Well, that was ugly. Shot selection was simply horrible, and that's been a problem with Virginia teams going back to Pete Gillen. I had hoped that would be one of the first things Tony Bennett would correct. Bennett preaches protecting the basketball; well, taking good shots within the offense is a part of that.
There were some rough individual "performances" as well, including Jontel Evans. As good as Evans looked in his Virginia debut last week, that's how bad he looked last night. He'll be fine, though.
There are positives, if you can believe it. The defense -- effort and execution -- in the first fifteen minutes was better than almost anything we saw during the Dave Leitao years. It didn't last, for any number of reasons. One is that Mike Scott is the only inside presence on the team right now, and when he went out with foul trouble, Virginia just couldn't match up on the defensive end.
Other "positives": the offense, despite poor shot selection and poor shooters, is clearly being installed. The guys move without the ball, screen, flare, make UCLA cuts...all things we rarely saw before this year. Also, the players are playing very hard. Maybe they got down on themselves a bit in the second half, and maybe the execution was sloppy fairly often, but the effort was always there.
This isn't a group of players that Bennett would've recruited to play in his system. It's a square peg in a round hole, but I still firmly believe that we will be proud of this team by the end of the season. Bennett has them headed in the right direction.