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Wake Forest vs. Virginia Preview: Q&A with Streaking The Lawn

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We talk to Streaking The Lawn about round ball and embracing the pace.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

You've been without Justin Anderson for 1.5 games now. Have you noticed any adjustments that the team has made in his absence?

I don’t think there’s been much in the way of "adjustments," in part because this team plays a system that is designed to stand on its own; the players are recruited and brought in to fit certain roles within the system on each end of the court. But there was more Evan Nolte in the second half against Louisville and all game against NC State; he’s playing more traditional 3 than stretch-4, which seems to make him more comfortable. Devon Hall has also seen some more time off the bench, playing sort of a combo guard-wing role like Justin. The adjustments there have been are mostly who is filling what role, not what the roles are themselves.

Can Virginia win the ACC Tournament without Justin Anderson?

Yes, but it will be much harder. Anderson’s athleticism makes him a game-changer at both ends. By adding a reliable 3-point shot, he became even more of a threat than just a slasher. His defense has always been on point, especially in transition where he specializes in trail blocks. So yea, no question Virginia will miss him. But there’s lots of talent backing him up. The two guys mentioned above? Nolte was a four-star recruit and Georgia’s Mr. Basketball. Devon Hall was a five-star recruit. Neither of them is at the same caliber as Anderson, but they both have the potential to be better than a typical bench/role player.

What is UVA's biggest weakness?

Outside shooting, both against the defense and our reliance on it on offense at times. The Pack Line defense looks a lot like a zone, in that off-ball defenders give their guys room beyond the arc. Quick ball movement, especially out of doubles to the post, can leave shooters open from the outside. That’s by design: the philosophy is that those shots are harder to make so you’re willing to give them up in order to stop higher percentage opportunities around the rim. If a team gets hot from outside (see: final 10 minutes against Duke) it can exploit that. On offense, the Hoos struggle most when they’re relying on jumpers instead of working the ball into the post. A few guys who were red-hot to start the year have cooled off significantly. If they rediscover their confidence, the offensive attack should regain some of its potency.

Who on Wake Forest will cause UVA the most problems on Saturday?

I’m most concerned about Mitoglou. He plays the stretch-4 that’s given us some problems. Our bigs are athletic, but if Mitoglou can knock down outside shots he’s precisely the kind of player that can take advantage of the Pack Line as I described above.

What would you say to the people who say Virginia basketball is "boring"?

I’d say learn more about the systems. Guys who actually know basketball, like Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino, gush about how this Virginia team plays. When the blocker-mover offense is being run well, there’s constant movement and action that can lead to a three or a dunk. When the Pack Line is working right, it’s five guys moving like they’re on a string. It’s only boring if you don’t know how to watch it. Once you do, there’s a majesty and an orchestrated tenacity that’s obvious on every possession.

How do you see this one playing out?

I want to see Wake return to prominence. I hope they get there soon. They aren’t there yet. I think Mitoglou contributes something like 15 points, but the team’s other holes mean they can’t hang with a Virginia team motivated after a sloppy NC State game. 61-45, UVa.

Many thanks to Paul for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to check out Streaking The Lawn.