Turnover-adverse Shayok, Guy vying for more playing time at UVA


Virginia basketball moves on following the dismissal of star center Austin Nichols. The Cavaliers still rank inside the AP’s top 10, and are now 4-0 after Tuesday 56-point dismantling of Grambling State. The Cavaliers scored 90 points against the Tigers, which is the most they’ve tallied in a game since Tony Bennett arrived in Charlottesville. In that win, Virginia’s dynamic bench duo of Marial Shayok and Kyle Guy combined for 32 points, and provided further evidence that the Wahoos have one of the best second units in the ACC. They’re the only two players on UVA’s roster that are currently averaging more than ten points per game.

Guy, the team’s heralded freshman, paid homage to “The Microwave” and scored a career high 20 points on just seven shots; he’s now shooting 80 percent on 3-pointers this season. Shayok has 10 career games of scoring double figures; three of those performances have occurred this season. Despite a cool start from beyond the arc (1-for-5), Shayok has been miraculously efficient. It doesn’t hurt that he’s shooting 63.3 percent on two-point field goals. As an upperclassman, he’s clearly ready for a bigger role.

Shayok has played 75 minutes across four games this season — sixth most on the team; in that time, the junior has done something kind of amazing. Despite an above average usage rate north of 30 percent, Shayok has yet to turn the ball over this season. That is incredible — especially when you factor in that he’s used nearly one-third of Virginia’s possessions when he’s been on the court. Guy, who has played 69 minutes (with a usage rate of 19.5 percent), has zero turnovers on the season, too. To the surprise of no one with a basic understanding of numbers, Shayok and Guy are currently tied for No. 1 in the nation in turnover rate.

Players that shoot a high percentage and despise surrendering the ball to their opponents are perfect for Virginia’s methodical offense. The Cavaliers, who lead the nation in defensive efficiency, rank 13th on offense in points per possession; UVA is scoring 114.3 points per 100 possessions. That metric would likely be higher, though, if Tony Bennett handed out more playing time to Guy and Shayok. According to Ken Pomeroy, Guy ranks second in the nation in individual offensive efficiency: 189.1 points per 100 possessions, which is absurd.

Devon Hall is a veteran who has played a lot of high-leverage minutes for the Cavaliers the last two seasons. He played in all 37 games last season, making 20 starts; it’s obvious he has the trust of Bennett. Hall’s also capable of making a nifty play or two.

However, he’s a subpar shooter (31.8 percent on threes for his career), and he turns the ball over more than Virginia’s other perimeter stalwarts — with the exception of Darius Thompson, who is off to a nice start this season, too. Bennett has more intel and information than anyone else on what his rotation decisions should be — this is no second-guess. But as Virginia’s schedule ticks up — their next five games will include five opponents from inside KenPom’s top 90, including Ohio State (28) and West Virginia (19) — look for Guy and Shayok to see increased spurts off playing time, especially when Bennett’s trying to grease the offense.