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StLouHoo's Preview:

Back from the Break

Stony Brook Seawolves

Virginia comes off their 10-day exam break to ease back into action against the visiting Seawolves. The Hoos had their struggles before the break, especially trying to find an offensive rhythm, even against a mid-major like Maine. Could they have similar struggles against Stony Brook?

Game Details:

Date/Time:Wednesday, December 18th, 6:30 pm ET
Location:John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
TV:ACCN

 

What 'They' Say

Vegas:UVA -17, O/U 107, equates to ~62-45 UVA win
Torvik:Ranks Stony Brook #157, predicts a 59-46 UVA win, 95% confidence
KenPom:Ranks Stony Brook #170, predicts a 63-46 UVA win, 94% confidence

 

Depth Chart:

Starters
PG#1 Makale Foreman, 6'1" 200, JR
33.4 mpg, 14.2 ppg, 2.0 apg, 34.3 3P%
SG#2 Miles Latimer, 6'3" 192, SO
26.4 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 1.9 apg, 34.5 3P%
SF#3 Elijah Olaniyi, 6'5" 203, JR
33.2 mpg, 19.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 46.3 FG%
PF#23 Andrew Garcia, 6'5" 228, JR
28.8 mpg, 12.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 46.2 FG%
C#4 Jeff Otchere, 6'11" 240, JR
19.4 mpg, 3.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 60.9 FG%
Key Reserves
G#10 Jordan McKenzie, 6'1" 189, JR
14.0 mpg, 1.3 ppg, 1.6 apg, 25.0 3P%
G#15 Tavin Pierre Philippe, 6'3" 180, FR
13.0 mpg, 2.9 ppg, 0.7 apg, 18.8 3P%
F/C#5 Mouhamadou Gueye, 6'9" 190, JR
24.8 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 40.0 FG%

 

The ABC's of Stony Brook:

A) Their offense runs through Olaniyi. The 6'5" junior small forward has thrived in an expanded role this year, no longer hiding in the shadow of Akwasi Yeboah (grad-transferred to Rutgers). He's a volume scorer, yes, taking nearly 30% of his team's shots, but he's being pretty damn efficient in the process. He's hitting a respectable 48% inside the arc, an outstanding 43% from behind the arc, and adding in almost 5 free throw attempts a game. He hits the glass well and even chips in a couple assists a game (though his turnovers reflect his high usage rate). Pay close attention to #3 in this game, as he's going to prove a challenging cover for our wings.

B) They love to shoot. Olaniyi isn't the only shooter on this club. The strength of their offense is the long ball, as they rank in the top 20% of the country in team 3P% (36.2%), hitting that on high volume. nearly 44% of the shots come from range, which ranks 53rd highest in D-1. Point guard Makale Foreman takes the bulk of his shots from deep (hitting 36%), and wing-forward and starting 4-man Garcia hits a cool 44% on low volume. The only one who won't shoot much is starting center Otchere (no 3PA yet this year), but everyone else must be guarded out to the perimeter.

C) Their defense protects the paint. For a defense that really only plays one true big man, the Seawolves have proven adept at making life hell at the rim. They're 5th nationally in 2P% defense (allowing teams to shoot only 39% inside the arc) and 31st nationally in block rate (14.5%). Gueye and Otchere both average better than two blocks a game, ranking among the best nationally. Tying a bow around it, they do it largely without fouling, ranking 38th nationally in defensive FT rate (though Providence survived largely by shooting 30 free throw attempts). The strength of UVA's offense has been attacking the rim this year, but that will be tested against a team that's committed to shutting that down.

 

Their Season To Date

Stony Brook is 7-5 on the year. Their best win is over KenPom #158 North Dakota State, and have lost to every Top 150 team they've played. They took bad losses to Delaware and Hofstra, and Seton Hall beat them by 17. They did, however, deliver near upsets to Yale (overtime loss to open the year) and Providence (4 point road loss last week).

 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Get after their guards. If there's one thing clearly lacking from this Stony Brook team, it's a point guard. Foreman seems to play the role by default, but he's registering only 2 assists a game vs 1.5 turnovers. Everyone else in the back court turns the ball over at a higher rate than they register assists, and the end result is that this is a club that ranks in the bottom quartile nationally in turnover rate. The Pack Line was made for teams like this. Additionally, their 3-point shooting is running into a UVA perimeter defense that ranks 15th nationally and tight D around the 3-point line will make the Seawolves very uncomfortable.

2) Continue to warm up from 3. As strong as the Seawolves are in the paint, they're mediocre defending the perimeter. They don't force many turnovers, and teams are hitting a comfortable 36.5% from 3 against them (293rd in D-1). Providence made 12 of 27 (44%) last week, and Hofstra 12 of 35 (34%) before that. In both cases, those teams 3-point percentages were noticeably higher than their 2-point percentages (36% and 27% respectively). Stony Brooks' opponents won those games from behind the arc. UVA doesn't need to set the world on fire with its long ball, but it would do well to build on the respectable 35% 3-point shooting we saw against Carolina to make this one comfortable for Virginia fans.

3) Get out to a quick start. Coming off a 10-day break, and possibly trying to work back in a starter in Braxton Key, we're at a real risk of some early rust. Against a team looking for any reason to believe they can shock a Top 10 team, inviting early confidence for the visitors is dangerous. I don't want to see us still with single digit points approaching the second media timeout as we've done a couple times this year. Hoos need to dial in their shot early and, should they be able to cross the 15 point threshold in the first 8-ish minutes of the game, coupled with our usual early defensive success, it will bode well for the rest of the evening.

 

 

Predictions:

Stony Brook was picked to finish third in the America East conference this year (1st was the Vermont team that took us to the wire). They're a solid club at their level, and their near-upset at Big East program Providence last week shows they're hitting the road with a Goliath-slaying mentality. I'm really impressed with their post defense, as it plays well against our strength (going to the rim with our bigs) and forces us to overcome our Achilles' Heel (3-point percentage) to win.

With that said, our defense should be okay in this one. Braxton's been practicing (still a game time decision, but it's better than it was a week ago when he was clearly a pregame scratch), Kody's recovered from his illness, and other guys are rounding into form. I trust that the exam break gave guys a chance to get fresh and the coaches time to make some tweaks to the offense, and that UVA is going to look good out of the gate here. Maybe I'm tempting fate, but I think we see the offense hit the long ball enough to create some separation while the defense continues its historic pace. With the bigs likely bottled up somewhat, look for the perimeter guys to carry the load.

Hoos Win 65-48