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ACC Basketball Preview: Virginia

Quick Facts

2005-06
Record: 15-15, 7-9 in the ACC
ACC Regular Season Finish: 7th(tied)
ACC Tournament Result: Lost in Quarterfinals
NCAA Tournament Result: None. Lost in NIT 1st Round

Players and Coaches

Head Coach: Dave Leitao, 2nd year at Virginia, 15-15, 6th year overall, 95-84
Key Returnees:G Sean Singletary(17.7 ppg), G J.R. Reynolds(17.0 ppg), F Adrian Joseph(9.4 ppg), F Jason Cain(6.2 ppg), Laurynas Mikalauskas(6.2 ppg), Mamadi Diane(6.0 ppg)

Preseason Rankings
Poll Rankings: None
ACC Preseason Poll: 8th

Outlook

Virginia will be opening a new arena with a talented coach and one of the deadliest backcourt combinations in the conference. Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds bring over 34 points a game from the perimeter. However last season UVa ranked 10th in the conference in three point shooting percentage and last in field goal shooting in general. This is actually not surprising considering UVa's offense was focused on the perimeter and not higher percentage shots in the paint. In order for the Cavaliers to get a more balanced offensive attack, Leitao will need increased production from 6-10 Jason Cain and 6-7 Adrian Joseph. Forward Laurynas Mikalauskas and center Tunji Soroye also saw significant minutes last season and will be leaned upon to establish a strong front court. One significant issue UVa will face is what happens when Singletary and Reynolds are on the bench or find foul trouble. The Cavalier roster is not well stocked at the guard position and it will be imperative for both of this players to stay healthy and out of foul trouble. On paper the Cavalier offense looks very one dimensional and there remains a need for significant production from the front court to take a defensive pressure of the guards.

THF Prediction

I strongly disagree with the ACC media on this one. UVa is returning too much sheer talent and have a great coach for me to believe they will finish 8th, especially behind Maryland. I think the one dimensional nature of the offense is a concern as is the lack of accurate shooting last season. UVa needs to shoot the ball well and they also need to find extensive offense from Cain and Joseph to create a more balanced offense. At this point there is so much we do not know but UVa returns a lot of experience and needs some breakout performances to really move up in the standings. Leitao had this team in 7th place when they were picked last, so I would look for him to have them up another notch from that to 6th this season. UVa will open the season with Arizona which will serve as an excellent test for this squad. The rest of the schedule outside the ACC is decent with games against Gonzaga, Stanford, and Purdue.

Prediction: 19-10 overall, 9-7 in the ACC for 6th place, NCAA Tournament