Kris’ Monday Musings – Big Stops

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Tony Bennett’s team needs to find a “big stop” mentality as the season continues.

The 4-2 Virginia men’s basketball team returns to the John Paul Jones Arena tonight for a game with Penn State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. While there are plenty of storylines to follow after the team’s trip to Cancun – Will Sherrill anyone? – there is one theme I’m keeping an eye on in this one: “big stops.”

What’s a big stop? It’s those defensive moments in a contest that can change the momentum, spark a big run for your team, or become a deciding factor between winning and losing late in games. There isn’t a specific time that a big stop always comes up, but there are usually several per game; big stops generally come on the front or back end of runs for a team or late in games, though. If you’re looking for clear indicators without watching the score, watch the coaching staff or follow the crowd. If a key defensive possession is coming where a big stop would be a big deal, that team’s coach is usually up on the sidelines and into the moment – clapping hands, shouting encouragement and the like. The crowd reaction around big stops is usually evident too – people stand up in droves and the noise starts to pick up steadily. One last clue that a big stop just happened? The team that gets the stop follows it with an easy basket that prompts the opponent to call a timeout.

With that in mind, there’s a reason I’m watching this theme right now with the Cavaliers. They don’t have a big stop mentality yet. It’s something I noted specifically in the musings during the Cleveland State game below, but it has been a trend through six games this season. In fact, if you’ve been reading these weekly musings regularly, you’ll recall several moments that have bothered me that fit in the “big stop” category.

In the first half of the Rider game, Mike Scott’s alley-oop jam ignited the crowd and forced a Broncs timeout with UVa running out to a 31-20