Virginia Beat: Point Guard Problems

UVA’s basketball season opens next week, on the road against George Mason, and given the way football has gone this fall, it can’t be too soon. Unfortunately, fans expecting this hoops season to match the success of last year will be just as disappointed as football fans. The team has its share of talent, but like the football team, it has its share of holes, too.

Jontel Evans (photo courtesy TheSabre.com)

First off, it’s undersized; the only player on the roster listed as taller than 6’8” is freshman center Mike Tobey. While big things are expected of Tobey, he’s still only a freshman and expectations must be tempered with caution. But even more so than the interior, point guard has UVA fans and pundits concerned. It’s a thin position after the loss of senior combo guard Sammy Zeglinski, and won’t get major reinforcements until next season.

Going in, it was already known what issues UVA would have. Senior PG Jontel Evans is the only experienced option on the roster. Evans is expected to eat up as many as 32 minutes a game, but he can’t play them all. Worse yet, he can’t play any of them with a broken foot, which was operated on about four weeks ago. Evans’ recovery time will probably extend beyond the season opener and may go as far as the preseason NIT tournament, a portion of which the Hoos are hosting in Charlottesville.

To compound the problem, at least for the George Mason game, redshirt freshman Teven Jones was suspended for the season opener for the ever-frustrating “violation of team rules.” Jones joined and began practice with the team in the middle of last season after completing a post-grad semester at Fishburne Military Academy, and thus, despite not having played a college game, represents UVA’s most experienced pure point guard on the roster.

So for the George Mason game, at least, UVA’s options are limited. Sophomore shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon has been thought of since last season as a potential emergency point guard (if not possibly an even better one than what UVA might otherwise have) and will probably get some ballhandling duties against Mason. Brogdon, however, is a little bit on the big side for defending smaller, quicker point guards. Forward Joe Harris could play some “point forward” but has the same problem as Brogdon, and Harris’s skills are far better utilized off the ball.

UVA has some freshman options as well, namely Taylor Barnette and walk-on Justin Miller. If the word “walk-on” doesn’t convey it already, though, I’ll say it straight-up: that’s not much depth. The good news is that the direst situation will only last one game, and hopefully Evans will return shortly thereafter and bring a sense of sanity back to the position. You can do much worse than having a senior guard like Evans handling most of the minutes, and most of the season can be used as it should be: evaluating guys like Jones and Barnette in more controlled situations. Til then, though, UVA fans will spend a nervous couple of weeks watching the ballhandling.


Brendan’s bio: I’m just this guy … this ordinary Virginia graduate and fan who woke up one day realizing his opinions on everything UVA could no longer be contained in one space. Thus was born From Old Virginia, a labor of love where you can find obsessive opinionating on Virginia football, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, and whatever else when the mood strikes. And if that’s still not enough for you, go to the Twitster and follow @MaizeNBlueWahoo for the dumb stuff that pops into my head when I’m watching the Hoos.

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