Coach Dave Leitao was not pleased with his team’s performance at Purdue.
Virginia’s first road test of the 2006-07 season ended like most of the out-of-town exams from a season ago – in disappointment. After starting the season 4-0 at the John Paul Jones Arena, the Cavaliers faltered at Purdue on Wednesday, falling 61-59. The Boilermakers pulled out the win when Tarrance Crump hit a floating runner with 1 second to play in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge contest.
But UVa coach Dave Leitao said that Crump’s shot (along with late 3-pointers that catapulted Purdue into the lead) was in the book, but it wasn’t the story. Instead, he said his team still lacked the mental preparation needed to win these types of games on the road.
“Games on the road and of this magnitude are usually won or lost before you take the floor,” Leitao told the Virginia Sports Network after the game. “Again, I’ve been talking to the guys and we’ve been talking about it, about being prepared to play through things and not relying on things that you rely on every single day. We made shots and we got some things in the first few games that weren’t there for us today. We have to be prepared to counter that with other things, but we didn’t. The script of the game and what happened, moments, leads, comebacks, and all those things aren’t as of much consequence to me as our mindset coming in.”
Certainly, the statistics seem to back up Leitao’s assertion. The Cavaliers’ 59 points provided their lowest total of the season by 22 points. They shot 38.2% from the field and 66.7% from the free-throw line. The Cavs also had 15 turnovers and took plenty of bad shots. In the end, they hit just 9 of 27 3-pointers, an indication of just how many jumpers the Hoos settled for on this night.
Sean Singletary led the Cavaliers with 21 points.
Sean Singletary led the visitors with 21 points on 5-of-13 shooting. He also had 3 assists. Mamadi Diane added 17 points and 3 assists. Meanwhile J.R. Reynolds struggled offensively, scoring just 7 points on 3-of-11 shooting; he had a career-high 9 rebounds, but committed 6 turnovers as well.
Leitao also said the team never got into a rhythm, particularly on the offensive end.
“I don’t think we had good rhythm the whole game, for 40 minutes. You have to credit them. They got in [our face], pressured us, and denied us and they came out and challenged us. … We weren’t ready to respond,” Leitao said. “What happened was we missed point blank shots, easy shots, lay-ups, open threes because our mindset wasn’t where it needed to be.”
Purdue didn’t fare much better statistically, shooting just 38.6% from the field and 8 of 27 from 3-point range. The one difference came on the low blocks where Carl Landry put together a solid outing. Landry scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting and added 8 rebounds as well. Just as importantly, he drew enough attention from the Cavalier defense to open up some things for his teammates.
Take the Boilermakers’ final play of the game. Crump took the ball on the left side of the floor and dribbled to his right to use a high screen from Landry at the top of the key. Tunji Soroye , who was guarding Landry in the Cavaliers’ man-to-man set, helped on the screen at too shallow of an angle because he was paying so much attention to the possibility of Landry rolling to the basket or sliding away for a jumper. That freed Crump to turn the corner around the screen as Singletary slid under the screen on defense. Crump fired up the deciding floater that wouldn’t win any beauty pageants, but it did win the game.
“He knows angles. I thought a lot of times we did a decent enough job of crowding him, but when you don’t or you’re late on the help or side front or full front, he has a wide body and a very intelligent mind and he makes you pay,” Leitao said of Landry. “You can’t breakdown but so many times … on the road and win basketball games.”
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