Hoops Q&A With John Gasaway: Part I
Friday, November 06 2009 by Ben
John Gasaway is a writer for Basketball Prospectus, a site near and dear to my heart. BP is dedicated to statistical analysis of NBA and College Basketball. John has a new book coming out College Basketball Prospectus 2009-10: Major-Conference Preview. I encourage everyone to go out, buy a copy, and read it cover to cover. Twice.
Mr. Gasaway has been kind enough to do an email interview with Dear Old UVa. He also gave us so much information that we're covering it in two posts: one exclusively about Tony Bennett and another one looking at specific players. Many thanks to John for this interview!
The interview follows after the jump.
Dear Old UVa: The biggest question that we have is: Can Tony Bennett win this year with Dave Leitao's recruits?
John Gasaway: Tony Bennett can win this year with Dave Leitao's recruits. More games than Leitao won last year anyway. Then again Leitao could win more games with these players this year. Virginia returns about 90 percent of its minutes from last last season. Teams that bring back this much experience and that were below-average but not downright DePaul-bad the previous year tend to improve very nicely,
In the book the two teams from the past couple seasons that I compare Virginia to are Baylor in 2008 and South Carolina last year. Two years ago the Bears improved from 4-12 to 9-7 in the Big 12 and went to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years. The Gamecocks were kind of like that too, bettering their mark from 5-11 to 10-6 in the SEC, though they just missed getting a bid to the tournament. Anyway, my prediction for the Cavaliers is 8-8 in the ACC.
DOU: Given that the ACC features a variety of fast paced teams, do you see Bennett's slow pace style being a detriment to Virginia's long term success?
JG: Not at all. The Pac-10 was faster than it is now when Bennett was a rookie in 2006-07 and he went 13-5 that year at Washington State.
DOU: Many ACC fans are dubious as to whether Bennett's success on the defensive end of the floor can continue in the ACC (because of course, the ACC is forever and always better than the Pac-10). Can he adapt his style to the ACC?
JG: Sure he can. Tell those fans to be less dubious. Look, Bennett didn't exactly have rosters brimming with McDonald's All-Americans in Pullman, yet year after year his defenses made NBA-bound opposing players like Jon Brockman, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, and O.J. Mayo miserable. There's no reason to think he can't do the same thing in Charlottesville.
DOU: Leitao's last few teams were plagued by some horrendous offensive efficiency. After taking over for his father after the 2006 season, WSU went from 256th in terms of offensive eff. to 54th (although, they weren't great on O last year). Do you think he can institute the same type of turnaround at UVa?
JG: Hey, that lightning could strike twice. That 2006-07 WSU team you refer to had Derrick Low, Ivory Clark, Aron Baynes, Robbie Cowgill, and Kyle Weaver, all of whom had played the previous season for Dick Bennett. This year Virginia brings back Landesberg, Baker, Scott, Zeglinski, Jones, and Tucker. Who knows?
Monday we will have part II.