2008-09 Virginia Basketball Preview: #130
Overall Rank: #130
Conference Rank: #12 ACC
2007-08: 17-16, 5-11, 10th
2007-08 postseason: CBI
And so begins life without Sean Singletary. And things were not even that great with him during the 2007-2008 campaign. Calvin Baker and Jeff Jones will have to carry the backcourt…at least for now. Baker, who averaged 8.6 points and 2.4 assists his first year in Charlottesville after transferring from William & Mary, is a decent shooter but it remains to be seen if he can effectively run the point without having a ton of turnover problems. Jones gained some valuable experience as a freshman, yet failed to live up to his high scoring expectations. If he fails to score again, the Cavaliers will be in trouble.
It can be argued that youngsters like Jones did not get the opportunity to score much because Singletary was taking all their shots. Singletary was the obvious dynamic player on the team averaging 19.8 points and 6.1 assists during his senior season. The question is whether or not anybody is ready to take over that large chunk of scoring left behind by Singletary. A couple big guys who started a majority of the games last season are also gone. Adrian Joseph led the squad with 5.7 rebounds per contest and added 9.9 points per game. Ryan Pettinella rarely put up big numbers, but he was a presence under the basket.
There are problems to address, most notably at the point guard spot. Sammy Zeglinski played in eight games last year before getting hurt and receiving a medical hardship. He did not play much in those eight appearances, but he did show that he can handle the ball. If Baker does not work out at the point, it is Zeglinski’s job. One of the other issues is finding another scorer to help replace Singletary. Sylven Landesberg is a decent option. He is a good shooter, but it is when he uses his 6-6 frame that Landesberg begins to be impressive. He can get to the basket off the dribble and finish with ease. He might look like a three, but he handles himself like a point guard. And it would not be a big surprise if Landesberg was at least given the opportunity to run the point at some time during his career. Depth up front should not be a problem with the addition of John Brandenburg and Assane Sene. They will not be asked to do as much of the newcomers on the perimeter, but it would be helpful if the duo can at least grab some rebounds as freshmen.
Who to Watch:
Wing Mamadi Diane was the only other player on the team to average double figures in scoring besides Singletary during the 2007-2008 campaign. He was also the most prolific and consistent long range shooter. A large part of the lost scoring should go through him. However, Jamil Tucker has plenty of offensive potential as well and could even steal away Diane’s starting spot on the wing. Tucker’s body should place him at the power forward spot, but he has a nice offensive game that works well on the wing. It is defending most opposing wings that will be the deciding factor on whether or not Tucker can handle a lot of minutes at the three spot.
Coming off a freshman campaign where he averaged 5.7 points and 5.2 rebounds, big things are expected from Mike Scott. The 6-8, 233 pound forward should be more consistent this year and that could lead to quite a few double-doubles. The effort guy up front is Laurynas Mikalauskas. When he was healthy enough to play, the Lithuanian brought some much need heart and hustle to the team. If he can continue to do that and stay healthy, the Virginia frontcourt could be the strength of the team.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Calvin Baker, Junior, Guard, 8.6 points per game
Jeff Jones, Sophomore, Guard, 4.8 points per game
Mamadi Diane, Senior, Guard, 11.8 points per game
Mike Scott, Sophomore, Forward, 5.7 points per game
Laurynas Mikalauskas, Senior, Forward, 7.0 points per game