5 Questions: Virginia

Get to know Virginia better as we take an in-depth look with Scout's Jacquie Franciulli.

Ahead of tonight's matchup between Syracuse and #2 Virginia, we reached out to HooNation.com publisher Jacquie Franciulli to get to know the Cavs a little bit better.

CuseNation.com: Who has taken over since Justin Anderson went out with injury?

Jacquie: UVa head coach Tony Bennett shared a John Wooden quote to his team after their game to Virginia Tech on Saturday, "it's amazing what can be accomplished, when no one cares who get the credit." That sums up the Cavaliers this season. Losing Justin Anderson was a huge blow for the Wahoos, especially on offense. In the first few games without the junior guard, the 'Hoos struggled without him. especially from the outside. But the thing abut Virginia is they didn't replace Anderson with one guy, because every game someone else steps up or a group of guys step up.

Just an example, in the 'Hoos game against the Hokies over the weekend, the Cavaliers finished the game with four guys finishing in double-digits. Malcolm Brogdon lead the 'Hoos with 19 points, Anthony Gill and Darion Atkins both had 16 points, and London Perrantes added 11. Then you have freshmen Isaiah Wilkins and Marial Shayok, who both have also stepped up for the Cavs. Wilkins is still new to the pack line and does miss assignment on occasion, however, he is averaging three rebounds a game and has 17 blocks to his name.

CN: What is the key to Virginia's superb defense this season?

JF: This season the 'Hoos are notorious for not allowing a team to score for six minute spans in halves, and UVa has held its opponents to fewer than 50 points in five of the last seven games. The reason for their success? Discipline. These players know the system very well and eliminate any fast break points or dribble penetration. On average they do not allow more than four fast break points per game -they allowed 12 against Duke.

The Blue Devils are also the only team to score more 34 points in the paint against Virginia with 44. The 'Hoos frustrate the opponent into making the contested shot, and then when they miss, the 'Hoos are able to dominate the glass and stop teams from gaining second-chance points-the Cavs have four players on the roster that average over five rebounds per game.

CN: What is point guard's London Perrantes impact on this team?

JF: I like to describe London Perrantes as the general or the puppet master to this team. He pulls the strings. He does not light up the scoreboard, but he controls the tempo of the game and he instills calmness when things could get out of hand. The sophomore guard does not turn over the ball, actually he has the fewest turnovers on the team if you consider he has missed two games and has played the most minutes.

With just 37 turnovers to his 116 assists this season, Perrantes has great court vision and ball control. He also has knack of scoring when his team needs him the most. on Saturday against Virginia Tech, Perrantes hit two back-to-back triples during UVa's 12-0 run to secure the win in the second half. He also had 26 points in UVa's double-overtime win at Miami.

CN: Malcolm Brogdon is the biggest name on this team. How good is he?

JF: Without Joe Harris on the squad, Malcolm Brogdon has really stepped up as the vocal leader to this team. He averages just under 14 points per game, but one of the main reasons he is so irreplaceable is his defense. He has such a long wingspan that allows him to shut down opponents and often is the one guarding the opponents best ball handlers.

This year I've seen Brogdon take more chances and go for some looks from the outside, especially with Harris being out of the picture. He has also improved his ball-handling and like Perrantes can spread the ball around due to his improved court vision this season.

CN: How do you see Monday night's game in the Carrier Dome playing out?

JF: One thing is for sure this will not be a 70-56 repeat from last year. This will be a low-scoring defensive game. The first team to reach to 40 could possibly win this game. I think this game will be a close affair throughout most of the game, however, I do see the Cavs pulling away towards the end.

The 'Hoos have done a great job away from home and have finally found their stride without Justin Anderson. In the same vein, this is the best defensive team the Cavs will face without the guard.


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