In June of 1971, the English rock band World Health Organization She released a single titled “Never Be Fooled Again”. In the aftermath of the turbulent 1960s, lead singer Roger Daltrey lamented the failures of the Revolution, calling Pete Townsend’s guitar finale: “Meet the new boss, like the old one.”
Not sure if Tony Bennett is a fan of punk rock (and a Googling of “Tony Bennett music” wouldn’t help). But, if that’s the case, he can borrow a line from Daltrey when he presents this Virginia Cavaliers Cheerleaders at John Paul Jones Arena during the blue and white brawl next fall: Meet the new team, like the old team.
Virginia is bringing back 87.8% of its minutes from last season, the fifth highest in the NCAA and the largest among the top teams, per Bart Turvik. This total includes the entire starting five from Keihe Clark, Reese Beckman, Arman Franklin, Jayden Gardner and Caden Shedrick, along with great reserve man Francisco Cavaro and young winger Tyne Murray. All in all, Hoos returned seven of the top eight, with one exception being Kody Stattmann, who recently signed a contract with NBL’s Brisbane Bullets.
For better or for worse, this year’s roster is almost indistinguishable from last year’s while in court. One great way to think about the size of this 87.8% number: There are 200 minutes for players to fill a regular college basketball game (5 players on the floor x 40 minutes per player). Assuming everyone on the team plays exactly the same number of minutes they played last season – admittedly a false assumption, but as good as the field number – 176 of those minutes have already been filled, with only 24 minutes left (12.2%). For four new incoming students and one experienced transfer.
The good news about this wealth of experience at Virginia List? This means that next season’s squad will be very good. Bart Turvik’s pre-season drop, who had ranked Virginia 67th early last season and served as a canary in the coalmine for a disappointing season, ranked Hoos as the 17th best in the NCAA this year.
Tony Bennett’s teams benefit from some continuity. The package streak is a tough scheme to pick up, and three of the eight returnees (Gardner, Franklin and Murray) last year had their first season in the system. They will be more advanced at this end of the floor this year. Also, the strict engine blocker offense takes a while to get used to playing. Specifically, Indiana mover Armand Franklin really seemed to find his footing swinging from pinned screens in the final few contests last season.
The numbers match an eye test on Tony’s teams that take a while to weed out, too. In the past 10 seasons, Virginia has ranked in the Top 75 of the KenPom List Continuity Scale only twice: 2015-16, Virginia’s second-best team, and 2018-19, Bennett’s tenure best team.
You would be crazy to put a pencil in the 2022-23 roster alongside these two teams, but the history of continuity of the roster leading to good Virginia basketball is undeniable. At the very least, this team should be able to avoid early-season stumbles like this year’s losses to the Navy and James Madison, and it’s best not to sweat on Sunday set.
One advantage of Virginia’s return for essentially every meaningful player from last season is that it gives a solid idea of what the ‘Hoos’ will look like this year. There were a bunch of good players on last year’s team, and I’m confident that with another season under their belt, this roster will surpass last season’s performance, compete in the ACC, and earn a place on the NCAA Tournament.
But by raising the floor, Virginia may be limiting its future ceiling.
Yes, this team is good. Are they a good national title? Except for the miracle, no. Are sweet sixteen good? CanAnd the If some things break their way. There’s nothing inherently wrong with building a team that can win right now – in fact, that’s in a coach’s job description. However, by relying so heavily on seasoned players, Virginia risks having a good team now at the expense of a great team later – a great team built primarily on the advent of this year’s upcoming recruiting class.
The 2022 class for ‘Hoos’ is the undisputed best since the 2016 class that won the National Championship. The team will bring in four potential squad builders, each with a high ceiling: Isaac McNeely, Isaac Traudt, Leon Bond and Ryan Dunn.
Unfortunately for these players, the competition for playing time will be stiff. Remember, there are only 24 minutes left on this list — and a large portion of it will go to graduating Ben Vander Place, a top team who joined ‘Hoos’ this off-season after four years in Ohio (and won one NCAA tournament. UVA). A little red shirt might help, but there’s no way around the fact that there won’t be many opportunities for Virginia’s hiring class to see the floor in meaningful minutes.
Tony Bennett’s reluctance to give young players development minutes has already cost Virginia a fair number of young players – Justin McCoy, Jabri Abdel Rahim, Carson McCorkel and Igor Milic Jr. have all left the team in the past two seasons after failing to get even 10. minutes per game. of playing time in the conference. Although the jury is still out, particularly on Milicic, none of these transfers have proven particularly costly to Virginia.
This year, though, that won’t be the case. Losing any of the four incoming recruits to the next gate out of the season would be a nightmare scenario for Virginia, and the team has created an environment in which this can happen by keeping several well-established players in places that the freshmen might have occupied.