Cavs' point guard situation remains fluid

Boyle continues to tinker with lineups, juggle young ball handling options

The Virginia women’s basketball team has yet to definitively answer the question. Virginia coach Joanne Boyle, however, is not concerned with the Cavaliers’ revolving-door at the position. As Virginia showed during an 85-68 win against No. 17 Florida State Sunday in which the team tallied 22 assists to 10 turnovers, the lack of a consistent presence at point guard is far from debilitating.

Last season, then-senior China Crosby started every game for Virginia, playing 34.6 minutes per game and handing out 59 more assists than then-junior guard Ataira Franklin, the Cavaliers’ second-leading dime-dropper. Boyle recognized from the start this year would be different.

“It might be a little bit by committee,” Boyle said before the season. “Obviously, with the Princeton [offense], it’s a two-guard front in some situations, and, you know, like anything else they’re going to fight for it.”

Freshman Breyana Mason, the 2012-13 Gatorade Virginia Player of the Year, started at point guard against Florida State. She knifed into the lane for Virginia’s first bucket against the Seminoles and nailed a 3-pointer with 16:08 to play to push Virginia’s lead to 19 points. Fellow freshman Tiffany Suarez, however, played 18 minutes to Mason’s 17.

Suarez, a three-time All-State selection at Miami’s Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, started the previous five games at the position but did not score with any regularity, putting up a total of 10 points and going scoreless against No. 2 Notre Dame. Suarez moved into the starting lineup after a 16-point, six-assist performance against Coppin State Dec. 28.

“Tiff did well for so long, and then she started feeling tight,” Boyle said. “And again, we have the luxury of having another point guard out there to get some experience, so who’s to say it’s not going to change again or whatever. But [whatever] works for us now is what we’re going to go with.”

Raeshaun Gaffney, a redshirt freshman who missed all of 2012-13 with a stress fracture, has also been used in a reserve role and is shooting 27.3 percent from the field.

Senior Kelsey Wolfe has played major minutes for the Cavaliers, starting all 18 games, and leads the team in assists. More often than not, however, she operates as a sharpshooting and slashing two-guard in Boyle’s offense.

Sophomore Jaryn Garner has played sparingly and appears to be the odd-guard-out in Virginia’s crowded rotation.

Boyle implemented the Princeton offense this year to take advantage of the team’s glut of guards. Against Florida State, redshirt senior guard Lexie Gerson was the team’s power forward, but she dished out eight assists off drives, out of the high post and on routine swing passes.

“Everyone was just making shots,” Gerson said. “I was just trying to get them easy layups or swings. They were making me look good, honestly.”

For this Virginia team, setting up teammates may be the work of the whole lineup, not the job description of a single floor general. Boyle was certainly pleased with the Cavaliers’ improved ball movement against the Seminoles.

“We talked about coming out of the Duke game, [a 90-55 loss], with eight assists,” Boyle said. “So, we just talked about it; we’ve been working on it … I think any time you can tell this team a little nugget, it helps them.”

Published January 20, 2014 in Sports

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