Cavalier Corner

December 2015 Issue

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Page 21 of 52

BY WHITELAW REID I T'S BEEN MORE THAN 30 YEARS since expectations have been this high for the Virginia men's basketball team. In the preseason Associated Press poll that came out Nov. 2, the Cavaliers were ranked No. 6. That marks the highest UVA has been ranked in a preseason poll since the 1982-83 season, when legend Ralph Sampson was wreak- ing havoc on the college basketball world. This season, Virginia returns all but two players from last season's team that finished 30-4 before losing to Michigan State in the NCAA Tourna- ment for the second straight year. "We're going to be a different team this year," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said during the team's media day. "I say that every year, but our personnel is different." Luckily for Bennett, Preseason Co-ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon is still leading the Cavaliers. The redshirt fourth-year was the team's leading scorer last season (14.0 points per game) en route to being named first-team All-ACC, as well as be- ing tabbed as the league's Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Brogdon personifies the type of tough two-way player that Bennett has resurrected the program with. The Georgia native spent his summer honing his skills with the United States Pan-American team, which took home a bronze medal. Brogdon said the obvious next step for Virginia is to make a long run in the NCAA Tournament. "It's a mindset," he said. "I don't think it's an X- and-O thing. We have different offenses this year that will give us more versatility, but I also think it's just a mental toughness we need to have going into the postseason. "It's something that we're developing right now — a focus that will last us until the end of the season, not just ACC play." Joining Brogdon in the backcourt is seasoned third-year London Perrantes. Last season, the Cavaliers' point guard ranked third in the ACC in assists (148) and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.0). The challenge this season is for Perrantes to make more of an offensive impact — something Bennett believes he is definitely capable of doing. "You're not going to change someone com- pletely, but we want to London to look for his shot more," Bennett said. "I think that will help us. RAISING THE BAR The Two-Time ACC Champion Cavaliers Are Focused On Making A Long Postseason Run

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