TOBIN: London must score
Like pretty much every other Hoo fan, I had high expectations for senior guard London Perrantes this season. Showing flashes of brilliance last year in both facilitating the ball and scoring, Perrantes seemed poised to take over the men’s basketball team from departing stars Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill.
Yet, so far, Perrantes has not lived up to the hype.
Whereas Perrantes averaged nearly 11.6 points per game in his first 14 games last season, he averaged nearly 10.4 points per game through the same mark this season. He failed to reach double digits in scoring in six of those games.
It is unfair to criticize Perrantes’ scoring inconsistency without discussing all aspects of him. After all, as a point guard, passing is his game, and he is currently 10th best in the ACC with 4.1 assists per game. He also is playing his role in a defense that is ranked best in the nation in points allowed.
However good Perrantes has been in other ways, Virginia has struggled offensively. Averaging 69.9 points per game, the Cavaliers are 261st in the nation in scoring. No matter how good their defense is, if they have trouble keeping up with high-scoring teams — like they did against West Virginia — then the Cavaliers will continually run into trouble.
Virginia has always had a go-to guy when it’s come to situations where they just couldn’t score. Whether it was Joe Harris, Justin Anderson or Brogdon, someone could always pick the Cavaliers up when the offense was stagnant. Nobody like that has emerged yet this season. Freshman Kyle Guy has shown some promise, particularly against California when he led the team with 17 points and scored seven straight in a crucial second-half run that resulted in a 56-52 Virginia victory.
I have no doubt Guy will be the player Virginia coach Tony Bennett relies on for offensive productivity in future seasons. For now, he is still figuring out how to play college ball. It is Perrantes who must fill the shoes of his predecessors and take on the scoring mantle.
Perrantes certainly has the ability to score. Look at two of his more recent games against Wake Forest and Clemson. Against the Demon Deacons, Perrantes earned the title of being a star player, leading his team with 24 points. He went to the line six times, made all six free throws and went 4-5 from downtown. This game brought out an aggression from Perrantes unseen since the Cavaliers’ thriller against Ohio State in late November.
And the aggression didn’t stop there. Against a much-improved Tiger team, Perrantes took a season-high of 15 field goal attempts, which resulted in a season-high 25-point game for the Los Angeles, Calif. native. For a man who is hesitant to shoot the ball — only taking double-digit field goal attempts six times this season — Perrantes deciding to take more shots should certainly be seen as a welcoming sign for the Cavaliers.
Defense will always be the main staple of Virginia basketball — it is the main contribution to Virginia’s continual success. However, the team is in big trouble if it isn’t able to put up the points. Seven teams in the ACC — including Florida State, who beat the Cavaliers in Scott Stadium — have put up an average of over 80 points per game. It is a long road ahead, and Virginia needs to put points on the board to be in contention for an ACC title.
Perrantes has never had to be a scorer in his time at Virginia. Under Bennett’s system, he has always been a facilitator. But the times have changed. Perrantes is the only senior on a team that has struggled as of late. He doesn’t have a Brogdon or Anderson to rely on. He cannot continue scoring a meek six points like he did Wednesday night versus Boston College. If he wants his team to even have a chance of reaching the success it had last season, he must hype up his aggression, take more shots and — above all else — score the basketball.