‘Hoos Quell Pirate Uprising
There’s not much to this story. ECU rode some uncharacteristically hot early shooting (they hit their first four threes) to go up 16–15, but then a second unit-heavy group led by Kyle Guy went on a 10–0 run that would stretch to 27–4, a 42–20 halftime lead for Virginia, and the end of the competitive portion of the evening’s proceedings. ECU scrapped, but the Pirates didn’t have enough collective talent to hang for long, especially on the road. Them’s the breaks. I’m not sure any of my friends from school even knew that this game was being played, and it’s for the best for them.
ECU went to a 2–2–1 zone extensively in this game, and the result was lots of Virginia threes: after starting one of our first nine (including three by Marial on one comical possession), we hit our next seven to end the half and fuel the run, dicing the zone with quick, decisive passes by just about everyone (the team assisted on its first 18 baskets and finished the game with 23). I will forever love London Perrantes operating up top and Isaiah Wilkins at the high post against a zone defense. London is great at catching someone sleeping on the outskirts of a zone, and Isaiah is adept at turning and presenting either a short jumper, a dish to a cutting big, or a kick to the corner for a three. It’s beautiful.
Kyle Guy keyed our explosion. He came off the bench and sandwiched a three between assists to Reuter and Perrantes for an immediate 7–0 run and then hit threes on consecutive possessions toward the end of his stint to turn a 10-point game into 16 and erase any chance of an ECU comeback.
Guy’s shot is a thing of beauty — he jumps high, his release is quick, and his form is the same every time he goes up — and when he starts to get warm, there is no one else on our team like him. Last night was fun. I don’t know when we’ll get to consistently see more — last night’s 21 minutes tied his season high and he’s still 165 pounds after Spudnuts, prone to defensive lapses, and trying to chase down established upperclassmen — but I’m becoming more sold that working in more of Guy is going to be very important if we’re to make any noise this year.
Figuring out who, if anyone, should play more is a quandary for this year’s team. There are nine players who, on a given evening, you could say should receive more minutes, and you might not be wrong. Basketball fans are used to teams having a couple of stars and then a handful of role players supporting them — or five starters and say, three reserves getting clear scraps behind them — but after last night, your 2017 Cavaliers have nine players scoring between 10.2 and five points per game and playing between 28.9 and 15.5 minutes per game. We’re the 2012–13 Denver Nuggets, who won 57 games in the Western Conference despite having Ty Lawson lead them in scoring because they had nine players average between eight and 16.7 points per game. It’s an interesting situation and not one I see reverting to norms, because which of those nine players is going to disappear? It’s fun to be that evenly talented in games like last night (and will be in many of our games this season), but the question of who we have that can and will create their own offense in the last minutes of a tight ACC Tournament game still remains. This is why developing Guy — even at the expense of veteran minutes — might be important.
Guy’s 13 led us in scoring last night, but London, Marial, and Mamadi all scored 12, Jarred Reuter scored 10, Jack had eight, Darius dished six assists, Devon had four boards, and Isaiah attempted an imitation of his on-court idol Dennis Rodman, attempting one shot but grabbing five boards and adding three assists, three steals, and a block in just 20 minutes. All nine scholarship players that played major minutes did something to aid the cause.
The team gets 10 days to take exams before Robert Morris (an entire team, not one guy) comes to JPJ on the 17th.