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UVA Will Need More Backcourt Firepower Next Season

If one thing jumps out at me in reviewing the Virginia men's basketball season, it would be the lack of offensive firepower at the guard position, most notably from the 3-point line and beyond.

Of the three players who led the Cavaliers in 3-point attempts, only one, Trey Murphy III, is listed as a guard, and he's 6-foot-9.

For the season, more than 60 percent of Virginia's 3-point attempts were launched by three players -- Sam Hauser, who is listed at 6-8; Murphy and 7-2 Jay Huff.

Hauser's team-leading 63 made 3-pointers were more than guards Kihei Clark, Reece Beekman, Tomas Woldetensae and Casey Morsell combined.

None was bigger than the 3-pointer Reece Beekman nailed at the buzzer in a 72-69 victory over Syracuse in the ACC Tournament, but he was 0-for-5 until that point, including 0-for-3 on 3-pointers.

Clark and Beekman were 1-2 on the team in assists, but Clark, for one, doesn't hesitate to shoot. He was 16-of-52 from the field in the last six games, including a 3-for-10 outing against Ohio in UVa's first-round NCAA Tournament loss.

Allowances made by the NCAA as the result of COVID-19 would suggest that almost everybody could return next year, although that would be a sixth year for Huff and a fifth year for Hauser, who almost assuredly would test the NBA waters.

In that event, where would Virginia go for its offense? Murphy, a transfer from Rice who didn't know that he would be eligible this year until the last moment, would be a start.

Woldetenesae is an interesting case in that he spent two years in junior college, but if I'm reading that situation correctly, he could be back. He was seventh on the team in minutes played this year, but he seemed to disappear at times.

You look at the players who have gone from Virginia to the NBA and they're almost all good shooters -- Joe Harris, Malcolm Brogdon, Kyle Guy, DeAndre Hunter, Ty Jerome, etc.

There aren't any guards among the anticipated returnees who would be mentioned in the same breath as shooters, as least with what they've displayed so far.

The most interesting case is Taine Murray, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from New Zealand who signed with the Cavaliers in September and should be available for the 2021-22 season. Maryland and Stanford were the other finalists for Murray, who has ties to the UVa staff.

The Cavaliers won't hurt for numbers -- or would-be shooters next year -- but there's no question that they’ll be checking the transfer portal. They lost one to the portal today as Casey Morsell announced he is entering. He had a season-high 15 points, going 3-of-3 from 3-point range, with four rebounds against Notre Dame in January. He finished the season averaging 14.83 minutes and 4.39 points per game. 

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Friday, 30 September 2022

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