2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: Virginia

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Virginia Cavaliers (Last Year: 23-12, 11-7 in ACC)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

F/C: Akil Mitchell (Sr)/Mike Tobey (Soph)

F: Anthony Gill (Soph)/Darion Atkins (Jr)

G/F: Justin Anderson (Soph)/Evan Nolte (Soph)

G/F: Joe Harris (Sr)/Malcolm Brogdon (Soph)

PG: Teven Jones (Soph)/Landon Perrantes (Fr)/Devon Hall (Fr)

Gone: PG-Jontel Evans, G/F-Paul Jesperson (transfer-Northern Iowa), SG-Taylor Barnette (transfer-Belmont)

2013-14 Outlook:
Despite finishing with an 11-7 ACC record, the Virginia Cavaliers had their bubbles burst on Selection Sunday, missing out on the NCAA Tournament. With the majority of their core returning, Tony Bennett’s team won’t have to worry about being left off the invite list to this year’s Big Dance.

Virginia brings back its returning scorer and three-point sniper, Joe Harris, who was named to the All-ACC First Team last season. He is an efficient scorer who plays within the system and takes advantage of his opportunities. Likely to join him on the starting wing is Justin Anderson. A physical, athletic talent, Anderson is a solid glue guy who can do a little bit of everything on floor, especially on the defensive end.

Even though the Cavaliers lost Paul Jesperson and Taylor Barnette to transfer, Bennett still has decent depth behind Harris and Anderson in Evan Nolte and Malcolm Brogdon. Nolte is a three-point threat off the bench who can play both wing positions and even some power forward when Bennett wants to use a smaller lineup that can stretch defenses. Brogdon missed all of last season with a foot injury, but he was a quality reserve during his freshman campaign two seasons ago.

The point guard position is the biggest question mark for Virginia. Teven Jones takes over for Jontel Evans, and the two are cut from the same cloth in that they are both game managers more than play-making or scoring point guards. Jones started nine games as a freshman when Evans was dinged up and needs to emerge as a true floor general since newcomers Landon Perrantes and Devon Hall are the other point guards on the roster. Hall is an intriguing prospect since he brings great size to the position at 6-5 and is a true play-maker.

Bennett is loaded with options in his frontcourt. Akil Mitchell made a major jump in his game last season, averaging about 13 points and nine rebounds per game. He is a lock for the starting five with South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey, and Darion Atkins fighting for the other starting forward spot.

I think Gill gets the nod. He has range out to the three-point line and a nice mid-range game and started for the Gamecocks during his freshman year. Tobey made the most of reserve minutes last year, averaging almost seven points in just 14 minutes per game, and could be headed for a bit of breakout year. Darion Atkins is an energy role player who will help on the glass when he is in the game.

The new-look ACC is stacked this year with five teams in my pre-season top 20. If the Virginia Cavaliers can get steady point guard play, they have the depth and talent on the wing and in their frontcourt to be a real factor. Plus, a more challenging non-conference slate should help boost their RPI so the Cavaliers should be a lock for the tourney.

Player to Watch: Mike Tobey, C
The 6-11 sophomore played for the US U-19 team this summer at the FIBA World Championship and Bennett was an assistant coach of the team. Tobey has bulked up during the offseason, which should help him be a more physical presence on the boards and in the post.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/12 vs. VCU
  • 11/16 vs. Davidson (in Charlotte)
  • 11/29 vs. SMU (Corpus Christi Challenge)
  • 11/30 vs. Texas A&M/Missouri State (Corpus Christi Challenge)
  • 12/4 vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
  • 12/7 at Green Bay
  • 12/21 vs. Northern Iowa
  • 12/30 at Tennessee

  • Predicted ACC Finish: 5th

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