I've been lurking around on these boards all season and finally registered a few days ago in time for the tournament. I thought I would share my thoughts on our chances against UVA.
First off, I think we are peaking at the perfect time. Bryce has been consistent all season, Ingram has hit plenty of big shots, Cacok has really come into his own as an elite big in the CAA.
But they key to the Seahawks success starts, as many of you know, with Chris Flemmings. I was extremely worried about his play mid-way through the year -- he often times appeared to be lacking confidence and took a back seat to Bryce, Ingram, and Cacok -- even when these guys weren't really feeling it / we needed a spark.
But there's something about March that makes Chris Flemmings step up. He looked amazing to me in the CAA tournament. He showed confidence I hadn't seen from him since the run to the tournament last year. He hit big shots. He drove to the bucket. He assisted his teammates. It was a thing of beauty.
All week, I was hoping we'd be able to avoid drawing UVA. They've had their struggles this season, but they're a well coached team that straps up on defense and exhibits patience on the offensive end. To me, it seemed like the worst matchup for our UNCW team that is fueled by high energy play, big time shots, dunks, etc.
But upon further review today, I really think we've got a fighters chance. Here's how I see UNCW winning this game:
shoot the ball well. Plain and simple, if we're not hitting our shots, there's no beating Virginia. I anticipate Virginia is going to use their "Pack Line" defense. For those who haven't seen it, here's what it looks like:
As you can see, those guards up top are not getting any looks at all off the dribble. Unfortunately, that's how Ingram gets the majority of his looks -- pulling up in a defender's face. I don't think Virginia is going to give that to him. The Seahawks have a tendency to chuck up threes sometimes until Keatts gets on them about running some motion. UNCW is going to have to (a) move the ball well around the perimeter and (b) be patient and get the best shot. Part c is making those shots, but that's a given when you're an underdog.
As a team, UNCW's biggest weakness is probably the lack of size. UVA gains an advantage from this lack of size, but not in the way most teams would. Virginia likes to be long and physical on defense. Smaller guards have run into problems all season long because they can't penetrate. If they do, there's swarming help defense right there in their face immediately. If UNCW can penetrate and kick, the shots will be there. This is something that isn't easy to replicate until you see it -- most teams struggle with pack line even if they know it's coming.
Defensively, the key for UNCW is going to be keeping UVA's guards from heating up. I've noticed in the games where their offense played poorly, the opposing team did a great job keeping the three point shot out of the equation for them. Once they start knocking down the three, that's when the driving lanes open up and UVA offense becomes extremely efficient. Luckily, UVA doesn't really have a major interior threat on offense -- so our tendency to foul and get bullied down low (esp. when Cacok is out) won't be prominent.
In short, the keys to the game for UNCW are ball movement, knocking down the three ball, being patient, and neutralizing the UVA three ball.
I'm super excited for this game and will continue to study UVA and how I think we should approach them.