Five notes from UVA basketball’s win over #19 Illinois

In the championship game for the Continental Tire Main Event Championship, it was Virginia Cavaliers beat Illinois Fighting Illini with a score of 70-61. With the win, we have five takeaways.

UVA gets another marquee win

After beating #5 Baylor on Friday and putting the team’s offensive potential on full display, it was understandable for the Hoos to drop this game considering how drained Virginia was mentally and physically last week. Take a look at how good this Illinois team was, the fact that the venue was packed with Illinois fans, along with the downright weird calls from the referees, and there were moments when I felt like this game was going to blow away.

But, when it mattered most, UVA went and won this game in a very tough atmosphere against a top 15 opponent, and just two days later ousted the #5 team in the country. Specifically, ‘Ho went on a 13-0 run from 3:26 in the second half to 0:18 remaining to seal the victory. This is really impressive.

Few if any (especially among Virginia fans) expected Bennett to win the championship and company given how stacked the competition was. However, with the Cavaliers notching two notable wins to their name in the span of just three days, it’s time to revise our predictions. in Five notes from Baylor win, You said that this team was good enough to win the national championship. We just got additional confirmation of this situation with Wahoos showing the ability to take down two really good teams in a neutral environment in one weekend.

That’s exactly what it takes to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, and just four games into the 2022-2023 season, the Wahoo faithful should be very confident this team has the potential to do just that.

Reese Beckman has arrived

The debate over UVA’s potential was based on whether or not Reece Beekman would leapfrog as a player and become the man his potential had always suggested he was capable of. After a show this afternoon, I’m ready to say that he’s evolved into the kind of sentinel monsters need.

Against Baylor, Beckman was the all-time distributor hitting his first career double-double with assists as he totaled 10 points and 10 assists. His triple doubles and shooting 4-4 ​​from the line showed how he could be a complement scorer while mainly looking up to the looks of his shooters on the outside.

But, when the shots did not fall on Illinois, the young man took the game into his own hands and it was interesting to watch him. The question of whether or not he made the leap was always about whether or not he could score himself. After his 17 points versus the Fighting Illini, it’s hard not to come up with a definitive answer to that question.

While his final numbers were trailed a bit by late free throws, his sequence of possessions late in the game where he stole the ball from Terrence Shannon Jr. led him to the game. , and finished through traffic in the post-steal transition as he drew one, made the free throw, then drove into the hoop on the ensuing drive on the floor to pull Virginia from down 58-57 to 62-58 essentially winning the game in favor of Wahoo. If he continues to build on his last two games, we’re talking about a player who can go toe-to-toe with the best guards in college basketball.

The little ball can work for ‘Hoos’

The arrival and success of Ben Vander Blaas so far this season has largely meant a drop in minutes for Jaden Gardner as BVP has been playing really well in Gardner’s place as the team’s power forward. There was some experience with the two of them playing together in their first three games but, if anything, this seemed like a duo who would only get abused defensively while not producing enough at the other end.

But, against Illinois, UVA (by my official count) went with the two together in front court for 11 minutes, with a healthy portion of that time in the latter part of the game. Especially considering how dynamic the Illinois Five-Point offense is and how pressing it is against the big competitors, the fact that those lineups with those two teams playing together working today is a great sign for this team going forward because those two are critical components of this team and I felt that being able to replace them with each other It just acted as a limitation on the overall talent on the roster.

This is a very balanced team

After the first two games of the season, the depth on this roster was evident as freshmen Isaac McNeely and Ryan Dunn shone and Ben VanderPlass proved he would be a formidable sixth man.

After this weekend’s victories, that depth is probably less well-established than we thought, with McKneely and Dunn only being occasional contributors to ‘Hoos’ and Taine Murray didn’t play at all. In the early years, this wasn’t really a big deal. They will get more comfortable against this type of competition as the season progresses and they will have their moments later.

But, each of UVA’s top six minutes are potential players of possession as the balance on this list is starting to become apparent. After Arman Franklin (26 points), Kaden Shedrick (17) and Vander Blass (14) were the top three scorers against Baylor, Beckman (17), Kehey Clark (12) and Gardner (12) led against Illinois. All six of these guys could hit the big stage at any time, meaning UVA is multi-faceted and hard to maintain for the long haul. There are so many different players that can make such a huge difference that opponents are more likely to be overwhelmed.

We’ll see if this holds up throughout the entire season as some players can separate themselves like The Guys (looking at you, Reece). But, right now, it must be very difficult to prepare to play this UVA team without considering the difficulties of preparing to play against Packline.

UVA is a versatile offensive team that can only get better

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Virginia’s victory today is the fact that there is still so much this group can do better. Against Illinois, Mania shot 5-17 (29.4%) from three-point range, turned the ball over 12 times, and allowed Illinois to grab 11 offensive rebounds.

In terms of the decline of three-point shooting, it’s great to see the Cavaliers struggle to hit threes and still find a way to produce 1.11 points per possession on offense. That was a question mark heading into today’s competition after the Hoos hit absolutely from deep in the first three games of the season and proving that this group can generate points in other ways is another sign of just how good and capable this team is. is being.

From Beckman’s ability to break through and score for himself, big players chasing down offensive boards, or the team’s defensive playmaking ability that leads to transitional buckets (Virginia scored 12 quick break points vs. Illinois), there are a variety of approaches for UVA to score a goal. Basketball outside the ability to run from three.

As for turnover and problems on the defensive glass (Baylor had 12 offensive boards on Friday), one might hope those are issues that can be smoothed out over time with a coaching staff with a proven track record of building error-free teams. If the Cavaliers do that, it suddenly becomes difficult to plan the game in a way to beat UVA beyond just shooting straight at them.

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