Hello, again. Offline world completely overwhelmed everything else this week. Hate to go to blaming the weather, but it was the major reason. Kids off for 3 days because of the weather. Wife in a fender-bender. Constantly moving, shifting and adjusting the work schedule to make everything work.
And now, after a Saturday when a drizzly, gray day was welcomed gratefully simply because it wasn’t bitterly cold and piling up more snow; it’s been snowing all morning. So after this post, it’s outside for shoveling.
Pitt’s had all week to stew over the Duke game. Now comes the Virginia team that is playing a lot like the Virginia team that was predicted to be a top ACC team and preseason top-25 team. They destroyed ND in South Bend — UVa had the Irish down 24 points with 7 minutes left before easing up to make it “only” a 15-point loss. Aside from their 4-point road loss to Duke, they have beaten all ACC opponents by at least 12 points.
Like Pitt, they are looking for quality wins. While they played a good non-con, they came away without any wins in those good games.
They have a stout defense and play at a deliberately slow pace. They value offensive efficiency. It all seems very familiar.
I’m not saying I expect this to be a slog of a game. I am saying that both teams will be keying on defense. Pitt, after the Duke game, will be trying to clean up a lot of their breakdowns. Practices were probably all about defense this past week.
Jamel Artis, by the way impresses me even more with his ability to handle criticism. He’s an older freshman and it shows in how he responded to not getting more playing time because he is struggling with the defensive aspects.
“I have to pick it up on defense so I can help my team out more,” Artis said. “If I can’t play defense, then there is no reason for me to be out on the floor. Most of that is just, I am too hyped. I need to focus on being in the gaps, help my teammates out. That’s basically it.
“I need to help more. I am physically able to guard anybody but it is more mental. I need to know where to be and know the offensive player [he is defending].”
Artis said he is trying to work through some of his struggles on defense and feels like he is getting better, but it is clearly a big jump for him to learn how to defend from the high school game to the college game.
He said the help defense, knowing rotations and understanding his assignments, are the areas he is working to improve. But he knows he is big enough to defend players in the post and athletic enough to defend players on the wing, so it is just a matter of time before he takes a big step forward as a defender.
“Coach Dixon said I am getting there, I know I am getting there,” Artis said. “I just have to keep playing hard every game and keep making sure that I improve at practice every day. I feel like I am learning and the more I learn, the more confidence I gain in my abilities.”
And of course more work is needed on his rebounding.
Not much for predictions, but I am going to say that Virginia-Pitt will score more points than Clemson-FSU yesterday.