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Midshipmen Match-Up

Navy Midshipmen

Virginia looks to build a little momentum this weekend before going into New Years and full-time ACC play. A disappointing home loss to South Carolina left lots for the Hoos to work on; will they show improvement in their final non-conference game of the season?

Game Details:

Date/Time:Sunday, December 29th, 4:00 pm ET
Location:John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
TV:ESPN2

 

What 'They' Say

Vegas:
Torvik:Ranks Navy #225, predicts a 52-40 UVA win, 96% confidence
KenPom:Ranks Navy #260, predicts a 57-39 UVA win, 94% confidence

 

Depth Chart:

Starters
PG#22 Cam Davis, 6'0" 184, JR
33.9 mpg, 14.3 ppg, 3.4 apg, 35.1 3P%
SG#20 Greg Summers, 6'3" 195, SO
31.3 mpg, 9.7 ppg, 2.3 apg, 20.0 3P%
SF#1 John Carter Jr., 6'3" 202, SO
29.1 mpg, 14.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 35.2 FG%
PF#33 Luke Loehr, 6'7" 221, JR
24.4 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 34.8 FG%
C#40 Evan Wieck, 6'8" 240, SR
26.9 mpg, 8.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 62.5 FG%
Key Reserves
G#3 Sean Yoder, 6'2" 190, FR
18.8 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.7 apg, 15.0 3P%
F#25 Alec Loehr, 6'7" 223, JR
11.8 mpg, 1.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 47.1 FG%
F#55 Richard Njoku, 6'7" 235, SO
11.6 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 40.0 FG%

 

The ABC's of Navy:

A) They're actually as slow as we are. Head coach Ed DeChellis traditionally plays a slower brand of ball with the Middies, but this year they've slowed to an absolute crawl. They rank second-to-last nationally in overall tempo (I'll give you one guess who's dead last). They're turtles on both end of the floor, 5th slowest nationally on offense and dead last on defense. As such, it's entirely possible we see UVA and Navy play in the neighborhood of 55 or so possessions on Sunday. Navy wants to keep games slow and ugly to give them a chance to win, and they need this approach because...

B) Their offense is really struggling. Navy has KenPom's #291-ranked offense. They're struggling shooting the ball all over the floor, in the bottom 20% nationally in both 3P% (29.4) and 2P% (45.1%). They turn the ball over at a high clip too (21.7% of possessions). And no one in America has their shots blocked at a higher rate (15.7% of their FGA's are blocked, worst in D-1). Expect the Pack Line to have a lot of success against the Midshipmen.

C) They play a very conservative defense. To account for their lack of size and athleticism, Navy's going to run a packed-in scheme designed to limit penetration, challenge the paint, and control the glass. They don't get a lot of live ball steals, though they do force a high percentage of dead-ball turnovers by frustrating opposing guards and getting them to do dumb things like travel, sail passes, or commit charges. They also don't block many shots, yet still effectively limit opponents' 2-point percentages (45.9%, 97th in D-1). We'll see a lot of zone looks, probably a variety, as they try to limit UVA's ability to get the ball into our front line on the blocks.

 

Their Season To Date

Navy is 6-4 on the year. Their best win is over KenPom #230 Brown. They've been competitive in a number of their losses, including taking George Mason to overtime, losing to still-undefeated Liberty by only 7, and to Lipscomb by only 4. Most recently they beat Mt St Mary's by 9 the week before Christmas.

 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Defend the glass. Navy is not a good shooting team, as we've covered. They try to hedge their chances by crashing the offensive glass on every shot. They're actually a top-20 team nationally in offensive rebounding, recovering over 36% of their misses. They're paced obviously by their big men (Wieck, Njoku, both Loehr brothers), but intriguingly enough their best offensive rebounder may be the 6'3" Summers who grabs 2.6 offensive rebounds a game, leading the team. It means that controlling the class is a job for both our bigs and our guards, and one we can't slack on Sunday.

2) Don't bail them out with fouls. In addition to the Middie's excellent work on the glass, their offense has one other strength, and that's getting to the free throw line. Their FTA/FGA ratio is over 37% which ranks 75th in the country. As a team they shoot nearly 20 FTAs a game, led by Summers' nearly 7 free throw attempts nightly. Virginia's defense is usually excellent in this regard, 5th best in defensive foul rate in D-1, but Navy will be highly aggressive and UVA will need to avoid an uncharacteristic night drawing whistles.

3) Go hard to the rim. Navy's going to pack in their defense, probably with a lot of zone looks. They want teams to settle for 3's, and it's reflected in their defensive 3PA/FGA ratio where opponents take over 48% of their shots from deep, the 5th highest rate in the country. Virginia simply cannot afford to settle for out of rhythm long balls. We've got a zone offense and good bigs who can score through traffic and play a mean high-low game. A continually improving Braxton Key can pair well with Diakite, Huff, and Caffaro to dominate inside against a Navy team that doesn't block shots (only 5.7%, 307th in D-1) and plays no one over 6'8". Any 3's we do take should come only after paint touches free up shooters for room-and-rhythm attempts off kick-outs.

 

 

Predictions:

We should've beaten South Carolina, but we didn't. We turned the ball over at an incredible clip and never stood a chance, as it simultaneously buoyed the Gamecocks offense while depriving our offense of important possessions. Luckily for us here, Navy is not a team that ball hawks defensively, with a steal rate that ranks in the bottom 25% of the country. Not to say our offense isn't going to cough up the ball or goof up more than we'd like. UVA ranks 262nd nationally in turnover rate offensively because we waste possessions against both the good defenses and the bad. But this weekend, at least, I think it's not a game changer.

South Carolina is a team we should've beaten, but also a team that had the horses to come into JPJ and upset an ACC team. Navy is not. Their offense is really going to struggle against the Pack Line, as only Maine (who scored 26 points against Virginia) has a worse-ranked offense than Navy of teams on our schedule. So while I still am gun-shy to predict too big a night from our offense, I think our defense more than gets the job done in a snoozer.

Hoos Win 53-36