The Virginia Basketball team knew that despite their double-digit win over UNC Greensboro, there were numerous kinks that needed to be addressed in their game against Austin Peay tonight, which includes improving their cohesion as a unit offensively and defensively and figuring out the unknowns that come with their newer players in transfer senior guard Nigel Johnson and freshman guard Marco Anthony. Even the die-hard fan in the nosebleeds can see that some of the newer guys are looking for certain spots on the court to go to or may appear to be unsure about their positioning on certain plays. With time and more games, Bennett anticipates this hesitancy to die down, especially during conference play amongst the likes of Duke and North Carolina, where talent and experiences reach elite levels.
This young and inexperienced team boasts plenty of talent, as we spectated tonight especially in redshirt sophomores DeAndre Hunter and Jay Huff, who hope displayed an array of offensive skillsets from various parts of the floor. From Hunter’s ability to drive into the paint to Huff’s three-point ability on pick-and-pop plays, this redshirt tandem was unstoppable. They combined for 29 points on 10-11 shooting and hitting 100% of their three-point opportunities. Bennett in his post-game speech spoke highly of De’Andre’s ability to slide on defense and use his length to his advantage. Huff also displayed prowess on the defensive end, making it a nightmare for any victim that entered the paint, as he garnered five blocks on the night. The 7’1 freshman will be an unbelievable rotation player for Tony Bennett, who desperately urges for production out of his big man. Though, Jack Salt and Mamadi Diakite were efficient offensively in their four combined attempts, they still have yet to exhibit dominant post moves or close-range jumpers. They both are solid in setting screens for their sharpshooting guards, but when these players are cold, the offense seems to be out of sorts. Huff eases this issue by not only through his ability to hit mid-range shots out of the post but also spot up on three-point opportunities.
Devon Hall was also phenomenal for Virginia, as he demonstrated consistent aggression in attacking the paint, scoring 19 points, a career high. Hall knows that as one of the veterans and experienced players on the team, that he will be one of the go-to guys in the big-time matchups as the season continues through. Besides Wilkins, Hall has logged significant minutes his last two years, averaging 27.4 and 21.9 minutes respectively. His valuable in-game experience will allow him to absorb the moment and stay calm through tight games and prepare his teammates for the mental capacity that these games encompass. Tony has praised Devon’s improving offensive ability from year to year and has commended his assertiveness, especially for a team that struggled to get to the line. If Hall and the rest of the guards can show confidence attacking the lane, this Virginia team can discover new avenues of offense.
Virginia’s next game is on the road against the VCU Rams, who also possess a 2-0 record.