1. Has Sylven Landesberg stepped completely into Sean Singletary's shoes or is there still a lot of growth to be made before he'll ever fill that void?
There are a couple things Sylven actually does better than Singletary did (fouls less, higher-percentage shooter) but in the realm of being a complete player and making his teammates better, Landesberg still has some steps to take to catch up. Then again, he's still only a sophomore, and Singletary is either the second or third best player in UVA's history depending on what you think of Bryant Stith, so the comparison isn't really apples to apples yet.
2. UVA lost three out of four by a combined 9 points and then ran off five straight wins including their first ACC game. How did the Cavaliers rebound so effectively? Or would you merely call this team streaky at best, waiting for the next downturn?
First, if we'd had Mike Scott for the Auburn game, a one-point loss, we'd be talking about a six-game win-streak; frontcourt scoring was nonexistent in that contest.
But the real answer is simply "schedule." Three of the five games since Auburn have been against the worst of the worst that D-I basketball has to offer, and NC State will probably be the ACC's bottom-feeder when all's said and done. And I simply think we matched up very well against UAB. I don't think the team is streaky, I just think it is what it is: a low-end ACC team that should expect to win at least three, if not all of those five games and at least be competitive in all of them.
3. Is this year's group of Cavaliers better than the 2008-2009 squad that only won 10 or so games? Is the program headed in the right direction?
It's actually pretty much the exact same bunch, only a year older, and with the requisite improvement that comes with that extra experience. The only new faces in this year's rotation (Will Sherrill and Jontel Evans) are role players, replacing role players from last year. Overall, the output is better, thanks to an improvement in in-game coaching with the switch from Leitao to Bennett.
As for the direction, yes, absolutely the right direction. Plenty of talent coming into the program; Bennett outstripped even the most wildly optimistic expectations on the recruiting front last year, and his system appears to be working, even though we're not even 15 games into his tenure.
4. Who is going to match up with Tech's big men, Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors? How do you see the match up playing out?
I think Mike Scott and Assane Sene will get the starts against Lawal and Favors, respectively, but I don't see this being played out as a straight-up mano-a-mano battle. We'll lose if we try. I think Bennett will sag his pack-line defense even further inside than it usually goes to deny the entry pass at all costs, and rotate some double-teams over toward whoever has the ball if it does get to the post. Jerome Meyinsse is considered a good defender and might see some time on Lawal, and if all else fails, he and Sherrill have five fouls to use. The goal in defending those two needs to be to force GT to beat us from outside, at the three-point line. If the Jackets can outgun us, fine, but that's not GT's preferred style, and we'll take our chances.
5. Tech hasn't won a road game in the ACC since March of 2008. Tech also hasn't beaten UVA since January of 2008. Who wins in Charlottesville?
Conventional wisdom gives it to Tech. We're going to get murdered on the glass - even if we succeed in forcing you to shoot from outside, the only true rebounder we have is Scott, and offensive rebounds are going to be a pain in our teeth all night. However, beware: a tried-and-true theme of ACC basketball is winning a big, big game and then going on the road and having a letdown. I think you guys are primed for that, in between a big win over Duke and a trip to Chapel Hill, and Georgia already showed that GT can be beaten even with a smallish lineup. Maybe I'm riding too high off a win against one of the ACC's worst, but I think UVA comes out with a narrow win here to go 2-0.
Thanks to Brendan From Old Virginia. I don't know how it completely slipped my mind to ask him about Al Groh but I'm sure he'll have some commentary sooner or later that we'll link up to, quote, or blatantly steal. Let us know your thoughts about tonight's game.