Tag:Mike Scott
Posted on: January 12, 2012 11:41 pm

UVA loses close at Duke but proves its worth

Tony Bennett's team must be tournament-bound after seeing the way it played at Cameron Thursday night. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Matt Norlander

In a typically enlightening post from RealGM’s Dan Hanner earlier Thursday afternoon, he noted how well Virginia had played against college basketball’s better teams so far this year. In short, the Hoos have been among the best teams against the best competition.

You might not think that, though. You might think, Since Virginia’s new to the national scene, on a rebuilding plan that’s perhaps ahead of schedule, they’ve beaten pin cushions on the way to a 14-1 season. You’d be wrong in thinking that. If I’m wrong in thinking you how you were thinking, forgive me for a similar sin. Nevertheless, Check Hanner’s work. It’s great and opens up some of myster surrounding one of the nation's most surprising teams.

Thursday night, Virginia had its toughest test yet, subsequently falling at Duke, 61-58. Most will come away impressed that Tony Bennett’s team could put itself in a position to have two 3s in the final seconds with overtime in the balance. Both fell short. Eleven 3s in total clanked off the rim in the second half. None got through the hoop. That hurts. Oh for 11 from deep in a three-point losing effort isn’t morally reassuring; it’s maddening as hell.

Still, Virginia firmly established itself as a worthy No. 3 ACC team, a group that’s most likely going to navigate itself to its first NCAA tournament berth in five years — and the second in the past 11. The ACC, which saw Clemson fail to win at morbidly offending Boston College Thursday night, is on pace to indecipherably slice itself into, max, a four-bid league. Who that fourth team is — we'll be waiting a while to find out.

We know Virginia’s the third, though. Mike Scott is so much the reason for that. The player who should be on our top 10 Player of the Year chase feature is as valuable to his team as anyone in the country outside of maybe Damian Lillard at Weber State. Scott finished with a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds. In most games he’s played this season, Scott’s walked off the floor with more points than anyone else.

When Duke’s involved in a game, and particularly when Duke wins, the story’s usually about the Devils. Not Thursday night. Thursday night was about how Virginia could handle itself in the toughest gym in the country and whether it proved to be in the room with UNC and Duke. For now, it does. 61-58 is seldom sexy but almost always speaks to the team keeping the score that low. Virginia's a much superior defensive team; it also dictated pace and made Duke play its game.

If you had looked at Ken Pomeroy’s pregame head-to-head comparison of these teams (and for those who love our game but are still holding out, the kingdom of information behind Pomeroy’s paywall is college basketball’s best bargain at $20/year), you would’ve seen a disparity in reds and dark greens that seemed to heavily favor Duke.

We’ll never be able to predict what’s truly coming after the tip, though, and I’m thankful Virginia kept it closer than anticipated. (Pomeroy’s model had a 67-59 Duke win. Pretty close.) The Cavs did themselves some good tonight, even if losses in conference are always a hard thing to get down. More than halfway through a season with a decent schedule, UVA is 14-2 and looking ahead to the two ACC Tech teams in the next 10 days.

They'll win close and ugly and will most likely drop one or two bad ones. I can feel that coming. But Virginia's now the Wisconsin of the East. It's better than Wisconsin, too. More reliable now, anyway. There are holes and many areas Virginia can get better (in short: rebound the ball on the offensive end better and get a guy or two to stretch defenses), but with what they've got they're the ACC's third best. No doubt.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 3:52 pm

Virginia poised to make leap in the ACC

By Jeff Borzello

Outside of North Carolina, Duke and maybe Florida State, the ACC is fairly wide-open this season. There is a gap between the Seminoles and the next team in line, just waiting for a team to step up and be a contender.

Why not Virginia?

The Cavaliers got off to a roaring start to their season on Sunday afternoon, thoroughly handling South Carolina State, 75-38. Mike Scott was his typically impressive self, racking up eight points and 15 rebounds, while Joe Harris got hot early and scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers.

Sure, it was just South Carolina State, which is not expected to be much of a factor in the MEAC race. For me, though, the Cavaliers just needed to look good in order for me to be a believer.

It starts with Tony Bennett, who was 31-31 in two seasons since arriving in Charlottesville. On the surface, that’s obviously not impressive, but there was plenty of injuries and plenty of personnel attrition along the way. Bennett now has a roster full of his type of players, which means they will get after it on the defensive end and make life difficult for the opponent at the other end.

The return of Scott is a huge boost. He’s one of the most underrated players in the conference, and flew even further under the radar this season after missing most of last year with an ankle injury. Scott provides a legitimate inside option for the Cavaliers.

The perimeter is deep and talented. Harris and K.T. Harrell are both talented shooters who spurred multiple runs for the Cavaliers against South Carolina State on Sunday. When they are knocking down their shots, it opens up more opportunities for Scott down low. Jontel Evans is a quick point guard who creates pressure on both sides of the ball, and Sammy Zeglinski, who missed Sunday with an ankle injury, can play both guard spots. Freshman Malcolm Brogdon can be an impact player.

When Bennett has had success in the past, he has had a very solid perimeter, capable inside players and a ferocious defense. The Cavaliers have the pieces to be like that this season. They have been one of the better defensive teams in the ACC the past two seasons, but have simply not had the offensive firepower or inside play to contend with the top teams in the conference. They’ve shown flashes, but haven’t been able to put it together on a consistent basis.

If everyone stays healthy, and Assane Sene and James Johnson provide something up front, don’t be surprised to see Virginia finish fourth in the ACC and go dancing come March.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: January 10, 2011 12:00 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 12:51 pm

UVa loses high scorer for the season

Posted by Matt Norlander

This will be really hard for the Cavs to overcome.

No matter the type of season a team's having, losing a senior forward who's a reliable, undeniable presence on the court is akin to taking a shot to the stomach. A pass that hits you in the abdomen when you're not ready, knocking the wind out of you.

Helpless is the feeling at first. And Virginia, which is 10-6 (1-1 in the ACC) and doesn't stand much of a chance to make The Tournament, probably got its death blow for relevant March play over the weekend, when Mike Scott (right) was put on ice for the rest of this year.

A second surgery on Scott's left ankle is what's going to do it; Scott already had a knife go in an remove loose cartilage in the ankle less than a month ago. Despite playing in only 10 of the team's 16 games, he's still been the most impactful Cav this year, averaging 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and six double-doubles. He was involved in 28 percent of Virginia's possessions.

Some were referencing him as the most effective post player in Charlottesville since Ralph Sampson in the early '80s.

"Obviously we are going to miss having Mike on the court, but the most important consideration is what's best for him," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said in a statement. "He will have the operation and focus on taking care of rehabilitating his ankle. In his absence all of our players will need to continue to step up and our young frontcourt players will continue to gain valuable experience."

Mustapha Farrakhan, a senior guard with explosiveness who is unafraid of going at anyone, will have to immediately help make up for Scott's loss. Something tells me he'll be up for the challenge. But, still ... freshmen Joe Harris and K.T. Harrell will also need to log more minutes and produce more. Can the young guys do it?

And the thing none of these players can do: get taller fast. Scott is 6-8, and no one above 6-6 is playing meaningful minutes for Virginia. That's trouble, most likely.

The ACC's down again this year, but Bennett's team probably can't tread water for the next eight weeks and expect to play big enough down low to survive. Guards win in March, but big men are a big part in anchoring you there. Now Virginia's forced to go very small.

Photo: AP
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