. The 6'5" shooting guard led the Dukes in scoring last year at over 16 points a game and picked up right where he left off in his first game, scoring 22 points vs Charlotte. It's possible that comes Selection Sunday, this might actually look like a decent mid-major win for UVA.

B) Big guards, smaller bigs. It isn't surprising to see a small-conference team lack some size in the post, as recruiting good 7-footers is hard even for ACC teams. The biggest guy on JMU's roster is starting 5-man Zach Jacobs, a 6'8" 220 lb junior, and he's backed up by 6'8" 220 lb freshman Julien Wooden. With 6'6" 225 lb combo forward Michael Christmas at the 4, UVA's going to have a massive size advantage defending the rim and cleaning up the glass with Huff, Diakite, Key, and McKoy all their size or bigger.

They've got good size in the backcourt, however, with a 6'4" point guard in Parker and two 6'5" wings in Lewis and fellow preseason all-CAA (2nd Team) guard Darius Banks. These three can all shoot and put the ball on the floor, and will be able to physically match up with UVA's guards.

C) It's all freshmen behind the four returning starters. The Dukes are getting preseason love due to their four incumbents in the starting lineup, but because they seemingly struck out on their 2018 recruiting class and had some outbound transfers from their developmental guys last summer, they're having to immediately lean on a trio of true freshmen for depth. Headlining the rookies and starting already is Michael Christmas. The 3-star recruit was the 6A State Player of the Year out of Landstown (Virginia Beach) last season, and is a fairly prototypical combo forward that should create mismatch problems in the CAA. Also playing over 20 minutes apiece in their first game were two unranked recruits in Durham, NC guard Jayvis Harvey and Roanoke (Northside) big man Julien Wooden. That's three of the Duke's Top 7 who will be playing in only their 2nd ever college game at JPJ this weekend.

Waiting in the wings? More freshmen, to include redshirted 6'8" big man Devon Flowers who missed the Charlotte game with a minor injury but may make his debut vs UVA, as well as rookie guard Zyon Dobbs who chipped in 4 quiet minutes against the 49ers.

 

Their Season To Date

JMU is 1-0 after their 79-74 Wednesday night home win over Ron Sanchez's Charlotte 49ers. JMU also played an exhibition last weekend against cross-town Eastern Mennonite in an uneven 80-65 win.

 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Find our 3-point stroke from paint touches. Obviously the Hoo three point shooting in the Carrier Dome left a ton to be desired. We survived the 4/25 (16%) performance but that can't be repeated going forward. Plenty of blame to go around, with Braxton going 0-5, Kihei 2-8, Morsell 1-6, Tomas 0-3, and Kody 1-3. I'm willing to let that one slide as a combination of first game sloppiness, first ever (meaningful D-1) game nerves for Kody/Tomas/Morsell, and the weird Dome optics. But UVA has to warm up in this one, as playing through the paint should collapse the Dukes defense and leave shooters open on kickouts.

2) Shut down their shooters. The JMU shooters are competent but streaky, and being that it's still early in the year with the new distance still being felt out, UVA should ensure the Dukes don't get a chance to warm up. On Wednesday, the Hoos were able to make Syracuse's guards incredibly uncomfortable en route to a 5-of-29 (17%) 3-point shooting night. Meanwhile JMU was able to dial in just enough and their 9-of-26 (35%) performance helped put them over the top. But against EMU, that number dipped to 6-of-26 (23%). Last season Banks was a 49% marksman and Parker an efficient 40% 3-point gunner, so the bona fides are there. The freshmen are unproven quantities, but Christmas hit 2 of 3 and Harvey hit 1 of 2 vs Charlotte, so the Hoos need to slow them down on the front end.

3) Don't bail them out with fouls. The Dukes managed to get to the charity stripe for an eye-popping 28 free throw attempts against the 49ers, and though they failed to capitalize (making less than 50% as a team), the attempts and associated foul trouble for Charlotte was a difference-maker in a tight game. Expect JMU to attack more aggressively than the Orange did, and UVA's bigs and inexperienced guards will need to be very careful not to pick up cheap whistles.

 

 

Predictions:

The goal in this one isn't just to win, but it's to do so cleanly while finding some degree of offensive rhythm that was absent on Wednesday. Beating JMU isn't just about notching a W in the record book, it's about preparing the team for more challenging games ahead and we've got a quartet of fresh faces in Morsell, Stattmann, Woldetensae, and McKoy that need an opportunity to build some confidence. We're going to assume no Caffaro yet (all I heard recently was vaguely "a couple weeks") so hopefully we'll get a second-half stretch with those four plus Huff at center that lets the youngsters find a comfort level without veterans like Clark, Key, and Diakite to lean on. If we're really lucky we'll get to see Kastra, Nixon, and Coleman in the closing minutes.

But mostly what I'm looking for in this game is our young guards to find some offensive rhythm. JMU is not a team known for its defense, finishing 8th in the 10-team CAA last year per KenPom. There's no major rim protection presence, so their defense is going to have to be geared towards collapsing on the likes of Diakite and Huff, and with a heavy freshman presence topping things off, it all means that if there's a game our shooters are going to get good looks, this is probably it. And if the long ball starts falling, look out, UVA's offense should start rolling pretty quickly. Look for Clark to be on pace for double-digit assists assuming he's not pulled too quickly for the deep bench to get emptied.

Our defense? Did you see what we did to Syracuse? Forget about it.

Hoos Win 70-45