NCAA Tournament Notes: Smiles, Texts, And More

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The Hoos play in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
Kyle Guy has flashed smiles all season long for Virginia. ~ Photo courtesy Jack Looney photography

ORLANDO, Fla. – As Virginia bowed out of the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn last week, cameras caught Kyle Guy smiling and sharing a moment with fellow freshman De’Andre Hunter on the bench. The Irish ended up winning 71-58, while Guy tallied 0 points and missed 8 shots.

The light-hearted moment caught the attention of Yahoo! Sports Pat Forde. He posted a Tweet about it in comparison to Kentucky freshman Malik Monk, who had a similar smiling moment during an 88-66 loss to Florida earlier this season. Monk had 11 points in that game and made only 4 of 14 shots.

After that Kentucky game, coach John Calipari said he “got on him” and that “it was a lesson for him” even though Florida’s students at least partially prompted the smile by singing Happy Birthday to Monk. He turned 19 that Saturday. Monk later told reporters that he got caught off guard by the clever stunt from the Gators, but apologized in a way by saying: “Winning is on my mind from the jump. If anybody took that wrong, I’m sorry for that.”

Guy, on the other hand, responded to Forde’s observation with a Tweet of his own. He didn’t back down from the smiling moment.

UVA coach Tony Bennett had not heard of the social media exchange until his radio show with Dave Koehn this week. After Koehn brought it up, Bennett talked with Guy about it but he had no problem with Guy’s demeanor or smiling.

“I’ve been in games where we’re getting blasted, and I might look at my staff and just say, ‘Look at that guy’s hairdo over there,’” Bennett said. “I might make some crack, and we might giggle or laugh or who knows what. Just sometimes there’s a lightness in a moment. I have no problem with that. I didn’t see it. I don’t care about it. If I thought it was disrespectful, if I thought a guy was being selfish or wasn’t working hard or wasn’t a competitor, so be it. But I know this team. I’ve said it before. We’ve lost together, and we’ve won together, and they’ve stayed true to that. So much stuff is – people handle different things different ways with their facial expressions. I just kind of was filled in a little bit, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. I trust Kyle with that, without a doubt. I trust all my guys.”

Inside Touches

Virginia hasn’t used post-up possessions much this season with Jack Salt, Isaiah Wilkins, Jarred Reuter, and Mamadi Diakite sharing the majority of the minutes down low. Even when the Hoos have fed the blocks for post-up opportunities, the efficiency numbers haven’t been high enough to consistently make it part of the offensive diet. They’ve scored .696 points per possession on post-up plays all season long per Synergy Sports data, which is considered ‘poor’ by its ratings.

On the other side of the coin, however, UNC Wilmington has not excelled at defending post-up opportunities this season either. The Seahawks allow .888 ppp, considered ‘below average’ by Synergy’s data.

With that in mind, while also considering UVA has at least a little size advantage against UNCW, will the Hoos try to dump it down low a little more in Thursday’s game? Devon Hall said the coaches have been emphasizing the need to get some paint touches on the interior more often.

“I think just being able to throw it inside. Some of the coaches have been preaching that we throw the ball inside and be able to get easier baskets doing that,” Hall said. “So we have guys like Isaiah, Jack, and Jarred who have guys on their back and they have good post position. Just throw it in and let them make plays.”

Bennett said that his team will try to use its size advantage on offense, defense, and with rebounding especially.

“I think you see what the game brings,” Bennett said. “You try your hardest to, obviously, be as good as you can defensively, rebound. And offensively, if there’s opportunities, you always try to offensive rebound, but they do a good job with that. If there are opportunities, absolutely, you will. But, again, it doesn’t change your whole game plan. They’re disruptive. They use their smaller guys to kind of get you a little frantic, and you’re going to have to have your composure with it. Yeah, if we have some opportunities, hopefully, that size will show.”

The Hoos play in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
London Perrantes is ready for his fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. ~ Mike Ingalls

Perrantes’ Last NCAA Tournament

London Perrantes, the lone senior on the Wahoos’ roster, has gotten the question at least twice alread this week. With the end of his career closing in, has he taken time to think about his final NCAA Tournament and his career. The California native has tried to steer clear of the finish line, but has allowed himself a little nostalgia intake along the way.

“I mean, yeah, I’ve been trying to do that this year,” Perrantes said. “Obviously, with the ACC Tournament being in Brooklyn, it was different, so I was trying to take all that in. It is actually my first time being in Orlando, so just taking some stuff in. My family will be here tomorrow before the game. … I’m obviously not thinking about taking it all in as if it’s going to end tomorrow. I’m trying to prolong that as much as I can, but, yeah, obviously, I’m trying to take everything in for sure.”

Sorry It Took A While To Get Back To You

UNC Wilmington coach Kevin Keatts grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia and watched the ACC like most kids in the region. He eventually played basketball at Ferrum College in the state and then coached the prep team at Hargrave Military Academy for 10 years before leaving for a job as an assistant to Rick Pitino at Louisville.

The coaching journey eventually landed him at UNCW where he has guided his program to two straight NCAA Tournaments. Both times, the Seahawks have drawn ACC teams. They lost to Duke last season and face UVA on Thursday. He said he has “a tremendous respecdt for Virginia” and what the program has done under Tony Bennett. The Hoos are in the NCAA Tournament field for the fifth time in six years.

Keatts is so familiar with Virginia and its history, in fact, that he got a text message from the program’s most famous player. The legendary Ralph Sampson is going to have to wait for a response, though.

“I couldn’t figure it out. He said, ‘Call me.’ I don’t know if he was trying to get information from me or not,” Keatts said with a smile. “I’ve known Ralph for a long time. Unbelievable guy. What a college career he had. I’m not going to call him back until the game’s over because I don’t want to be put in that situation where he may ask me some questions.”

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