We have to say, Virginia has been erratic and rebuilding when they certainly weren't expecting to be, but they're also one of the more intriguing.
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Consider the pieces. Akil Mitchell has developed surprisingly fast after Mike Scott left a huge hole up front. Joe Harris has obviously established himself as a solid contributor.
Justin Anderson is a superb athlete. Darion Atkins, Evan Nolte and Teven Jones all have the potential to be good role players. We don't fully understand what Paul Jesperson brings to the team yet, but he's averaging 26.6 mpg, so Tony Bennett clearly values his contributions.
Virginia has lost thus far to George Mason, Delaware and ODU and are 10-3. None of them are good losses, least of all to ODU, but still, they are by a combined 12 points. It's not like they're getting killed and they've mostly gone without their point guard, Jontel Evans, who sets their defense.
After the laugher over Wofford - UVa won by 35 - the consensus was that Virginia had advanced a level. And what's more intriguing, aside from the fact that they did it without Evans, is the outstanding game that freshman center Mike Tobey had.
The rookie was 9-10 from the floor, and not just under the basket, according to the Daily Progress. Tony Bennett was suitably impressed: "They were small. We took advantage of the mismatches and Mike showed his soft touch. As weâve said, itâs just a matter of time [before] his strength comes and his experience. Heâll get better, but he can score and he has some skill."
We take his point about the size mismatch, but still. UNC has had size mismatches. So has FSU. So has Duke over the years with talented young big men.
As a matter of fact, it's pretty uncommon in general. So it's worth noting.
If they can get reasonable play out of him and solid point guard play, UVa might make a bit of a move.
Really bad news for Miami and Reggie Johnson as the big big man's thumb will keep him out for about six weeks. It's a serious blow to Miami's prospects.