2009-2010 Virginia Cavaliers Basketball Preview
The Virginia Cavaliers (10- 18 overall, 4- 12 ACC) welcome former Washington State Cougar’s coach Tony Bennett. Although fans were concerned that Bennett had no ACC, Virginia or East Coast connections, he possesses a solid reputation as a program builder who can accomplish a lot with a little. He’s looking to take a club that’s become a consistent post-season casualty, either missing the second season entirely or traveling to the NIT, slowly to a new level.
The best thing about this team last season was its free throw shooting, which was ranked third in the conference at 74%. In every other category, the team was rated 10th or worse. Last season, they scored an average of 70.0 PPG while opponents knocked in 72.5 PPG. All in all, the Cavaliers must develop into a contender over the next five years.
The Cavs have had a tough time over the years creating inside scoring chances and grabbing rebounds. Junior forward Mike Scott (10.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 0.8 APG), who has a nice touch, will be asked to play the low post more actively. From the perimeter, senior Jamil Tucker (7.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 0.7 APG) is accurate; he’s the club’s best three-point man. Top 100 freshman forward Tristan Spurlock should provide points both inside and out. Sylven Landesberg (16.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.8 APG), who is a swing and was the ACC Rookie of the Year, may move to the frontcourt for good, giving the club even more points in the paint.
If Landesberg does move upfront, the team will need a few guys to step up. He was the only bright spot in the backcourt last season. A major problem for the backcourt was consistency. Two juniors, Mustapha Farrakhan (4.3 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 0.6 APG) and Jeff Jones (6.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.9 APG), must find the groove on the wing. Freshman Jontel Evans, who is a solid defender and playmaker, will see playing time immediately. He could be the point man this team needs.
The fact is it would be a major accomplishment for this team to win four more conference games. Forget the Big Dance and forget the NIT. Bennet is a smart coach, who constructs teams that are based on solid fundamentals, including playing tight, tough defense and displaying disciplined playmaking. Ninth or eighth place would be a big deal, but expect the Cavaliers to finish in one of the final two spots of the ACC.