Cavalier Corner

Dec. 2019

Cavalier Corner is the publication just for UVa sports fans!

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 13 of 31

14 CAVALIER CORNER "… Right now, it doesn't look really good. To [other] people, it probably looks good. But to me? It's not really good. I would say I'm at 50 percent right now where I want to be, where I need to be — maybe less than that. But I learned a lot throughout the process. My shooting, my aggressiveness, what kind of mentality you have to have before you get in a game, how to be a good leader and obviously how to be an overall threat." Which brings things back to "The Play," and the impact he had in what amounted to the blink of an eye. It's a highlight that he hears about quite often, as one might expect. "I see it a lot," he said with a smile. "I had to improvise. It's crazy. Being down, knowing at that time that we were about to go home. And then being able to reverse the whole situation to our favor, it's unbeliev- able. I wanted to go to the end of the road." And now, the Hoos move forward in hopes of doing it again. Without a doubt, if they're able to get back there again, it will include a whole lot of contributions from No. 25. Though he'll never lose the joy he plays with, Diakite said he's as focused as he's ever been. The trick is finding the balance between the two. "It's a challenge," he said, simply. "I'll take it." ACC PREVIEW For the fourth straight year and the sixth time in the last seven seasons, Duke was chosen by ACC media members this fall as the preseason favorite to win the league. The Blue Devils earned 51 first-place votes out of the 111 total and finished with 1,564 points. North Carolina was chosen to finish second, garnering 19 first-place votes and 1,493 points. Though Louisville received more first-place votes (29), the Cardinals finished just behind the Heels with 1,448 points. Rounding out the top four was reigning national cham- pion Virginia, which got the remaining 12 first-place votes to go with 1,405 points. Here is a brief primer, with teams listed in the media's predicted order of finish in the ACC in 2019-20: 1. Duke: While Zion Williamson, RJ Bar- rett and Cam Reddish are now in the NBA, the Blue Devils welcomed another top- rated recruiting class including center Ver- non Carey, forward Matthew Hurt and guard Cassius Stanley. But just as impor- tant for Duke is the return of sophomore point guard Tre Jones, one of the league's best defenders. 2. North Carolina: The Heels have a fair amount of roster turnover as well, but they bring in guard Cole Anthony, the pre- season pick to be named the ACC Fresh- man of the Year. With Leaky Black and bigs Garrison Brooks and Sterling Manley returning, Roy Williams will look to mold the group with newcomers like Anthony and forward Armando Bacot. 3. Louisville: The Cards look absolutely stacked with Chris Mack heading into year two in the Derby City. Forward Jordan Nwora, the preseason pick to be the ACC Player of the Year, is back along with Ste- ven Enoch and Dwayne Sutton. The Car- dinals also welcomed a highly regarded recruiting class. 4. Virginia: The Wahoos lost the big three, but return preseason All-ACC pick Mamadi Diakite. Tony Bennett gets Ki- hei Clark, Braxton Key and Jay Huff back, but will have to lean on first-years like Casey Morsell and Justin McKoy as well as junior college transfer guard Tomas Woldetensae. 5. Florida State: Leonard Hamilton and the Noles have Trent Forrest (preseason second-team All-ACC) and MJ Walker back, but as with a host of other teams across the league, they have a lot of pro- duction to replace from last season. 6. NC State: Guard Markell Johnson is back for the Wolfpack in year three un- der Kevin Keatts, and NCSU should be improved. 7. Notre Dame: The Irish could be set up to make the biggest leap year over year after getting guard Rex Pflueger back from a knee injury while also returning John Mooney, who is a preseason first- team All-ACC pick. With guards T.J. Gibbs and Prentiss Hubb returning as well, they will be a tough out. 8. Syracuse: The 2-3 zone is still a fixture for the Orange, but their three-headed monster from a season ago is no longer on campus. They'll have to rely on red- shirt junior forward Elijah Hughes to lead the team this season. 9. Miami: With Lonnie Walker now in the NBA, Jim Lar- ranaga will have to look to Chris Lykes and several rookies, including Harlond Bev- erly and Anthony Walker, to carry the Canes. 10. Pitt: In his second year at the helm, things should be better for Jeff Capel in the Steel City. Guards Au'Diese Toney and Trey McGowens as well as big man Terrell Brown all return. 11. Clemson: No team in the league is in as tough a spot to replace what it lost from last year. The Tigers won't have Eli- jah Thomas, Marcquise Reed or Shelton Mitchell. Brad Brownell will have to look to forward Aamir Simms and Alabama transfer Tevin Mack for a big spark. 12. Georgia Tech: The Jackets didn't lose much from last year's team that went 6-12 in league play, but even with Mike Devoe, James Banks and Moses Wright all back, it's likely going to be a rough year for Josh Pastner and company. 13. Boston College: If there's a close runner-up to Clemson in terms of strug- gling to replace what they lost from last year, it's the Eagles. With Ky Bowman off to the next level and Jordan Chatman having exhausted his eligibility, it's likely going to be a long season in Chestnut Hill. 14. Virginia Tech: The Hokies have more talent than ACC media gave them credit for, so don't expect them to finish this low in the league this season. First-year head coach Mike Young has some pieces to work with, namely redshirt freshman wing Landers Nolley. 15. Wake Forest: This certainly feels like the last year for head coach Danny Man- ning in Winston-Salem. The Deacs were 4-14 in the conference last season and there's no reason to think they'll improve much beyond that this year. — Brad Franklin Through three games this season, Diakite led UVA in both scoring (14.7 points per game) and rebounding (9.0 boards per contest) while roughly doubling his averages from last year. PHOTO COURTESY UVA

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Cavalier Corner - Dec. 2019