After a devastating end to a magnificent 2017-2018 season, the Virginia Cavaliers must look to improve their performance in the NCAA Tournament next year. The cavaliers finished the season 31-3 before making history as the first ever number one seed to be upset by a number 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The cavaliers will look to earn back some respect for their program beginning next season, and have many talented players returning in order to do so. However, an injury to one of their key players would likely derail any hopes of a deep run in the tournament. Here we take a look at three of the players that Virginia Basketball can least afford to lose to injury next season.
Guy led the Cavaliers in scoring last year at 14.1 points per game, and served as the primary playmaker in the offense. The team often looked lost on the offensive end when Guy wasn’t hitting his shots. An injury to Guy would force the Cavaliers to rely on others to create shots, which often caused the team to struggle on the offensive end last season. Guy’s rare skill set, which includes the ability to handle the ball as a playmaker and the ability to knock down three-pointers at a very high percentage, will be integral to the team’s success next season. Losing Guy would be a big blow to Virginia’s offense and chances to build on the success of last season.
The Cavaliers lost Hunter to a broken wrist just before the NCAA Tournament began, and his absence played a big part in Virginia’s upset loss to U.M.B.C.. Hunter started to break out late in the season, and he finished the season averaging 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Hunter led the Cavaliers in field goal percentage for the season at 48.8%, and was among the team’s best at finishing at the rim. Having Hunter on the court also made the Cavaliers better on defense, mainly due to his versatility and ability to defend multiple positions. This hurt the Cavaliers in their lone tournament game, as they were missing a player who can affect the game on both ends of the floor to that extent. Losing him again next season would create issues on both offense and defense for Tony Bennett‘s team.
Jerome was the Cavaliers third leading scorer last season at 10.6 points per game. He has improved in each of his two seasons in the program, and has fit in nicely in his back-court partnership with Kyle Guy. Guy and Jerome have both shot the three-pointer well in their time at UVA. Losing Ty Jerome next season would hurt the Cavaliers primarily on offense, where he should help fill the scoring void left by Devon Hall. Jerome has also hit several clutch shots over the past two seasons, and an injury to Jerome would hurt the Cavaliers in late game situations.
Losing any one of these players would be devastating to the Cavaliers’ chances at replicating last season’s success. The Cavaliers need contributions from all three of these players next year in order to prevent having the season end with a disappointment similar to last season.