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.
There's probably only one way Tony Bennett and the Hoos could've erased much of the lingering pain from Thursday's collapse against Tech: by going on the road and beating North Carolina. Mission accomplished. Virginia went down to Chapel Hill and demolished a UNC squad that, frankly, looked like they didn't care for much of the game. I love the intro to the AP story:
Sylven Landesberg scored 29 points and Virginia ran off 18 unanswered points early in the second half to beat struggling North Carolina 75-60 on Sunday night.
Sammy Zeglinski added 19 points for the Cavaliers (13-6, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who regrouped from consecutive losses to earn another impressive victory under first-year coach Tony Bennett. Virginia had lost 63 of 68 meetings in Chapel Hill, but blew the game open by holding the Tar Heels without a field goal for nearly 8 minutes in front of a stunned Smith Center crowd.
Wow. I'm still stunned, myself.
Landesberg was incredible tonight, one of the best performances I've seen from the young guy. The defense, however, was simply spectacular. The Hoos held UNC to 36% from the field, and they got a stop every time they needed one. Jerome Meyinsse blocked 3 shots, and all were important. You can't help but be happy for Jerome. He's having a great senior season.
Up next: NC State comes to Charlottesville. With a win, Virginia would improve to 5-2 in the ACC, and that's almost unimaginable. Heck, if they hadn't given away the Tech game, they'd be 5-1 now and in control of the conference.
Oh well, I'm not going to complain. It's a night to celebrate. Way to go, Hoos.
Written before yesterday's near-catastrophe, clearly, but nice to see that ESPN's Andy Katz has named Virginia the national "team of the week" for last week:
There's no way I thought UVa would nab this honor in mid-January.
I knew coach Tony Bennett could take a collection of players, mold them into his style and maximize the talent. But he's clearly exceeding the expectations for this squad.
Virginia was projected to finish with NC State at the bottom of the ACC. Three games into conference play, the Cavaliers are the only undefeated team in the league and looking as confident as any other squad in the conference.
Virginia isn't just squeezing out wins, either. This past week Virginia beat Georgia Tech after the Yellow Jackets had beaten Duke. Georgia Tech then went on the road and beat North Carolina. Clearly, the Yellow Jackets are one of the most talented teams in the ACC. So taking out Georgia Tech, keeping the Yellow Jackets off the free-throw line (3-of-11) and playing an unselfish game was no fluke.
Virginia is getting balanced scoring from Sylven Landesberg, Mike Scott, Sammy Zeglinski and Mustapha Farrakhan. But it's the defense down the stretch that is winning games.
In the win over Miami, Virginia blitzed the Hurricanes with a 33-21 halftime lead and never looked back.
That means the Cavaliers have won three games against teams that were ranked in the AP poll at one point (UAB, Georgia Tech and Miami).
Virginia is still fragile. The Cavs could easily lose to anyone remaining on their schedule. But if the home court continues to be a staple for them, then it's not unrealistic to think they can win at least six more ACC games. If they do, the Cavs would be 9-7 in conference play and right there to get an NCAA berth. That in itself was unthinkable two months ago, a credit to Bennett and to the players who believed in him like the ones who did at Washington State. The Bennett hire was questioned, only because he came from out of the region. It was never an issue about his coaching.
I really anxious to see how UVa plays this weekend against Wake. It'll be an interesting litmus test of where this team stands right now.
The Cavalier men's basketball team played perhaps their most complete game of the season this afternoon in Raleigh, NC. It couldn't have happened at a better time: the opener of the ACC season. With a victory over NC State, the Hoos are now 1-0 and in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Sylven Landesberg had 23 points to lead the Hoos. Mike Scott had 14 points and 7 rebounds, and Sammy Zeglinski scored 10 and pulled down 8 boards.
The most encouraging aspect of the game was that Virginia really took care of the ball, much more so than we've seen out of the team all year. Zeglinski had only 1 turnover in 36 minutes of play; Calvin Baker had three assists and no turnovers. Yep, you read that right: Calvin Baker. The kid is playing under control, and he's been a big asset to the team.
Virginia was down by ten points midway through the second half, but they clamped down on defense (we haven't seen that often) and they looked determined to come back. Too frequently this season, this team has looked defeated when they got behind late in games. Today, no heads were drooped, and no one on the roster quit.
I've been saying it all season: Tony Bennett has this team pointed in the right direction. It's taken some time, but today we all saw some real evidence of the progress Virginia has made thus far.
Nice ACC debut for Coach Bennett, on the road no less. Now he needs to forget about it. In the ACC, there's always another tough game around the corner. For Bennett, that means a contest against Georgia Tech, who beat the Evil Empire today.
I hope to see JPJ full and rocking for that game on Wednesday night.