2007-2008 Virginia Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #31
Conference Rank: #5 ACC
2006-07: 21-11, 11-5, 1st (t)
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
When Sean Singletary opted to pull out of the NBA Draft, Virginia fans everywhere let out a big sigh of relief. Singletary averaged 19.0 points, 4.7 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals as a junior. Those are some lofty numbers, but without J.R. Reynolds by his side, Singletary will be asked to do even more for this team.
Reynolds added 18.4 points, 3.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game during his senior season. With Singletary, the duo was one of the most dynamic and dangerous in the nation. What happens without Reynolds on the floor remains to be seen. Jason Cain started 29 games and averaged 6.8 points and a team high 6.3 rebounds. His presence under the basket will be missed greatly since he was often the only reliable rebounder on the team.
A quartet of guards will come in and help try and replace the numbers of Reynolds. Calvin Baker was named to the CAA All-Rookie team two years ago when he averaged 11.6 points and 3.6 assists at William and Mary. The 6-2 Newport News native will not put up those type of numbers with the Cavaliers, but the sophomore at least has some experience. Mustapha Farrakhan and Jeff Jones are the future wings of the teams. Both are superb shooters and will provide a spark off the bench in that regard. Jones can handle the ball as well and could play the point if he needed to. At 6-4, he has the size to help out on the glass, but Coach Dave Leitao will have to work on his defense if Jones wants to see quality minutes this year. Point guard Sammy Zeglinski is not as highly touted as Farrakhan and Jones, but he is a smart floor leader who can hit the long ball. He will have to gain some strength in order to get to the basket more efficiently, but that will come with time. It is Mike Scott who may make the biggest impact this year. The 6-8 power forward is a good athlete with deceptive quickness. He will not bang inside that much and prefers facing the basket, but he could find his way into the rotation up front as a freshman.
Who to Watch:
It is that frontcourt that has the big questions. Somebody has to step up and take over the rebounding that is left behind by Cain. Tunji Soroye is not the most dynamic frontcourt player on the team, but he is a good rebounder. That alone will probably get him a starting spot, but when he is on the floor do not expect much offense coming from the paint. The other true post players on the team are Laurynas Mikalauskas and Ryan Pettinella. Mikalauskas earned 12 starts last season but, like Soroye, is not much of an offensive threat. At 6-8, Jamil Tucker has the size to play the four as well. Adrian Joseph and Will Harris are more talented forwards, but are ideally small forwards and moving them to the four will hurt the rebounding for a team that will already struggle in that department. Joseph was the team’s sixth man last year and averaged 7.2 points per game. He will likely find a starting job this year.
Singletary needs a partner in the backcourt and it will be Mamadi Diane. The 6-5 junior is a decent shooter and was third on the team in scoring last year behind Singletary and Reynolds. Being able to move Diane to the two guard spot instead of the three should help the Cavaliers’ rebounding numbers. Suddenly the team has a bigger frontcourt. They just need to develop those skills and work hard on the glass to replace Cain. This team will depend on Singletary a lot and if he struggles, so will Virginia. However, Singletary rarely struggles and when he is on a roll, the team will follow him…all the way to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Sean Singletary, Senior, Guard, 19.0 points per game
Mamadi Diane, Junior, Guard, 9.6 points per game
Adrian Joseph, Senior, Forward, 7.2 points per game
Jamil Tucker, Sophomore, Forward, 3.4 points per game
Tunji Soroye, Senior, Center, 2.1 points per game