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2018-19 Hoops Season Preview

Welcome, everyone, to the official tipoff of Hoos Place's 2018-19 basketball season preview. We've been working hard to provide Virginia hoops fans the some of the most in-depth coverage available online (and for FREE no less!). We'll spend the next month rolling out content, including player reports, in-depth coverage of the ACC, and an overview of the schedule, before we wrap up with final thoughts on Virginia's upcoming season.

For those who wa...

[Editors Note: Thank you to Hoo Friend Wahoo Josh who sent us his notes and some awesome photographs and videos from the scrimmage.  This writeup is his impressions from the scrimmage.]

The Hoos showed some rust in the first public appearance of the 2018-19 squad before the JPJ fans, an estimated crowd of 6,000.  The scrimmage included a 15-minute game, three “sudden death” games, and a 10-minute game which went to a sudden death overtime.

 

It was another busy, wild offseason around the ACC, with the usual assortment of head coaching changes, early NBA declarations, transfers, and other oddball roster moves. We'll summarize them here for all 15 conference squads, but click on the team name to take you to a detailed breakdown for that program with recaps from last season's performance, stats on each player on their roster, and a prognosis for the year ahead.

Last offseason, Virginia watched three primary rotation players transfer out of the program alongside a graduating all-ACC senior, and it felt like UVA would be starting over. But through our numerical analysis, we saw the sky wasn't falling. In fact, turnover was happening all around the ACC, and Virginia actually ranked 3rd in terms of percentage of ACC minutes returning from the previous season's squad. The relative experience and continuity paid great dividends as Virginia nearly ran the table during the regular season.

We had our writers cast ballots for a slate of all-conference preseason honors, to include 1st and 2nd team, all-freshman, and player, rookie, and defensive player of the year. 18 different players got votes for one of the two All-ACC teams, 11 different freshmen got votes for the rookie team, and there was little consensus in the player of the year debate. The takeaway? There are a lot of good players in the league this year.

 

Fifteen teams battling for one trophy. Top ranked recruits and All-ACC worthy players on most every team. This is college basketball's best, deepest league yet again, but this year feels particularly strong. As many as twelve teams have legit NCAAT aspirations right now, and the ACC is realistically looking at double-digit bids come Selection Sunday. So how do we rack and stack those 15 teams? Our writers voted, and those 15 teams stratified into four distinct tiers. Read on to see the countdown to #1:

Background

The summer of 2017 was not one of the high marks of Virginia Basketball.  We watched in horror as a string of players in whom Tony Bennett had invested a lot of time, energy and belief committed to other programs, some of them after having given Tony a verbal commitment while on a visit.  Players from Virginia cool-played Tony then went out of state.  The only visitors who came to Grounds and stuck around Charlottesville were a bunch of...

Background

Early summer of 2017, we started hearing rumors of Virginia conducting a stealth recruitment.  One astute recruiting watcher speculated it was an Australian sharpshooter named Kody Stattmann.  The youngster was one of Australia's top youth prospects, playing with the Australian pros and on the youth national teams.  First it was denied that the Hoos were looking at Stattmann and the rumors fell off, then it became undeniable.  Clearly the staff wanted this kept under wraps.  With good reason, too: Stattmann was in the process of blowing up.  Coming into August 2017, Stattmann was being recruited primarily by St. Mary's and New Mexico, a couple of pr...

It's a new year and with the colors of the leaves, so changes the color of Frankie Badocchi's shirt.  No longer red, it now is the same color as the rest of his teammates.  After a year of recuperating from knee surgery, immersing himself in the system, working on his physique and his skills, and preparing his teammates for a season of ACC dominance, it is now Francesco's time to step onto the stage and take his part in the concert.

Background

Late in t...

With five minutes left in the epic invasion of Mordor, De'Andre Hunter came down on the ankle of a balrog and rolled it.  The injury ruled Hunter out of the next game, a Wednesday night home game with Louisville, creating a void in the rotation.  True freshman Marco Anthony was tabbed to step in.  Marco made the most of the opportunity, stepping in and throwing himself into the action with the same lack of fear he showed in the Blue-White Scrimmage the preceding October. 

When Austin Nichols was kicked off the 2016-17 team, the redshirt for Jay Huff was briefly reconsidered.  Player and coach went for long-term development over short-term needs and stuck with the plan.  Huff spent the year bulking up.  When he first put the red shirt on, he was a 6-11, 215-pound kid who was a Raggedy Andy doll amongst pit bulls in practice.  At weigh-in the following year, he was a 7-1, 230-pound NBA prospect.  Expectations that had risen with his recruiting rankings during senior year of high school remained sky high.  Then he hit the floor for the first time when Austin Peay visited the JPJ and appeared to announce his arrival with a dominan...

What a difference a year can make.  At this time last year, De'Andre Hunter was not sure how happy he was in the University of Virginia basketball program, with thoughts of transfer and a brother who would soon be publicly agitating for him to do so; nor was he sure how good he really was.  The redshirt had shaken him, and he came into the season insecure in his self-confidence as a player and in his position on the team.  His first few games, he played like it.  Stumbling over his own feet, missing shots, oozing uncertainty on the offensive end.  When the fall semester ended and the players went home for Christmas break, we weren't certain he would even return.&n...

Kyle Guy bounced back.  Repeatedly.  In so doing, he earned impressive accolades as a sophomore.  He was named the ACC Tournament MVP for his two dunks.  First-team All-ACC.  Third-team All-American.  Yes, Tony Bennett's first McDonald's All-American became an NCAA All-American in his second year of college basketball.  He did it by bouncing back.

Guy had a horrendous post-season in his freshman year.  In four games, he sc...

Ty Jerome talks.  A lot.  Constantly.  It's been noted about him since he started at UVA.  As a freshman he was always talking on defense, on offense; in practice, in games.  You see him after plays, grabbing a guy or pointing and telling him something.  In huddles, he talks.  At the Chris Paul Camp this summer, one of the things a scout mentioned was that he was always talking, pointing out defensive assignments or offensive mismatches to his teammates.  It's not about talking trash - he might do that, too, for all we know - but about communicating with his teammates.  It makes a team better, and it's a skill, a talent that has an under-apprec...

Virginia fans had big expectations for Mamadi Diakite when he joined the program in 2015.  He had been a primary recruit for two years, leading Virginia fans through a fascinating soap opera complete with villains (the handler and the NCAA), heroes (Bennett, Mamadi's parents back in Africa), and the lovable protagonist - Mamadi himself.  Later, of course, we learned that he had been a secret commit for quite some time.  During this time, we watched him go from a complete unknown to a top 50 recruit on one of the nation's best AAU teams.  He tantalized with his freakish athleticism, intelligence, infectious personality, and robust competitiveness.

On Kenpom's page for Virginia 2017-18, Jack Salt is listed in the "Nearly invisible" category.  That's what he is in a box score or advanced statistics page.  The things he does to contribute don't generally show up in box scores or play-by-play sheets.  Except on HOOS Place.  You can see his value in the Successful Possessions Index, the Glue Index, the Boxout and Screen numbers.  Salt contributes on offense by getting Guys open, on defense by getting in the way, and on rebounding by boxing out.  He also contributes by rarely, if ever, being out of position.  It's a contribution that should not be ignored.

My feelings on the "Sides" offense are well-known to those who have read my stuff for the last couple of years.  It is even more well-known to my friends.  Let's just say I am not a fan.  For the last couple of years I have wanted to see the Hoos run a spread offense, whether the Villanova offense or one similar.  I have wanted to see an offense with one or zero post players and the rest of the players operating from the arc, with ball screens and the lane area open for driving.  I love the Villanova offense.  Recently I read that Coach Tony Bennett also likes the Villanova offense.  The last two rosters would have been, IMO, perfect to run that offense ...

Will Braxton Key play?  That was the question banging around all our brains as "The Bounce Back" went to press.  It was the biggest variable that would influence the playing time calculus.

But Key's was only one uncertainty bedeviling the roster as the new season approaches.  It was just the most immediate, and for this season t...

Tuesday, November 6th

Towson Tigers

Charlottesville

The Towson Tigers were a middle-of-the-pack CAA team last year, finishing 18-14 (8-10) behind the breakout play of sophomore 2nd-team all-CAA guard Zane Martin (19.8 ppg) and the steady veteran play of senior guard Mike Morsell (14.0 ppg, and also the older brother of 2019 Hoo commit Casey Morsell)....

Saturday, January 5th

Florida State Seminoles

Charlottesville

FSU always seems to play UVA tough. They are a program that habitually plays to the level of their opponent, and while that means they lose some head scratchers each year, they also put scares into top teams and come away with occasional upsets. This year's iteration lacks the NBA Lottery ...

Every year, I like to do a piece on bold predictions. Emphasis is on the "bold." I like to hear people's long shot bets on the year ahead. It has to be more specific and more daring than "UVA will win a lot of games," though preferably stopping short of the simply impossible like "Pittsburgh is going to run the table." I've asked each of our writers to share their thoughts on this topic, with three Bold Predictions for UVA's upcoming year, and three Bold Predictions for the ACC at large.

As always, we like to hear from you, our readers, and see what's on your mind going into the season. Our cadre of writers will take turns giving their thoughts on your queries below. Of course, you needn't wait for a Mail Call to interact with us... we man our Twitter account far more continuously than our employers or wives may like! So reach out anytime.

Let's dive in and see what questions and concerns you have for us going into yet another high expectation s...

We approach each season with high hopes. We always have, we're painful optimists. But those hopes have skyrocketed over the last five or so years as Virginia rose from the ACC's cellar, first as it started earning consideration for NCAAT berths, and then as it cracked college basketball's top echelon. This year is no different as we return a fifth year senior, and third year starting center, a former five star finally starting at the 4 spot, and some of the ACC's most decorated returning guards and wings at the 1-3. Once again Wahoo fans are dreaming of cutting down more nets. But what will it take for those dreams to become a reality? Hoos Place's writers weigh in with our Keys to the Se...

One last update.

It's the eve of the season, and we've spent the last few weeks rolling out a litany of hoops content. We've looked hard at our team. We've looked hard at the rest of the ACC. We've done so to paint you the most complete picture of who this Hoo squad is going into the year, what we can expect from it, and how it fits into a bigger college basketball picture.

The preseason preview is winding down. The next thing we write will be the Towson game preview. We've covered a lot of ground to this point; thorough breakdowns of the rest of the ACC, in depth player reports on our roster, our musings and predictions for the season ahead. Now's the point where our writers share their final thoughts going into the new yeear, their hopes and fears and everything in between. 

Kendall

On the down side, I think I can muster only...