2008 Virginia Cavaliers Basketball Preview
Last season, the Virginia Cavaliers (17-16 overall, 5-11 ACC) finished 10th in the conference and out of the running for a NCAA Tournament invite. That was quite a tailspin after head coach Dave Leitao, who was hired three years ago, got the Cavs to a place they had not been to in a long time—the Big Dance. That was in 2007, when the team went 11-5 in conference and tied for first in the ACC. Last season their 5-11 record got them to the dubious College Basketball Invitational (CBI). At the CBI, they lost to Bradley 96-85 in the semifinals.
Last season, the frontcourt suffered numerous injuries, debilitating its defensive prowess. Forward Laurynas Mikalauskas (17.6 MPG, 7.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 65.4 FG%, 62.5 FT%), who was troubled by shoulder problems last season, plays a tough inside physical game, giving the team a true post-up threat. Sophomore forward Mike Scott (18.1 MPG, 5.7 PPG, 5.3 APG, 0.5 RPG, 44.1 FG%, 70.3 FT%) revealed an ability to be effective in the paint; he’ll work to find consistency this year. The frontcourt ranks are fairly thin and uneven. Shot blocker Tunji Soroye, who played in just two games last season due to injury, would be a big help but thus far his application for a medical redshirt has not been approved.
Backcourt star Sean Singletary is gone and so are his stats—19.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 6.1 APG, leaving junior Calvin Baker (25.3 MPG, 8.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 41.7 FG%, 67.3 FT%) and redshirted freshman Sammy Zeglinski to take up some of the slack. Perhaps the most exciting guy in the backcourt is highly touted frosh Sylven Landesberg—Virginia’s first McDonald’s All-American since 1999. He could see action immediately.
Will the 2008-2009 season yield yet another invitation to the CBI—a
third-rate invention for college basketball’s bottom feeders?
It could. The fact is that this team will be severely tested. A
few things have to happen for the Cavaliers to once again contend.
They must play better defense, stay healthy and see their young
players mature quickly. A NIT berth would be something to cheer
about but don’t expect it.