Tony Bennett has done such a nice job at Virginia that the idea of a four-game losing streak seems impossible.
But there it is: Virginia Tech. Duke. UNC. And now, Miami.
Two of them (Virginia Tech and Miami) went to overtime. The Duke game was competitive though Duke pulled away in the end. And of course UNC obliterated Virginia.
Miami was forced to play at Bennett’s preferred slow pace but still pulled the win out. In recent years, Virginia has kept the score low and no one can pull really pull ahead. And in those tight games, Virginia nearly always has a basket or two more.
Only not this year.
Partly it’s experience and partly it’s bound to be that Austin Nichols didn’t work out. He would have solved a lot of problems for Virginia. He would have added a nice touch inside but also was a serious defender.
He was booted so quickly - after just one game - that we never knew what could have been, but the mere fact that he was booted so quickly suggests that he was more trouble than he was worth.
The other problem for Virginia will fix itself - youth.
London Perrantes has had a brilliant career for Virginia and he’s a senior. The other experienced guys though - Devon Hall, Marial Shayok, Isaiah Wilkins and Darius Thompson - have all been supporting players.
After that, the younger players - Jack Salt, Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy and Mamadi Diakite - will be good but they aren’t consistent yet. Jerome and Guy bring offense but Virginia is defense-first and they’re not great defenders yet.
So Virginia will have nights like Monday night.
On the flip side though, how about Miami? The ‘Canes have handled adversity incredibly well. Jim Larranaga only had seven players and four starters played at least 38 minutes. Miami shot just 36.6%. The Hurricanes had 15 turnovers to Virginia’s nine.
Yet they held Virginia to 31.4%.
However, Miami had one stat that was a coach’s dream: 20-22 from the foul line.
And that was the difference.
That put Miami in position for Bruce Brown to hit a clutch three in overtime to put the ‘Canes up 50-48.
From there on out, Miami closed out like Virginia usually does, hitting clutch free throws and playing smart.
We’ll say it again: this team is not one anyone wants to see in the NCAA tournament. It’s smart and tough.
In Tallahassee, Florida State toyed with BC, winning by 32 on one day’s rest.
BC took a beating, but not Ky Bowman: the freshman guard had one of “those” games, hitting 10-17 for 24. Jerome Robinson had 21 but shot just 6-19. AJ Turner added 13.
Twelve guys for FSU got double-figure minutes and Dwayne Bacon led with 16 points. Jonathan Isaac had 14.
Florida State just had too many athletes for BC but with a backcourt like that, the Eagles are always dangerous.
At 9-19, BC is only marginally better than last year and hasn’t won since beating State on January 11th. Still, this team is much, much better than last year’s.
The problem is that the rest of the conference is too.
Archie Miller is probably not too happy with his wife about now.
Like her husband, Morgan Miller is a State grad and on Sunday, she posted a photo on Instagram of herself doing the Wuffie hand sign.
Archie, currently head coach at Dayton, went to great lengths to tamp down the Miller-to-Raleigh rumors. This is certainly not going to help.
State has one. Texas has one. Even Arizona State has one. Every school should have one. Hand signs are cool!
Jason Williams thinks that the one-and-done culture may pass UNC by. Well, if it has, so what? UNC came within a whisker of a national championship last year and is on line for a #1 seed this year.
Notre Dame has done okay without one-and-dones too.
Talent is essential - you can be the greatest coach in the world and if you don’t have good players you won’t win.
UNC is talented enough to win it. Marcus Paige was pretty good. Brice Johnson was pretty good. Justin Jackson is pretty good. So is Joel Berry.
Jason could be right. None of them may have NBA futures.
Then again, winning attracts players. So we’ll see how it goes from here.
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