2007 Virginia Cavaliers Basketball Preview
The Virginia Cavaliers (21- 11 overall, 11- 6 ACC) tied for first in the conference and got to round two of the March Madness brackets before Tennessee eliminated them by a score of 77- 74. That was their first appearance in March Madness since 2001. Under second-year coach Dave Leitao (36- 26 in two years at VT, 116- 95 in seven years), the Cavs enjoyed an enormous home court advantage at the brand new John Paul Jones Arena, going 16- 1 overall and 8- 0 in the ACC.
In the ACC, Virginia placed fourth in scoring, averaging 77.0 PPG, and in rebounding margin, with a plus-4.5 edge which pushed the NCAA point spreads. Overall, they handled the ball well as the club was third in the conference in turnovers, averaging 13.7 TPG. Their scoring defense ranked ninth in the conference as they allowed teams 70.8 PPG.
Last season, Jason Cain gave the team something they had not had in a long time—a solid defensive and rebounding presence at center. Cain, who’s gone, developed into a fine defender in the paint. Leitao, who likes his team to play tough physical ball, has some big men who can replace Cain’s defensive prowess, including 6’ 11” senior center Tunji Soroye (2.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 51.4 FG%). Junior front man Laurynas Mikalauskas (3.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 55.4 FG%), who had trouble with injuries last season, can be a big upfront force. Senior Adrian Joseph (7.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 44.2 FG%) can hit threes, but is streaky.
With the loss of J.R. Reynolds and his 18.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 3.7 APG, the team becomes Sean Singletary’s (19.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.7 APG, 40 FG%). Singletary is one of the fastest backcourt guys in college ball, capable of singly creating points from one end of the court to the other. Mamadi Diane (9.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 44.2 FG%), who must improve his “D” and ball handling, will try to replace Reynolds.
Although J.R. Reynolds is gone, having Singletary as a senior will be a huge boost to this team. With coach Leitao at the helm and some sound experience in the ranks, the club should finish in the top tier of the ACC and once again be back in the March Madness lines.