ACC Summer Recess: Virginia Cavaliers

Posted by KCarpenter on July 30th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Virginia.

Where They Stand Now

Bennett Will Need to Find Some Replacements Next Season

Heading down the stretch, it looked like Virginia was poised to have a moment. Mike Scott was easily one of the two best players in the conference and there was an instant where it looked like the Cavaliers might have the juice to win the ACC. A team that played insanely tough defense just couldn’t find enough offense, though, losing two of its last three games, dropping one to North Carolina State in the first game of the ACC Tournament and getting totally obliterated by Florida in its NCAA Tournament opener. It was a crushingly disappointing end to one of the best seasons of Virginia basketball in years.

Who’s Leaving

In terms of seniors, Virginia is losing its bedrock in Scott, who was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the early second round after a storied career in Charlottesville. Also hurting their frontcourt depth, seven-footer Assane Sene, was injured and then left the team at the very end of the season, though he would have otherwise presumably graduated and moved on anyway. Finally, the Cavaliers lose Sammy Zeglinski, a reliable veteran guard. During last season, the transfer plague that has dogged Virginia struck again, sending K.T. Harrell to Auburn and James Johnson to San Diego State.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.13.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 13th, 2012

The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.

South

  • One thing the Big 12 is missing in the NCAA Tournament is a #1 seed. Coming into the Big 12 Tournament, Kansas and Missouri had their chances, but the Jayhawks dropped their semifinal to Baylor and despite winning the regular season crown, the selection committee frowned on the Tigers’ non-conference schedule in dropping them to a #2 seed.
  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari was irked by the omission of Drexel from the field of 68. While the Dragons certainly had an argument for inclusion, we’ll also point out that Calipari’s comments also serve as a defense of his former assistant, Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint.
  • Indiana sophomore swingman Victor Oladipo has done a little bit of everything for the resurgent Hoosiers. He’s a key cog in the Hoosier offense, averaging 10.9 points per game and helps out on the glass with 5.5 rebouns per contest.
  • Notre Dame turned what was supposed to be a rebuilding year into an NCAA Tournament bid. The silver lining to losing Tim Abromaitis early in the season is that it gave the Irish plenty of time to adapt.
  • Wichita State has exceeded all expectations this season. Would you be surprised to see the Shockers advance further than either of their high-major in-state brethren, Kansas or Kansas State?
  • Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg and Connecticut assistant Kevin Ollie were once teammates with the Chicago Bulls. Now, their teams will meet in the Second Round.
  • Notre Dame’s strong defense could pose a problem for XavierThe Irish have made life miserable for a number of opponents this season (just ask Syracuse), and without a star player on offense, they’ll have to rely on their disciplined defense.

West

  • Louisville head coach Rick Pitino looks to avoid an exit at the hands of a mid-major team for the second straight season when his Cardinals take on Davidson. The Wildcats enjoy an uptempo pace, which could play right into Louisville’s hands, but it could be curtains if the Cards’ offense continues to sputter.
  • A close bond ties Long Beach State seniors Larry Anderson, T.J. Robinson and Casper Ware together, as do their struggles with ailing relatives. The 49ers are a popular Cinderella pick due to their experience and a non-conference schedule that saw them travel to some of the game’s most intense venues.
  • After sweating out Selection Sunday, Colorado State breathed a sigh of relief but now must get to work as it prepares to face Murray State in Louisville. Donte Poole, once a CSU signee, is one of the Racers’ top contributors this season. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC Afternoon Five: 03.07.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 7th, 2012

Technical difficulties kept us from getting this up this morning. So here goes… an Afternoon Five.

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Deividas Dulkys got a pretty special family night surprise when his family from Lithuania surprised him the day before the game by showing up at his girlfriend’s apartment. Dulkys had quite the showing at the game including aunts from Chicago and his host family from Nevada, but no one told him that his parents and sisters were going to make the trip across the globe to see him play at Florida State for the first time. Stepping back a little, the Seminoles are also looking at their best chance to win the ACC Championship in program history.
  2. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of special senior nights, Ty Walker‘s was supposed to be one of redemption. After three years of falling short of expectations and an indefinite suspension that kept him out for the first semester, his senior night was supposed to represent the new leaf he turned over this year. On the basketball court he was more active than ever, blocking shots with reckless abandon and fitting in surprisingly well for his first few games back. “I know people aren’t always going to be satisfied [...] but at least I gave them something,” Walker noted. His mom even surprised him by flying across the country for his senior night last week. This article from Brett Friedlander gets at Walker’s side of the story.
  3. Culpepper Star-Exponent: On the heels of the New York Times look at one of college basketball’s vaguest advantages, Whitelaw Reid finds a specific case. Now without seeing more data, I’m a little skeptical. The variable is what brand of basketball teams use. The home teams choose the ball. Virginia uses Nike basketballs; Sammy Zeglinski likes Wilson. The evidence (besides Zeglinski saying it has a “spongy feel”) is that two of the senior’s best games came against Maryland, a team that uses Wilson balls. As Reid points out, the NCAA Tournament also uses Wilson balls, so we should get at least one more data point to evaluate Zeglinski’s claim.
  4. Raleigh New & Observer: It’s a speculation time of year: March Madness, the NFL Draft and that sports purgatory before the NBA Playoffs and baseball season’s starts. It’s also about time to start talking about who is leaving college for the NBA. As Caulton Tudor points out, 13 of 15 All-ACC selections were underclassmen. I don’t really agree with Tudor’s rankings. Maybe I’m naive, but I think Terrell Stoglin will stick it out at least one more year in College Park. He’s far from a sure bet, and needs to show a wider range of skills to attract first round eyes. The same would apply for Glen Rice, Jr., but his indefinite suspension will definitely be a factor. I think the sure-fire departures are Harrison Barnes, John Henson and CJ Leslie. Who knows with Austin Rivers? If he gets a lottery promise, I expect him to leave (which seems likely considering the dearth of good guards this year). Still, this is something that will become very important in a few weeks.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Congratulations Brian Gregory, Mark Turgeon, Jim Larranaga and Mark Gottfried. You finished your rookie year in the ACC. For many coaches, the second year is the toughest, but Turgeon and Gregory were trying to build up programs left in disarray after Gary Williams and Paul Hewitt’s respective departures. Larranaga has plenty of talent, but he only should lose DeQuan Jones and Malcolm Grant from an already talented team; Gottfried’s team will return plenty of firepower and boasts the top recruiting class in the conference. Factor in an extra year of experience against the league titans, and we should expect more success from the conference as a whole next year.
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Night Line: Virginia Falling Fast, Failing to Score

Posted by EJacoby on February 15th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Remember when Virginia played Duke to a one-possession game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in mid-January, then followed that up with a 32-point road win at Georgia Tech and was ranked No. 15 in the succeeding AP Poll? That Cavaliers team looks completely different from the one that scored just 48 points in a 12-point loss on Tuesday night at Clemson to fall to 6-5 in the ACC. What once looked like a surging team with top four NCAA seed potential has turned into a squad in a bit of a free fall. UVA has not only lost starting center Assane Sene to injury, but also three of its last four games and four of their last eight overall to drop to sixth place in the ACC. Virginia needs to turn things around if they want to make the Big Dance with a chance to win in the postseason. They’ll have that opportunity with both North Carolina and Florida State coming into John Paul Jones Arena in the next two weeks.

Virginia Has Had Trouble Making Shots Recently (AP Photo/J. Bounds)

Back on January 16, the then-No. 15 Cavaliers were not only on a nice winning streak but also had developed a strong identity as a slow-paced, defensive team that was difficult to execute against. Their average game includes 60.5 possessions, one of the 20 slowest tempos in the nation. Led by fifth-year senior Mike Scott, who has developed into one of the best all-around forwards in the country, Virginia had the goods to beat opponents in a grind-it-out style that came down to whose offense could be most efficient in the half court. At 15-2, the results showed that they were making it work. However, the downside to that style of play given the tempo is always the potential to allow teams to hang in a game. And when you’re not executing well enough on your own end of the court, then the style can turn ugly in a hurry. That is exactly what has happened to Virginia.

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Set Your TiVo: 02.11.12 – 02.12.12

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 10th, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Plenty of top 25 games are on Saturday’s slate while conference races heat up and bubble teams look for key wins.

#20 Virginia at #5 North Carolina – 1:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPN FullCourt/ESPN3.com (****)

  • Coming off the crushing home loss to Duke on Wednesday, how will the Tar Heels respond? Without P.J. Hairston (sore foot) in the lineup, things could get a little dicey for #5 UNC. Hairston’s absence severely limits Carolina’s already thin back court depth. This game is going to be all about pace. Virginia plays at one of the slowest paces in the nation while North Carolina is one of the fastest teams. Point guard Kendall Marshallhas to get his team running as much as they can but we’ve seen time and time again how it is much easier to slow a game down than it is to speed it up. Wisconsin did this effectively at the Dean Dome earlier this season and you’re going to see the same blueprint from Virginia. The Cavaliers do a great job defending the three-point arc so UNC will likely get almost all of its points from inside or the free throw line. The Tar Heels are among the bottom five teams in America in terms of threes attempted to begin with and get 61.8% of their points from two-point range on average. Marshall and his teammates must be able to penetrate and move the ball well against Virginia’s strong half court defense.

    How Will Marshall & The Tar Heels Respond To Tuesday's Last Second Loss?

  • Virginia’s biggest strengths are its defense and play of forward Mike Scott. At 60.3% from the field, Scott is among the best interior players in the nation, but will have to receive some help from a thin UVA front line in this game. Led by Tyler Zeller and John Henson, North Carolina has a ton of height up front that could give Scott a lot of problems. With Assane Sene still out with an ankle injury, the burden of helping Scott against UNC’s imposing front line falls to Akil Mitchell. His presence will be needed more on the defensive end to limit Zeller and Henson but Virginia is not going to win if Scott doesn’t score. Mitchell must be enough of a threat to prevent quick double teams on Scott, allowing him to maneuver around the UNC trees. Defensively, Virginia will look to pack its defense in and prevent Marshall from penetrating and dishing to Zeller and Henson. Making opponents take tough shots is something Virginia does really well and the Cavaliers will need to do it again. Harrison Barnes will likely oblige but Mitchell and Scott must force Zeller and Henson into shots outside the paint or falling away from the basket. If you allow those guys to receive the ball in the paint, you’re finished.
  • Even though Virginia will likely slow the game down to a pace of its liking, the Cavaliers still must score the basketball. Sammy Zeglinski is five for his last 19 from the floor over the past three games and Jontel Evans has to have a good game at the point guard position. Virginia can’t turn the ball over and fuel the Carolina transition attack. It would also help if Joe Harris was knocking down triples, especially if Zeglinski can’t get out of his funk. Keep an eye on rebounding. North Carolina did a great job against Duke, showing some toughness on the glass that we haven’t always seen this year. Virginia is fourth nationally in defensive rebounding percentage but the Cavs really struggle on the offensive end. If the shots aren’t falling, Virginia will have a lot of one and done possessions if it can’t do a better job on the offensive glass. Good rebounding also helps a team control tempo and that’s exactly what Virginia needs to do in order to win this game on the road.

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Set Your TiVo: 01.12.12

Posted by bmulvihill on January 12th, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Tonight we’ll see two match-ups that may be previews to conference championship games in the ACC and the WCC. All four teams are in the RTC Top 25 and both games should be fantastic. Let’s take a look at how things break down.

Senior forward Mike Scott takes his efficient offensive skills into Cameron Indoor for UVA's toughest test of the season (The Sabre)

#19 Virginia at #8 Duke – 9:00 PM EST on ESPN HD (****)

  • Virginia has only lost one time this season and is looking for its 13th consecutive win. Playing at Duke will be UVA’s toughest test of the season. The Cavaliers play at a sloth’s pace. While their offense is nothing more than average, their defense has been stellar. They are holding teams to 27% from beyond the arc and are in the top 10 in the country in defensive rebounding. Although offense is not the Cavaliers’ strong suit, 6’8″ forward Mike Scott is one of the most effective scorers and rebounders in the country. Considering how slowly Virginia plays, Scott should be considered one of the top big men in the country. Keep a close eye on how he matches up with Duke’s Mason Plumlee. It should be a great battle between two future NBA forwards.
  • Duke still possesses one of the top offenses in the country. The Blue Devils shoot an outstanding 41.7% from downtown. Much like Virginia, Duke knows how to get to the line. The free throw battle in this game will be extremely important. In both of Duke’s losses, two key statistics emerged. They did not get to the line and their opponent shot the lights out. On the season, the Dukies have a free throw rate of 51.5%, which is good for third in the nation. In losses to Ohio State and Temple, Duke had a free throw rate of 25% and 27%, respectively. Virginia does not put teams on the line, so it will be interesting to see how the free throw situation plays out.
  • While it appears that this game will come down to Duke’s offense versus Virginia’s defense, the UVA offense actually may hold the key to the win. In Duke’s two losses, OSU and Temple both had an eFG of over 60%. Look to see if Virginia’s Sammy Zeglinski can hit his threes. Zeglinski is the Cavaliers’ top three-point shooter, hitting 31-of-74 attempts (41.9%). Also, keep an eye on Duke’s offensive rebounding. The Cavaliers’ defense will contest Duke’s three-point shots and the Blue Devils are a poor offensive rebounding team. If Mike Krzyzewski’s squad goes one-and-done too many times, the Cavaliers could pull the upset at Cameron Indoor. However, it may be too much to expect for the Virginia offense to win in such a tough environment.

#16 Gonzaga at #25 St. Mary’s – 11:00 PM EST on ESPNU HD (****)

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Set Your TiVo: 01.02.12

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 2nd, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

It’s a relatively light night of hoops but two interesting games in the South should have your attention this evening.

Texas A&M at #5 Baylor – 7:00 PM EST on ESPNU (***)

  • The Baylor Bears keep winning as they head into a conference showdown with in-state rival Texas A&M tonight. This figures to be a good match-up for Baylor although it needs to ensure it controls the pace. Texas A&M gets 65.2% of its points from two-point range (third in the nation) but interior defense happens to be Baylor’s biggest strength. The Bears allow only 39.3% shooting from inside the arc with Perry Jones III and company patrolling the paint. Defensively, look for Scott Drew’s team to try to pick up the pace and pressure Texas A&M’s guards. The Bears force a turnover 24.6% of the time although both teams don’t handle the ball particularly well.
  • Texas A&M is not comfortable playing at a faster pace but therein lies the dilemma. The Aggies don’t run efficient enough half court offense to succeed in a slower-paced game, especially against the strong Baylor defense. Billy Kennedy’s team should take a page out of Louisville’s playbook against Kentucky. A&M should pressure Baylor and try to get turnovers at certain times, but not throughout the entire game. Texas A&M may actually hurt itself while trying to force Baylor into turnovers, something that will speed up the game where the Bears’ superior athletes can take over. Texas A&M has to establish Ray Turner and David Loubeau inside while Khris Middleton uses his versatility to stretch Baylor’s defense, opening up seams. Getting Elston Turner going from long range would also be advantageous for A&M, a team that doesn’t rely much at all on the trifecta. Turner had 20 points on 3-5 shooting from deep in a loss against Florida last month.
  • For Texas A&M to have a chance on the road, it must rebound, rebound, and rebound some more in addition to controlling pace. If the Aggies don’t score inside off second chance opportunities or in transition, Baylor will win this game easily. Keep an eye on Baylor’s perimeter shooting. Texas A&M ranks #6 in three-point defense and will look to shut down Brady Heslip and Pierre Jackson. Even if the Aggies are successful in that regard, they need to do a whole lot more to pull the upset.

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Checking In On… the ACC

Posted by mpatton on December 14th, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference. You can follow him on Twitter @rise_and_fire.

Reader’s Take

 

Top Storylines

  • Wake Forest’s Dynamic Duo: The Demon Deacons may not be the prettiest team to watch, but CJ Harris and Travis McKie are lighting up the box score. We knew (even if I, in a gaffe of all gaffes, left him off my All-Freshman team last year for Ryan Harrow) Mckie was going to be one of the ACC’s top players this year, but Harris has been a very pleasant surprise. The pair are efficiently combining for nearly 57% of Wake Forest’s points through the first 10 games of the year. Harris has already made as many threes as he made all last season on 18 less attempts, and he’s significantly more effective inside the arc. It remains to be seen how Harris will adapt to the defenses of ACC play, but so far he has to be leading the “surprise of the year” category.
  • Duke’s Post Presence: That’s right: after two solid years of berating the Plumlees as overrated and generally poor basketball players, it’s time to give credit where it’s due. Mason Plumlee has developed into a very good big man. No, he can’t make a free throw to save his life, but he’s much better offensively everywhere except the boards than he’s been the last few years. He developed a couple of solid post moves, stopped turning the ball over as much and learned to hold his ground on defense. If he can either learn to crash the offensive glass or hit 60% of his free throws, I’m confident in saying he’ll be one of the top three or four bigs in the ACC this season.
  • That’s right, the ACC Digital Network launched this season. Check out JR Reid break down North Carolina‘s softness and the conference power rankings. So far the coverage is fairly limited, but as it expands this could become one of the better sources of information for ACC fans.

Power Rankings

  1. North Carolina (8-2) stays atop the rankings with a hard-fought win over Long Beach State, which better get rewarded by the Selection Committee in March for playing such a tough non-conference schedule. The Tar Heels dominated on the inside with John Henson and Harrison Barnes leading the scoring, but it is worth noting that this is  another game where four Tar Heel starters played more than 30 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC Game On: 12.07.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on December 7th, 2011

Virginia soundly beat George Mason in a game where rebounding machine Mike Scott only managed two boards. Was Scott having an off night? Hardly. There just weren’t a lot of misses in the game with Virginia shooting a ridiculous 60.5% and the Patriots managing to make 47.5% in a relatively slow game. Sammy Zeglinski shined as a starter with 18 points on 11 shots and four steals. Meanwhile, North Carolina unceremoniously stomped Evansville, holding the Aces to 25.8% shooting as no starter played more than 25 minutes. In what I thought would be the game of the night, Memphis’s Will Barton put on a show as the Tigers torched an undersized Miami team. Barton scored a ridiculous 27 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and managed four steals. Miami continues to look out of sorts on offense, which is bad news for a team that has really struggled to defend.

Tonight we have a full slate of games, though it’s unclear if the majority of them will be even close to competitive. Still, there are lots of options and a few choice offerings.

An In-State Rivalry!

It's a Peach State Battle in Athens Tonight

  • Georgia Tech at Georgia at 7:00 PM on ESPN3.com

Despite Georgia’s current three game slide, the Bulldogs have shown flashes of real talent in the early going with a notable win over Notre Dame. Georgia Tech has lost to Saint Joseph’s, Northwestern, and Tulane. Neither of these teams are great, but each has shown great aptitude on the defensive end. While the Yellow Jackets will probably have a tough time handling Georgia at home, this Georgia Tech team is, if nothing else, an outstanding rebounding team and that will keep them in the game as long as the Yellow Jacket scorers aren’t totally shut down.

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ACC Morning Five: 11.24.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 24th, 2011

Unfortunately shoddy wireless means I can’t get a screenshot, but the elation at the end of the Maui championship game between Duke and Kansas came through the TV. Even Coach K was jumping up and down after Tyler Thornton hit the biggest shot of his life. Twice. Austin Rivers was as active as any of the Duke players on the bench (save Marshall Plumlee, whose level of enthusiasm is insane). It’s clear Duke isn’t a dominant team by any meaning of the word, but it’s a really fun team to watch. And the Blue Devils, as always, know how to win.

  1. Washington Post – Cavaliers Journal: Virginia is a defensive team this year. Or at least it is without senior Sammy Zeglinski, whose playing time is currently limited by a nagging ankle injury. And Tony Bennett sounds OK with that. He pointed out that the team is “a possession by possession team,” which probably explains why the Cavaliers savor each possession so much (there are only four slower teams in D-I). One has to expect the Cavaliers’ outside shooting will come around eventually, but until then they’ll have to continue relying on their defense.
  2. Indy Week: Since 1945 only two coaches, Press Maravich and Les Robinson, were older than Mark Gottfried (who’s only 47) when they took the head coaching job at NC State. The article also provides a nice introduction to the individual roles, many of which have changed since Gottfried arrived, of each major contributor on the team. The final line is still the biggest question that remains:

    While Wolfpack partisans still loudly applaud Gottfried’s name during pregame introductions, all honeymoons come to an end. Ultimately, the question is whether Gottfried is the next big thing… or just next.

  3. ESPN: Florida State takes to the Bahamas this week for the Battle 4 Atlantis where the Seminoles will start out with UMass, an undefeated team that just throttled Boston College on the road. To be fair, the Minutemen were picked twelfth in the A-10 before the season started. Should Florida State win that game, it will probably face mid-major upstart Harvard in the second round and defending national champion Connecticut in the championship game. This is a pretty good primer for the tournament, which has plenty of interesting storylines and will be Florida State’s first true test this season.
  4. Duke Basketball Report: One of the biggest questions facing Duke is who will run the point. Duke Basketball Report has a fairly exhaustive article looking at the history of the point guard position and its use in both Roy Williams’ and Mike Krzyzewski’s offenses. Essentially, the conclusion is that Duke’s backcourt needs to share the responsibilities of a point guard, rather than putting everything on one player. I think the article under-appreciates Quinn Cook’s point guard abilities; then again, I don’t think Cook will be the main option at point until at least conference play and, more likely, next season.
  5. iSportsWeb: North Carolina 2013 commit Isiah Hicks is already struggling with eligibility issues. It sounds like there are some missing records from his old school district. If the records are just missing from his previous school district. But if there are red flags at the high school level, there will definitely be red flags at the collegiate level. [In more upbeat North Carolina news, the Tar Heels are slashing prices on tickets to men's games against Evansville and Nicholls State by 40% for Black Friday.]

EXTRA: Per The Daily Telegraph, several gentleman’s club owners have gotten together in hopes of taking advantage of the NBA lockout and starting a topless basketball league. So far there are 23 teams including ones in Minnesota (may I suggest the Minnesota Bimbowolves for a team name?), Miami and New York. I’ll be sticking with college basketball, but the title of this article was too good to let go unnoticed.

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Assane Sene’s Story Featured in Documentary “Elevate”

Posted by KCarpenter on November 1st, 2011

Assane Sene was the rock of last year’s Virginia team, a mostly undersized squad that often utilized a four guard line-up. While the Cavaliers ringed the arc, Sene was the man in the middle. The 7’0″ center served as a capable rebounder and shotblocker for a UVA team that struggled with front court depth after Mike Scott went down with an injury. Going into his senior year, Sene will join a now-healthy Scott and Sammy Zeglinski as the veteran leaders of a team that many expect to challenge for a spot in the upper tier of the Atlantic Coast Conference. That’s an exciting thing, and even more exciting when you find how far Assane has come to get to this point.

Assane Sene's Senegal-to-Connecticut Story Is One Of Four Stories In The New Documentary "Elevate."

This afternoon, TrueHoop‘s Henry Abbott posted a review of the new documentary, “Elevate.” The documentary is about four Senegalese students, including Sene, from the SEEDS Academy in Dakar. The Academy is a place where promising West African basketball players train in basketball and academics with the goal of getting accepted into one of the elite high school or prep basketball programs in the United States, and from there, earn a scholarship to play college basketball. The film follows Sene as he makes the journey from Africa to South Kent School in Connecticut. It’s not an easy journey, and once he gets there, the challenges of navigating a totally foreign world as a somewhat shy, seven-foot tall teenager is perhaps even more daunting.  It seems to be a worthwhile documentary and a powerful reminder of how hard these players have worked for their shot at the big time.

A couple of clips are available on the film’s web site, but I am particularly enamored of this segment showing Sene arriving in the United States for the first time.

ELEVATE Assane Arrives in the US from ELEVATE on Vimeo.

The film is getting a limited initial release, but it seems likely the glowing reviews will earn it a wider distribution deal. I certainly hope it does.

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ACC Team Previews: Virginia

Posted by KCarpenter on October 24th, 2011

Virginia had a run of bad luck last season. In the early part of the season, there were flashes of promise. An upset against a Minnesota team that had shellacked North Carolina in Puerto Rico and the incredible play of Mike Scott offered hope for the Cavaliers. But then, Scott, who was averaging a double-double with a ridiculous 15.9 PPG and 10.2 RPG, got hurt. The magic that led to an upset against Minnesota never returned as UVA simply failed to make much noise in ACC play. The team finished the season with a paltry 16-14 record and a meager seven wins in the conference. A season that started with promise ended in a first round conference tournament overtime loss to Miami.

Bennett Has an Interesting Team Returning to Charlottesville This Season

This season, much like last season, Virginia looks like it has a lot of potential. Mustapha Farrakhan (graduation) is the only major contributor that Tony Bennett lost over the summer.  Scott was granted a medical hardship waiver and will return for a fifth year with the Cavaliers. A talented freshman class includes four-star shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon as well as solid forwards in Paul Jesperson and Darion Atkins. After taking a redshirt, the 6’9″, 240-pound James Johnson will add even greater depth to a frontcourt that was depleted after Scott’s injury. That’s five significant pieces added to a nucleus that only lost Farrakhan.

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