White: Like Father, Like Son
Courtesy: VirginiaSports.com Release: 11/11/2009
By Jeff White
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- After an 1,100-mile drive from their home in rural Wisconsin, Dick and Anne Bennett arrived here early this week for an extended stay with their son and his family.
So we can expect to see Dick Bennett at John Paul Jones Arena on Friday night, right?
"I don't know," the coaching legend said Wednesday at JPJ. "I don't go to many of Tony's games. I get too nervous."
For years, the elder Bennett was the one in the big chair, first at high schools across Wisconsin and then in four college programs: the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, UW-Green Bay, UW-Madison (more commonly known as Wisconsin) and, finally, Washington State.
After the 2005-06 season, however, Dick Bennett retired a second time -- this time for good -- and turned the WSU program over to his son. Tony Bennett went 69-33 in three seasons in Pullman, Wash., with two trips to the NCAA tournament, before leaving last spring for UVa.
Dick Bennett's first job as a head coach was at Mineral Point High in Wisconsin. When he was hired in 1965, the school had about 300 students in grades 9-12. So when he looks around at the practice gym and weight room and coaches' offices and locker rooms at the JPJ -- not to mention the main court itself -- he marvels at his son's work place.
"It's overwhelming when you think about the very humble places that we've been, and that even includes Wisconsin. This engulfs Wisconsin's facility, which is wonderful," said Dick Bennett, who'd never been to Charlottesville before this week.
"I literally came from the bottom up, so for me it's overwhelming. I don't know how Tony feels. He had some experience in relatively glamorous spots, including the NBA. For me, it's a little intimidating. Hopefully it's not intimidating for Tony."
Tony Bennett played for his father at UW-Green Bay and was a staff volunteer on the Wisconsin team, coached by Dick, that advanced to the Final Four in 2000.
He was his father's top assistant at Washington State for three seasons before ascending to the head job.
From his father, Tony has learned many things, humility among them.
"He's very passionate, a fiery Italian guy," Tony said. "He'd get after his guys with great intensity. But whenever he'd really get after a guy and maybe step over the line -- whether it was at the end of the practice that night, the next day, sometimes in front of the team, sometimes one on one -- he'd apologize and say, 'I'm sorry, I made a mistake. Forgive me. I didn't mean to act that way. I lost my temper.'"
It impressed him, Tony said, to "see someone who is that successful with that much wisdom have the humility to do that. I always thought it was a great example, a life lesson to the young men. When someone's not afraid to admit, 'I screwed up, I made a mistake,' I think that really validates them and gives them some more substance with the players.
"I always marveled at that, and I thought that was an awesome attribute. He was a humble man, but the other thing is, he always found a way [for his teams to be competitive]. He knew what he wanted. He didn't get too swayed by what other people were saying. He knew what needed to be done to give them a chance to be successful."
Those who've observed father and son include Tony's sister Kathi and Brad Soderberg.
Kathi Bennett, who's about seven years older than Tony, is now an assistant coach on the women's team at Wisconsin.
"My dad, he's got that fiery passion," she said. "Tony, his bite might be worse than his bark. Be careful. My dad's bark might have been worse than his bite."
Soderberg, one of Tony's closest friends in the coaching profession, can attest to that. He played for Dick at UW-Stevens Point and later was on his staff at Wisconsin. Soderberg was named the Badgers' interim coach, in fact, after Dick unexpectedly retired early in the 2000-01 season.
"Tony doesn't bark as loud as Dick does, but he's got strong jaws," said Soderberg, now the head coach at Lindenwood University, an NAIA school in Cape Charles, Mo. "He'll bite you too."
From his father, who was renowned for his ability to revive moribund programs, Tony also learned the importance of recruiting selfless players of high character.
"My dad said, 'I gotta recruit a group of guys I can lose with first before I win,'" Tony said. "The point was, you're going to go through that adversity in this building process, and you better have the kind of players that, whether it's going really good or not going good, they're just going to stay together. Because eventually when they get mature, some good things are going to happen."
The Cavaliers, 10-18 in 2008-09, were picked to finish 11th in the 12-team ACC this season.
"I would think that this club would be very competitive the last third of the season, if they aren't before then," Dick Bennett said, "if they'll stay the course and get beyond their comfort level.
"And that's Tony's job. He's got to stretch them and take them out of their comfort zone. He'll find a real core from this group to go with some nice recruits, and the upward trend should continue next season."
By Tony's third season at UVa, his father believes, the work put in during the first and second years should pay significant dividends.
The younger Bennett plays the Pack Line defense devised by his father and now used by such teams as Wake Forest. Like his father, Tony favors an offensive system that limits turnovers and produces high-percentage shots.
"I believe it's necessary to have a system," Dick said, "be it up-tempo, pressure-oriented, motion, whatever. But team defense has to be one of those cornerstones. I don't know how you can do it without defense or without taking care of the ball."
In his UVa golf shirt, the elder Bennett looked very much at home as his son ran practice nearby. About 50 hours later, Virginia would open against Longwood. Nervous or not, Dick allowed that he might attend the game after all.
His brother Bob is coming down from D.C. for the opener. "If I don't go, I might not see him," Dick Bennett said with a smile.
Cavaliers Open Season At Home Against Longwood On Friday
Courtesy: VirginiaSports.com Release: 11/12/2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE—The Virginia men’s basketball team opens its 2009-10 season on Friday (Nov. 13) at John Paul Jones Arena against Longwood. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be the first for Tony Bennett as head coach of the Cavaliers.
Reserved seat tickets are available for the Virginia-Longwood game at a cost of $15 each. Family Packages are also available for the game with Longwood. Family Packages include four tickets, four hot dogs and four 22-ounce sodas. The cost of a Family Package for the Longwood game is $48 with additional tickets costing $12 each.
Bennett is in his first season at Virginia after spending the last three years as the head men’s basketball coach at Washington State. He and his staff will be working to revive a UVa program that finished with an overall record of 10-18 last season, including a 4-12 record and an 11th place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Bennett was part of a building process at Washington State where he served as an assistant to his father, Dick Bennett, before becoming the Cougars’ head coach prior to the 2006-07 season. The 2007 National Coach of the Year, Tony Bennett led the Cougars to an overall record of 69-33 and three postseason tournament appearances. The 69 wins are the most over any three-year period in school history and his Washington State teams were 32-22 in the Pac-10.
Sophomore Sylven Landesberg, a 6-6 guard, and 6-8 junior forward Mike Scott head the list of returning players for Virginia.
Landesberg was the ACC Rookie of the Year last season. He started 27 of the team’s 28 games in 2008-09 and averaged 16.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 34.2 minutes per game. He led the team in scoring and minutes played, and was second in rebounds and assists.
Scott led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring last season. He played in all 28 games, starting 19, and averaged 10.3 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. He also shot 54.4 percent (111-204) from the field and 74.1 percent (63-85) from the free-throw line.
Virginia has won its last 11 season openers and its last 12 home openers. The Longwood game marks the 11th consecutive season the Cavaliers have opened at home.
Bennett was 3-0 in season openers at Washington State.
Virginia leads the series with Longwood 4-0 and all of the games have been played in Charlottesville. The teams are playing for the fifth consecutive season and UVa won last year’s game 90-61 at John Paul Jones Arena. Landesberg scored 20 points to lead four Cavaliers in double figure scoring in last season’s victory over the Lancers.
Ten lettermen, including four starters, return from last season’s Longwood team that compiled an overall record of 17-14. The Lancers’ 17 wins are the program’s highest win total since beginning Division I scheduling in 2004-05 and are the most wins overall for the program since the 2000-01 season. Longwood competes as an independent.
The returning starters include 6-5 senior Dana Smith, 6-1 senior Kevin Swecker, 6-7 senior Billy Robinson and 6-1 junior Durann Neil. Smith led the team in scoring (14.8 ppg.) and rebounding (6.4 rpg.) last season, while Swecker averaged 10.9 points a game (made 63 three-point field goals), Robinson 7.2 points per game, and Neil 7.1 points and a team-leading 3.9 assists per game.
Mike Gillian is in his seventh year as the Lancers’ head coach.
After the Longwood game the Cavaliers return to action on Monday (Nov. 16) when they play South Florida in Tampa. That game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Uncertainty mars roster
By Doug Doughty
The men's basketball season can't open soon enough for new Virginia coach Tony Bennett, and not just because the sense of anticipation is overwhelming.
Certainly, Bennett is feeling some excitement but a deep, experienced cast of returnees seems to dwindle every week.
The Cavaliers will have 10 scholarship players at their disposal when they open the season at 7:30 tonight against Longwood, and that's if fifth-year guard Calvin Baker is in uniform after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Oct. 27.
Virginia announced Saturday that sophomore post player Assane Sene will miss the first three games as the result of an undisclosed violation of team rules; then, four days later, UVa put out a release with the news that senior forward Jamil Tucker would be taking an indefinite leave of absence.
A third frontcourt player, John Brandenburg, left the UVa program during the summer.
"The challenge for us is not to go back to zero," Bennett said this week.
Virginia assistant Ritchie McKay was the head coach for a Liberty team that came into John Paul Jones Arena last year and surprised the Cavaliers 86-82 with a starting lineup that featured five guards.
Now the Cavaliers might have to consider a similar alignment.
Mike Scott, a 6-foot-8 junior who often has been required to play out of position at center, could be joined by four perimeter players against the Lancers.
Bennett would not reveal his starting lineup in a Wednesday teleconference, but it is certain to include Scott and perimeter players Sylven Landesberg, Jeff Jones and Sammy Zeglinski.
Landesberg, a 6-6 sophomore, was named ACC rookie of the year in 2008-09 after averaging 16.6 points and 6 rebounds. Zeglinski was the Cavaliers' starting point guard in 15 games as a redshirt freshman.
Jones has been an enigma during his first two seasons but was one of the highest-rated players signed by Bennett's predecessor, Dave Leitao.
However, Jones didn't always respond well to Leitao's brusque manner.
Bennett won't be easy on players who don't buy into his defensive-oriented system, but he's not going to insult them.
"When I first met [Bennett], I thought he was the nicest guy in the world," Landesberg said. "There are times when he gets after us, but I've never heard him curse."
The approach has worked well so far with Jones, who scored in double figures six times last season, with five of those efforts coming during a nine-game stretch in February and March.
"He's had a very good October and November till this point," Bennett said. "I'll be very curious to see how all the guys respond when we start playing games."
The Cavaliers open the season with four games in eight days, including a Monday visit to South Florida, coming off a 9-22 season but hardened by Big East play.
Virginia will play seven games by the end of November, with four coming in the Cancun Challenge. After playing Rider and Oral Roberts at home, UVa will play Stanford in Mexico on Nov. 24, followed by a potential matchup with Kentucky.
At full strength, the Cavaliers would have found that early-season schedule challenging. Virginia was 10-18 last year and finished 11th out of 12 teams in the ACC, the same spot for which they have been chosen this year.
Bennett said he saw some positive signs in open scrimmages against Marquette and St. John's, but there were enough negatives to disturb him.
What he has discovered is that there is considerable "parity" in the program.
In other words, there is little separation between players No. 1 and 12 -- or Nos. 2 and 12, presuming that Landesberg lives up to his reputation.
Leitao also dealt with that issue, never more glaringly than in a February game against Boston College. After using 11 players in the first half, Leitao played the same five players for the first 18 minutes, 51 seconds of the second half.
Sene already has returned to practice and figures to return to the rotation in some form by the time UVa entertains Oral Roberts on Nov. 21. Tucker's return is more problematic.
Tristan Spurlock, a 6-8, 217-pound freshman, is listed as a guard/forward but may fill a need for height in the early going.
Two veterans whose intelligence may make them naturals in Bennett's structured "Pack-Line" defense are senior Jerome Meyinsse (6-9, 233) and junior walk-on Will Sherrill (6-9, 217).
"I hope there's going to be a surprise in terms of upperclassmen who didn't play very much," Bennett said.
The only non-frontcourt players who would fit that description are 6-4 senior Solomon Tat and 6-3 junior Mustafa Farrakhan.
"I'll be realistic," Bennett said. "We've got some ground to cover. I don't know what to tell you. Do I want to win? Absolutely. But, we're also geared to doing things the right way. We've got a vision for the long haul."
Virginia Men's Basketball 2009-2010 Season Preview
by Trent Thurston, November 12th 09:07pm
The 2009-2010 Virginia Men's Hoops Season gets underway Friday
against Longwood University at 7:00. Basketball Preview: Will there be anymore
attrition from this team? Who will help-out ACC Rookie of the Year Sylven
Landesburg? Will Sene get his head screwed-on straight and become the best
big-man the Hoos have had since Olden Polynice? Are Virginia fans still mad that
Tubby Smith is not our head-coach? Will Tony wear a necktie, or go without one
like he did at Washington State?
The Tony Bennett Era officially begins Friday at the John Paul Jones Arena here in Charlottesville. Gone is the often-grumpy Dave Leitao (63-60), whose on-court screaming became quite uncomfortable for fans, student-athletes, and the administration here at UVA. Virginia will be a little short of players for at least the first 3 games, as 7-0 Assane Sene, and 6-9, Jamil Tucker will not be available to play for Bennett. Sene has been suspened for conduct detrimental to the team, and Tucker has left the team for "personal" reasons. As Al Groh would say, "Next man up".
Virginia does not have a lot depth in the front-court this season, so look for the Hoos to run a great deal of three and four-guard sets against the vast majority of our opponents. As Coach Bennett looks for his magic rotation, we might see quite a few, and vastly experimental starting-fives. I have watched practice twice this season, and I think the first starting five will be: Zeglinski or Evans, Jones, Scott, Meyinsse and Landesburg. But I will tell you one thing, if they don't hustle on defense (Landesberg included), they are not going to see the floor again anytime soon!
I think UVA has a chance to win more than the putrid-total of 10 games they won last season, but I just don't see this team getting back to the NCAA's anytime soon. A .500 record might be a bit more attainable if Landesburg remains healthy, and Spurlock is as good as advertised. Look for Virginia to make it to the first, or second-round of the NIT in 2009-2010. Prognosticators have picked the Hoos to finish either last, or second to las, in the highly competitive ACC this season. Coach Bennett's defense-first system will take a bit of getting used to for the fans, as well as the guys on the team.
New to the team this season:
First Year #24 Tristan Spurlock (forward) 6-8*217 HS: Word of Life Christian School, Hometown: Woodbridge, Virginia
First Year #1 Jontel Evans (point-guard) (5-11*185) HS: Bethel, Hometown: Hampton, Virginia
First Year #11 Thomas Kody (guard) (6-3*183) HS: Langley, Hometown: McLean, Virginia (walk-on)
Fourth Year #10 Tom Jonke (guard) (6-0 *170) HS: Commack, Hometown: Commack, New York (former manager & current walk-on)
First Year #0 Doug Browman (guard) 5-11*182) HS: Montrose Christian School, Hometown: Midlothian, Virginia (walk-on)
Third Year #2 (6-4 Guard) Mustapha Farrakhan Harvey, IL (4.3 PPG)
Fourth Year #4 (6-2 Guard) Calvin Baker Newport News, VA (8.4 PPG)
Third Year #23 (6-4 Guard) Jeff Jones Chester, PA (6.5 PPG)
Second Year #15 (6-6 Guard) Sylven Landesberg Flushing, NY (16.6 PPG) *ACC Rookie of the Year
Third Year #22 (6-9 Forward) Will Sherrill New York, NY (0.1 PPG)
Fourth Year #45 (6-5 Guard/Forward) Solomon Tat Jos Plateau, Nigeria (0.6 PPG)
Second Year #13 (6-0 Guard) Sammy Zeglinski Philadelphia, PA (7.8 PPG)
Third Year #32 (6-8 Forward) Mike Scott Chesapeake, VA (10.3 PPG)
Fourth Year #55 (6-9 Forward/Center) Jerome Meyinsse Baton Rouge, LA (1.7 PPG)
Second Year #5 (7-0 Center) Assane Sene Saint-Louis, Senagal (0.1 PPG)
Sultans of shot: Tech's Delaney, UVa's Landesberg among top
scorers in ACC
Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney and Virginia's Sylven Landesberg are two of the top three returning scorers in the ACC this season.
By Mark Berman
Two of the top three returning scorers in the ACC play for schools in the same state.
If you're thinking that state is North Carolina, you're wrong. Don't forget, Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Teague, Ty Lawson and Gerald Henderson have moved on to the NBA.
If you're thinking that state is Florida, guess again. Toney Douglas and Jack McClinton are also gone.
That state is Virginia.
Virginia Tech point guard Malcolm Delaney is the top returning scorer in the conference, having averaged 18.1 points last season. Virginia off-guard Sylven Landesberg is the third-leading returning scorer with an average of 16.6 points.
"Delaney is going to be one of the outstanding guards in the league," TV analyst Dan Bonner said. "As the year goes on, he might end up the best guard in the league.
"Landesberg, he's also going to be one of the best players in the league."
Delaney made the All-ACC third team as a sophomore at the end of last season. He was voted last month to the media's preseason All-ACC team.
"I never thought I really would be in this position coming out of high school," said Delaney, a Baltimore native. "I definitely think I'm one of the best players in the league. My game developed a lot this summer."
Landesberg was chosen the ACC rookie of the year last season, when he had the fourth-highest scoring average among Division I freshmen.
"The assistant coaches tell me every day I got a bull's-eye on my back," Landesberg said. "I definitely know there's going to be a lot of [defensive] attention towards me this year. But I worked hard this summer, and I continue to work hard, so I think I'm prepared for it."
Delaney ranked sixth in the league in scoring and first in minutes (36.9 mpg) last season. He almost doubled his scoring average from his freshman year, when he averaged 9.6 points. His increase of 8.5 points per game was the highest in the league last season.
He attempted 416 shots, up from 243 as a freshman.
"He's a terrific, terrific player," Landesberg said. "He can score in bunches. He can shoot from the outside, he can get to the basket. He can kill you in many ways."
Delaney went to the free-throw line 259 times, making more free throws (225) than he attempted as a freshman (108). He ranked second in the league with a free-throw percentage of 86.9 percent.
"I was more aggressive last year," Delaney said. "I don't mind throwing my body around to sacrifice for my team if I'm going to make the free throws."
Delaney wasn't thrilled with his shooting percentage from the field, however. He shot 38.5 percent, down from 42 percent as a freshman.
"Last year I didn't shoot good," he said. So "I changed my shot a little bit, and went back to all the fundamentals.
"What if I shot like I was supposed to [last year]? I've never shot that bad in my life, but I still averaged that many points. But that was more free throws, me getting to the basket."
Delaney has been working on his mid-range jumper and his 3-point shot. He ranked ninth in the ACC with an average of 2.1 3-point baskets but shot just 35.4 percent from 3-point range, down from 40.2 percent as a freshman.
He attended two camps last summer to hone his skills. He joined Jeff Allen at LeBron James' camp in Akron, Ohio. Delaney was on the court when Xavier's Jordan Crawford made his now-famous dunk over James.
The 6-foot-3 Delaney also attended Deron Williams' camp for point guards in Dallas. Delaney ranked fifth in the ACC in assists last season (4.5 apg), and also had the league's fifth-best assist-to-turnover ratio.
"Last year I averaged four and a half assists, but we didn't really make shots," he said. "I think this year, with people making shots, my assists can increase."
Delaney, whose 37 points against Clemson was the best outing in the ACC last season, also hit the weight room over the summer. He weighs about 185 pounds, about 8 more than last season.
"I can finish a lot better around the basket now. I'm a lot stronger than I was last year," Delaney said.
But Delaney will no doubt draw more defensive attention this year, especially with the departure of A.D. Vassallo, who led the Hokies in scoring last winter. Tech hopes to neutralize that defensive attention at times by running screens for Delaney in a motion offense.
"With ball screens and stuff, I get more freedom," Delaney said. "That's definitely going to help."
Delaney moved over to off-guard the past two years when point guard Hank Thorns entered the game. Thorns has transferred, but Delaney will shift over to off-guard when freshman point guard Erick Green is on the court.
"The big thing for him is getting him off the ball, just to free him up to be a scorer," TV analyst Mike Gminski said of Delaney.
If Delaney does have a big year, will he turn pro or return for his senior season?
"I don't know," he said. "If it gets to that point, I'm going to sit down and talk to my family and Coach [Seth] Greenberg and see what's the best decision for me."
Making an impact
Landesberg, who was a McDonald's All-American at Holy Cross High School in Flushing, N.Y., tied for ninth in the ACC in scoring and ranked sixth in minutes (34.2 mpg) last season. His scoring average was the third-best among freshmen in UVa history.
He credits being aggressive for his big year.
"I wasn't afraid coming in," he said. "I was just ready to go."
But as the best player on a bad team, he drew plenty of defenders.
"Every time I penetrated and got into the lane or below the 3-point line, they would throw multiple defenders at me. I was getting frustrated," Landesberg said. "I would force things up sometimes instead of making the smart decision and finding an open teammate.
"But I feel like I matured, and I can make the right decision now."
He said teams won't be able to concentrate on him as much this season because his teammates improved over the summer.
Landesberg not only wants to do a better job this year of getting his teammates involved in the offense, but he also hopes to improve his jumper, rebounding and defense.
"Last year I think I had a pretty OK year, but there were a lot of things that I could've done that I didn't," he said. "I'm hoping this year I'll be able to do all those things I wanted to do, and just wipe last year off the board."
The 6-foot-6, 207-pound Landesberg had 12 20-point games last season, breaking the UVa freshman record of nine that was set by Ralph Sampson.
"Landesberg was pretty good last year even though he didn't have a particularly good 3-point shot and even though he was like the only offensive threat they had," Bonner said. "Nobody could stop him."
Landesberg shot just 31.4 percent from 3-point territory. He was 16-of-51 from 3-point range, compared to Delaney's 70-of-198.
"I'd like to see him develop a little more range on his shot," Gminski said.
Landesberg vows to be more of a perimeter threat this season.
"My jump shot got a lot better," he said. "I'm more confident shooting it, so I'll definitely be shooting from the outside more -- make them come play me outside, and then ... I'll be able to go into the lane and get some layups."
Foes don't like to see Landesberg in the lane.
"He slashes, and it's hard to defend slashers in college basketball because there's not a lot of them," Delaney said.
Landesberg is also tough to defend because of his height, said Delaney.
Landesberg shot 43.6 percent from the field and 79.6 percent from the free-throw line.
"He's such a crafty, tricky guy to defend," Gminski said. "He really had a knack of getting into the lane, getting fouled."
Landesberg could also see time at point guard and small forward in new coach Tony Bennett's offense.
"I'm more in a playmaker role," he said. "I have more freedom to make plays -- score for myself or set a teammate up to score."
And scoring is something both Landesberg and Delaney know all about.
Who will have a breakout year?
By Whitey Reid
Published: November 13, 2009
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When the 2009-10 Virginia men’s basketball media guide came out a few weeks back, nobody was more shocked about who the school had chosen to put on the cover than Virginia senior Jerome Meyinsse.
Meyinsse found himself smack on the front of the guide — right next to new coach Tony Bennett and ACC rookie of the year Sylven Landesberg.
“I was surprised, but I enjoyed it,” Meyinsse said. “I’ll probably send one home to my parents.”
Meyinsse, one of four seniors on this year’s team, didn’t make the cover because of his prowess on the court, but rather for his achievements in the classroom. The Baton Rouge, La., native has been an
All-ACC academic team member the last two years.
But Meyinsse, who has averaged 1.7 points in his career, doesn’t want to be known as just a basketball bookworm.
“I’ve always felt that way since I’ve been here,” Meyinsse said. “Now I’ve got one more year to go out and prove it — that’s one of my main goals this year.”
Meyinsse is one of several Virginia players with a lot to prove as the Tony Bennett era officially kicks off tonight at John Paul Jones Arena against Longwood.
You can take your pick — Jeff Jones, Mustapha Farrakhan, Sammy Zeglinski, Mike Scott. All of their playing time, and subsequent production, has fluctuated more than the Dow Jones. If Virginia has any hopes of making a splash in Bennett’s first year at the helm, it’s obvious that a few of them are
going to need to step up.
“There are some guys who are upperclassmen now that you’d really like to have a breakout year or really establish themselves,” Bennett said.
“I think we’re going to need the Jeff Joneses, the Mustaphas…I could go down the list. Guys who didn’t have as prominent roles, now that they’re upperclassmen, we’re going to need two or three of those guys to really step up in order to have a competitive team.”
Jones, the 6-foot-4 junior guard, has had one of the best preseasons of any Virginia player. His stroke has looked more fluid, more consistent.
He also seems to have rediscovered the swagger that he had coming out of high school as the Philadelphia Catholic League’s all-time leading scorer.
“I think everybody has a clean slate on this team,” Jones said. “Everybody is so motivated for this season. It’s just beautiful energy in the locker room. It’s unbelievable.
“Coach Bennett brings a lot of attitude to the team and is a good motivator.”
Landesberg, who will be a marked man this year and desperately needs some teammates to come out of the woodwork, believes Jones could be in store for a strong year.
“He’s just stress-free right now,” Landesberg said. “I think last year he felt like there was a lot of pressure on him. Now I think he feels like he can just go out there and play his game.”
That’s the basic mindset Farrakhan has, too. Last year, after a dazzling performance at Virginia Tech, it seemed like Farrakhan was ready to turn a corner.
However, just a few games later he found himself riding the bench.
“This is a new start for me — a new beginning,” said Farrakhan, the grandson of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. “It’s been kind of up and down here for me the last few years, so I’m looking forward to the coming
One of the most important spots on the floor for Virginia will be at point guard. Bennett, a former college and NBA floor general, has to have someone at the position who he feels comfortable with.
So far, that seems to be redshirt sophomore Zeglinski, who has been in the program three full years and has much more experience than freshman Jontel Evans, the other pure point guard on the roster.
“He’s an extremely hard worker who wants to be good. I see that,” Bennett said. “I look forward to seeing him in competition, but he’s pretty complete.
“I like the fact that it looks like he can get into the gap and works hard, and is a good team guy. Hopefully, when he’s out on the floor, he’ll be an extensive of me. If he were left-handed, he’d be perfect. That’s the only problem,” Bennett joked.
Of course, any Wahoo basketball fan from the last couple of years would probably say that inside scoring, or lack thereof, is Bennett’s biggest dilemma. With senior Jamil Tucker taking an indefinite leave of absence and sophomore Assane Sene serving a three-game suspension, the onus will fall heavily on Scott.
Scott, the 6-foot-8 junior from Chesapeake, has shown signs of being a top-tier ACC-caliber big man, but just hasn’t performed on any kind of consistent basis.
“Mike is going to be important to any kind of success we have this year,” Bennett said.
Scott sustained a foot injury in the closed-door scrimmage against
St. John’s on Sunday. While he’s expected to be OK for tonight’s game, his brief absence from the lineup gave Bennett a chance to see much more of Meyinsse.
“He’s physical,” Bennett said. “He just has to understand his role when the opportunity presents itself.
“You just want him to be who he is and not try and be somebody different than he is in practice.”
Meyinsse says he’s grown by leaps and bounds since his freshman year.
“I’m a lot faster and stronger than I was when I first got here,” he said. “The game has slowed down a lot for me.
“I can anticipate things happening. There are just a lot of things I’ve already seen before. I’m a lot more knowledgeable now than I was those first few years.”
Virginia takes on Longwood in opener
By Whitey Reid
Published: November 13, 2009
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No matter what happens in his Virginia debut tonight against Longwood at John Paul Jones Arena, don’t expect new coach Tony Bennett to sweat through his entire suit, a la Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl.
If one thing has become blatantly clear about Bennett in his first few months on the job, it’s that he’s a pretty cool customer.
Of course, that might change at around 7:07 p.m. when, say, Calvin Baker commits his first turnover and Mike Scott picks up his first ill-advised foul.
But don’t count on it.
“You try and be pretty even-keeled,” said Bennett, when asked what his emotions would be like heading into his first game as Virginia coach. “You don’t let your highs be too high or your lows be too low because I’m in it for the long haul.
“Whether we knock it out of the park, don’t, or are somewhere in between, it’s a long season.”
At the recent ACC media day in Greensboro, N.C., Virginia was picked to finish 11th in the 12-school league. That voting, however, took place prior to forward Jamil Tucker taking an indefinite leave of absence and center Assane Sene being suspended three games for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
While Sene should be back for Virginia’s Nov. 21 game against Oral Roberts, both he and Tucker were viewed as key components to this year’s squad.
Without the duo, Bennett’s job — at least for the immediate time being — has become tougher. Bennett now has very little depth in the frontcourt.
“We can go a couple different ways,” Bennett said. “We could play smaller, which we have to look at with Assane and Jamil out — not saying they [were] locked-in starters…
“Or you could be a little more traditional ...that’s what we’ve got to decide as we’re heading into this. Certainly you’ll see both.”
Coincidentally, Virginia employed a small-ball lineup in its season-opening win over VMI last season. However, former coach Dave Leitao did so because of the Keydets’ style, not due to a lack of bodies.
During his teleconference on Wednesday, Bennett hinted at playing the likes of seldom-used Jerome Meyinsse and walk-on Will Sherrill.
Bennett said he still hadn’t decided on a starting lineup.
“I think we’ve got some flexibility, and I think there is parity in this program,” he said. “There’s not clear-cut guys [about whom] you say, ‘This is our dominant starting five, no question about it.”
Let the fun begin.
Longwood went 17-14 last season, the program’s highest win total since it began Division I scheduling in 2004-05. ... The Lancers and Virginia have met five times. The Cavs have won all the games, including a 90-61 win last year. ... Virginia has not named team captains yet for this season. “We don’t have any,” Bennett said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t or doesn’t mean we will. I don’t have a clear answer for you there. We’ll just have to wait and see.”... Virginia senior guard Calvin Baker’s status is still up in the air for the game. Baker recently underwent arthroscopic surgery. ... Former coach Dick Bennett, Tony’s father, will be in attendance. ... Virginia has won its last 12 season openers. ... Bennett was 3-0 in season openers at Washington State.
Basketball coaching optimist, Longwood on climb
November 13, 2009
Six years ago, Mike Gillian was an optimist with an empty glass in front of him. Now, after locating a water jug, he hopes to pour as much and for as long as permitted.
Gillian is the men's basketball coach at Longwood University, and what he has accomplished merits an award all by itself.
He accepted the task of building a Division I program from scratch, at a basketball outpost with no conference home, playing a patchwork schedule that puts the Lancers in the frequent-flier and Marriott-points Hall of Fame.
Four years after winning one — count 'em, one — game in an entire season, Longwood went 17-14.
The Lancers return nearly everyone from that squad, and on the eve of tonight's opener at Virginia, Gillian took a few minutes to reflect on the journey.
"Gratifying, even more so than you could ever imagine," he said. "But at the same time, there's unfinished business. It doesn't stop the motivation. It doesn't stop the work. It doesn't stop what you do. But it does say, 'Hey, if you continue to do it this way, we're going to be able to keep this thing moving forward.' "
Gillian came to Longwood after six years at George Mason under Jim Larranaga, helping the Patriots to a pair of CAA tournament championships.
He joked that when he arrived, many people employed a variation of the glass half-full, half-empty analogy. They saw the glass as completely empty.
"Not me," he said. "I said, 'That's a glass waiting to be filled up.' It feels like now, we're maybe at that halfway point. We've done a lot to get to that. We've put a lot of stuff into it, and now it's half-full. There's still a lot of unfinished business, but you've just got to keep plugging away."
Last year's 17-win campaign was a breakthrough after a pair of nine-win seasons. Improvement was evident, if not tangible until last season.
"As coaches, you can see that every day," Gilliam said. "You can see that in the course of a week or a month or through a season — the improvements that guys make and the team getting better. But for it to be validated by results is huge."
Daunting as the task was, and remains, there is a kind of freedom that comes with being given carte blanche at a place where many of the expectations come only from the person you see in the mirror.
"No fear, no apprehension at all," Gillian said. "On the great side, you've got a chance to do everything the way that you want it done. Learn from your own mistakes, figure out some things that you're doing wrong, and build it eventually the way you want it done. And that's exactly what we've done."
Longwood made a little noise as a Division II program. Former Portland Trail Blazer and San Antonio Spur Jerome Kersey is a Longwood alum. Virginia transfer Colin Ducharme was the Division II national player of the year and led the Lancers to the 2001 NCAA tournament.
The school's move to Division I in 2003-04, however, was a leap of faith. No promises, no guarantees, no conference affiliation.
There's no conference affiliation on the horizon, either. The Big South, home to Radford, Liberty, VMI and several Carolina schools, makes the most sense geographically. But the league is already at 10 members for basketball. Eleven can become a little unwieldy for travel and scheduling purposes.
Without a conference, and the accompanying avenue to the NCAA tournament, postseason is pretty much a pipedream.
So, Gillian and school officials go the other direction, scheduling NCAA and postseason-caliber opponents during the regular season.
The Lancers will face Maryland, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, Richmond and South Carolina. Last year, they played Kentucky, West Virginia and Florida. All on the road.
"You can't do this particular job without being entirely optimistic," Gillian said. "Not to say you don't have times where there's frustration or you say, 'We've got to do this better.' But when you turn it around, how do you actually get to accomplish that stuff? We talk to the team about this, too. It's only with a positive attitude."
No one has remained more positive than Dana Smith, a 6-foot-5 forward and team captain in his sixth year who has endured three knee injuries — two of them at Longwood. He led the Lancers in scoring last year at 14.8 points per game and shot almost 52 percent from the field.
Equally important, Smith is one of nine upperclassmen — seniors and juniors — on the roster. The Lancers hope to offset their lack of size — their tallest player is 6-7 — with versatility and experience.
"There's no reason to think we can't continue with what we've established," Gillian said. "That being said, a few less home games on the schedule, maybe a little tougher schedule overall. But (I'm) very excited, very excited about our prospects. Everything we've done to this point in the preseason backs that up."
Stout Defense Carries Men's Soccer Team
Nov. 12, 2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- His 2001 team didn't allow a goal in ACC play, so UVa men's soccer coach George Gelnovatch is familiar with stellar defense.
By any standard, though, what his current squad has done is undeniably impressive. Virginia (13-3-2) has posted six consecutive shutouts. Overall, the Cavaliers and their starting goalkeeper, junior Diego Restrepo, have allowed only seven goals this season.
"It's a collection of things," Gelnovatch said by phone Thursday afternoon from the ACC tournament, where fifth-seeded UVa meets top-seeded Wake Forest in the semifinals Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Cary, N.C.
"It starts, I think, with our goalkeeper, who has done an excellent job for us. But when you look at Diego's statistics on his saves-per-game in the ACC, they're not high, because he doesn't have to make a lot of saves compared to the other teams in the conference. And that is a tribute to our team playing good defense."
Restrepo, a transfer from South Florida, hasn't "had a ton of work, which is good," Gelnovatch said. "But when he's called upon to make a big save, which is probably once in a big game, he makes it, so that's has been huge."
A season ago, Virginia finished 11-9-1, in part because of its suspect defense. In 21 games, the Wahoos allowed 29 goals.
After the season, Gelnovatch said, the coaching staff studied some of the more successful teams in college soccer and learned that "you can't be scored on more than 20 times in a year and make it to a final four. And so one of our goals was to have less than 20 goals going into the playoffs.
"It's something we clearly were cognizant of. We had it posted in our locker room. It's clearly a goal of ours, this goals-against thing."
In addition to Restrepo, the first-year starters at center back -- Mike Volk and Greg Monaco -- have been superb, Gelnovatch said.
After totaling five goals in its first two games this season -- wins over Portland and Washington -- UVa scored only five in its next seven games. That stretch included one-goal victories over Mount St. Mary's, Wake, George Washington and Virginia Commonwealth.
"The first month of the season, we were getting results, but we had to grind for those results," Gelnovatch said. "We weren't in rhythm. We weren't firing on all cylinders.
"We were doing it, but we were really were swimming upstream. That mentality of grinding it out and blue-collar wins and finding a way to win has carried over. Now that we have some rhythm, we still have that mentality of being able to grind.
"I didn't plan it this way. I thought we would get off to a smoother, more efficent start to the season, but certainly that first month we developed a workmanlike attitude, just trying to get these results, just trying to plow our way through."
Virginia advanced to the ACC semifinals with a 1-0 victory over defending NCAA champion Maryland. Sophomore Tony Tchani scored the game-winner for UVa in the 88th minute.
"I told our team this all along: Life is like this. You don't plan on losing your job. You don't plan on failing a test. But things happen, and how you respond and how to keep going and keep working and stay the course determines who you are and your character and success," Gelnovatch said.
"We've talked about it all year, and we've just found a way to stay the course, stay the course, stay the course, and now guys like Tony Tchani are starting to play much better, and [freshman] Will Bates has come around in the past three weeks."
If the Cavaliers beat Wake, Gelnovatch said, they might earn one of the top four seeds in the NCAA tourney. Even with a loss Friday, he said, his team probably would be one of the top eight seeds.
-- Jeff White
'Hoos Play Waiting Game with Sewell
Nov. 12, 2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- Jameel Sewell won't be completely healthy again until after football season, when his shoulder and ankle injuries have time to heal.
Whether Sewell will be healthy enough to play quarterback for UVa this weekend remains uncertain, according to Al Groh.
Sewell missed last weekend's game at Miami with a hurt shoulder. The fifth-year senior has been back at practice this week,, but if Sewell will be available Saturday against Boston College, Groh didn't let on Thursday morning during a teleconference with reporters.
Asked how Sewell has been holding up, Groh said, "Great."
Does that mean Sewell is good to go against BC?
"No, it just means he's holding up," Groh said, to laughter from his audience. "I don't exactly know what 'holding up' means. I'm glad it doesn't mean [holding up a] 7-Eleven."
Groh acknowledged, however, that Sewell's presence could help a struggling offense.
"If it didn't make a big difference, he wouldn't have started all those previous games and wouldn't have been the guy that we won nine games two years ago with," Groh said. "Clearly it makes a big difference. There's progress every day. We just hope that it continues."
Sewell has started seven games this season. He's had some good moments but overall has completed only 53.3 percent of his passes. And he's thrown as many interceptions (six) as touchdown passes (six).
In Sewell's absence, junior Marc Verica played quarterback against the Hurricanes. He completed only 11 of 29 attempts, for 75 yards, in UVa's 52-17 loss at Land Shark Stadium.
-- Jeff White
UVa Insider, The Column - Doug Doughty
While I defer to colleague Randy King when it comes to an understanding of the oddsmaking process, something strikes me about the four-point spread assigned to Saturday’s game between host Virginia and favored Boston College.
In my mind, a case could be made for the bookies not setting a line because of the uncertain status of UVa senior quarterback Jameel Sewell.
Virginia’s chances of upsetting the Eagles (6-2 overall, 3-2 ACC) will be much improved if Sewell’s shoulder and ankle injuries have healed to a degree that he can start and enjoy decent mobility Saturday.
I would not have thought that Sewell was much of an upgrade over Marc Verica, who led the Cavaliers on a four-game winning streak during the middle of the 2008 season. But there has been little resemblance between the Verica who passed for 200 yards or more in six straight games last year and the Verica of this season.
For that matter, there hasn’t been much resemblance between the Sewell of Games 3-6 this season and the Sewell who was behind center for consecutive home losses to Georgia (34-9) and Duke (28-17).
I offered the same assessment to coach Al Groh on Thursday that I have made repeatedly in this column and elsewhere:
When Sewell is on his game, he’s very good. When he’s not on his game, he’s not very good. And, there’s no in-between.
“That’s fair,” Groh said in his final weekly teleconference.
Considering Sewell’s numbers against Georgia Tech and Duke, when he was a combined 26-of-54 for 254 yards, it’s hard to believe that he threw for more than 300 yards in two different games earlier this season.
Sewell started 22 consecutive games for the Cavaliers during the 2006 and 2007 seasons but, even during the best of times, there were variations in his production.
“On the basis of this season, because the physical aspect has been more of an issue than in the past, probably it’s fair to say that both things are involved,” Groh said.
In other words, Sewell just might be prone to inconsistency. Certainly, the numbers would suggest that.
One thing the injuries have done is make Sewell more reluctant to run. That was the case after he injured an ankle prior to an Oct. 17 game at Maryland.
Theoretically, Sewell should be in better shape than he would have been if he had played last Saturday at Miami, “but it’s not going to be completely taken care of until he can stay off it for a significant period of time,” Groh said.
“There’s not as much mid-week limping as there has been.”
UVa’s injury report won’t be released until later today.
Still, it appears there is a good chance that Sewell will play Saturday against BC.
“There’s progress every day and we just hope that it continues,” said Groh, who held Sewell out of Sunday practice in hopes that he would be able to return to practice Tuesday.
Apparently, Sewell practiced Tuesday but Groh did engage in a little cat-and-mouse activity with reporters Thursday.
He was asked, “How’s Jameel been holding up recently?”
“How’s he been holding up?” Groh said, repeating the question. “Great!”
“Does that mean he’s good to go Saturday?” I asked.
“I just mean he’s holding up,” Groh said. “I don’t exactly know what ‘holding up’ means. I’m glad it doesn’t mean 7-11.”
Obviously, it makes a big difference if Sewell can go. For all his inconsistency, he needs only 9 yards to pass Marques Hagans as the No. 5 passer in school history.
“If it didn’t make a big difference, he wouldn’t have started all those previous  games. He wouldn’t have been the guy we won nine games with two years ago.”
But, is he the same guy? Among other things, Sewell sat out the 2008 season while on academic suspension. But, prior to the ankle injury, he appeared close to 2007 form.
“He’s had to deal with a lot of those [injury] circumstances,” Groh said, “and, while he’s been dealing with those things, he hasn’t been able to have the practice turns that are important at every position but so important for a player playing that position.
“What everybody sees on Saturday is the end result and that’s what we’re all judged on, but there’s certainly a lot that goes into it.”
Spaziani back in familiar territory
By Jerry Ratcliffe
Published: November 13, 2009
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Nearly two decades have passed since Frank Spaziani prowled the sidelines of Scott Stadium. His odyssey from Virginia’s defensive coordinator to head coach at Boston College has been anything but ordinary.
After toiling for close to 40 years as a career assistant coach, “Spaz,” as he is affectionately called by friends, finally got his shot at becoming the head man at age 61.
He will bring his BC Eagles to Charlottesville this weekend for a game at UVa, only the second time the schools have met on the gridiron since ACC expansion five years ago. Spaziani will bring a 6-3 team vying for a division title in the league’s Atlantic Division, and a chance to play in a third straight ACC championship game.
Don’t anticipate the former UVa assistant to pack any hostility for his overnight trip. While the circumstances that led to Spaz’s sudden departure from the Cavaliers’ program following the 1990 season were somewhat controversial, he holds no grudges.
Instead, Spaziani has warm
memories of Charlottesville, his nine seasons under then-head coach George Welsh, and no animosity ... at least none detected.
After playing for Welsh, then an assistant at Penn State, he took a job under Welsh a few years later at Navy, then followed his mentor to Virginia in 1982, elevated to Welsh’s first defensive coordinator in ‘87.
However, when Virginia rose to No. 1 in the national polls before collapsing down the stretch of the 1990 season, including a monumental second-half letdown against Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl, it seemed Spaziani was the scapegoat. He was summarily dumped as the Cavaliers’ coordinator.
The whole thing was rather hush hush. Even UVa’s coaching staff didn’t know, one assistant said, until they showed up at Welsh’s house for a gathering and noticed that Spaz was missing, but Rick Lantz, the replacement, was sitting on the couch.
Spaziani, a personable guy with a quick wit and remarkable sense of humor, doesn’t really like to talk about that particular moment in his life.
“Here’s the honest answer,” Spaziani said, his voice cracking a bit. “We didn’t have the success we should have had at Virginia for a lot of reasons, none of which was George Welsh. It was time for a change ... and I needed that.
“In retrospect, it was the toughest thing that ever happened, but it was the best thing that ever happened,” Spaz continued about the lowest point of his career. “When you don’t get the job done, it’s tough.”
Out on his own for the first time since college, Spaziani and his wife, Laura, found a home north of the border. Not the Virginia border, the United States border, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.
“I tell people I was in the Witness Protection Program,” Spaz deadpanned. “There I was, coaching in 50 mile per hour wind gusts at minus-30 degrees, looking at myself and saying, ‘What am I doing here?’ Wearing Mucklucks and trying to figure out how to beat Doug Flutie.”
What he didn’t realize at the time — he will call it dumb luck now — was that he became exposed to a brand new kind of football that would help advance his career a few years later.
The CFL had bigger fields, 12 players, a wide-open passing game due to there’s only three downs instead of four, mostly spread attacks with shotgun formations, one-back or empty backfields and new challenges.
“Lo and behold, I got seven years ahead of the curve,” Spaz said.
That’s about the time Tom O’Brien, whom Spaziani had coached with at Navy and UVa, became Boston College’s new head coach. O’Brien snatched up his old friend in a heartbeat.
When O’Brien exited in 2006, Spaziani directed the Eagles to a bowl win as interim coach and at long last, the career assistant felt he might finally become a head coach. However, the school opted to hire Jeff Jagodzinski out of the NFL.
Spaziani loved BC and asked to stay on as defensive coordinator and did some of his best coaching as his 2008 unit was ranked among the nation’s top 10 defenses in seven categories.
However, when things sourced between the school and Jagodzinski, and the AD said he wanted someone content to remain at BC, things brightened for the longtime assistant.
“I said, ‘Hmmm, let me go to the resume file,’” Spaziani chuckled. “Just in case this guy is leaving ... I just happened to be waiting. I read the papers, you know.”
He finally got his chance and hasn’t disappointed Boston College fans.
Now, he sits in the big chair and there is a difference.
“I don’t worry about the price of bologna anymore,” he quipped. “As a head coach, when you come in every day there’s one to five things on your desk that you hadn’t anticipated,” Spaziani said. “That hits you daily, sometimes nightly.”
But he’s coping rather nicely.
“On the serious side, finally being a head coach means a great deal to me, knowing what I had to do to get to this level, and — remember I’m a teacher — being able to teach young men so that maybe they don’t make the same mistakes that I made. It’s rewarding for people to believe in you and have confidence in you that you’ll do a good job.”
Spaz hasn’t lost his sense of humor along the way.
He said it’s been 16 years since he left Winnipeg and he just thawed out yesterday.
On 25-year-old starting quarterback, Dave Shinsky, a former minor league baseball pitcher, Spaz jokes: “He’s got a good change-up. I saw him throw and was glad to see he’s not a knuckleballer.” ...And, “The good news is he’s 25 — the bad news is he can buy beer for everybody on the team.”
Ah, yes, what a strange odyssey it has been for the likeable, mustachioed coach, returning to Scott Stadium after all these years.
By Staff Reports
Published: November 13, 2009
Herzlich returns to Charlottesville
Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich has been the subject of numerous stories and fund-raisers throughout the season as he battles cancer, but this weekend his fight takes on added significance.
Herzlich originally committed to play football at U.Va. before changing his mind and going north. Some of the team's seniors remember him from his recruiting visits, including defensive lineman Nate Collins, who has a photo of himself with Herzlich from the recruiting visit.
"When you hear a familiar name [has cancer], you're like, what? Really?" Collins said. "It's going to be a great thing next year when he gets back."
Collins has stayed in touch with Herzlich mostly by accident, since he is listed as "Mark PA" in Collins' cell phone, where names are associated with a hometown. The U.Va. lineman also had Marc Verica listed as "Marc PA," until confusion necessitated a new system.
"He'd be like, 'Yo, Nate, this is Herzlich. I think you meant Verica,'" Collins recalled with a laugh.
Herzlich will be on hand for the game, and the players have contributed their per diem for the day, about $1,500 total, to research for Ewing's Sarcoma. A check will be presented during pre-game ceremonies, and fans are invited to contribute at upliftingathletes.org.
Clark back in action quickly
Linebacker Aaron Clark has returned from a grade II MCL sprain in just two weeks, a remarkably fast speed.
"Well, I mean, I got four games left in my senior season," Clark said. "Not a lot of time left for me to do what I want to do."
He has been plagued by injury throughout his career, including a season-ending knee injury last year in the first game of the season. When he went down against Georgia Tech, he thought his college career was over, but a sideline doctor gave him reassurance.
Now that he's better, he took the time to go find video of the hit that knocked him out.
"It was pretty gruesome," he said. "I couldn't believe that was the only injury I'd sustained."
Practice in the rain
Coach Al Groh conducted a cold and wet practice outdoors Wednesday, refusing to let the rain alter plans.
"It's an outdoor game, and we try to prepare ourselves for what it's like on Saturday," he said.
The team has an indoor facility, but it's fairly small and Groh isn't a big fan of taking practice in there.
Groh also said that he'll be monitoring field conditions up to kickoff so he knows what to expect - adding that the field replacement after the U2 concert has made the field softer than usual to begin with.
Both QBs injured
The lingering question remains the status of quarterback Jameel Sewell, who did not play last week against Miami. Sewell was held out of Sunday's practice as a precaution, but he has improved throughout the week. He is battling shoulder and ankle injuries.
"He hasn't been able to have the amount of practice turns that are important for any player, but especially at that position," Groh said.
Sewell is listed as questionable for tomorrow's game. In a surprise last night, backup Marc Verica also was listed as questionable with a head injury. If neither could go, the listed third-stringer is freshman Riko Smalls, though it's also possible that Vic Hall could be pressed into duty. - Michael Phillips
U.Va. injury report
Nov 12, 2009
University of Virginia
Football Injury Report
Game 10 vs. Boston College
Issued: Thursday, Nov 12
This report is compiled by the University of Virginia Sports Medicine staff under the direction of Dr. David Diduch.
Raynard Horne (back)
Quintin Hunter (ankle)
Darren Childs (neck)
Jameel Sewell (shoulder)
Marc Verica (head)
Javaris Brown (ankle)
Aaron Clark (knee)
Matt Conrath (ankle)
Colter Phillips (leg)
All remaining players on the Virginia roster are available to participate.
Please note the status of an injured student-athlete¹s ability to participate can increase or decrease between the time this report is issued and game time.
Probable = Virtual certainty will be available for normal duty Questionable = 50-50 chance will not play Doubtful = At least 75% chance will not play Out = Definitely will not play
Sewell and Verica both questionable
Seeking a road victory
By Jay Jenkins
Published: November 13, 2009
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Should Virginia fans elect to skip out on Saturday’s contest against Boston College, as has been the recent trend, Eagles quarterback Dave Shinskie could feel at home.
It was just months ago that Shinskie was playing lower-lever minor league baseball in front of crowds that you could count attendance figures on your hand.
Now as the league’s elder statesman as a 25-year-old freshman, Shinskie leads Boston College (6-3, 3-2 ACC) into Scott Stadium with hopes of keeping the Eagles in the mix in ACC title race.
Oddly enough, Shinskie is in search of his first road win this season — BC is 6-0 at home and winless on the road, losing at Clemson, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame.
But the rookie has progressed as the year unfolded and ranks eighth in pasing efficiency and 11th in total offense.
At times, Shinskie has shown the maturity that should be associated with a veteran player.
“I don’t know what position he played, but I know there are not as many moving parts in baseball than there are in football so he’s seen things from a coverage standpoint in front of his eyes and whatnot that sometimes his decisions with the ball are things that he’s had to learn from,” Virginia coach Al Groh said. “But even in those cases he seems to make — and I can only tell from the video, their coaches may concur or have a different opinion, but he seems to make those decisions with a poise and calmness that maybe he didn’t sort it outright but it didn’t happen because he panicked.
“He does seem to have the maturity that certainly would be not unexpected from a guy who is 25 years old compared to a guy who is 18 years old. He’s done that whole minor league circuit and I think it makes you self-sufficient.”
Boston College certainly helped Shinskie with an easy schedule to open the year, playing Northeastern and Kent State before jumping into league play.
Virginia (3-6, 2-3 ACC) did not have the same luxury last year when former quarterback Pete Lalich was thrown to the wolves against then-ranked No. 1 Southern Cal.
“I would say that anything other than [USC] would be a better progression,” Groh said.
For the season, BC ranks just No. 91 in passing offense and No. 92 in total offense nationally, leaning heavily on one of the league’s best defenses and asking Shinskie to protect the football.
“We can see with each particular pattern how just as that play has evolved from the first occurrences through the most recent game and how [Shinskie’s] reacted during the course of the game, during the course of the season,” Groh said. “One of the marks he most certainly would get is that of a pretty fast learner. I’m sure there is a lot more out there that his coaches feel he needs to be exposed to and learn about and needs to respond to but what he has been exposed to he has done so in a progressive way.”
It appears that Virginia will have senior Jameel Sewell back at quarterback this week. The soutpaw was listed as questionable on the team’s injury report on Thursday. The Cavaliers will be without special teams standout Raynard Horne and wideout Quintin Hunter. In addition to Sewell, linebacker Darren Childs and back-up quarterback Marc Vercia are listed as questionable.
Virginia and Wake Forest Set For Semifinal Showdown
Courtesy: VirginiaSports.com Release: 11/12/2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE - The fifth-seeded and sixth-ranked Virginia men's soccer team meets top-seeded and third-ranked Wake Forest in an ACC Tournament semifinal match on Friday. Kick-off from WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., is 5:30 p.m., and live statistics will be available at VirginiaSports.com. Additionally, the game will be streamed live by ACC Select.
Virginia (13-3-2, 4-3-1) defeated fourth-seeded Maryland in its quarterfinal match, 1-0, Wednesday afternoon at Koka Booth Stadium. Tony Tchani (Norfolk, Va.) had the game-winning goal in the 88th minute to lift UVa to its third-straight victory and first over the Terrapins since 2006.
Will Bates (Chester, Va.) paces Virginia's offense with seven goals and one assist, followed by Tchani with six goals.
Defensively, the Cavaliers are ranked third in the nation with a goals-against average of 0.39. UVa has shut out six-consecutive opponents and allowed just seven goals in 18 games. Goalkeeper Diego Restrepo (West Palm Beach, Fla.) is also ranked third in the nation with a goals-against average of 0.39 and leads the ACC with 10 shutouts this season.
Wake Forest and Virginia met on Sept. 18 during the regular season and Virginia came away with a 1-0 win in Winston-Salem. Mike Volk (Bear, Del.) had the game-winning goal on an assist from Barlow.
Virginia leads the all-time series with Wake Forest, 32-6-5, and has won two-straight vs. the Demon Deacons. Prior to this season's contest, the Cavaliers defeated Wake Forest, 3-2, in double overtime of last year's ACC Tournament semifinal on Nov. 14, 2008.
Virginia and Wake Forest have met 11 times in the conference tournament, with UVa holding a 9-0-2 record in those contests.
Virginia has a 3-2-1 record against ranked teams in 2009. The Cavaliers' wins vs. ranked teams were Sept. 18 at No. 2 Wake Forest (1-0), Nov. 7 vs. No. 18 NC State (1-0) and Nov. 11 vs. No. 5 Maryland (1-0).
Virginia has an all-time record of 34-12-6 at the ACC Tournament and has won nine tournament titles (1988, 1991-95, 1997, 2003-04).
Wake Forest earned the No. 1 seed with a conference mark of 5-2-1. In their quarterfinal match, the Demon Deacons defeated ninth-seeded Clemson, 3-0.
The Demon Deacons are led by Zack Schilawski with 11 goals and five assists, followed by Andy Lubahn with nine goals. Goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald has allowed 12 goals in 19 games for a goals-against average of 0.65.
A win would give Virginia an appearance in the ACC Championship game for the second-consecutive year. The title game will be played Sunday at 1 p.m., and will be televised by Fox Sports Net.
Women’s Soccer Set to Open NCAA Play Friday
Courtesy: VirginiaSports.com Release: 11/12/2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Virginia women’s soccer team opens play in the 2009 NCAA Tournament Friday night when it meets St. John’s in a first round match. Game time at Jeffrey Field on the Penn State campus is slated for 5 p.m. and fans can follow the action via GameTracker and a webcast available at GoPSUSports.com.
The Cavaliers (9-5-5) are making their 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and their 22nd overall tournament appearance. Only North Carolina and Notre Dame have longer active consecutive NCAA Tournament streaks. Virginia has a 19-19-3 all-time record in the NCAA Tournament, including a 16-8-2 mark under head coach Steve Swanson.
Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 2001, this year marks just the third time that the Cavaliers have played the opening weekend away from Klöckner Stadium. In both previous years, Virginia won both first and second round games to advance to the round of 16. In 2002, the Cavaliers topped Dayton 3-2 and West Virginia 1-0 in Morgantown, W.Va. In 2006, Virginia defeated West Virginia 2-0 and Wake Forest 2-0 in Winston-Salem, N.C.
St. John’s (13-6-1) is making its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The game between the Cavaliers and Red Storm is also the first ever meeting between the schools.
The other first round game at Jeffrey Field on Friday is between the host Nittany Lions and Colgate. Friday’s winners will meet in the second round on Sunday at 1 p.m.
No. 17 Wrestling Travels to ACC Challenge Sunday
Courtesy: VirginiaSports.com Release: 11/12/2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The No. 17 Virginia wrestling team hits the road for the first time this season on Sunday, traveling to Chapel Hill, N.C., to compete in the ACC Challenge at Eddie Smith Field House. UVa opens the competition at noon with a dual against Bucknell. The Cavaliers then will face Gardner-Webb at 2 p.m. and No. 16 American at 4 p.m. Virginia Tech and North Carolina also will be competing in the event.
UVa (2-0) got off to a strong start in the dual-meet portion of its schedule last Saturday, defeating Anderson (37-9) and Campbell (36-6) while winning 16 of the 20 individual bouts, with 11 of the matches resulting in bonus points.
As a team, Virginia is ranked as high as No. 17 nationally in the W.I.N. tournament power index - the team's highest ranking in program history. UVa also is ranked 20th in the preseason InterMat and Amateur Wrestling News rankings. UVa is No. 21 in the latest NWCA coaches poll as well as the D1Wrestling.net rankings.
Five Cavaliers are ranked in the various polls. Chris Henrich (Jr., Lansdale, Pa.) highlights the list of Cavaliers in the individual rankings - he is ranked as high as No. 2 (WIN, D1Wrestling.net) in the 174-pound weight class. Henrich earned All-America honors last season and went 40-3.
Brent Jones (Sr., Burke, Va.) is ranked as high as No. 9 at 197 pounds, and Nick Nelson (Jr., Pittsburgh, Pa.) stands as high as seventh at 141. Michael Chaires (R-So., Scotia, N.Y.) is 16th in the InterMat rankings at 165 pounds. Ross Gitomer (Sr., Flemington, N.J.), who is slated to make his season debut this weekend after coming back from a season-ending knee injury last year, is 15th in the D1CollegeWrestling.net rankings at 125 pounds.
There will be plenty of intriguing matchups for the Cavaliers Sunday. At 174 pounds, Henrich will face his first ranked opponent of the year when he takes on No. 13 Shane Riccio of Bucknell. Henrich defeated Riccio twice last season.
At 184 pounds, UVa's Mike Salopek (R-Fr., North Huntingdon, Pa.) has a tough day ahead as he is slated to face 19th-ranked David Thompson of Bucknell in the opener and fourth-ranked Mike Cannon in the nightcap. Cannon was an All-American at 174 pounds last season and has moved up a weight class for the 2009-10 campaign.
At 165 pounds, Chaires is scheduled to face reigning All-American Andy Rendos of Bucknell. Rendos is ranked sixth this week by InterMat. The two have not met since early in the 2007-08 season, when Rendos scored an 8-0 major decision.
Bucknell is ranked No. 25 this week by D1CollegeWrestling.net and will be competing in its first dual matches of 2009-10 on Sunday. The Bison have four wrestlers who are ranked this week - No. 13 David Marble at 133, No. 6 Andy Rendos at 165, No. 13 Shane Riccio at 174 and No. 19 David Thompson at 184. Virginia owns a 5-2 series advantage; the teams met last year in the Northeast Duals with UVa taking a 30-11 victory.
American will be competing in its dual-meet opener this weekend. The Eagles have two highly-ranked wrestlers with No. 4 Kyle Borschoff at 149 and No. 4 Mike Cannon at 184. UVa and American have not squared off since 2005, a 24-19 Cavaliers' win. Virginia holds an 11-1 edge in the series.
Gardner-Webb will start its dual schedule this weekend, traveling to Chattanooga Saturday before heading to the ACC Challenge. The Bulldogs feature a familiar face on their sidelines, as former UVa wrestler and three-time ACC champion Rocco Caponi is a graduate assistant coach. The programs have met just one time previously, with Virginia scoring a 37-6 win in 2006.
UVa is off from team competition next week, although several Cavaliers will compete unattached in the Wolfpack Open on Nov. 21 in Raleigh, N.C., while Chris Henrich will wrestle in the NWCA All-Star Classic on Nov. 22 in Fullerton, Calif. Henrich is slated to take on No. 7 Stephen Dwyer of Nebraska. The Cavaliers return to team competition Nov. 28 at the Northeast Duals.
Cavs’ Ryan hits the road in pursuit of 700th win
VIC DORR JR. TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Published: November 13, 2009
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Don't expect waves of applause or billows of confetti if University of Virginia women's basketball coach Debbie Ryan captures her 700th career victory tonight.
The Cavaliers' Hall of Fame coach will begin her 33rd season at U.Va. -- and will make her second attempt to reach the 700 plateau -- in an indifferent, if not hostile, setting. Virginia opens against Maryland-Baltimore County in the 4,000-seat Retriever Activities Center.
"That's my own fault," Ryan said. "The schedule is done long before you actually know about anything like this." Then she paused. "Besides -- I'd have (reached 700) on the road anyway if we'd won our last game of last season."
Ryan, 699-298 in 32 seasons, climbed to the doorstep of 700 when the Cavaliers defeated Marist in last year's NCAA Tournament opener in Los Angeles. California mauled Virginia 99-73 in the second round.
A victory tonight will place Ryan in elite company. Only nine other Division I women's coaches have won 700 or more games. All are assured of spots in the sport's pantheon. Among them: Tennessee's Pat Summitt (No. 1; 1,005 victories), Texas' now-retired Jody Conradt (No. 2; 900) and Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer (No. 3; 825).
The impact of 700 career victories "is more about the pride that we take as a program as a team not about individuals," Ryan said. "I honestly don't feel like this belongs to me. I feel like it belongs to all of us. I haven't scored even one basket for the University of Virginia."
Ryan, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2000, 173 victories ago, said the most significant aspect of her accomplishment has little to do with basketball.
"It's that I got to live this long to see it happen," she said.
Ryan looks to join 700 club
By Jay Jenkins
Published: November 13, 2009
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The location seems out of place.
Sitting on 699 wins, a home game to open the season for legendary coach Debbie Ryan would have been logical.
That win, however, should have occurred last year in the NCAA tournament, but the Cavaliers’ run ended on the road in the second round at California.
“We didn’t know that was going to happen,” Ryan explained. “The schedule is done long before you actually do anything like that. That’s my own fault. I would have won  on the road anyway had I won at Cal.”
Instead, Ryan and Virginia hit the road to open the season tonight at Maryland-Baltimore County at 7 p.m. as the Hall of Fame coach attempts to join a star-studded list of coaches with 700 victories.
“It’s a very prestigious thing. When I think about all the great coaches, they have all had 600 or 700 wins in their careers and to have all of them at this school is saying something,” said Virginia guard Monica Wright. “Coach Ryan is definitely a legendary coach. I am not surprised, but I am just happy to be here while she is getting her 700th win.
While Ryan’s credentials are known and the All-American honors are in place for Wright, what will join them this season remains a mystery.
“I would say this year for us is going to be, at this point and time, a year of unknown,” Ryan said. “We are going to be a very young team with nine players as first-years and second-years.”
Virginia, ranked No. 14 in the nation, has a trump card with the ACC’s leading scorer back in the fold.
“The good news is we have Monica Wright,” Ryan said, “and a lot of people don’t.”
Wright did her part last week, scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, as Virginia upended Towson, 58-47, in a scrimmage. But she had little help as rookie point guard China Crosby was the only other Cavalier to score in double figures and that was with just 10 points on 3-for-14 shooting.
Much was expected of Crosby, who was a McDonald’s All-American in New York City.
“China came in here with an agenda,” Ryan said. “She is learning our system. She can really penetrate and get to the basket. She has shown a little bit of a 3-point shot for us. I think that she is really, really eager and excited about being here and trying to play that point guard position.”
Virginia also welcomes back guard Paulisha Kellum after she missed the 2008-09 season with a torn ACL and last year’s starting point guard Ariana Moorer, but the post is unproven following the loss of Aisha Mohammed and Lyndra Littles.
Rebounding, Ryan said, will be a focal point during an opening month that includes a home tilt with national power Tennessee.
Wright will be asked to help in the paint, but rookie center Simone Egwu could be the ultimate answer for the coaching staff.
“I really feel like Simone is that type of player,” Ryan said.
“Simone is a dominating rebounding player.”
Having Wendy Palmer back with the program should also help.
“Her middle name was rebound,” Ryan joked.
“She has already instilled in the entire core of post players that we have to rebound the basketball. I don’t think it is going to take anything less than everybody rebounding the basketball.”