Hoos May Need More Offensive Pressure

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Joe Harris

The Virginia men’s basketball team improved its overall number of wins for the fourth straight season under coach Tony Bennett. The squad finished 23-12 this season and wrapped up the year in the NIT Quarterfinals against Iowa. Eyeing areas for improvement with a roster that is expected to return nearly intact, one thing the Cavaliers can do better is put pressure on opposing defenses.

That’s one thing that Bennett noticed while attending the Final Four. According to this Jeff White article, Bennett noted that it is important to have players who can create shots for themselves.

“That was not our strength last year and I think on the offensive end that maybe is an area we need to continue to improve in,” Bennett told White.

“We were probably below-average at being able to create off the dribble, and I thought that at times hurt us when our shots weren’t falling or teams were really locked in to double-teaming on Joe [Harris’ or keying in on him. It made it a little more difficult,” he added.

With heavy emphasis on stingy defense and making opponents earn shots, the Hoos really try to control the defensive glass and do not let players leak out early for transition opportunities. They also drop three to four players back in transition defense and that has limited scoring chances through offensive rebounding. The program plays with a lower amount of possessions each game because of those things.

Put another way, Virginia doesn’t get many easy baskets due to its style of play. That means that either the system – screens and cuts – or the individual players have to create offensive opportunities.

So, as Bennett alluded to in his comments, UVa needs to find a way to put more pressure on opponents when the system doesn’t produce openings. That means individual players need to be able to create their own offense and potentially earn trips to the free throw line. To date, getting to the free