Season Preview: Virginia
Last Season: 23-11, NCAA 3rd Round
Key Losses: London Perrantes, Marial Shayok
Key Additions: Marco Anthony, DeAndre Hunter, Nigel Johnson
The Virginia Cavaliers struggled to score last year at times, and a lot of that had to do with the loss of Malcolm Brogdon. London Perrantes was expected to step up and replace Brogdon’s scoring, but he and the supporting cast were subpar. However, Virginia’s defense was as stout as always, and that was good enough to earn them a 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. After squeezing past UNC-Wilmington in the second round, UVA was, for the most part, dominated by Florida in the third round, losing 65-39.
Now, the Cavaliers lose Perrantes as well as forward Marial Shayok, the team’s two leading scorers from a year ago. So, it goes without saying that Coach Tony Bennett’s team will struggle on the offensive end again in 2017-18. However, great Virginia teams have never been built on offense, and there are a number of guys whom the UVA faithful has high expectations for. Sophomore guard Kyle Guy lost his “man bun” in the offseason, but not his potential as a volume scorer. Jack Salt and Isaiah Wilkins are both experienced big men down low, and Devon Hall and Ty Jerome were solid players last season. At least two of those guys will have to find more consistency in their scoring output, so they can be relied on to score when this offense sputters. It’s a very experienced group in Charlottesville, which definitely pleases Coach Bennett, but Virginia has to find some easy offense if they are to replicate their success from two years ago, regardless of how good the defense is.
The most influential position on the floor for UVA this year will be the point guard position. It’s a bit of a question mark right now who will play alongside Kyle Guy in the backcourt. The favorite is more than likely sophomore Ty Jerome, who showed signs last year that he can fill the spot left by Perrantes. However, he was extremely inconsistent, and struggled to score the ball like Virginia had hoped he would. Now, he has a year under his belt, and will need to step up this season to keep his job. Coach Bennett had long career in the NBA in the point guard, so it’s a must that he and his point guard have a good relationship. If Jerome plays well, and those role players from 2016-17 develop into worthy starters, this Virginia team is one to keep your eye on.
Kyle Guy will have to find a lot more consistency as well, and if he can, Virginia could make a deep NCAA Tournament run. But, Coach Bennett’s style, although effective, is also susceptible to a guy getting hot. We saw that in 2015-16 when Syracuse’s Malachi Richardson scored at will in the second half of that Elite Eight game which eliminated Virginia, and it can very likely happen again because, well, it’s March Madness.
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Ty Jerome
SG: Kyle Guy
SF: Devon Hall
PF: Isaiah Wilkins
C: Jack Salt