Capitalizing on a new wrinkle in Virginia’s offense, fifth-year senior forward Mike Scott tallied 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting during Saturday’s 71-44 win over Maryland. And as he prepares to make his final appearance at Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday night when Virginia plays at Virginia Tech, Scott is hoping the same offensive scheme will lead to an improved showing compared to the last time he faced the Hokies.
Virginia Tech held Scott – the ACC’s third-leading scorer – to 10 points, his low mark in conference play this season, during the Hokies’ 47-45 triumph Jan. 22 in Charlottesville. Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said Monday that Virginia Tech made it difficult for the Cavaliers to feed Scott the ball.
The Hokies “just did a nice job of surrounding him and smothering him, and sometimes coming off of guards,” Bennett said. “They just were very aware of him and played a very physical game and made some plays offensively.”
Scott has drawn ample defensive attention from opposing teams all year, in large part due to his 18.7 points per game average in ACC play. That was true Saturday against Maryland, as well, though in that game Virginia tried a different approach to make sure Scott got his share of touches. The Cavaliers made a concerted effort to set a variety of screens for Scott to run off of and catch passes with a little extra breathing room.
“We were setting double screens, staggers,” Scott said afterward. “I kind of felt like Joe.”
He was referring to sophomore guard Joe Harris, who, when the Cavaliers employ a traditional two-forward, three-guard lineup, plays the swingman position and often is the beneficiary of screens design to free him up for open looks on or near the perimeter.
Scott leads the ACC in field goal shooting percentage (56.6 percent) in conference play and many of his attempts are mid- to long-range jump shots, so the prospect of him receiving the ball outside the post is not daunting for Virginia in the slightest.
Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg acknowledged that the Cavaliers’ new strategy for getting Scott the ball will make it harder to deny Scott such opportunities this time around. Further complicating matters for the Hokies is that they’ll likely be without the services of senior forward Victor Davila (groin injury) on Tuesday night. Davila primarily defended Scott during the two teams’ previous encounter.
The Cavaliers are “moving [Scott] around a lot more than they did maybe when we played them the first time,” Greenberg said Monday. “So we have to be alert guarding on post. Mike is shooting the ball so confidently right now. He pivots and gets that thing behind him and shoots it so quick.
“But you’ve got to defend them early, set your defense in transition, and you’ve got to get a lot of help.”