Christmas break is over for the Iowa State men's basketball team - they're back in Ames, getting ready for their matchup with Virginia on December 30th. Since SBNation has a brand spankin' new Virginia blog - Streaking The Lawn - I figured we might as well let Brian, the head honcho, tell us what's up with Cavalier basketball.
1. Seattle, WTF?
Wait a second. I thought when we agreed to do this exchange, we agreed that this topic was off limits. Seriously though, there’s no real explanation for this game. We are a freshman-dominated team, and with that comes immensely inconsistent play. Our All-ACC candidate Mike Scott was coming off orthoscopic surgery less than a week prior and our starting forward was still out with a fractured fibula, which basically left a bunch of healthy freshmen on the court playing their last game before winter break. Before the game, a number of players tweeted along the lines of, "One more game, then break!" – which tells me that they weren’t exactly focused on this team. I don’t expect the same on Thursday night. Also, shooting 30.2% field goals and 10% (2-20) 3-pointers will not help your cause.
More after the jump....
2. The composition of the Cavaliers that have seen the floor this year has been varied - what should we expect on the floor on the 30th?
It’s anyone’s guess at this point. Will Sherrill, who as I said has been out due to a fractured fibula, is supposed to make his return for this game. Sherrill sparked the Cavaliers’ big run in the upset against No. 13 Minnesota last month, and his absence has certainly been missed. Whether or not he gets the starting nod is anyone’s guess, though it’s doubtful. If I had to make a prediction, I’m going with Assane Cene under center, Scott as forward, and then a three-guard rotation with Sammy Zeglinski (missed most of the season so far due to hip surgery), freshman KT Harrell (last week’s ACC Rookie of the Week), and senior captain Mustapha Farrakhan.
3. Iowa State is not an overly strong post team - How is Virginia down low?
Virginia for many seasons now has been a guard-dominated team, and this year is no different. Cavaliers fans are torn with Sene under center – he’s come up big in the last few games with clutch plays in key moments, but generally, he’s got mittens on his hands and fans have built low expectations. In two of the last three games, we’ve had four guards get the starting nod, if that helps answer your question.
4. What style of game can we expect? Up tempo? Slow down?
Slooow riiiide, take it eaaasy... Head Coach Tony Bennett is known for his slow and methodical pace. The Hoos average only 64.1 points per game (ranked 274th in the country) and have held their opponents to under 60 in each of the last five games, including under 50 for three of those. That’s just the way Bennett likes it, as he believes that games are won primarily on defense. If you can win the defensive battle, your offense will fall into place.
5. How does Virginia win or lose this game?
Mike Scott should be back to a Mike Scott-caliber level at this point. Virginia wins this game if it’s a low-scoring matchup and at least one of the two key freshmen – KT Harrell or Joe Harris – put up the numbers that they’ve wowed us with several times this season already. Virginia loses this game if it allows Iowa State’s guards to shoot lights out from behind the three, something we allowed Stanford (13-23, 56.5%), Washington (17-26, 65.4%), and to some degree, Wichita State (8-16, 50%), to do in our losing effort in all three games.