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Hoops Preview: Clemson at Virginia

UVA is boring, but they are really good at being boring.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Guys, I’m not going to lie, things on the shooty hoops / squeaky shoes side of the ledger haven’t been super awesome post-Notre Dame victory.

First, someone decided to play basketball at Duke and then Donte Grantham’s MRI came back...not good.

Donte almost had me convinced when he returned to the bench during the Notre Dame game and clearly said “I’m fine” to one of his teammates. This, unfortunately, was not the case because you need both of your ACLs intact to be considered fine, and Donte is sadly down to one.

Regardless, the Clemson basketball train rolls on as the Tigers head to Charlottesville to face the #2 ranked Virginia Wahoo’s in a game that will probably leave you in a coma for a few days if you manage to sit through it.

Who: UVA
What: Shooty Hoops
When: 7 PM
Where: Charlottesville, VA
What Channel: RSN (Raycom) - Check your local listings

UVA So Far This Year:

Record: 18-1 (#2 AP)
PPG: 69.6 (283 in nation)
Rebounds Per Game: 32.9 (305)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (162)
Points Allowed: 52.4

UVA is like a good Les Miles LSU football team. They want to shorten the game, crush your will with their defense, and score enough points to win.

It’s not pretty, it’s not interesting, but it’s brutally effective.

Earlier in the year UVA and Wisconsin played a college basketball game that ended 49-37. In my opinion, both teams should have been barred from playing basketball for the rest of the season, but apparently offending the very principles of the game is not grounds for the death penalty (until the NCAA gives me unlimited power, as I have requested on numerous occasions).

If you are a casual fan of Clemson basketball, and want to see what this Clemson basketball fuss is all about, this is probably not the game to watch. I love basketball and watching UVA play hurts my soul.

I would rather watch the video of my knee reconstruction on loop than watch Virginia play basketball, but I’ve put my wants and needs aside, and watched some UVA film to show you why they are so good.

UVA on Defense:

Pack Line Defense:

Tony Bennett (the coach not the singer) is the master of the pack line defense. The goal of the pack line defense is to clog the lane, blitz and pick and rolls, and recover out to shooters with long defenders.

UVA is incredible at playing the pack line defense. Many teams attempt it, but none do so with the soul crushing efficiency of UVA. Their mixture of discipline and long, athletic defenders is death for opposing offenses. I get exhausted watching teams run offense against UVA.

In this clip, you can see how UVA handles the attempted Wake pick and roll.

In the pack line defense, ideally you have 1 player outside the 3 point arc, and 4 defenders in a box around the lane. The exception is the pick and roll. UVA blitzes the ball handler with their big, and then the big recovers, hands up, to the roll man.

The length of the UVA big prevents the ball handler from turning the corner, and then he recovers quickly to the basket. The lob seems like a good way to beat the defense, but UVA’s defender is simply too tall and athletic.

Pick and Roll Blitz

What it means for Clemson:

It’s got to be Shelton Mitchell’s show up top. He has the size and the skill to see over the top and quickly find the roll man. You can’t wait against UVA, you’ve got to turn the corner and go, because they recover so quickly, any opening is quickly erased.

Post Defense:

Eli needs to establish an interior presence on offense, but Virginia quickly double teams post on every entry pass. Eli has to either catch the ball and go before the double team gets to him, or he has to become a passer and look for what should be an open shooter on the backside of the play.

You’ll notice in this clip, that UVA double teams the post entry with the top man in their defense. The post player does a good job of getting the the baseline and finding the open shooter in the corner.

Wake misses this shot. This is a shot Clemson must hit to beat UVA.

UVA Offense:

The UVA offense is predicated on walking the ball up the floor, running clock, and starting their offense with around 15 seconds left in the offense.

UVA wants to shorten the game and it does so by holding the ball on offense.

Their offense isn’t great. They don’t pass the ball all that well, and they often find themselves playing 1 on 1 at the end of the shot clock. Clemson has to defend well 1 on 1 at the end of the shot clock, without fouling, to knock off UVA.

Key Players:

Kyle Guy: 15.3 PPG, 43% 3pt

Kyle Guy cut off his man bun, and it appears to have loosened him up on offense. Guy is deadly 3 point shooter who can both catch and shoot and shoot off the dribble. Guy is UVA’s leading scorer this year, and he’ll often have the ball in his hands with the shot clock winding down.

Isaiah Wilkins: 6.7 PPG, 7 RPG

Wilkins is Virginia’s most athletic front court player. He’s also Virginia’s best rebounder. Virginia appears to be a poor rebounding team, statistically speaking, but UVA games have so few possessions and opportunities for rebounds that the stat is skewed. Wilikins does a great job on the boards, often pulling down rebounds outside of his area.


Clemson matches up fairly well against UVA because you have to hit shots to be them, and Clemson has guards that can hit shots. That said, Clemson is also going to be playing in their first game without Donte Grantham, and it’s on the road. It’s really hard to beat UVA at home.


Clemson just can’t hit enough shots to win the game.

UVA - 64 Clemson 59