Wahoo Basketball Roundup

Lots of interesting news around Wahoo Nation today: --Assane Sene needs to eat!

--Jeff Jones has announced his transfer destination: Rider. I wish Jones all the luck in the world.

--Sammy Zeglinski is recovering from hip surgery.

With only five scholarship players returning, Tony Bennett's 2010-11 squad is going to be interesting to watch. It may not always be fun, but the development of the group will be interesting to UVa partisans. In Tony We Trust.

Random musings on the Stanford game

Disappointing loss for the men's basketball team tonight against Stanford in the semi-finals of something called the Cancun Challenge. Some random thoughts: --It was good to get to see the team on television again. First game I've watched since last week's South Florida debacle. Despite some disappointing play, it's clear that Virginia is a different team than we saw earlier in the season.

--Down the stretch, I saw no urgency out of the Hoos. I hoped to see Sylven Landesberg get that look in his eyes, and take the team on his back. Didn't happen. There was just no urgency to win this game.

--Jeff Jones was great on the offensive end, scoring 17 points on 5-9 shooting. That's the JJ I've been waiting to see.

--Jeff Jones was terrible on the defensive end. Also terrible: Calvin Baker and Assane Sene. Just brutal. I can't believe Coach Bennett will tolerate that kind of effort much longer.

--Shot selection was much improved over last week. That was the single point that I was most encouraged about. Unfortunately, they just missed some open looks. Combine that with poor free throw shooting (14-24), and that was the difference in the game.

--Mu Farrakhan didn't play in the first half. No idea why, but it was a clear benching by Bennett, because he played (though not very well) most of the second half.

--Mike Scott had 7 points and 9 boards, and would've had more if not for foul trouble. He's really the only offensive option Virginia has in the low post, and he's a talented option at that. It's an absolute must that Scott stay out of foul trouble if Virginia hopes to be competitive.

--In the end, I'm still seeing progress out of the team. I'm very happy with where Bennett has them right now. He just doesn't have the horses to run his system. Yet.

--A final note: the game was on CBS College Sports Network, and it was, without a doubt, the worst television basketball broadcast I've ever seen.

Production values were awful. They couldn't get the score correct for the first five minutes of the game. When they showed the starting lineups, they showed pictures of five random guys instead of the Virginia starters.

Worst of all, however, the play-by-play guy (I think his name was Thad Anderson) was the single worst sports announcer I've ever seen. Geez, this guy was brutal. He got everything wrong, and clearly had not prepared for the game at all.

I think it was actually this guy:

Let's talk hoops

In the interest of trying to forget about football entirely, let's talk hoops for a minute. I have a big stack of Virginia basketball links that I've been meaning to post (and I want to stay positive, so no discussion of the Assane Sene suspension), but I went out of town this weekend and am just now getting around to it. Before the link roundup, however, a note about my expectations for the 2009-2010 men's basketball squad. The Good Ol Blog is running a poll, asking for predictions on the number of ACC wins Tony Bennett's squad will reach this year. I voted for 7, which seems to be a popular selection.

Seven wins would be a great result in Coach Bennett's first season. The team is predicted to finish next to last, which I think is absurdly pessimistic. We don't have top-four talent on this roster, but there's enough there for Bennett to fashion a competitive squad. I think the Hoos are going to finish in the bottom half of the conference, but they will have at least one big ACC upset, and they will be blown out of very few games.

More than that, I think they will be fun to watch (something we can't say about the football team, unfortunately). They are going to scrap and claw and fight to the end of every game. It's their coach's disposition (ask his Washington State players), and I really believe his players are going to buy into it.

I'm very high on Tony Bennett, if you haven't noticed. (Take that with a grain of salt, however; I was high on Pete Gillen and Al Groh, too).

Anyway, on to the links:

--The poll above was prompted by Dear Old UVa's interview with John Gasaway, of the ever-popular Basketball Prospectus (here is part one of the interview, and here is part two). Gasaway predicts that Virginia will go 8-8 in the ACC. That, my friends, would be a spectacular success, as far as I'm concerned.

--The Daily Press had a couple of outstanding articles on Coach Bennett this weekend, and they are both worth a read. This one focuses on the fact that rebuilding is in Coach's blood, and this one is a collection of items about Bennett that didn't make it into the main story. There is a ton of great stuff in there for UVa hoops junkies. Like me.

--Looking back at one of our favorite Hoos ever, JR Reynolds (some great video at that link). Although it's looking increasingly unlikely, I'm still hopeful that JR will get a shot at the NBA sometime.

--Shifting over to women's basketball for a moment, Monica Wright's name is on the finalists list for the Senior CLASS award. That won't be the last time we hear "Monica Wright" and "award" in the same sentence.

--Finally, it's behind the subscription wall, but The Sabre has this interview with Jeff Jones, the key to UVa's season, in my opinion.

Jeff Jones (for a new generation)

No, not this Jeff Jones. This Jeff Jones. If you had to pick one player who needed to take a big step forward in order for this year's hoops team to be competitive, wouldn't Jones be your pick? If your answer is "yes", then prepare to be excited:

Tony Bennett got his first look at his basketball team's media guide Sunday morning. Flipping through it, UVa's new coach stopped on Page 84.

"He could be an important guy for us," Bennett said, pointing to a photo of junior guard Jeff Jones....

Indeed, Jones has been one of the Cavaliers' standouts in practice thus far, and he's a strong candidate to start at shooting guard.

"I would say he's just stress-free right now," sophomore swingman Sylven Landesberg said. "I think last year he just felt like there was a lot of pressure on him. I think he just feels like he can go out and play his game without hearing anybody."

Jones' body language reflects his renewed confidence. He looks happy on the court, and his shot drops regularly in practice. Gone is Leitao's motion offense, replaced by a more structured system that plays to Jones' strengths.

"If I had to have a dream offense, this would be it," Jones said before a recent practice. "You're loose out there. You're playing your game, you're coming off multiple screens, and eventually you're going to be open.

Oh man, November 13 can't get here fast enough.