#49 Virginia Men's Basketball 2012-13 Preview

Virginia Cavaliers

2012-2013 Overall Rank: #49
Conference Rank: #6 ACC
Virginia Men's College Basketball 2012-2013 Team Preview
Virginia Team Page


Despite being horribly undermanned by the end of the 2011-2012 campaign, Virginia reached the NCAA Tournament thanks to Coach Tony Bennett’s always stellar defense and big man Mike Scott. The Cavaliers allowed a mere 54.2 points per game last season, ranking second in the nation. UVA may have trouble scoring again this season, especially without Scott, but their defense will win enough games for this group to be right back in the mix for another trip to the NCAA Tournament.

2011-12 Record: 22-10, 9-7
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tony Bennett
Coach Record: 53-41 at Virginia, 122-74 overall

Who’s Out:
The offense almost always worked through Scott and when it didn’t, it should have. The 6-8 forward led Virginia with 18.0 points and 8.3 rebounds during his senior season and the frontcourt will not be the same any time soon. Assane Sene started all 17 games in which he played and was the big man who would do the dirty work in the paint while Scott was busy scoring. Without James Johnson, who played in just six games before transferring to San Diego State, the frontcourt will have a new look. The backcourt has some key players to replace as well. Sammy Zeglinski has been the most prolific shooter on the team for a while now. The 6-1 shooter did not have his best season in 2011-2012, but he was always a tough defender and a capable secondary ball handler even if his shot was not falling. KT Harrell is off to Auburn after playing in just 11 games during his sophomore season. Harrell had a fine freshman campaign two years ago, but started to get lost in a crowded backcourt.

Who’s In:
Coach Bennett will hope to get some healthy bodies out of this big group of newcomers. So far, so good in that regard. The frontcourt will need Justin Anderson, Evan Nolte and Mike Tobey to add a bit of depth. Anderson can play either forward spot and has bulked up a lot recently. He may not shoot like a typical small forward, but he is a good athlete who can get to the basket. His new found girth built onto his 6-6 frame should turn him from a good rebounder into a great rebounder. But it is his defensive presence that is most heralded and with Coach Bennett, that will earn any player plenty of minutes. Nolte is a taller player at 6-8 and is the typical power forward that can step outside and knock down the long ball that Virginia likes to employ. Tobey may need a little time to adjust his 6-11, 227 pound frame to life in the ACC, but the Cavaliers need a bruiser in the paint and Tobey could be the answer. The newcomers in the backcourt will have the luxury of learning from some of the best in the ACC. Teven Jones will likely turn into the backup point guard sooner or later and Taylor Barnette could emerge as a shooter off of the bench if he can beat out some more experienced players. Walk-ons Caid Kirven and Justin Miller will provide emergency depth for now, but Virginia hopes it does not come down to that again this year.

Who to Watch:
The scoring focus will switch to the backcourt this year with Jontel Evans, Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon leading the way. Evans is the point guard who can find the other scoring options. That may be a bit more of a challenge this time around without Scott, but Evans can drive and dish and create plenty of opportunities for his teammates. Evans is also the catalyst on defense and tallied 1.6 steals per game last season. Harris figures to be the recipient of many of Evans’ passes. Harris is a very good outside shooter, but can also do plenty of scoring inside the arc. After tallying 11.3 points per game as a sophomore, Virginia expects bigger things from him as an upperclassman. Harris even played the last nine games of last season with a broken hand, so staying healthy alone should boost his numbers. Brogdon proved to be a very versatile guard during his freshman campaign. A broken foot ended his season in March, but Brogdon is a great fit on the wing. He can shoot a little bit from long range, but will also use his length and athleticism to help out on the glass and on the defensive end. Paul Jesperson is another big, versatile sophomore wing who showed plenty of potential as a freshman. Walk-on Doug Browman saw more minutes than expected at the end of last season, but if all goes as planned, it will not come to that again this year. But if it does, Browman is an experienced perimeter player who can eat up a few minutes here and there as needed.

Final Projection:
The frontcourt will now rely on Akil Mitchell and Darion Atkins. Mitchell started 15 games last season after Sene was done for the year. The 6-8 junior really stepped up and turned into an efficient, albeit not prolific, scorer and a fine rebounder. He was playing his best basketball in March and that has Virginia hoping for the best this year. Atkins will make the most noise on the defensive end as a shot blocker, but he too will take smart shots in the paint. Easy buckets may not be as easy to come by for Mitchell and Atkins this year, so it would be extremely beneficial if one them could emerge as a more prolific interior scoring threat. But of course Virginia has all of that talent coming in too and this is not a team that lacks in frontcourt options. Nor do they lack in backcourt scoring. Add that to a squad that will always play great defense and you have a pesky ACC squad that can find themselves right back on the good side of the bubble.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Jontel Evans, Senior, Guard, 7.3 points per game
Malcolm Brogdon, Sophomore, Guard, 6.7 points per game
Joe Harris, Junior, Guard, 11.3 points per game
Akil Mitchell, Junior, Forward, 4.1 points per game
Darion Atkins, Sophomore, Forward, 2.3 points per game

Madness 2012 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#47 Justin Anderson
#84 Evan Nolte
#91 Mike Tobey