MINNEAPOLIS — Virginia junior guard Kyle Guy is comfortable shooting in the driveway or the gym. He got up shots at Harlem’s Rucker Park and now can say he’s splashed a few in a football stadium, too.
“As a shooter, obviously, you have to be confident in yourself, and your teammates have to be confident in you, and with that confidence, it doesn’t matter where you’re shooting,” said Guy, who put up 25 points and made five huge 3-pointers to keep Virginia in the West Region final against Purdue. “You could be shooting at Rucker Park in Harlem, or you could be shooting in a football stadium. You just have to have confidence. Obviously, it’s very nice that we get to practice here twice, so we can kind of get a feel for it. But when the ball is tipped, it doesn’t matter what the backdrop is. It’s just we prepared for this, and we’re going to be ready.”
The Cavaliers, the only No. 1 seed to survive and reach Minneapolis, were the second team on the practice court Friday, following Auburn. Neither team looked to be bothered by the massive arena during open practice sessions at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Virginia took a team trip to Rucker Park — the famous outdoor court across from the old Polo Grounds at 155th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in the Harlem neighborhood recently revisited in the Kyrie Irving flick “Uncle Drew” — while in New York last season. Guy, a 21-year-old from Indianapolis who picked Virginia over Cal and Indiana, is also preparing for another big day off the court. He and his bride to be became a topic of conversation Thursday, when Guy said he was told he couldn’t register for his upcoming wedding by the NCAA.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said the story was not accurate. On Friday, the NCAA further clarified that Guy can, in fact, have a wedding registry but fans are not allowed to send him gifts. Longtime girlfriend Alexa Jenkins and Guy will restore their registry after the Final Four.
To extend their trip to Monday night, the Cavaliers are counting on Guy to deliver big in the national semifinal matchup with Auburn.
“I’ve done a really good job this year of never hanging my head whenever I’m hitting or missing,” Guy said. “To see them go down was good.”
Head coach Tony Bennett said one of the keys for Virginia against Auburn will be defending the Tigers’ 3-point barrage. Virginia (28.7 percent) is among the best in the nation defending the 3, but Auburn averages 30.1 attempts per game.
“We just have to get to the shooters,” Virginia sophomore De’Andre Hunter said. “We practice it every day. We have to get to them quick, possibly run them off their line and make them make plays. It’s going to be a collective defensive effort.”
–By Jeff Reynolds (@ReynoldsJD), Field Level Media