Does Virginia have the goods to be good enough this year?
After watching Virginia this season, I am a big fan of the Wahoos. If Carolina doesn’t win it again, I will be rooting hard for coach Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers.
I first noticed them when they beat Duke in Cameron. How can five projected NBA draft picks lose at home to a team with no players flagged for a bright NBA future? Of course, that might no longer be the case, since Isaiah Wilkins, Devon Hall and young D’Andre Hunter have emerged as possible pros. But as good as Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome are, you probably won’t be seeing them in the NBA.
This is a team beyond all teams. Bennett red-shirts more guys than most basketball coaches and he recruits kids with the underdog attitude – which allows them to sit a year, learn the system and wait their turn. How they play together and communicate on both ends of the floor is pretty incredible.
The rap on Virginia, even when they had future pros like Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogden, was they didn’t have a go-to guy in the clutch that can get them a bucket when they really needed it. You saw that in the epic Elite Eight collapse two years ago, when Syracuse rallied strong in the second half from far behind to beat the ‘Hoos, who had All-American Brogden at the time.
So who steps up for Virginia when the going gets tough in this year’s Big Dance, and tough it will get with so much parity in college basketball that about 12 teams could win it all? Does Virginia even need a go-to guy, or does it have four or five of them right now? That guy, Guy, looked pretty unstoppable in Brooklyn – even though he had to convince his teammates he can actually dunk a basketball.
Will the Cavs’ pack line defense be able to hold opponents to the measly low averages of 53 points, 37 percent field goal shooting and 30 percent from the arc? Will the Wahoos continue to force turnovers and kill possessions with their tempo?
They are intriguing for sure, the most mysterious overall No. 1 seed in the history of the tournament. The New York Times had a story over the weekend saying that Charlottesville doesn’t conjure up replies of a great basketball team as much as a great tragedy there last year. Can Virginia do it with a bunch of no-names and hardly household faces?
Heck, outside of Virginia, our Theo Pinson is better known than anyone Virginia has!