As Virginia enters its toughest stretch of the non-conference schedule — with games against Vanderbilt, Seton Hall or Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Lehigh and West Virginia up next — the Cavaliers have seen plenty by which to be encouraged.
Perhaps nothing more than the play of sophomore guard Kyle Guy.
Guy lived up to the McDonald’s All-American status he achieved in high school with a 29-point performance on the road at VCU last week. But it might have actually been his 13-point, three-assist follow-up against Monmouth two days later that was more noteworthy.
Guy showed during his first season, in which he averaged seven points per game, he was capable of incredible offensive outbursts. Everyone knew there were some games like the VCU performance coming this season. But Guy lacked consistency as a freshman, and two often a great game like that was followed by outings in which he was a non-factor.
After scoring a then career-high 20 points against Grambling last November, he scored three against Iowa the next time out. Fourteen against Florida State preceded two points in a loss at Pittsburgh. He put up those same numbers against Syracuse and Louisville in consecutive games and after scoring 17 to lead the Cavaliers past North Carolina he turned around and scored just six against Pitt.
Virginia then played Pitt in the ACC Tournament and Guy scored 20 before being held scoreless by Notre Dame the next night.
During a conversation at UVA’s media day, Guy sort of blew off the idea that playing games on short rest contributed to the sharp declines after it was pointed out several of those games came when playing twice in three or fewer days, but agreed that a full year in the Cavs strength and conditioning program was going to help.
So far, so good
So while the 13 points against Monmouth was actually his lowest scoring output of the season so far, it still a hopeful sign Guy is ready to be more consistent. While the 6-2, 175-pound Indiana native is clearly stronger this season, he has also played smarter with a more well-rounded game.
Last season, Guy’s ability to contribute was tied almost directly to how well he was shooting from behind the arc. So far this season he’s been one of Virginia’s best ball handlers and distributors. He’s also making things happen by getting into the lane.
Was Guy a bit tired Sunday against Monmouth after the game at VCU that Friday? Perhaps, he made only one 3-pointer. But he played smart, making things happen off the dribble while shooting 50 percent from the floor and dishing out three assists to just one turnover.
When you check out Guy’s game-by-game statistics at the end of the season, Monmouth won’t stick out, but that’s the point. A great game followed by a solid one serves Virginia quite well and bodes well for what Guy can do going forward.