#126 Virginia: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #126
Conference Rank: #11 Atlantic Coast Conference
2009-10: 15-16, 5-11
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Tony Bennett (15-16 at Virginia, 84-49 overall)
Coach Tony Bennett is slowly bringing in his type of players and teaching them his type of basketball. That will be a relatively long process, but year one was not too bad. Year two should see some improvement, but many of the players who stuck around to see what it was all about have left the program, including leading scorer Sylven Landesberg. There are holes to fill and defenses to be learned, but Virginia is moving in the right direction even if the record may not show it during the 2010-2011 season.
Key Losses: G Calvin Baker, G Jeff Jones, G Sylven Landesberg, C Jerome Meyinsse
Those who rank recruiting classes will not say Virginia has a great class, but Coach Bennett knows the type of player he needs and he went out and got them. The best of the bunch is arguably shooting guard K.T. Harrell. He will be asked to at least provide quality minutes off of the bench. Fellow shooting guard Joe Harris and point guard Billy Baron will fight for minutes as well. In the frontcourt there is a multitude of options, although the frontcourt is not as starved for bodies as the backcourt. That should allow James Johnson, Akil Mitchell and Will Regan some time to adjust to life in Coach Bennett’s system, but at least one of them will need to play around ten minutes per game as a freshman.
Despite all the defections, the backcourt does return three quality players who have some experience in the system. Jontel Evans started 11 games last season and is the likely candidate to take over the point guard duties. He is not much of a scorer at this point in his career, but as long he can take care of the ball and play solid defense, he will be doing his job. Mustapha Farrakhan is a decent ballhandler as well, but has the ability to play on the wing thanks to his 6-4 frame. He needs to improve his outside shooting, but Farrakhan can pick up some of the scoring slack left behind by Landesberg. Sammy Zeglinski is the shooter of the bunch. Last season he knocked down two three-pointers per game and was third on the team with 8.9 points per contest. Zeglinksi’s ability to hit the glass will also be much appreciated again this time around.
Mike Scott is the star of the frontcourt and the team. After finishing his junior campaign with an average of 12.0 points and 7.2 rebounds, the Cavaliers expect big things from the 6-8, 240 pound senior. Scott’s success is in part due to the system. He is not a three-point shooter, but he can stretch out the defense with his mid-range jumper and that is what makes Virginia’s offense dangerous. Yet, Scott is also a strong player who is not afraid to mix it up in the paint. The bigger issue this team faces is at center where the now departed Jerome Meyinsse started a majority of the time in 2009-2010. The options are 6-9 senior Will Sherrill and 7-0 junior Assane Sene. Both started a handful of contests last year, yet neither cemented themselves as extremely productive players on the offensive end. Sene is the better rebounder and shot blocker, but will rarely score at all.
Who to Watch:
Evans is probably the most important player heading into the 2010-2011 campaign. He is coming off of a season that was nothing special and will likely now be asked to play a much bigger role and lead the offense. If he fails to do so, Virginia will be in big trouble and the offense will continually sputter.
But a sputtering offense is not the end of the world for Virginia. They will need to score some, but this is a team that will win games with their defense. Coach Bennett has had a year to get his players acclimated to his style and the defense should be better in general. Yet, there is still a long way to go before Virginia starts competing for NCAA berths.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Jontel Evans, Sophomore, Guard, 2.4 ppg
Sammy Zeglinski, Junior, Guard, 8.9 ppg
Mustapha Farrakhan, Senior, Guard, 6.5 ppg
Mike Scott, Senior, Forward, 12.0 ppg
Will Sherrill, Senior, Forward, 3.0 ppg
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