Kris’ Monday Musings: Better Basketball

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Coach Tony Bennett has his team shooting better with fewer turnovers this season.

The Virginia men’s basketball team matched its ACC win total from last season with a 75-60 victory at North Carolina on Sunday. At 4-2, the Cavaliers currently are in the thick of the conference race. That’s with virtually the same cast of characters playing minutes this season, though you do have walk-on Will Sherrill logging more time and freshman Jontel Evans starting.

What changed?

Beyond the “eyeball test” (Is this team better when you watch than last year’s team?), two offensive stats tell the tale to me more than anything else this season. The assist-to-turnover ratio and shooting percentage. Take a look.

41.7% shooting
31.6% 3-point shooting
348 assists
413 turnovers
0.84-1 assist-to-turnover ratio

45.5% shooting
39.6% 3-point shooting
264 assists
207 turnovers
1.28-1 assist-to-turnover ratio

More possessions due to fewer turnovers is a good thing. Better shots due to fewer turnovers is a good thing. More patience on offense is a good thing. In other words, the Cavaliers are playing more as a cohesive five-man group. Team basketball = more success. Just ask UNC coach Roy Williams.

“They’re a good basketball team. Whether you look at their three-point field goal percentage, or free throws or rebound margin, you go down the line and see that they do a really nice job of playing team basketball,” Williams said Sunday night. “[Sylven] Landesberg is their best player and we wanted to try to do a great job on some of his dribble penetration, then he gets four lay-ups in the first half. They share the ball; it looked like some of our teams from past years.”

High praise from someone who has won a ton of basketball games over the years. So on to the musings …