Cavalier Corner

February 2021

Cavalier Corner is the publication just for UVa sports fans!

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 31

16 CAVALIER CORNER BY KRISTIN THURMAN A fter struggling to find con- sistent scoring a season ago, the Virginia men's basketball team added two sharpshooters to its arsenal for the 2020-21 season — redshirt fourth-year Sam Hauser and third-year Trey Murphy III. Hauser transferred into the program last year after playing three seasons at Mar- quette. The 6-8 forward had to sit out the 2019-20 campaign per NCAA transfer rules, but has quickly stepped into a leader- ship role. Murphy had a bit of a different path, de- ciding to transfer to Virginia after playing the 2019-20 season at Rice. The 6-9 guard was expected to sit out this winter, but the night before the season opener he learned his NCAA waiver for immediate eligibility had been granted. Virginia fans were able to get their first look at the transfers in the sea- son opener versus Towson Nov. 25, and they did not disappoint. "They played well; they had showed that in prac- tice," UVA head coach Tony Bennett said after the Cava- liers' 89-54 victory. "We found out the night before Towson, at practice, that Trey received his waiver to play so we were so thankful for that and excited. Sam's been patient and sat out last year and made the most of his redshirt year, and his matu- rity showed on the floor. "Obviously, we shot the ball well and did some good things, but it's great having them. You could see our depth and it was a nice outing. I was so happy. This is my 12th year at Virginia and whenever you see guys the first time, they're wearing the Virginia uniform and they get to play in a game, that's really special." Both players acknowledged how special it was to just be able to be back on the court playing. "All of last year I was chomping at the bit to get back on the court and play with these guys, and it's just a relief to be back out there playing with my new teammates," Hauser said. "There were a lot of emotions running through my head the day before our opener and that morning before the game, but I was just excited that we were able to play." Murphy was especially eager, having just found out the day before he would be able to join his team. "Coach [Bennett] told me outside of the group," Murphy said. "When he told me, I just started smiling from ear to ear. Then, after the game, it was just really exciting to play. "We were playing against each other for so long. We had been going at it for about four months or so. And it was just fun to play against other guys and play with my teammates." The debuts were great, with Murphy com- ing off the bench to drain six three-pointers en route to 21 points. Hauser contributed 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including a 3-of-3 effort from beyond the arc. The pair continued to impress while help- ing the Cavaliers win 11 of their first 14 games this season, including a 7-1 mark that had them atop the ACC as of Feb. 1. Hauser led the team in both scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounding (7.2 boards per contest), and Murphy paced the team in three-point shooting (51.0 percent, 33 of 68) while contributing 10.8 points per game. Hauser, a Wooden Award midseason se- lection, reached double-figure scoring in all but one game (a nine-point performance in a 76-40 win over William & Mary Dec. 22) and registered three straight double-doubles to begin ACC play. In late January, listed him as one of the best eight transfers in college basketball, noting he had helped "take Virginia's offense to a new level" and "proved to be a difficult matchup for opponents, given his size and ability to step outside and make threes." Hauser's success is not a surprise to Ben- nett, who knows that he already had a solid foundation before entering UVA. "I think he's always been solid," the coach said. "He's been well coached wher- ever he's been, and it's just sometimes, can you get to certain spots? Obviously, he can shoot threes, he can drive, he can score in the mid post. All that stuff is good. "Using the versatility and good foot- work and good moves — those things don't come unless you've done those things [and] you've been well schooled. I think being taught that in junior high and in high school and beyond, I think he's got a good base to work with. He knows how to use space, footwork and balance fakes. That's good stuff." Murphy has scored in double figures seven times, and his outside shooting has been a steady presence for UVA all season. "He can stretch the defense with his shooting, and he's a multiple-position player, can guard different positions and even offensively can do stuff," Bennett said. "He has had the kind of energy and focus that we need from him always." While their offensive prowess was on display early in their Cavalier careers, it was adjusting to Bennett's signature packline defense that was the biggest challenge for the two of them. "I think, just from the daily practice hab- its, each and every day that the coaches harp on and the drills that we do [have aided the adjustment]," Hauser said. "If you work hard at it, you're going to get better because that's what this program is built on. "If you want to play a lot of minutes, you're going to have to be able to guard. I've tried to take some pride on that end, and I hope it's showing, because I think I've gotten better." "It's going really well," Murphy said. "During quarantine we were conditioning and playing a lot of defense. When we came back, we were in a defensive mindset and we were all just ready to buy in on it. "I feel like the main thing was just really being focused on our passion. You have a lot of passion while you're playing. And you have to find a way. We just had to make sure to break that barrier." During that adjustment, both Hauser and Murphy have had their ups and downs, but TRANSFERS TRANSFERS OF OF IMPACT IMPACT Sam Hauser And Trey Murphy III Have Provided The Cavaliers With The Offensive Firepower That Has Helped Fuel An 11-3 Start During the Cavaliers' 11-3 start, Hauser led the team in both scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounding (7.2 boards per contest). PHOTO COURTESY UVA

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Cavalier Corner - February 2021