The rollercoaster of a season for Virginia basketball (23-11), 5th in the ACC, has finally come to an end with its huge defeat against the Florida Gators by the score of 65-39. This team has had its ups and downs throughout the season, losing four straight conference games among the likes of Duke, Virginia Tech, UNC, and Miami but flipped the script at the end of the season by winning four straight conference games against UNC, NC State, and Pittsburgh. As a team that has been outstanding under the leadership of coach Tony Bennett, earning five consecutive bids into the NCAA tournament, Virginia truly did not have the same scoring punch and rebounding strength that they once had in previous years as they ranked 318th in the nation in points scored and 308th in rebounds per game. This team was in desperate need of players such as Malcolm Brogdon, who was a two-way player that had a strong ability to drive to the basket as well as cause disruption on the defensive end or Anthony Gill, an incredible post player who had the ability to score in bunches in isolation situations as well as clean up the glass on both sides of the court.
This year’s Virginia squad established its identity through its swarming packline defense that ranked #1 in the nation, holding teams to 56.4 points a game. This system has allowed Virginia to compete deep into games by causing numerous turnovers that turn into transition baskets but has also been exposed at the same time by teams who are efficient from three-point range. For example, the Duke Blue-Devils freshman forward Jayson Tatum displayed a star stellar performance as he was able to hit six of seven three-pointers as well as create shots in the paint. This was also seen in Saturday’s game against the Florida Gators, as 6’8 forwards Devin Robinson and Justin Leon combined to hit five of ten three-point shots.
This has left us with the question, “Is Virginia going to recruit a forward that can stretch the floor”? The answer to this can be found in four-star redshirt freshman Jay Huff, who shot at 34% clip from three-point range during his high school tenure. At 6’11, Jay Huff has the potential to providing the scoring juice that Virginia had lacked this season with its big men, as he was able to average 16.3 point and 10.1 rebounds per game in his senior season at the Voyager Academy. The other redshirt freshman, De’Andre Hunter will help the void left by star point guard London Perrantes, as he averaged 28 points a game in his senior year. His slashing ability to the basket can aid Virginia’s offensive numbers in the paint and draw in additional fouls which lacked for Virginia this year.