Hoos Making Strides

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Sammy Zeglinski is distributing the ball well the last two games with 6 assists in both wins.

It took until mid-February, but Virginia finally looks like a basketball team. At least for a few days. The Cavaliers picked up their second straight ACC win Wednesday night by knocking off Virginia Tech 75-61 at the John Paul Jones Arena. So what do I mean by a “basketball team” you may be thinking? Better ball movement, more consistent defensive rotations, and more balanced contributions across the roster.

Without question, all of those traits were detectable in the last two wins. My favorite development has been the increased ball movement and offensive teamwork. As noted in Wednesday’s “Can UVa Repeat Clemson Performance?” article (see related articles below), the Cavaliers posted their second highest assist total of the season against the Tigers with 19 helpers. Against the Hokies, it was more of the same with 18 assists on just 25 field goals.

Keep in mind that this is the same group of players that looked helpless and uncertain of their roles for nearly two months. Far too often, players would over-dribble into trouble, fail to move with any purpose, and shots would go up late in the shot clock. The last two games for the most part have been the exact opposite. Useful dribbles, moving without the ball, and better screens have led to better shots and more success.

“It goes without saying that when you win like that it makes me very proud because we won the game the way I have tried to have the game played since I’ve been here, which is about defense, rebounding, getting out on the break, and timely offense. I thought throughout the course of the game, we did that,” Virginia’s Dave Leitao said. “For the most part, it looked like a defensive team out there. That’s very pleasing for me to see. Obviously, contributions – somebody was joking in the back – when was the last time you saw some of our big guys dunk the ball like they did today? That’s about sharing the basketball and finding the open man. We went back to some of the basics. Like I said the other day, before you can change the score, you have to change the way you do your business.