Cavalier Corner

April 2013

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have been in the past few years. We're a little and field goal percentage (sixth, 36.4). quicker and we're a lot smarter. This year, as comIn late December, Bennett said his team's pared to last year, we don't make as many misdefense was the best it had been since he came takes." aboard in 2009. After a slow start to the season, UVa started to "We still have more tests — certainly you get find its defensive mojo in an inspiring 60-54 win into conference competition and things like that," over Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Bennett said. "But maybe what is a little different Nov. 28. this year — and I've talked about it before — is the But one of the Wahoos' most impressive permobility of Akil [Mitchell] and Darion [Atkins]. formances was a 46-38 home win over Tennessee They can really cover and move. I think Darion Dec. 5. In the contest, Virginia held the Volunteers and Akil, when they're focused and locked in — to 28.8 percent shooting, including just 15.8 pertheir quickness has been effective in a lot of ways cent (3 of 19) from three-point range. and I think that's made us good. Atkins and Mitchell, as "And then we've been they had been in the win able to have a point guard "When we need one big over the Badgers, were who can pressure the ball a big part of that perfora little to start our defense save, she's always there. mance. The duo helped — whether that's Teven It's good to have someone hold Tennessee leading [Jones] or Jontel [Evans] — back there like that who scorer Jarnell Stokes — a that has helped us. And then projected NBA player — to the guys who are in the sys- you can count on." Fourth-year defender five points. tem for a second year or a Megan Dunleavy on Kolarik A game later, Virginia third year, like in Joe [Harheld Mississippi Valley ris] and Akil's case, seem to State to 39 points on just 19.0 percent shooting grasp it better … I think the mobility and the size (11 of 58) and left head coach Chico Potts scratchof the wings has helped us, too." ing his head. Virginia held six of its first 16 opponents to less "For as much as we shoot, to shoot the ball 19 than 50 points, and 12 to less than 60, in starting percent, that's unheard of," Potts said. "You're the season 11-5. UVa opponents shot better than 43 talking about college athletes, college basketball percent from the field in just three of those games. players shooting the ball for a game 19 percent. I Of course, strong defense has been a staple ever don't know what that was about." since Bennett arrived at Virginia. Last season, UVa A main question was whether Virginia would set an ACC record during the shot clock era by be able to carry its solid play into the ACC season. holding 11 opponents to less than 50 points. UVa quickly answered that when it beat North Through Jan. 13, Virginia had a staggering reCarolina 61-52 in the league opener Jan. 6. cord of 23-1 when it held opponents to less than In the win, the Wahoos held the Tar Heels to 31 50 points in the Bennett era. points below their previous scoring average and to "We're incredibly well-coached on defense," 37.3-percent shooting (19 of 51). Mitchell said. "Coach Bennett eats, breathes and One tangible area of improvement for Virsleeps basketball — especially defense. ginia this season on the defensive end has been in "We just all bought into it, and maybe we have blocked shots. more talent now to be more successful than we

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