Understanding Box Split

In the final 30 seconds of Saturday’s game with North Carolina, Virginia faced a 58-56 deficit with possession of the ball under UNC’s basket. Going into a timeout called by the Tar Heels, UVa coach Tony Bennett had decisions to make. Go for the win or tie? Who takes the shot? Where does the flow of the play go?

The answers to those questions are not limitless. With no post-up threat to dump the ball to on the blocks and let him go to work, the play likely was going to a guard. With no clear-cut go-to option or NBA-style alpha male style player, the play likely was going to be something with screening action vs. a clear-out set. In a similar situation last January against UNC Wilmington, Bennett opted for a screening action play that featured Sylven Landesberg coming off a down screen for a mid-range jumper. ( Read about that play here.)

On Saturday against UNC, Virginia’s second-year coach settled on a play familiar to his team that has been used throughout his tenure in Charlottesville. It’s not a surprising choice for a team full of inexperienced players in key roles. In other words, take some pressure out of the situation by making the play something where everyone is familiar with their roles.