When Virginia started the 2009-2010 season with a 14-6 record, they opened some people’s eyes under first year head coach Tony Bennett. Yet when they lost their final nine games of the season, nobody blinked an eye. So which Cavalier team will we see this year?
By: David Kay
Virginia Cavaliers (T-9th, 5-11 in ACC, 15-16 overall)
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: James Johnson (Fr)/Assane Sene (Jr)/Will Regan (Fr)
PF: Mike Scott (Sr)/Will Sherrill (Sr)/Akil Mitchell (Fr)
G: Mustapha Farrakhan (Sr)/Joe Harris (Fr)
SG: K.T. Harrell (Fr)/Jontel Evans (So)
PG: Sammy Zeglinski (Jr)/ Billy Baron (Fr)
Gone: SG-Sylven Landesburg, SF-Tristan Spurlock (transfer-Central Florida), SG-Jeff Jones (transfer-Rider), C-Jerome Meyinsse, SF-Jamil Tucker, SF-Solomon Tat, PG-Calvin Baker
Second year head coach Tony Bennett did some house cleaning this off-season to get rid of players who didn’t buy into his system Sylven Landesburg was ultimately kicked off the team resulting in his decision to turn pro. Tristan Spurlock and Jeff Jones decided to transfer with little fight from Bennett to try and convince them to stay at UVA. In total, the Cavaliers lose seven players from their 2009-2010 roster.
Three starters return in Mike Scott, Mustapha Farrakhan, and Sammy Zeglinski to provide some leadership for Virginia. A nice mix of freshmen arrive to the program including K.T. Harrell and James Johnson who were both top-100 national recruits and figure to see significant minutes in their first season. Depth and experience off the bench will be two issues the Cavs will struggle with this season.
While the talent is far from overwhelming in this year of transition, Bennett has a knack for getting the best out of his players once they embrace his style of hard-nosed defense and patience on the offensive end. That brand of ball worked well in the Pac-10 at Washington State but only time will tell if Bennett-ball can flourish at Virginia in the athletic ACC.
Player to Watch: K.T. Harrell, SG
In losing Landesburg, Jones, and Spurlock, the Cavaliers have a need for someone to step into that athletic scoring role. Harrell is a great creator who loves to attack the basket and if he can provide that style of play, it should benefit everyone on the floor including the team’s top returning three-point shooter in Zeglinski. Outside of the Duke and Carolina guys and N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie, Harrell should be one of the top freshmen in the conference.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/18 at Stanford
11/22 vs. Washington (Maui Invitational)
11/23 vs. Kentucky/Oklahoma (Maui Invitational)
11/24 vs. Michigan State/UConn/Wichita State/Chaminade (Maui Invitational)
11/29 at Minnesota (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
12/17 vs. Oregon
12/30 vs. Iowa State
Other 99 in 99’s:
#82 South Carolina
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#89 Boston College
#93 Oregon State
#97. Iowa State