Shaking The Turnover Habit

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Mustapha Farrakhan recorded 4 assists and 3 turnovers to go with 17 points.

When it comes to turnovers, Virginia looks like a team trying to shake a bad caffeine habit. Shaky at times. I don’t really need to do this, but I could use the boost decisions. Hey, I know this is bad for me and I’m going to quit but I can’t help myself moments.

The good news? The Hoos do indeed look like someone trying to shake the habit, not like someone hopelessly guzzling 32-ounce 7-11 Big Gulps. The bad news? It’s a work in progress, something clear during Friday’s opener with Longwood.

Simply put, reversing the turnover trend is one of the biggest challenges facing new coach Tony Bennett as he rehabilitates Virginia’s basketball program. Soundness as he calls it. Remember, UVa has produced more turnovers than assists each of the past four years so it’s certainly not going to be an overnight fix. Look no further than 16 turnovers and 14 assists against the Lancers for proof.

“I thought we were good in the first half and then in the second half – I think we had 5 turnovers in the first half and 11 in the second half,” Bennett said. “Again, I can live with an honest, aggressive turnover but it’s the unforced errors, the sloppy ones, that you have to eliminate. Those are the things that’ll cost you.”

Still, there were encouraging signs. Look at the first half that Bennett referenced for example – 8 assists, 5 turnovers. That’s 8 assists on 17 field goals while seven players combined to score 49 points in the half. Four players took between 5 and 7 shots, an indicator that the offensive attack was balanced.

Beyond the flip-flop in assists and turnovers after halftime (6 assists, 11 turnovers), many of the positives continued. In the end, the team made 60% of its shots. The spacing, for the most part, was good. Extra passes, bounce passes out of traps, and in-rhythm shots were common sights. All in all, the traces of the necessary fundamentals to achieve soundness with the basketball were there.

The players believe the general feel