Leitao a Winner in Wahoo Debut

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J.R. Reynolds made 10 of 14 shots in scoring 25 points.

It was just an exhibition game against a bad Canadian team, but the Dave Leitao era got off to a successful start. Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds made sure of that.

The two guards combined for 47 points as the Cavaliers routed Concordia University, 98-62, in Leitao’s debut as Virginia head coach. Concordia has lost all six games on its American tour by at least 20 points, including 57-point defeats against Duke and UConn.

“I’d be foolish to think we could win by 30-something and ever be upset,” Leitao said. “But I’ve got to look at the film and evaluate what parts of it were because of us and what parts of it might be fool’s gold and go from there. So I don’t know if I’m happy or unhappy right now.”

Leitao was pleased with the play of his starting backcourt, which figures to be the strength of this team. Reynolds scored 25 points, including 19 in the second half, and Singletary finished with 22 points and six assists. Together they made 17 of 27 shots.

“We did OK,” Singletary said. “Some of it’s fool’s gold, like Coach said, but offensively I think we did some things good. But we’ve got to step it up a lot more on defense.”

Mamadi Diane , who started along with fellow freshman Laurynas Mikalauskas , scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Adrian Joseph delivered 13 points and seven rebounds, while Jason Cain had eight points and 11 boards. Tunji Soroye blocked six shots and scored eight points.

Dave Leitao debuted with a win, but it doesn’t count.

Virginia shot 59 percent from the field, 50 percent on 3-pointers and 80 percent from the line. The Cavs also grabbed 12 more rebounds than Concordia, which shot 30.6 percent from the field.

Still, there were some problems. UVa finished with 20 turnovers and 23 fouls.

“I was a little bit apprehensive about what we were going to look like from a first-time standpoint because we’re so in the middle of a lot of things,” Leitao said. “As the game played out, I saw a lot of those things that made me apprehensive. … There are a lot of things we’ve got to continue to work on if we’re going to get better. Starting next Friday, we’ll have a lot smaller margin for error.”

The Cavaliers open the regular season next Friday against Liberty.

Donte Minter (knee) and T.J. Bannister (hernia) did not play because they are rehabbing injuries. Leitao said he hopes Minter will be ready for the season opener.

Virginia didn’t pull away from Concordia until midway through the second half. Up 70-56, the Cavs went on an 18-0 run. Reynolds, Singletary and Diane combined for 16 of those points, but Leitao said it was keyed by Diane’s defense.

“Almost by himself, he changed the way the game was going,” Leitao said. “It became, for all intents and purposes, a knockout punch.”

Said Diane: “In the huddle, [Leitao] was telling us we really needed to step up the pressure. We were backing down. A lot of guys were feeling tired. We just needed a spark. I worked hard on pressuring the ball as soon as we got out of that timeout. That really sparked us and created our offense.”

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