Key to the game: Virginia’s defensive rebounding
Virginia held Minnesota to 9 offensive rebounds for an offensive rebound rate of 28.6%, below their season average of 38.1% (good enough for 55th in the nation). Minnesota dominated the glass early in getting out to an early lead but this faded away as the game went on and Virginia took advantage (along with their 3 point percentage) in a big comeback win.
Let’s take a look at how Virginia got out to an early lead.
Here is Minnesota crashing the glass with 3 players around the offensive rim. With a major strength and height advantage, I expected Minnesota to take advantage of this all game. They did in this clip, as Rodney Williams (I believe) gets a finger on the ball and in the scramble, Mbakwe gets the ball and finishes with a dunk.
Virginia does not really put a strong body on any of the Gopher players and they are free to leap up and work for the offensive rebound. This is why Minnesota was able to dominate the offensive glass early, as UVA was not focused on putting a body on the rebounders.
After an early period of dominance on the glass by Minnesota, Virginia started to take control of the glass as they came back from an early deficit. So what changed? Virginia became more aggressive and committed to getting a body on the Gopher big men, in direct contrast to what they were doing in the above clip.
Look at this clip. Both Sampson and Mbakwe are taller than their Virginia counterparts but Virginia puts a body on both on them, holding them off from getting to the rebound.
I would not exactly call this perfect box out strategy but it is effective in securing the defensive rebound. The Virginia players face the Gopher rebounders at the onset to bump their off their route to the basket, since they likely cannot hold them off for the entire time. This is a solid strategy to have, especially when facing bigger players. The key is turning and finding the rebound, which Virginia does well here.
You can also notice the commitment to defensive rebounding, as there are 4 UVA players in the paint to help grab the loose ball.
UVA does a great job of mitigating the size advantage of Minnesota by putting a body on the offensive rebounders and rebounding in numbers. This helped them become a better defensive rebound and lessen one of the biggest advantages Minnesota had.
Here is a second example of this concept. Mbakwe was the player who was killing Virginia on the glass earlier but only had 3 offensive rebounds in the final 36 minutes, after 2 in the first four minutes. Virginia focused on boxing him out, any way they could.
Last clip we saw Virginia face Mbakwe to get a body on him. This time, Mbakwe gets between his defender and the basket and looks to be in position to get the offensive rebound. However, Assane Sene forces him under the basket, putting him out of place to get the rebound.
Again, this is just as effective as a traditional box out. Sene forces Mbakwe out of position for the offensive rebound which allows his teammates to get the defensive rebound.
Virginia did a great job after the opening 4 minutes of working hard on the defensive glass. They limited the second chance opportunities of Minnesota and held the Gophers below their season average of offensive rebounding rate. I believe this was one of the major keys to their win (along with their great 3 point shooting). To be competitive in the ACC, UVA will need to show this commitment to defensive rebounding night in and night out.