Virginia Basketball Double Bonus: Clemson, Duke

The Virginia basketball team advanced to the ACC Tournament Championship Game with a win against Clemson, but fell in the final to Duke. The Cavaliers led most of the game against the Tigers, but trailed the whole way against the Blue Devils. The Double Bonus is back for a closer look.

Cross Screens For & Against Virginia

The games Friday and Saturday saw a simple basketball concept work both for and against the Hoos. Against Clemson, they scored at least twice on a play where a guard set a cross screen (setting the pick across the lane so a player can come to the ball) for a post. One night later, Duke ran the exact same look and got a bucket against UVA.

The first clip here came from the first half against Clemson. Kihei Clark dribbled to the right wing, while Armaan Franklin set the cross screen toward the left block for Jayden Gardner. The senior forward caught the ball and missed a shot on his initial move, but grabbed the offensive rebound for a putback bucket. Of note, if Gardner is not open, Reece Beekman was in place at the top of the key to then set a pin-down screen-the-screener pick for Franklin. That would create a shot at the top or allow the Cavaliers to flow into their 3-man motion scheme.

Note that PJ Hall was the Tigers’ defender on the play and he went over the screen, which exposed the baseline for Gardner to attack.

In the second half, one of the most memorable plays of the game featured a lob from Clark to Gardner with the latter breaking into a big smile after scoring the easy layup. That moment came from the same cross screen set-up. Clark dribbled to the right side, while Franklin began to move toward Gardner for the cross screen. This time, Hall anticipated the play and cheated the screen in an effort to beat Gardner to the spot on the right block. The problem? Franklin’s defender, Hunter Tyson, did not keep vision on the ball as he defended Franklin. When Hall cheated the screen, Clark threw the pass simply because Tyson wasn’t looking. The ball went right over him to Gardner for the easy 2 points.

Unfortunately for the Hoos, they got beat by Duke on the exact same play the next night. The Blue Devils didn’t go straight into it like the Cavaliers as Jeremy Roach passed to the right wing and then cut down to the left block while the ball reversed around the top to the left side. Once it arrived, Roach moved across the lane to screen for Kyle Filipowski. Gardner went over the top of the screen and exposed the baseline, which Filipowski took advantage of to score – remember that Hall took that same path and got the same result. Clark, Roach’s defender, did not help the situation as he lost sight of the ball and actually crowded Gardner’s route over the top of the screen too.

A Roach Problem

UVA’s loss in the ACC Tournament Championship Game had a lot in common with other meetings with Duke. A Roach problem.

Duke guard Jeremy Roach poured in 23 points on 7-12 shooting to go with 4 rebounds and 1 assist. That accounted for a little more than 1/3rd of his team’s points and 1/3rd of his team’s made shots. Unfortunately, that type of performance has been a trend for him in this series. Take a look at the last 5 meetings against the Hoos in reverse order.

  • 3/111/2023: 23 points, 7-12 shooting, 1 assist
  • 2/11/2023: 16 points, 7-11 shooting, 2 assists
  • 2/23/2022: 15 points, 6-7 shooting, 0 assists
  • 2/7/2022: 7 points, 2-5 shooting, 4 assists
  • 2/20/2021: 12 points, 5-10 shooting, 3 assists

Together, it adds up to 14.6 points per game on 60.0% shooting and 2.0 on average. A lot of Roach’s success has come with Kihei Clark as the primary defender so unless the teams advance to meet each other in the NCAA Tournament, it’s not a matchup of concern in the future. Still, it has caused some headaches in games between the two.

Virginia Oldie But Goodie

The first basket of the Clemson game came from a bread-and-butter play for Virginia, which has been used throughout the Tony Bennett era.

The Cavaliers had a baseline out of bounds chance just 24 seconds into the game. They aligned in a box formation with Franklin on the left elbow. When Beekman got the ball, Clark cut from the right elbow to the right corner and Franklin did the same on the left side. Gardner