TheSabre.com’s Fan Friday: Mamadi Diakite, Men’s Lacrosse Are Both Back

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It’s been another good week for Wahoo fans. The Virginia men’s lacrosse team captured the school’s second National Championship of the sports year and snapped a losing streak to Duke on the way there. Plus, the UVA men’s basketball program learned that Mamadi Diakite withdrew from the NBA Draft pool to return to the Cavaliers.

Both of those events led to a lot of nail-biting moments on the message boards this past week and plenty of chatter among fans. With that in mind, it’s time for the Fan Friday series. Let’s go!

Fan Take Of The Week

Lars Tiffany and UVA’s assistant coaches flipped schemes when they arrived at Virginia, but after a rocky start, things came together for the title run this season. That led to this take from HOObastank:

How the SYSTEM helped bring the Hoos a Championship

Thought I’d lay it out here very clearly so that even the biggest detractors can see their folly.

The core tenant of the system is to play the game with an extreme amount of aggression and pace because this will put the opposition into uncomfortable situations. How does the system look on the field:

1. While other teams sub off defensive players and FOGOs when they gain possession, we keep them on in the first 15 seconds, oftentimes creating momentary numbers advantages. Look no further than the Ian Laviano’s goal against UMD bringing us to a two goal game. Petey LaSalla wins the FO and passes it off. Instead of subbing off, he ball cuts the crease. Laviano’s defender has to take 3 steps to him, opening up the skip lane and big time momentum goal.

2. More often than any other team, we are happy to play 4v4 or 5v5 when in transition or when we catch an offensive player on defense. Defenses don’t practice these situations nearly as much as 6v6. Less people on the field equals more space, longer slides, and more pressure on the defense.

3. Our 6v6 defense was very aggressive. We constantly sent double teams at Yale on Monday. Sometimes we got burned, like when we sent Alex Rode to double behind the goal, but more often than not it worked out well for us. While this type of defense will give up more goals than a conservative defense, it will also create more chaos, more transition, and is aligned with the mindset the system relies on.

4. Ten-Man Ride: Aggressive, yes. High risk, yes. Makes the opponent uncomfortable, hell yes.

The core tenant of the system is NOT “Turnovers Don’t Matter.” That phrase was used in Year 1 to unlock the rigidity that was instilled into the team by the previous regime who overly valued structure. If you preach taking more risks, but then yell at players for mistakes, they will become more risk adverse and be confused by the coaches direction. It is much easier to go all the way in one direction, take way more risks than are beneficial, and then scale it back once the creative mindset has been instilled, then to take a very structured team and incrementally add a little bit of risk-taking at a time.

Have we toned down the risk taking? Absolutely. We don’t force as much in fast break and slow break situations. When we get to our settled offense, we play more deliberately to give our defense a rest and balance out possession time. The system was adjusted in Year 3, not abandoned.

Want proof that the system is still intact? Find one player or coach who will say the system was abandoned. Just one. I’ve heard Ryan Conrad and others reference the system over the last month. None beyond the loud few on this board who say the opposite. You want the truth, ask Lars, he’ll tell you!

Fan(s) Of The Week

Let’s Go Hoos!

Student Fan(s) Of The Week

Get your phones out for pics of the Hoos!

Feature Photo Of The Week

It’s National Smile Day so here are some of UVA’s cheerleaders with smiles during a football win this fall.

Post(s) Of The Week

With Diakite back in the fold, the Hoos now know that they must replace the production and minutes of only Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome, Jack Salt, and transfer Marco Anthony for the coming year. With so many pieces changing to new faces, that’s reminded some posters of the 2016-2017 season when some of the players above were just entering major playing time. That team finished with 23 wins and lost to Florida in the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.

Here are three with good threads:

Poster rushdacote shared this analysis

A more rigorous look at how good we’ll be next year

There is so much uncertainty about next year since we don’t know who will be in the rotation and we don’t know how good most of them are and whether returners will make big jumps. It’s as exciting as the summer of ’16 in that sense.

Assuming we have a top 5 defense (basically as always) next year, how good will we be if the team has the No. 5 offense, No. 25 offense, No. 50 offense?

UVA’s defensive ranks (AdjD) the last six years nationally are 4, 2, 7, 2, 1, 5. Let’s assume we will be No. 5 nationally next year like we were this year with the same 89.2 DRtg.

Our offense has fluctuated a lot. 27, 21, 8, 50, 30, 2.

If we have one of our best offenses like we did last year or 2016 (Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill senior year, E8 loss), we would be about No. 5 nationally in offense. This year that was Michigan State with a 121 ORtg. That would make us about +32 in Adj Efficiency margin and would place us between No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 3 Michigan State this year. I view this as the ceiling, but a rather unrealistic one, since in both 2016 and 2019 we brought back all our best offensive players and this year we lost our three best.

If we have one of our average offensive years for the last six years like 2014, 2015, and 2018 (S16, R32, UMBC), we would be about No. 25 nationally on O. This year that was Texas Tech at 114.1. Now, you’re probably remembering TTU as better than they were since they had an amazing run to the championship game, but offensively they were pretty meh. For an ACC comp, Louisville was No. 28 nationally in O this year. A No. 25 O plus a No. 5 D would have been a +25 efficiency margin and would make us No. 11 nationally this year (Auburn. Again you’re probably overrating them because of their late season run. No. 10 was Tennessee and No. 12 was Houston. These are all Final Four contenders clearly, but not the true elite.)

If we tie our worst offensive team in six years (2017), we’d be No. 50 which this year was Lipscomb at 111.7. For ACC context, Syracuse was No. 59 in offense this year. 2017 is an interesting comp. That team had a senior London Perrantes and a one-and-done Austin Nichols. Marial Shayok was by far our No. 1 player in usage (at a BAD efficiency) and Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome were efficient but low usage and medium minutes freshmen. Jarred Reuter got 25% of available minutes.

This team should have some advantages on that team. We probably won’t have our projected best offensive player kicked off the team after one game. Our top usage guy will almost certainly be more efficient that Shayok (though who will he be?) The bottom of the rotation should be better than Reuter.

But that 2017 team had some advantages over 2019. I don’t expect any freshman or the JUCO transfer to be as efficient as FR Kyle Guy, an all time great offensive player for us. I don’t expect sophomore Kihei Clark to be as good as senior year Perrantes.

Overall I think 2017 offense is our most likely scenario. That would mean an efficiency margin of +22.5, which would be No. 14 nationally, which is where Florida State was last year. That would have us fighting for an ACC double bye, looking at a No. 4 seed in March, about 50-50 to make the S16, a long shot (but possible) to make F4.

I am giddily looking forward to seeing the new guys play and whether the old guys make a jump. And as long as we don’t have a disastrous season (i.e. as long as we make NCAAT), no result will upset me.

Go 2020 Hoos!

And zh00s made this unrelated post

Impossible to compare any UVA team to the 2017 team because of [Isaiah] Wilkins’ illness

Seeing lots of comparisons, at least offensively, but it’s almost impossible to look at the 2017 team as one unit. The team was so starkly different when Wilkins was healthy (beat UNC, took Villanova to the wire) compared to when Wilkins fell ill (destroyed by Florida).

I would guess the 2019-2020 team is going to be more like the healthy 2017 team – hovering around top 10 for most of the season, with some flashes of brilliance, and some frustrating losses.

Finally, jazzhoo shared this

Next year’s team has the widest range of potential outcomes of any of the last few years.

I can see everything from an early exit from the NIT to a nice run in the NCAAs.

Simply put, there are hints that the team could be great but there are alway large questions.

1. Can Jay Huff stay out of foul trouble when his minutes treble?
2. Can Mamadi Diakite carry the offense?
3. Who is Braxton Key? Is he a real starter and go to guy or a role player?
4. Who among the new guys or deep bench guys can play in the ACC?
5. Can Kihei Clark handle the physical beating he will get as the number 1 and hopefully not sole ball handler?
6. Can Diakite and Clark hit the 3’s consistently?
7. Will the team struggle with turnovers? Huff, Diakite, and Key were our scariest guys handling the ball during crunch time. They are it now.

I have a lot of faith in coach Tony Bennett. The preseason/non conference will answer many of these questions.

Will be a lot of fun. I see next year prepping us for a tremendous 2020/2021 but next year could be great if the team jells and the new guys/bench guys can play.

Question Of The Week

With the lacrosse team’s title, midfielder Ryan Conrad finished up with career with Virginia as a National Champion. As is the case with favorite players and championship teams, that leads fans to ponder the “best of” the program’s history. That led to this post by D on the lacrosse board: “Another fun question: Does Conrad make your all-time UVA lax team?” Check out the thread to read about some of the choices to make that mythical squad.

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1 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Key will be big, no doubt.
    Huff HAS to step up, both physically and mentally. He has to be ready in D and in his head to take the beating of a big man. Caffaro will be chumping at the bit, and not afraid of contact.
    Morsell, IMO, will make immediate impact, he is ready.
    Stattmann, I think could be an X factor, silky smooth shot, long wing span, I think he will make a leap.
    Baddochi, not sure, very athletic, still lets see what he brings, could be fun to watch him grow this year.

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